tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 1, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
we're in the cnn newsroom. hello, everyone. i'm natalie allen in for don lemon tonight. a female forest park ranger fatally shot today inside mt. ra near national park inside washington state. a search is under way for the gunman. park officials say another ranger attempted to pull over a driver who then ran away. ranger margaret anderson then stopped the man who opened fire killing her before fleeing on foot. the park has been closed while the search continues. anderson, who was 34, is survived by her husband and children, ages 2 and 4. joining me by phone is park spokeswoman lee taylor. tell us what is the status of the search right now. have you located the man you're looking for? >> no, we have not located the shooter. he's still at large in the park.
we have other agencies assisting us with trying to apprehend him and meanwhile, we've been evacuating visitors from the lower parts of the park and we've got about 85 people who are staying put in our main park visitors center until we think it's safe for them to leave. >> but you already had a lot of people in the park, right, when this happened? >> yeah, it was a busy day. it was a sunny day with, you know, nice weather and the holiday weekend, of course, so people had come up to play in the snow and go snowshoeing and cross country skiing and so, yeah, there were quite a few people in the park when this happened. >> tell us what happened. we understand one of the park rangers tried to pull this man over. take us through that >> that's right. we had ranger dan komecha who tried 0 pull this person over. he refused to stop so ranger anderson set up a blockade with her patrol vehicle to intercept him and when he reached that point he jumped out of his
vehicle and fatally shot her and then apparently fled into the woods on foot abandoning his vehicle. >> do you have any more information about him or did you get any frfgs from his car? >> we were able to identify the registered driver of the vehicle, but we don't know if the gunman is the person who is the registered owner of the car. since nobody has else was on scene when it took place we don't have any specific information about the gunman. >> it is such a loss for all of you and we understand that the victim was married to a park ranger, as well. how long did she work there? >> margaret anderson worked at mt. rainier for four year, really committed to park visitors and was an excellent ranger. her husband also works in the park as a law enforcement ranger
and they have two small children, so it's a terrible loss. it's a great tragedy for the park service and all of us are grieving that loss greatly. >> absolutely and still a dangerous situation with the shooter on the loose. thank you so much for your time. we know you're so busy. park spokeswoman lee taylor. we'll keep our viewers apprised of developments. the new year begins in flames and smoke as an arson spree in southern california intensifies. seven more suspected arsons overnight bringing the total to 39 that have scorched neighborhoods in the hollywood area since friday. los angeles investigators say cars are being torched with the flames spreading to houses. one of those homes once belonged to jim morrison, lead singer for the doors. >> every lead, every possible rumor, you know, perception, whatever it is, our investigators are active. they're taking this as we've talked about real personal and they're going to commit
themselves and they're not going to just discard any kind of rumor whatsoever. >> so far only one injury to a firefighter, minor one, but the mayor of west hollywood, west hollywood being the site of seven of the fires says his city is densely populated and burning a car next to a house is like setting off an explosive. >> many of these buildings with open carports are rent controlled apartments. they're very dense. they're in parts of west hollywood and los angeles where we have 20,000 people living per square mile. each of these buildings contains hundreds of resident, many of them frail seniors. many of them families with children that can't move as quickly as young people and so it's a new form of urban terrorism that we are seeing in our community. >> a $60,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
well, less than 48 hours until the very first votes are cast in the 2012 presidential race, the iowa caucuses are tuesday and many of the republican hopefuls are spending the holiday making their last sales pitch to voters. here's how the vote looks. take a look at those top three, mitt romney at 24%, ron paul at 22%. rick santorum now up to 15%. very close heading into the final stretch. i want to bring in dane that bash standing by live for us in des moines, iowa, also want to welcome rick green, editor of "the de men register." the surprisie ining thing is the of rick santorum, isn't it? >> oh, absolutely. he was in -- he was kind of an asterisk for months and months and months even though he has been working i think you can argue the hardest here in iowa, he's been to all 99 counties, he is effectively moved into this
state and look, it's paying off. he's kind of surging at the right time. the issue has been prior to this that social conservatives had really been split among other candidates, rick perry, michele bachmann and looks as though they're settling on santorum. the fact of the matter is just even the past two days he seems to have surged tremendously and he's kind of a steady as she goes social conservative and fiscal conservative saying all the right things, question is whether or not it's going to pay off when it comes to the key question that iowa voters do have, these republican voters, which seems to be electability. >> so which brings us to ron paul, still second in the register's poll. is his support starting to wane? >> it looks that way. it looks as if his support definitely is starting to wane. look, he has been a steady presence in the lead, at least
