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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Deadly Fire Rips Through Club; Obama and Clinton's "60 Minutes" Interview; Icy, Snowy, Messy Morning; American Woman Missing in Turkey; SAG Award Winners; Royal Pranksters Off the Air; Credit Card Fee to Take Effect

Aired January 28, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIEN ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 233, that's where the death toll now stands in the Brazil nightclub fire. We're now getting these devastating images of bodies hold from the burning building.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-0ver): Plus, a sloppy commute expected for millions of people this morning. We're going to 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 states we've had.

ROMANS: And one heck of a mushy-gushy moment between the president and the secretary of state, but why all of the love?

BERMAN: Such good friends.

ROMANS: Very good friends. What a difference four years make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS (on-camera): Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for Zoraida today.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, January 28th, and it is 6:00 a.m. in the East.

And we're going to begin with this developing awful story out of Brazil. Funerals begin today for the victims of this night club inferno. Officials now say 231 people were killed, almost half of them college students celebrating their last weekend of summer break at the Kiss nightclub. This is located in Santa Maria in the southernmost state of Brazil.

Recovery workers now say they're hearing these awful, eerie sounds of ring tones as desperate family members hope loved ones will answer their cell phones.

Our Shasta Darlington is in Santa Maria with the latest this morning. Good morning, Shasta.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. In fact, I am just up the street from the Kiss Nightclub where this terrible tragedy happened. The investigators are inside still trying to find clues and narrow down what exactly caused this inferno on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Of course now, it is very quiet. You are going to see a lot of passersby, journalists, but early Sunday morning, it was an entirely different situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DARLINGTON (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 southernmost state. The club packed with some 2,000 people, twice its legal capacity according to officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People who were inside the facility informed us that when they came out, the security guards blocked the exit to prevent 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 been turned into a makeshift morgue. There are more than a 100 bodies here. Hundreds of families have come together trying to locate and identify their relatives, who were, of course, young people, in their late teens, early 20s, they died of asphyxiation and some were even trampled to death.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DARLINGTON: Now, this is the really sad thing. This is a college town and this has, of course, affected everyone. Last night, when we were at that gymnasium turned into a morgue, I spoke to a 19-year-old boy who had lost his brother.

He said he was actually about to go out with him, and he decided last minute, he didn't feel good and he'd stay at home. And then he got this phone call at 6:30 in the morning from another friend saying, did your brother make it home, you know what happened.

He said he just -- he doesn't know what he's going to do, how he's going to go on. They were sort of joined at the hip -- John.

BERMAN: Shasta, one of the things that we're hearing out of this horrible, horrible incident are these stories that somehow that security guards were blocking people from getting out. Why might this be?

DARLINGTON: Well, what we've heard from different officials who are on the scene talking to survivors just as they came out is that security guards might have been initially blocking the exits because they didn't realize there was a fire. This has to be investigated and that will about one of the lines of investigation.

If they somehow made this tragedy worse than it needed to be. We're not here to judge that we'll let the investigators tell us where that takes them. Part of the problem is it's just one narrow exit.

This building squeezed between two other buildings. No lateral exits, no exit out the back. So that one exit, and if security guards were blocking it, it would have made it impossible for hundreds and hundreds, apparently 2,000 people, to get out -- John.

BERMAN: What a terrible scene. Shasta Darlington in Brazil for us this morning, thanks very much.

Coming up in our next half hour of EARLY START, author and Attorney John Barolek. He represented victims in the wrongful death and personal injury cases following the 2003 Station Night Club fire in Rhode Island. You remember that, that was 10 years ago. That was horrible. He also wrote a book about the tragedy called "Killer Show." We're going to talk him coming up in this hour.

ROMANS: All right, did you see it? I must say it was quite a lovefest. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss, President Obama, they sat down for their first joint interview on "60 Minutes" over the weekend.

Both seemed relaxed and delighted to sit shoulder to shoulder as this one-time rivals exchanged compliments and laugh. They admitted they buried the hatchet after the bitter 2008 campaign.

