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Four Inmates on the Loose; NSA Spying Scandal Escalates; Rockets Fired at Southern Israel; New Problems for Obamacare Website

Aired October 28, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A frantic manhunt under way this morning. Police desperately searching for these four men possibly armed, possibly dangerous. The shocking details on their brazen jail break.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And the NSA spying scandal engulfing the White House. New allegations this morning that the U.S. was spying on dozens of foreign leaders and a shocking admission as to when the president was made aware.

BERMAN: And another huge setback for the Obamacare Web site. New, a critical data center crashing this weekend, halting enrollment across the nation. So, what does this mean now for the health care law?

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

We're not talking about the Red Sox at all this morning?

BERMAN: No, no, I can't about it! I haven't slept in like three days. I can barely speak at all.

Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman. It is Monday, October 28. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And happening right now, I got to say, this is a frightening way to start your week.

A statewide manhunt for four escaped inmates who could be armed and dangerous. This is happening in Oklahoma. The men broke out of the Caddo Detention Center, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

The jail break, honestly, like something out of "The Shawshank Redemption." The inmates were able to break a lock, enter a trapped door above the shower early Sunday morning and made their way to freedom through a tiny crawl space beneath the roof.


GENE CAIN, CADDO COUNTY SHERIFF: We got officers checking all of the abandoned vehicles and checking the residences where we might know they have relatives are living. We're doing that right now. Anytime you know anybody that breaks out of prison or anything, you're going to say they're dangerous, we're not for sure they're armed, but you got to think they might be, when you know they wouldn't when they left, but we don't know what they picked up after. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Four of them, four inmates and four orange prison suits have been discarded a few blocks from the prison. Neighbors around the area, they're trying not to panic.


OWEN STOCKTON, CADDO COUNTY RESIDENT: A small town and this stuff is not supposed to happen, right? It can happen anywhere. I hope they're not at my house when I get back. So, wow.


BERMAN: Pretty good attitude for something that's honestly terrifying.

SAMBOLIN: No kidding, right?

BERMAN: Authorities now are searching for Dylan Ray Three Irons, Prime Brown, Anthony Mendonca and Triston Cheadle. They were convicted on drug, burglary, and weapon charges and now, as I said, on the loose this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Crazy. Shocking that all four of them made it out.

BERMAN: And shocking the way they made it out. A crawl space, like the pipes. Crazy.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Two minutes past the hour here.

The NSA spying scandal spiraling out of control. A new report out of Germany claiming President Obama knew the U.S. was conducting surveillance on Chancellor Angela Merkel back in 2010, even though he assured her by phone last week that he did not know anything. This morning, U.S. officials are claiming the Obama administration ended the NSA operation that spied on Merkel this past summer, as soon as they found out about it.

We get more from CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The newest Edward Snowden documents reveal more spying on America's closest allies. In Spain, reports the NSA listening in on 60 million phone calls in a single month. And in Germany, the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper reports that President Obama was briefed by NSA Chief Keith Alexander about spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls back in 2010, contradicting White House assurances the president was not aware of the extent of the surveillance.

The NSA quickly denied the report, telling CNN, "General Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Merkel."

The NSA's denial a clear step beyond the White House's willingness, up to now, only to deny present and future monitoring.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can tell you that the president assured chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.

SCIUTTO: German intelligence experts are expected to come to the U.S. to challenge their counterparts on the spying after a German official accused the U.S. of breaking, quote, "German law on German soil."

But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers defended the NSA surveillance on CNN Sunday, saying it was both well-regulated and essential to keeping Americans and Europeans safe from terrorism.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMA: I think the bigger news story here would be, Candy, if the United States intelligence services weren't trying to collect information that would protect U.S. interests of both home and abroad.

SCIUTTO: Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Jim.

Breaking overnight: Israel air force just a short while ago striking targets in Gaza. These attacks coming after Palestinian militants fired two rockets into southern Israel.

Matthew Chance is live from Jerusalem this morning.

Matthew, give me the latest and the time line here of what happened.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, these Israeli air force strikes on what they say a concealed rocket launching site in Gaza taking place just a few hours ago. They came in response to the firing of two rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Israeli territory. Both of those rockets were -- didn't cause any casualties. One was intercepted, in fact, according to the Israeli military, by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The other fell into open ground. No casualties reported.

But the Israelis did strike back as I say launching those air strikes a few hours ago hitting concealed rocket launching sites inside the Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials say that -- confirmed the air strikes took place but say there were no injuries either.