statistically tied for the lead for awhile here in iowa. he also has a tremendous following. he only got about 10% four years ago, of course ran for president then but kind of never left and certainly his operation never left here so he has a really good organization here, a really good ground game but it looks like the fact that he's gotten more scrutiny as he has become a higher profile candidate seems to have hurt him because his negatives are pretty high. still, the fact of the matter is, people here who, natalie, want to vote for someone who wants to reduce the size of government, reduce the debt, they still say ron paul is their man when it comes to those issues. >> one thing we heard about is the lack of love could we call it among republican voters for mitt romney. is that starting to change? >> reporter: you know what, it looks like it. i know you'll talk to rick from "the des moines register." this stunned me because exactly what you said. the lack of love for mitt romney. in this new poll which we've been talking about because the poll is so historically reliable
when it comes to the caucus he really is viewed as somebody who has voters who are enthusiastic about him. i can tell you, natalie, i was here four years ago, basically moved in here four years ago reporting on the campaign following mitt romney around and following the eventually winner of the caucuses, mike huckabee, and definitely there was almost no enthusiasm for mitt romney. he had a lot of money here, had a good organization but money didn't buy him love and looks like this time he came in late to iowa and he is gaining a lot of enthusiasm. >> it's interesting to hear you say you moved in there about four years ago and here weaver a couple days before and it's anyone's game. >> i don't remember it being this windy before. >> the political winds are certainly blowing, aren't they, dana. okay, so to rick, you nokno kno iowans better thank anybody. who is turning their heads?
>> clearly it is rick santorum. we had our final meeting yesterday morning over at "the register" and seen the numbers uptick particularly after wednesday. thursday night we thought he had a pretty good night. friday he came back in and essentially downed where he started the week, work taking a very, very close eye to see if he can maintain the momentum. the second question that's out there starts with the letter "e." electability. there are a lot of republican, very prominent ones, poring over our data taking a look close at the one who is most electable. obviously the social conservatives, evangelicals and powerful streak in that area but a lot of attention has been focused on the economy. who can create the job, who can turn things around from an economic standpoint and want to figure out who can knock off the president perceived as a vulnerable incumbent. mitt romney is standing at about 48%, the closest is former speaker newt gingrich at 13%.
rick santorum, despite the surge and him doing well the past two days of our poll is only standing at 7% in terms of electability. i think a lot of republicans around the state, causegoers are taking a close look at that. at the end of the day that's going to be a big determining factor, i think. >> we are all watching, rick green, dana bash, we appreciate it and see you again soon. we have been talking a lot about who the voters of iowa will support. what about the money men, the people on wall street who have the clout and the cash to make a huge difference in this election? who are they supporting? for that we go to our susan candiotti standing by live for us. which candidates are getting the most money from wall street? >> reporter: well, perhaps at this stage it's not surprising but we'll fill you in. wall street is already digging deep to line the pockets of contenders for president. here's a look at the latest numbers for the gop. so far, mitt romney is way out in front. the center for responsive
politics says the former massachusetts governor has received more than $3.8 million from wall street stockbrokers, brokerage companies and bond dealers through december 5th. romney's take is about five times more than the rest of his competitors combined. next is texas governor rick perry followed by utah governor jon huntsman, ron paul and michele bachmann with the rest trailing her. >> well, you want to make nice with everybody if you're a donor at this early stage in the race. i think typically when you talk about the financial sector you'll see donors giving more broadly to the sort of establishment friendly kind of republicans, your mitt romneys, jon huntsman, rick perry. all of those raised money on wall street. >> these are not necessarily the companies themselves, they also include others that include people who work for political
action committees that are associated with the wall street firms or individuals who work for these companies. now, at the top, goldman sachs, $2 million. the securities firm had to pay record fines to settle a fraud case involving subprime mortgage, you might recall. goldman sachs is also romney's top wall street donor. coming in next is bain capital, a firm whose specialties include corporate takeover, romney is a former director there and still has ties. but donors tied to bain capital give the majority of their money to democrats. paulson & company, a hedge fund ranks third. house and senate leaders are getting 75% of the wall street dollars compared to 25% for democrats. still, president obama is cashing in. collecting $1.8 million that trails romney but, of course, it's still early. keep in mind people donate to candidates for many reasons,
sometimes they back their favorite, but other times they hedge their bets with a candidate they think will win so fasten your seat belts, natalie and open your wall streets. happy new year. >> yes, it's going to be a new year of donations for sure from iowa to wall street. susan candiotti for us, thanks so much for the numbers. we warned every new year's eve about the danger of getting burned by fireworks. revelers injured when they swallowed fireworks. we'll have that story in two minutes.
