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Fending Off Foreclosures; "He's Screwing Up Big Time"; Fight For Fastest Internet Ever; Former Wall Street Employee in Harlem; Woman's Facebook Friend Burglarizes Home; New Tax Deductions Available from Recovery Act; NASCAR Racing Run-Ins

Aired March 26, 2010 - 08:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Glad you are with us on this Friday. It's March 26th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us. Here are your top stories this morning.

Help is on the way for unemployed Americans who are in trouble when it comes to paying their mortgages. President Obama expected to announce a new relief plan later on this morning. We're breaking it all down for you.

CHETRY: Also, the fix is in. Late last night, the House approved the health care reform fixes. The next stop, President Obama's desk. He's expected to sign it next week. We're going to be taking a look at the entire week of health care with CNN's chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. Just ahead.

ROBERTS: Deadline day for cities across America hoping to be rewired by Google for super, that's meaning better than super, ultrafast internet access. We're talking with two feuding mayors about why they think their city should win.

And if you have something to say this morning, join the conversation on our blog, We will read your comments throughout the hour.

CHETRY: We start though with President Obama's new plan to try to help save the homes for millions of unemployed Americans. Right now, one in four homeowners is considered under water. It means they owe more than their house is worth.

The White House plan would temporarily reduce or, in some cases, suspend monthly mortgage payments for many unemployed homeowners for up to six months. In some cases, borrowers could actually get mortgage balances reduced.

Stephanie Elam joins us in a moment to break down how all of it would work.

First, though, we are going to bring in Kate Bolduan live from the White House. And, Kate, you know, in some ways, this could be a controversial move. The inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program was pretty hard on the administration for the first try at helping homeowners prevent foreclosures. So, it's back to the drawing board with this new plan.


Well, right now, this could be seen as controversial, especially when you are talking about reducing loan balances. We've heard concerns in the past when it comes to the government stepping in to help homeowners who are facing foreclosure and the efforts that they do in order -- that they take in order to help homeowners. Some are saying that it's unfair to help certain homeowners who may have made bad decision, while other homeowners continue to make timely payments on their homes every month.

But this effort this time around by the administration, they stretch, is really to focus on better helping the unemployed. And unemployment is really seen as one of the major sources of current loan defaults. And that's what they're really trying to focus on here.

But, look, you know, this is -- this comes right after the president has really wrapped up and finalized his number one domestic priority, health care. And what we see here is this White House really trying to make a turn to focus on another major issue, a huge issue, facing many Americans today -- really trying to stay in their homes. And that's what you see, them trying to make this effort.

This White House stresses that this is more after a tweak to existing programs than a major new initiative. But you really mentioned that those previous attempts to previous programs, especially when you are talking about their signature program, the foreclosure prevention that was announced last year, has really been criticized as being ineffective and doing too little. So, you can be sure that the administration is going to be in -- their announcement, going to be promoting the positive and looking for more success on this program this time around.

CHETRY: Kate Bolduan for us at the White House this morning -- thank you.

ROBERTS: All right. Let's bring in Stephanie Elam who is here to tell us how it all works.

Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to break down the operations that we're getting out of this one. And there's a lot going on here. So, let's jump into it.

The idea here is to temporarily slash or eliminate some of these monthly mortgage payments for unemployed Americans who have these mortgages. Now, the lenders are going to cut payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower's income. And that's typically the amount that they get through unemployment insurance for three to six months. And then they can even let a borrower go ahead and skip payments in some of the cases.

And they also are going to offer incentives to banks -- the government will -- to help under water borrowers by cutting their loan balances all together. Previously, the focus was on changing the interest rate. That wasn't getting a lot of response. These borrowers come into the banks and rework out some sort -- some sort of program. So, because of that, they're now looking at the principal balance here.

They also are saying that when you take a look at how this has all been working and why it's been such a bad situation -- sure, in the beginning, when the housing problem began, it was about people who had one or two homes here and there and they wanted to, you know, just enjoy life in Florida during the winter and they just wanted to have a nice house in Las Vegas -- all of these things. Well, these people had an issue.

But now, that's not the case. The case they are saying now is because the economy got so bad, so many people were not able to get jobs. Keep in mind, the unemployment rate right now is at about 9.7 percent of this country. All of that is coming in together. People can't get jobs, therefore, can't pay their mortgages.

And they want to keep people in their house. That's the most important thing. If you keep people in their house, it's better for the economy, it's better for the banks, and it's obviously better for the people, too.

ROBERTS: So, who is paying for all of this?

ELAM: That's the question everyone wants to know. And apparently, the government says it's already paid for. This $50 billion set of money that they're saying is already part of the TARP. Meaning of the TARP -- Troubled Asset Relief Program. Yes, so -- they're saying --

ROBERTS: Officially known as TARP.