Now, it's been very quiet in the Gaza Strip the last several months particularly because a peace process backed by the U.S. secretary of State and the United States in general under way between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It's not clear if the rocket attacks were linked to progress in those peace negotiations.

But, over the course of the past 24 hours, Israeli (INAUDIBLE) will release another 26 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails as a confidence-building measure to try to promote the peace process.

BERMAN: Matthew, it has been nearly a year since that cease-fire deal was struck between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. But over the last few weeks, it seems to have entered this new phase with Israeli destroying a smuggling tunnel into Gaza.

Are there fears that these air strikes and the missile launches over the last day could escalate into a new really hot conflict between the two sides?

CHANCE: Yes, I think, John, there is always that potential. We have seen it time and again in Gaza with these small incidents being escalated and turning into something much bigger. It's not clear that this is an example of that at the moment. Still a lot of political will on both sides, on both the Israeli and Palestinian side for the peace process to advance.

Of course, in the Gaza Strip, elements like Hamas that govern there are opposed to the peace process with the Israelis but the vast majority of Palestinian groups, vast majority of Palestinians at the moment are in favor of it so there is a sense that this probably isn't enough at this stage to derail the peace process.

BERMAN: All right. Interesting. All signs this morning pointing to the fact that this could be isolated. We will keep an eye on it.

Matthew Chance in Jerusalem, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And new problems this morning for the already trouble- plagued Obamacare Web site. Not a single American could enroll online yesterday because of what they're calling a data glitch. An outage at the Verizon data center is being blamed for that. It's used by the government's health care site to verify people's identities and their citizenship. The Obama administration and Verizon could not say how long it would take to fix that problem.

BERMAN: An independent contractor at the North Carolina state fair has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, after a ride he was operating injured five people. Forty-six-year-old Timothy Tutterrow was arrested following investigations into Thursday night's accident. Authorities say safety devices on the Vortex, that was the name of the ride, safety devices were tampered with. More arrests could be coming. Three people remain hospitalized this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Miami Dolphin Mike Pouncey ordered to testify before a grand jury in the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation. So, according to "Sports Illustrated", he was served with a subpoena in Foxborough, yesterday, one hour after his team lost to the New England Patriots. Pouncey is a close friend and former college teammate of Hernandez. He has not been charged with a crime and police consider him a witness who could help them with their investigation.

BERMAN: A lot of people are wondering all along if there'd be other players involved with this. So far, no, but he is really the first. Seventy-one-year-old -- a 71-year-old passenger at Montreal's Trudeau Airport arrested Sunday morning for possession of a powder-like substance in his carry-on luggage. He was board to a flight for Los Angeles using a fake identity. The officials will only say the substance did not belong at the airport, any airport for that matter, and that it posed no immediate risk.

SAMBOLIN: So, now, to the second listeria-related recall in as many weeks. Taylor Farms is recalling 5,000 pounds of Broccoli salad and slaw, including its broccoli crunch with bacon and dressing. Did you buy that?


SAMBOLIN: I saw you pay attention here.

OK. The kits contain dressing in packets that are the subject of an FDA recall that were sold in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Here's the good news, folks -- no one has gotten sick.

BERMAN: It is good news.

SAMBOLIN: Last week, listeria concerns prompted a major recall of ready-to-eat products by Resers Fine Foods.

BERMAN: We make our own slaw.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, do you?

BERMAN: Nine minutes past the hour right now.

It is Halloween Week, a very important weather week.

SAMBOLIN: That's true.

BERMAN: Let's get a check of how things going so far. Indra Petersons is here with us this morning.

Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'll start with Halloween, because we know it's expected to rain by next week in these areas. So, I just want we know that ahead of time. A lot of people got to make the Halloween costumes fun to love.

But here's a little bit hint of good news now that I started with that -- moderate temperatures today. Yes, oop, there we go. We're starting to see temperatures rebound a little bit for today, but notice if you look at Buffalo, they are below average. So, by tomorrow, looking for them to go back down with a cold front is expected to swing through.

But, hey, here is the change. We are going to see that pattern shift. Instead of the old care in the east, we're going to start to see that be more in the West, with temperatures moderating in the east for a little bit. So, we are actually looking at today a big storm in the Pacific Northwest, that's going to bring some pretty heavy snowfall, even up to 18 inches of snowfall possible today in Montana and Wyoming, and exact same system is going to bring rain, even as far south as southern California.

