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Fumbled ObamaCare Rollout; Desperate Situation in Philippines; Iran Slowing Nuclear Program; Another Apology by Toronto Mayor; Dario Franchitti Announces Retirement

Aired November 15, 2013 - 05:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST (voice-over): He says he fumbled the health care rollout. Now he says he wants to fix it. But this morning, new questions about whether the new proposal from President Obama will even work.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST (voice-over): A week since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Residents are still struggling to survive. Why the country's government is now being blamed and a new threat facing the people there.

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: I want to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning.

BERMAN (voice-over): Graphic, yes. A huge development in the most unreal political circus you will ever see: Toronto's mayor, the one who smoked crack and tosses around rated-X language, now his brother says he should step away from office.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Did you see his wife standing by him? It -- her face spoke volumes.


BERMAN: I think the world's face was making that same expression.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. Glad you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Friday, November 15th, 5:00 am in the east.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So let's begin with the big admission from the president over ObamaCare. He is saying the health care rollout has been rocky, that the administration fumbled, and that he is the one to blame. But he is vowing that he is not giving up on his signature achievement and making a policy change, meaning if you like your plan, you may be able to keep it -- at least for the short term. BERMAN: Possibly.


Here is senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama's new message is that he likes his health care plan for the nation and he is going to fight to keep it.

OBAMA: There's no question the rollout on the Affordable Care Act was much tougher than we expected, but I want everybody here to understand I am going to see this through.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The new ObamaCare fix leaves it up to insurance companies and states to decide whether to let consumers keep plans not in compliance with the law, and it forces carriers to advise Americans of the choices available under ObamaCare.

But the insurance industry worries the changes undermine the system. One industry source called the White House fix "a total mess." The Washington state insurance commissioner balked altogether, saying, "We are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies."

OBAMA: That's on me. I mean, we fumbled the rollout on this health care law.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Over at the White House, it was an unusually contrite president acknowledging he had let the country down.

OBAMA: I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And admitting to other fumbles, as in the fact that nobody told him the ObamaCare website was not working when it launched.

OBAMA: Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But he said it's getting better.

OBAMA: The website will work much better on November 30th, December 1st, than it worked, certainly, on October 1st. That's a pretty low bar.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Republicans are vowing to move forward with their own fix for ObamaCare until it can be repealed.

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: This bill will hopefully, begin to ease some of the pain that working families are feeling because of President Obama's health care law.

ACOSTA (voice-over): While White House officials got an earful from nervous Democrats keeping an eye on next year's elections with their own proposals.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LA.: We may still have to fashion some legislation and we will continue to work in that regard.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president said any other fixes to the law have to meet one test.

OBAMA: We are not going to gut this law.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Today what happens is that the heads of some of these insurance companies will be meeting at the White House. Now they do not have to comply with what the president wants to do.

BERMAN: Not only that, not only do they not have to comply, but state by state -- because insurance is regulate by states. Each state can decide not to accept the president's recommendations and Washington State, which is actually run by Democrats, Washington State's already said they are not doing what the president has asked them to do and I think Washington, D.C., as well.

It's going to be a patchwork system. It's going to be kind of unclear how it falls into place. It's also a big political vote where the House will vote on that Republican plan for suggested fixes. It will be interesting to see how many Democrats go along or whether this new pitch from the president --


SAMBOLIN: They have been threatening to, but in light of what the president said yesterday, maybe --

BERMAN: Some will. The question is how many, because more than like 20-25, then the president has got some serious political parties even within his own party still.

SAMBOLIN: But not necessarily a fix?

BERMAN: We will see.

SAMBOLIN: We'll see.

BERMAN: We'll see.

All right, 4 minutes after the hour, now to the latest in the Philippines where it has been a week since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the island nation bringing intense destruction and so much death. That death toll shot up overnight, now standing at more than 3,600.

The government there is still facing tough criticism that it is not doing enough to help. Hundreds are living inside Tacloban's convention center, unable to find shelter elsewhere; mass burials now underway for hundreds and hundreds of victims. And doctors worry that diseases like cholera and hepatitis will race through that country because of the lack of sanitation and clean drinking water.

There are, however, some signs the relief effort is starting to pick up. The U.S.S. George Washington, an aircraft carrier, has now arrived carrying supplies (INAUDIBLE) thousands, and most importantly helicopters that can help deliver aid to the most remote parts of the Philippines.