ELAM: The TARP. So, because of that, they are saying there will be no new taxes and that this is already funded. But they are saying that some will still need help after six months and that some people, it wouldn't matter if there is this help, will still probably lose their homes. They're just trying to keep more people in their homes at this point.

ROBERTS: All right. Stephanie Elam this morning with that -- thanks, Stephanie.

ELAM: Sure.

Another one of the president's top priorities and campaign promises is now officially for real -- yes, it's over, a done deal. The bill of fixes is now waiting for President Obama's signature after the House passed the final reconciliation bill in a 220 to 207 vote late last night.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: On this vote, the yeas are 220. The nays are 207. The motion is adopted.



ROBERTS: And just like every other vote before it, this one received no Republican support. Of course, the Democrats voted against it as well. This package adds more than $60 billion to the overall plan, cost partly by expanding insurance subsidies for middle and lower income families.

CHETRY: Other stories new this morning at five minutes past the hour.

More than 100 deaths could be caused by Toyota's sudden acceleration defect. And now, investigators want to look into that. The "L.A. Times" is reporting that the recent increase in deaths and also the mounting complaints have safety officials calling for in- depth investigations into each of the fatal accidents connected to Toyota's problems.

In the meantime, Toyota's legal team wants federal judges to consolidate dozens of lawsuits filed nationwide against the company into one.

ROBERTS: Former Senator John Edwards alleged sex tape survived a fire at a North Carolina courthouse because the tape was not there at the time. The tape had been moved to another building after a February court hearing where Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, demanded it be returned to her. A judge denied that request.

CHETRY: Dennis Hopper given the green light by a doctor to attend the unveiling of his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame today. The 73-year-old actor has been undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Hopper is best known for his roles in "Easy Rider," "Apocalypse Now," and to younger generation, "Speed."

ROBERTS: Six minutes after the hour. Now, let's get a quick check at this morning's weather headlines. Rob Marciano is in Atlanta.

And we got another low setting over the Northeast, Rob. What's up?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Sorry about that. I hope you enjoyed the last couple of days with that very nice spring weather. Now, you're going -- spring showers. That's how it goes this time of year. You'll a day of gorgeous stuff and a day of not so gorgeous stuff.

On the map, we got a couple of storms to deal with. One out west, bringing in some snow; and then, the one out east bringing mostly rain. But also, a little snow trying to mix in there across northern New England. So, if you see a few flakes flying around, don't worry. It's not going to last all that long. But it does indicate obviously that there is colder air behind us.

It will be a breezy, and at least in the morning, a damp day for the major metropolitan cities from Boston all the way down to D.C. Behind this, obviously very chill, temperatures have not climbed above 32. They've tried, but from Chicago to Detroit to Columbus, Ohio, and back to St. Louis, remaining below freezing. They will rebound later on today. Sun is still so strong this time of year. So, don't worry about that.

Forty-six in Chicago, it will be 70 degrees in Dallas, 44 degrees in New York City, and 71 if you're traveling out towards Los Angeles.

NASCAR -- I'm going to talk about this story I did with NASCAR. They have loosened the rules this year to kind of try to spice things up a little bit, get the drivers going head to head, so to speak. And we'll talk more about that in about 15 minutes -- John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: Head to head or bumper to bumper, I guess.

MARCIANO: Bumper to bumper, yes.

CHETRY: They're more aggressive.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to that, Rob. Thanks so much.

MARCIANO: Bye, guys.

ROBERTS: Still ahead on the Most News in the Morning: a tale of two cities. Both of them want super fast Internet connections. Google is offering up a huge prize, and we're talking with the mayors of Duluth and Sarasota who are going head-to-head -- just ahead.


CHETRY: Well, if 2012 presidential election was held today, who would win? According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, it's a tossup at this point, even though there wasn't even a Republican there to fill in the blank. Forty-seven percent of those questioned say they would vote for the president. Another 47 percent say they'd back an unnamed Republican.

When asked if President Obama would win in 2012, 44 percent of those said yes; 54 percent said no.


CHETRY: Well, President Obama reaching across the literary aisle during an unannounced stop to an independent bookstore in Iowa City yesterday, joking whether he should buy the new books by Mitt Romney and Karl Rove. Instead, he'd picked up two books for his daughters and one for Robert Gibbs' son.

ROBERTS: Plus, for the second time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accidentally voted the wrong way on health care reform, chocking up to all those late-nights, I guess. When it came time for him to vote, Senator Reid mistakenly said no. The chamber erupted in laughter and the majority quickly corrected himself.

