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Obamacare Website Meltdown; S&P Poised for Record High; Man Accused of Tampering with Fair Ride; Olympic Stadium Still not Finished; Red Sox Beat Cardinals to even World Series

Aired October 28, 2013 - 09:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now that's fun. And if our site keeps freezing, we're also provided links to other helpful websites, such as, where you can purchase airline tickets to Canada and buy cheaper prescription drugs.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, but you won't hear many laughs about this at the White House, that's for sure. That's where we find our Athena Jones.

Athena, good morning.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. You're right, this is not a laughing matter for the folks in the building behind me. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is stressing that this is a provider issue, but really it's just one more big headache for the administration about Obamacare.

Jeff Zients, the man the president put in charge to fix the website, said it will be running smoothly by the end of November. But this other - this next big meltdown that we're seeing now is raising questions about that.


JONES (voice-over): Another major stumble for the problem-riddled website

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: It's better today than it was on October 1st, but it's a long way from perfect.

JONES: Visitors to the site late Sunday couldn't apply for health care coverage. A vendor for Verizon, the company running the website's data services hub, quote, "experienced a failure in a networking component." That service connects to the IRS and other databases used to determine eligibility. The company says they're working to fix the problem.

VIVEK KUNDRA, SALESFORCE.COM, VICE PRES. OF EMERGING MARKETS: What you're seeing here is a gap in innovation and a gap in execution.

JONES: Plagued with technical issues, ridiculed on late night TV. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": This site was only designed to handle six users at a time.

JONES: "Saturday Night Live" mocking Kathleen Sebelius.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Consider using our low-res website, with simpler fonts and graphics.

JONES: Responsible for overseeing the website's implementation. And the pressure isn't letting up.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: She's already, as of "Saturday Night Live" last night, the laughing stock of America, so she's lost considerable credibility.

JONES: New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen urged an extension of the March 31st enrollment deadline.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: So we can make sure we get as many people who want health insurance able to enroll and be able to be covered.

JONES: The administration says that mandate won't change.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're way still early in the process.

JONES: The president promising --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address these problems every single day.


JONES: Now, Verizon says they're working to fix this problem, but we've got no word from Verizon or from HHS on just when it will be fixed.


HARLOW: And, you know, Athena, if people go to the website, what they notice is that this image of this woman sort of became known by some as the Obamacare girl, right there. It's not there anymore. Is this even a bill deal? Does it matter? Or was this just a strategic change to help people with the enrollment process put something maybe more useful up there? What -- does it matter? Because everyone's talking about it.

JONES: Well, she did get a lot of attention. People wondering what it feels like to be associated with this site that's not working well at all.

HARLOW: Right.

JONES: Well, CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is managing this site, says that they wanted to change this site to show this more useful information. If you log on now or try to log on, go to that home page, it will show you the various options for signing up for health insurance. There's an icon of a phone and an icon of various people you can call to speak with and papers. So, it's showing you the different ways you can sign up and so they use those icons and they placed the picture of this woman, who -- maybe she's happy about it. Who knows. Poppy.

HARLOW: Right. Yes, we haven't heard anything from her, right?

JONES: We haven't heard. People have been trying to track her down. Our own Jeanne Moos was looking for her.

HARLOW: Right.

JONES: But now she's no longer going to be seen when people log in. And maybe that -- maybe that's a good thing for her.


HARLOW: Yes, certainly a small detail in the midst of everything else that's going on with that website.

Athena, thank you. Appreciate it.

JONES: Thanks.

HARLOW: Tracking top stories.

A manhunt is underway for four inmates who escaped from an Oklahoma jail. A county sheriff says the men broke a lock on a hatch above the shower, moved through a crawl space, knocked out a cement block and then reached an unlocked door.


SHERIFF GENE CAIN, CADDO COUNTY, OKLAHOMA: Anytime you know anybody who breaks out of prison or anything you're going to say they're dangerous. We're not for sure there're armed, but you've got to - you've got to think they might be. We know they wasn't when they left. You know they wasn't when they left but we don't know what they picked up after.


HARLOW: Three of the escapees had been convicted of drug offenses. The fourth was waiting to go on trial on a gun charge.