So, that's really going to be the system that we're going to be watching, eventually make its way across the country and bring rain on Halloween. And it is a cold system. I mean, look at these temperatures, Billings about 31, looks like their high today in North Platte only about 44 today. When you compare that difference to the south where temperatures above normal. The other big concern is going to be the severe weather threat we are looking at maybe right into through Kansas and Nebraska today.

We're looking out for that.

BERMAN: Keep an eye on that. All right. Indra, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And coming up, he took us all for a walk on the wild side. How rock 'n' roll icon Lou Reed is being remembered this morning.

BERMAN: A legend.

And more legal problems this morning for singer Chris Brown. New details about his latest run-in with the law. Another one, folks.

Plus, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse. It can be about anything but it needs to rhyme, folks, #EarlyStart, #MorningRhyme. We will read the best one on the air in the next half hour.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START.

We have breaking news overnight. Dr. Conrad Murray is a free man. He was released from a California prison this morning after serving two years for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Murray had his medical licenses revoked in California, Texas and Nevada after his conviction. His lawyer says Murray is trying to get them reinstated so he can get back to treating patients.

BERMAN: Singer Chris Brown faces charges this morning for an alleged assault outside of Washington, D.C. hotel. Brown was arrested on a felony assault charge after police say the 24-year-old got into a physical altercation with 20-year-old Isaac Adams Parker outside the W Hotel. It happened about 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Brown's bodyguard Christopher Hollosy was also arrested.

SAMBOLIN: And the music world is mourning the death of a rock legend this morning. Lou Reed passing Sunday at his home in eastern Long Island after a long battle with liver disease. Reed influenced generations of musicians and took rock 'n' roll to places it had never gone before. Here is Nischelle Turner.



NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With classics like "Sweet Jane", Lou Reed influenced generations of rockers, often merging also risque lyrics with drowning guitars. Born and raised in New York, Reed joined creative forces with Andy Warhol, who sponsored the "Velvet Underground."

Rolling Stone named the Underground's 1967 debut album the 13th greatest of all time.

LOU REED, MUSICIAN: I get personal satisfaction out of making things that don't exist. I follow passion. And that is the one rule I've lived by.

TURNER: The edgy Reed said he wanted to tell the stories of outsiders. As a solo artist, Reed's lyrics "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" explored sex, drugs, and drag queens.


ANTHONY DECURTIS, CONTRIBUTIONG EDITOR, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: He saw himself as a literary figure as much as a musician and took that aspect of his work very seriously.

TURNER: Reed also delved into acting, playing an annoying record producer in Paul Simon's 1980 movie rip of the music business, "One Trick Pony."

REED: What do you think I am? Just a non-turnout (ph) here? I made a couple of records myself. I know what I'm doing.

TURNER: Reed loved poetry and legions of indie rockers hung on his every word. He celebrated independent streak as heard on "I Love You, Suzanne."


TURNER: Reed had been frail for months after a liver transplant earlier this year. He died at his home in South Hampton, New York, at age 71.

Nischelle Turner, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: That's a true legend, Lou Reed.

All right. So, if I look like a basket case this morning is because I have not slept in several days. The Boston Red Sox with their backs up against the wall, they came through with a big win in another historic ending to a game, two a row now. Andy Scholes with more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Andy!

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey. Good morning, guys.

Last night's game huge for the Red Sox. Not only snatch back the momentum in the series but they also regained that old thing called home field advantage. Big Papi, he's been on fire this whole series and the only one with a hit in last night's game when he got the team together in the dugout before the sixth inning. And sure enough, Boston gets two runners on and Jonny Gomes who wasn't supposed to play last night came in for the injured Shane Victorino and rushed that ball to left. The three home-run gives the Red Sox 4-1 lead. Check it out. Mike Napoli giving him a beard tug for a celebration.

Bottom of the nine, Cardinals had a chance. Carlos Beltran represents the tying run but Kolten Wong is picked off first base! It's a walk off pick off. First time in World Series a game ended on a pickoff. Red Sox win 4-2. Game five tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson certainly lived up to the nickname Megatron yesterday against the Cowboys! Johnson racked up a ridiculous 329 yards receiving. That was just seven yards shy of the NFL record. His effort helped the Lions make incredible comeback. Detroit down six with a minute to go, get to one yard line.

Check out Matt Stafford. He's like, spike the ball, spike the ball, spike the ball! He tricks everyone and he jumps in for the touchdown! The Lions rejoice because they win 31-30! A crushing defeat for the Cowboys.