CHETRY: Freudian slip there twice.

ROBERTS: Just a little too exciting. Even though this fall's midterm election is still more than six months away, some lawmakers in Congress are already on the ropes. One of them, none other than the Senate majority himself.

Our Jessica Yellin went one-on-one with the Nevada Democrat and asked him about the ballot box showdown that he is facing back home.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in the fight for his political life. And now, Sarah Palin is rallying his critics riding the Tea Party Express into his hometown.

(voice-over): In Nevada politics, the stakes couldn't be higher for Senator Harry Reid. His big bet on health care reform turned into a win in Washington. But it's not playing as well with voters back at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the health care thing, he's screwing up big-time. So he is out.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Legislation will --

YELLIN: After four terms in the U.S. Senate, the majority leader could lose his job this November. Polls show a majority of Nevadans don't like him and only a third would vote for him.

(on camera): Why do so many voters in Nevada dislike you?

REID: Well, I don't think many voters in Nevada dislike me. I think that we have an economic situation in Nevada that is very difficult.

YELLIN (voice-over): Nevada is number one in the nation in home foreclosures, number two in unemployment.

(on camera): The casino business has been battered. The number of conventions here has plummeted. Gambling revenue was down more than $1 billion last year.

Folks who are here don't just blame on the recession, they're mad at President Obama -- because twice, he has told cash-strapped Americans not to go blowing their money in Vegas. Plenty of folks who work here say Senator Reid should have convinced the president not to say that. ANNOUNCER: Harry Reid -- determination that makes a difference.

YELLIN (voice-over): Reid's message, thanks to his powerful post as major leader, he can deliver in a way no freshman senator could.

REID: There are so many things that wouldn't happen but for the position that I have.

YELLIN: But because of that role, he's become a lightning rod for Republican criticism and he's taking fire from all sides. Republican challenger, Sue Lowden.

SUE LOWDEN (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR NEVADA: He's lost touch with what's going on here in Nevada. It's all about the jobs. His solution is to put this country more in debt, to tax the country more.

YELLIN: And from a tea party contender, Scott Ashjian.

SCOTT ASHJIAN, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR NEVADA: Reid is definitely not doing the job. Reid is 70 years old and he should be playing golf in Florida probably.

YELLIN: Even the dean of Nevada's political press corps says Reid has a difficult hand to play.

JON RALSTON, NEVADA POLITICAL ANALYST: He says things that are intemperate. He's not very charismatic. He can't come back to the state and wow people.

YELLIN: Senator Reid has survived tough campaigns before. But Republicans are betting this year, his luck will run out.

(on camera): Now, keep in mind, Reid can raise as many money as he needs. His campaign thinks they can still win over hundreds of thousands of new Nevada voters and with a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, that could split the conservative vote and give Reid a narrow victory -- John, Kiran.


CHETRY: Jessica Yellin for us -- thanks so much.

We're taking a quick look through the blogs. A lot of comments this morning.

One of them is Candace from Pennsylvania. "What are these people think can they can do when this threaten government officials. These threats are uncalled for. If people don't like what their representatives are doing, vote them out the next election."

And there are some other really interesting ones this morning. "Change is good, but it needs to make little to no public notice. Mr. Gates should just have wrote the memo to his generals and not put it in the public eye. That would have been the most effective way." That's C Anderson speaking about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We have a lot of great blog postings today. We want to thank everybody who took part in it, as well. And you can continue to check it out and participate, to weigh in -- John.

ROBERTS: A Wall Street businessman heads uptown to Harlem to teach kids why it is better to save than to spend. For them it's a new lesson, and for a lot of us, it is a really good reminder. We will have that story coming up for you.

It's 16 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Eighteen minutes after the hour.

Google is looking to turn one lucky town on to the on ramp for a souped up information highway. Later on this year, it is going to pick a city that's going to, free of charge, lay a new fiber broadband network that will bring internet speeds 100 times faster than anything that we have seen up until now. Today, is the deadline for cities to apply.

Our next guests are fighting to win the right, even promoting today's appearance here on AMERICAN MORNING as, quote, "The Feud For Fiber." In one corner, we got Duluth, Minnesota, population 86,000, rated as one of the top four Mid-Western small cities. Average January low, negative 2.2 degrees. We'll tell you the significance of that in just a second. Represented today by Mayor Don Ness.

In the other corner, Sarasota, Florida, population, 55,000, rated one of the best places to live by "Money" magazine. Average January Low, 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Represented by Mayor Richard Clapp this morning.

Gentlemen, great to see you. And Mayor Ness, let's start with you. Give us your pitch to win this ultrafast information super highway host from Google?

