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Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; Five Killed in Connecticut Fire; Winning Lottery Ticket Goes Unclaimed; Countdown To Iowa Caucuses; Woman Who Threatened Lawmakers Killed; Santorum Aims For Evangelical Vote; Gingrich's Switch On "Romney Care"; Soldier Shot At His Own Homecoming

Aired December 27, 2011 - 14:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm in Isha Sesay, in today for Brooke Baldwin.

Let's catch you up on everything making news this hour, "Rapid Fire." Let's go.

Police in Detroit now have four bodies, all women, all found in car trunks, two on Christmas Day, two others a few days before, all in the same neighborhood. Three of the victims were reportedly involved with a Web site that features personal ads for adult services.


RALPH GOODBEE, DETROIT POLICE CHIEF: We felt that it's imperative to alert the public that deciding to meet unknown persons via the Internet can be extremely dangerous.


SESAY: Well, no word yet on how any of these women died, but two of them were burned beyond recognition. So far, no suspects, no arrests. I will be talking to the chief in the next hour.

If you're anywhere from New England to Florida, brace yourself for a very wet, blustery couple of days. Look at this soaker of a winter weather system. It's not just heavy rain we're talking about, but super high winds on the back side. A closer look from the CNN Severe Weather Center, that's coming up in a few minutes.

Federal investigators are in Florida to examine the wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed three people on a medical flight. The Mayo Clinic says two of its employees, a surgeon and a medical technician, died in the crash. The pilot also lost his life. The chopper was flying the medical staffers to the University of Florida in Gainesville to harvest organs. There's no word yet on what caused the crash.


JOSE OBREGON, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We will look into the pilot's skills, his training, his performance. We will also look into the weather. We also have radar data. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, one week from today, Iowa Republicans will pick their choice to be the next president of the United States. It's the first big test of the 2012 presidential race. Five of the GOP candidates are in Iowa today, but they haven't just relied on the personal touch.

The campaigns have funneled millions of dollars into a last-ditch ad blitz. So if voters can't see them in person, they will be hearing from them online and on television.

Another challenge arises to the Democrats' control of the Senate. A Democratic source is telling CNN that Nebraska's Ben Nelson is about to announce his retirement. Former Democratic senator Bob Kerrey has reportedly spoken with Democrats about running for the seat himself.

After Christmas shopping, yes, it can get a little crazy. But, seriously, watch what happened yesterday at the Mall of America, police arresting several people after a couple of fights broke out. They say it all started in the food court. Witnesses describe the whole thing as pretty chaotic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are running. Some people are just staying. People are like confronting each other like in the middle of people just walking. Nobody was even around. They were just going at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, stores just started closing down and the gates were going up. So we just didn't really know what was going on. Then the cops were pushing us all away from, like, Nordstrom.


SESAY: Can you believe that? It took up to 30 police officers to bring the brawl under control.

A California toddler somehow survived after a fall from a two- story window. San Jose police say the boy's mother tossed the 22- month-old child from the window and then jumped out herself. The boy suffered bumps and bruises. His mother was treated for broken bones in her feet. She's facing attempted murder and child abuse charges. Police say the woman has a history of mental illness.


JOSE GARCIA, SAN JOSE POLICE DEPARTMENT: According to the family, she had recently undergone some type of emotional distress, and I believe she also sought medical attention because of that.


SESAY: The man accused of killing a 9-year-old Indiana girl made his initial court appearance today. Police found the body of Aliahna Lemmon last night, four days after she was last seen.

According to court papers, the man charged with her murder admits to beating the little girl to death, then dismembering her. Neighbors say the man is a close family friend and was baby-sitting the 9-year- old and her two sisters while their mother was sick.


KEN FRIES, ALLEN COUNTY SHERIFF: These officers did an excellent job. This is not the conclusion we hoped for. We kept that hope that we would find her alive, but also knowing in the back of our mind that as time went on, that it was going to be more and more difficult and hope begins to wane. But they did an excellent job.


SESAY: Police are not yet releasing a motive for the girl's killing. The suspect is being held without bond.