I've seen these troops in action before, giving relief. It's an amazing sight and they love doing it. Sailors are bringing food and water ashore into Tacloban, the hardest-hit city. Many countries have donated millions to help with the recovery.

One that had not was China. It originally offered a mere $100,000. But protests from international groups and internal ones have led to a change. The country is now promising more than a million dollars in relief supplies.

If you'd like to help in that way, go to We have a list of terrific resources where you can get involved.

SAMBOLIN: Did you see the e-mail from our own company that said it will match all of the donations employees make? I hope that other companies do that as well, because that will raise just so much money.

BERMAN: A very nice gesture.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. Six minutes past the hour here.

We have this morning another example of the blurred lines between foreign and domestic intelligence: your personal information and your money.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the CIA is building a massive database of international money transfers, which includes millions of Americans' personal and financial data. The agency is said to be building the database under the same provision of the PATRIOT Act that enables the NSA to collect Americans' phone records and authorized by the secret national security court.

BERMAN: We now know the names of four Marines killed in an explosion at Camp Pendleton earlier this week. They're 28-year-old SSgt. Matthew Marsh; 31-year-old GSgt. Gregory Mullins, 27-year-old Sgt. Miguel Ortiz and 32-year-old SSgt. Eric Summers. They were all working to remove unexploded ordnance from a bombing range on Wednesday when this accident happened.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, gosh.

All right. President Obama's pick to lead the Federal Reserve is defending the central bank's policies. Amid questions from senators at her confirmation hearing, calling the economic situation unprecedented, Yellen said unemployment remains her top concern and she wouldn't give any indications when the Fed stimulus program will end. Yellen is expected to be confirmed by the committee possibly as early as next week, which would send the nomination on then to the full Senate.

BERMAN: Congressional Democrats saying they are not giving up on passing immigration reform this year, that despite House Speaker John Boehner's insistence that no action will be taken in 2013. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she found Boehner's comment "outrageous" and would continue to work to pass something.

SAMBOLIN: Iran may be taking steps to slow its nuclear program. International inspectors say the nation has stopped expanding its uranium enrichment capacity under new President Hassan Rouhani.

That could be a sign Iran is truly serious about reaching a nuclear deal with the West. Meantime President Obama is urging patience on international negotiations with Iran, calling on Congress to not pass new sanctions so the administration has time to try to work out a deal.

BERMAN: Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsy is now in solitary confinement. Authorities moved him from a hospital room where he spent 10 days after complaining of high blood pressure. Morsy had been held at an undisclosed location since his ouster from power back on July 3rd. He is facing charges in connection with deadly protests outside the presidential palace.

SAMBOLIN: And take a look at this, a massive inferno, a gas pipeline exploding. This is a small village in Poland. Police and firefighters say two people were killed there; 13 others were injured. The fire engulfed a row of homes and it kept burning for hours. A fire official says an existing pipeline may have been damaged while a new pipeline was being installed right next to it.

BERMAN: It's a pretty scary picture right there.

All right. A lot of people asking, is he now completely over the edge? Toronto's crack-smoking, swearing mayor facing new allegations of sex, drugs and lies.


FORD: I can't put up with it anymore, so I've named the names. Litigation will be starting shortly. I've had enough.

BERMAN (voice-over): And there is a new twist, yet another new twist that could keep him in the spotlight for a very long time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say you had a passenger fell who fell out of your plane?

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): This is so bizarre. Mid-air mystery: a man suddenly falling out of a plane and into the ocean.

BERMAN: And we are asking how that can happen, too. And it is time for your morning rhyme.

I didn't get mine in yet but you can tweet us with your own original verse.

SAMBOLIN: You do one every single day?

BERMAN: I do several every day. (INAUDIBLE) are #earlystart and #morningrhyme. We will read the best one on the air (INAUDIBLE) --

SAMBOLIN: Will you send them to me?


BERMAN: All right, welcome back to EARLY START everyone.

We did not think it was possible, but it is getting even most bizarre for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the later debacle, crude comments that he made about an allegation from a former staffer. And now a source tells CNN that Ford's brother, who serves on the city council with him, is now joining in the chorus of people urging the mayor to take a leave of absence. Paula Newton has the latest from Toronto.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) There's good reason some are now calling it Crazy Town. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford shoving his way out of his office, defiant and angry, trying to get his wife through a chaotic crush of journalists.

