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Gays in the Military; $30B for Small Biz; Adoption or Abduction?; Haiti Survivors' Stories; And the Nominees Are?

Aired February 2, 2010 - 09:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there. Thanks guys.

Hello and happy Groundhog Day. It's 9:00 a.m. on the east, and 6:00 a.m. out west. Let's go ahead and get you started.

If you make a dollar a day when things are good, now you're home and much of your country are in ruins. If someone offers your little girls a better life, do you take him up on it? At least one Haitian father made his choice.

TSA, the game. Fun for the whole staff. Some TSA employees apparently loved dissing passengers like you so much, they made a game of it. Nice to know they're keeping such a close eye on every one.

And you're sitting down for this one? Well, stand up, your life might depend on it.

Well, we've got a lot going on today, including "Don't Ask Don't Tell," a policy that might be a memory depending on what happens in D.C. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has got that covered for us today.

Plus the president wants the small engine humming again. Going to take some money to make that happen. Stephanie Elam has us covered there.

And the groundhog wishes. He had Marciano skills. Radar popping all over the place. Rob's all over Punxsutawney Phil.

Now marching orders for the U.S. military. Right now Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Capitol Hill discussing lifting the ban on gays serving in the armed forces. It's the first major step in that direction since the 1993 policy "Don't Ask Don't Tell" ignited the firestorm.

Here's CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The president made his intentions clear.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.

STARR: But the stone-faced Joint Chiefs of Staff didn't react to the sensitive matter. We now know more about what they are thinking.

A senior Pentagon official tells CNN the chiefs are expected to support the president but they will tell him to what they extent they believe allowing gays to openly serve will hurt morale and readiness of the force.

The official says of the chiefs, "All they want is a little bit time," to come up with their ideas on how to implement a change in the law if it's approved by Congress.

As a first step, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to call for no longer discharging people who are outed by others. Over the last 12 years, nearly 11,000 people have been discharged from the military for being gay. Defense officials privately say the appetite to enforce the law is declining.

Many say the debate now is to live with the change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One school of thought says just do it. It won't be that big of deal.

STARR: Existing regulations governing sexual behavior may be enough to allay concerns about living in close quarters. But that may not work for everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can talk about this delicately or we can just be fairly direct. There are a lot of 18-year-olds, old- fashioned, testosterone-laden men in the military who are tough guys. They are often politically old fashioned or conservative. They are not necessarily at the vanguard in many cases of accepting alternative forms of lifestyle.


PHILLIPS: Interesting. Politically old-fashioned. So, Barbara, I know you get a chance to talk to various members of the military all the time.

What's the biggest concern from the troops if this does happen?

STARR: Well, you know, the military, Kyra, is a lot like society in general. There's people across the spectrum with all sorts of views. On the one hand, you know, I talked to young troops who say look, this really doesn't matter to me, I'm a lot more concerned about me and my buddies staying alive in the war zone, than I am about someone's sexual orientation.

There are people on the other side in the military who say they have ongoing concerns about issues like housing, living in close quarters, benefits for domestic partners. So the question may be, is it time now, are there enough people who are willing to accept the change and will the bottom -- the bottom line will be, will Congress change the law? So the bottom line is, is Congress ready to do just that? Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right, and we're going to find out. Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

All right, the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy -- where did it all begin anyhow? Well, it was first implemented by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Over the past dozen years, nearly 11,000 service members have gotten the boot under that policy.

However, interesting note here, the numbers have declined since the Afghanistan war began after the 9/11 attacks.

So here's what we're going to do. For the next couple of hours, we're going to peel back the layers on the impassioned issue.

At the bottom of the hour, Carol Costello gets to the bottom line of repealing the policy. Some say it could save us a fortune.

Then at the top of the hour, Ted Rollins gets to the emotional core of the debate -- Gay Warriors speaking out. Three active members, all gay, all possible risking their careers just by talking to our Ted Rollins.

Then at 10:30 Eastern we're going to talk to two military vets now serving in Congress. How did they react to gay troopers who served side by side with them when they were active military and where do they stand on the fate of this policy?

