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Bitter, Blistering Cold; Clinton Testifying on Benghazi; Interview with Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Netanyahu Wins Reelection with Less Support; Sundance Film Festival in Full Swing

Aired January 23, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dangerous cold. Temperatures below zero. How Americans bundled up from the Mideast to the Northeast. Freezing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Groupon for gun bargains. The Web site changing its policy and could get sued for it.

BERMAN: And heroism with no hesitation. A police officer caught on camera risking his own life to save a woman from a speeding train. It is an amazing picture.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman. Zoraida joins us from the Sundance Film Festival in a few moments.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, January 23rd, and it's 30 minutes past the hour.

Reports of four deaths now this morning as parts of the northern U.S. deal with blistering winter cold. Today, people in some areas bracing for the coldest day in two years, bundling up, covering up everything to protect skin from subzero wind chills.

Speaking of subzero temperatures, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Great Lakes are locked in the deep freeze, which could stick around until the weekend.

Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is at the CNN weather center in Atlanta, tracking the bitter chill for us.

I went to college in Iowa, I'm telling you, these are those kinds of days where you walk across campus and you can't feel anything, even with gloves, mittens, snow pants, the whole -- it is cold.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Those are the days when are you maybe like I should stay in the house for my own safety, because you're right, Christine. It is going to be bitterly cold from areas, including the Upper Midwest.

We are still going to be dealing with wind chills minus 25 to minus 35, in areas, even into the mid-Atlantic, as well as New England. They are going to be shivering.

We do have the wind chill warnings in place for parts of New England. We could see those wind chills dropping down to minus 40 degrees.

Now, of course, when you're talking about weather like this, yes, it can prove to be deadly. We are seeing a bit of a warming trend, parts of the Midwest. But it's still cold. Don't get me wrong.

In Duluth, minus 19. Minneapolis, it feels like seven right and it feels like three in Chicago. That's your wind chill. Still very cold in parts of the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, look at Erie as well as Buffalo, feels like seven degrees in both locations and minus 13 in Portland, Maine.

So, today, high temperatures are going to be climbing very slightly. You can see it for yourself, for areas like Chicago. You are going to reach 25 today. And for New York, a high of only 22 degrees.

But not everybody is shivering. Not everybody minds this cold weather. In fact, we have some video coming in to us, out of Indianapolis. You're going to see people heading to the zoo.

You can see a tiger there. He's like all right. It's a little chilly. But the polar bears, and a nice day, I like these cold temperatures.

They're going to continue to be well below average through the end of the weekend. Of course, we're also talking about more lake-effect snow. Christine, we could see some locations picking up another three to six inches of snowfall, down in the southwestern part of the U.S., California, record warmth, in some locations, 10 to 20 degrees above average this time of the year.

Big, big difference.

ROMANS: Jennifer, I just love your optimism. A beautiful day in the Upper Midwest if you are a penguin or a polar bear. Look at that way.

DELGADO: Absolutely. You've got layers of fur. You're good.

ROMANS: Thanks, Jennifer.

DELGADO: Bundle yourself up.

ROMANS: Have a great day.

BERMAN: The polar bear says hey. Love that.

Thirty-two minutes after the hour. And today is the day that many Republicans, many people everywhere have been waiting for. Hillary Clinton in one of her final acts of Secretary of State will testify about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11th of last year. She is going before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Senator Clinton was going to testify in December 20th, but you will remember she fainted from illness and suffered a concussion. She was later hospitalized for a blood clot in her head. She did return to work a few days after leaving the hospital.

I want to bring in Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's a Republican from Illinois. He is on the House committee that Mrs. Clinton will testify in front of today.

And let me just ask you straight of the bat here -- what's the one question you want to have her answer?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Well, look -- and good morning. I think one of the big things -- I'm a major in the Air Force, Air National Guard. I still fly. And, you know, one of the early things I learned as a pilot is that your country is going to be there to support you.

And what I'm curious about is there were two basically s separate attacks in this that happened and there was a seven-hour lull in between the first and second. And so, the question is: why were assets not put overhead during that lull, during that time, when we could have had military support or support of all kinds of measures? And that's a big question.

And the other big thing was this: we were told immediately after the attack, this was the result of the YouTube video. In fact, I heard the secretary herself say it. And we now know that even during the attack, members of the State Department knew, in fact, this was a terrorist attack and knew there were terrorist organizations claiming responsibility.

So, it will be a very respectful hearing. I respect the secretary's service to her country. But I think the American people deserve a lot of answers to what's going on.

BERMAN: There was an independent accountability review board that did look at this whole thing. They issued a report.

They said, "The board did not find that any individual U.S. government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities and, therefore, did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action."

Now, you want more than that?

