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Did U.S. Spy on Vatican?; Drug Tunnel Discovery; Storms in Texas Causing Flooding

Aired November 1, 2013 - 05:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like a river. Oh, my god.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Storm crisis happening now. Overnight, a deadly storm pounding parts of Texas. That rain is still coming down this morning. Our Indra Petersons is tracking the areas hardest hit.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Is America spying on the Pope? The explosive new claim about the NSA as the White House finally admits spying by the U.S. government has gone too far.


LOGAN PARKER, SURVIVED BUS CRASH: We climbed out and got on top of the bus. I thought I was going to die.


BERMAN: Terrifying. A school bus plunging off a bridge sinking into a creek. How are the children inside managed to get out alive? Look at that picture.

PEREIRA: Terrifying.

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

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira, I'm in for Zoraida today. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

We start with the weather. A punishing, punishing drought led to deadly flash flooding in 24 hours. A monster storm swamping central Texas overnight. Two people have died. One of them ripped right from his car by the raging waters. Up to 14 inches of rain falling in some neighborhoods south of Boston leading to more than a hundred rescues.


VIRGINIA RALEIGH, FLOOD VICTIM: Drainage ditch on the side of it and I went to see how high the water was and when I looked out, there was no drainage ditch. That was just water out there. ARMANDO ZAMARRIPA, FLOOD VICTIM: The water came too fast. There was -- there wouldn't have been time to get these -- get these people out of the houses. I was at McDonald's. My wife said the water is inside the garage. It didn't happen last time so I came and the water was so bad.


BERMAN: Heavy damage and power outages from the storm being reported along the Missouri-Kentucky border.

These pictures we're showing you right now are from Cape Girardeau in Missouri where nearly 2,000 people are in the dark this morning. Power lines and large trees are down throughout the entire region.

PEREIRA: It certainly has been a busy night for our CNN Weather Center. Let's talk to Indra right now about the latest on the storm and what can be expected now.

Have we seen the worst of it?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it looks like we've seen the worst of it. But still, some heavy winds are still going to be in the forecast. We don't have that severe weather threat as high as we did yesterday or as expansive. But take a look at the system. We had 154 reports of wind damage as this guy made its way across. And five tornado reports, some in Louisiana and also some in Illinois.

So today, yes, as we see that system move to the east and the northeast we're looking for high wind warnings and advisories, also into the mid-Atlantic. So definitely an expansive storm that we do have out there today. So what are we looking at? The system is going to continue to progress to the east today and as it does so we're still going to be looking at rain all up and down the eastern seaboard but nothing like what we saw in through Texas.

The heaviest rain, at least farther down to the south. But of course we're getting that moisture content. But we do have a threat for some of those severe thunderstorms. So we're looking at that in through the mid-Atlantic today, definitely going to keep our eyes open especially in the morning hours and then eventually the system will make its way off the East Coast and taper off.

So get only about one to two inches of rain really in the forecast today. The bigger story will be some of those strong winds and then as we go through the week it'll be this huge temperature drop. There's going to be three cold fronts making its way through the areas so highs will be in the 40s. We did mention the lows earlier. We're talking about 20s and 30s for the lows.


BERMAN: OK. Brace yourself. 20s, you heard 20s.

PEREIRA: That's the north. Yes. I think my 20s were more familiar to me than those 20s. PETERSONS: A little more exciting than these 20s?

PEREIRA: It's been a long time. It's been a long time.

BERMAN: Thank you, Indra. Thank you.

PEREIRA: Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: All right. So for the first time Secretary of State John Kerry is acknowledging that the NSA has overstepped its reach. Kerry insisting innocent people are not being abused by the agency's intelligence gathering operations, but he does admit there have been transgressions.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: In some cases, I acknowledge, as has the president, some of these actions have breached too far and therefore we make sure that that does not happen in the future.


BERMAN: The Obama administration is trying to make things right with its European allies, following reports that the NSA has been spying on friendly foreign leaders. Now the agency is denying an Italian report that it listened in while cardinals at the Vatican were selecting a new Pope.

Let's get more on that from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a place where secrecy is almost celebrated, where changes in leadership are signaled with smoke. But could even the Vatican be vulnerable to NSA eavesdropping?