We'll have that.

Preparing a new home for Guantanamo detainees. President Obama wants $230 million to spruce up and staff an empty Illinois prison. It's part of the new budget proposal. And if approved the 192 remaining detainees could be there some time next year. But some in Congress say they're going to block the funding.

The president promised to close down the Gitmo detention facility, if you'll remember, when he started his campaign for president.

Loan and loan again. The president has a plan to help small businesses as well. A $30 billion plan actually. He threw it out there during the State of the Union last week. Well, today, it's a town hall.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us live from New York.

So, Stephanie, how does the president plan to use money from Wall Street to help Main Street?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the whole idea here, Kyra, is to get jobs out there again. So he figures if you get the banks lending again to small businesses, and small businesses have to hire, and therefore we'll get the economy moving here again. So at this town hall today in New Hampshire, President Obama plans to lay out his plan to take $30 billion of the repaid TARP money, and use that in a new fund that would basically be a small business lending program and it would help community banks boost their small business lending.

Now these community banks are banks that have assets under $10 billion. And the reason why they're targeting this group, the White House said these small banks give more than half of these business loans -- to get these small businesses out there.

So they figured they're already in the community. That's a good place to start. Credit conditions really have worked out to be better for some of the larger institutions, but smaller companies are still having a very hard time.

So the whole idea here is if we get the smaller parts of the economy moving again, then that should help out. Or especially since small business employs half of the Americans in this country.

You can't emphasize that enough. There really -- it's not the big, behemoth companies that are employing people here -- in the United States, it's really about these small companies and they need to create jobs.

So these banks would be able to borrow from treasury at very low rates and so they're hoping this will get the -- get the banks interested -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So community banks will probably embrace the proposal?

ELAM: That's what they're hoping. You know, in the beginning, this idea was floated in October but at the time a lot of these community banks, they were like, we don't want any TARP money. We don't want the taint of it even touching our banks. And on top of it, we don't want all the restrictions.

So the treasury has been working to remove a lot of those restrictions off of this money so that these banks come in and would not feel like there's a stigma to use this money, but in turn, would use it to help lubricate the economy and get people out there with their businesses -- people have good ideas and businesses they want to start and people they like to hire, but allowing them to do that by giving that one day (ph).

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Stephanie.

Americans jailed in Haiti, accused of stealing children. Missionaries caught in a misunderstanding, waiting for their day in court, which is today.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Some winter weather advisories swirling up the Carolinas. And can you spell Punxsutawney? Having a hard time with it this morning. It's Groundhog Day. We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: So what were they thinking? That's the subject of a hearing in Haiti that's supposed to start in about an hour. We're talking about that group of Idaho missionaries in a Haitian jail right now. They were arrested at the Dominican border with 33 Haitian children. Not all of them were orphans, by the way. Some were just handed over by their parents.

Our Dan Simon talked with the pastor at the church that many of the missionaries attended in Idaho to try and find out some more.


PASTOR DREW HAM, CENTRAL VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH: The goal really was exactly that, to go into Haiti and rescue children that might otherwise be victims of human trafficking, bring them to the Dominican Republic, give them some medical and physical aid that they may not otherwise have.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): And the goal was to keep them in the Dominican Republic, not bring them eventually to the United States?

HAM: You know, Dan, there's no telling. Maybe adoptions would be at some point in the future, but that certainly wasn't the purpose of this trip at all.

SIMON: And the goal -- they were going to acquire some land -- long-term, they were going to acquire land and build an orphanage and a school, but then the quake happened.

HAM: Yes, sir. And you know, January 12th brought a lot of emotion for a lot of folks and really a great desire for folks that had needs down in Haiti. And so these people in particular had a desire to go and simply help those who might have needs there.


PHILLIPS: The children who have parents still can't go home. They're all being kept in a temporary home until the investigation is over. We'll hear from some of those parents next hour.

It's been three weeks now since the quake hit. The inspiring rescues have stopped but you still have to wonder, could anyone still be alive under that rubble?

