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Arctic Outbreak; Women on the Front Lines; North Korea to Test Nukes, Long Range Rockets; Heated Exchanges on Benghazi; Notre Dame Football Player Speaks Out; Super Bowl Ad Teasers

Aired January 24, 2013 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, wow! America on ice. From the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic, subzero cold causes misery, and it also takes more lives.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, a defiant North Korea threatening more nuclear tests and calling the U.S. its sworn enemy.

SAMBOLIN: Winning the right to fight for the first time. The Pentagon will allow women in combat on the front lines.

Good morning. Thanks for being with us this morning, Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, January 24th, 6:00 a.m. in the East and don't move. Trust me. Stay under the covers right now because it is freezing. The bitter cold blast gripping much of the country is not expected to go away any time soon. In New York, people look like mummies on the street with the temperatures plunging into the single digits.

You know, even for late January, this is pretty serious. Resorts in New Hampshire feeling like it's ready, ready for this, 84 below zero. Authorities say three people have already died from exposure to the deep cold.

Jennifer Delgado is standing by with the latest on the deep freeze, but first, we're going to go to Susan Candiotti who is live and cold in Columbus Circle right now, right outside our building.

Susan, first of all, my apologies to you, sorry about this, but this is pretty freezing.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I tell you what, you can see your breath for sure and the key thing to remember, layers. I tell you, it is so cold outside, let's look at how cold it is right here right now. We've got our handy dandy little thermometer. It is reading 19 degrees.

You might remember last hour it said about 23, so is it going down? Yes, I think so. But this isn't half as cold as it is in some places of the country as I tried to get my lips to work. All right, let's take a look at the graphic, OK? We could show you Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, 34 degrees below zero. Crane Lake, Minnesota, 27 below, Saranac Lake, New York, minus 23 and Presque Isle, Maine, 23 below zero as well.

The key thing to remember for a lot of people around this time and as they go about their jobs today is remember to bundle up.


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 hot water and heat for three days. Yesterday a little bit of heat came on. The only heat that 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 cement floors warm for man's best friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a stressful environment. We're trying to keep them as comfortable as we can.

CANDIOTTI: Outside Pittsburgh when a water main broke in the middle of the night, single-digit temperatures turned gushing water into a sheet of ice. Subzero temps aren't all bad if you like ice boating. Skimming across the ice at speeds 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 like 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.


CANDIOTTI: Yes, Key Largo, and here it is reading 14 degrees. By the way, the high today in Key Largo is forecast at about 77 degrees.

BERMAN: That sounds so nice, Susan, I feel for you because the cold freezes up your face and makes it hard to talk, it really does.

CANDIOTTI: It does. Not only that, but I know it makes tears stream down my face as well.

BERMAN: Well, you look great. Thank you so much, Susan, for being out there. Bundle up and stay warm. This is serious, as we said. Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN Weather Center tracking some of these unbelievable numbers for us. Hi, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. You're right. It's certainly is cold outside. Susan, I feel for her out there because you're right, it is very cold. Now we've been talking over the last 24 hours. We keep showing these numbers to you because they're so impressive.

Look at this wind chill value of minus 85. That was registered in Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, in the last 24 hours. Now right now the temperature, the coldest spot of course international falls, the ice box, minus 33, 4 degrees right now in Boston, 15 in New York.

Susan, you're warming up just a little bit there. You can see 14 degrees in Columbus. When you add in the wind, of course, we're still going to see wind chill values well below zero.

Now, for today we do have that wind chill advisory in place for parts of the Upper Midwest, for Minnesota as well as even parts of Nebraska, minus 25 to 35, that's going to last through this morning.

And then as we go across parts of New England, the same thing, bitterly cold there, it's going to feel like minus 40 to minus 50. So here's your forecast. Temperatures are going to be running 10 degrees below average for this time of the year.

Look at Syracuse, it should be at 31, today a high of 12. For Washington, D.C, 31, you're dealing with a little light snow there as well. As we look across the Midwest, temperatures still running 10 to 20 degrees below average. For Minneapolis, 24 and they typically should see a high of 11.