The company that owns Sears and Kmart stores are shutting doors for good at more than 100 locations. Corporate officials blame lukewarm holiday sales on top of an already difficult retail climate. No announcement yet on which stores will close or how soon.

And there's a lost and found story that drips holiday spirit. Mitch Gilbert of Colorado finds two unmarked envelopes at the Las Vegas Airport. He doesn't open them until he gets home. He finds $10,000 inside. What would you do, spend it or turn it in?

Gilbert said he wanted to show his kids the right thing to do. He went to considerable lengths to track down the owner.


IGNACIO MARQUEZ, LOST MONEY: I will always thank Mitch for doing this. Cash money, well, it's very difficult to get back.

MITCH GILBERT, FOUND $10,000: I think he was pretty much in shock. I don't know if he believed it.


SESAY: I will talk with that good samaritan, Mitch Gilbert, live next hour.

A lottery ticket worth $77 million is now worthless. Take a minute. Let that sink in. Somebody bought the winning Powerball ticket in late June at a gas station in Northwest Georgia. The deadline to claim the prize was yesterday. You may remember we talked a little bit about this. Nobody did. Ouch. That money now goes back to all the states in the lottery system.

Now, thanks to the heroics of a Kansas man who girls who fell through an icy pond are alive. Bud Brown happened to be looking out his window when he saw the girls fall through the ice. Brown ran to the pond, jumped in and was able to pull the children out of the freezing water. He took them to his home, wrapped them in blankets and he called 911. Listen.


BUD BROWN, RESCUE TWO GIRLS: It took me a little while to get to them because the ice was about one-inch thick. It seemed like it got thicker the closer I got, but just pounding, trying to break the ice. And when it got deeper, I couldn't break the ice. At the time, I wasn't really thinking about it. I just wanted to get them out of there and make sure they were OK.


SESAY: He missed Christmas at home, but the grandfather of Prince William will be there for New Year's. The duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, left the hospital today after surgery for a blocked artery. Doctors inserted a stent to open a blockage. The prince is 90. He's been married to Queen Elizabeth II for 64 years.

All right, we have got a lot more to cover in the next two hours. Watch.


SESAY (voice-over): The tragic final moments of the grandparents and little girls caught in this burning home, and now we know what reportedly sparked this mansion fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this poor family has to endure, what this mother has to endure from this point on for the rest of her life, it's too much to bear.

SESAY: The payroll tax cuts are extended, but who is covering the cost? Here is a hint. Do you own a home? Do you want to?

Then women's bodies found in the trunks of cars, and three of them have something in common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're stopping short of calling this any kind of serial pattern.

SESAY: Find out which Web site police want you to be aware of.

And a woman who had been harassing politicians, even sending one lawmaker a pig's foot in the mail, shot and killed by police. Congressman Peter King will explain why he believes this woman was targeting him.



SESAY: Hello, everyone.

We're expecting new details within the next hour or so as to the cause of that horrible Christmas Day fire in Stamford, Connecticut. Here is the first call placed to 911 just before 5:00 Sunday morning. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: Stamford 911. What is the address of your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a huge fire at the house next door to us. The whole house is on fire.

911 OPERATOR: What is the address, ma'am?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're at 2241 Shippan Avenue. It's the house next door (INAUDIBLE) fire and there's three kids and a woman. Please, please, come quickly. Thank you.




SESAY: You hear the panic there in the caller's voice. Those three kids the caller spoke of, all three died, as did their maternal grandparents.

As we said, we're expecting new details very soon. But Stamford's mayor now is saying the fire was fireplace-related. We're also getting accounts of anguished, heart-wrenching attempts to save the lives of those children.

With us again today is Robert Goulston of CNN affiliate WFSB.

Robert, thanks for joining us again. Tell us what you know about these efforts the save the lives of those three young girls who perished.


The fire chief yesterday telling us when they went into the burned-out house after they were able to get the fire out, they found the grandfather and one of the daughters near a window. And it appeared that the grandfather was trying to help that young girl out. Apparently, the grandfather was able to get just outside the window, and then he was obviously trying to help the young girl get out. But both of them of course perished as well, as the other two girls and the grandmother.