CNN medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, shows us what it takes to survive.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've seen story after impossible story of survivors beating the odds. This 5-year-old boy was pulled out after eight days. He was severely dehydrated. This clerk at a hotel store was found after 11 days. He survived on food and drinks left in the store's wreckage. That's according to his brother.

This man says he was entombed in the rubble for 14 days with a fractured hip. He says he had no food and survived by rationing water from a two-gallon jug.

And then there's this seemingly impossible image of this girl, rescued after 15 days. Rescuers think she had access to water from the bathroom where she was trapped.

In all, more than 130 were rescued since Haiti's earthquake three weeks ago.

(on camera): So what really dictates someone's ability to survive these types of situations? You might guess the first and primary requirement is air. Imagine being trapped in a situation like this in a closed space with not enough oxygen, you're probably just going to have hours.

In fact, a lot of rescue workers when they show up in a situation like this, they'll actually bring these carbon dioxide monitors. You make carbon dioxide when you exhale. And they'll look for carbon dioxide pockets.

If they find a carbon dioxide pocket, it's possible that someone is alive in there and quietly breathing.

(voice-over): Water is the next critical element. Now there's no consensus on just how long a person can survive without it. In fact, the study to find out would be unethical. Seventy-two to 96 hours, that seems to be the window.

So anybody found after three to four days most likely had some access to water, even if only licking the dew off surrounding services.

Food comes next. People have gone up to two months as part of a hunger strike or a fast. And they survived. Accounts by earthquake survivors talk about eating rotten apples and other food that had been next to them.

This woman may be the longest survivor ever trapped after a disaster, Naqsha Bibi. She reportedly lived for more than 60 days buried in the rubble of her home after an earthquake in Pakistan 2005. I met her myself.

(on camera): Can I see her legs? I mean how much weight did she lose here in her legs? Wow. There is no muscle mass, no fat, just skin and bones.

(voice-over): There is no large study of all of these survivors, and maybe there shouldn't be. Because they're all extraordinary, each and every one of them, all by themselves.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


PHILLIPS: We are still the world. Twenty-five years after the original Lionel Ritchie and Quincy Jones are trying it again, this time for Haiti.


LIONEL RITCHIE, SINGER/SONGWRITER: We were 25 and we actually didn't have that cause. And so we were going to hold back. And then all of a sudden Haiti just showed up in the middle of...

QUINCY JONES, ARTIST: We've got a text message that said, "Coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous."

WYCLEF JEAN, ARTIST: So Will.I.Am is cooking on it. Then after that I'm going to go and put some Haitian influence sounds on it. And I think it's going to be a big version of "We are the World."

VINCE VAUGHN, ACTOR: I am doing a solo.



VAUGHN: I don't know what is so funny about that but...

CYRUS: He's going to demonstrate it for us right now.

VAUGHN: When you think of raising money about singing, then, you know obviously I'm going to be sitting here. What can I answer? What's going on? What do you guys need?

JONES: We will have two people in the chorus with green outfits on so online people can go online and put their picture in the crowd. We did with all the latest technology.


PHILLIPS: We won't see a final version for another 10 days. None of the originals were back for round two, by the way. The faces may be different, but the message is definitely the same.

And throw out (INAUDIBLE) rodent and try to predict the next few weeks of weather. Awake young vermin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to Punxsutawney Phil.


PHILLIPS: Unbelievable those guys in the top hats, never get bitten by Punxsutawney Phil. Instead nothing but kisses. Bill Sandler say that he saw the shadows, so you know what that means. Six more weeks of winter.

Thanks, Phil. Now go back to bed, you rat.

Don't know about you but I prefer to leave the weather predicting to the expert. That would Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: I appreciate that. And I shaved this morning so...


MARCIANO: So the whiskers aren't so much (ph).

PHILLIPS: Are you giving out free kisses?


MARCIANO: Only to the special ones, Kyra.



PHILLIPS: Thanks -- thank you, Rob.


PHILLIPS: Well, you one of the six, I guess, maybe seven people left on earth who hasn't seen "Avatar." How cool would it be if "Avatar" came to see you?