The president, well, he called her one of the greatest diplomats in U.S. history. But does that mean he would he endorse her for president in 2016? CNN's Brianna Keilar has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I consider Hillary a strong friend. HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Very warm, close. I think there is a sense of understanding that, you know, sometimes doesn't even take words, because we have similar views.

KEILAR: Rewind five years to their bruising primary battle.

OBAMA: You're likeable enough.

CLINTON: Thank you so much. I'm here, he's not.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long did it take to you get over it?

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

KEILAR: It took longer for their staffs. Not to mention --

CLINTON: I think spouses take it much harder.

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

OBAMA: I was literally inaugurated four days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

OBAMA: And you are talking about elections four years from now.

KEILAR: And the secretary of state side step.

CLINTON: And I don't think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what is 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 questions about her health.

CLINTON: It's great. I still have some lingering effects from falling on my head and the blood clot, the doctors tell me that will all recede, thankfully, looking forward to being at full speed.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: For more on the "60 Minutes" interview and what Hillary Clinton may mean by full speed, former assistant secretary of state, Jamie Rubin is going to join us later on EARLY START. He is going to share his insight. Stick around.

BERMAN: Yet another different response about is she going to run for president. At that time, it wasn't nearly as -- as negative, no, no, no, I'm not planning to run right now.

ROMANS: You should do in that sound piece string all of the different iterations of not no together.

BERMAN: Interesting, isn't it?

All right, 6 minutes after the hour right now. It is going to be a snowy, icy, rainy, just plain sloppy commute for millions of people this morning. The storm that coated the Midwest in ice yesterday is now heading north and could bring snow, freezing rain and sleet to the north yesterday.

Some of the ice shutdown runaway in Salt Lake City yesterday, flights in and out of Chicago, Minneapolis, Saint Louis were all grounded on icy runways. Two hundred flights were canceled at O'Hare.

Check this out. New York City firefighters chipping away at a hydrant, it was literally frozen. New Yorkers went seven days without temperatures cracking above the freezing mark. Jennifer Delgado with a look ahead at this storm this morning. Hi, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. You know, a lot of us forget how tough the job is for firefighters when they are dealing with fires and cold temperatures. Now if you're heading out the door this morning, yes, it's cold outside. Not as cold as last week.

But notice for parts of the Midwest, Minneapolis, we showed you that video of the freezing rain and snow. Temperatures near the freezing mark. Same for Detroit, be careful for the threat of slick roadways. As we move toward the east, the same storm system is bringing winter precipitation through parts of the mid-Atlantic, you can see through areas of Pittsburgh to Norfolk, looking at the wintry mix there.

This is the band we're really concerned about especially slick driving conditions, it's up and down Interstate 95, Washington, D.C., and of course, we've had some report of like snow there and even Raleigh, North Carolina. You could see some freezing rain.

Now much of that is going to be over by 12:00 this afternoon and then for New England, we are going to see the threat for snow, freezing rain and sleet as we go later this evening into tomorrow. Now here is a look at some advisories, you can see for the northeast. Mainly through 7:00 a.m. and you can see for areas across parts of the mid- Atlantic until 10:00.

Now warm temperatures are warming through parts of the south and that's going to be building to parts of the Midwest, but it's also going to be slowly sliding towards the east. For Washington, D.C., today, high 43, tomorrow, 55, the problem, guys, we'll look at the threat for severe storms.

Setting up Tuesday as well as into Wednesday, we're talking potential of tornadoes, setting up from Texas all the way up toward Missouri to Illinois, bad weather, very exciting for meteorologists right now.

BERMAN: All right, thanks a lot Jennifer Delgado in Atlanta for us. Thanks, Jennifer.

ROMANS: All right, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has declared a limited state of emergency in the wake of recent violence there and suggests that more action is possible now. He imposed a 30-day curfew in three cities along the Suez Canal where violence has broken out this Friday and invited representatives from 11 political parties to meet today to address problems in Egypt as opposed to expressing anger.

