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December 21st, 2012
07:53 AM ET

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) talks lack of vote over Speaker Boehner's "Plan B" proposal: 'clearly what the president wanted'

Only 11 days remain until the United States falls over the fiscal cliff, but a deal is still pending. House Speaker John Boehner's “Plan B” failed to garner enough support from Republican leadership yesterday. The proposal would have extended Bush era tax cuts for those making less than one million dollars, but a vote on it never happened. Rep. Michael Burgess is a Republican from Texas. He's also a medical doctor who's the Chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus. Rep. Burgess joins us live from Washington this morning with more.

Rep. Burgess reflects on the epic opposition Speaker Boehner faced from his own party when he tried to get the House to vote on his Plan B legislation. “It was unlike anything I have seen in my brief ten years here in the nation’s capital,” he says. He says he expected a last minute conference to whip people into shape, "but this was not that."

Rep. Burgess also believes the outcome is “clearly what the president wanted.” “The president has wanted the tax increases that are going to start on January first. He’s wanted the cuts into defense that are going to kick in with the sequester,” Rep. Burgess says. “I really believe this is what the White House has wanted all along.” Rep. Burgess thinks the president has barely engaged in the fiscal cliff talks in Congress. “The president has a lot of power, and unfortunately in this case, it was only between him and the speaker.”

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Filed under: Congress • Fiscal cliff
December 21st, 2012
07:09 AM ET

Moms wage war against guns after Newtown tragedy; Zoraida Sambolin reports

A group of mothers who were inspired by the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School are now banding together to push for stronger gun laws. Prompted to take action in the wake of the tragedy, they began the group, Women Against Assault Rifles, or "Waar". Their goal is to have as much as an affect on gun legislation in America as the group "Madd", or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has had on drunk driving laws. Zoraida Sambolin met up with a group of these motivated mothers yesterday.

Sambolin says what all the mothers “agree on is a federal ban on assault rifles.” Erin Combs doesn’t want the Newtown tragedy to become the new normal and believes it’s the group’s responsibility to protect not only their own children, but all children. “It’s power in numbers and emotion,” Erin Combs says. “The formula for me that I see in my brain is very clear. Less gun availability equals less gun violence.”

Medha Thomas realizes that their fight is a long one and tough one. “This is not a one-month fix. This is not a one-year fix. This is a decade-long fix,” Thomas says. The challenge is to keep the conversation going in Washington for decisive action to occur. “To find out more about WAAR, you can check out their website,” Sambolin says. http://www.waar.org/.

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Filed under: Gun control • Guns • Sandy Hook • School shooting • Shooting
December 21st, 2012
05:36 AM ET

Illinois Department of Transportation's Carmen Iacullo warns people to be cautious on wet expressways: 'freeze-back will occur'

Many are bracing a severe snowstorm in the Midwest today. CNN is tracking it for you this morning. Carmen Iacullo is from the Illinois Department of Transportation. He has the latest on conditions during the storm and joins “Early Start” live from Chicago this morning. 

“Right now the temperatures are under freezing,” Iacullo says. “So we’re watching for freeze-back conditions. The fact that the temperatures didn’t decline until after midnight helped out a lot with the snowfall.”

Iacullo warns that travelers need to be careful on the road. “Chicago expressways are still wet and people need to be cautious as freeze-back will occur.” Iacullo adds that there have fortunately been no deadly accidents.

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Filed under: Extreme Weather • Snowstorm • Weather
December 20th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Former NASA scientist turns to 'hillbilly tech' on 'Rocket City Rednecks'

Dr. Travis Taylor, a former NASA scientist and star of National Geographic's "Rocket City Rednecks," joins "Early Start" on Thursday to discuss how he and his team use "hillbilly" ingenuity to power rockets with moonshine, build steam catapults, and solve other engineering problems using unlikely techniques.

Filed under: Science
December 20th, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Sales of bullet-resistant products for kids surging; CNN's Miguel Marquez reports: 'a disturbing sign of the times'

In light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, people all over the country are concerned about the safety of our children at school. Many are asking whether schools should be more fortified to prevent such events in the future. Since the tragedy, there's even been a surge in demand for little-known products that can literally bullet-proof children. From backpack inserts to bullet-resistant toddler pants, parents are going to extremes to keep their kids from becoming statistics. CNN’s Miguel Marquez has that part of the story.

“It is a disturbing sign of the times,” Marquez says. Amendment II makes military grade, bullet resistant inserts for children’s backpacks. “COO Rich Brand says in the last week, sales have jumped 500 percent and they're still climbing,” Marquez reports. “Desperate parents seeking ways to protect their kids in the most extreme situations.”

Amendment II is not alone in the industry. “In Boston, Bullet Blocker promises ‘your peace of mind is our business,’” Marquez says. “In Austin, Texas, BulletProofMe.com says sales are up 50%. New customers: schools and daycare facilities.”

