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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

America on Ice; Pentagon Grants Women the Right to Fight; North Korea's Threats Intensify

Aired January 24, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: America on ice. From the Midwest to Mid- Atlantic, subzero cold causes misery and takes more lives.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The right to fight. For the first time, the Pentagon will allow women in combat on the front lines.

BERMAN: That's huge news.

And new this morning, a defiant North Korea threatening more nuclear tests and calling the U.S. its sworn enemy. That's breaking overnight.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Thursday, January 24th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, let's get started here. Up first, if you are still wrapped up in your blankets, you may want to stay right where you are.

BERMAN: Do not move.

SAMBOLIN: I know.

That bitter cold blast is gripping much of the country and it's not expected to go away anytime soon.

In New York, people were mummified on the street with the temperature plunging to single digits. Even for late January, this is a little bit ridiculous for these parts. The U.S. is feeling like 33 below in some areas. Today, the south could see subfreezing temperatures and wind chills and ice where people are not used to driving in winter weather, and where places are not used to preparing for those crazy temperatures either. Authorities say three people have already died from exposure to this deep, deep cold.

Jennifer Delgado with the latest on the deep freeze.

But, first, we have Susan Candiotti. She is live in Columbus Circle. She's right outside our building. Susan, I consider myself a hearty Midwestern gal. But even this is crazy. How low are the temperatures going to get?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you said something about looking like a mummy.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: That's how I feel I look right now, Zoraida and John.

SAMBOLIN: You look good.

CANDIOTTI: Well, thank you very much. OK. Well, I'll tell you what? We've got this handy, dandy digital thermometer. It's reading 22 degrees. I'm not sure I believe that. The top of the bulling thermometer says 14. It feels much colder than that, I can tell you that.

But for most people around the country that are experiencing these freezing temperatures, it's been a struggle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Talk about a double whammy, New Yorkers who made minimum home repairs after superstorm Sandy may not have enough heat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just freezing here.

CANDIOTTI: One reason warming centers are springing up in cold weather cities, giving the most vulnerable young and old some relief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't had heat -- hot water and heat for three days. Yesterday was a little bit of heat came on. Only heat we got was in the bathroom.

CANDIOTTI: In Syracuse, a heavy downfall, lowering visibility, giving snow blowers a workout, making it tough for postal carriers to get from house to house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully, the driveway will already be plowed when I get back.

CANDIOTTI: In Iowa City, Iowa, just one degree above zero. A dog shelter begging for help after a heater broke down. Extra blankets needed to keep the cement floor warm for a man's best friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a stressful environment and trying to -- trying to keep as we can.

CANDIOTTI: Outside Pittsburgh when a water main broke in the middle of the night, single digit temperatures gushing water into a sheet of ice.

Subzero temps aren't all bad if you like ice boating. Skimming across the ice at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour in what looks like a mini kayak with a sail.

For those who have to work outside --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as I bundle up, double bundle, I'm good. I have a lot of clothes on.

CANDIOTTI: Maybe the best way to get by is thinking hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Key Largo is a great place this time of year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Ah, yes, Key Largo, been there many a time.

Yes. But now, let's look at some of the lowest temperatures overnight across the United States. Check these out, Mt. Washington --

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

BERMAN: Ooh.

CANDIOTTI: -- New Hampshire, 34 below. Crane Lake, Minnesota, 27 below. Saranac Lake, New York, minus 23. And Presque Isle, Maine, haven't been there yet, 23 below zero. Ouch!

We are balmy here by comparison, guys.

SAMBOLIN: I'm about to say that. It's actually quite nice here and we should be counting our blessings.

CANDIOTTI: Right.

SAMBOLIN: But the folks we worry about are the homeless. They are the most vulnerable in this crazy weather. And we know that one homeless man is found dead in Staten Island last week. What are cities doing to help those who have absolutely nowhere to go?

CANDIOTTI: You know, the routine is to go around and try to give blankets to the homeless, but more importantly, to try to get them to go to shelters.

SAMBOLIN: Which is tough.

