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American Morning

Republicans' Stimulus Concerns; Winter Storm Travel Nightmare; Obama and McCain Squaring Off Again; One Family Selling Everything They Own on eBay

Aired January 28, 2009 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Crossing the top of the hour. It's 8:00 Eastern now. And here are this morning's top stories. The military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan will be at the top of the agenda when President Obama meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff today. It's Mr. Obama's first visit to the Pentagon since he took office.

Some tough talk from Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is demanding that President Barack Obama apologize for the, quote, "crimes committed against Iran by the United States over the past 60 years." He also says the new American president should withdraw U.S. troops from around the world as proof of his policy of change.

An MP3 player containing U.S. military secrets is now safely back in American hands. A man from New Zealand says he bought the player at a thrift shop in Oklahoma last year. The files included names and personal information of U.S. soldiers, details of equipment deployed to Afghanistan and a mission briefing. The information was returned to U.S. officials, who gave the fellow from New Zealand a brand new MP3 player with nothing on it but music.

We're tracking breaking news on the weather front this morning. Right now, a massive storm system unleashing some of the worst weather of the season. A live look at the radar reveals the sheer size of this thing, stretching all the way from Texas on up into the Northeast.

In Washington this morning, it's about 30 degrees, and freezing rain is falling, coating roadways, making the morning commute treacherous. Of course, that's also going to weigh down tree branches, and that could bring them down on top of power lines.

Snow and freezing rain brought down branches and power lines here in Frankfort, Kentucky, a harbinger of what might lie ahead for the Virginias. Icy highways also littered with scores of wrecked cars.

Here is the scene outside of Dallas, Texas. And as we speak, the winter storm putting many travel plans literally on the skids. Ha, ha.

Rob Marciano tracking it all in the CNN weather center for us this morning.

Rob, it's a day to be inside.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It certainly is, even in Dallas, where most of the moisture has moved out. It's still below freezing. So, roadways are still slick. And the Fort Worth Airport has been closed for a good chunk of the morning.

All right, here's the storm. It is a nasty one, and it is hugging the Appalachians right now as it moves towards the Northeast, spreading snow to the New York metropolitan area and the warm air is going to be seeping northward as we go through the next few hours. So, it will be changing from snow to freezing rain and sleet, and eventually, over to rain, then it moves out.

All right, here are some of the delays we're seeing at this hour. Charlotte into it. LaGuardia, ground stop until 9:15. Almost 2 1/2 hour delays at Philadelphia. And Fort Worth, that airport is still closed.

So, here are areas we think are also going to see problems. In Atlanta and Houston, just because of low clouds and fog. Baltimore, D.C., Cin City, you can add Cleveland to that list and also Detroit.

All right, check out some of these numbers. Piggott, Arkansas, 2 inches of ice. Muskogee, Oklahoma, 1.3. And the list goes on into Kentucky.

Let's roll through some of the video of what it looks like in Arkansas. Not only did they have severe amounts of ice. That was official reporting. Some unofficial reports of 3 to 4 inches of ice coating the roads and the powers lines. At last check last night, half a million people without power.

Kentucky also without power. And Indianapolis, 10 inches of snow there with ice coating the roadways. And we've got another 12 to 24 hours, John, actually close to 36 hours before this whole mess winds up, and finally gets out to sea. Back up to you.

ROBERTS: That electrical transformer looked like an elaborate ice sculpture. Wow. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, man.


CHETRY: Well, months after the election, President Obama and John McCain are squaring off again. The Arizona senator at odds with the president's $825 billion economic stimulus package and some other administration proposals.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I view it as the loyal opposition, will help and work together where I can, and stand up for the principles in the party and the philosophy that I campaigned on and I've stood for for many years.


CHETRY: Is it important for the president and the former rival to be partners? Mark McKinnon was a top McCain campaign adviser. He's now a columnist for the and joins us from Austin, Texas this morning.

Mark, good to see you.


CHETRY: So, we have seen President Obama reach out to Senator McCain in recent weeks. Of course, there was the hosting the dinner in his honor, the bipartisan dinner. And you also write in an article, though, that despite the niceties, because John McCain has certainly also shown support for Barack Obama, especially with Hillary Clinton's appointment to secretary of state, that they're also squaring off on several issues. But why is it important for Barack Obama to have John McCain in his corner?

MCKINNON: Well, I think they both reached out to each other and genuinely reached across the political aisles in the spirit of bipartisanship. And I think that yesterday was really a political masterstroke of diplomacy on Senator Obama's part. He said all the right things. And I think we've already seen that he's -- that there's compromise going on over the bill right now.

But Senator McCain has some core principles, and has said that he wants to make sure that this bill really creates jobs and it's not just laden with pork like the beautification of the Mall and contraceptives, which really don't belong in this bill.