But there was some sort of effort. As we reported yesterday, the mom was actually trying to get up the scaffolding of the house. The house was under renovations, trying to get up to where she thought the girls were. But she was not able to get up either.

SESAY: Yes. This is just so very, very tragic. What are we hearing at this stage? Any more details beyond this, the fact that officials are saying it was fireplace-related about the specific cause of the fire. I know that there's a timeline that is starting to emerge. And that begins around 3:00 a.m., correct?

GOULSTON: That's correct. It appears, according to the mayor's office, that the investigation definitely focuses on the fireplace area, so, something from the fireplace, whether it was ashes or embers that were put outside or put inside or something to that effect.

We're waiting for a news conference, which is expected to happen some time before 5:00. They're trying to move it up as we speak. But there has been no set time yet. But, at this point, yes, they were looking at that fireplace area. And we did get some source information, some sources from the police department telling us that whatever did happen, it does not look like it rose to any sort of criminal negligence or anything like that. They are calling it an accidental fire as far as how it started.

SESAY: And I'm wondering what you are hearing about some reports of there being some Christmas present wrapping that went on late into the night, early morning and how that fits in with the timeline?

GOULSTON: Yes, the police and fire telling us early on that the mother and her friend were up late. Of course, it was Christmas Eve, and then going into Christmas morning.

And then something happened right before 5:00, when they started getting the calls, the 911 calls you just heard earlier, saying that the house was totally engulfed in flames.

SESAY: This news conference which we're standing by for to learn more about this tragic accident on Christmas Day, who are we expecting to hear from?

GOULSTON: Today, the mayor's office is basically orchestrating this news conference. And we're expecting to hear -- we're supposed to hear from the fire chief. For the first time, nobody has really been able to hear from the fire marshal, the chief fire marshal from Stamford. He's obviously the one who is heading up the investigation.

All police sources telling us that the investigation is all coming out of the fire marshal's office. Hopefully we will be able to hear something from him, whether it's the cause -- we're hearing they have some sort of preliminary cause or where they're focusing on. We're expecting to hear that. But hopefully we will get a better idea of what may have caused this very, very deadly fire.

SESAY: And we're showing our viewers images of the home, of this Victorian home that was engulfed by flames.

I understand the home has actually been demolished now. Set the scene now.


The home was taken down just yesterday morning. The fire marshals were able to get into the house the day after Christmas. They said that they got what they needed, physical evidence wise, out of the house. Then a crane came in immediately. The house was so -- it was not sound at all.

So, they needed to take it down very quickly. So that's been -- it's been taken down. It's completely leveled. The two houses on either side were not touched at all by the fire or by the demolition crews, but the house is just completely gone. There are flowers, there are teddy bears at the mailbox where they used to get the mail for that house, all wishing -- some beautiful messages and things like that, but just a very, very sad scene over there, and a lot of people just coming to pay their respects, even though they didn't know this family at all.

SESAY: And one quick question for you, Robert. The mother who survived and her friend, he too survived the fire, do we have any information on their whereabouts?

GOULSTON: Yes, the mother was released from the hospital Christmas night hours after she lost her entire family.

Her friend, the contractor who was apparently doing this work on the house, he is still in the hospital, last listed in fair condition here in Stamford. We have been obviously trying to reach out to either one of them just to find out exactly what they saw, what they think may have happened. But we have not been able to get in touch with either one of them.

SESAY: All right, Robert Goulston of CNN affiliate WFSB, thanks for the reporting. We will continue to check in with you. Thank you.

Now, the payroll tax cut extension was approved last week, but at what expense? How are we going to pay for the two-month extension? Will it be on the back of the housing market? Alison Kosik is standing by with all the details. She joins us live after this very quick break.



And now this:


SALWA HOSSEINI, ENDURED FORCED VIRGINITY TEST (through translator): During the test, no one was standing except for a woman and male doctor. Six soldiers were standing behind us and watching the backside of the bed. I think they were there to be witnesses.