CANDIOTTI: One thing we always want to remind others as well, is to check on the elderly, senior citizens who are living in your neighborhood. Knock on their door, make sure they're OK. We have to look out for each other.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no doubt. Susan Candiotti, thank you.

With these homeless folks, it's tough. They often times don't want to go to the shelters.

CANDIOTTI: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

So, Jennifer Delgado is tracking deep freeze. I kind of scared to ask what those numbers actually are, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, Zoraida, I can beat Susan's number.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

DELGADO: Remember she was showing you the 35?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

DELGADO: Well, look at this ridiculous wind chill value that was clocked Wednesday morning at minus 85.

BERMAN: No way!

DELGADO: That was in Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. We almost chuckled at that. We couldn't believe it felt so cold there.

Of course, this is nothing to laugh at. This is very serious weather out there. Right now, the current temperature minus 35 degrees at International Falls, Minnesota. Of course, this is known as the ice box. It certainly does feel like it. Ten in buffalo, 15 in New York.

And if you add in the wind, right now, of course, it still feels like it's below freezing across many areas in the double digits. Minus 17 in Minneapolis and six in New York.

Now, for today, we are also tracking some snow that's coming down through Washington, D.C., as well as the central Virginia area. That means we're going to be looking at some messy travel, especially right along Interstate 95.

Keep in mind, temperatures well below freezing. There will be icy spots along the highways as well some of the secondary areas. We're also looking at lake-effect snow coming down through Gary, Indiana, all the way up to areas, including that Michigan border.

Now, we want to leave you with someone warm and sunny and bright. And I think Zoraida will appreciate this. You know, this is coming out of Miami this morning.

I think they're probably sleeping in their swimsuits right now because the temperature is 61 degrees. Today, lots of sunshine out there and 75.

So, if you want to some sunshine and warmth, you know where to go, down south.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Here's the problem, Jennifer. We can't go there.

DELGADO: We can. We are lucky.

SAMBOLIN: In fact, on our Facebook today, do not send me any pictures if you're in balmy, warm weather, I don't want to hear it because folks are struggling.

Thank you so much.

DELGADO: Absolutely. Stay warm. SAMBOLIN: I guess we can think of warm climates.

BERMAN: If that will help you. Do whatever it takes.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know if it helps.

BERMAN: We have some big news. Six minutes after the hour right now.

Women officially on the front lines of war, happening today, an historic move by the Pentagon. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs chairman, Army General Martin Dempsey, announcing the U.S. military is lifting its ban on women serving in combat.

Many former service members support the move. They say some women in support missions have already been drawn into battle in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that don't have physical front lines. Some serve as military police, some have ground on patrol as ground troops in order to talk to Afghan women and children, others fly helicopters.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is following these developments, these important big developments.

And, Barbara, a lot of people think this decision was long overdue. But the question is, why now? Why so suddenly?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it had been in the works. You know, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, John, had certainly been headed in this direction. I think you have to note it's something he wanted to get done before he leaves office in a few weeks. There have been lawsuits about this. So, a lot of people thought this might be coming down the road.

But there's been a critical turn. And that was a letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. I want to read part of it because I think the Joint Chiefs really put a marker down. He said to Panetta, quote, "The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service. The Joint Chiefs unanimously join me in proposing that we move forward with full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible."

What the real change here is likely to be is opening the door for women serving in what's called close combat, the most dangerous work on the battlefield, potentially even joining Special Forces. It will be very controversial, I think, once it starts to happen. I think there will be a lot of deep look at this, whether women will serve in these very close combat, essentially hand-to-hand combat roles, John.

BERMAN: Exactly right about that, Barbara.

Any sense of how we will be implemented and how soon it will be implemented on the front lines?

STARR: Well, you know, I think that really is the key question. The plan is that this will be fully implemented by 2016.

But going back to what we're talking about, these Special Forces, the most critical dangerous roles on the battlefield, it will still be the case that there's an out here. The military could ask for an exemption saying we don't think we can accommodate women on the battlefield in these particular units. So, that's a bit of an out.

And still the question will be, the physical fitness standards, will women in these front line jobs have to meet the exact same standards as the men?

BERMAN: So much to talk about with this story, an important milestone today.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- great to see you this morning.