But, you know, we've really seen that Republicans are, in many ways, they're upset about the bailout bill they voted for before. And they want to make sure that that doesn't happen again. That there's transparency in this bill and it really does create jobs. We're getting to a point now where there is compromise. The people on the left that are unhappy. The people on the right that are unhappy. And that means we may be heading toward a bill that's actually a pretty good bill.

CHETRY: All right. Two things that you mentioned I believe the Democrats did take out, the sodding of the National Mall as well as the $200 million for the contraception program. But it looks still, though, by all accounts, that it's probably going to pass along partisan lines and really, in all honesty, he doesn't need the Republicans. So, does he need John McCain's support?

MCKINNON: Well, the bill's going to pass. The bill's going to pass, and it either passes with a few Republican votes or a modest amount of votes or maybe more than that. But it's going to go to the Senate. The Senate will amend it. It will go back to the House.

And I think, ultimately, it will attract because Senator Obama has done a good job over the last few days of reaching out, reaching across, making compromise. I think he'll pull over some Republican votes, and he'll have a solid number of votes that he can claim, you know, a good bill with a good representation of Republicans.

CHETRY: You also, you know, we heard Senator McCain say that he believes in this notion of loyal opposition. He works with the Democrats when he can, but he also stands up for his party's principles when he needs to. What type of future role do you expect for him? Is there anything unique that we could be seeing in terms of John McCain's role in the Obama years?

MCKINNON: Well, I think that it's very possible that John McCain's best days in the Senate could be ahead of him. You know, he is a real leader and independent of the party and stands up for true principles. And I think it's very possible that he and Senator Obama could forge a very meaningful relationship where John McCain can be a real bridge to the Republican party, and that they have a real good working relationship that's good for the country.

CHETRY: Mark McKinnon, former McCain adviser and a columnist for the Daily Beast. Thanks for joining us this morning.

MCKINNON: Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: Seven minutes after the hour.

Selling everything they own on eBay, even the family car.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life threw us a curveball. So, you know, we're willing to sacrifice these things and put our children first.


CHETRY: All we own to the highest bidder. One family's desperate plan to pay their kids' medical bills. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning"



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our economy could fall a $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four.


ROBERTS: Right now, politics coming in to play as Democrats scratch a $20 million provision from the stimulus package to put new sod on the National Mall in Washington. It's an effort to garner Republican support for the president's plan. But will it pay off?

Let's bring in our political panel this morning. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and Republican analyst and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez, both of them joining us from Washington this morning.

Good to see you both. So, the president met yesterday on Capitol Hill with Republicans, to make it a handful of Republicans to support this financial stimulus package, but Joe, it's certainly not the broader, bipartisan support that he was looking for. JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think we're just at the first step of this process. If you take a step back, the way these -- the process works is, the House Democrats are pouring their marker down. They'll do the same in the Senate, which generally works closer together. You'll see probably a more bipartisan approach there. And then they'll all get in a room and hammer it out.

I think the important part about yesterday was President Obama made it unmistakable that he's listening to Republicans and they will get some of what they want and now it's up to them to decide do they want to play or do they want to obstruct.

ROBERTS: And, Leslie, is he really listening to the Republicans? You know, Mike Pence yesterday from Indiana said, quote, "As grateful as we are for the president's spirit, as I told him personally, House Democrats have completely ignored the president's call for bipartisan cooperation." Is the administration saying one thing and House Democrats doing another?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Very much so. I think yesterday was replete with very positive images for the president and a very positive message. And Republicans, especially the ones I spoke to yesterday, they're very receptive to the idea of this new type of leadership, of bipartisanship.

They have been wrangling with the Democratic Congress for some time. As you know, it has the lowest approval rating probably the last Congress in history. And they're definitely looking to be responsive. Republicans heard the message. There are concerns, though, and these concerns are not small. It's about the growth, how fast the stimulus plan can get into the economy. So, Republicans are in a very unusual spot, but I will agree with, Joe, a lot of them are saying let's get it to the Republican-Democratic -- let's get it to the House-Senate conference and nail out the details there.

ROBERTS: Let's drill down on the couple of the specific provisions in the lines of this plan. Increases in education in the budget there, $135 billion, Joe, which would pretty much double the Department of Education budget, some people are worried, though, that you can't effectively spend that amount of money and also a certain percentage of it will be given to the states to spend how they see fit, doesn't necessarily have to go to education. Is that the best way to spend the money?

LOCKHART: Well, listen, there are a lot of provisions in here. I think the balance is between doing things that get the economy going now and have an immediate impact and some of the things that have a more medium and long term. And I think that balance the president has tried to strike, but he's very open, as you saw yesterday, to listening to other people's ideas.