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fi firecrackers injured 450 people in manila. another 18 hit by stray bull lets and four became sick after apparently mistaking fireworks for candy and swallowing it. on the bright side the number of injuries is down from last year. argentine authorities are investigating the death of a state governor early today. a spokesman confirmed his death but refused to elaborate. a gun shot wound to the face killed soria. he became governor last month. he previously serve as the head of argentina's intelligence agency. argentine sports fans are mourning a motorcyclist who died after falling in the first stage of the dakar rally. 38-year-old jorge boero went into cardiac arrest after falling and died on the way to the hospital. his father was a well-known race car driver who died in 2004.
boero died riding along the atlantic coast about 300 miles south of buenos aires. 2012 is off to an ugly start in syria. government activists say ten were killed. the arrive of arab league monitors has done nothing to end the violence and now critics within the arab league say the monitors should leave. mohamed jamjoom is keeping a close eye. >> reporter: the flash point city, there are reports that people gathered there new year's eve into the new year for an anti-government demonstration chanting slogans saying they wished for a new year free of the bashar assad ra jeem and there were cakes that were baked on display wishing syria a new
year without its president. also demonstrations in the province of idlib and reportedly on january 1st a huge funeral procession for a child who was reportedly killed. the arab parliament, an 88-member add advisory committee, called on the arab league to withdraw its mission to syria because violence continues even though those monitors are on the ground. the arab league issued a press release in which they said it was only the arab council who could stop that mission who could withdraw those observers and that the observers on the ground remain committed to their mission. mohamed jamjoom. a ban on oil could send the global price rocketing to $200 a barrel. the latest threat comes as the
iranian military test haifa fired medium-range missiles today near the strait of hormuz. it is a vital waterway for oil tankers sending supplies abroad. the anti-radar missiles were tested as part of military drills. and iran didn't stop there. a news agency also reporting the country has succeeded in building and testing its first nuclear fuel rod. the rod is said to contain natural uranium. it's been placed in the core of a tehran research reactor. iran still insists its nuclear program is peaceful. western powers doubt that and some have accused them of working toward a nuclear weapon. he was once considered an also rand candidate. now rick santorum near the top of the polls. we're asking our political analysts is it because he's gaining traction or because the leaders are losing it?
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back to iowa. one of the businessest surprises in these final days before the caucuses is the rise of rick santorum. for months he struggled to gain traction but take a look at where he is in the latest "des moines register" poll in third place with 15% behind front-runners mitt romney and ron paul. quite a reversal in recent days. i want to bring in lz granderson, a contributor and senior writer of espn and cnn contributor will cain. happy new year, gentlemen. >> happy new year. >> all right, so let's get right to it. will, is santorum's rise an indication of growing popularity or a result of so many of his
rivals falling flat early in the campaign. >> both. definitely both. santorum's rise has correlated with newt gingrich's fall so we can see some of that support is going over to santorum but let's not take away what santorum has accomplished. he put in a lot of horde work and visited every county in iowa. his campaign seems tailor made for iowa. social value, family value, social conservatism plays well to iowa so you expect that rick santorum could do well in iowa and now it looks like he is doing well. >> i want to play this from "meet the press." david gregory pressed santorum about his endorsement of mitt romney back in the 2008 campaign. >> so i -- >> romney will stand up -- you didn't say compared to. >> of course i'm not going to say compared to. i'm trying to advocate for his candidacy -- >> you didn't mean it then -- >> i was saying it relative to john mccain. it's not like i was an early supporter of romney. i endorsed him seven days before