A report in Italy's "Panorama" magazine says the NSA intercepted calls into and out of the residence where cardinals stayed before the recent papal conclave where Pope Francis was chosen. The NSA says in a statement it does not target the Vatican. But on the heels of accusations made by Edward Snowden that the U.S. listened in to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone calls and may have had access to data collected from dozens of other world leaders some experts say it doesn't matter whether the story is true or not. U.S. intelligence officials all but admit they do spy on America's allies.

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Some of this reminds me a lot of the classic movie "Casablanca." My god, there's gambling going on here. You know, it's the same kind of thing.

TODD: Author Matthew Aid says one way the NSA can reestablish trust.

MATTHEW AID, AUTHOR, THE SECRET SENTRY: If it came forward and was more open, and more transparent about what it does and why it does these things, including spying on our friends and allies, I think people may say well, that makes sense.

TODD: The Vatican responded to the "Panorama" report saying we are not concerned. Others say if anyone is listening in on the Vatican, there could be good reason. Analysts say the papacy is plugged in in places like Syria where Western intelligence agencies sometimes don't have eyes and ears.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYSTS: There are priests and nuns and other Catholic players who have boots on the ground in those places who often are passing information back up the food chain about what is really happening and it would not surprise me at all if the American government were interested in gleaning some of that insight.

TODD (on camera): Whether it's spying on the Vatican or not, the analysts we spoke to say a big part of the NSA's problem now is one of image, that it's been so secretive for so long that people just don't know what to believe.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Wow. All right. NSA leaker Edward Snowden is back online. His attorney says that Snowden is starting a job today working at a major undisclosed Russian Web site. The 30-year-old is wanted here in the United States on charges of espionage and theft of government property. Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum back in August.

PEREIRA: NYPD officers allowed to stop and frisk again. A federal appeals court blocking an earlier ruling that said the policy is constitutional and removing that judge from the case. A three-judge appellate panel ruling the lower court decision appeared to be biased. Critics say the stop and frisk law amounts to racial profiling. City officials insist the practice has cut crime.


CHIEF RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: Probably the lowest it's been in -- since in October 31st in perhaps in the 1940s. So that's how safe the city is. And our tactics and our strategies I think have worked and continue to work.


PEREIRA: Other appeals to stop and frisk are still pending.

BERMAN: Another big legal decision to tell you about. Most of Texas' tough abortion restrictions that were struck down this week have been reinstated now by a federal appeals court. Under the law abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The court ruled it can take effect immediately this while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions proceeds but this just means that at least a dozen clinics in Texas will not be able to perform abortions.

PEREIRA: A very close call for 10 kids and the driver of their school bus. It toppled off a low-lying bridge and into a frigid fast moving creek. This near-disaster taking place yesterday afternoon in Douglas, Kansas. That's about 30 miles southeast of Wichita.

The bus winding up partially submerged on its sight -- on its side, rather, with the children managing to escape through that roof hatch before being rescued by first responders.


LOGAN: A couple of kids were yelling and a couple of kids were crying. I thought I was going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What was going through your mind?

LOGAN: That my -- I would never, ever see my grandma again.


PEREIRA: How terrifying for those kids. There's been a whole lot of rain in the area recently. Investigators believe the bus driver may have ran into some standing water before hydroplaning into the creek. Another caution for us to remember. Standing water can move a lot faster and you forget the power of it. Indra has warned us about that time and time again.

BERMAN: So important. Good for those to crawl out.

PEREIRA: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: All safe this morning.

We have some dramatic video of a truck now crashing through the wall of a Caldwell, Idaho, auto repair shop. Two employees narrowly escaping with their lives. You can see, I think, one of them hopping into a customer's car moments before the crash. Oh, my goodness.


BERMAN: He says that the debris came crashing down seconds later. It could have killed him. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the 58-year-old truck driver to lose on control.

PEREIRA: We are going to take a short break here on EARLY START. Coming up, an incredible discovery.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are sophisticated. They are high tech. They include railways, push carts, ventilation systems.


