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Deadly Storm Threatens Holiday Travel; Train Derails in South Carolina; Iran's Nuclear Deal; Patriot's Stunning Comeback

Aired November 25, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly storm plaguing the country, packing wind, rain snow, ice. How will this affect you and your holiday travel plans?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. A nuclear a deal is made, but not without a tough road ahead. We are live with the latest developments.

ROMANS: A stunning performance from the Patriots, coming back against the Broncos after being down 24 points! Where is John Berman when you need him? The game was in a nail-biting overtime and we are breaking it all down, ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Maybe we should call him and have him chime this morning. What do you think? Great idea.

All right. Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for John this morning. It's Monday, November 25th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, let's begin with the wicked, deadly weather. It is racing across the country. It's bringing ice, snow, travel delays and a lot of cold to millions of people. The storm is responsible for at least six deaths.

ROMANS: That's right. In Oklahoma icy roads led to a numerous car accident, like the one we're about to show you. An SUV rolling over into a ditch.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

ROMANS: No word on what happened to the driver there.

Here is what it looked like in granite, Oklahoma. That's in the southwest part of the state. That area nine inches of snow and ice was hanging from car grills in Oklahoma City. More snow and sleet expected there today.

SAMBOLIN: Slick roads also blamed for many accidents in Texas. This is what it looked like in Abilene. At least three people died in a multivehicle crash. That was in Interstate 40 in northwest Texas.

And a bus carrying members of Willie Nelson's band slammed into a bridge pillar on Interstate 30. At least three people were hurt and Nelson was not on that bus at the time.

ROMANS: Right. If you are plan to go fly, good luck getting out. Hundreds of flights already canceled and even more expected as the storm moves east. This is, of course, one of the busiest travel weeks of the year and it could be difficult getting where you're going. So, please take a moment and check, airlines at Dallas-Ft. Worth International pre-canceled about 300 flights. They did that so passengers wouldn't get stranded, of course.


ROMANS: Yes, some were stuck anyway.


WHITNEY LASCOLA, TRAVELLER: Like states, Texas, the weather is just insane. I didn't think Texas would have like snowstorm.

LEIGHANN PRINCE, TRAVELER: I'm a truck driver. We drive through snow, sleet, everything every day. And for me, just don't see where it's so impacted here.


SAMBOLIN: So, the issue in Arizona is flooding. It's been so wet this fall that the rain simply has no place to go. More than two inches fell on Phoenix Friday and Saturday making it one of the wettest periods in the city's history.

ROMANS: When Indra Petersons sees pictures like that, she always says it only takes a few inches of water to really be a problem in your car.

Indra, you're tracking all this for us.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. There really is so much to talk about. I'm going to get right to it, guys.

First of all, we all know it's cold. Temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal especially when you factor in the wind chill. So, that's the starting point here.

But let's talk about Texas and delays. Today, look at these warnings. Any of them, Arkansas stretching back through Texas, will have the concern of sleet and freezing rain.

Let's talk about the reports. They've already seen out there. Look at this. Anywhere from several inches to even a foot of snow that's seen all the way on through New Mexico and Oklahoma. But this is the concern right here through Texas. This is freezing rain.

Majority of these reports have been less than a quarter of an inch but when you get to that you're talking about those power lines weighing 500 pounds and never a good thing and also not for air travel.

What are we looking at. There are two systems colliding. One is going to bringing the moisture in from the gulf and combining with system coming out of Canada. Those two combine. You're talking about moisture combining with cold air, and this is a concern as we go through the holidays.

First, into the Southeast, they were talking about heavy rain, 2 to 4 inches around the Gulf and tomorrow starting to see this spread up into the Carolinas as much as 3 to 5 inches can be seen. The next story will be as it makes its way to the Eastern Seaboard affecting the travel and through the major hubs. Also, snow into the Ohio valley. How the two systems go together is a big story the next several days.

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible. You have your work cut out for you.

PETERSONS: Out of breath already.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

All right. Breaking news this morning from South Carolina where an Amtrak train derailed near Spartanburg just after midnight, 207 passengers and 11 crew onboard. The Amtrak (INAUDIBLE) New Orleans to New York.

Amtrak says seven of the nine cars on the train left contact with the track but they were upright, state upright. Injuries are said to be minor. The rail carrier plans to send buses to take passengers on now to their final destinations.

SAMBOLIN: And now to the deal between the West and Iran to limit that country's nuclear program, in exchange for reducing some sanctions. International reaction has been swift and angry with allies like Israeli blasting the plan. Some in Congress are blasting it as well. And the deal only lasts six months, leading some to ask if this agreement is only delaying but not ending Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto is in Geneva. He is covering the talks for us.

