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Obamacare Blame Game; Hero Bus Driver; Barneys Under Fire

Aired October 30, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A critical moment for Obamacare, just hours away, the woman responsible for implementing the president's health care law gets grilled by Congress over the website's rocky rollout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I woke up, my dogs were barking like crazy. There were ambulances and fire trucks out here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A community shaken as the reward doubles for a man who tried kidnap an eight-year-old girl from her bedroom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was distraught. She was distant. She was really disconnected.

SAMBOLIN: OK. We love this man. A bus driver stopping a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge. The compassionate encounter, and it was all caught on camera.

BERMAN: Amazing story.


BERMAN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: Get ready for a moment of extreme drama in Washington. A Capitol Hill face-off over Obamacare, and this, as CNN has new information about warning signs that were missed or ignored or simply not acted on. Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, testifies before hostile members of the House committee in just over three hours. Man, do they have a lot of questions for her.

In her opening remarks, Sebelius will tell lawmakers that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, quote, "has a track record of successfully overseeing the many contractors our programs depend on to function. Unfortunately, a subset of those contracts for have not met expectations." In another words, yes, I know there are problems here, but don't blame me. While Sebelius testifies, the president travels to Boston to continue the Obamacare push, this as CNN has new reporting on the red flags that were raised well before the botched rollout. Let's get more now from Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN has learned that the Obama administration was warned in September that the Obamacare website wasn't ready to go live. The main contractor, CGI, issued this confidential report to the agency overseeing the rollout. It warned of a number of open risks and issue for the website.

The report gave the highest priority to things in plain language like we don't have access to monitoring tools, not enough time and schedule to conduct adequate performance testing, and hub services are intermittently unavailable. Short for the site's not working sometimes.

CGI saying back in September, they were putting a team in place to alert whenever the hub goes down. Up on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the head of CMS, the agency that received that report, kicked off testimony by saying she's sorry.

MARILYN TAVENNER, CMS ADMINISTRATOR, HHS: We know that consumers are eagle tore purchase this coverage and to the millions of Americans who have attempted to use to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should.

JOHNS: Marilyn Tavenner was peppered with questions about when she'll have enrollment numbers for Obamacare. She's talk to a script.

TAVENNER: We will have those numbers available in mid-November.

In mid-November.

In mid-November.

In mid-November.

JOHNS: And she tried to lower expectations. She doesn't expect a massive influx of enrollees at first. In line with what happened when the state of Massachusetts rolled out its health care plan years ago.

TAVENNER: I'll remind you that enrollee does occur until March 31st of 2014. I'll also remind you that the Massachusetts experience was very slow initially. And that it started to ramp up over time. We expect the same type of projections.

JOHNS: But the website problems were almost like window dressing in the hearing room where open warfare over health care has been waged for decade. A Democratic congressman leaped out of his chair, claiming his party works years ago to try to improve the Republican prescription drug plan, but when it came to Obamacare, the GOP didn't exactly return the favor.

REP. BILL PASCRELL, (D) NEW JERSEY: How many of you stood up to do that, none. Zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a false choice to say it's Obamacare or nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you really serious? You had a legitimate alternative? We got you 44 votes.

JOHNS (on-camera): This hearing was only a warm-up for the main event on Wednesday when Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, appears before another committee and she'll surely get questions about the contractors.

On the warnings from CGI, the administration points out, that the company didn't raise any alarm bells when it testified on the Hill in September. CMS also issued a statement saying "this was a document at a point in time that identified issues and we worked to address those issues."

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Joe.

The IRS may have a tough time forcing to you pay the Obamacare penalty if you're uninsured next year. The agency could deduct penalties from a tax refund, but if you aren't owed anything, the IRS' options are very limited. Why? Congress banned the IRS from using its usual techniques to force people to pay the penalty when it passed the Affordable Care Act back in 2010.

BERMAN: Thirty-five minutes after the hour. We have a chilling story out of Colorado. Police this morning searching for a predator who snatched a little girl from her bedroom in the middle of the night.


BERMAN (voice-over): Authorities say the man pulled her through an unlocked window, but the eight-year-old fought back courageously, breaking free.

Her father heard her screams and ran outside to help her. He tells police he saw the suspect speeding away in the alley behind the house.


CHIEF DAN OATES, AURORA POLICE DEPT.: We are treating this matter extremely seriously. We think there's a predator out there and he has to be stopped and he has to be caught.