PHILLIPS: If you're a Toyota mechanic, eat a good breakfast, have some coffee, the automaker says repairs on those faulty gas pedals will start this weekend. Should take about 30 minutes and won't cost a cent.

We're talking about several million recalled cars, by the way, so the service department is going to be pretty busy. Today's PR -- or Toyota's PR department could be working far longer. Some analysts said it'll take years for that company to get back to its good name and market share.

Flying to Heathrow today? Well, smile, you'll be on a very candid camera. Europe's busiest airport now using those body scanners that pretty show you in all your glory right through to the -- yes, skibbies.

It's the product of the failed Christmas day terror attempt on that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The suspect spent three years in London as a student.

Maybe you've gone to the theater to see "Avatar" like a gazillion others have. But has "Avatar" come to see you? Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang and other cast and crew from "Avatar" visited U.S. troops stationed in Djibouti and Bahrain. Autographs, some pictures, probably a couple of "I love you" in alien comments as well. Then they watched the flick.

So "Avatar" was a hit on the base, but how is it going to go over with the Academy? Yes, today isn't just about groundhogs. Six more weeks of winter, about five more weeks to the Oscar guessing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, you are not in Kansas anymore, you are on Pandora.


PHILLIPS: And opening an entirely different kind of box, it's the award season. The Grammys this past weekend and the Oscar nominees announced just this morning. In the thick of the action, the movie "Avatar" garnering nine nominations along with "The Hurt Locker."

And you thought today's big deal was just that shadow sensitive groundhog? Sorry to disappoint you.

All right, well, one thing is for certain, fewer disappointments for this year's Oscar with an expanded field of nominees for film and this year's class announced just minutes ago.

CNN's entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson live in the city of angels.

Brooke, what were the surprises?

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: You know, not too many surprises here today, Kyra. A few pleasant surprises, but kind of mini surprises, if you will, including Maggie Gyllenhaal for "Crazy Heart." Penelope Cruz, to a certain extent, for "Nine," though she was nominated for a Golden Globe. That was in the Best Musical or Comedy category.

Really the big story here today, "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." They are leading the nominations with nine a piece. James Cameron's "Avatar," Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker." These two used to be married and they are going head to head in the Best Director category as well.

Bigelow really has more momentum right now going into the Oscars because she is fresh off a win in honor from the Directors' Guild of America.

Some others included in the Best Picture category, "Inglorious Basterds," "Precious," "Up in the Air," "The Blind Side." Also the movie "Up." This is only the second time ever that an animated film has been included in that Best Picture category. The first time was "Beauty and the Beast."

The expanded category this year is for 10 nominees in the Best Picture category. First time that has happened since 1944. It's an effort by the Academy to boost ratings. To kind of broaden the appeal and give a little bit more room for some mainstream movies.

Some people did think "Star Trek," maybe "The Hangover," would be included in the Best Picture category but alas, they did not make it.

Some really familiar names in the Best Actor category, including George Clooney. This is his fifth Oscar nominees. It's for "Up in the Air." It would be his second Oscar win.

Really, though, the man to beat is Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart." He is fresh off a SAG win, as well as a Golden Globe win. Really powerful performance there -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I know. I have to tell you, I saw "Crazy Heart" last week, and you just feel -- he plays this down-and-out country singer. And everybody has got to see it because he's so good at just playing a really pathetic character.

Have you seen the movie?

ANDERSON: Yes. It's great, yes. It's a very powerful performance from Jeff Bridges.


ANDERSON: And you know, he's always kind of been an underappreciated actor, but that is ending this year with all of this critical praise that he's receiving. And also, Sandra Bullock. She's really had a tremendous year as well, hasn't she, Kyra?


ANDERSON: This is her first Oscar nomination for "The Blind Side." That movie is an audience favorite. Best Picture nominee. Has grossed more than $200 million at the box office.

So with movies like "The Blind Side" being included in this year's Academy Awards, maybe more people will tune in.

PHILLIPS: Yes, and you know what? It's a feel-good movie and based on a true story. You just can't get enough of that. That's for sure.