KINZINGER: Well, we do. I think we need to ask the secretary exactly who knew what and when. Where was she the night of September 11th? Was she briefed what was going on?

Where was the president frankly? What information did the White House have? The White House would have been the folks that could have dispatched any kind of DOD, Department of Defense, assets overhead to prevent further attacks, or to save any of our personnel that are under fire.

So, I think there are a lot of questions, and, again, the day after we were told this was a YouTube video, and we knew otherwise. So, it does leave questions as to what we are being told. And, again, it will be a very respectful hearing, but we need to have answers to this. And the American people deserve it. It's been a number of months now.

There are four Americans that unfortunately were killed in this process. We need to ensure accountability is held for what happened. But also that this doesn't happen again in the future.

BERMAN: You know, on the subject of the video, the former CIA chief David Petraeus says multiple streams of intelligence from different sources and that may be where the confusion lies. That's not a satisfying answer?

KINZINGER: No, it's not. Look, when you have e-mails sent among department personnel saying a group is claiming responsibility for this, calling it a terrorist attack, and then we find out later this was, in fact, a terrorist attack, in a short amount of time, I'm curious as to why it was so quickly blamed on a YouTube video, when the reality that a YouTube video would somehow spark mass protest, organize an attack against our embassy, doesn't make a lot of sense.

So, not to beat that point to death, but it is a question as to why that was the result. Was administration trying to downplay the seriousness of the attack prior to the election? What did that have -- did that have a role to play in the fact that military assets were not put overhead in a seven-hour lull. Whether it's an F-16 that can see what's on the ground or do nonviolent maneuvers that F-16s can do, in fact, disperse crowds.

A lot of questions that need to be answered. And, again, it's our responsibility to get to the bottom of it.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, this is a day that a lot of people have been waiting for, hearings today. On the House side, 2:00 p.m., we know you will be there. Thanks for talking to us this morning.

KINZINGER: Yes, thanks. Great. Have a good day.

ROMANS: You know, John, House Republicans are shifting strategy in debt negotiations. They are saying that they believe they have the votes to pass a short-term debt increase today and seek some deep spending cuts later. Their plan would suspend the $16.4 trillion debt limit to allow the U.S. to keep borrowing money to pay our bills for another three months and increase the legal limit to whatever you the new debt level would be. In exchange, they are calling on the Senate to pass a budget by spring.

BERMAN: Executive director of the NRA Wayne LaPierre has some harsh words for President Obama. At a hunting club conference in Nevada, LaPierre accused the president of attacking gun owners by proposing a federal registry and expanded background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: There are only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners, to either tax them or take them. It's the only reason.


BERMAN: LaPierre went on to criticize the president's inaugural speech, saying parts of it as an attack on the NRA, the Second Amendment and gun owners themselves, though there was not a single mention specifically of gun control in Monday's speech, though he did say Newtown.

ROMANS: From now on, you won't be able to get gun-related daily deals on Groupon. The only service had been offering bargains on shooting ranges and concealed weapons courses for eight months, but has now decided to scrap the offers. Groupon claims the decision was based on customer feedback.

A Texas gun shop owner isn't happy. He offered a 50 percent off for a concealed handgun license class for beginners and it was selling well. That gun shop owner says he may sue.

BERMAN: So, let's take a look at the top CNN trend on the web this morning. An off-duty police officer's act of heroism is getting plenty of hits, as well as it should. Take a look.

This happened in Madrid in Spain. The officer wasted no time at all when a woman fainted and fell on the subway platform right unto the tracks below. He can be seen jumping on the tracks to the other side of the platform, running to help her, pulling her out of the path of an oncoming train. It took him less than 20 seconds to get the woman out of harm's way.

BERMAN: It's almost like instinct for him. Just went after her. Unbelievable.

A lawsuit has been filed in Georgia after the Department of Driver's Services requested gay-themed vanity plates. Authorities denied James Cyrus Gilbert's (ph) order for plates that read 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR, and GAYGUY. Those tags are currently on the state's banned list. Gilbert wants to overturn the state regulation that governs those vanity plates in Georgia.

BERMAN: So Justin Bieber is the most followed person on Twitter. He leapfrogged Lady Gaga. And as of this morning, Bieber had about 33,330,000 followers. Lady Gaga is still beating Justin Bieber on Facebook with 55 million likes to his 50 million. But who is counting?

ROMANS: It's not Mars or even the moon. Coming up: how asteroids could be the key to exploring outer space.

BERMAN: Plus, a dog's tale of getting caught in the freezing cold. There is a happy ending to this, I assure you. And we'll have it, just ahead.


ROMANS: Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT." Good morning.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, "STARTING POINT": So much ahead. Good morning to both of you.