So, this was 60 days of marathon bargaining. You called it a bit of a wild ride when we were talking earlier. Tell us about it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, right up until the deal was signed, at 3:00, after 3:00 in the morning on Sunday, there were doubts that this deal was going to be made. The Iran deputy foreign minister at the time said we are 98 percent of the way there. But that last 2 percent, those last stickler issues were really the difficult ones to get over.

But they did. The announcement came through as news breaks these days in a tweet, four simple words, we have an agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry came out and said it makes the world safer.

As you said, the agreement is only for six months, but that's to allow time to negotiate a longer term status for Iran's nuclear program and really during these six months, some unprecedented limits on Iran's program. It limits the degree to which you can enrich uranium to well below the level needed to make a bomb. It also allows intrusive inspections of all of its nuclear sites on a daily basis. So, a real achievement for diplomacy but, you know, it's just a start because they have to start talking now about the final status for Iran's nuclear program.

SAMBOLIN: Jim, let's talk a little bit about the naysayers.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called the deal a historic mistake. I do understand that the president and he have spoken since. So, what happens next? Is Israeli going to be involved in the next stage here?

SCIUTTO: They're not going to be. I supposed the way they're going to be involved is in publicly lobbying against this deal, as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing before the deal. He's been doing since then.

And it's interesting. You know, U.S. official have said throughout they only have tactical disagreements with Israel over this, but it's a pretty big tactical disagreement because the administration has made a decision they can bargain with Iran, that they trust that Iran will follow through with this deal. And Israel, America's closest ally in the region, has made the conclusion it cannot.

It seems the U.S. administration is willing to live with that difference but it's going to have to be fighting. Fighting, knowing, pushing through with these negotiations each while Israel is pushing against them and, of course, there is also opposition on Capitol Hill as well.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jim Sciutto, live for us in Geneva, thank you for that.

ROMANS: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is holding up a security agreement with the United States. Afghanistan's elders just met with Karzai for four days. Those elders are endorsing a deal to keep some U.S. support troops in the country beyond 2014.

But Karzai is refusing to sign on. He wants to wait until after presidential elections in April, even though the U.S. has set a firm year-end deadline for him to decide.

SAMBOLIN: President Obama continues a West Coast swing today, visiting San Francisco today and Los Angeles with speeches on immigration and the economy, and attending fund-raisers for congressional races. The president spent Sunday in Seattle area, also for fundraisers, one at the home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.

ROMANS: All right. This is a dubious honor for the president. "GQ" magazine out with this list of least influential people, it's people according to "GQ" who haven't used their fame for enough good. President Obama is number 17 on the list. The magazine says he's good at making speeches but "GQ" says he is not good at getting things done.

Number one on this list, if you're wondering, is ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman, who most notably went to North Korea to meet with Kim Jung-un and committed what "GQ" calls, quote, "borderline treason".

SAMBOLIN: All right. Coming up, a woman falling 70 feet of the California stadium, a man below risking it all to save her.

ROMANS: And, an unbelievable comeback for Patriots. Paging, John Berman. How they managed to challenge the Broncos in overtime after being down 24-0.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

Plus, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse. It can be about absolutely anything your heart desires. It had to be hashtag #earlystart, #morningrhyme.

We're going to read the best ones on the air in our next half hour.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Eleven minutes past of the hour.

We expect to find out more today about the deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. A state prosecutor plans to release some details on the investigation into Adam Lanza's attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, but not the full state police report, which is said to include photographs and witness statements. The court today is also set to decide whether to release 911 calls from that day.

Lanza killed 26 people and his mother before turning a gun on himself.

ROMANS: The reward is $125,000 for information leading to the killer of a young postal worker in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Twenty-six-year-old Tyson Barnett was gunned down Saturday evening in Landover, Maryland, while he was out delivering mail. His coworkers remembering him and saying the post office is not doing enough to keep them safe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People should remember Tyson as a very hard working, very respectful young man.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: It's so sad (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I deliver mail. Anybody can walk up on me. It's terrible. They are doing it too much. Now, he's gone!


ROMANS: Postal Service says the murder of a postal worker is quite rare but it has happened before. Neighbors say the area where it happened is not known for violent crime.

SAMBOLIN: And a scary jump outside Sunday's Oakland Raiders game in California. Authorities say a female fan left from the third deck at the open coliseum that is some 60 feet up and another fan, a 61-year- old Marine Corps veteran tried to catch her. He is credited with saving her life. Both went to the hospital. He with minor injuries and she is said to be in the ICU. She is listed in critical condition.

ROMANS: All right. Black Friday is just four days away. Retailers gearing up, trying to draw you into their stores for big discounts, knowing many consumers are shopping on price. Wal-Mart among those now offering big deals, offering to match or beat competitors Black Friday deals on electronics and toys.