PEREIRA: An underground railroad funneling millions of dollars in drugs between the U.S. and Mexico. We are going to take you inside that elaborate tunnel.

BERMAN: Crazy.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START. You have to look at this. Law enforcement officials are calling it a super tunnel. It is the length of six football fields connecting Tijuana and San Diego 35 feet underground. This was built by one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels.

This is serious, folks.

Our Miguel Marquez has a closer look. .


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, this is the door that agents burst down and behind that is where the tunnel ended on this side of the border, the U.S. side. Six hundred yards or so south of where we're standing in Mexico, just a few feet from the border there is another hole that goes down into the ground and where this tunnel zigzags its way to this point here.

It always seems to be in a nondescript warehouse area, these tunnels, because they are just along the border. The three individuals who have been arrested are described as sort of small fish in this. Tunnel diggers in transportation types. But law enforcement says the investigation is only beginning and they expect and hope there will be more arrests.

DEREK BRENNER, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: I will offer on there to the drug cartels. We are by no means finished here and don't say we didn't warn you. You go underground, you're going down.

MARQUEZ: Law enforcement officials also say the Sinaloa Cartel that was responsible for building this particular tunnel, the fact that was cocaine found is significant, they say, because they believe the cartels are getting more desperate to get coke and hard drugs in. That said the amount of hard drugs coming into the San Diego and Southern California region has grown in recent years, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, all on the rise here.

The prices for those drugs also declining so -- they're not getting this sort of price spike that you'd expect if you have these big busts. The big message here from law enforcement is that whether you're going under the border, over it in ultra light plains as they have been doing a lot more in recent years or around it by ocean and boats farther and farther up the California coast, that they will be surveiled and they will be busted.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Otay Mesa, California.


PEREIRA: You've got to stay one step or 10 steps ahead of the bad guys.

BERMAN: And that ain't easy.

PEREIRA: It is not easy.

John Berman floated the idea of digging a tunnel from the EARLY START set to the "NEW DAY" set, I said no, that's not going to happen.

Chris and Kate, what are your thoughts?


KATE BOLDUAN, CO-HOST, CNN'S NEW DAY: You two look like -- good morning, guys. Sorry.

CHRIS CUOMO, CO-HOST, CNN'S NEW DAY: We have no thoughts, Michaela. There you go.

BOLDUAN: Sorry, we're caught off guard. We're talking about something else which is inappropriate.

CUOMO: No, I heard what she said. And I choose not to answer. But I will tell you this. We're finding out details of a new book. It alleges the Obama campaign was talking about dropping Vice President Biden from the ticket. Also some details of who was on Mitt Romney's short list. We'll talk about the intrigue and what it all means.

BOLDUAN: And a shocking story out of Texas that we are going to be talking about. A brave police officer, a mother of two, who was shot in the face, but that did not stop her from chasing the gunmen. One was caught, two others are still on the loose. Truly amazing. We're going to bring you that story coming up.

BERMAN: Goodness. Amazing video.

PEREIRA: Looks like she's still standing.

BOLDUAN: I know. I know. It doesn't makes sense.

PEREIRA: Unbelievable. She's made of other stuff. Tougher stuff than we are.

All right, guys. I'll see you in a bit, OK?


PEREIRA: Now, in case you've got a little spare cash, we should let you know that Oprah is consolidating. Just one day left, Mr. Berman, before the yard sale of the century. I know. Get your pennies in order. The talk show queen's big charity auction featuring some 600 items of Oprah's personal belongings, they all start at $150. You're going to need a lot of pennies.

The event is held being held at the Santa Barbara Polo Club. And before the bidding begins tomorrow, well, shoppers got a chance to do a little browsing.


SUSAN JENKINS, AUCTION VISITOR: It really gives you kind of a peek inside to her personality and what she likes.

ANNE DIEBOLD, AUCTION VISITOR: I love her artwork. I love the artwork that she has so far. I think that's the best part to me.


PEREIRA: I wonder how many buyers there were as compared to lookie loos. You can out the items that are up for bid by visiting and apparently proceed will benefit Oprah's leadership academy foundation college fund.

BERMAN: There's nothing I can say that won't get me in trouble.