he dropped out of the race. >> does he have conservative values? >> of course, everybody on that stage that is in these debates has conservative values vis-a-vis president obama. >> lz, do you buy his explanation that he endorsed romney purely for political reasons? >> absolutely not. you know, rick santorum, i have been trying really hard not to call him a knob but i don't know what else i can do besides say that because the guy continues to put himself in these positions where he looks like a weak leader. he looks as if he's always flip-flopping even with his own principles. he criticized romney where he had similar views about abortion as romney did then he flip-flopped his own views with regard to abortion when it got time for him to start to run for president so i don't understand the guy. i can find very little with him talking about the economy, very little talking about jobs. it's always about abortion. and he thinks about gay people
more than i do and i'm gay so i don't get the guy. >> let's turn to ron paul, we'll leave it there for santorum. let's turn it to ron paul who is second in that "des moines register" poll. always a question whether he is too outside of the mainstream to be electable in a general election. here's what he said this morning on cnn's "state of the union." >> i'm pretty electable. i was elected 12 times once people got to know me in my own congressional district so i think that's more propaganda than anything else so we'll wait and see and we'll know a lot pore about how the election goes tomorrow. >> will, is ron paul letting the iowa poll numbers get to his head? >> no, i mean that's perfectly rational reason he just gave. look, here's my issue with ron paul. is he electable. there was a book called the your-hour workweek." perato's position, you can break it down 80-20.
80% of your problems come from another 20% of your clientele. 80% of what he says is great, small government, constitutionalism but 20% is a total deal killer. the interesting thing, that 20% is different for everybody. for some it's that he would legalize drugs. for others it would he would pull troops out of iraq, germany and south korea and others he would kill the federal reserve. it's different for everybody but it's always a deal killer. that is why he's not electable. >> to the man all of these republicans want to beat, president obama. yesterday he signed a defense spending bill that allows the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects including american citizens in the u.s. but gave a statement along with it saying "i want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of american citizens." that from the president.
lz, he said he signed this with serious reservations and he's essentially vowing not to follow parts of it. why did he sign it at all? >> you know what, there are moments in this man's presidency that i really regret not seeing hillary in that position and these are one of those moment, right, because there is no reason to not veto that part of it because it's horrendous. it's against what we believe in this country and for him to sign that bill and then come back and say, but i'm not going to use it or who is going to say that the president won't use it and you're the president that gave that president the permission to do so. the only thing i can think of so he doesn't appear to be weak in terms of handling terrorism because of the troop withdrawal in ask and iraq but i think it's a horrible bill. he shouldn't have signed it and i think it will bite him in the butt when he runs in the general election. >> we'll have to end on that one. thank you both so much, lz granderson, will cain, we
appreciate your perspectives and comments. for the latest on what the candidates are doing to win last-minute support in iowa, be sure to join wolf blitzer and the political team for "countdown to iowa: the final 48 hours" coming up in about 90 minutes right here on cnn. a brutal way to start the new year, a major winter storm taking aim on several states, evers bonnie schneider will have the forecast in two minutes but first cnn's dr. sanjay gupta has launched a new program called "the next list." each week sanjay will profile innovators from all walks of life and all fields of endeavor. this week he talks with christopher brosius, a former cab driver turned award winning performer. >> being self-taught is actually -- it's very much a blessing and a curse. the curse part means that i do not have or did not have a lot of the technical experience that
people who were classically trained in the very few per sum schools do. they knew how to make certain chords because they were taught how and know how to work with certain materials because this was passed down through these schools. i had to figure out everything myself. hey... there's mom! hey, let mom try. ready, go! ♪ yeah, rock on, mom! [ male announcer ] sometimes a hint is all the wrapping a gift needs. wait a minute...i... [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] the lexus december to remember sales event is here, but only for a limited time. see your lexus dealer for exclusive lease offers on the 2012 rx 350 and, as a gift from lexus, we'll make your first month's payment.