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She says that was after soldiers had tied her, forced her to the ground, and shocked her with a stun gun, calling her a prostitute.


SESAY: Do you remember this story, virginity tests for female protesters in Egypt. We have big new developments for you coming up. Plus, brand-new video of the devastating floods in the Philippines, also new details on the death toll and the hundreds of people who are still missing. That is straight ahead.

And we have all jumped on an escalator in our lifetime, right? How about this one? It's 18 stories tall. We go "Globe Trekking" right after this very quick break.


SESAY: "Globe Trekking" now and to Egypt. That's where human rights, particularly women's rights advocates, are claiming victory today. It's in the case of one woman who took on the country's new military leadership. She and others claim Egyptian police strip- searched them and forced them to endure humiliating and invasion inspections of their bodies during this year's national protests.

The world took notice. And today the new Egyptian government took action as well.

Details here from CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva.


VASSILEVA (voice-over): It was a month after the fall of the Mubarak regime. Egypt's new military rulers attempted to clear Cairo's Tahrir Square of protesters. Several female protesters say they were rounded up and later subjected to so-called virginity tests while in military detention.

Now an Egyptian administrative court has issued a ban on those virginity tests.

Salwa Hosseini says she was one of those victims. The 20-year- old hairdresser says she was submitted to a forced virginity test under threat of forced electrocution.

SALWA HOSSEINI, ENDURED FORCED VIRGINITY TEST (through translator): During the test, no one was standing except for a woman and male doctor. Six soldiers were standing behind us and watching the backside of the bed. I think they were there to be witnesses.

VASSILEVA: She says that was after soldiers had tied her, forced her to the ground, and shocked her with a stun gun, calling her a prostitute.

At first, the army denied the allegations made in an Amnesty International report. But journalist Shahira Amin interviewed a senior Egyptian general who admitted that the army had indeed conducted so-called virginity tests.

SHAHIRA AMIN, JOURNALIST: These checks were carried out, he said, because the military authority didn't want to be accused of sexually assaulting the girls.

VASSILEVA: And the Egyptian general defends the practice, telling Amin these women were not decent girls because they had camped out with male protesters.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.


SESAY: Well, more misery for people in the southern Philippines who are already suffering in the aftermath of a deadly tropical storm.

Disaster officials say more rain could cause flash floods and mudslides. More than 1,200 people have died since Tropical Storm Washi slammed the region 10 days ago. Flash floods wiped out whole villages.

Now, this video we want to show you, it is a little shaky. But if you look closely, you can see a house being swept away, floating down a river after a flood today. A civil defense official says bodies of people swept away by flash floods are washing up on nearby beaches and islands.

Now to Colombia and something you may not have seen before. It is a huge outdoor escalator in the middle of one of the poorest areas of Medellin. The neighborhood is basically wedged into a hillside and people, they used to have to climb hundreds of steps to get to where they were going. Now they can just jump on the escalator and they love it.


YARLEY VILLA, COLOMBIA (through translator): They're really cool because it really gives you an advantage as you're going up. It's much more comfortable when you're carrying packages and stuff like that.

LUIS FERNANDO CARVAJAL, COLOMBIA (through translator): Very good. It's good for the neighborhood a lot more comfortable to do my job.


SESAY: It used to take 35 minutes to get from the bottom of the neighborhood to the top. And now it takes just six minutes. I wonder whether they get travel sick, motion sick.

A woman in Georgia is shot dead after reportedly coming at police with a knife and a gun. She's also accused of sending a fake weapon of mass destruction to a New York state senator and she's accused of sending a bloody pig's foot to New York Congressman Peter King. Representative King is standing by to talk to us live. That's coming up after this very quick break.


SESAY: A woman charged with threatening two New York lawmakers is dead. She was shot by police when she allegedly came at them with a gun and a knife. An officer responded to a panic alarm at the Atlanta area home of Jameela Barnettee. The officer says Barnette opened the door and attacked him, leaving him no choice, but to draw his gun and shoot her.

Barnette who was Muslim had had brushes with the law before. In April, she allegedly mailed a bloody pig's foot to New York Congressman Peter King along with an anti-Semitic rant.