Now we talk about this cold air and a lot of people have been asking what is causing this. What we're in right now is a very amplified jet stream. You could see right it's pulling all this cold air into eastern parts of the U.S. as well as the northern part.

We're in a negative phase. When that happens it allows all that cold air to spill down towards the south. Speaking of the south, in Miami, let's show you a live shot. It is warm. The temperature right now 61 degrees. We're expecting a high of 71. But there you have it, a little as long as behind that cold air that's just all pouring in. Back over to you guys.

BERMAN: I can't believe that picture, a high of 5 in Fargo, North Dakota.

DELGADO: That's balmy.

BERMAN: That's cruel. All right, Jennifer Delgado, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: I'm wondering if water pipes are bursting all over the place.

All right, 5 minutes past the hour. Women officially on the front lines of war, it's happening today. It's a historic move by the Pentagon. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army General Dempsey announcing the 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 gone on patrols with ground troops in order to talk to Afghan women and to the children. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is following all these latest developments. Barbara, are we seeing any major opposition to this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Zoraida. So far it looks like there is bipartisan support in Congress for making these moves, but that's not to say that people are not voicing their concerns about this new historic era.

The real issue here, women going into front line combat, into those small units, infantry, Special Forces, some of the most dangerous situations any of us can imagine. I want you to listen to what our own CNN contributor, David Frum, said about this summarizing a lot of people's concerns.


DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The thing I worry about is the risk of harm to female personnel. The people we are likely to meet on the next battlefield are people who use rape and sexual abuse as actual tools of politics. In Iranian prisons, rape is a frequent practice.


STARR: Now look, many women will tell you that they have served for generations in war zones and these days there are no physical front lines, as you said. In fact hundreds of women have been injured and more than 100 killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: We have been talking about this for a very long time. Why was this decision made now?

STARR: Well, you know, there have been some lawsuits about this. Certainly Secretary Leon Panetta, who's leaving office in just a few weeks, looking to make this, I think it's fair to say, part of his legacy.

But there had been a very critical letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, important enough that I want to read part of it. The chairman, General Martin Dempsey, saying the following, quote, "The time has come to resend the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously joins me in proposing that we move forward with the full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible." Once you get, Zoraida, the Joint Chiefs saying they're willing to go with it, then that was really one of the hurdles to clear moving ahead.

SAMBOLIN: And then women can actually be up for these great promotions, which is also good news. Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon for us. Thank you.

So much more on the pentagon's historic announcement about women and combat in our next half hour, we'll talk about it with Adam Schiff of California who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

BERMAN: It's 8 minutes after the hour and we have this story developing overnight out of Asia. North Korea's National Defense Commission is calling the U.S., quote, "The sworn enemy of the Korean people."

That country also says it's planning to carry out new nuclear testing and further long-range rocket launches as part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States. This is happening just after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning North Korea's rocket launch from last year.

SAMBOLIN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answering tough questions about the deadly terror attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. At one pointing her voice cracked as she described consoling the family members of the four Americans who were killed.


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, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.


SAMBOLIN: During her five and a half hours of testimony there was also intense criticism against her and the Obama administration like this from Republican senator and potential 2016 presidential hopeful Rand Paul.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that 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) BERMAN: Just hours from now Secretary Clinton will introduce her possible successor at a nomination hearing. President Obama picked Senator John Kerry to lead state department after Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name. Rice we all remember caught (inaudible) after the Benghazi attack. Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at least for a little while longer.

SAMBOLIN: It's 6:10 here on the east coast. Yes, apparently we're still talking about this, but hopefully this is the last time. An inaugural official told CNN Wednesday that pop star Beyonce did not, she did not sing the national anthem live on inauguration day. The official asked not to be identified, however, and said it was Beyonce herself that made the decision the night before the ceremony. Done, case closed.