MAYOR DON NESS, DULUTH, MINNESOTA: Well, first of all, we are prepared to make sure that Google's experiment is a success. And Duluth is a beautiful city with an authentic sense of place. We are built upon a hill overlooking the greatest lake in the world, Lake Superior. And we have a strong network of entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and a business community that has rallied behind this idea. And we want to make sure that with this experiment that we believe in, an open network and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to come and experiment with this great tool.

ROBERTS: All right. Mayor Clap, time for the counterpunch. What do you got?

MAYOR RICHARD CLAPP, SARASOTA, FLORIDA: Hey, we got a great quality of life here in Sarasota. We have got several businesses already involved in high technology, looking at digital applications. You might have heard of Integra Click, Fast Pitch. We have some colleges here that are involved in digital applications. Ringling College of Art and Design has a really high ranking in the world for producing digital animation films. Some of their students have worked on "Avatar" recently. We have a great creative class that's developing here in Sarasota. You have probably seen some of their work on some of the Google island site that we have here in Sarasota.

ROBERTS: All right. Applications -- you never want to go to the second page of an application, Mayor. You know, the two of you individually have tried to bring attention to yourselves by doing essentially the same thing, only in extremely different environments and it involves swimming. Mayor Ness, why don't you tell us what you did?

NESS: Well, the first week of the art campaign, we wanted to bring some attention to our efforts, specifically mostly for our local folks. So some of our committee said, Mayor, what we think you should do is jump in Lake Superior. And I said, that's a terrible idea. But they were persistent. And I believe strongly in the need to bring attention to this through public education and so I agreed to do it. It was a great experience.

ROBERTS: How cold was it? How cold was it?

NESS: Well, you know, I grew up swimming in Lake Superior, never in February before. But it was very cold, but once the adrenaline --

ROBERTS: So how cold was it?

NESS: Oh, it was probably air temperature about 35. And water temperature probably just a little below that.

ROBERTS: Oh, just brisk. Mayor Clapp, what did you do?

CLAPP: Well, I jumped in a nine-foot tank of water filled with bonet-head sharks. One of our attractions here is Marine Research Institute. And they keep tanks of sharks for study and for public display and tourism, that kind of thing. So, I had never been in the water with an air hose before. But I willingly went in there and swam with the sharks. We actually were trying to one up the mayor of Duluth. We appreciate what he did but we think we did a one up on him.

ROBERTS: And he is trying to one up you again because he got a celebrity Senator to make a pitch for his town. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Duluth has a man here, once again, to answer your questions about your vacation in Duluth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In those days, Google didn't exist. Cities had to rely on people to remember all its key facts. Duluth is the site of the Glen Sheen mansion. The Duluth depot is the home of the second largest display of the railroad equipment.


ROBERTS: All right. Well, the railroad museum, obviously, a huge draw there in Duluth.

Mayor Clapp came back at you Mayor Ness with his own celebrity, none other than Dick Vital, right in the middle of March Madness. Let's look.


DICK VITAL, COLLEGE BASKETBALL COMMENTATOR: Sarasota is the best. It is souped up, scintillating, sensational. There are a bunch of PTPers here, baby, prime-time performers.


ROBERTS: All right. So, Mayor Ness, tell me very, very quickly, how would Google transform your city?

NESS: We believe that we are well-positioned because of the entrepreneurs that we have in town, the institutional support, that would transform our local economy and create a success story that would be relevant to communities across the nation. That's the one thing that I think Google will look closely at, is be able to take a success story and replicate it and convince other communities to make this sort of investment in broadband infrastructure.

ROBERTS: And Mayor Clapp, really quickly, how would it transform your city?

CLAPP: We are in the Florida technology corridor. We need some help in getting our creative class up and running even stronger than we are now. We know it is going to be a big transformation here, with Ringling College of Design, with marine, great stuff going on here.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, good luck to both of you gentlemen. It sounds like a fun competition. There's a lot of other cities in the running too, including Topeka, Kansas, which for the month of march renamed the city Google. So, you got some stiff competition out there. Good luck to you though gentlemen. Thanks for being with us.

CLAPP: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Twenty-four and a half minutes after the hour. We'll be right back.


CHETRY: Welcome back.

Top stories just a couple minutes away. But first, an "AM Original", something you will see only on AMERICAN MORNING. It's no secret that as a nation, we are spending far too much.

ROBERTS: You just have to look at the $12 trillion deficit to know that. We are also doing it personally, carrying a whole lot of credit card debt. We found one businessman though who is teaching teens to be smart with their money now so they are not buried under debt later in life. Deb Feyerick is here with more. This is just such a great thing to do for young people.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no question about it. You know, when you think about it, money is all around us. But how much do you really know when you are a teenager graduating high school. Well, there is one man. He is making a difference. And in fact, he is teaching those who arguably, need it the most.