BERMAN: Time now for our morning rhymes. These are the best tweets of the day.

Today comes Jessica Perry, she writes, "You get up and go to work and we -- while I'm laying down to sleep. Early bird you are. While I dream and snore afar."

PEREIRA: Well done. I like that.

BERMAN: Very wistful morning rhyme.


BERMAN: You can always come up with your own morning rhymes. Tweet us with hash tag morningrhyme and earlystart.

Michaela, like I said, very, very good.

PEREIRA: No. One and done. I told you. It's Friday. I'm out.

BERMAN: You're impressive.

Coming up for us after a failed launch and constant outages, there is finally help for Who is coming to the rescue? "Money Time" next.


BERMAN: EARLY START, everyone. It is "Money Time." Christine Romans, she was up late reporting on the news and she is here with us this morning.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I was reporting on the marauding band of little people running through my neighborhood.

Yes, good morning. October is over. And it was an awesome month for stocks. Rock-tober for your 401(k), boys and girls. The S&P 500 gained almost 5 percent last month, the Dow added 3 percent, look at that. Both are near all-time highs. What could stop this?

Well, if the Fed ends its bond-buying program, its stimulus before the economy is healthy enough to stand on its own, that could stop it. No question the Fed has been a huge reason why the stock markets have done so well this year but stocks barely moved when the Central Bank announced plans to continue the stimulus measure last week -- actually this week. So it looks like we might need more to keep this rally going. What more could it be? Futures are up this morning. So we'll watch out for you.

All right. Government calling in the big guns. It's no secret, has been a complete disaster. That Web site. The government is calling in help. Employees from Google and software giants Red Hat and Oracle are joining the so-called tech surge to fix the site. This after the site crashed for almost two days this week.

During a hearing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Web site has cost $174 million so far. I assume it's going to cost more -- even more as it tried to fix it.

OK. Another big story we're following today. Starting today $5 billion is going to be cut from the food stamp program. That means less grocery money for millions. The cuts will vary by family but this is typically a family of four getting $668 a month would lose about $36.

Food stamp benefits were raised during the recession. It was a temporary increase to the program. That temporary increase expires today. The program has grown considerably since 2007. Look at that, in 2007 26 million people were using SNAP as they call it, supplemental food benefits, compared that to almost 48 million now. Fifteen percent of the American population is using government assistance to help feed their family.

$36 a month is going to hurt for some people. People who work for food banks very, very upset about these cuts. Others, though, say look, this was always meant to be a temporary measure and that temporary measure is now over. So you'll hear more about that.

And finally are you going to -- when you fly, are you going to be irritating with your devices now you're going to be able to use them or are you going to be a good citizen?

BERMAN: I am always a good citizen.

ROMANS: I'm so glad nobody can chat on their cell phones. OK. The FAA announced airlines can soon allow passengers to use electronic devices during their flight. That include tablets, laptops, e- readers, cell phones in airplane mode. You can't take a call. Well, it doesn't include, of course, chatting on your cell phone. You can even use, you know, a wireless keyboards and all of that kind of stuff.

BERMAN: Good news for travelers. Christine Romans, thank you so much. Happy late Halloween. (LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Be sure to join Christine on "YOUR MONEY." That is tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Coming up for us next, we've got an amazing story for you.


PATRICIA VOGEL, MOTHER: I just thank God, you know, I wasn't killed. And this can happen to anybody.


BERMAN: A nine-pound rock smashing through a mother's windshield. What she says saved her life. That's coming up next.


BERMAN: A Georgia woman says that faith saved her life when a volleyball-sized rock crashed through her windshield. Patricia Vogel says the nine-pound rock flew off a dump truck Tuesday and hit her as she was driving and actually crushed her left hand. Vogel insists it was divine protection -- divine protection, she says, that saved her life.


VOGEL: I've had people tell me since this happened boy, you were lucky. And I'm real quick to correct them. He was with me in that vehicle and protected me from being killed instantly.


BERMAN: Now Vogel says she has a handmade picture of Jesus on her dashboard to remind her of her faith.

Glad she is OK this morning.

That is all for EARLY START. Have a great weekend, everyone. "NEW DAY" begins right now.