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233 Dead in Club Fire; Obama & Clinton's "60 Minutes" Interview; Icy, Snowy, Messy Morning

Aired January 28, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Two hundred thirty-three. That's where the death toll stands right now in the Brazil nightclub fire. We're now getting these devastating images of bodies being pulled from the burning building.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a sloppy commute expected for millions of people this morning. We have a live report straight ahead.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we've had.


ROMANS: That was one heck of a mushy-gushy moment between the president and the secretary of state. But, why all of the love?

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for Zoraida today.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is January 28th. It's Monday, 5:00 in the East. Great to see you this morning.

We're going to begin with that developing story out of Brazil, deadly chaos at a nightclub. A fire ripping through club early yesterday morning, killing a staggering -- killing a staggering 233 people. Many of them college students celebrating their last weekend of summer break.

It happened at Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria. Recovery workers now say they're hearing the eerie sound of ring tones as desperate members hope loved ones will answer their cell phones.

Our Shasta Darlington is in Santa Maria with the latest.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smoke filled the air when the first firefighters entered the nightclub, where shirtless men were already trying to rescue some of the injured. Emergency vehicles arrived not realizing the extent of the tragedy they faced. Chaos and terror among survivors and the bodies of victims all around. The fire broke out at about 2:00 in the morning at a nightclub called Kiss in Santa Maria in Brazil's southern most state. The club was packed with some 2,000 people, twice its legal capacity according to officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People who were inside the facility when they came out, the security guards blocked the exit to prevent the people there from leaving and that's when the crowd started panicking, and the tragedy grew worse.

DARLINGTON: People who were inside told us that when they came out security guards blocked exits to prevent people from leaving, he says, that's when the crowd started panicking.

(on camera): This is Santa Maria's local gymnasium. But it's turned into a makeshift morgue. There are more than a hundred bodies here. Hundreds of families have come together trying to locate and identify the relatives who were, of course, young people in their late teens, early 20s. They died of asphyxiation and some of them were even trampled to death.

(voice-over): As the coffins for the many victims were lined up, investigators searched for the cause of the fire, which tore through the sound proofing isolation in the roof.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut short her appearance at a summit in Chile and headed to Santa Maria to personally oversee the government's response to the tragedy.

It was the end of the summer holiday season in Brazil, the last chance to party. For many young people due back at school or work on Monday.

And coming up in just under 30 minutes, we're live from Santa Maria, Brazil, where this tragedy struck.

ROMANS: Call it a love fest of sorts. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss President Obama sat down for their first joint interview on "60 Minutes" over the weekend and it seems like each couldn't find a single bad thing to say about the other. These one-time rivals exchanged compliments and laughs.

Clinton admitted they bury the hatchet after the bitter 2008 campaign with the president. He called her one of the greatest diplomats in U.S. history. But does that mean he would endorse her for president in 2016?

CNN's Brianna Keilar has more.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once bitter rivals now allies, together for an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes".

OBAMA: I consider Hillary a strong friend. HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I mean, very warm, close -- I think there's a sense of understanding that, you know, sometimes it doesn't take words because we have similar views.

KEILAR: Rewind five years to their bruising primary battle.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you.

I'm here. He's not.

OBAMA: Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: How long did it take you to get over that?

OBAMA: It didn't take us long as I think people will perceive it.

KEILAR: It took longer for their staffs, not to mention --

CLINTON: I think spouses take it much harder. You know, in a way --

OBAMA: No doubt.

KEILAR: 2016 came up. The president laughed off a question about endorsing Clinton.

OBAMA: I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now.

KEILAR: And the secretary sidestepped.

CLINTON: And I don't think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what's going to happen tomorrow or the next year.

KEILAR: Clinton, who recently suffered a concussion and blood clot and has been wearing glasses for double vision, answered a question about her health.

CLINTON: It's great. It's great. Now, you know, I have some lingering effects from falling on my head and having the blood clots. But, you know, the doctor said that it will all recede. Thankfully, I'm looking forward to being at full speed.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: President and Secretary Clinton BFFs. You know, best friends forever, man. Can you believe it?

ROMANS: Forget all of that stuff in 2008.

BERMAN: That's right. Yes.

ROMANS: Is it true that politics on the campaign trail is really a lot of theater.

BERMAN: It's astounding. It really is. I'm dying to know what they were up to last night because the picture was something.

ROMANS: The president called for it, right? The president wanted to do it.

BERMAN: Just to say thank you.