JULIA DIAZ, NEIGHBOR: All the apartments on this block -- reaching here. So, it had to be somebody they knew, to know which room she was in and all that kind of stuff. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, investigators say they do not believe that this family was specifically targeted. They did release a sketch of the suspect and they're treating the case as an attempted stranger abduction.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Crazy story. Very scary. All right. An apparent mass killing in South Carolina. Six people including two children were found dead Tuesday inside a greenwood home. And police say they made that grisly discovery after responding to a threatening call from a man who was inside that house. All six people were reportedly the victims of gunshot wounds. The shooter is believed to be among the dead.

BERMAN: A heartbreaking funeral following a day of angry protests in California. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez was laid to rest Tuesday. He was shot seven times last week by police who apparently mistook his toy gun for a real assault rifle. Police officers say they feared for their life from the toy locked in orange cup required by law so you can tell it's a toy. The FBI is investigating the incident. More protests are scheduled for --

SAMBOLIN: You know, I was reading that often times the kids remove that little cap. And so, you know, that could potentially save your life like in a situation like this.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. Tragic scene on an Arizona highway. Low visibility from a dust storm causing a deadly pileup on Interstate 10. This is right near Phoenix. Authorities say three people were killed. The chain reaction crash involved 19 vehicles including ten semi-trailers.

More than a dozen people also suffered injuries there. And officials say gusty winds created a tunnel of dense, blowing dust that settled over the highway.

BERMAN: What about those winds today? Will they continue? Indra Petersons is looking at weather. Good morning, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We're definitely looking at strong winds today. One of the things I want to talk about, what you're actually supposed to do in a dust storm is pull off the road, we know that, but turn your lights off. A lot of people leave their lights on because they want to be seen. If you can't see, the cars actually think they're calling the road and they crash right into the back of you. So, that's the key --

SAMBOLIN: Great advice.

PETERSONS: -- your lights off. Saves lives. All right. I want to talk about the big storm. Very easy to see. This is what us, meteorologists, look at. It's almost like a big bull's-eye on the weather model. You're looking at this huge storm that's going to be tracking its way across the country. Really all the way through the end of the week. So, that's the storm we're watching. There's a lot of ingredients here.

We have that cold dry air from the system that really brought in the snow yesterday. But now, that same bull's-eye will be making it ways across and moving into where all that warm air is. The reason that's so important is you combine those ingredients and you look for that severe weather risk. So, today, pretty much from Kansas City all the way down through Central Texas, we have the threat for strong thunderstorms.

Even an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out. Tomorrow, notice where the severe weather stretches. We're talking Ohio Valley again all the way down through Houston. That is Halloween. So, definitely something we all want to be aware of. Strong winds. We just talked about those in Arizona.

Today, we're looking at those strong winds moving across the country even the Ohio Valley, strong as 40 miles per hour. And same thing for tomorrow, we're looking at even stronger winds in through tomorrow. So, lots to be aware of on Halloween.

BERMAN: Yes --


BERMAN: Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

Coming up, we're going to introduce you to a hero.




BERMAN: A New York bus driver making a lifesaving stop. What he did when he saw a suicidal woman standing on a ledge?


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back, everyone. A bus driver in Buffalo being called a hero this morning after stopping a woman from jumping off a bridge. Darnell Barton was driving a city bus yesterday when he noticed the woman. She appeared ready to commit suicide. Barton pulled the bus over and gently coaxed the woman off of the expressway railing.


VOICE OF DARNELL BARTON, HERO BUS DRIVER: She was distraught. She was distant. She was really disconnected. I grabbed her, and I grabbed her arm, and I put my arm around her, and I said, do you want to come on this side of the guard rail? And that was actually the first time she actually spoke to me, and she said, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: This only happened because this man cared, cared enough to stop and get out of the bus. Barton says he believes he was driving by at that moment for a reason.


BARTON: I wanted to convey that, you know, whatever it was, I'm going to -- we're going help you through whatever it is. And it's not as serious as (INAUDIBLE) that.


BERMAN: Do you see him just sitting there next to the woman?

SAMBOLIN: That's amazing.

BERMAN: And when he walked onto the bus, passengers gave him a round of applause. I mean, that's the least of it. That man saved a life there. Again, that compassion simply, simply extraordinary. Congratulations.

SAMBOLIN: And the tenderness that he showed, right, helping her over, and sitting with her on the side of the bridge. That was amazing.