BERMAN: The so-called "Gang of Eight" will unveil the Senate bipartisan immigration proposal today. Among the plan's biggest features, it offers a pathway of residency and even citizenship to many of the 11 million immigrants in the United States unlawfully.

It prevents identity theft and would end hiring unauthorized workers in the future. And in Illinois, undocumented immigrants can now get temporary visitors' drivers licenses. Governor Pat signed that into law yesterday.

ROMANS: All right, the waiting is almost over for many cold and homeless Sandy victims a $50 billion emergency aid bill for victims of Superstorm Sandy about to clear its final congressional hurdle. The Senate is schedule to vote for this later today and that measure is expected to pass and President Obama, of course, has promised to sign it.

BERMAN: The husband and brother of a New York woman who has been missing in Turkey for more than a week are en route this morning to Istanbul in a desperate attempt to find her. The 33-year-old mother of two was traveling alone to fulfill her photography dream supposed to fly back to the U.S. on January 22nd.

She never checked in for her flight. Her passport and medical documents were found in an Istanbul hotel room. Friends and family created this Web site dedicated to trying to track her down.

ROMANS: A big night for Ben Affleck and the cast of "Argo." The film took him the top prize, Best Ensemble Performance. That was last night at the Screen Actors Guild award. Other big winners, Daniel Day Lewis for lead actor in the film "Lincoln," Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, SAG AWARD WINNER FOR BEST ACTRESS: Now I'm -- I have this naked statue that means some of you even voted for me and that is an indescribable feeling. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On the TV side, stars of "30 Rock," Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey winning for best actor and best actress in a comedy. Claire Danes wins for "Homeland." Is this the last year of "30 Rock?"

BERMAN: It is.

ROMANS: They taped their final --

BERMAN: They're done shooting. ROMANS: What will the world do without "30 Rock."

BERMAN: That would be a big loss for comedy lovers out there.

It's 11 minutes after the hour, the Australian deejays who made the prank phone call to the hospital during Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge's last day of stay last month? They are off the air.

They badly impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and were patched through to the royal ward. Once the prank call received international attention, the nurse who routed the call committed suicide and the duo was suspended right after the incident. But the show has now officially been axed.

ROMANS: All right, you have to see this video. This video of a little boy being rescued from a flooded pickup truck, absolutely heart stopping pictures. The story behind this video, coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifteen minutes after the hour. Let's get you up-to-date on the morning's top stories.

The biggest story we've been following all weekend, funerals beginning today for some of the 231 people killed in a Brazil nightclub inferno. Recovery workers now report 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. Almost half of them were college students, celebrating their last week of summer break.

Call it another mini-miracle on a Hudson. A New Jersey couple survived a very close after their small plane crashed down in the Hudson River just north of New York City. The Piper single engine plane went down Sunday evening near a marina in Yonkers. Police in boat quickly pulled a 43-year-old man and 39-year-old woman from the river. They were being treated at a nearby hospital for hypothermia.

BERMAN: And we have some pretty unbelievable video to show you out of Australia right now. A dangerous wall of fast-rising floodwaters trapped this young child and two women inside their truck.

Look at this now. You can see the women. They really had no choice but to stuff the kid into a waterproof duffle bag like devise so that rescuers would able to airlift the child to safety by helicopter. The adults then followed.

At least one person reported dead and several others injured from severe weather in the region.

ROMANS: You know what? If you are in that situation, I mean, look how calm -- how calm they are just stuffing him in that bag. It looked like they zipped it up and they pulled him up. Oh, my goodness.

That baby doesn't look he's 2, he looks 18 months, you know? He'll never remember it. Those women, however, will remember for the rest of their lives. There he is. Oh.

All right. Several miles in the Mississippi River are closed this morning near the town of Vicksburg after two tank barges loaded with 80,000 gallons of crude oil struck a bridge, sprang a leak Sunday morning. The leak has now been stopped. The coast guard trying to determine how many gallons of oil has spilled into the river.

BERMAN: It is now 17 minutes past the hour. We're getting an "Early Read" on your local news that's making nation headlines.