BERMAN: I'd still like to hear from her. I wonder why she's been so quiet on it.

SAMBOLIN: So do I. If your voice is not that strong and you make that decision, why not just say it.

BERMAN: Agreed. It's 11 minutes after the hour, on the subject of truth, the truth about Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame star speaking out and coming clean about the fake girlfriend hoax.


BERMAN: Welcome back. It's 14 minutes past the hour. Good morning to you. We're finally hearing from Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o himself on the controversy surrounding his fake girlfriend.

He spoke to ABC's Katie Couric about his internet love affair that, of course, turned out to be a hoax. He's even admitted to lying, a little bit, about the relationship. The full interview on ABC airs a little later today, but here's a little bit of it.


MANTI TE'O, LINEBACKER, NOTRE DAME: 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 that was my story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if that hardship was perhaps exaggerated?

TE'O: No, it was -- what I went through was real, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow. That was all real.


SAMBOLIN: Our George Howell has been all over this story and he is live from the CNN center with much more.

I guess he finally speaks with the cameras rolling. What did he have to say? GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, you heard it right there, he said what he felt was real. So was he clearly duped here? Te'o claims he had nothing to do with this Internet hoax.

We will hear more of Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric today and get more insight into these bizarre connections. Te'o apparently believed that his online girlfriend who he'd never met died of cancer in September. But just two days before attending the Heisman trophy ceremony in December, he got a call saying that she was alive. And when faced with the media, he kept talking about her as if she was alive.

Here's what he told Katie.


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

TE'O: Correct.


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?


HOWELL: Te'o again says he had nothing to do with that Internet hoax. His father even stuck up for him, saying that his son is not a liar. Listen.


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.


HOWELL: It was an emotional interview.

And then, of course, there's the real-life woman whose pictures were used to create a fake online image of Lennay Kekua. Her real name, Diane O'Meara. She says she was never part of this hoax herself and tells CNN's Anderson Cooper people need to be very careful online.



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.


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.


HOWELL: So, was Te'o a victim of this Internet phenomenon called catfishing, basically creating a fake online image and drawing people in? You know, we will hear more about that later today as we hear from Te'o himself during his interview with Katie Couric.

SAMBOLIN: You know, George, you've got to wonder whether it will answer some questions for people or just raise more.

We really appreciate you following the story for us. George Howell, live in Atlanta, thank you.

HOWELL: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: It is 17 minutes past the hour. It is time for your "Early Reads" -- your local news that is making national headlines.

And we begin with this from the "Press Telegraph" in Long Beach, California. It reports police for the Fontana Unified School District bought 14 military-style rifles to protect students and faculty in case of a shooting on campus.

School board members are fuming over this. They say $14,000 was spent on what they consider to be a huge departure in policy. The school's district police chief says the weapons are stored in locked compartments strategically placed throughout the district.

BERMAN: And this from "The New York Times" this morning, a sharp decline in the number of American workers belonging to unions. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership is at its lowest level in nearly a century. Several reasons were cited for the steep decline, including new anti-union lawsuits in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states, as well as the growth of sectors like retail and restaurants where unions don't really have much of a presence.

For an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog, Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for EarlyStartCNN. We respond. We're on it all the time.

SAMBOLIN: It is 19 minutes past the hour.

So you're prepping for an overseas trip. Hotel info, check. Adapters, check. Passport, oh, no, it expired.

BERMAN: But you might not be stuck. Christine Romans tells us how to save yourself in this morning's "Road Warriors". CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Has this happened to you? You're suddenly getting ready and you don't have the passport, it's not valid anymore? This has actually happened to me before.

SAMBOLIN: No. Seriously?

ROMANS: Right, you don't renew them very frequently and suddenly, you realize that you're at the end of your rope. So, first, the important thing you need to know is when you'll need your passport. Basically you need it for all overseas travel if you're going to Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean. You won't need it if you're going to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam, those are all U.S. territories.