And I think that, you know, one of the things that we'll look for as we go forward here is remember last year when we were in this crisis, we had a very unpopular, lame-duck president that got a stimulus plan through because of Democrats. And as we go forward we'll have to see if Republicans want to come along. But it is a balance. You don't want to take all of this and put it only towards things that have a short-term benefit there. There are long-term challenges to our economy that they're trying to meet.

SANCHEZ: And, John, that's the bigger question. If you talk to Republicans they're going to say, look, it's this tax-cut provisions, that's what they're really trying to see if they can get the ear of the president. And you've got to look at examples of partisanship, if you think back to President Bush when he first started, "No Child Left Behind," you had Senator Kennedy, you have 43 senator -- Democratic senators come on board. That's the spirit of bipartisanship. There is a model to look to. That's just one example. But I think the true sense of compromise you'll see by how much Republican support you can actually get.

ROBERTS: Right. Well, we'll be watching today. The vote in the House likely to pass without too much problem. The only question will be how many Republicans sign on to it.

Joe Lockhart, Leslie Sanchez, good to see you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

LOCKHART: Thanks, John.

CHETRY: Coming up, inside on what happened behind closed doors when President Obama met with Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was in one of those meetings. He's going to join us next. It's 14-1/2 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: 17 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." With their kids sick and medical bills piling up, a family in Georgia has taken some extraordinary measures to stay afloat, putting up for sale, online, everything that they own.

Alina Cho is following this remarkable story for us and she joins us now.

What a terrible tragedy.

ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: It really is, but they're really doing something extraordinary. Not a lot of people would do it, but they are brave and they are doing it, John. Good morning. Good morning, everybody. Imagine selling the entire contents of your home, everything from beds to TVs to sofa, all of it on eBay. It may be hard to believe, but that's exactly what this family in Georgia is doing. And they are not doing it just to make money. They are literally on a mission to save their children's lives.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Night, night.

CHO (voice-over): Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for the Peters Family these are the most desperate of times.

BRITTINY PETERS, MOTHER: Life threw us a curveball, so, you know, we're willing to sacrifice these things and put our children first.

CHO: The children. They're the reason why Brittiny and Greg Peters are selling everything they own on eBay, Their TV, kitchen table, washing machine, virtually everything, except the house itself. They're even throwing in their car. Why? The Peters have three children, and two of them now need constant medical care.

GREGG PETERS, FATHER: Nothing's more precious than the kids. I mean, not a sofa, not a TV. I mean, that's -- that's -- it's -- it's as simple as that.

CHO: Last year, 2-1/2 Noah was diagnosed with autism. His older sister, 7-year-old, Aila, a rare form of arthritis, called Still's Disease. A one-two punch with bills to match. Greg is a tennis instructor. Brittiny, a stay-at-home mom.

G. PETERS: I'm taking kids to work with me. So I can see them a few hours and not go the whole day without work.

B. PETERS: You know there were days that Greg had to take -- you know, Greg had to stay with the other two children full time because I was at the hospital with her.

CHO: The opening price of their eBay auction, all items included, $20,000. Exactly the cost of their medical bills. The response has been, well, through the roof. So much so, the Peters have their own Web site -- They've gotten more than 1 million hits and 1,000 e-mails. But the auction is not bringing out the bidders. It seems people don't want to buy or take the Peters' belongings, but they do want to help. So, they're giving the Peters money. More than 800 donations have poured in. Some just a dollar. But the total is staggering. $10,000 so far from people all over the world.

G. PETERS: Britain, Australia, and I think a few other places. I really feel like it's made me stronger, it's made me a better person. I've learned more in the last few weeks than I have in my whole -- the rest of my whole life.


CHO: Well put. Now even though the Peters' situation is dire, they're actually planning to donate 10 percent of whatever they make to two foundations that benefit autism and Still's Disease. The Peters say, we believe you help others, even through your own misfortunes.

And by the way, if there are no bidders when the auction ends on eBay tomorrow, the Peters plan to re-list everything, item by item minus the washing machine, they think they need that. And they also say they may let their daughter keep her bunk bed. That's something that she really likes. But it really has inspired others to sort of rethink what's important in life. And they say that that's been really inspiring to them to hear from thousands of people literally from around the world.

ROBERTS: You would think that in a country like America, there would be a better way to provide for your kids' medical needs than to have to sell everything that you own.

CHO: Well, that's another discussion. But they are really doing what they need to do, and they say, we're putting our children first.

ROBERTS: All right. Alina, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: Well, we keep telling you about the companies who are cutting jobs, but what about companies that are hiring? Get a pen. Our Gerri Willis has the list. It's 20 minutes after the hour.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROBERTS: 23 minutes after the hour. Got a new economic report in. All these companies are stating their earnings. Our Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business." She joins us now with news about Wells Fargo.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wells Fargo, one of the big banks. As you know, a lot of these big banks took government money in the financial rescue. Wells Fargo summing to a fourth quarter loss. No big surprise there, of course, because it absorbed Wachovia, which had an awful lot of problems there, but that is because of the significant charge related to the purchase of Wachovia.