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bitter and brutal way in michigan, and bonnie schneider is here to tell us it certainly did, bonnie. >> it's coming in with a big blast of cold air and that cold air works its way across the warmer waters of the great lakes and it's a recipe for a lot of snow. add strong wind and you've got to see these gusts we've seen so far today. it's been brutal out there for the first day of the year in pontiac michigan, they gusted to 51 miles per hour, ann arbor, 48. intense winds making a big difference in the weather we're seeing across much of this region. on the radar picture what you're looking at is heavy snow particularly for the state of michigan from north to south where the heaviest bands are, even some sweeping into chicago as we zoom into the region what we're looking at is definitely snowy conditions across much of michigan and that will continue straight through today, straight through tomorrow. the blizzard warning that's in effect goes until 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night for the counties you see highlighted in red into michigan, 12 inches plus. that's a foot of snow.
with the intense winds gusts of 55 miles per hour, wow, that is going to create immense snow drifts so we're watching for very, very intense bands of snow to work their way across michigan and much of the region so the wins are going to be fierce across areas of ohio all the way to upstate new york and even into vermont and, of course, that will make the temperature colder and a lot more snow pile on up. we're looking at future cast. it will show the lake-effect event should be wrapping up as we go into the next 48 hours. overall we'll be monitoring this as well as the blizzard warning in effect for parts of michigan straight through tomorrow night. >> dangerous situation, bonnie, thanks so much. you could call 2011 the year of big trials. casey anthony, conrad murray and the connecticut murders drew the attention of many of us. these trials not only gained massive media attention, they also changed the legal landscape. joining me now former prosecutor holly hughes to break it all down. holly, you've obviously been following all of these trials.
let's begin with the one that pretty much had the country riveted. that's casey anthony. how do you think that trial changed the legal landscape? >> well, natalie, it changed it in two very significant ways. it changed the way the legal players in the field act, the judges, the lawyer, the legislatures and it changed the way the public will act when they're called in to participate in that process as a juror because as you know, when the verdict came down and it was so unpopular, jurors in this case got death threats, so now when you're called to serve on a jury and it has any kind of publicity behind it, you're going to be really skeptical about whether or not you want to do your civic duty and be involved in that process. so that's how it changed the public and legally speaking we're seeing a lot of states enacting legislation if you're the caregiver for a child and you don't report that child missing or dead within 72 hours we can now charge you with a
felony which would have been an additional way to get casey anthony. >> it certainly had a lot of legal ramifications and, of course, the country visit rhetted for so long because it was such a tragedy. the other one, michael jackson's doctor, conrad murray. how do you think this will be impacted in the future from this trial. >> what we'll see the legislature back in california is now because so much light has been shone on them with this house arrest bill, they came up with realignment. which means if you're convicted of a nonviolent felony and consider involuntary manslaughter -- yes, your eyebrows are going -- that's the reaction of most of country. they say, what, you killed somebody and it's possible you could serve a four-year maximum sentence on house arrest. now that spotlight has been turned on california and they're starting to rethink how they classify involuntary manslaughter, number one, and, number two, if this whole house arrest idea is such a good idea after all.
>> so we had michael jackson, superstar, casey anthony, a little girl and then, of course, a case that some people might have forgotten about but it was very horrific, the connecticut murders of the family, the petit family and joseph komisarjevsky on trial for that one and this case probably had the biggest impact on the death penalty. >> it did. and that's what's fascinating. we see a lot of states trying to abolish the death death penalpe. there are so many anti-death penalty they are legislating and connecticut was getting ready to abolish it and when this happened, you remember the details. they beat the father, tied him up and left him in the basement, they raped two young teenage girl, the mother, then they burned these women alive. >> horrible. >> so when people heard these horrific facts, they put on the brakes and the public put on the brakes and said, hey, wait a minute, you know what, maybe
there is a case where the death penalty is appropriate and so what we saw was the public giving an outcry and the legislature in connecticut responding to the public and saying, okay, you're right, we're going to hold off on abolishing the death penalty. they kept it in place and guess what, komisarjevsky got the death penalty, natalie, so it goes to show you that the public out there thinks there are times when it's appropriate. >> all quite interesting. we appreciate it, former prosecutor holly hughes, holly, thanks for breaking it down. happy new year to you. >> yes, you too. new images of one of the biggest stories of 2011. if you thought these pictures of the earthquake and tsunami, new pictures will give you a different feeling.
