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Finger-Pointing at Obamacare Hearing; Allied Outrage Over U.S. Surveillance; Report: Iran May Be Month From a Bomb; World Series All Even

Aired October 25, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fury over spying. America's top allies demanding answers, demanding change, and seemingly demanding a meeting as well, after reports that the U.S. have been spying on them. How the NSA is defending itself. This is new this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blood is not something I like to see. No, not my mother's blood.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Gut-wrenching testimony as a daughter explains how she knows her father is behind her mother's mysterious death.

BERMAN: All right. Folks, this is now some serious, serious baseball. The Cardinals fight back and you are looking at the mistakes that let St. Louis back by into this World Series. Game on, folks.

ROMANS: Game on.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday morning.

BERMAN: It is Friday. It's fantastic. I'm John Berman. It is October 25th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ROMANS: Up first. They raised their hands and pointed their fingers mostly at the Obama administration. Contractors who helped built the health care Web site testified in the first congressional hearing on the problem-plagued site.

Lawmakers, though, will have to wait until next week to grill the president's point person on health care, Kathleen Sebelius, who is not backing down from the fight.

Let's get more now from CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The face of the controversy, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was defiant Thursday as 32 lawmakers signed a letter calling for her to step down.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Well, the majority of people calling me for me to resign I would say are people who I don't work for, and who don't want this program to work in the first place.

JOHNS: Meanwhile on Capitol Hill a firing squad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the gentleman yield?

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: No, I will not yield to this monkey court, or whatever this thing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a monkey court.

JOHNS: Government contractors involved in the rollout of the Obamacare Web site pointed fingers at each other and the Obama administration for a last minute demand to require consumers to register before browsing for insurance.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: How late in the game did they make that decision to change drastically a system like this?

CHERYL CAMPBELL, CGI: For CGI, they asked us to turn that flag off or functionality off two weeks before we go live.

JOHNS: The administration isn't conceding this last-minute decision caused all of the problems, but contractors said the scramble left the site under-tested before its rollout.

Lawmakers said Americans got a raw deal.

REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: $500 million later, we find the American public have been dumped with the ultimate cash for clunkers.

JOHNS: Meanwhile, as the contractors rush to fix the site, even some Democrats are questioning the requirement for everyone to buy health insurance.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman John Barrow are leading an effort to delay the mandate by one year.

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen wants to keep the mandate in place, but she and several others want the deadline to have insurance extended past the end of next March.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Some big diplomatic news this morning. Tensions rising with new reports of U.S. spying on its European allies.

"The New York Times" reports that France and Germany are proposing talks, serious talks to rein in U.S. spying and arrived to mutually acceptable rules for surveillance operations. This as "The Guardian" newspaper is reporting NSA monitored phone conversations of 35 unnamed world leaders.

Meanwhile, the White House this morning, putting out an op-ed in "USA Today" seemingly responding to this swirl information around the world. Homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco acknowledges that leaks of classified information have, quote, "created significant challenges in relationships with some of our closest foreign allies."

These are serious tensions with our closest friends overseas and have to be addressed in the coming days.

ROMANS: Yes, watch this space, because they'll be more on this space.

All right. Meeting with other European leaders in Brussels. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says relations with the U.S. have been severely shaken by those reports of widespread NSA spying on its allies. The agency allegedly eavesdrops on Merkel's cell phone conversations and collected phone records in France. German leaders said the trust in the Obama administration has been shattered and will need to be rebuilt.

BERMAN: Happy talk. That is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says about the House-Senate budget talks coming to a grand bargain -- put those in quotation marks -- including overhauling entitlement programs. During a radio interview Thursday, Reid said he hopes that the U.S. can do stuff to get rid of sequestration and go on to do some sensible budgets.

House Budget Committee chairman, Congressman Paul Ryan, agrees telling "Reuters" on Thursday, the talks should focus on something smaller and no one is really talking about a grand bargain anymore. The phrase of Paul Ryan likes to use is achievable goals.

ROMANS: All right. President Obama renewing his call for comprehensive immigration reform. He's pushing the House to approve a bipartisan bill already passed by the Senate, one he says would achieve a major priority for his second term.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules, by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally, one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone, who is trying to come here the right way.