Interesting in here, the company says its revenue was record in the full year, up 7 percent from the prior year. So, that's not too bad. Also it's not -- it says it's not going to be taking any more TARP funds. That is the acronym, of course, the acronym, right, for the Treasury Troubled Asset Relief Program. So they say at this point they're not going to take any more TARP funds and they have declared a dividend of 34 percents. So they're giving dividends (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: So, a loss, but all in all, not bad.

ROMANS: We'll see what Wall Street thinks about it.


ROMANS: You know, it's this big. So sometimes I say, oh, yes, it doesn't look so bad and then Wall Street opens up and they find something in there that I didn't see. So, we'll watch for that.

ROBERTS: Thank you for the breaking news.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHETRY: All right. Well, President Obama is promising to move the country beyond old-style partisan politics as he fights to get Republican support for his $825 billion stimulus package.


OBAMA: The key right now is to make sure that we keep politics to a minimum. There are some legitimate philosophical differences with parts of my plan that the Republicans have, and I respect that. I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people's business right now.


CHETRY: Many Republicans, though, are making it clear that they're not backing down, especially on tax cuts. Joining me now is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who met with President Obama yesterday.

Senator, thanks for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: All right. So tell us a little bit about how that meeting went yesterday. Did he -- did the president seem sincerely ready to listen to what many of the Republicans had to say, and be willing to make some changes based on what you guys believe is the right move?

MCCONNELL: Well, absolutely. I invited him to come up in December, and he did yesterday. We enjoyed having him. He listened to our suggestions. I think his biggest problem, Kiran, is oddly enough, not with us, but with congressional Democrats, who seem not to have gotten the memo about the nature of a stimulus, which is that it ought to be timely, temporary and targeted.

The House package -- we haven't seen the Senate package yet. We haven't had the debate on the floor, but the House package has still got things like, you know, repairing ATV trails and fish passages and other things that, you know, may be worthwhile projects but are certainly not going to meet the standard of timely, temporary and targeted.

So, there's widespread agreement that we need a stimulus package. We're still working on it in the Senate. Hopefully, it will end up being more stimulus and less pork.

CHETRY: All right. Well, you mentioned yesterday that you offered a number of suggestions to the president about what you'd like to see included in the Senate version of the bill. One is about protecting the taxpayers. The other one is about lowering tax rates for people.


CHETRY: Explain what you guys envision as taxpayer protection.

MCCONNELL: Well, there are two things that we think are essential. Number one, we need to go right at the housing problem. That's what started all of this. And we have a proposal for 4 percent mortgages that we think would dramatically go right at what started the whole thing. In addition to that, there's no question that tax relief, both for individual taxpayers, get those middle-class tax rates down, so it will be reflected in people's take-home pay immediately and also some business tax relief.

I think the president believes there ought to be some business tax relief. We think that's important. And in terms of the tax portion of the overall package, the president had originally said he thought it ought to be 40 percent. We agree with that.

Unfortunately, it looks like in the House package, it's crammed down to about 20 percent. And much of that tax relief doesn't go to people who pay income taxes. So, where we had differences with the House Democrats is that the package just doesn't seem to reflect our priorities nor the president's.

CHETRY: I got you. Well, you know, it's interesting, a lot of people are saying, wait a minute, what about the foreclosure crisis, what about the toxic mortgages that many think got us into this mess in the first place? What are we doing to address that?

You talk about supporting this foreclosure prevention proposal that would address the housing problem. Explain how it would work -- about cutting back these 30-year mortgages to a 4 percent credit rating for borrowers.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I mean, many people would refinance. It would deal with the leveraging problem that the whole country has, too much debt, both the government and individuals. In addition to that, I mean, the president himself, of course, also indicates that the housing problem is important. We just approved a second tranche of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He indicated yesterday he thought a substantial portion of that would be devoted to housing.

I don't know whether that will happen or not. But it should. But we believe that a part of the stimulus package, this 4 percent mortgage proposal, would go directly at the housing problem, which started the whole mess.

CHETRY: But didn't you oppose legislation in the past that wanted to change some of the bankruptcy laws to help homeowners renegotiate their mortgages to prevent foreclosure? How would what you're proposing in this new package be different from that?

MCCONNELL: Yes. What I do oppose is giving judges the ability to change the terms of contracts, the so-called cram-down proposal. What that would do in effect is raise mortgage rates for everyone in the country, who's in compliance. And it's important to remember that over 90 percent of Americans are making their payments on time. They haven't done anything wrong and they don't deserve to have their interest rates raised by some unelected judge.