Meantime, a Spanish newspaper says the NSA collected data in Spain from 60 million phone calls over a 30-day period. The newspaper reports the calls were not recorded, but phone numbers, locations, and durations of calls were taken. One of the authors of that article, Glenn Greenwald. He first reported on documents leaked by Edward Snowden for the British newspaper "The Guardian." And Wall Street, there you hear it, the opening bell, opening for the week. Investors hoping for a record run to carry on. Hoping it has some legs. The S&P 500 hit an all-time high on Friday. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans with us in New York.

You know, Christine, I keep looking at these numbers and think just what a big divide there is between 71 percent of Americans in our poll last week who said they think the economy is poor, and all of the gains and all the wealth being accumulated in the market.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You're absolutely right. And, remember, about half of Americans are not invested in the stock market.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: They feel it 100 percent through their jobs. So that's what the big disconnect is all about.

But for investors, for workers who have a 401(k) in their -- at their company, wow, what a great year it's been. Now, today you've got a little bit of a pullback from those records last week, but I want to show you, Poppy, how far we have come this year because these year-to- date numbers are really, really good. The Dow is up 19 percent this year. The Nasdaq up 31 percent. The S&P 500, now that is the average most likely to reflect the stock portion of your 401(k), up 23 percent.

Last week we had a terrific week for some tech stocks. Many of these that I'm about to show you are household names. They are widely held stocks. We're going to be hearing more from some of these tech companies this week. Apple reports its earnings after the bell.

But look at Amazon. Google up just a fraction. But look at the price of Google's shares.


ROMANS: Poppy, they're above $1,000 a share.


ROMANS: Microsoft up about 2 percent. It was a terrific week for stocks. No surprise for me this morning that you're having a little bit of a pullback. It's all going to depending on the earnings.

And one last point quickly. A lot of this has to do with the Fed.


ROMANS: Many people say the Fed is not in any kind of business to be pulling back on its stimulus to the economy. That means stocks like it. They have been going up for some time.

HARLOW: Right. Yes, we'll talk more about the Fed and the policy in the 10:00 a.m. hour with you. But I want to talk about this not strategic, petroleum reserve, strategic gasoline reserve. This is a move being made in New York one year after Sandy, right?

ROMANS: It would be the first state to do this. You have heard of these big, vats and vessels full of oil in the Gulf region that are America's strategic petroleum reserve.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: Well, this would be the first state - this would be New York having a gasoline reserve on Long Island. It's about a $10 million pilot program here, to make sure that what happened last year doesn't happen again. Four days after Sandy, as you well know, Poppy, 60 percent to 65 percent of the gas stations were not working. They were either not working because they didn't have generators that could pump the gas, or they literally did not have the gas.

There's already been one pilot program to make sure that you're getting generators to some of these smaller gas stations. This is the next step to make sure that there are supplies available. Andrew Cuomo wants to do this. Again, it's $10 million on the front end.

No state has done something like this before. But when you think about New York and where it's situated and how this just happened a year ago in recent memory, a stronger storm or a storm of a different path could do the same thing all over again. Try and prepare.


HARLOW: Yes, absolutely. We'll see if it - if it makes it through and what happens. I vividly remember those lines.

All right, Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Still to come, several people thrown from a ride at a state fair, terrifying. A lot of questions about was this really an accident. One man is now arrested. We're going to tell you what he's accused of doing and why more arrests may be on the way.


HARLOW: Investigators believe a ride operator may be responsible for an incident at the North Carolina State Fair. The man, who's from Georgia, you see him right there, is facing three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. This is after allegedly tampering with a ride. Police say The Vortex, that's what the ride is called, suddenly restarted while passengers were getting off. Five people were hurt. Our Alina Machado is live in Raleigh with the latest.

Good morning, Alina. What do we know?


Authorities say the 46-year-old ride operator was hurt, but they also believe he did something to the ride's safety devices that caused it to malfunction. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CALLER: We're at the state fair and the ride went upside down and dumped everybody out. There's people who are bleeding really bad.

MACHADO: A terrifying scene on a North Carolina State Fair ride. This morning, the operator, Timothy Tutterrow, is behind bars, charged with three counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

SHERIFF DONNIE HARRISON, WAKE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: This ride was tampered with after the inspection and that critical safety devices were tampered with and compromised.

MACHADO: Authorities aren't releasing specific details about the alleged tampering, but they say this is a criminal investigation. Tutterrow's attorney tells CNN his client is distraught and devastated by what happened. Witnesses say The Vortex ride had stopped and people were getting off it Thursday when it suddenly restarted.