Now King isn't Jewish, but a month before he did attract a lot of attention for his hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in the U.S. Barnette was also accused of sending a fake weapon of mass destruction to New York State Senate Senator Greg Ball.

Ball held a hearing over New York City's terror rise in this in April and that hearing included a heated debate over Islam. Barnette pleaded not guilty to sending the packages.

Earlier this month, the court ordered her to have a mental evaluation. Right now, I want to welcome Congressman Peter King, he joins us. Congressman, thank you for joining us this afternoon.

Now I want to make clear that the package this woman allegedly sent to you never actually made it to your office. Nonetheless, what went through your mind when you heard that the same woman who had targeted you was now dead?

REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, Isha, actually it was startling. I pretty much had forgotten about the incident that happened six or seven months ago. You're right. I never saw it. It was intercepted by the postal authorities in Baltimore, I believe.

I know a police investigation was done afterwards and they felt she was not considered dangerous. When I heard it, actually I felt badly for her. She was clearly a deranged person. She was not acting out of any political ideology. She was, again, very deranged person. She was sick.

Apparently more sick than the authorities thought she was, but one comment I would make, though. I think people like this, they can respond to what I believe were overly inflammatory charges made against me, made against the hearings, accusing me of being a bigot, and anti-Muslim.

Those types of charges can stir up this type reaction, I believe, in people who are deranged. I think some people in the media, not talking about CNN. I was treated very fairly by them.

But I mean, the hysteria against me and against the hearing, against me and against the hearing, I can see why someone like this now looking back on it could have been set off the way she was.

SESAY: But Congressman King, I'm sure you know there are some people who believe -- some Muslims who believe that there is an Islamophobia that is growing in the states and that could have been in itself enough of a trigger. The concern of that could have been a trigger for a woman like this. I mean, we are just speculating now. But laid at the doorstep of the media, I mean, many would question that.

KING: Well, I would say, not just the media, but also many Muslim leaders who overreacted to this, holding rallies in Times Square with thousands of people accusing me of being a bigot.

On the issue of Islamophobia, you know, there are as many Jews and Muslims in the country get an equal number of both, there's nine to ten times more anti-Semitic incidents every year as there are anti- Islam.

Now one incident is too much, but to me if there's nine times more anti-Semitic than there are anti-Islam, to me that doesn't growing Islamophobia. In fact, there's as many anti-Christians incidents as there are anti-Muslim.

Now, granted there are more Christians, but still I just think this whole talk of Islamophobia, it creates a sense of panic among some people and it's wrong.

I think these are phony charges. They're inflammatory charges and they're politically correct charges, and I think they end up doing much more harm than good and they damage the national debate.

SESAY: I just want to be clear so that I'm not misunderstanding. Are you saying that Islamophobia or the growth of it in the United States is not real?

KING: That's totally exaggerated. Absolutely, there are eight to nine times more anti-Semitic incidents every year as there are anti- Islam. So, yes, the whole concept of Islamophobia is a phony political argument that's thrown out there by people on the left.

SESAY: The hearings, nonetheless, have led to people targeting you. We see that in this case. How does that make you feel?

KING: Well, it gives me -- some concern for me and for my family. I'm not going to go into details about different security provisions that have to be made, that have been made, but there have been a lot of attacks, personal attacks made, which doesn't bother me. I have thick skin. I don't care about that.

But as we saw of this woman in Georgia, I mean, this is the type of thing that can be set off. When I think of other things that have been said and possible threats that are there, it makes me take them more seriously than I would have before after seeing a woman who on the range of threats.

She was considered probably minimal. She ends up attempting to kill a police officer and being killed herself. It shows what a dangerous world we're getting into.

SESAY: Does it make you rethink the way you handle the issue of Islam and the questions and the statements you have made about radicalization of Muslims?

KING: No. I stand by everything I've said, and I stand by the hearings. I will put the four hearings that I've held on Islamic radicalization, I'll compare them to any congressional hearings that have been held in recent years or any time as far as being fair, as far as being open and being devoid of any type of bigotry or racism whatsoever.