CHETRY: All right. Mitch McConnell, I know you guys are doing your best trying to work out what you guys think is important in this as well. It looks like it's headed for passage in the House today. So, we'll have to see how it goes after that. Senator Mitch McConnell, great to have you with us. Thanks.

MCCONNELL: Thank you.

ROBERTS: 29 minutes after the hour. And here are this morning's top stories. Cars spinning out of control, hundreds of flights grounded and thousands could be in the dark for days as a giant winter storm dumps ice, sleet and snow from Texas to the East Coast. The storm is being blamed for at least five deaths on the roadways. Parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England could get a foot of snow today.

Former Vice President Al Gore is expected to urge a Senate committee to try to reduce the effects of global warming. Gore says Congress should not be sidetracked by the current financial crisis. It comes a week after President Obama said the U.S. will roll back the, quote, "specter of a warming planet" on inauguration day.

America's infrastructure on life support. That's a warning in a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It grades the country's infrastructure as a "D," almost failing. Engineers say our water sewage systems are dreadful, and it's going to take more than $2 trillion to fix America's roads, bridges and public transit system. That is more than double the total stimulus bill up for a vote today.

CHETRY: Well it's a pretty shocking statistic. For the first time ever, unemployment spiked in all states nationwide in December. So, are any companies hiring at all and what type of experience do you need to get your foot in the door? In part two of our series, personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here to fill us in about who is hiring and how you can get your hands on some of those jobs.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, we spent most of yesterday afternoon looking at these companies that are hiring. We have a ton of them. Let's start with some surprises here. Microsoft is hiring literally thousands of workers after they just said last week they were going to fire 5,000. Remember, layoffs for 5,000 for Microsoft. They will also be hiring. Software designer engineers, financial analysts, human resources, sales. You got to assume that some of the people they have in other positions can't be used in the new positions and they can't make the change.

T-mobile is adding 2,000 jobs in retail and customer service. And here's an interesting one, a company called Safeguard Properties, based in Cleveland, Ohio. What they're doing for a living is they're actually fixing up these properties that banks have on their books, making sure that these homes in foreclosure actually look decent and are in good repair. They're hiring 1,400 people, in contracting, internal staff, I.T., pros.

Here's some fun one. Banfield Animal Hospital. It's a chain of animal hospitals, they're hiring 750 vets, 2,000 pet nurses, lots of hiring going on there. Google, who also announced that they were laying off 100 recruiters, they're hiring 350 people in engineering. And this is the category of worker that we see over and over again still in demand despite the economy. Marketing product management, sales. 7-11 if you don't have that kind of background, they are hiring 100 store managers and district managers. You got to assume those jobs would fit more neatly with more people. Now, we also looked at what we do if you are older. 50 and older. AARP puts together a list of companies that are always hiring people in that age category.

Let's take a look at the companies that are likely hiring right now. People over 50. ADECCO, it's a personnel management company. Borders, the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, Quest, Scripps Health and Walgreens. So, that's a nice list for people who are really looking now. Finally, you know, yesterday we were talking about people who make $100,000, right? So, people wanted to know who is hiring for those jobs right now? Well, here's a list. Affiliated computer services, Cigna, KV Pharm, Pricewaterhousecoopers and even

So, we've got lots of names here if you go to you'll find even more. So, there are folks out there hiring despite what we see going on in this economy, Kiran.

CHETRY: A beautiful bright spot today, Gerri, for us. Some optimism in all these dire news. Thanks so much.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

CHETRY: Well while the president wants to create jobs around the country, he still has some openings in his own administration. In fact, here's more on "A.M. Extra," more than 3,000 political jobs are currently open. Of that number, more than 1,000 of those positions do require Senate confirmation. The Senate has approved 14 nominees, so it still has quite a bit of work left to do.

And a sudden surge in online dating, why the bad economy may actually be good for single people searching for love.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, Pakistan's prime minister defying U.S. officials, saying that his country does not approve of American military strikes inside his borders. Our Christiane Amanpour joins us with the breaking news. It's 33 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. We have breaking news, exclusively uncovered by CNN to tell you about. Pakistan's prime minister says his country has no agreement with the united states, allowing for military strikes on suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda militants inside his country. That flies in the face of testimony that Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave on Capitol Hill.


ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will go after Al Qaeda wherever Al Qaeda is. And we will continue to pursue them.

SE. CARL LEVIN (D), ARMES SERVICES CHAIRMAN: Has that decision been transmitted to the Pakistan government?

GATES: Yes, sir


ROBERTS: Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us live from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this morning. Christiane, you just spoke with Pakistan's prime minister, and not only did he say no, in fact, that's not true, but he urged the United States to halt these predator missile strikes in his nation.

CHRITIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly urged them to halt the predator strikes. He said that he wants our sovereignty respected, and he also did say, of course, that we also want to fight terrorism, every suicide bomb he said is a flight of capital, a flight of investment and makes our country more unstable. They want good relations with the new Obama administration. They would like to have intelligence shared so they can both take out these militants together, but he did say that there was no agreement with the U.S. or his government, between the two governments, on continuing these strikes.


YOUSUF GILANI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: We don't have any sort of an agreement with the government of United States, with the government of Pakistan. If there are any drone attacks, these are counterproductive and it would not be in the benefit of both the countries.


AMANPOUR: So, this is a new civilian government, elected over the last several months, and it - obviously the world has waited to see whether it can enforce its influence, its authority in Pakistan, particularly in those large swaths of the country, which should be now controlled by Pakistani, Taliban, Al Qaeda militants and the like. And he's basically saying that he needs help, Pakistan needs help, with raising their loyal enforcement, increasing the ability of their own security forces. John.

ROBERTS: Christiane, another little interesting piece of news this morning that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is now demanding that President Obama apologize for 60 years of crimes against his country. Also says that the United States should pull back its forces worldwide saying, "if they want to change their policy, they should pull their forces out and take them back inside their own borders." A strident tone and markedly different from what he was saying just a couple weeks ago.

AMANPOUR: Well, it is strident. It's the hardline Ahmadinejad position. He's obviously called before for the U.S. to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and in general to withdraw troops from the area. This thing about having the U.S. apologize is a very hardline position. If you remember, back in 2000, actually, under President Clinton, Madeleine Albright then secretary of state did actually acknowledged that some of U.S. policies, particularly in putting the Shah back in office in 1952 did acknowledge how it could have upset the Iranian people. But it's a very hardline position that Ahmadinejad is taking. And as you say, it does fly in the face of his congratulatory letters that he sent to President Obama on his election. Important, though, to recognize, that when it comes to dealing with Iran s the U.S. is now saying it wants to try to engage on a diplomatic level, use all the tools in its arsenal, political tools, it's not Ahmadinejad who is the center of power. He's one of the areas, but the big center of power is the supreme leadership, religious leadership.

ROBERTS: Yes, it would be interesting to see President Obama sitting down with Khomeini and his inner circle. Very interesting. Christiane Amanpour for us this morning in Davos, Switzerland. Christiane, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Well, former President Jimmy Carter is weighing in on the Middle East and also the new administration. He was on "Larry King" last night and he shared his thoughts on President Obama's early days and how he's dealing with the crisis.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: President Obama was inaugurated a week ago. It's a short time. How's he doing?

JIMMY CARTER, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I think he's doing great. I've been with him before we had the five presidents meet and I was with him at his inauguration. I was particularly gratified that he carried out his promise, which didn't surprise me, that he would start are working on the Middle East peace process the first time he was in office and not wait for the last year he was in office.


CHETRY: Well, the former president also says that this is the most optimistic he's been since the early '90s and that real progress will be made in the Middle East.

Well, the bad news is the economy. The good news is, that your love life could get better. Why your job going south could actually be the start of something beautiful online.

Plus, if you always wondered how the richest of the rich make all their money, how do they get rich in the first place? We're going to talk to one man who wanted to know the answer, so he just asked the millionaires themselves. It's 41 minutes after the hour.



CONAN O'BRIEN, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN," HOST: The company that makes Viagra reports that its profits are down 90 percent from last year. Yes, the CEO the company said, I swear, this has never happened to me before.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Well, just like anything, the bad economy may not seem quite so terrible if you have someone to share it with, and that may explain the huge surge in on-line dating. Our Lola Ogunnaike finds that recession for many means romance.



LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDETN: So, the economy is down, but online dating is up. How do you explain that?

HELEN FISHER, PhD. BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGIST: I think it's actually very easy to explain. I mean, first of all, when the economy is really down, you take stock, and the first thing that both men and women want really is love.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you need is love.

OGUNNAIKE: So, you're saying that we're hardwired to look for relationships in time of crisis?

FISHER: We're hardwired to look for relationships at any time, but in a time of crisis, we really want somebody to snuggle with.



THOMAS ENRAGHT-MOONY, CEO, MATCH.COM: The tough economic times that the people are experiencing is driving them to a site like to meet someone special.

OGUNNAIKE: What are you looking for?

KAREN SULLIVAN, MATCH.COM USER: Ah, what am I looking for?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, of course, you're looking for love. But what specifically are you looking for?

SULLIVAN: Definitely has at least to be six feet.



OGUNNAIKE: So you like them tall.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm bringing sexy back.

SULLIVAN: All right. So here we go. This is the match that will be good for me.

OGUNNAIKE: Six foot. That's what you like. Athletic in tone, never been married. 38.