All right. President made some other news over the weekend. Right now, of course, the president and his wife have two young daughters, Sasha and Malia. But if the president had a son, he's not sure he'd let play football. In an interview with "The New Republic," the president said, "I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sports are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to reduce some of the violence."

ROMANS: You do have sons. You have two of them. And you do love the sport.

BERMAN: Every parent of young sons that I know right now is having this discussion. Will you let him play football? It's really interesting. It's changed over the years so much. I didn't play because I didn't have it in my town, but I always thought I'd like my boys to play it because it's such an awesome sport. Now, I'm not so sure.

ROMANS: I think for right now, my sons, I have three of them, they can watch as much football as they like. And I've got to tell you a story about that.

It's going to be a sloppy commute for millions of you this morning. The storm that coated the Midwest in ice yesterday, it's now headed north and it could bring snow, freezing rain and sleet to the Northeast today. Snow and ice shut down runways in Salt Lake City yesterday. Flights in and out of Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis were grounded on icy runways, 200 flights were canceled at O'Hare.

And check this out -- New York City firefighters chipping away at a hydrant that was literally frozen in time.

New Yorkers went seven days without temperatures cracking the above- freezing mark.

Jennifer Delgado with a look ahead at the storm this morning. Good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi there, Christine. You know, it's been rather messy out there. And once again, we're looking at winter precipitation. As we start off right now, through the parts of the Midwest, I want to point to you, some snow moving through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

But notice, temperatures through parts, areas like Illinois as well as into Detroit, we are looking at those numbers just above freezing. But that still means we are going to see some wintry mix out there and a lot of that is going to be coming down through parts of the mid- Atlantic, look at Pittsburgh, as well as into Washington, D.C. We are hearing light snow in Arlington.

And we're going to see the potential for some freezing rain anywhere you're seeing in pink as we go through really the morning commute. And that includes interstate 9 a and many of those areas we're talking to about 10:00 a.m. for New York City, might see that freezing rain mixing up until about noon.

Now, we give you an idea of some of the advisories out there. Anywhere you're seeing in blue, right there in that purple shading, I should say, we do have a freezing rain advisory. That is until 10:00 a.m. And then up towards the North, we're talking at 7:00 a.m.

And I also want to point to you, for Buffalo, it looks like you could see about an inch of snow as we go throughout the day.

Now, we talk so much about the cold -- well, we said last week there's going to be a warm-up and the warm-up is going to arrive today down towards the South. Look at those temperatures for Dallas, 76, Atlanta, 55. But it gets better for the Southeast.

As we move through Tuesday, notice that warm air surges up to the south to Chicago. Remember last week, we showed that building with the freezing rain on top of it. Well, that's not going to be a concern today because that warm air has to go somewhere. But wouldn't you know it, we're going to see a clash of these air masses and that is going to lead to the threat for severe weather especially as we set up for Tuesday. Anywhere from Texas up to Missouri, even into southern parts of Illinois, we're going to look at the potential for some of these storms to produce damaging winds, as well as isolated tornadoes, as this line is going to move through Tuesday, as well as into Wednesday.

So, the warm air is short live. But, of course, this is going to be bringing some problems with severe weather.

ROMANS: What an interesting week coming up.

DELGADO: Very interesting.

ROMANS: Especially Chicago, they're going to go up to 61.


DELGADO: I know. This is what your parents warn you about. You're going to get sick. It's cold one day, hot one next.

ROMANS: Jennifer Delgado -- thanks, Jennifer.

DELGADO: Bye, Christine.

BERMAN: Nine minutes after the hour right now. News overseas now: Egyptian president has declared a limited state of emergency in the wake of recent violence. He suggested more action is possible. He imposed a 30-day curfew in three cities along the Suez Canal, where violence has broken out since Friday. Morsy invited representatives from 11 political parties to meet today to address problems in Egypt as opposed to expressing anger like this.

The so-called gang of eight will unveil the Senate's bipartisan immigration program today. Among the plan's big feature is it offers a pathway to residency and even citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the United States unlawfully. It calls for an effective employment verification system that prevents identity theft and would end hiring of unauthorized workers in the future.

And in Illinois, undocumented immigrants can now get temporary visitor driver's license. Governor Pat Quinn signed this into law yesterday.

The Senate is going to vote later today on more than $50 billion in aid for states battered by superstorm Sandy. This is the final hurdle for the much delayed Sandy relief measure. President Obama has promised to sign it.

ROMANS: The husband and brother of a New York woman who's been missing in Turkey for more than a week are in en route this morning to Istanbul in a desperate attempt to find her. Sarai Sierra, a 33-year- old mother of two, was traveling alone to fulfill her photography dream. She was supposed to fly back to the U.S. in January 22nd. She never showed up for that flight. Her passport and medical documents were found in her Istanbul hotel room.