These have been very objective hearings. We've had expert witnesses come in. We've had Muslim witnesses come in and testify both for and against the points that I've been making. They've been open. There's been diversity.

So no, I think that we have to realize that this is a very important issue, the issue of Islamic radicalization, the extent of it, the lack of it, but whatever it's a hearing that has to be held.

We just had one several weeks ago that Senator Lieberman and I co-chaired on radicalization in the American military. We saw there's both threats against the military from without by Islamic radicals and also from within the military.

So all of these to me are legitimate issues, but I preface every hearing and every interview I give by saying that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans.

But there's a small minority, a very small minority, which is being used by al Qaeda and is being also radicalized over the internet that is cause for concern.

To me, it should be people in the Muslim community who should be supporting what I'm doing because I am defending them against a very small element within their own community.

SESAY: Representative Peter King, we appreciate you taking time out to join us today. Thank you.

KING: Isha, thank you, thank you.

SESAY: Another embarrassing revelation for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. This one has nothing to do with his personal life. We'll have the details for you in a live report that's coming up.

Plus a giant rat eating plant. Yes, I did say rat eating plant. If it can eat a rat, what else can it eat? Stay with us.


SESAY: We are now just one week away from the Iowa caucuses. With the race still undecided, the GOP hopefuls aren't pulling any punches.

Our Mark Preston and Paul Steinhauser are in the hawk eye state watching it all for us. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us again today.

Mark, Rick Santorum is really aiming for those conservative Evangelical voters. Why?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Isha, because the Evangelical, the born-again voters here in Iowa are the ones who really drive the winners and losers of the Iowa caucuses.

Yesterday, Rick Santorum, a day after Christmas, he decided to go on the campaign trail. He was the only candidate to do so. In fact, he went out pheasant hunting with Congressman Steve King.

He was hoping for Steve King's endorsement. He didn't get it. But Rick Santorum did talk about the race for those Evangelical voters. In fact, let's listen to how he broke it down.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a libertarian primary, which Ron Paul is going to win, and then you've got the moderate primary, which Gingrich and Romney are scrumming for.

You've got three folks who are running as strong conservatives, and I think if we win that primary we're in very good shape as the nonNewt-Romney.


PRESTON: And Isha, who he is talking about, who he's contending for these conservative Evangelical voters are Texas Governor Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Now just to put this all in perspective, back in 2008, the entrance polls to the Iowa caucuses showed that 60 percent of the Republicans who participated in those caucuses described themselves as Evangelical voters.

For someone like Rick Santorum, he will need a big showing from them tomorrow should his campaign survive and move on to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and there on, Isha.

SESAY: Yes, you made the important point he'll have to scrap it out with a few others for those Evangelical voters. Paul, if I can bring you in, Newt Gingrich is facing a rather embarrassing situation.

A 2006 newsletter that's surfaced showing that he praised Mitt Romney's health care reforms when they were first passed. As our viewers may know, this is the same plan he's harshly criticized in the last few months, right?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes and maybe he was the former House speaker for it before he was against it? That's what everybody's talking about today. Listen, let's talk about this for a second.

This was Mitt Romney's health care plan. He was the governor of Massachusetts in 2006. He passed it with bipartisan support including a lot of Democrats.

A lot of Republicans say, you know what? That was the inspiration for the national health care plan, which they dub Obama care. Mark, we both know that's hated by a lot of Republicans.

All right, so here is the newsletter. Here's what it says. The health care bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to affect major change in the American health system.

That's from this April 2006 newsletter. It was published by Gingrich's former consulting company, the Center for Health Transportation.

Isha, as you said, yes, nowadays Newt Gingrich, a presidential candidate, is saying something very different about the Romney plan and the individual mandate. Listen to what he told our Wolf Blitzer just a few weeks ago.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": You've been criticized for the health care mandates. You supported them. NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That will be a good example in the sense that when Heritage Foundation and actually every conservative was trying to stop Hillary care. We used the mandates as a way of blocking her because we thought they were less damaging.