FEYERICK (voice-over): You may wonder what the co-founder of a multibillion dollar hedge fund is doing in Harlem. He is teaching a course on money or, rather, financial responsibility.

(on camera): What do you this is the biggest thing holding these kids back?


FEYERICK (voice-over): Meet former Goldman Sachs banker and trader, Steven Mandis. These are his students, most of them seniors at the Thurgood Marshall Academy on 135th street.

(on camera): What would you say is the biggest misconception when it comes from people thinking about this area and the Inner City?

MALCOLM WICKS, STUDENT: They think that we are street smart and not actually book smart. But, it is our goal and it is up to us to get pass that.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Malcolm Wicks grew up in the Inner City surrounded by crime, drugs, poverty, gangs. Now, once a week after school, these teens learn about things like investing and mortgages.

MANDIS: How much do you typically want to have as a deposit when you are buying a home? About 20 percent.

WICKS: Everything I learn, I bring home to my parents, and my family, and then they could understand what I'm doing.

FEYERICK (on camera): Are they, are your parents a little surprised? Did they say, boy, I wish I had known that?


FEYERICK (voice-over): Though Wall Street is just a subway ride away, none of them has ever spent time there, much less met anyone who worked there.

TUWANI: Before Steve came, it always seemed like it was a secret and now he like unveiled it.

FEYERICK: Invessa Tuwani (ph) is 15 and the only sophomore in the group.

INVESSA TUWANI, STUDENT: Yes, it's like learning to sing from Beyonce. FEYERICK: Learning, for example, how to ask the right questions like the day they analyzed the credit crisis. Role playing Invessa (ph) asked --

TUWANI: Do you have proof and documentation?

MANDIS: And I said, geez, if somebody had just asked that common question at the beginning, we would probably would not be in this big a trouble as we are. And it's a matter of giving them the confidence that they understand that that's actually a very good question. That's sort of a big part of finance.

FEYERICK (on camera): Before you started this class, when thought about people who were really rich, who did you think of?

TUWANI: Bill Gates.

FEYERICK: Who else?

TUWANI: Oprah Winfrey.


FEYERICK: Now, they have learned to see, well, differently.

TUWANI: It's not about how much you can spend. It's about how much you can save.

FEYERICK: It's about how much you get to save. And Malcolm?

WICKS: She took the words out of my mouth.

FEYERICK: In your mind, what is success? If these kids go off to run a fortune 500 company, or something perhaps more modest?

WICKS: Success is for them to be happy, and I think part of happiness is having control of your own financial destiny.


FEYERICK: The teenagers say when they started this course, on a scale of one to ten, their level of understanding was really between a two and a three, and now they feel it's up to an eight or nine, and that's really impressive.

All will be going to college. They were waiting for their letters to come in the mail. So far, only one plans to start a career in finance and maybe even start their own hedge fund.

CHETRY: But even if they don't go that far, to have that self- awareness and to understand the importance of savings and living within your means is really important.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. I said, if I give you $1,000 right now, what would you do? And they said I would put $990 in the banks and save $10 for a subway ride. ROBERTS: That's a great attitude to have.

FEYERICK: And they are bringing that information to their parents, that's key, because that information their parents didn't have.

ROBERTS: Fabulous stuff. Deb Feyerick this morning. Deb, thanks.

CHETRY: We are crossing the hour right now. It's time for a look at our top stories.

Help may be on the way for homeowners. The president is set to unveil a plan today that could keep many unemployed American in their homes by temporarily reducing or suspending their mortgage payments.

ROBERTS: The health care overhaul is now complete. The bill of fixes is waiting for President Obama's signature after it cleared the Senate and House for a second time.

And amazing pictures coming out of Iceland this morning as a volcano erupts for the first time in nearly two centuries. Hundreds of people are fleeing the area near the glacier. Experts feel that spewing lava will create dangerous flooding or that another larger eruption may be looming. Incredible pictures.

CHETRY: It's 32 minutes past the hour right now. A warning this morning about what you post online and how you choose your virtual friends. A couple learning the hard way you need to be careful what you reveal sometimes.

Keri McMullen posted this innocent seeming status update last week on her Facebook page -- "Heading to the hill with Kurt to see fire department." They were going to see a band called fire department. The show started at 8:00.

At 8:42, cameras in their home caught two men breaking into Keri's house, the whole thing caught on tape. She posted some of the pictures online, and she began to realize that one of the men looked suspiciously like someone who had recently friended her on Facebook.