japan, of course, struggling to rebuild from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country last march. it could be decades, though, before someplaces are back to normal. but google is offering a window on the past. josh levs has a look at what google earth can show us. >> reporter: this is historic. this kind of documentation of the unbelievable devastation that we witnessed in japan. you'll see it in a brand-new way from google called memories for
the future and i pulled up one of the areas we talked about, the devastation was absolutely incredible. what google has is what it has looked like recently, as recent as october and this is after much of the debris was picked up. one more picture then i'll tell you about an interesting feature. we're looking at this in miyagi prefecture. we have reported numerous boats washed up onto land, many still there. you can see what it looks like now. over to a map, let's do that. i want to show you areas and pinpoint for you and do something interesting. we'll see before and after pictures and we're starting off with onagawa. let's zoom back to my screen here. this is onagawa on this feature this. is what it looked like before the earthquake and the tsunami. this is one busy street corner. you can see shops, you can see a book store in one corner here. let me show you the same area after the earthquake. exact same spot, boom, this is
what it looks like now, you see a series of before and after picture, absolutely incredible. that map. i want to zoom you west. still inside miyagi prefecture highlighting some places we told you about this year. over to ishinomaki. what's different in this area, there were homes and apartment buildings and you see cars outside. this is a before picture. now, boom, never been anything like this, folks. same spot, same areas, heartbreaking. this picture, by the way, i'll tell you is from july. in some cases there's been more cleanup. a third one i want to show you, we'll zoom southward a little bit because probably the place you heard us knock about most is in phuc fukushima. there are homes here and residential there in soma and
same spot. everything is gone. everything absolutely gone. now, what's amazing about this feature, you can see all sorts of areas of japan with before and after imagery. i want you all to have the opportunity to check it out for yourself. i posted it online. it's cnn.com/josh and facebook and twitter. i'm at joshlevscnn. the latest number we have, more than 15,000 people killed in the earthquake and tsunami. >> a long way to go. fireworks go up and dozens of birds go down, dead from shock. we'll have that story right after a break. with your mortgage,
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a mystery in arkansas. birds falling dead from the sky on new year's eve for the second year in a row. between 50 and 80 blackbirds have been reported dead. the exact same thing happened in that area last new year's eve but 5,000 birds found dead in a square mile area. tests are being done to find out what killed this latest group of birds but officials are speculating they were startled by new year's eve fireworks. headlines across country, a
north carolina man is in federal custody charged with trying to board a commercial flight with afternoon explosive device. it happened saturday in midland, texas. tsa agents say they spotted a suspicious item in what they call military grade wrapping in the man's carry-on bag and arrested him, briefly evacuated the airport and declared an all-clear. no word on exactly what type of explosive he is charged with carrying. two more states made same-sex civil unions legal today this. is hawaii governor neil abercrombie signing the law a few days ago. hawaii and delaware make five u.s. states that now recognize same-gender civil unions. six other states and washington, d.c. allow same-sex marriage. all right. how about this one, banana sam is back. you may remember the squirrel monkey that was taken friday from the san francisco zoo. well, our affiliate ktvu reports
a good samaritan spotted the animal in a tree at stern grove park and somehow coaxed it into his backpack and then notified police. zoo staffers noticed the little guy missing after spotting holes cut through the mesh fence of banana sam's exhibit. but that one has a happy ending. well, you want a sprite or a coke or even a kool-aid? it will cost you more this year to indulge. we'll tell you about a tax on what is considered sinful food and drink and where it is happening. that is on the other side of this break. ♪ sing polly wolly doodle all the day ♪ ♪ hah
it is 2012 and depending on where you live, you'll have to pay more for soft drinks and you soon won't be able to vote if you've got, "limited mental ability." those are some of the crazy and controversial laws that are or will become official in other nations now that the new year is here. cnn international editor aza joins me with the details. limited mental ability, that could be an interesting debate for a lot of people. but certainly, cities in this country have thought about taxing soft drinks, but it appears that france has put it in the books. >> they're going to kick it into effect. it went into effect today. if you plan on visiting france, you'll have to pay one euro cent more for that can of soda and
between three to six euro cents more for a liter. they're calling this the sin tax, all across europe. in denmark, we had the fat tax last year, right? so coca-cola has come out and said, this is ridiculous, okay? because they were going to open up a plant in the south of france and decided to suspend the project because of it. but it's a common thing we're seeing with foods associated with poor health and obesity, being imposed with this added tax. but on the side end of it is that it's generating a lot of revenue or could potentially generate revenue to help boost the economy. >> as long as they don't touch the wine and chocolate. >> they won't. also, diet drinks aren't going to be taxed either. >> those aren't a sin. all right, whew! let's move east to the netherlands. no secret, many americans visit there because smoking pot is illegal, but not anymore. it's called the weed pass. >> right. the netherland's tourism bureau came out, natalie, and they said 19% of americans that visit the netherlands have visited what they call these "coffeeshops."