BERMAN: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan join us now. Good morning, guys.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. So, we know that the U.S. went in to Libya to get an accused terrorist Abu Anas al-Libi, you remember, right? Well, CNN has now learned that special forces were ready to move on another man, the only named suspect in the deadly attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. There's your key word. But that raid never happened. Why? We're going tell you.

BOLDUAN: We also have some another interesting story for you. A very strange barges that started popping up, one in San Francisco's Bay and the other in Portland, Maine. Some are saying Google is behind it, but no one seems to know for sure and is even less clear what's on board those barges. We're going to investigate the possibilities this morning.

BERMAN: The truth is out there. OK, guys. Thanks so much. We'll see you in a little bit.

SAMBOLIN: All right. A pack of gum may have cost a Denver area couple their car. True story here, but Bob and Christen Monzel have quite a story to tell. The couple loves living in a Colorado wilderness. Their hunt to element (ph), well, not so much. A bear and her two cubs managed to break into the Monzel's car Monday night lured by the scent, apparently, of chewing gum that was left inside. Bob and Kristen tell us what happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOB MONZEL, CAR TORN BY BEARS: I was working in my office, and I came to take a delivery from U.P.S. And he asked me what happened to my car because the doors were open.

KRISTEN MONZEL, CAR TORN BY BEARS: My husband called me and said you're not going to believe this, but I think our car is totaled.

BOB MONZEL: It looks like it had been vandalized and indeed it was. Apparently, a bear and her two cubs.


SAMBOLIN: Wow! Take a look at that car. So, the bear, they were able to break into the car, but the door apparently closed behind them. This happens very often and trapped the bears inside. The only thing left in one piece. Do we have them again? I know we saw them earlier. It was bob's favorite pair of sunglasses.

BERMAN: I guess -- a bear and two cubs, it is proof that this is, in fact, a family car. Right?


BERMAN: I mean, maybe there could be some marketing value there.

Time now for our "Morning Rhyme." These are our tweets of the day. Our best one today comes from Robing McKell (ph) who is on the news. She writes, "E.U. delegation at the White House talking spying. Everyone does it, keep walking, and quit crying." Robin clearly having enough of the European complaints over the U.S. spy program.

SAMBOLIN: A lot of people agree with you as well. You can come up with your own tweet, tweet us with the hash tag, morning rhyme and EARLY START.

Coming up, retail outrage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To find out, you know, I'm being accused of using someone else's card, I just really felt demeaned.


SAMBOLIN: We've been talking about this for days. Two upscale New York retailers accused of racially profiling shoppers. The investigation now launched when we come back.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty minutes past the hour. High-end New York retailer, Barneys, is coming under quite a bit of fire.

BERMAN: They sure are. SAMBOLIN: A second shopper now going public with allegations of racial profiling. Both claim they had proper ID to make their purchases were confronted by New York City police after they left the store. One of those shoppers now asking rapper, Jay-Z, to step up and get involved. Here's Nick Valencia.



NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Next month, Jay-Z is set to sell a new fashion line at Barneys, but a petition is calling for him to end all partnerships with the New York retailer. That's because a second African-American college student has come forward to allege racial profiling saying undercover officers stopped and questioned her after she bought a $2,500 Celine bag at Barney's New York.

KAYLA PHILLIPS, BARNEY'S SHOPPER: I had good intentions. I bought my favorite. I wanted this bag. I deserve that bag. And then to find out, you know, I'm being accused of using someone else's card, I just really felt demean.

VALENCIA: Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Philips came forward after 19- year-old Trayon Christian made headlines claiming he, too, was racially profiled after purchasing a Ferragamo belt at Barney's in April. Boith shoppers want damages from the store and the New York Police Department.

TRAYON CHRISTIAN, BARNEY'S SHOPPER: Undercover cops from the left side that have regular clothes on stopped me from the left side and acting like, oh, oh, I just got a call from Barney's saying your card is not real.

VALENCIA: In a prepared statement, Mark Lee, CEO of Barney's New York said, quote, "No customer should have the unacceptable experience described in recent media reports, and we offer our sincere regret and deepest apologies. We want to reinforce that Barn's New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. Our mission is to ensure that all customers recieced the highest quality service without exception."

The New York Police Department says it's investigating the incident. "Treme" star, Robert Brown, filed a suit this week against Macy's. Brown says he, too, was the victim of racial profiling. He says police accused him of using a fake credit card and detained him back in June.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


BERMAN: We have not heard the end of this.