Keri's here now along with her fiancee, Kurt. Thanks to both of you for being with us. Scary stuff. Keri, first of all, you saw the tape. Did you make that connection right away that this was somebody who had recently put in a friend request to you?

KERI MCMULLEN, SAYS FACEBOOK BURGLARIZED HOME: No. It was the next day, because I had never looked at his page. It was just someone I knew from the old neighborhood. So I had never looked at his website to see pictures of what he looked like today. It was after I posted his pictures on Facebook that someone brought it to my attention.

CHETRY: What was your reaction if you figured, put two and two together? MCMULLEN: I was shocked. I didn't think I had anyone on my friend's list that I couldn't trust to let know I was going to be gone for the night.

CHETRY: You guys leave your house and come back and see all of your electronic equipment and TVs and laptops were stolen. How did you have the cameras up?

KURT PENDLETON, KERI MCMULLEN'S FIANCEE: We put in the cameras to keep an eye on the house how while it was shown. I never suspected I would catch any criminal on it. I think we put it up about a week before, and came home, checked all the windows and doors to see who broke in and then checked the recordings to see how they did it. and that's the image that I got and I called her.

CHETRY: This is one of the other images. You see the laptop in the foreground. Where did you have this camera?

PENDLETON: It was mounted right below the plasma TV they took off the wall.

CHETRY: In a second, you see them walking off with it. What was it like to view this tape?

PENDLETON: It's like an invasion of your privacy. They are just materialistic things. But the fact they came in your home so easily and they could do it any time, whether we are home or not, that frightens me.

CHETRY: The other thing you talked about was how they broke in. You have video also of what the doors looked like. You had locked the house, double bolted it when you left. How did they manage to get in?

MCMULLEN: They took a screwdriver and jimmied the back door.

CHETRY: So they basically jammed open the back doors, and you can see the screwdriver marks on it.

First of all, let me just ask you about what was happening in the future? Have the cops spoken to these people?

MCMULLEN: I think the cops are trying to locate the person of interest. He has not been positively ID-ed yet. We are hoping he will be found.

CHETRY: Do you think you are going to get your stuff back?

MCMULLEN: I hope so. We are holding off on the insurance part of it hoping we get some of it back.

CHETRY: When you say it is being shown, you were renting this house but the owners are looking to sell it, so you have people going in there, and so that's why you wanted these cameras to make sure everything stayed put.

MCMULLEN: Correct. We decided not to buy the house and to move. So the owners put it up for sale. We were told they can show the house when we are not home. Just to feel safe, we wanted the cameras up. It is part of what he does for work. So we had the cameras sitting in the office. It took an hour to install just to feel a little bit safer.

CHETRY: And another question -- have you tried to reach out on Facebook to this individual that you think was likely behind it?


CHETRY: Have you defriended him?


CHETRY: OK. And has anything happened in terms of how you are going to approach social networking? Do you feel a little more leery now about posting status updates?

MCMULLEN: I will post status updates, but it won't be about what I'm doing or where I'm going or that I'm home by myself. It will be more how my day was, or, you know, something like that. I won't ever say what I'm doing again, just because I do have a lot of friends but you don't know who your friends are in the long run. You don't know who you can trust.

CHETRY: The other interesting thing, this was a high profile ring. People were robbing celebrity houses, they were getting information on twitter status updates. If people are saying here I am at such and such event, a lot of people, and on twitter, you can follow anybody. You don't have to friend them.

It seems like there is a new vulnerability with how easy it is to get access to what people are doing using the internet.


MCMULLEN: I have had a lot of comments from people on Facebook that I don't know. People told me their stories and told me thank you for coming on TV and sharing. I have had people tell me I'm stupid for posting that I'm going to be out for the evening.

I don't think that's fair. Someone can see that you are at a bar and know that you are out for the evening and go break in your home or see that you are out to dinner. I don't think it is fair to call people stupid when everybody does it. It's just a lesson learned.

CHETRY: It's a cautionary tale. Good luck. I hope you get your stuff back. I hope the people behind this get in trouble.

MCMULLEN: Thank you.

CHETRY: They should. Thanks so much to both of you, Keri McMullen as well as Kurt Pendleton.

It's 38 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Well, it is time, time to put your taxes in order. There is a lot of information to keep track of. Last year stimulus package unleashed a variety of new and expanded deductions and credits.

ROBERTS: To make sure you get what you deserve, Stephanie Elam watching your money. She joins us to break it all down. Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. If you haven't thought about your taxes, it is time to start cranking it up, April 15th.

CHETRY: Have you filed yet?

ROBERTS: I haven't filed yet, but I gave all the stuff to the accountant a long time ago. I have been phoning but he hasn't gotten back to me yet.