The back story to all this? Ford came out swinging first thing Thursday morning, announcing with the fresh allegations of him using cocaine, driving drunk and being with prostitutes are all lies and he is suing his former staff members.

FORD: That is outright lies. That is not true. You know what? Whenever it's my wife, when they are calling a friend of mine a prostitute, Alana is not a prostitute. She's a friend and it makes me sick how people are saying this.

NEWTON (voice-over): The mayor said he was seeing red at this point and went on in the most vulgar of ways about allegations he wanted to have oral sex with a former staffer.

FORD: Olivia Gondek that says I want (INAUDIBLE). I've never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I'm happily married.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning.

NEWTON (voice-over): And so just hours later, flanked by his wife and his lawyer, he apologized.

FORD: I have been under tremendous, tremendous stress. The stress is largely of my own making. I have apologized and I have tried to move forward. This has proven to be almost impossible. The revelations yesterday of cocaine, escorts and prostitution, has pushed me over the line. And I used unforgivable language. Again, I apologize.

NEWTON (voice-over): Over the line? Or over the edge?


NEWTON (voice-over): But he is stepping down? Not a chance. The mayor is doubling down, announcing he and his brother, Doug, will be hosting a TV show beginning next week -- Paula Newton, CNN, Toronto.


BERMAN: I mean...

SAMBOLIN: I know, right? What, what, what?

BERMAN: I mean, just I mean...

SAMBOLIN: You know what, I watched some of the reporting from yesterday. And there was a reporter that followed the wife out of that moment that they had and asked her, should he step down?

She said, no, that is why we have elections. So it was interesting because when you watch her during the press conference, the look on her face, I thought, well, she is standing by him but her facial expression speaks volumes about her perhaps being a little disappointed in her husband.

BERMAN: Crazy.

SAMBOLIN: It is crazy.

All right, 16 minutes past the hour here.

It is life in prison for notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, the judge telling Bulger at his sentencing, quote, "The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable." The 84-year old showed no emotion as he just stood there and listened. He was convicted of playing a role in 11 murders, drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion and other crimes.

BERMAN: Now found, a member of the Russian punk band convicted of hooliganism for a protest against the government who had been missing for weeks; she'd been serving out her sentence at a prison colony in Russia's Mordovia region, but she went on a hunger strike and accused prison officials of abusing her. Then she just seemed to disappear.

Well, her husband and the Russian authorities now they say she has been moved to another camp in the central part of the country.

SAMBOLIN: After a week of courtroom theatrics, the Canadian actress has been found guilty of stalking actor Alec Baldwin. Genevieve Sabourin was sentenced to the maximum: six months. The judge said she had waged a relentless and escalating campaign to annoy and harass Baldwin and his wife. Sabourin claimed she had a romantic fling with the actor and was only trying to seek closure.

Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin is set to give his side of the bullying allegations that have rocked the NFL, meeting today with attorney Ted Wells, who's investigating on behalf of the league. Martin left the Dolphins last month, claiming he was hazed and harassed by teammates, including fellow lineman Richie Incognito.

But other than a statement from his lawyer, Martin had not publicly addressed his reasons.

SAMBOLIN: A mystery over South Florida, where a man apparently fell out of a plane flying some 1,800 feet over the ocean -- this was near Miami. It happened early Thursday afternoon. The pilot of the Piper aircraft called air traffic controllers to tell them what happened. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May day, may day, may day. I have a door ajar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you had a passenger fell out of your plane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct, sir. He opened the back door and he just fell out of the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no indication at this time of how he fell out of the plane.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Authorities searched the water for hours looking for a body, but they found absolutely nothing. They plan to be back on the water today. The pilot is said to be cooperating. Police are not releasing his name or the name of the passenger or publicly speculating about what may have happened.

How do you open the door of a plane?

BERMAN: Doesn't seem like it's something that can happen by accident.

SAMBOLIN: Exactly.

BERMAN: But I don't know. I suppose.

SAMBOLIN: Bizarre.

BERMAN: Indeed.

Check this out. It was seven score and 10 years ago that -- that is 150 years, by the way -- that Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most important speeches, of course, in U.S. history. We are talking about the Gettysburg Address.