All right.

ANDERSON: Can't go wrong.

PHILLIPS: Yes. Good to see you, Brooke. Thanks so much.

ANDERSON: Thanks. You too.

PHILLIPS: Opening up the military to openly gay troops. It's a debate rooted in emotion, pragmatism and money. Could lifting the ban save you tax dollars?


PHILLIPS: Wall Street bouncing back yesterday after a dismal January. The Dow actually kicked off February with a triple-digit gain.

Felicia Taylor at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at whether the rally will continue today.

Hey, Felicia.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a hope so that the rally will continue. Right, now, we are expecting a fairly flat open as investors wait on a housing report that is due out in about 30 minutes at the top of the hour. Throughout the day, though, we're also going to hear from auto makers about their sales figures for January. Toyota is expected to lose U.S. Morgan share because of that recent recall that we've been talking about and re-fault sale some of this key model.

Some of results though from shipping giant UPS leave sentiment today. The company reported fourth quarter profit nearly tripled from a year ago. UPS had a strong holiday shipping season and its international business did pretty well. The company is considered somewhat of a bellwether, a very good indicator of the overall economic health. Naturally, the more items being shipped, the more business is being conducted.

So, also some good news for Americans shopping for alone. The fed says banks have finally stopped tightening loan standards, however that does not necessarily mean that things are getting easier. Most banks have kept stringent standards in place that have been established over the last couple of years. Let's take a look at the early numbers and how things are trading out so far. The Dow right now is up about 20 points, that's a fifth of 1%. The NASDAQ and the S&P are up just practically. UPS shares though are up now about almost 2% on that news I mentioned earlier about their good season.

Finally, super bowl ads; they're sold out. CBS said it sold the final spot for Sunday's game, a few days ahead of schedule. The price, though, for a 30-second commercial, Kyra, about $3 million. No big deal.

PHILLIPS: A mere $3 mill, and apparently there were some controversy over some spots as well, too. We're going to be talking about that.

TAYLOR: Yes, a lot of controversy.

PHILLIPS: All right. Felicia, thanks.

All right. Let's go beyond sticker shock now. President Obama's $3.8 trillion blueprint is out and the congressional architects who will cut the checks are taking a look at it, and while that is going on, the President's Budget Director, Peter Orszag is trying to convince the Senate banking committee how our money should be spent, and then you got Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He is testifying before the Senate finance committee. He is pushing a tax credit for companies that hire more workers, as much as 5 grand per job that's created. The Senate could vote on that as early as this week.

And just when you thought it was over, stimulus, the sequel. The President wants to keep some of those key stimulus programs going, so he is slipping them into the budget; however, Congress would have to approve that, and some of those programs would include more money for Medicaid and infrastructure projects, and renewing tax breaks for workers in small businesses.

So where is the President? He is in New Hampshire pumping up a plan to help small businesses and our stimulus desk is all over it. That's where Josh Levs comes in. He's actually looking at a solar energy project that we've all been paying for.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually, that's a good way to think about it. You know, one of the questions that I keep getting from people, Kyra, you might be getting similar questions to people out there. You have a lot of questions for us about the stimulus, and where the billions of dollars are going. One thing they want to know is what about new forms of energy, and since today, we are looking at New Hampshire on account of the President's visit, we actually stumbled on really interesting project.

We have a screen here that some rises the numbers for you. This is based at Dartmouth College which is there inside New Hampshire, and you can see the total costs that we are talking about, $223,000, and it's to create a new form of solar power, an advanced solar powered technology. Now, you probably really noticing that bottom line there where it says jobs created, zero.

We spoke with them. What they tell us is that they have several people working on it. They using those funds to pay people. They have a few faculty that will come a grad students that are working on this. In fact, they sent us some photos of the project and also of the team that is going about this. We can show you, but what they are saying is they are using that funding. They cannot say that they wouldn't have had this people, otherwise. They cannot say that they wouldn't be doing anything, otherwise, so in terms of actually creating jobs, they got to say that technically it has not created jobs, so far.