SAMBOLIN: It's nine minutes past the hour.

We have a big story developing overnight. It is out of Asia. North Korea says it plans to carry out new nuclear testing and further long- range rocket launches as part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States. North Korea's national defense commission called the U.S., quote, "the sworn enemy of the Korean people."

So, this happened Tuesday after a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Tuesday condemning that country's recent rocket launch and expanded existing sanctions against them.

BERMAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answering tough questions about the deadly terror on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi. At one point, her voice cracked as she described consoling members of the four families, four Americans who died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: During her 5 1/2 hours of testimony, there was also intense criticism of her and the Obama administration like this from a Republican senator and potential 2016 presidential hopeful, Rand Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and found you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you from your post. I think it's inexcusable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: And just hours from now, Clinton will introduce her possible successor in a nomination hearing. President Obama picked Senator John Kerry to lead the State Department after Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name. You'll recall Rice caught a lot of flack over the Benghazi attack. Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

BERMAN: All right, folks, we are still talking about this probably for the last time, though. An inaugural official told CNN that pop star Beyonce did not -- repeat -- did not sing the national anthem live on Inauguration Day. The official asked to not be identified and said it was Beyonce herself who made the decision the night before the ceremony.

SAMBOLIN: So, now, you think it's done?

BERMAN: Well, I don't think we'll hear from her at least not for a while on this subject. Yesterday, there was at least a mystery, did she or didn't she? Now, it really appears she didn't. There you go.

SAMBOLIN: All right. OK.

All right. Eleven minutes past the hour. Coming up, the truth about Manti Te'o -- the Notre Dame star speaking out and coming clean about the fake girlfriend hoax.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So, we have lots to catch you up on this morning with Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend, that story, a lot happened overnight. He's finally spoken out on camera to ABC's Katie Couric about the controversy surrounding his Internet love affair that, of course, turned out to be a hoax. He's even admitted to lying a little about the relationship.

The full interview on ABC airs later today. But this is some of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: My story, I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really, you know, held strong to his faith, held strong to his family. And I felt that was my story.

KATIE COURIC, TV HOST: Even if that hardship was, perhaps, exaggerated?

TE'O: No. It was -- what I went through was real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow -- that was all real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Our George Howell has been all over this story. He is live from the CNN center with more now.

George, so he speaks. GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, John, you know, he says it was real. So, you know, the question now, was he really duped? He claims he had nothing to do with this Internet hoax. We'll hear more about Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric later today and get more insight into these bizarre, bizarre connections.

Te'o apparently believed that his online girlfriend who he never met died of cancer in September. But just two days before he attended the Heisman trophy ceremony, he got a call saying that she was alive and faced with the media on the Heisman day, he kept talking about her as if she was alive.

Here's what he told Katie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: You stuck to the script and you knew something was amiss, Manti.

TE'O: Correct.

COURIC: Why?

TE'O: Well, if anybody puts themselves in my situation. Katie, put yourself in my situation. This girl who I committed to died on September 12th. Now I get a phone call on December 6th saying that she's alive and I'm going to be put on national TV two days later and they asked me the same question. You know, what would you do?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Manti Te'o's father, Brian Te'o, stuck up for the football playing, saying he's adamant his son is not a liar. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN TE'O, FATHER, MANTI TE'O: People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And then, of course, there's the real live girl whose pictures were used to create that fake online image of Lennay Kekua. Her real name is Diane O'Meara. She says that she was never part of this hoax and tells CNN's Anderson Cooper, people need to be careful online. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE O'MEARA, IDENTITY STOLEN IN MANTI TE'O HOAX: Even still when I see the photos and when I see how they've been exposed, all over the media, it's hard. But I mean, the fact is, this doesn't just happen to me.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. O'MEARA: You know, granted this is a very unique situation that involves mass media but this happens every day.

COOPER: It happens to people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So, was Te'o the victim of his internet phenomenon called "catfishing"? Basically, where you create a fake online image, you draw people in and you string them along, you know, for months, years, however long. Is that the case? We'll learn more as we hear more from the Katie Couric interview later today.

BERMAN: That's right, George. A lot of people waiting to see the full interview to see how he looks, how he sounds, what he says.