CALLER: The ride broke loose and five people fell straight from the sky, 20-feet drop.

MACHADO: Five people were injured, three remain in the hospital. The victims include family members between the ages of 14 and 39.

STEVE TROXLER, NORTH CAROLINA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: It makes me mad to think that anybody would put people's safety in danger like they have. And I'm not mad, I'm furious.

MACHADO: The company that owns the ride released a statement saying in part, "it has never been experienced an incident with any of its rides like this one. The company purchased The Vortex earlier this year and a spokesperson says Tutterrow has been operating it since then.


MACHADO: Tutterrow is being held on a $225,000 bond. He is expected in court later today.


HARLOW: And, Alina, do we think that any more arrests could be expected in this? Are you getting any indication of that?

MACHADO: Well, the sheriff's office says this is still a very active and ongoing investigation and they have not ruled out the possibility of more arrests in this case.

HARLOW: It's just terrifying and really perplexing. So we'll wait to get more information. Appreciate it. Thank you.

And a middle schooler shot dead by a sheriff's deputy is expected to be laid to rest this week. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez was carrying two fake guns when he was killed on a California street. Mourners gathered yesterday to pay their respects. Many of them wore white to honor the young boy. CNN affiliate KGO reports that the local sheriff is cooperating in an FBI investigation. The sheriff has also expressed his sympathy.

And it is like something straight out of a Hollywood script. Four inmates make a daring escape from an Oklahoma jail, leaving the town on edge. New in the next hour of NEWSROOM, we're going to speak with the county sheriff, ask him about the search for these four men and if he thinks they got any outside help. That's straight ahead at 10:00.


HARLOW: Checking "Top Stories" for you now.

an apparent murder/suicide in Baltimore. Authorities believe that 37- year-old police officer Christopher Lee Robinson shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and the firefighter she was with before taking his own life.

Meantime tomorrow marks one year since Superstorm Sandy battered the northeast. After crashing through the Caribbean, the powerful storm made landfall in southern New Jersey on October 29th. Sandy killed 117 people in the United States and caused property damage in the billions of dollars.

This morning, the Israeli air force launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip. We're told they targeted two rocket launching squads that may be responsible for an attack on southern Israel. Earlier two rockets were fired across the border, one of them intercepted by Israel's iron dome defense system. There are no reports of injuries at this time.

Eleven injured and five dead this morning in China's Tiananmen Square after a jeep plowed into a crowd and then burst into flames dramatic scene unfolding. According to reports the dead include the driver and two passengers. The crash, the cause of it is unclear. And the area is right now under heightened security.

A powerful storm hammering southern England this morning, winds have gusts nearly 100 miles an hour, dozens of flights at London's Heathrow Airport had been canceled and upwards of a quarter million homes -- a quarter of million homes have lost power in this storm, at least two people have been killed, one was a sleeping 17-year-old girl who died when an tree feel on her home.

102 days. That is the time that remains until the opening ceremonies at the winter games and the Russians are racing to get everything completed by the deadline. Topping the to-do list in Sochi finish that big beautiful stadium.

There's also concern beyond the Olympic village. Will new hotels with ready for visitors? Our Phil Black is following in all from Sochi.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From a distance, this Olympic path looks close to ready shiny new sports venues finished and tested. But look closer, there's still so much to do. Top of the list, finish the stadium. It's not hosting any sport, but it will be the stage for the opening ceremony. The people directing that spectacle have demanded big changes to the design including a roof.

Russia is not famous for its efficiency. So delivering all this on time will be a statement to the world. It's one reason why President Vladimir Putin is taking such a personal interest. Dimitri Gregorio manages the speed skating arena. He says Putin's regular visits and direct oversight have made a big difference.

DIMITRI GREGORIO, VENUE MANAGER, ADLER ARENA: I'm not going to say why or how, but it has, believe me.

BLACK (on camera): So you're seeing things happen?


BLACK (voice over): And Sochi's other challenge, overhauling the city's Soviet Era infrastructure. The skyline is a mess of cranes and partially completed buildings. Many of them much needed hotels. And then there's the traffic. It's appalling.

Sochi's Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov is firmly on team Putin and insists somehow it will all be fixed in three months. Security is an especially big concern at these games because Russia's Islamic terrorists have promised to disrupt them. And organizers can't even rely on Mother Nature to deliver the white stuff. It's subtropical here, so snowfall is patchy. That's why they're storing vast amounts of last season's snow, just in case.