But they say the big picture, if you can advance the technology, it could lead to jobs all over the country. If this succeeds, then they are able to create faster, better solar technology for all of us in general that could obviously have great economic effects. It could relieve the dependence on foreign oil and could create jobs around the country, so that's where they stand on that project.

There's a good example of a time just stop and think about, okay, what do you think should get stimulus money and what should not? I was also wondering about the big picture here because that is one project right there. What about all over the country? Got the big figure for you here. From the energy department, they put out an announcement last year about how much money in general, from the stimulus specifically it's going to fund the energy to fund for solar and geothermal energy. $467 million specifically from that giant stimulus pile for the past a year ago.

The $467 million to fund all sorts of programs all over the country, including what you are seeing here. We got some video of just one solar energy effort that goes on in America. These things are going on all the time, and some people think, hey, you should spend a lot more money on it. Other people say this is not the right use of stimulus funds, but ultimately, this is what we get to do today, boil down more and more. Where the $862 billion has gone so far -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, so what do you have for us next hour?

LEVS: Next hour is really interesting. We are looking specifically at-You know, the President is going to be in Nashua, New Hampshire. Let me tell you some about our desk, we have now looked at every single project going on in all of Nashua, New Hampshire, and we're going to tell you how many jobs that created, and we're also going to tell you how your money has been spent in the area that the President is using the highlight today, so we got that for you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Josh.

LEVS: Thank you, guys.

PHILLIPS: Walk a mile in their shoes? Maybe. A decade-old mystery may have finally been solved in Delaware after the police put the cuffs on an alleged shoe bandit.


PHILLIPS: The history of the crossroads with the U.S. military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is on Capitol Hill. He is discussing ending the ban on gays serving in the military. He is to announce the in depth yearlong study on how the ban could be lifted and what the impact would be on troops. Measuring the impact also extends beyond the military. Would repealing the ban actually save taxpayer's money or maybe cost them little more? CNN's Carol Costello looks at the bottom line.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the country grieve by economic anxiety, Republicans say it's not exactly primetime to revisit such a divisive issue.

UNKNOWN MALE: At a time when Americans are asking where are the jobs, why do we want to get in this debate?

COSTELLO: But those who support repealing don't ask, don't tell say now is the time. If Americans want physical responsibility in government, then --

NATHANIEL FRANK, PALM CENTER: Repealing the ban would save money in the long run, absolutely.

COSTELLO: Since 1994, the Pentagon has discharged around 13,000 troops because of don't ask, don't tell. The government's general accountability office says that cost taxpayers more than $190 million. The University of California put the price tag closer to $363 million. If the factor in the cost to recruit train and then discharge cage gay troops. The critics say none of this justifies repealing don't ask, don't tell. $363 million bucks is a drop in the bucket.

BOB MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY: The discharge of 13,000 mini-skilling comparison to the overall administrator burden the military pays every year, discharging 230,000 people a year.

COSTELLO: Other say, repealing the policy could end up costing taxpayers more. A 2008 military time survey showed 24% of military personnel would eventually leave the service if gay troops served openly, and what about the cost of sensitivity training and the possibility of creating separate barracks for gay and straight troops.

DAVID HALL, SERVICE MEMBER'S LEGAL DEFENSE NETWORK: Most people think this is a down law.

COSTELLO: David Hall, who is gay, served six years in the air force before he was outed by a fellow cadet. He says talk of mass exit is ridiculous, and notes the military time survey also showed 71% said they would continue to serve if don't ask, don't tell is repealed. As for separate barracks?

HALL: That makes no sense. I mean, gay people are already serving in the military, and everybody knows that.

COSTELLO: But under don't ask, don't tell, at what costs? Both sides hope Tuesday's congressional hearing will answer that question.


PHILLIPS: All right. We want to know what you think about changing the don't ask, don't tell policy in the military? Send us your feedback at We'll have some of your responses coming up in the next hour.

Having right now in Washington, the National Transportation Safety board set to report on what led to last year's crash of a Colgan Airlines Flight in suburban Buffalo, New York. You may remember, 50 people died in that crash, and it highlighted concerns of pilot training and fatigue.