Ahead on "STARTING POINT" this morning, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify finally before Congress about that deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. We're expected to find out what she knew and if the State Department, in fact, could have done more to protect Americans overseas?

We're going to talk this morning speak with California Congressman Ed Royce and Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz is back with us. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer will join us as well.

Plus, they are changing how we fight wars and also how we surveil people here in the United States. The domestic uses for drones, unmanned drones. And do they compromise the right to privacy? Is there a risk of having 30,000 drones? Some people predicted the number of the number by 2020.

Is there a risk for that in the sky? There's a new special on PBS that gets to look at the power behind drones. We're going to talk with the filmmaker of that special ahead this morning.

Then, the controversy on the Internet and around the globe, I think it's fair to say. Watch this.

Live or (INAUDIBLE)? But the question is, did she lip sync the performance? We're talking about that as well.

BERMAN: You told me I should lip sync the rest of the morning.

O'BRIEN: Well, you said you could sing. So, I said --

BERMAN: I don't need to lip sync when I'm in front of a million people on inauguration day.

O'BRIEN: OK, let's hear it. This is your opportunity.

BERMAN: No, no, no. Actually, I do. I take it back. Seriously, forget that.

O'BRIEN: Come on, just like happy birthday or something.

BERMAN: I was standing really close to her. I couldn't tell if she was singing or not.

ROMANS: But we all know she's a fantastic singer and sing under unbelievable circumstances, on the stage, singing, dancing, running around. Why didn't -- I mean --

O'BRIEN: So does it bother you, or do you not care?

ROMANS: I just wish somebody would just tell me if she did or didn't. I just want resolution. I just need resolution.

O'BRIEN: You just need to know so you can move on with your life.

ROMANS: Exactly. No, I don't care. If she did or didn't, I don't care.

BERMAN: I'd rather she sang, to be honest at the inauguration.

O'BRIEN: Because are you such a good singer.

BERMAN: Out of respect to me. I kind of wish Beyonce sang.

Forty-four minutes after the hour. We're bring you up to speed on all the stories around the country right now.

From the upper Midwest and the mid-Atlantic and New England, we are seeing and feeling the coldest temperatures, so far, this winter. It feels like just seven degrees in Washington, D.C. It is near zero here in New York City, well below zero in Fargo, North Dakota. This arctic blast blamed for four deaths so far.

ROMANS: And if this had been earlier in the week, it would have been a very cold inauguration.

One year after college football coaching legend Joe Paterno's death, supporters are paying tribute. Affiliate WHP reporting hundreds of people braved those single digit temperatures yesterday to visit a mural in downtown state college featuring Paterno and other prominent Penn state figures, following assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex scandal, a halo of Paterno's head was removed and an image of Sandusky was painted it over.

BERMAN: Police at Grapevine, Texas, confirmed that Dallas Cowboys nose tackle, Jay Ratliff, has been arrested for driving while intoxicated. Ratliff was busted early Tuesday morning after police say his pickup truck was involved in a crashed with an 18-wheeler. He was arraigned on DWI charges and released of $500 bond.

Last month, you remember, another Cowboys player, Josh Brent, was charged with intoxicated manslaughter following a crash that killed his teammate, Jerry Brown Jr.

ROMANS: Exit polls from Tuesday's parliamentary election in Israel show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly hold on to his job, but with much less support than expected. Surprising surge of a new centrist party has weakened Netanyahu's power, but could ease strained relations with the U.S. and signal a more -- a good plan for more flexibility with peace efforts with the Palestinians.

BERMAN: The final decision on expanding the Keystone Pipeline rest with President Obama, but Nebraska's governor just approved the new route saying it poses just minimal risk to the environment.

The State Department will now do its own environmental review, but one official says a decision on the pipeline probably will not happen before the end of March, and analysts say after the heavy emphasis on climate change in the president's inaugural speech, approval may be less certain than ever.

First Lady Michelle Obama's red inaugural ball dress will one of the first items donated to the future Obama presidential library. The dress designed by Jason Wu is going to the national archives for now. Many first lady gowns for over 100 years are on exhibit at the Smithsonian.

ROMANS: A new company says it's getting ready to mine asteroids in space. Deep Sea Industries says it may begin sending unmanned scout probes to asteroids as soon as 2015. Larger spacecraft capable in bringing back 50 to 100-pound samples from these targets could be blasting off by 2016.

The company wants to travel about 31 million miles to space to mine asteroids for metals, water, and other compounds that could be used to manufacture fuel to power spacecrafts.

BERMAN: Mine asteroid. It's just like "Armageddon." It's the movie "Armageddon" coming to life right now. Bruce Willis right here for us.