The bargain comes with a catch. Discounts are so deep, many retailers are lowering their profit outlook knowing they may not make as much this holiday season. Watch out for the price wars.

SAMBOLIN: Fourteen minutes past the hour. It was truly a crazy game in Foxborough last night. A comeback for the ages!

ROMANS: Andy Scholes, give it to us. He's got all the details in "The Bleacher Report".

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, good morning, guys.

You know, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had some epic battles over the years, but last night, it looked like a one-sided game. The Broncos absolutely dominated early, taking a 24-0 lead into of the half but you can't count out Tom Brady. The Patriots game soaring back in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, they took the lead on this touchdown from Brady to Julius Edelman. Manning and the Broncos would not go quietly. Manning here finds Demaryius Thomas for the touchdown to tie the game.

We go overtime, and, guys, this is the play that won the game for New England. They were punting to the Broncos and one of the Broncos player touches the ball!

The Patriots recover. They kick the field goal. They get the win, 34-31, 24-point comeback is the largest comeback of Tom Brady's career!

And we had another thrilling finish yesterday between the Chiefs and the Chargers. San Diego down by four with under a minute to go. That's when Philip Rivers led San Diego down the field and he found Seyi Ajirotutu for the touchdown! It was only his third catch of the year. The chargers stunned the Chiefs, 41 to 38.

After winning their first nine games, Kansas City now lost two in a row now.

In the line up section on, there's further proof how hardcore Green Bay Packers fans are. Check it out. These fans are rocking bikini tops! It was 20 degrees with a wind chill of 9 at Lambeau Field yesterday. Guys, this is brave. But these poor girls didn't get to see anybody win or los lose. The Packers and Vikings end up tying the game 26-26 after an overtime period.

SAMBOLIN: And they all have the flu next week. And frostbite. Right. Thank you, Andy.

ROMANS: They are tough in the Midwest!

SAMBOLIN: I don't know.

The American Music Awards were a big hit for Taylor Swift. The singer was the top winner, earning Artist of the Year and three other trophies at the awards in Los Angeles. She also looked amazing. She didn't perform but those who did made interesting choices.

Katy Perry opened the show, dressed as a Japanese princess, complete with dozens of dancers. Lady Gaga took to the stage, dressed like Marilyn Monroe, having an affair with President R. Kelly. And Miley Cyrus opted to be backed up by a giant lip-synching kitty!

ROMANS: There you go! Your top headlines of the morning when we come back.


SAMBOLIN: Severe storm taking hold of the country from West to East. The deadly toll it's already taken and what is still to come.

ROMANS: A historic meeting between two of the world's most powerful people. Why Russia's president now wants to meet with the pope.

SAMBOLIN: And days away from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Why protesters are already making plans.

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, in for John today.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you. Twenty minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: All right. Let's start with our top story this morning.

A massive storm bringing cold and ice and snow to a big part of the country on an important week, a big travel week. It's now blamed for at least six deaths and it's causing big problems for millions of Americans this morning.

SAMBOLIN: In Oklahoma, one of the many states why icy roads led to really major accidents. Look at this. This happened in Oklahoma City. A truck rolling right off the road and in Lawton, southwest of Oklahoma City, snow fell fast over the weekend and many schools are closed this morning.

ROMANS: Texas reeling from the brunt of the storm. Snow fell on Lubbock, Sunday. At least three people were killed in accidents in north Texas where ice and sleet just coated the roads.

SAMBOLIN: And air travel may be a nightmare today. If you are flying anywhere this storm, hundreds of flights were pre-canceled in Dallas/Ft. Worth International, which is a major hub. Even more are likely to be canceled today as the storm moves east into the Carolinas.

ROMANS: Let's show you the scene near Las Vegas, snow.

SAMBOLIN: Ho, ho, ho.

ROMANS: Snow on the Vegas sign. Yes, that's true. This is what it looked like --

SAMBOLIN: How often does that happen, huh?


SAMBOLIN: I said Indra Petersons has her work cut out for her today. Unbelievable.

PETERSONS: Yes. Of course, the timing of it could not be worse for holiday travel. I'm going to take a look at Arkansas back through Texas today. This is a big concern for travel currently as we are talking about even the threat for sleet and freezing rain, never a good thing. What is going on?

Well, this system in the South is going to be pulling in all that moisture from the Gulf and even from Atlantic and it is suspected to combine with the cold air system coming down from Canada. You put those two together and you have this big travel mess over the next several days.