ROMANS: The president says the bill would also approve border security. Republicans have resisted previous attempts at an immigration overhaul.

BERMAN: A new report this morning says Iran could build a nuclear bomb within a month. "USA Today" citing a report by the Institute for Science and International Security says Iran is capable of producing enough weapons grade uranium to make this possible. This as the White House is trying to persuade Congress not to stiffen sanctions against Iran. The Obama administration has said Iran is probably about a year away from having enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

ROMANS: The hunt is on this morning for two Americans kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria's coast. The men are believed to be the captain and chief engineer of the oil supply vessel targeted there. U.S. officials are working on the assumption that the pair had been abducted for ransom. No word yet on the condition of the other crew members of their ship.

Let's get a check of the weather morning. Indra Petersons is here with us for that.

Good morning. Happy Friday morning, Indra.


I wanted to show you guys the whole country because it's so easy to see where the cold is now that has settled in today and spreading farther south into the Southeast. Current temperatures now, Kansas City 33, Chicago freezing mark. New York is a little bit better and moderate at 40 degrees.

But take a look at what we're expecting in the afternoon. Temperatures are still expected in the 10, 15 degrees below normal in many places. New York today looking for 55 degrees, Scranton about 52, Philly also 57.

But keep in mind, it's not just that temperature. We have gusty conditions out there so we could see some winds pick up and with that it might feel a little bit cooler out there than what you're expecting, so especially even right now by the time everyone is commuting to work this morning, it's only going feel like the 30s and New York feel like 37 degrees. This morning at 9:00. Portland about 32 and D.C. also only going to feel like 36 this morning as people are making their way to work.

So, that's the chill. Where is it coming up? Very easy to see, all of that coming up from Canada. It's expected to stay all weekend. A couple of waves going through of cold air. So, if it's too cold, keep in mind it's staying that way.

BERMAN: If it's too cold, get used to it, is what you're saying?

PETERSONS: Exactly. I'm getting a jacket today guys.

ROMANS: Our L.A. girl is buying a coat.

BERMAN: Big day. She's all grown up.

Thanks, Indra.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: All right. The World Series is all tied up now at one game apiece. The Cardinals beating the Red Sox 4-2 in game two of the series. How did they do it? Well, mistakes by the Red Sox.

You're looking at the seventh inning there, plays by the Red Sox, sloppy plays that led the Cardinals eke their way back into the series. This despite a two-run home run by Big Papi, David Ortiz knocking one over the monster. It's a beautiful sight but not enough for the Red Sox.

The series now shifts to St. Louis. Game three is tomorrow night.

ROMANS: So, what's your message for them? You don't like these mistakes?

BERMAN: No, no, my message is never give up. Never give up.

The Cardinals lost game one because they made mistakes. The Red Sox lost night -- a mistake there. Craig Breslow backing up the catcher threw it back into left field. You don't want to do that. There's no cause for that folks.

But the bottom line here: You're two very good teams and what's going to win this series. You make any mistake, the other team is going to capitalize.

ROMANS: All right. Another sleepless night for you John Berman.

BERMAN: Another sleepless night.

Coming up for us next --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Making jokes about being single and just laughing -- made me sick.


BERMAN: A doctor accused of murdering his wife with a deadly drug overdose. The prosecution star witness, you're looking at her -- the man's own daughter.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When things like this come out of the tough times, it makes it easier to get through them because you see the light at the end of the tunnel.


ROMANS: Wow. Middle school boy overcoming surgery, disabilities, and hardships to inspire a stadium full of fans.

BERMAN: Plus, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse and really it can be about anything. Be a little weird this morning on my morning. #earlystart or #morningrhyme and we will read the best ones on the air in our next half hour.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

A Utah doctor on trial for drugging and drowning his wife comes face- to-face with his own daughter in court. As CNN's Jean Casarez tells us the daughter is a star witness for the prosecution.


RACHEL MACNEILL, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN MACNEILL: Blood is not something I like to see. No. Not my mother's blood.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An emotional Rachel MacNeill took the stand in her father's murder trial giving very damaging testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you recognize this man sitting right here?