ELAM: For those of you out there taking a look at all this, there are a few places you can cut your taxes in a big way.

First, the home buyer tax credit. This was extended beyond first-timers. So if you owned a home but bought a new one after November 6th, 2009, you might be eligible. And keep in mind that 2010 purchases still count. You have until April 30th to sign a contract and until June 30th to close in order to claim it on your 2009 return.

Also, if you bought a new car after February 16th, you are in luck as well. You can deduct the sales tax on up to $49,500 of the price of your new car, your motorcycle, or motor home whichever may be the case for you, Kiran.

CHETRY: All three.

Mini-van, can you write up anything like that? It's just street credit, that's all I am worried about.


ELAM: Clearly, you are. But when it comes to you fine folks with children who already have children.

CHETRY: What else can you deduct?

ELAM: This maybe a little early for you, Kiran, but, John, this could apply for you, because if you have a kid in college, you can claim up to $2,500 a student under the new American tax opportunity tax credit. There are other tax credits out there. But here's the thing, you can't take more than one credit a student.

So do some comparison shopping, try to get the max amount possible.

Another important change this year, anyone who doesn't fall into the AMT zone, that alternative minimum tax that was put in to make sure all the rich people are paying their taxes. Inflation, it's gone up, and so you are seeing more and more people falling into it because salaries are going up but it hasn't been adjusted for inflation. So more people are falling into that.

You can get some personal exemption for claiming children as dependents as long as you are outside of that AMT zone. In years passed it starts at $3,650, phased out at higher income levels. This year it phases down but not out. Everything from making your home more energy efficient to donation to helping Haiti out, all of those are tax deductible this year.

For a full list and more ideas on how you can cut your taxes if that's what you plan on doing this weekend, head to and get your taxes out of the way.

ROBERTS: There is a difference between avoiding taxes and evading taxes.

ELAM: That's true.

ROBERTS: It is fine to avoid taxes.

ELAM: One is legal, and one is not.

CHETRY: And the IRS is doing more auditing.

ELAM: Yes, so stay on it. But you just want to make sure you get all the tax credits that are out there for you. Don't miss them.

CHETRY: Thanks, Steph.

All right, well, we are going to take a quick break. Please, John's tax accountant, call him. We'll be back.


ROBERTS: Let's get a quick check of this morning's weather headlines. Rob Marciano is in Atlanta. And we've got more bad weather in the northeast. Rob it just won't stop.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you had a couple days of good stuff. So I hope you enjoyed it. But today, a little bit more damp and dreary and certainly on the cool side with this storm that's trying to move offshore.

The moisture is doing that pretty well. But there is still some lingering back here around D.C. So we're not going to see a complete dry out I think today. It will be damp and it will be cool.

Temperatures actually will be falling throughout the day. You can see a little bit of snow mixing in across part of New England. No accumulations expected. Where it is dry, though, it's still chilly, temperatures not really getting above freezing just yet. But once the sun goes to work here I think, this time of year, we should get above the freezing mark. As a matter temperatures are getting to the 40s and the 50s in many spots.

It's that time of year where we see some snow across parts of the intermountain west. And yes we've got a winter storm warning posted for an area just south of Denver. You could see five to ten inches of snow here. Similar amounts to the elevations across parts of interior sections of the Wasatch, San Juan (ph) and the rest of the northern Colorado Rockies.

Tomorrow's forecast brings this here, a little bit of rain and some snow. And high pressure does builds into the Northeast. So that will be mostly dry weather tomorrow albeit, a little bit of a chill in the air. The long-range forecast as we mentioned earlier is for a warming trend over the next couple of weeks.

John and Kiran back up to you.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good day to stay inside and figure out your taxes.

MARCIANO: Oh, yes. Have fun.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHETRY: Have a good weekend.

All right, it's 48 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.


CHETRY: Every week, we honor a new CNN hero, an everyday person changing the world in their own special way. And this morning, we have an amazing update on one of our heroes from back in 2008. Back then, Anne Mahlum started a program to help the homeless get back on their feet.

Here is Anderson Cooper.



ANNE MAHLUM, CNN HERO 2008: You can change the world through decent humanity, kindness and encouragement and giving people a second chance.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two years ago, Ann Mahlum was honored as a CNN hero for helping those who might otherwise be forgotten, the homeless.

MAHLUM: So women should go over there and we're going to fit you for shorts and we're going to fit you for your shirts.

COOPER: Her "Back on My Feet" program inspires homeless men and women to change their own lives sharing the benefits of running as well as providing job training skills.

What started off as a small running club of 300 has expanded to more than 1,500 members with 17 teams running three times a week. It spread throughout Philadelphia, Baltimore, just this week, Washington, D.C.