In retrospect we were wrong because what happens -- once you go to a mandate, you have turned so much power over to the government, that the politicians rather than the doctors end up defining health care. So it was a mistake.


STEINHAUSER: Guess what? Wolf Blitzer gets another chance this afternoon. He's here in Iowa, the eastern part of the state. Isha, he's got another chance with Newt Gingrich. We'll see what they say.

But I spoke to the campaign earlier this morning, R.C. Hammond, the spokesman, here's what he told me. This is all news that has been covered already.

Newt previously supported a mandate for health insurance and changed his mind after seeing its effect. I mean, Mark, listen, we know Romney has been criticized for flip-flopping. What do you think? Will this maybe now bite Gingrich a little bit?

PRESTON: Yes, you know, again, this is another example of something bad right now, Isha, happening to Newt Gingrich right before the caucuses.

There have been new questions raised about his first divorce to his wife, his first wife back in 1980. This thing has come up. He's been very critical of Mitt Romney on this issue. It certainly is not helpful to him at this point. SESAY: Yes, indeed. I mean, the Gingrich campaign may want to paint this as old news. We'll have to see what Iowan voters make of it. Mark and Paul, thanks so much for joining us there from Iowa. Appreciate it.

Well, it was something cool and scientific to tell you all about. It's a new species. It's a rat eating planted. Look at this. A botanist first discovered the Queen of Hearts plant in Borneo in the 1980s.

But it's now been officially recognized as a previously unknown species, it's one of the largest carnivorous plants ever. Some of its flowers grow to eight feet. Think about that for a second, eight feet. It chows down on insects, small mammals and reptiles that get too close to it.

An American soldier who survived a suicide bombing in Afghanistan is shot and paralyzed at his homecoming party in California.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm mad. I'm really mad because he's a good boy. He's an excellent boy.


SESAY: Well, now there is a break in the case. We'll have the details straight ahead.

And a familiarly is trapped in their car underneath snow for 48 hours. We'll hear from the dad after this quick break. Stay with us.


SESAY: The man suspected of shooting and paralyzing a soldier at his own homecoming party is in the hands of police today.

Ruben Ray Jurado turned himself in three days after he allegedly shot 22-year-old Army Specialist Christopher Sullivan. It happened in San Bernardino, California, at a welcome home celebration for Sullivan who spent much of the last year recovering from a suicide blast in Afghanistan.

Police say Sullivan tried to break up a fight between his brother and Jurado when Jurado shot him twice, shattering his spine. Sullivan's mother, Suzanne, is staying by his side in the hospital. But she took a moment to tell us what kind of man her son is.


SUZANNE SULLIVAN, MOTHER OF SOLDIER SHOT AT PARTY (via telephone): He was a very good son and I don't know -- just to say that -- he was a wonderful man and a great soldier, and yes, he got the purple heart.

That's showing a lot of people right there that he would give his shirt off his back just to help anybody. And now he comes home to this.

He always said, mom, you know, I know I'm going to die by the time I'm 24, but I'm going to die for my country. I don't think Christopher ever thought in his own backyard.

SESAY: Christopher had a visit from someone in his infantry. You've already said being part of the army meant so much to him. Share, if you would, what that visit -- what happened during that visit and who came to see him.

SULLIVAN: Richard, his name was Richard. He's from the 101st Infantry Division. He's a retired vet. He came to bring Christopher the "Screaming Eagle" flag. He hung it on the wall.

And when I went back last night, I told him, I don't know if you remember when he came earlier, Christopher. I said, but Richard came to bring you your "Screaming Eagle" flag from your platoon. I said, would you like to see it?

He shook his head. I said, all right, I'm taking it off the wall, son. And I said, OK, if you want to see it you need to open up your eyes. He opened his eyes up. He looked at the flag. He closed his eyes and he started crying.

Tears were just rolling down his face. And then he just -- I asked him, OK, son, what would you like for me to do with this flag? Would you like for me to hang it back up or would you like for me to cover you with it?

I said, just shake your -- I mean, move your eyes if you want me to cover you with it. He moved his eyes. He wanted me to cover him with this flag.