Well, here's the thing: it wasn't considered so important or so great at the time. It was heavily criticized by a lot of people.

Now one newspaper that had a really negative opinion is finally 'fessing up, retracting its dismissive review of the speech, which was published on November 24th, 1863.

The "Patriot News" of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, now says that its staff at the time failed to recognize the momentous importance, the timeless eloquence and the lasting significance of Mr. Lincoln's remarks.

You know, better late than never, 150 years.

SAMBOLIN: I suppose.

BERMAN: It's a good -- you know, corrections -- oftentimes newspapers do it right away, but 150 years, it was an excellent speech and, you know, kudos to that newspaper for finally recognizing it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Coming up, a big comeback for the Colts as one player plays dirty on the field. Andy Scholes is going to join us with the "Bleacher Report;" that is coming up next.



The Colts made another impressive comeback, beating the Tennessee Titans on "Thursday Night Football." Just a dirty play on the field that has everyone talking. Andy Scholes joins us now with more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

Well, you know, I've never been head-butted before but I'm sure it hurts and I bet it hurts even more if the person doing it has a helmet on.

Check it out. The Colts' Erik Walden is going to rip off Delanie Walker's helmet. Walker looks at him, like what is that about? Then Walden head-butts him right in the face. Shockingly, Walden was not ejected from the game. He just received a penalty for it. As for the game, Andrew Luck led the Colts on another comeback; Indy gets the win; 30-27 was the final.

Back in October, Indy car racer Dario Franchitti was involved in this horrific crash during the Houston Grand Prix. He suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and a concussion and those injuries sadly have forced Franchitti to retire from the sport of racing.

In a statement yesterday, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said doctors advised him that continuing to race would be detrimental to his long-term well-being. We wish him well.

All right. On the lineup section on you got to check out this crazy finish in the NBA last night. Thunder down 14; they come all the way back. Russell Westbrook hits a 3 to give them the lead. But 2 seconds was enough for the Warriors' Andre Iguodala. He hits a ridiculous fatally at the buzzer. The Warriors get the win 116-115.

After suffering a gruesome injury on national TV, Louisville's Kevin Ware is back on the court, which is where Rachel Nichols caught up with him. Ware's return means the Lakers' star Kobe Bryant will need to make his way to Louisville after losing a bet.


KEVIN WARE, LOUISVILLE NBA PLAYER: You know, Kobe is a competitive guy. That was basically whoever came back first, the other person had to come to their game, so I got to get in touch with Kobe because Kobe has to come to the game.


SCHOLES: And you can watch the full interview on "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS" -- that's tonight at 10:30 pm Eastern on CNN.

BERMAN: I can't wait to see that. That is a great story -- not a great story, that head-butt, Andy, that you showed at the beginning. That was crazy.


SAMBOLIN: (INAUDIBLE) ejected from the game for that?

SCHOLES: Yes, and how he didn't walk away with a broken nose is beyond me. Must have a strong structurally built face.

BERMAN: We understand, Andy, you say you've never been head-butted. We are going to rectify that situation as soon as we can.

SCHOLES: Really?

SAMBOLIN: As soon as I can get a helmet on my head, I'm coming over.

SCHOLES: I'm going to go hide under my desk.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Andy. Appreciate it.

Twenty-six minutes after the hour, and coming up for us next, the death toll is rising this morning in the Philippines. Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan now saying that the government that is supposed to be helping them is hurting them. Our Ivan Watson is live there with the latest after the break.



SAMBOLIN: Disaster in the Philippines weeks after -- or one week after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged that country. Why residents are furious at their government and the new threat that is facing survivors. We are live with that. BERMAN: A sinkhole swallowing homes in Florida. Why one victim is now saying that this tragedy, he thinks it could have been prevented.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That this pipsqueak with a 21-dollar mail order rifle could bring down the most powerful and glamorous man in the world in a millisecond, it just didn't make sense.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Murdered nearly 50 years, the rumors and conspiracy still surrounding the death of President John F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years ago.


BERMAN: Fifty years ago next week. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin; 30 minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: So you could call it the great ObamaCare apology. The president announcing a policy shift amid furor over millions of Americans finding out their health care plans have been canceled largely as a result of the Affordable Care Act.