George Howell, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: That's a tough story. It breaks your heart to see his dad break down like that, too.

Eighteen minutes past the hour. It's time for your "Early Read" -- this is your local news making national headlines.

And we're going to begin with "The New York Times" this morning, which says soft drink companies have an ally now in their soda war with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York chapter of the NAACP, which reportedly had close ties with Coca-Cola. "The New York Times" says attorneys for Coca-Cola wrote an NAACP court filing that supports blocking Bloomberg's super sized soft drink ban. The city's health department says since obesity rates are higher in the African-American community, it would benefit from keeping the super size ban which goes into effect in March.

BERMAN: All right. Here we go. Fallout from the Lance Armstrong's big sit-down interview with Oprah, it is kicking into high gear. "The Los Angeles Times" reporting on a class-action lawsuit against Armstrong and his book publishers. The plaintiffs, what they say is they thought they were reading about a guy who beat cancer and raced to the top of the cycling world without doping. But now they feel like the entire read was a rip-off and the fact was in fact fiction. And they want their money back.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

BERMAN: So, the lawsuit says more than 100 plaintiffs could join in. You know, I'm no lawyer but it's interesting at least.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, it's absolutely interesting. I don't think this is the first lawsuit we were expecting to read about.

BERMAN: All right. For an expanded look at our top stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

SAMBOLIN: So, Apple just made history with its first quarter profit. So, why aren't investors impressed by all of this? Christine is going to take a closer look, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, New York City. It's nice and cold for you this morning.

We are minding your business. Grab a cup of coffee, wrap yourselves around the blanket. Stay with us.

Stocks are set to open at a fresh five-year high today. The Dow and S&P 500 inched up only modestly yesterday. But it was enough to hit a new high and it came on back of positive earnings from IBM and from Google.

BERMAN: Today, the earnings are all about Apple.

We've got some huge numbers here, including the second biggest quarterly profit in U.S. history. But Apple shares are tumbling. This is really interesting.

SAMBOLIN: That's crazy.

BERMAN: Christine Romans is here with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And Apple shares are down 8 percent right now in the premarket. I mean, think of that, losing 8 percent of their value. So many of you consumers are so eager for Apple products, you know this company, and many of you are investors because you've liked what you've seen coming out of Apple over the past few years.

And now, investors are saying maybe the shine is off that Apple. Let me tell you what the earnings looked like. They were unbelievable, $13 billion in quarterly profit. Let me repeat that, in three short months, Apple earned $13 billion, so much money. They're throwing money in the back. They have $137 billion sitting in the bank.

It's the second biggest profit in American history. The only other company ever to make this much money in such a short period of time was ExxonMobil when gas prices were at record highs in 2008. Think of it, an energy company, an oil company, and Apple, the biggest profits ever. IPhone sales 48 million, a record high -- 48 million iPhone sales in just three months; iPad sales, a record high, 23 million.

So, why is the stock down this morning? Because investors look forward. They don't look back. And they're looking at Apple's margins. Its profit margins being maybe pinched a little bit by popularity of some of its older versions and some of its cheaper versions of its product. They're saying, frankly, they don't think Apple can continue to have miracles one after another in consumer land.

Look at the three-year stock. I want to show the stock over the past three years. It's down 25 percent from its peak. It's down 8 percent this morning, but it still has tripled over the past few years. Still, if you have been buying Apple shares on the way up, you've made an awful lot of money and now, investors are saying maybe we'll take a little bit off the table right now.

BERMAN: It's not what have you done for me lately. It's what are you doing for me next?

ROMANS: Absolutely. And that's the way the stock market works. It's not what you use to do. It's what you're going to do.

And investors want to be convinced there will be more miracles. I mean, can you imagine selling 48 million iPhones isn't enough for consumers?

SAMBOLIN: Right, they want more.

ROMANS: That's the way the game is played, my friend.

BERMAN: It's tough for all (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: Sure is.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thanks very much.

Coming up, some disturbing news for anyone who grew up watching Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

And if you're watching -- or you're leaving the hour right now, you watch us anytime --

SAMBOLIN: Anytime.

BERMAN: Anytime on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)