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Filed under: Education • Guns • Safety • Sandy Hook • School shooting
December 20th, 2012
08:19 AM ET

CNN Trends: Fake viral video of eagle sweeping baby into air and photo of President Obama with little Spiderman

Trending on the web this morning is a viral video that looks too strange to be true. And it is. While it appears in the video that an eagle swoops out of the air…picks up a baby…and then drops him, it didn’t actually happen. It was orchestrated by students studying 3D animation design in Montreal. They made the baby and the eagle.

Also spreading all over the web is a picture of President Obama playing with a kid in a Spiderman costume in the Oval Office. The photo was posted on the President's Twitter and Facebook accounts yesterday.

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Filed under: Trending
December 20th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Global gun control, CNN's Kyung Lah compares policy in Japan with policy in the U.S.

In 2008, Japan had 11 gun-related murders while the United States had 12 thousand. Perhaps other countries can offer America ideas for more effective gun control policies. CNN’s Kyung Lah, who has reported extensively on Japan as CNN"s Tokyo Correspondent, looks into it this morning.

In Lah’s five years of living and reporting in Japan, she says she never covered a shooting because there wasn’t one. “In Japan, there are almost no guns. The average person just can’t get one,” she says. “It’s the safest place I’ve ever lived.”

Living in the U.S. has been strikingly different for Lah.  The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is the third mass shooting she's covered in just six months. “But these mass shootings, which are now a part of our American narrative, follow a familiar pattern: The shock, national outrage, memorials, funerals, then the conversation fades.”

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Filed under: Gun control • Guns • Japan • Sandy Hook • School shooting • Shooting
December 20th, 2012
07:29 AM ET

Anchor for SportsIllustrated.com, Maggie Gray, talks NY Jets' latest move: 'Tebow, out the door' for 2013

Tim Tebow is making headlines this morning, but not for being a starting NFL quarterback. That possibility is now up in the air. The New York Daily News has reported that Tebow will ask to be traded following the decision by New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan to select Greg McElroy instead of him to start in the place of Mark Sanchez. "Tim can play quarterback, do traditional things, but to me I was just, I kinda, made a decision that in my gut I feel the best thing for our football team is for Greg to be our quarterback now," Coach Ryan said yesterday. Maggie Gray is the anchor for SportsIllustrated.com. She comes to the studio with the latest on the speculation.

This move signals that Tebow’s not going to back in 2013. “It’s finally turned into the complete circus that we all thought that it was going to be at the beginning of this season,” Gray says. But she says you have to consider the Jets thinking about the team’s future. “They want to see if Greg McElroy can actually come in next year and challenge for that starting quarterback job with Mark Sanchez, and maybe another veteran quarterback they would bring in to have a true quarterback competition in the Jets locker room. But Tebow, out the door.”

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Filed under: NFL
December 20th, 2012
07:03 AM ET

MYB: Fiscal cliff and your taxes

After two strong days of gains, U.S. markets closed lower yesterday. Also, U.S. stock futures are down this morning as fiscal cliff talks stall in Washington. Christine Romans is minding your business this morning with more.

Romans stresses the problem with your taxes as Congress continues to stall on a deal. Tax season begins in a couple of weeks "and the government can’t change in just one week or two weeks," she says. "It’s really a mess."  The IRS Acting Director has warned Congress about the consequences of not passing an AMT patch, Romans reports. “Thirty million more people would pay the AMT and 100 million tax refunds would be delayed.”

Romans also looks into the business of guns, which made one billion dollars in profits this year, according to one forecast. The fasting growing part of the market is in military style refiles. “There is huge, soaring demand for those,” Romans says. “There are more gun shops in America than there are supermarkets and McDonalds restaiurants locations combined.” Gunmakers' stocks also bounced back on Wednesday after three days of solid decline.

Filed under: Guns • Minding Your Business • Taxes
December 19th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Child survivors of 1999 mass shooting grow up; CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports: 'shooting still haunts them sometimes'

Newtown, Connecticut is a town in mourning since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While the entire nation grieves and feels for the victims and their families, the young children who survived the shooting have now taken a major hit to their innocence that may scar them forever. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen speaks to two men who survived an earlier mass shooting as young boys to learn how they coped with their trauma.

Child witnesses to the Sandy Hook massacre say they heard shots go off, or bullets go past the hall. Their “innocent eyes have witnessed unspeakable horrors” and “images that could haunt them forever,” Cohen says.

Ben Kadish and Josh Stepakoff are among the few people who've experienced what the Sandy Hook children have experienced and worry about them. "Thirteen years ago, the boys were at summer camp at a Jewish community center when a gunman stormed in and shot them,” she says. Now 19, “Josh and Ben say the shooting still haunts them sometimes, but with great parents and therapy, they've worked through the trauma.”


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Filed under: Medical • Sandy Hook • Shooting
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