but now it's for members only. so you have to be dutch, 18 years or older, and they're going to limit the number of members each of these coffeeshops has. so you can't just go and buy or smoke weed in a coffeeshop, as you perhaps were able to do in 2011, but this doesn't kick into effect until may 2012. so if you want to go to the netherlands, now is your time. you should probably do it. >> they're coming down on the sinners. okay, hungry now. a lot of outrage from people complaining about limiting voting rights and discrimination against same-sex couples. this goes back to hungary's new constitution. >> many are calling it a constitution revolution. the reason being is they're removing a lot of the checks and balances that were previously in place in government and putting a lot of this power in the hands of the current government. so institutions that were once regulated independently are now being governed by the government. like media. you have institutions, banks,
you have churches. and one that's gotten a lot of attention is this limiting rights to people that they deem who have limited mental abilities. and in addition to that, they used to recognize 300 religions and now it's down to 14 state officially recognized religions. but, again, a lot of protests and we're going to see this thing build up and pick up going into the, especially coming weeks here. that seems like a tough one to figure out, especially as far as the limited mental ability. very interesting. appreciate it, aza. happy new year to you. the nfl wraps up its regular season while the nba finally tips off. which teams have surprise and which have disappointed? in both leagues, we're talking with jon wertheim from sports i'll straited next.
season. here to talk about it, jon wertheim, senior investigative reporter for "sports illustrated." happy new year to you, jon. >> you too. >> let's start with the nfl, who wrapped up its regular season today. any big surprises among the playoff teams? >> no, i think the big surprises are the teams that didn't make it. the new york jets, that's a team that a lot of people thought might win the super bowl. they didn't make it. i don't think people expected the 49ers to be as good as they are. you look at the strong teams, green bay, new england, new orleans, that's pretty much what people thought. this has been an exciting season. we'll see what happens in the playoffs. >> and green bay rested most of its regulars today, including quarterback aaron rodgers, but it looks like it was a wise move. do you think so? >> you know, it's interesting, they still won the game, which is a good sign. team always have this, why would you injure someone, why would you injure a key player when there's so little at stake? on the other hand, these teams really rely on rhythm. does it make sense to remove your starter? but green bay looked great today winning. and rogers didn't play, is going to be well rested. so far, it looks good.
we'll see what happens when the playoffs get going. >> who will be the biggest char challenger to the packers repeating as super bowl champs, do you think? >> i like new orleans. green bay is the top seed, which means they'll have home field advantage up through the super bowl. you know, new england, san francisco. but you sort of look at this objectively, and boy does green bay look good. they won today, won the super bowl last year, and they look like a pretty good bet to repeat. >> let's turn to the nba, the defending champs, the dallas mavericks and the los angeles lakers off to a slow start. is that a cause for concern? >> you know, it's still early and there's a lot we don't know, but at the same time, i think -- there is a bit of a cause for concern. teams did not have a long training camp, and you look at the lakers. they've got an old kobe bryant. they were not able to get chris paul, the dynamic point guard, the way they thought they would. it seems as though the fabric of the team is a bit frayed. we're only four, five games into the season, but at the same time, it doesn't look good early. and for dallas, it's a bit
perpl perplexing. they lost tyson chandler last year. less than 10% of the season down, so you don't want to write anyone off, but those are two teams where you thought they'd be better than they are. >> they've got a long way to go, but in contrast, of course, the heat is on. miami, unbeaten. are they now the early favorite to become the nba champs? >> i really think they are. i mean, not just given how the others are playing, but boy does this team look good and they picked up shane battier, a great acquisition. a young rookie cole playing well. they've got the big three, they haven't lost yet, and i think that's your odds-on favorite to win the nba title, sure. >> okay, well, that's looking ahead, we appreciate your perspective and you joining us on this new year's day. jon wertheim with "sports illustrated." thanks so much, jon. >> thank you. and hello, again, everyone. i'm natalie allen. top of the hour. it is 7:00 eastern. let's get right to the news. nearly 48 hours leftn