Friends and family created this Web site dedicated to tracking her down.

BERMAN: And the Iran hostage drama "Argo" winning the top prize for outstanding cast in a motion picture at last night's Screen Actors Guild Awards. Christine was up all night watching that.

Other big winners, Jennifer Lawrence as best actress in her role in "Silver Linings Playbook". And Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of America's 16th president in "Lincoln."


DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, SAG AWARD WINNER FOR BEST ACTOR: It occurred to me that it was an actor that murdered Abraham Lincoln. And therefore somehow it's only fitting that every now and then an actor tries to bring him back to life again.


BERMAN: No one recognizes Daniel Day-Lewis for the talent that he actually has.

On the television side, the stars of "30 Rock", Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey, winning for best actor and best actress in a comedy series. Bryan Cranston, best actor in a drama series for "Breaking Bad." And Claire Danes, best actress in a drama series for "Homeland."

ROMANS: And you have to see this video of a little boy being rescued from a flooded pickup truck. Absolutely incredibly picture.

BERMAN: Oh my!

ROMANS: The story behind this video -- that's right -- coming up right after a real quick break.


ROMANS: Good morning. It's 15 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up-to-date on the morning's top stories.

Investigators say they identified all but three of the 233 club goers killed in a Brazil nightclub inferno. Recovery workers now report they're hearing the eerie sound of cell phones ringing as anguished family members try to call loved ones who are in that nightclub hoping to get ahold of them. Many of the victims were college students celebrating their last weekend of summer break.

BERMAN: We have some pretty dramatic rescue video to show you out of Australia. A dangerous wall of fast-rising flood waters trapped a young child and two women inside their truck.

You can see the women, they really have no choice but to stuff the child into a water-roof duffel bag that rescuers were able to airlift to safety on a helicopter. The adults then follow. This is just amazing.

At least one person is reported dead and several others injured from this weather in this region.

ROMANS: Oh, wow, that's terrifying. Can you imagine?

All right. Two people are lucky to be alive this morning after their small plane crashed into the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, just north of New York City. This plane was on a sightseeing trip when it went down Sunday evening near Yonkers marina moments after the pilot put out a mayday call.

Off-duty detective Danny Higgins commandeered a boat with his 12-year- old son and the two assisted in the rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had access to the pilot boat. We were able to get abroad and start it up and get the two victims in the water. We threw them life rafts, then got to the crew aboard.


ROMANS: Wow. Aren't you glad that he happened to be so close by with his kid? A 43-year-old man, 39-year-old woman were pulled from the chilly water. They were taken to the nearby hospital with hypothermia. Both are now listed in stable condition. BERMAN: So several miles of the Mississippi River are closed this morning, near the town of Vicksburg after two tank barges loaded with 18,000 crude oil struck a bridge and sprang a leak early Sunday morning. The leak has been fixed since then, but the Coast Guard is trying to determine how many gallons of oil may have spilled into the river.

More on the Lance Armstrong. The head of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says disgrace cycling legend Armstrong did not come clean to Oprah Winfrey, at least not completely. Travis Tygart says Armstrong has until February 6th to reveal everything to have any chance of having his lifetime ban rescinded. He told "60 Minutes" he believes there's a reason why Armstrong says he went clean after winning his seventh Tour de France title in 2005 despite evidence to the contrary.


TRAVIS TYGART, USADA: There's a five-year statute on a fraud criminal charge. So, the five years today would have been expired. However, if the last point of his doping as we alleged and proved in our recent decision was in 2010, then the statute has not yet expired and he potentially would be charged with criminal violation for conspiracy to defraud.


BERMAN: Now, Armstrong's lawyers told CBS he will not be able to meet with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but is more likely to tell his story to the International Cycle Union.


BERMAN: Well, Travis Tygart says he believes the UCI, the International Cycling Union, was complicit and hiding Armstrong's doping. Former teammates have also accused the cycling union of being involved in the cover-up scene.

ROMANS: And how -- who knows what to believe anymore? When he stops lying, when he stopped doping, when he started again. I mean, it's just a mess.

All right. Eighteen minutes after the hour. Time for your "Early Reads" -- your local news making national headlines.

This is tragic story to report from our affiliate in Chicago, WLS. That city's out of control gun violence has taken on the lives of four members within the same family. Ronnie Chambers was gunned down early Sunday morning. He became the fourth sibling in the same family to be killed by gun fire. Chambers had two brothers, Carlos and Jerome, and a sister Latoya who were also fatality gunned down within the city limits. This is according to a close family friend.