SESAY: Our thoughts and prayers are with Chris Sullivan and his family.

A Texas man says God was looking out for him and his family and that's why they're alive today. David Higgins and his wife and their 5-year-old daughter got stuck in a blizzard on the way to a New Mexico skiing trip.

Help took nearly two days to arrive. The family's SUV was covered in four feet of snow. David Higgins talked about the ordeal earlier this afternoon.


DAVID HIGGINS, SPENT TWO DAYS TRAPPED IN BLIZZARD (via telephone): We were completely entombed in the snow bank. There was nothing else around us.

These are kind of the plains on this rural road, and we were the highest object out there, and the snow just started building up around us. By 5:00 that afternoon we could not even get out of the vehicle, the snow was halfway up the doors.


SESAY: Incredible pictures there. Well, Higgins says his wife is still recovering from pneumonia, but she's making great progress.

A fake "People" magazine cover is making the rounds today saying that Twilight superstar Taylor Lautner is gay. We'll debunk the rumors straight ahead.

Plus, find out why Louis Vuitton is suing Warner Brothers over the "Hangover 2" movie next.


SESAY: His bare torso sent a thousand teen hearts a Twitter in the "Twilight" movie and now what appears to be a Twitter joke is sending the wrong message about Taylor Lautner.

"People" magazine says this cover of Lautner titled "Out and Proud" is quote, "an absolute fake."

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" correspondent Nischelle Turner joins me with the story. Nischelle, this cover fooled a lot of people. Do we know who created the fake cover?

NISCHELLE TURNER, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I'm not sure how many people have actually fooled because this was happening over Christmas Day, Isha.

So even in this digital age, I don't think it was a high traffic day on the web. But here's what we do know we know the phony cover did fool some folks yesterday, including Russell Simmons who tweeted his support of Lautner's announcement.

And then when he discovered it was a fake, he responded tweeting that he was, quote, "disappointed that people would joke about someone coming out about their sexuality." He also said let Taylor Lautner be whoever he wants to be.

You asked, also, if we knew who created this fake cover. Really we don't. We have no idea. As "People" magazine pointed out, this was a Twitter joke that went viral.

Now, here is what we kind of did discover. The fake cover did have a couple of tales that tipped people off that it wasn't real. If you looked really closely, you would have noticed among other things that the sidebar pictures on the cover were actually several years old. And the release date on the fake was for the wrong day of the week.

SESAY: All right, then I want to shift from magazines to movies. Louis Vuitton is not happy with the makers of "The Hangover Part 2." It has to do with this clip. Let's run it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful, that is a Louis Vuitton.


SESAY: There are also scenes with the actor, Zach Galifianakis with a Louis Vuitton bag over his shoulder. You hear him. He says Lewis Vuitton.

I watched "The Hangover" films again over the weekend, over Christmas, any brand would love this product placement. But Louis Vuitton is filing a lawsuit. What exactly is going on here? What's their problem?

TURNER: Well, you're right. Brands do love product placement, but the question is why are they upset? Well, because they say the bag in that clip is a fake. They say it's a knock-off.

According to the court documents, Louis Vuitton is suing for trademark delusion, false designation of origin and unfair competition. They reportedly want Warner Brothers to pull the scene from the film before they release it on DVD.

Now we actually did reach out to Louis Vuitton and their attorneys and Warner Brothers, which like CNN is owned by Time Warner. No one has been able to give us a comment on the suit yet.

But this struck us as interesting. "The Hangover 2" has already been involved in three lawsuits. They've been sued by a stunt man who was injured during filming, a writer who claimed Warner Brothers stole his idea from the film and a tattoo artist who claimed the tattoo in the movie constituted copyright infringement.

Now the tattoo and the stunt suits were reportedly settled and the writer suit was dismissed, but good Lord, they have had a lot of issues with this movie.

SESAY: For a movie that wasn't even as good as the first one which makes it even more ironic.

TURNER: You're right. You're right, exactly.

SESAY: All right, we'll keep watching this one. Something tells me it's going to run and run and run. Nischelle Turner joining us from L.A. We appreciate it. Thank you so much.