SAMBOLIN: No. You know what, Jay-Z just released a statement shortly thereafter because a lot of people were saying, listen, pull your line from there. And he said I'm not going to pull my line right now because all the proceeds from that line go to charity. And so, right now, what I need to do is wait until an investigation is under way and I see what the outcome is there. So --

BERMAN: All right. Fifty-two minutes after the hour. Coming up for us next, every extra sip of that soda could cost you. A city's new assault on sugary drinks that it wants to tax by the ounce.


SAMBOLIN: We're going to start with breaking news this morning. We're getting word the U.N.'s Arab league envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is set to meet today with Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And that is according to a Syrian government official. This is the first time the two men have met since last December. Brahimi has been trying to build support for peace talks in Geneva next month between the Assad regime and Syria's opposition leaders.

BERMAN (voice-over): He had been to fears to get it and make any progress now maybe --

SAMBOLIN: Maybe, yes.

BERMAN: -- that there could be a break if they're talking today.

New developments this morning in the Boston marathon bombing case. An attorney for a friend of suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, demanding that sealed court documents be made public. He says keeping them under wraps is hurting his client's defense. (INAUDIBLE) another college classmate of Tsarnaev are charged with removing evidence from the suspected bomber's dorm room after the marathon attacks. Both of these men have pleaded not guilty.

SAMBOLIN: Support for the death penalty for convicted murderers appears to be softening in the United States. Take a look at the latest Gallup poll. Just 60 percent of Americans now favor capital punishment for killers. That's actually down 20 percent in the mid- 1990s. Since 2006, six states have repealed their death penalty laws outright (ph).

BERMAN: So, San Francisco could become the next U.S. city to try to tackle diabetes and childhood obesity by taxing sugary drinks. This is what officials are proposing. A ballot measure in 2014 that would ask voters to approve a two cent per ounce tax on soda and other drinks with added sugar. The measure would require approval from two- thirds of the city's voters to pass. Two cents an ounce.



BERMAN (on-camera): Every sip could count. SAMBOLIN (on-camera): It's going to cost you.

BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START this morning. You guys have a great day. It is time for "NEW DAY."

SAMBOLIN: Take it away, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Have a great day. We'll see you in a bit.

CUOMO: Almost the top of the hour means it's time for your top news.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should.

CUOMO: Facing the firing squad. Kathleen Sebelius set for a grilling on Capitol Hill. We have the very latest on how early the government was warned about Obamacare rollout problems.

BOLDUAN: Horrible Halloween. A massive storm starts its ferocious march east. Tornadoes today, soaking rain and wind that to threaten the holiday for millions.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Conspiracy. Does Apple deliberately cause your phone to get slow as it gets older forcing to buy a new one? The new theory that is sure to have you talking.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


PEREIRA: Are you guys cold?


CUOMO: -- but warming it up. Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." Happy Hump Day, Wednesday, October 30th, six o'clock in the east.

Coming up, here's the quote, "Yes, we do." That is essentially what the nation's spy chief said on Capitol Hill yesterday when asked if we spy on other nations, even our allies. They are fiercely defending their practices and they deny some of the more outrageous allegations.

All of this was going on as the German delegation, you'll remember, the U.S. is accused of spying on Germany's leader. Well, that delegation heads to the White House today. We'll break what supposed to happen.

BOLDUAN: Important day on that. Plus, a story that has aviation experts confused and concerned this morning. A small plane crashes at Nashville's very busy international airport and the pilot dies. What's so stunning, though, is nobody noticed the flaming wreckage for hours. How is that possible? We're going to get into it?

PEREIRA: Plus, you think has problems. Imagine this, you're a high school senior, biggest stress in your life is applying to colleges, right? Then the online application that you're using for all of your schools keeps crashing, midway through. It's happening right now and the deadline is just days away. We'll discuss.

CUOMO: Up first, more trouble for the website, yet another system outage reported overnight, keeping Americans from signing up. This comes as Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius prepares for a Capitol Hill grilling on the website's rocky rollout.

CNN has new information this morning about red flags raised well before the Obamacare site went live. CNN's Brianna Keilar is following all of this for us. She's at the White House this morning. What do we know? Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. Well, we've obtain a confidential report with some pretty serious warnings. Now, I will tell you that an Obama administration spokesperson says this was not a dire warning but more of a list of things to do.