Check out Dez Bryant on the sideline. He was not happy about this outcome! He goes on a tirade and would have to be restrained by Demarcus Ware. After the game, Dez said his tirade was a action of positive action.

All right. Turning on today, the Minnesota Vikings off to a quick start again the Green Bay Packers last night. Rookie Peterson took the kickoff back 109 yards for the touchdown and broke the previous record of 108 yards and most recently done by Jacoby Jones in a Super Bowl in February. Vikings may have won the battle on that play but the Packers won the war. They beat Minnesota last night 34-31.

And believe it or not, the NBA season tips off tomorrow night with a double-header on our sister network TNT. The Bulls and Heat get things started at 8:00 Eastern.

SAMBOLIN: Yay, finally!

SCHOLES: I know you're excited about this, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Just basketball, I am so happy! Yes.

SHOLES: If the World Series goes to seven games, which it looked like it might, on Thursday night, it would be on Halloween. We would have baseball, NFL football, NBA basketball, and hockey, all four sports.

SAMBOLIN: Something for everyone. How perfect is that be?

BERMAN: My head will explode completely.

Andy Scholes, always good to see you. Thank you.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

BERMAN: Coming up for us next, you know what, Christine Romans in the makeup room a little while ago, talking about what a wild week on Wall Street this could be. Could be looking at a new round of record highs? We'll tell you when we come back.

SAMBOLIN: You were in the makeup room?


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time".

And Berman has been talking about all the fabulous news that you have to share.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of good news. I mean, stocks have had a really good week again. We have futures up this morning. We're looking at a record S&P 500 and futures market that could happen again today.

A record close at the S&P on Friday. The other major markets also finish the week higher. That's how much.

And now, for a reality check, where you stand for the year, I love bringing you this number. This is a good indication for me after five years of bad news. The Dow is up 19 percent, the NASDAQ is up 31 percent, and S&P is up 23 percent.

I really care about that last number because the stock part of your 401(k) most likely replicates the S&P 500. And if you're paying big percentage for mutual fund, you know, big percentage for mutual fund management, and you're not up 23 percent, you should look at the S&P 500 tracking mutual funds.

All right. The big tech scene should continue this week after a blockbuster showing from high tech heavyweights last week. Microsoft, Google and Amazon released better earnings and investors cheered the results.

Apple also had a winning week after the billionaire activist Carl Icahn continued his push for a mega stock buyback. Look at the stock increases last week. The CEO Tim Cook of Apple will again be in the spotlight because today is earnings day for Apple. Look for profit to fall from a year ago, but sales may rise slightly. We also should get clarity on how the 5s and that less expensive 5c have been selling. So, tomorrow will be a big day for Apple investors.

Investors also keep an eye on Washington this week but not because of a shutdown, no debt standoff. We'll be looking at the Federal Reserve. The Fed committee wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, highly unlikely to dial back the $85 billion monthly stimulus program that helped send stocks soaring this believe. In fact, people believe that the Fed is flooding the zone until maybe March. The government shutdown and the debt ceiling battle have forced the Fed's hands, creating a weaker economic outlook, muddying the data the central bank relies to make decisions.

In fact, there was a surprising note from Societe Generale last week that said instead of cutting its bond purchases, the Fed could increase them because the economy isn't doing as well the Fed hoped for at this point. This is a really important story this week -- the Fed, the Fed, the Fed, and it matters to everyone, matters to -- interest rates you're paying on your credit card, your car loan and housing. So, incredibly important.

And tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy devastating damage in the New York and New Jersey area. Remember the huge lines to get gas? This was so insulting to people who were trying to get back to work and you couldn't even get gas.

Happy to hear for those people that New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to create a strategic gasoline reserve. After Sandy, many stations were left without power to pump the gas, and the ones that had power quickly ran out of fuel and couldn't get stuff in. Real interesting, just like the nation has a strategic petroleum reserve. Cuomo wants to do a gas reserve.

BERMAN: Interesting as you can't get the gas to the station. That was the problem during Sandy. But an effort that may be helpful.

SAMBOLIN: We will watch it.

BERMAN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Coming up a statewide manhunt going on in Oklahoma. How four convicts managed to break out of a prison that was considered absolutely escape-proof?

BERMAN: A lot going on this morning.

The British phone hacking trial finally getting under way in London. Eight people facing charges, including a former huge media executive. Why this case could drag on until Easter.