The stage set in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV. The NFC champs New Orleans Saints taken on the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams arriving in South Florida yesterday. The saints, the five-point underdog according to the odds makers, and it's the franchise' first ever Super Bowl bout. Security at a premium in and around Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium. Federal official say they have not identified any credible terror threats for that big game.

Police in Delaware say that they've figured the shoe bandit that they have been tracking for decades, and at that time, the 46-year-old is blamed for thousands of missing pairs of footwear. So much so that when they found his alleged stash, it took an entire flatbed truck to carry it all off. He is in jail, unable to put the $138,000 ban and likely envy of former Philippine's First Lady, Imelda Marcos.

Freezing foreclosures. Some guys in Detroit have an eye for exterior decorating and the fear of snowman (ph), maybe


PHILLIPS: Police out of uniform for a good cause. They did have to take off their shirts in the freezing temperatures, but that's all right. You have to. You are going to call the event a copsicle, I guess. These Virginia cops raise about two grand for the special Olympics. It's unknown how many called in sick the next day with pneumonia, though. We will update you, part two, tomorrow.

In Detroit, they are putting a major problem on ice. They are taking a look at the icehouse, the deep freeze supposed to call attention to Detroit's frozen housing market. The city has tens of thousands of abandoned homes right now, and one of the ice House organizers say they can be put to better use.


GREGORY HOLM, PHOTOGRAPHER: There is a lot of uses for these homes, you know. You can turn it into art. You can salvage the wood and recycle it. It's just a matter of looking at it from a different perspective.


PHILLIPS: Now, what happens when the ice finally melts? That House will be torn down and the land will be donated.

Both towns, frozen homes and the copsicles are in no immediate danger of melting, isn't that right Rob Marciano?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, actually. The copsicles are definitely frozen, and they can stay that way.

PHILLIPS: They can stay that way for awhile?


PHILLIPS: Hey, I got bad intel.



PHILLIPS: All right, it's February 2nd, 33 days into the New Year and in the Mexican border town of Juarez, well, 230 murders already and that's with thousands of Mexican troops deployed.

CNN's senior Latin American Affairs editor Rafael Romo joining me now talking about a worsening situation there on the border. It seems the death toll now up to 16 from the Sunday morning massacre. What's going on?

RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Kyra it's just amazing. Last year 2,600 people killed. And this is -- it was supposed to be a record. But based on the numbers that we're getting this year so far, like you mentioned, 33 days, 230 people, it's probably going to increase even more.

And the Mexican government has sent thousands and thousands of troops. But the situation doesn't seem to get any better and people are very, very scared.

PHILLIPS: And you know, this is right up against El Paso, Texas. I mean, we've talked to the mayor there and we've talked to the sheriff there. We've talked to reporters that cover that beat, I mean, a lot of them are scared to death because they are being killed for covering the story.

And why do we care? Not only because of the deaths in Juarez, but we're talking about murders and drugs that are rolling into the U.S.

ROMO: Exactly, the violence is spilling over and we have a lot of people who are crossing the border and living in El Paso now because they feel safer. But also we're starting to see problems like homicides, like kidnappings that you didn't see before in El Paso.

And the problem is that Juarez has been chosen by criminal international organizations, not only Mexican drug cartels, as the spring board into the United States drug market. And that's the reason why you see the kind of violence - we're talking about an industry, an illegal industry that makes about $20 billion a year in profits based on drug sales alone. This is only seconds to the oil industry in Mexico, for example.

So you have a big problem that pertains to not only Mexico, but also the United States and also the South American countries, countries like Colombia who produce cocaine and ship it to Mexico and then from Juarez is...

PHILLIPS: Coming into the U.S.

ROMO: ... coming into the United States -- exactly.

PHILLIPS: So -- so here's comes my next question and you know there's been lots of controversy how involved should the U.S. become in this when it comes to military and policing and being able to go into Juarez. And there's a huge controversy, but what Juarez upped the military effort, it made a big difference but then they backed off because there is so much corruption and involvement with the cartel.