MAHLUM: You're doing great.

Since being a CNN hero, it has been extraordinary. I have received so many requests for expansion and people wanting to bring this program to their city.


COOPER: Anne has done more than just help get them off the streets. Last year alone, more than 170 members found work, started job training or moved out of shelters. And Anne isn't stopping any time soon.

MAHLUM: All right. We are at the homestretch, guys. So pick it up.

COOPER: Along with First Lady, Michelle Obama, she is featured in this month's issue of "Fitness" magazine and has plans to expand to Boston and Chicago later this year.

MAHLUM: We just gave them the opportunity to do something great. They took advantage of it and they did it.


CHETRY: Wonderful work. Well, to nominate someone who you think is changing the world, go to


ROBERTS: Three and a half minutes now to the top of the hour. NASCAR superstars are known for their competitive edge on the track. In fact, fans look forward to them trading a little paint from time to time.

CHETRY: That's right.

Recently, though, some of the drivers have been trying to crash into their rivals on purpose making the sport, already a dangerous sport, a little bit more so. Rob Marciano is on the track at NASCAR.


MARCIANO (voice-over): reaching speeds of nearly 200 miles an hour, cars sometimes only inches apart.

(on camera): Bristol Motor Speedway, the world's fastest half mile. This is short track racing and here, as they say, if you aren't revving, you aren't racing. (voice-over): That's exactly what happened on the track on a recent Sunday. This pileup was an accident but what if the wreck is intentional. Some say many are. And now some say there could be many more after NASCAR loosened the rules this year stating they are putting racing back in the hands of the driver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boys have at it and have a good time. That's all I can say

MARCIANO: That policy is open to interpretation. Earlier this month near Atlanta, Carl Edwards was knocked out of the race by Brad Keselowski. When Edwards returned to the track with no chance of winning, he retaliated, intentionally wrecking Keselowski sending him flying into the air.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, NASCAR # 12: It happened so fast. And there was a point where I thought -- I closed my eyes really quickly. I thought I might have gone up into the grand stands.

MARCIANO (on camera): Carl Edwards in the 99 car just couldn't finish qualifying. But a lot of people think that he should have been suspended and the car parked at least for this race.

(voice-over): Instead, he received a three-race probation.

Do you think that Carl Edwards should have gotten suspended?

KESELOWSKI: Well, you know, like I said I'm really not objective.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Denny Hamlin has had a few run-ins with Keselowski too.

DENNY HAMLIN, NASCAR # 11: He doesn't like me. I don't like him. But it's one of those things where when we're on the race track, I'm not going to give one inch to him.

MARCIANO: Retired racer and NASCAR commentator Kyle Petty likes drivers getting more control to an extent.

KYLE PETTY, RACING COMMENTATOR: It is ok to bump guys. It always has been and it should always be in this sport. That's putting it back in the driver's hand. When you go in the garage area and sit for 150 plus lapse and setting a goal and you come back out and your main purpose in being on the racetrack is to take another driver out, that's uncalled for. That's got no place in this sport.

MARCIANO (on camera): Do you ever go home at night and start thinking to yourself, my goodness, I kind of let the dogs loose here. I don't know what's going to happen this year.

ROBIN PEMBERTON, NASCAR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMPETITION: You know, you will have races that are different. And occasionally, that might happen for various reasons. We have a lot of hard competitors. We have to let them do what they need to do to put on a good show.

MARCIANO (voice-over): And this high-speed show is not slowing down.


MARCIANO: You know, it is a difficult balancing act there trying to get -- still have safety and still have excitement and, you know, ratings are down. Attendance is down. Some say it has gotten a little bit stale. So they're just trying to spice it up this year and the drivers are taking note of that.

No major incidents last week in Bristol. But this week, it's going to be Lawrenceville, another short track and they're going to be rubbing and racing and trading paint, no doubt. And it should be an exciting year for NASCAR fans.

John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, trading paint is one thing. But flipping a guy to the point where he almost ends up in the stands, that's quite another, Rob.

MARCIANO: Absolutely. And you know what, they did put him on probation and they are going to enforce some things. But when it comes to what they're going to do about flipping a car they're going to try to change some of the design and that may keep the cars on the ground a little bit. But intentionally wrecking somebody, hopefully nobody gets hurt for the rest of this year, that's for sure.

ROBERTS: All right Rob. Great story. Thanks so much.

Have a great weekend by the way.

MARCIANO: Thank you. See you.

ROBERTS: And thank you so much for joining us this Friday morning. We'll see you back here bright and early again on Monday.

CHETRY: Meanwhile the news continues, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips. Hi, Kyra.