Take a look at the South, first, isolating that low that is currently producing freezing rain through Texas. Heavy rain from two to four inches and through tomorrow the two-day total up to 3 to 5 inches into the Carolinas. Notice even by tomorrow, the hubs will start to see some rain into the Northeast. Not really the story just yet.

Take a look at again, here is Tuesday, starting to get some rain in the Northeast and farther back in the northern Atlantic see the icy concerns. The snow staying in the Ohio valley out of those major hubs on the East Coast.

Once we get into though, Tuesday night through Wednesday this is going to be the biggest concern, here is where we start talking about the strongest winds and heaviest rain and even four to eight inches of snow. It's like more again, Upstate New York and farther west in New York. But either way, so many travel hubs are going to be affected. Of course, you can see that ripple effect happening across the country.

SAMBOLIN: Horrible that it's happening around Thanksgiving. Thank you for the warning, though. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. The other big news this weekend, a deal between the West and Iran, limiting that country's nuclear program for six months. In exchange, the U.S. and five other world powers agree to reduce some sanctions. The Obama administration calls it a path toward a more secure world, with some allies including Israeli and some in Congress say not so fast.


REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: We have just rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior. They have made no changes, no changes in the development of their nuclear weapon program, and I can tell you that with a high degree of certainty.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're going to verify and verify and verify. We have to know to a certainty so that Israel, Gulf States, ourselves, nobody can be deceived by what is taking place.


ROMANS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a historic mistake. And the government there worries it will only help Iran buy time to further develop nuclear weapons. But Secretary of State Kerry insisted the agreement will make Israeli and the Arab world safer.

SAMBOLIN: And a meeting of the minds today at the Vatican where Pope Francis is scheduled to host Russian leader Vladimir Putin. They agree about not using international military force to end the civil war in Syria but what else might they talk about?

Our Ben Wedeman is live in Rome this morning. Give us more details, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, really probably at the top of the agenda will be the Middle East in these discussions later today between Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin. Both of them have expressed strong concerns about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Christians who have been caught in the cross-fire in places like Egypt and places like Syria where many have been killed, in fact, and many more decided to leave the area because of the violence and danger the situation poses. That will probably be at the top of the agenda.

However, many other things they are going to be talking about. Among other things is the -- some sort of rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which split back in 1054 in what's called the Great Schism. There are disputes over, for instance, property that was confiscated by Joseph Stalin back during the Soviet Era, property confiscated of course, from the Catholic Church in Russia. So, lots to talk about.

It's questionable whether anything concrete will come out of it, but certainly some importance in terms of symbolism -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: A historic meeting there. Ben Wedeman live for us in Rome, thank you.

ROMANS: Afghanistan's president refusing to sign a security agreement that would keep U.S. support troops in Afghanistan beyond next year. Now, Afghanistan's elder just met with President Karzai four days. The elders are endorsing a deal on the table. They are urging Karzai to sign it, but he is refusing. He wants to wait until after presidential elections in April even though the U.S. has set a firm year-end deadline for him to sign.

SAMBOLIN: Al Qaeda is slowing seizing control of Syria's northern border with Turkey, a town of Atima (ph) falling over the weekend to al Qaeda fighters and that could make it a real challenge for rebel forces to bring in supplies from Turkey. And a chilling report from a London think tank says more than 11,000 children under the age of 17 have been killed in Syria's civil war, more than two-thirds of that by execution.

ROMANS: Protests becoming more difficult in Egypt. The interim president has signed a new law requiring protesters to notify the police three days before any demonstration takes place and they have to turn over their names and addresses and their demands before they can get permission to march. Human rights groups say this will make it much harder for Egyptians to challenge their government.

SAMBOLIN: Another day on the West Coast for President Obama, delivering speeches on the immigration and the economy in San Francisco and Los Angeles. And attending fundraisers for congressional races as well.

The president spent Sunday in Seattle area, also for fund-raisers. One of the home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.

ROMANS: A busy day in Chicago for Vice President Joe Biden.

First, he joins Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a ground breaking center for domestic violence victims, the first being built in more than 10 years. After that, it's a fund-raiser for Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who's up for re-election next year. And this afternoon, he'll speak to students about politics and public service at the University of Chicago.

SAMBOLIN: So, there will be more giant balloons and colorful floats at this year's Thanksgiving Day parade. Animal rights protesters plan to line the parade route to protest a SeaWorld float over accusations on the CNN film "Black Fish" that the theme park treats whales badly.

The film looked at Tilikum, the orca who killed a trainer in 2010. PETA has asked that the SeaWorld float be removed but Macy's says it is staying.

ROMANS: All right. Next, a reward rising in the desperate manhunt to find a gunman who killed a postal worker who was delivering the mail.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious. And states with legalized marijuana now facing a new danger, coming up next.