How much time should you allow to get the passport renewed? Come on, you've got to do it as soon as possible if you're nearing the expiration dates. There are some countries require passports be valid for six months after you arrive. So don't think you can get someplace and then it's going to expire when you're there.

SAMBOLIN: That's a good reminder actually.

The processing time is generally four to six weeks. Leave yourself six weeks. If you need it renewed quickly, send in the application plus the expedited service fees. That's around 60 bucks. You can write expedite on the envelope and put the departure date on your application. If you need it immediately, schedule an appointment at your local passport office.

For more passport information, go to the State Department Web site,

SAMBOLIN: So what did you do when it happened to you?

ROMANS: Well, I realized soon enough. I expedited it and I got it back in two and a half weeks. But they said --

SAMBOLIN: I thought you meant it was right before you were walking out the door, oh, my goodness.

ROMANS: No, no, no. Mine expires on my birthday and my driver's license is about to expire too. January 31st for all of you who want to send me a present.

SAMBOLIN: Happy early birthday. Thanks, Christine.

All right. There's another game going on super Sunday, the one where advertisers vie for everyone with their Super Bowl commercials. Some teasers are already out online. We showed you one earlier, we have more coming up.

BERMAN: And that was some teaser.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, goodness!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. It's getting to be that time of year again when two teams, not the Patriots, face off in the biggest game on television.

SAMBOLIN: No, San Francisco 49ers.

And the biggest advertising event, the Super Bowl, is still more than a week away, but some of the ads are out. And Christine has a preview.

ROMANS: Well, record -- you know, every 30-second spot is a record -- we say that every year. But what's different the last couple of years is the social media aspect of advertising. The advertisers are trying to get you to be chatting and talking and sharing and tweeting about their ads before their whole ads have even been revealed.

So they're using social media to really amp up what is already a big event for them for selling their products. Today, a new ad online on its YouTube, the VW YouTube channel is called "Get In, Get Happy."

And it's so interesting, it features all of these moments online of people upset, like this woman is all upset about cats. There's some people freaking out and it goes through all of these people having these bad moments and then Jimmy Cliff, the reggae superstar, in the end is pulling them all in a mountain top and they all get in and get happy. So it's this kind of feel good thing and there's all these hashtags.

We also have one from Toyota that's brand new using a celebrity to sort of talk about Toyota. I think she's from -- the big bang theory or something, right? Anyway, this is the Toyota one.

And there's also a new one from Taco Bell. There's a hashtag at the end called "Live Mas". So their goal is to have something viral that you're going to be talking about their ad before it even gets out there.

Remember, a couple years ago everyone is interested in VW because -- Volkswagen because a couple years ago, it had that Darth Vader ad, that was viral.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, it's my favorite, yes.

ROMANS: Last year they had barking dogs. Now they have this Jimmy Cliff get happy thing.

So it's all about building the momentum to try to sell us stuff we don't need.

BERMAN: It's not just the game anymore, it's like the 12 days of Super Bowl commercials.

ROMANS: That's totally true. And you know, the thing is, they have got to make them unique and they want to make them viral so they're throwing stuff out there to see what we're going to like and what we're going to start. SAMBOLIN: I'm not a big football fan but I always come over to the TV when the commercials are on. So I get sucked into that world all the time.

BERMAN: What is the one thing we need to know about our money.

ROMANS: Stocks are going to probably have a five-year again this morning -- five-year high for stocks. Looks like they're going to open that way at least the very beginning. Stocks are moving higher now all year.

Most of the month -- you can thank earnings reports from McDonald's, IBM, Google, Goldman Sachs and others. Think of it as their corporate record cards, how well they're doing, whether they get an A, B or C. They may not be hiring yet but they're figuring out how to make money and squeeze more money out of their businesses that's good for the stock market.

So, the one thing you need to know: stocks still looking good.

BERMAN: Good for your 401(k), too.

ROMANS: You're looking.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. So this is a little hard to believe, but lawmakers in one community have voted to legalize drinking and driving. We're going to tell you where, coming up.