Chicago's homicide rate in 2012 was 200 more than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan.

BERMAN: That's awful. Casey Anthony is back in the news. Thanks to this from the "Orlando Sentinel". It reports she has filed for bankruptcy. Her petition reportedly states that she owes $800,000, but only has about $1,084 to her name. She said that she's facing a mountain of debt and several lawsuits related to her daughter Caylee's disappearance. She told a Phoenix TV station it's the next step towards closure for her.

Anthony was, of course, acquitted for her daughter's murder in 2011.

ROMANS: And her income is zero.

BERMAN: Hard for her to make money.

For an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for earlystartCNN.

ROMANS: All right. Another day, another fee for your credit card. Details are coming up. That's right, after a quick break.

It's Monday. We've got to tell you the truth.

BERMAN: It is Monday.

ROMANS: Stay with us.


BERMAN: There she is. New York City. It is 23 minutes after the hour. Somewhere in that city we're sitting right now delivering the news, and somewhere in that city, Christine Romans is minding your business.

ROMANS: Right here.

BERMAN: Oh, that's' right. I'm sorry. Thanks. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

ROMANS: I'm minding your business on a Monday morning. Stock futures are up slightly this morning. The market has quite a run lately. After a week of upbeat corporate earnings report. The Dow and the S&P closed at the highest level in five years. Friday.

I'm going to give you a major caveat, though, Apple. Most of you have been asking me about Apple and what's going on here. The most beloved tech stock in America, I think you could say, down 13 percent last week after disappointing third quarter earnings report. Apple is down 37 percent from its all-time high of $705.

BERMAN: That's a lot.

ROMANS: Can you imagine? A third of its value gone since September. As Friday has closed, Apple has lost its title as the world's most valuable company by market cap. ExxonMobil takes the top again.

BERMAN: You know, Exxon has much more problems, though. ROMANS: Yes, they should need to stick to their core business.

Super Bowl, it's a week away, right? That's on Sunday. For Wall Street, it's coming early. Why? Because this week is the Super Bowl of economic news.

Look, we're going to know more about the health of the U.S. economy. And here's why. We'll get a report on durable goods order. Those big ticket items like machinery and motor vehicles.

Tuesday, we're going to get a report on housing, another one on consumer confidence.

Wednesday, the Fed will release minutes from its market committee meeting. It's also going to have a two-day meeting this week, I think. You know, we'll know more about its monetary policies, if they're going to keep that.

Also, Wednesday, we're going to get a first look at fourth-quarter GDP.

Friday, you get the January jobs report. Economists are pretty optimistic on that. They're predicting the economy will add, John, about 180,000 jobs. And the jobless rate could fall slightly to 7.7 percent.

That's a big lineup.

BERMAN: That is like just the Super Bowl. You're not lying one bit and the ads are really good, too.

ROMANS: It's Super Bowl for money geeks.

And you might think twice about breaking out the plastic. Here's why -- as of Sunday, stores in most states could begin charging a checkout fee on all credit card purchases. Here's why: this news comes from $7.5 billion settlement in July between the credit card issuers and millions of merchants. Visa, MasterCard, nine other major banks agree to settle charges that they were fixing credit card fees.

As a result of the settlement, credit card issuers said they would reduce the fees paid by merchants to issuers when cards are used, also known as the swipe fee. The settlement also gave retailers the option to add a surcharge to cover processing cost which runs about 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the total purchasing price. Many of the nation's biggest vendors, biggest retailers, like Walmart, JCPenney, Macy's, they have tried to fight these fees, they argue it transfers the wrongdoing of credit card companies to consumers.

Anyway, if merchants choose to implement the surcharge, they claim it hurts them competitively. If they don't, they foot the bill, the fee won't apply to purchases in 10 states including New York, California and Texas. Also, it won't apply to debit cards.

I'm going to tweet out, I put on Facebook, a link to that entire story. So, if you're confused, you can see exactly what's that all about.

BERMAN: Can you give me the visual cue for the swipe fee one more time? Swipe, swipe, this is the universal sign for swiping a credit card right there.

ROMANS: Ka-ching, ka-ching, that's right.

BERMAN: Swipe fees, there you go.

Twenty-six minutes after the hour. First, Rihanna. Then, Drake, and now Frank Ocean. Chris Brown allegedly gets into another fight. That story coming up in our next half-hour, right here on CNN. No swipe fees here, people.