Police in Chicago refused to let a dog freeze to death after he got stuck out on an icy Lake Michigan. Look at this. Poor guy. When an officer first tried to rescue the dog, the nervous guy ran away. After about three hours, crews were able to use a tranquilizer to calm the dog down and that allowed rescuers to get close enough to capture the dog and bring him to shore. That's nice.

ROMANS: You know, freebies are a stable of the Sundance Film Festival. Coming up, we go live to Utah to see how one superstar is trying to turn all that swag into a powerful force for good.


BERMAN: So, the Sundance Film Festival in full swing, and some star- driven comedies and dramas as well as a half dozen or so documentaries are attracting distributors at the indie festival in the snow right now. But there is some big news developing overnight. One particular film in Sundance may be getting a big welcome surprise.

Zoraida Sambolin, my co-anchor for EARLY START, is here to tell us about it. Hey, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This could actually be one of the riches deals in Sundance history. We talked about this a little bit earlier, John. The film is called "The Way, Way Back." And I think we have a picture of the cast for you here. It actually sold to Fox Search Light. It was a reported $10 million. We haven't confirmed that yet, but that's a lot of swag.

This is a coming of age comedy. It's being compared to "Little Miss Sunshine," which was kind of a sleeper darling at the Sundance a few years ago. And if you look at the case, it's reuniting some two big names, Steve Carell and Toni Collette. The two directors are the same guys who won a screenwriting Oscar for "The Descendents."

This all happened just last year. So, who knows? This could be the one that we're talking about for Oscar contention next year. And also making news here. This is far more controversial. It is a Daniel Radcliffe film. It is "Kill Your Darlings," and that one was picked up by Sony Picture classics.

There's a lot of buzz and controversy that are surrounding this film. There's a very graphic sex scene in this film. And we're actually going to talk about that a little bit later on "STARTING POINT". You know, it's really interesting that the person that we were talking about, "The Way, Way Back," everybody is talking about, you know, sex at Sundance.

That there's too much of it in some of the films, well, that one has none of it. So, it's really interesting that that's the one that's creating a lot of buzz. And something else that, you know, everybody talks about here is the swag that has given to all of the celebrities. So, we found something that's really cool here. It's called reverse swag. It's an opportunity for celebrities to give back. Take a look.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Swag, it is a staple here at Sundance. On main street, it's hard to go anywhere without being gifted. From a popup restaurant offering free food to the big ticket items usually reserved for the biggest stars. This year, a major celebrity is out to reverse swag. Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation along with asking stars and festival attendees to donate their free stuff.

The goal? To help victims of Superstorm Sandy. "Mad Men's" January Jones stopped by the cast party of her new film "Sweet Water" and signed a board that will be auctioned online. Jason Isaacs donated his brand-new swag, True Religion jeans.

JASON ISAACS, ACTOR: When it comes to a festival, people give you things all the time which is very lovely and I always feel very guilty. And so, I'm thrilled that I hooked up with Jon Bon Jovi's charity and possibly help (ph) some of the victims of Sandy.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): You know, it's really great to see these celebrities giving back, but I have to tell you, right behind me is main street, John. And I was actually walking up and down Main Street yesterday because I wanted to bring you back some swag. And my camera guy, Tom Larson (ph) actually stopped by a place, because he thought that they were giving away male lingerie.

So, he stopped dead in his tracks. We're going to wait in line for the male lingerie. It wasn't actually male lingerie for you, but it was this. Nail lingerie. Either way, I decided to pick up a couple of them for you.


BERMAN: You know, it's a win either way for me the way I see it, Zoraida. Thank you so much. In either way, I'll be OK.

SAMBOLIN: A little nail lingerie.


BERMAN: It's the thought that counts. That's what they say. Zoraida Sambolin live --

SAMBOLIN: It is, indeed.

BERMAN: -- at the Sundance Film Festival. Always thinking of me and my undergarments. Thanks very much. Z, nice to see you.

ROMANS: But it will really spruce up your weekly manicure.

BERMAN: Yes, it will.

ROMANS: It really well.

All right. Coming up, today's "Best Advice" from a pioneering American cyclist. That's coming up.


BERMAN: Time for "Best Advice."

ROMANS: That's right. Today, American cyclist John Eustice.


JOHN EUSTICE, AMERICAN CYCLIST: Well, that's a big question, but I can tell you some really great advice I received was from my fifth grade teacher, maybe sixth grade, Mr. Dobush (ph). And, it's a long time ago. And, he was sort of a hippie type, if you will, in those days, as they would call them. And, he was about free expression.

And, back then, I told him I wanted to be a professional bicycle racer, which was unheard of. This is 1960s, all right. And everyone made fun of me. And, he said, you know what? If you want to do that, if you think you can do it, follow your heart and you do it. And he was right.


BERMAN: And that's all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. I'm going to follow my heart right over to "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien right now.