So what are we doing on the U.S. side? Did we get stimulus dollars to go towards police and border efforts to keep these guys out? What kind of funding have we received? ROMO: Not exactly stimulus dollars, but the United States under the Merida (ph) initiative has been giving money to Mexico to fight the drug cartels. We're talking about roughly $48 million in the last two years or so.

But this money is definitely, probably, you can buy a helicopter or two. It's definitely not enough to compete against international organized crimes.

PHILLIPS: The power of the cartel.

ROMO: And like I said before, we're talking about profits of $20 billion. As you can imagine, they have the best weapons in the world, they have...


ROMO: ...they are better organized than the Mexican Army and Mexican police combined. So it's a huge international problem.

PHILLIPS: I remember interviewing some Mexican cops and they said you know what, the bad guys have got far more firepower than we will ever have. And so how are you supposed to, you know, be able to take them down?

ROMO: You're talking about high-caliber weapons...


ROMO: ...compared to 22-caliber pistols. So that's the problem there.

PHILLIPS: Well, we'll stay on top of the story that's for sure. Thank you, Rafael.

Well, remember that old game from grade school, "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar". Well, there's an updated version. It's called who took the money from the Haiti jar. Police sure would like to know who these two are and seriously it doesn't get much lower than this.


PHILLIPS: Oh, yes, that whole "We Are the World" thing, well it really didn't sink in with one couple. Just check out this security video from a restaurant near Kansas City.

Watch the woman on the lower left. She's checking out the donation jar for Haiti and she puts it down. And then here comes her husband, boyfriend, brother -- we're really not sure what he is besides a low life but we're pretty sure he is a thief too.

Yes, you want fries with that jar? Liberty, Missouri police looking for the couple. If the two ever wanted to be CNN Heroes, they can forget about that. And if you and your sweetie break up like that donation-stealing couple probably will, here's an idea of what you could do with the stuff he or she leaves behind. Give it to Good Will instead of the dumpster or the fireplace. Oh yes.

Good Will near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has a donation drive going. Dump your exes' stuff, jewelry, wedding dresses, monograms, towels, the bread maker you never use, they'll take it. Too bad they won't take the baggage or the tattoos.

And this just in, Aussies love their booze. A poll from the Charity Belfast found that one in five drinkers down under would rather go without sex than alcohol. And 12 percent said they would pick alcohol over their friends if they had to choose. However, here's a good thing, Belfast is trying to get Australians to give up drinking this month. Good luck with that.

All right. There's a lot going on this morning and we have crews in place to bring you all the details. We're going to check with our correspondents beginning with Poppy Harlow in New York. Hey Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kyra. How big of a hit did Toyota sales take last month following that massive recall? We're going to look at the numbers that are expected. Also we talked to a lot of consumers on the street this week about how they're feeling about the whole recall. We'll have more on that coming up in the next hour.

MARCIANO: I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. We are celebrating Groundhog Day. Depending on which rodent you listen to will mean different things for different people. We'll learn that down. Plus today's forecast in the next hour.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks guys.

Well, the hardships of war, the hard decisions of leadership. Two combat vets now serving in Congress answer the big question, does sexual orientation matter in the war zone?


PHILLIPS: Let's see what's happening on We're going to go to our News Pulse icon. If you head there to you'll find it up on the top left. These are stories we like to check about every 15 minutes or so because that's when it's updated. But sometimes we're covering these stories. Sometimes there's something out there that you're interested in that we're not covering.

We did talk about the list of the Academy Award nominations. That is the most popular clicked on story right now on on the News Pulse right now.

And then here's one that we actually didn't get to today. Let me read a little bit of this for you. Virgin Airlines unveiled the latest addition to Richard Branson's luxury fleet on Friday. Listen to this. He's got an underwater plane that's going to fly riders into the depths of the Caribbean Sea. That ought to be fun.

And then the third, we've been talking about this all day, Groundhog Day, yes, Phil saw the shadow. We've got more winter ahead.

Every 15 minutes it's updated so check it out, pulse.