So, "The Daily Camera" is reporting new details in the JonBenet Ramsey mystery case. That, of course, is now more than 13 years old. Evidence that the grand jury in the case voted to indict both John and Patsy Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in death in connection with the events of Christmas night 1996. But Boulder district attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign the indictment, believing he cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now, you know, to date, no one has been arrested for JonBenet's death.

ROMANS: All right. In "Us Weekly", Beyonce finally addressing the lip syncing scandal. You think, maybe? On her Instagram? Beyonce posed for a pic in a sweatshirt with the message, "Can I live on it?" That's also the title of Jay-Z song.

Beyonce currently rehearing her Super Bowl halftime show. Maybe "Can I live? Can I live?"

BERMAN: Yes, why don't you say, double entendre on the whole "I" thing there.

ROMANS: Maybe.

BERMAN: We don't know if she can do it live because apparently she hasn't done it live in a little while.

ROMANS: Right. For an extended look -- well, Super Bowl, I bet she will do the Super Bowl live.

BERMAN: Yes, coming up in one week. She does do the national anthem.

ROMANS: All of our top stories, go to our blog CNN.com/EarlyStart. You can see everything there. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for earlystartCNN.

BERMAN: And this -- another day, another fee on your credit cards. We're going to have details coming up after this quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. That is New York City, where we are sitting right now, and where Christine Romans is minding your business this morning.

ROMANS: I am. And stock futures where we're sitting right now -- they're up a little bit this morning. And I've got to tell you, it has been quite a run. The Dow -- I'm going to say this twice -- it's up 792 points this year, 792 points the Dow is up in just about four weeks, 6 percent, 792.

BERMAN: And that's not a lot of time. This year has just like begun.

ROMANS: I've got to go and look over my charts, but that is one of the best starts of the year in a long, long time.

BERMAN: We'll take it.

ROMANS: Except, Apple, that's not having one of the best starts of the year. The beloved tech stock, it's down 13 percent just last week. Apple is down 37 percent from its all-time high of 705 bucks a share back in September. A third of its value gone since September.

As of Friday's close, Apple lost its title as the world's most valuable company by market cap. ExxonMobil takes that title back.

And the Super Bowl may not be on Sunday for all of you sports fans, but on Wall Street, Super Bowl comes a little early, because this week is the Super Bowl of economic news.

Later today, we get durable good orders. That's the tally of big- ticket items like appliances and cars.

Tuesday, we have reports on housing and consumer confidence.

Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release a statement from its two- day federal open market committee meeting. It's expected the fed will keep its stimulus in place. That's, of course, meant to keep borrowing costs down and drive growth.

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

And on Friday, jobs. Economists predict 180,000 jobs added last month. They think the jobless rate probably fell slightly to 7.7 percent.

BERMAN: That is like the Super Bowl. I certainly hope are you making snacks.

ROMANS: I'm bringing in snacks all week. All week, I'll be bringing you chicken wings. Although tomorrow, I'll tell you what, chicken wings are going to cost you more this year because of the drought. But that's --

BERMAN: How's that for a tease?

All right. What's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: When you charge it, consider this -- as of Sunday, stores in most states could begin charging a checkout fee on all credit card purchases. The new fee comes from a multibillion dollar settlement between credit card issuers and merchants over charges of fixing credit card fees. The settlement gives retailers the option to add a surcharge to cover processing costs, which runs about 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the total purchase price. This is according to a watchdog group Consumer Action.

Many of the nation's largest retailers, Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Macy's -- they have tried to fight the fees. If they choose to implement this surcharge, they claim it's going to hurt them competitively. The fee won't apply in purchases in 10 states, including New York, California, and Texas. It also won't apply to debit cards. There you go.

BERMAN: Pay to swipe.

ROMANS: Pay to swipe. You know, money doesn't come for free.

BERMAN: All right. Twenty-five minutes after the hour now. And it is going to be one heck of a commute this morning. The weather is not cooperating for millions of Americans right now. And we're tracking storms all over the place for you, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)