SULLIVAN: He's a good one. So, I'm going to decide, am I interested or not interested. I'm going to hit "yes."

GREG WALDORF, CEO, EHARMONEY.COM: When the Dow dipped, traffic goes up on eharmony and it's because people are coming to look for the right relationship.

SULLIVAN: I do think that the economy has affected it, absolutely.

OGUNNAIKE: No paycheck, but maybe a lovecheck?

SULLIVAN: Exactly.

OGUNNAIKE: So, heaven forbid something happened and you lost your job. Would you stay on match, or would you save that money?

SULLIVAN: No, I think I would definitely stay, because you have to have some kind of fun distraction if you lose your job. You definitely - you need something fun and frivolous, but not that frivolous to focus on.

OGUNNAIKE: So, do you really think that these sites work, that you can actually find true love on a website?

FISHER: Oh, I'm positive you can. And in many respects I think it's just the newest way to do the same old thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can build this thing together, stand in love forever. Nothing is going to stop us now.


CHETRY: You didn't bring Starship into this whole thing.

OGUNNAIKE: I had to. I had to. "Nothing is going to stop us now."

CHETRY: Exactly.

So you know, it's very interesting. First of all, how is Karen doing? She's adorable and she's you know, looking for love on the internet. How did that work out?

OGUNNAIKE: Karen is dating a few guys now so things are looking up for her. Who knows by the end of the year she may have found her true love.

CHETRY: There used to be, you know, a creepy factor involved in online dating. It was very hard for you to admit oh I met so-and-so online. Is that sort of - is that stigma has been erased lately? OGUNNAIKE: I think the stigma has been completely removed. I mean, people are meeting all over Facebook, people are meeting on match, people are meeting on eharmony. The icky factor, I think is gone. Yes.

CHETRY: All right. If you can find true love at a club or at a bar, you can find it online.

OGUNNAIKE: And they are saying it's more economical this way. You know, why spend 60 bucks at a club and meet strangers when you can meet few people online and then who knows.

CHETRY: Exactly. All right. Lola, thanks.


ROBERTS: These days it's the stuff you don't do online that is weird.

The economy seems to be getting worse and worse, still some people are able to keep their wallets fat and their bank accounts full. So what we learned from them. Our next guest set out to find the answer and he got some really interesting answers. We'll talk to him. It's 48 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY (voice-over): Serious praise, angry protests. The "Slumdog Millionaire" controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're absolutely right!

CHETRY: Outrage over the hit film. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards. Why some even want the name changed.

You're watching the most news in the morning.




ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Even with Wall Street in crisis and thousands of jobs being cut every day, some people still seem to have it all. So how do they do it?

Ryan D'Agostino is the author of "Rich Like them." And he went to America's richest zip codes to find the answers and he put it in a brand new book. And he joins me here in the studio. This is a really fascinating concept. You just went to - you picked a number of the richest zip codes in the nation and you went around knocking on the doors of big houses and asked the people inside, how did you do it?

RYAN D'AGOSTINO, ARTICLE EDITOR, "ESQUIRE": I just would start with the biggest, most beautiful house I could find and I went to about 20 of the richest zip codes in the country and just started ringing doorbells and asking people you know, if I want to end up in a house like this one day, what do I do now?

ROBERTS: Some of the commonalities that you found were a lot of people just had one good idea and they made it fly.

D'AGOSTINO: They did. That's the hardest thing in the world, right? I mean I can't think of a business out there where an idea, a good idea, is not like gold. But how do you come up with it? And that's the kind of advice they gave me that was the most useful, which was if you're - you think of what your goal is? What's your job? What do you do every day and devote every minute from the minute you wake up in the morning to the minute you go to sleep? Try to see the world through that lens through that prism and the world is going to look a lot different. Try it.

ROBERTS: Yes, and once you get the idea too, you got to work hard to the point of almost obsession.

D'AGOSTINO: You do. You do. I met a guy who is an ophthalmologist outside of Cleveland, and I asked him, how do you work hard in ophthalmology? You know, live in a house like this? And he said I don't come home at night and watch TV. I do ophthalmology. I write books. I write journal. I speak. I love it.

ROBERTS: And you found some people that found little niches too. Like there was a guy that went skiing and say, hey what do you do with these lodges in the summer? They are vacant. Well, I'm a travel agent and he rent them and he invented hella hiking. Another guy started developing doctors' office outside - he was the hospital administrator and said a lot of doctors want to go on their own and I'll put together the offices.

D'AGOSTINO: And both of those guys are perfect examples of illustrating this idea of seeing the world different every day. The guy who invented the hella hiking trips. He was just on vacation and you know, just looked around and what happened to these lodges and these chair lifts in the summer. The guy who helps doctors set up their own offices he was just thinking I see a of doctors every day at this hospital and they all want to have this off site, you know in the suburbs. They have the money, but they don't have the time.