MACNEILL: My father. Growing up, my father was my best friend.

CASAREZ: In front of a hushed and packed courtroom, she recounted the fateful call she received from her father the day her mother died.

MACNEILL: It was my father's voice. He said, Rachel, quick, get to the hospital. It's your mother, quick.

I said, what's happening? Is everything OK?

And he just said, Rachel, come home.

CASAREZ: Prosecutors say all the drama was a ruse. MacNeill had planned his wife's murder all along. The motive, he was carrying on an affair with Gypsy Willis who moved into the MacNeill home as a nanny shortly after the death of his wife, Michelle.

MACNEILL: It was just obvious. She is goo eyes at my dad and was not doing anything a nanny would do.

CASAREZ: MacNeill they say was so determine to move forward with his murder plot that he forced his wife to have a facelift so he could get kill her with a mix of drugs and blame it on the surgery. Rachel testified he was adamant there be an autopsy.

MACNEILL: He specifically said to me that he was concerned that there will be a police investigation. That he didn't want to -- anyone to think that he murdered my mother. He said why? Why would anybody think that?

CASAREZ: Avoiding any eye contact with her father, she often struggled to hold back tears. She described how her father said he found Michele in the bathtub and how she found her mother's clothes later that day.

MACNEILL: It was a big bloody mess. It was -- all of these things were just thrown in the garage.

CASAREZ: On the day of her mother's funeral, she said her dad was not mourning his wife's death. In fact, he seemed to be relieved.

MACNEILL: He was making jokes about being single and just laughing -- and it made me sick. I left.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, Provo, Utah.


ROMANS: New leads in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann prompting Portugal to reopen the case more than six years after the little girl disappeared during a family vacation.

Police say they found enough to warrant a new investigation but did not give any details. Two weeks, British detectives released a computer generated image of a person of interest. Scotland Yard received more than 2,000 calls.


Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel staying in jail for now. A judge ordered a new trial after agreeing his lawyer inadequately failed to defend him but the judge says he is not sure he has the authority to release a convicted murderer. So the defense and prosecutors will present for and against his release next week. Skakel was convicted of the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.

ROMANS: All right. The FDA wants tighter controls on how doctors prescribe painkillers and dispensing medications that contain Hydrocodone, like Vicodin. Would have the same restrictions as other narcotics, like Oxycodone or morphine. Changes which could come as early as next year, would reduce the number of refills allowed and doctors would not be able to call in prescriptions to pharmacies. Prescription drugs are said to account now for three-quarters of all drug overdoses in the U.S.


Items connected to President Kennedy, including the wedding ring of his assassin sold at an auction on Thursday. Lee Harvey Oswald's gold band took in $108,000. It has the hammer and sickle on it. Of course, the symbol of the communist part in Russia. They're engraved in the inside. His widow who was born in Russia had not seen the ring in five decades but recently it turned up in a Texas attorney's files and one of 300 items sold before the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death.

ROMANS: Take a look at one of the most touching touchdown you will ever see. Iler Buck of Texas was born with club feet and a brain malfunction has left him unable to speak. He has severely surgeries to make walking possible. His dream was to score for his middle school football team over their big rival. This week, both schools got together and they made that dream come true.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him, hey, you got to go. You know? Don't go down. You get all the way to the end zone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When things like this come out of the tough times, it makes it easier to get through them because you see the light at the end of the tunnel.


ROMANS: Forty-yard touchdown. Spike the ball. He was so excited he forgot to do his happy dance in the end zone.

BERMAN: His teammates wouldn't let him go down. His teammates carried him over the line there. That is a fantastic.

ROMANS: A great message for the kids.

BERMAN: Great lesson for everyone.

All right. Coming up for us next, it's the biggest IPO since Facebook -- Twitter is going public and now we know just how much you will have to pay for this. The big question, is it worth it?

I know someone with the answers! "Money Time" is next.


BERMAN: Spread it across the country. There we go.

Christine Romans is spreading herself very well with her dancing.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is "Money Time."

ROMANS: Zoraida does it much better than I do. She really does. That's a debt ceiling -- that's my favorite. They write those lyrics.

But the morning -- this morning, is tech stocks the new. That is the theme this morning in "Money Time."

Let me start with the biggest IPO since Facebook. Twitter, now we know how much it will cost you to buy a share of twitter if you can get your hands on one. In an SEC filing Twitter set a preliminary price range $17 to $20 per share for its initial offering. That IPO expected to happen in a few weeks. It also raised the size of its offering to $1.4 billion.

When you add it all together, you look at those metrics, it values Twitter at about $11 billion and impressive until you consider that twitter is still losing money and probably will continue to lose money in the foreseeable fut. Wall Street doesn't seem to mind that for now as long as Twitter can continue to ramp up sales, which it has been doing. And now, the old school technology now. I mean, old school technology stock., Microsoft. Departing CEO Steve Ballmer showing that he still knows how to make a buck. Sales and profits much better than expected, helped by a strong demand for its Office and server software for business. The news sent Microsoft stock up 5 percent in after hours trading.

The other tech titan relieved Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon reported double digit sales, it seems to bode well for the holiday, a season that some retail experts have warned could be far from cheerful.

BERMAN: But also not profitable.

ROMANS: Yes, investors are happy with its sales growth. The stock grew more than 8 percent after the sale of trading. The sales growth is the number we are watching there.

Now, I told you yesterday about Carl Icahn's latest move to pressure Apple management to boost the company share price. He's open letter to Apple CEO released later in the day. And Icahn, he was classic icon, I will say, besides pushing for a massive $150 billion dollar stock buy-back, Icahn noted no one deep on the board with deep investment experience. Icahn has said he doesn't want a seat at Apple's board. He did make clear he advised to tap into his wealth of experience in boosting value.

Apple got a boost from Icahn yesterday. It was up.

BERMAN: It was classic Icahn. Could you say it's iconic?

ROMANS: Tat is very good.

BERMAN: You can use that on your show tomorrow.

ROMANS: You'll hear on "YOUR MONEY" this weekend.

All right. The rally in tech shares opening the overall markets yesterday. I want to show you this. The major averages finishes with gains and S&P three points away from a record. As we head into the weekend, a look at where we are for the year. Dow is up 18 percent, the NASDAQ up 30 percent.

BERMAN: Oh, man.

ROMANS: I just love to show you this, because for five years I've had nothing but bad news to show you about money and watching the stock rally market here.

BERMAN: Do you think it makes up for it?

ROMANS: No. It doesn't make up for it. But at least if you're invested, half of America isn't invested. They don't care about jobs. They don't care about tech stocks, or that, or the numbers I just showed you.

But for those of you who have invested -- wow, a great year.

BERMAN: An important note.

All right. Twenty-four minutes after the hour.

Coming up, fury over spying. America's top allies demanding change this morning. They want to talk now after reports that the U.S. has been spying on them. We are live with really what is turning into something of a diplomatic disaster for the U.S. and how the NSA is now defending itself. That's coming up next.


BERMAN: The Obama administration under fire for spying. America's top allies demanding answers, demanding change and demanding to talk now, as new reports reveal the NSA is spying on dozens of countries. How the agency is defending itself new this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: He shot me in my stomach. He didn't say anything. Please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me.


ROMANS: A wounded school shooting survivor shares a terrifying moment. A boy he thought was his friend pulled out a gun.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: Welcome to this Friday.

Meanwhile, outrage growing among America's key European allies over reports of widespread spying by the National Security Agency. Germans Chancellor Angela Merkel says trust in the Obama administration has been shattered as a result. Both Germany and France reportedly this morning want face-to-face talks with Washington aimed at reining in the NSA and these surveillance.

CNN's Atika Shubert is following the developments. She is live in London.

Atika, this really seems to be coming to a head with key U.S. allies and the leaders from these countries really upset.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There is no concealing the anger of Angela Merkel here. She had a private conversation with President Obama where she demanded to know if her phone was being tapped and then at this E.U. Summit saying there had been a betrayal of trust and needs to be rebuilt and saying that she expects to see significant changes made soon.

And, in particular, Germany and France have now demanded to have talks with the U.S. to make sure this spying is curbed and they are saying they have to have these talks by the end of the year.