BLACK: Good morning Poppy from sunny Sochi. So as you can see a long list of challenges there for the organizers behind these Olympics. The construction is just one of them, but it's a very important one. Will they get there?

That's where the importance of the Putin factor really plays out. He was in town again today opening a train station and meeting with the Olympic officials, motivating them, insisting that they get over the line and the feeling is that yes it will happen because he wants it to happen. He's invested so much political capital in this, that there is really no option for failure.

So therefore it will happen. Largely because the Russian President wants to show the world what a great modern country Russia is regardless of the cost. And that cost at the moment is looking around the $50 billion mark -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow $50 billion well the eyes of the world will be on Sochi. But these things always seem to come together at the last moment for the countries the Olympics. It's a beautiful scene behind you Phil Black thank you. I appreciate it.

Still to come. This is hard for me to report as a proud Minnesota Vikings' fan. Some good news for the Vikes Minnesota Viking rookie set an NFL record last night. But was it enough? Green Bay Packers coming away with that win.


HARLOW: Game four of the World Series provided another wacky ending but this time it was in the Red Sox' favor benefiting from these unusual ending. Andy Scholes joins us now with more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hi good morning Poppy. Well on Saturday for the first time ever, an obstruction call decided a World Series game. And then last night for the first time ever, a game ended with a pickoff play at first. Now before that pick off play, this might be the moment we look back to a Boston win. The Sox is struggling until Big Papi rallied the team to get in the dugout before the sixth inning. And sure enough Boston is going to get two runners on. And Johnny Gomes who was a last-second replacement for an injured Jay Victorino, crushes a three-run home run. That gives the Red Sox a 4-1 lead and Boston -- check them out, celebrating, tugging on each other's beards.

Now bottom of the ninth, Carlos Beltran representing the tying run to play for the Cardinals, but Kolten Wong gets picked off of first base. First time ever a World Series game has ended this way. The Red Sox get the win 4-2; the series is now tied at two games apiece.

In the NFL yesterday, the Lions Calvin Johnson had an amazing game against the Cowboys. Megatron as he's called, he racked up 329 yards receiving. That's the second most ever in a game.

Now his effort helped the Lions make an incredible comeback. Detroit was down six with just seconds to go. Matthew Stafford, check him out, he's yelling at his teammates, get to the line, get to the line. We're going to spike the ball. Well he surprises the defense and his own teammates by jumping over into the end zone for a touchdown. The Lions win the game, 31-30. Crossing (ph) the beat for the Cowboys, Dez Bryant as you can see not happy about it on the sidelines. He went off and he had to be restrained by his teammates. After the game, Dez said his tirade was a result of positive passion.

Well turning on today, the Minnesota Vikings -- they got off to a quick start against the Green Bay Packers last night on Sunday night football. Rookie, Cordarelle Patterson, took the opening kickoff 109 yards for the touchdown. That broke the previous NFL record of 108 yards. And despite that quick charge the Packers would dominate this game. They beat the Vikings 44-31.

And NBA seasons tips off tomorrow night with a double header on our sister network TNT. The Bulls and Heat get the season started at 8:00 Eastern. That's followed by the Clippers and the Lakers at 10:30. And Poppy, Halloween on Thursday night might be a very busy night for sports fans. If the World Series goes to seven games we'll have that game, then we'll have the NBA, NFL, and hockey. So dads will have to decide are you going trick-or-treating or he'll stay on the couch and watch sports. HARLOW: Right. Always take your kids trick-or-treating. DVR the game. That's my take.

I'm sorry about the Vikings, man. You can't catch a break this year.


HARLOW: Maybe next year.

All right. Thanks Andy, appreciate it.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, an Oklahoma town on edge after a daring prison break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, small town. Stuff like this is not supposed to happen. Right?


HARLOW: It is like something straight out of a movie. Four inmates squeezed through a trap door above a shower and took off.

Plus another major snag with the Obamacare Web site brought enrollment to a screeching halt. We sit down with the man who served as the White House's first chief information officer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's embracing 1960's era technology. It's not putting the citizen at the heart of government operations.


HARLOW: why he says improving maybe a matter of looking outside of Washington.

And this -- does the smell of bacon get you out of bed fast? How about a hot cinnamon roll? Forget cooking. Now, yes, your smart phone can smell good enough to eat. The second hour of NEWSROOM starts right now.