D'AGOSTINO: So I'm going to help them out with the time. I met another guy who lived in a huge mansion on Lake Michigan, and I said, how did you do it? He said well about 50 years ago, me and a guy invented a machine to peel shrimp. That's a niche. There he is on Lake Michigan.

ROBERTS: That is a niche. So what lessons can we learn during these hard economic times from these people?

D'AGOSTINO: Well, for one thing, I think the biggest lesson I learned is that these are just people. You know, that's who is behind these big doors, these big mansions. They don't have superpowers, and you know some sort of magic blessing that people who had a good idea and worked hard no matter what. I talked to a bunch of them recently and said do you still live in that house? Are you still rich? And to a person they said yes and my advice would be exactly the same right now. These are people who understand that in America, you know, this is still the land of opportunities. It's still, you know, it's not like no one's ever going to make money in this country again. This is no time to crawl under a rock.


D'AGOSTINO: And they said, you know, my advice would be the same today and don't live your life by the headlines.

ROBERTS: In fact, this may be the time to look for opportunities.

D'AGOSTINO: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Ryan D'Agostino, it's great to see you.

D'AGOSTINO: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: A fun little book called "Rich Like Me." Appreciate you coming in today. Thank you.

"Rich like Them," sorry.

CHETRY: "Rich Like Them." All right.

Well the "Slumdog Millionaire" controversy has 10 Academy Award nominations but not everyone is singing it praises. We're going to find out who is slamming "Slumdog." 55 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. "Slumdog Millionaire" is already a bona fide hit in the United States. Ten Oscar nominations, a lot of praise. It's just now hitting theaters in India. That's where the movie is set, and some folks there are protesting the award-winning film.

Sara Sidner joins us live, all the way from New Delhi, India, this morning, with more on the controversy over "Slumdog Millionaire." Good morning, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You know, Kiran, this film has rattled some emotions here in this country. And as you mentioned, the reason why it's happening now is it's just been released to the general public this past weekend and the general public is giving it very mixed reviews.


(MUSIC PLAYING) SIDNER (voice-over): "Slumdog millionaire" has dazzled critics and audiences in America, but the film about life, hope, and love in the slums of Mumbai has just reached audiences in India.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really nice, fantastic. I would suggest everyone to go forward to see it.

SIDNER: It's been met with praise and protests. This is the reaction from slum dwellers in one of India's poorest states. They say being referred to as slumdogs is degrading and they want the word "dogs" taken out of the title. Other Indians were unhappy with the content of the film and how it depicted India.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's brutal, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just showing the poor part of India. They haven't seen the real India in this movie. That's kind of annoying, that's you know for some people and for me as well.

SIDNER: But several leading Indian movie critics were quite taken with the Hollywood film.

SHUBRA GUPTA, FILM CRITIC: Our critical opinion in terms of critics have been uniformly positive which doesn't happen very often.


SIDNER: Now, love it or hate it, there is a sense of pride that is starting to build here. Because everyone knows that the Indian composer is up for three Oscars. They're hoping he can bring at least one home. Kiran.

CHETRY: Sara Sidner for us this morning from India. I have the DVD right on my desk right now. I'm going to check it out.

ROBERTS: You have a DVD?

CHETRY: Yes. I mean, I think it's - am I not supposed to say that?


CHETRY: It's one of those copies that they give to the people - you know, the screen actors, the writers guild and then you get to view it.

ROBERTS: A contentious appearance for actor Mickey Rourke on "Larry King Live." The Oscar nominated star of "The Wrestler" got into a verbal match last night on Larry's set with real life Chris Jerricho. Jerricho was upset with Rourke over some comments the actor made on the red carpet before Sunday's SAG Awards and then last night Rourke hinted he would get the better of Jerricho in a fight. Jerricho as you can imagine was not amused.



KING: Well, Mickey -

CHRIS JERRICHO: Not really a challenge. I think Mickey kind of talked a little bit out of line. It's not a challenge. I'm just answering. There's a lot of difference about playing a wrestler in a movie and actually being one in real life. And I think Mickey was given some bad advice in saying my name on the red carpet. And if you get your wish, Mr. Rourke, you will learn things that you never learned in playing a wrestler in a movie.

KING: Mr. Rourke, you may counter.

ROURKE: I think I'm hearing what the man's saying. Listen, I was visiting his world. He does his thing. He does his thing very well. And perhaps I did put my foot in my mouth.

JERRICHO: You offended me. And that's the last thing you want to do is offend Chris Jerricho, believe he, because you may have respect for me and respect for my world. I don't have respect for you.


ROBERTS: Well, there you go. Don't mess with Chris.

Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We will see you back here again bright and early tomorrow.

CHETRY: That's right. Right now here's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins.