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Train Derails In New York; Vice President Biden In Asia; Massive 65 Car Pile Up; Woman Finds Help After Crash; Amazon's Futuristic Plans; : Terrorists Gaining Ground?; U.S. Urges North Korea to Release Americans; Obamacare Site "Fixed"

Aired December 2, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see some people flying from my left side, the right side, people from the back. It's just crazy.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Moments of impact. New details this morning on a New York commuter train that derailed. Four killed, dozens injured. The big question, why? Mechanical failure or conductor error? We'll talk to the lead investigator live.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Terror on the rise. The stunning admission from two of the nation's intelligence leaders telling CNN the threat of terrorism has increased. Where is the greatest threat coming from now?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Drone delivery. Amazon CEO reveals the next face of online retailing. Drones dropping off packages door-to-door. Is this the future of shopping?

CUOMO: Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It's Monday, December 2nd, six o'clock in the east, and you are looking live at the mangled train here in New York. This is after this massive derailment on Sunday. Four people were killed. Dozens more are injured. We're showing you picture from yesterday. These are some of the first images that came out.

Now, we know that a federal probe is under way, because there are big questions this morning after the train's operator said the brakes didn't work. That's what he says when he came around this very dangerous curve where he was supposed to slow down. Let's start dealing with this question. Alexandra Field starts our coverage this morning from the Bronx. Good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This is thought to be the deadly train accident in New York State in more than two decades. Behind me they are beginning to upright the derailed cars where 67 people were hurt, 11 of them in critical condition. And this morning we are learning more about the four people killed in a horrifying crash.


FIELD (voice-over): Overnight the names of all four passengers killed by the Metro North commuter train crash Sunday were released. MTA Police identified 54-year-old Donna Smith.

KATHY GEROME, NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR: Donna was a wonderful person. She was kind, neighborly, and friendly.

FIELD: The 35-year-old Ahn Kisook, 59-year-old James Ferrari and this man, 58-year-old father of four, James Lovell.

JONATHAN KRUK, NEIGHBOR: I'll remember him as having dignity and determination and being a wonderful father.

FIELD: Three of them ejected from the train, its cars strewn along the tracks in the Bronx.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got thrown across back and forth and it came to like a halt and there was just people screaming.

FIELD: Early Sunday, a throng of rescue worker scoured the grizzly scene, one railcar nearly plunging into the river where divers check for bodies underwater.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see some people flying from my left side to the right side, people from the back. It's just crazy.

FIELD: At 7:20 a.m., the commuter train carrying 150 passengers on its way to Grand Central Station from Poughkeepsie approached an extremely sharp curve that required a speed limit of 30 miles per hour along the Harlem River, compared to the straight away prior requiring a speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: The curve has been here for many, many years, right and trains take the curve, but it just can't be the curve.

FIELD: The train conductor said he tried to apply the brakes, but says they didn't work as all seven cars derailed barreling off the tracks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the time I looked up, it was completely going off the tracks. There was just like the rubble from under the tracks like flying by my face.

FIELD: Only 1,700 feet away from a previous July derailment. That's where ten garbage freight cars flipped on their sides.

EARL WEENER, NTSB: We don't know what the train speed was. We will learn that from the vehicle event recorders.

FIELD: This is the second passenger train derailment in six months from Metro North. In May, an east bound train derailed in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was hit by a westbound train, 76 people were injured. Sunday's crash eerily similar to the train that derailed in Northwestern Spain killing 79 passengers.

In that crash the train was approaching a sharp turn. Security video showed the shocking moment the train going more than twice the speed limit hurdled off the tracks. Officials are looking into what role if any speed rate in the Bronx accident.


FIELD: One of the four people killed in the crash, James Lovell, was an audio technician for NBC's "Today Show." "Today's" executive producer says an e-mail to staffer saying James always had a smile on his face and was quick to share a friendly greeting. This morning, we send our condolences to all of them - Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, right. Alexandra, thank you so much. We'll be hearing many more of the stories this morning. Thank you. The response seems really fast. The NTSB team was on site Sunday to investigate the big question in the derailment very quickly. The big question, of course, being why did it happen?

CUOMO: All right, let's bring in Earl Weener. He is an NTSB board member. He has been at the scene of the derailment. He is obviously overseeing this investigation. Mr. Weener, thank you for joining us.

WEENER: Good morning.

CUOMO: So we know that the recording devices that have the data of what was going on with the train was collected. Do we know anything yet about why this happened?

WEENER: We are still in the process of downloading the data and validating it. We hope to have more information later today in terms of what the speeds were, what applications may have been made, what power settings were.

CUOMO: Will the data that you collect from the boxes be enough to tell you what caused this crash?

WEENER: Well, the data from the boxes will at least give us some insight into what was going on at the time. We'll combine that with other information, with other investigative activities.

CUOMO: What's the sense from the scene thus far? The main suggestion is that the brakes failed. That's what the operator says, right, that he applied the brakes and then he had to dump the brakes, but he was carrying too much speed into the curve. Any sense of what makes sense from the scene?

WEENER: Well, we hope to interview the conductor and the engineer later today or tomorrow and that combined with the data from the event recorders going to give us a pretty good insight into what was going on.

CUOMO: What do we know about this particular train, Mr. Weener, the maintenance records intact, any concern with this particular train?

WEENER: Well, we don't, with this particular train. We will be looking at the maintenance records as well as the records related to the operator and the maintenance of the tracks and signaling equipment.

CUOMO: So you have to cover all your bases, of course, is it in the issue although it's not uncommon that this was being pushed, right. The engine was behind the line of cars and this as opposed to pulling, is that relevant?

WEENER: Well, the configuration of the train may be relevant or maybe not. This is not an unusual configuration, but it certainly going to be looked at.

CUOMO: Then, of course, you start looking at patterns of train activity over time here. We do have just in July there was a freight train that went off the tracks near the area. Is that relevant at all in the analysis?

WEENER: Well, we approach every investigation as a singular isolated incident. We will during the course of the investigation should we find anything that leads us to look at correlating it with other accidents, we will certainly do that. We don't start out with that correlation, however.

CUOMO: I know you have seen a lot of these in your day. All but one car I believe, right, completely came off the track. What was it like to see it at the scene?

WEENER: Well, in fact, all of these cars including the locomotive come off the tracks. It was -- every time you see one of these scenes, it's unique, it's different and quite humbling.

CUOMO: Now, lives were lost, dozens were injured, some still critically, but is there some solace taken in this that this was 5/50 something train and it was somewhat lightly populated, it would have been much more populated this morning. What do you think would have happened then?

WEENER: Well, looking at the configuration of the wreckage and the condition of the cars, certainly had there been more people on board there would have been many more injuries.

CUOMO: And while you are still developing your understanding as I let you go, I know you have a lot of work to do here, any question as to whether or not you will be able to find out exactly why this happened so we can learn something going forward?

WEENER: Well, that's our objective. You know, we look at it from a safety point of view, in wanting to identify why it happened, in particular, and identify what recommendations can be made to avoid having this kind of accident again.

CUOMO: Absolutely. That's the key, Mr. Weener, we have to have confidence in that rail system. It's so important to cities this size and smaller ones as well. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. Good luck with the findings of the investigation. We look forward to hearing what is developed.

WEENER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Trying to tell this story, obviously, we want to get all sides of it. So we are going talk with the survivor of the crash in the next hour. She actually took this photo of the train flipped on its side. She tells of an incredible story of how she understood what was happening and when and how she handled it and what gave her the presence of mind to start taking pictures.

We are also going to talk about the investigation with the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. He will be joining us.

PEREIRA: All right, let's take look at the headlines this hour. Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Japan this morning as a part of a three- country trip to Asia. His visit is an attempt to show that the U.S. is focused on the region amid rising tensions over disputed islands.

China recently announced new flight restrictions unilaterally imposed in the East China Sea. The White House says Biden will meet with leaders in China to discuss easing the friction and advancing diplomacy.

Black ice on the Massachusetts highway is being blamed now for an enormous pile up Sunday. About 65 passenger cars were involved along with four commercial trucks. State police say at least two people were seriously injured.

Thirty five others were taken to local hospitals in Wooster. The highway was closed for hours after freezing rain turned that roadway into a sheet of ice. Even a state trooper responding to the crash was rear ended.

Police are investigating what they are calling a suspicious death at Arrowhead Stadium during the Chiefs-Broncos NFL game. Investigators say it happened in the parking lot when a vehicle owner found a man inside his car. They say a struggle ensued and that man collapsed. The police chief tweeted it did not involve fan rivalry. Three people were taken into custody for questioning.

PEREIRA: An Alaska woman being hailed a hero in the face of tragedy. Melanie Coffee was on a plane that crashed Friday night. Rescuers were having a hard time tracking down the plane. She guided them back to the crashed airplane. Coffee and five others were saved. Unfortunately, four died including Coffee's infant son. We'll have much more on this in our next hour.

Amazon has unveiled plans for a future delivery method, using drones in the next four to five years. Amazon will deliver your products with an unmanned aerial vehicle so-called "Octocoptors," or at least that's their hope. There are regulatory hurdles and technical details to iron out. But Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos says that the goal of the prime air delivery system is to get packages into customer's hands in 30 minutes or less. You know, we're going to discuss this on NEW DAY. You know, I have questions. What if you live in an apartment?

BOLDUAN: It lands right in your window. You reach out and grab it.

PEREIRA: What if you are in the shower?

BOLDUAN: I don't have that research.

PEREIRA: Can you imagine this, 30 minutes? There are so many hurdles. I'm sure, air traffic, safety, privacy. It's kind of exciting.

BOLDUAN: The FAA needs to approve. They've got something to say about that.

PEREIRA: Happy Monday, guys.

BOLDUAN: Happy Monday to you.

Let's get a check how your Monday is going to be. Let's get a check with Indra Petersons. So we made it through the weekend. How does the weekend look?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I want to say I don't want to get hit in the head before we change those rules. That's all I can think about right now, but yes, a really nice week. We are talking about temperatures very mild, right now. Check out D.C. 32. New York, 43. Enjoy this. This going to be big changes ahead.

We have some time on the east coast. You can actually see the two systems Pacific Northwest. This is a big system. Notice a little energy into the southeast, so yes, a little cloudy. Maybe light rain around the gulf, but big story, temperatures above normal. So enjoy that.

We are talking about even mid-70s in New Orleans here by Wednesday, that same slow moving up the coast, warming up in the northeast as well. We are actually staying drive. Notice the slow offshore. So we're staying drive. Let's look at the temperatures, not as warm as we are talking about in the southeast. At least they are above normal.

New York seeing about 49. Boston today is looking for 43 degrees. Now, let's take you out to the Pacific Northwest. Look at this dumping snow, one to two feet of snow. Idaho, Montana, even in through Wyoming, about 1 to 2 feet kind of spreading down to the west and then to the east. The most important thing is the temperatures. They are going way down.

We are taking you now already to Tuesday. Notice, Bismark about 15 degrees below normal, Dallas with 78 for Tuesday, by Wednesday 66, let's talk about the draw. There we go, 18 degrees below normal by the middle of the week. Check out Denver, almost 40 degrees below normal so you guessed it, everything must go east. By the end of the week, we are chilly, guys, on the weekend.

BOLDUAN: I love the snow totals we are looking at right there, 1 to 2 feet. I'll be taking vacation again. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Just changed the oil on the blower. I am ready to go, always.

Coming up on "NEW DAY", we know there is an on-going threat of terrorism at home. We know we are doing better in stopping attacks, right, that we are safer. Some in charge of our safety say that's not so. We'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: Later in the show, new details in the Paul Walker crash investigation. We are learning more about the person police say was behind the wheel.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

Terrorists building their ranks, changing their tactics and getting harder to track. The heads of two congressional intelligence committees tell CNN that Americans really aren't any safer today than they were two years when Osama bin Laden was killed.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is following that story for us from the White House. A pretty big statement coming from two of the nation's top intelligence lawmakers.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. It's a rather scary and certainly unexpected headline that we have here, bipartisan agreement from key lawmakers. The terrorists have actually gained ground here in recent years.

California, a Democrat, the chair woman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein saying that terrorists have increasingly been innovating, building weapons much more difficult to detect and the Republican House intel chairman, Mike Rogers, saying you have recent high profile successes like the killing of Osama bin Laden that have given Americans a false sense of security.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Are we safer now than we were a year ago, two years ago, in general?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't think so. I think terror is up worldwide. The statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks be reinforced for those bombs.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: I absolutely agree that we're not safer today for the same very reason. So, the pressure on our intelligence services to get it right to prevent an attack are enormous, and it's getting more difficult because we see the al Qaeda as we know it before is metastasizing to something more different.


KEILAR: Now, administration officials and even President Obama in his most recent remarks on counterterrorism have acknowledged that there is this changing al Qaeda threat. It's not just al Qaeda, it's its affiliates in places like Yemen and Somalia. But certainly these comments from a key Democrat and a key Republican undercutting some of the president's assurances when it comes to the fight against terrorism.

And, Chris, the other thing that's very important to sort of pay attention to here is this robust defense that you are hearing from both of these key lawmakers of the intelligence community and sort of the scrutiny that they have been under since a lot of these disclosures from Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker. You heard that intelligence is very necessary to thwart these attacks.

CUOMO: All right, it's frightening. It's also confusing. The assumption is we are getting better not that the threat is outpacing our efforts. So we're going to unpack this a little bit more later in the show. Thank you for the reporting this morning. Appreciate it.

Two Americans are detained in North Korea. The White House is demanding their release. One of them is an 85-year-old Korean War vet who's been detained since October. A video released over the weekend shows Merrill Newman reading an apology for crimes against the state.

Let's bring in CNN's Barbara Starr. She's at the Pentagon watching this situation. Barbara, what do you know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris. Swedish diplomats have been able to visit Newman, but his family, of course, wants him home.


MERRILL NEWMAN, DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA: I can understand that in U.S. and Western countries, there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.

STARR (voice-over): North Korean state media released this video over the weekend of detained American tourist, 85-year-old Merrill Newman, reading a handwritten apology.

Pyongyang says Newman admits he is guilty of big crimes when he fought for the U.S. in the Korean War, killing civilians, working with anti- communist guerrillas and planning now 60 years later to try to meet up with them.

The video shows Newman signing the four-page statement he read on camera, dated November 9th, sealing it with his thumbprint in red ink. What happens to him next isn't clear after being held since late October taken off a plane just as his tour group was leaving.

The White House is now weighing in. A spokeswoman saying the U.S. is deeply concerned, calling on North Korea to release Newman and fellow American Kenneth Bae now held for more than a year. But one expert says that could complicate an already sensitive situation.

DR. HAN PARK, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: North Korea doesn't want to reveal that North Korea is giving in to the demand of pressures coming from Washington.

STARR: Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson who says his North Korean contacts aren't responding told CNN on Sunday that Kim Jong-un isn't following the pattern of releasing Americans after getting the purported confession.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR (via telephoned): So, this is baffling, but this is a few regime of the new leader. And I suspect he's sending different signals but nobody knows what those signals are.


STARR: And, you know, Richardson is one of the leading experts in the United States. He has great contacts with the North Korean leadership. The fact that he says they are not responding is of some concern -- Chris.

CUOMO: It makes sense, Barbara. Thank you very much.

In the next hour, we're going to talk with the sister of Kenneth Bae. He's another American imprisoned in North Korea.

BOLDUAN: Much more on that ahead.

But also ahead on "NEW DAY": is fixed? A question to ponder. What the White House is saying and why Republicans are saying they are not impressed? We're going to break it down in our political gut check ahead.

CUOMO: I'm actually going to try and get on the site when we're doing our political gut check, and see how it goes.

Also, you are looking at Amazon's amazing plans. Could this be your next delivery vehicle? A drone.

That's right. Right there, that flying bar-b-que bringing your book to you.

BOLDUAN: I was going to say that.

CUOMO: It looks like hibachi.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

Let's start --

CUOMO: I'm on, as we're talking.

BOLDUAN: You keep doing that, I'm going to intro this. Obviously, it's time for our political gut check. The administration's deadline to fix came and went Saturday. And the man the White House tapped to improve the Web site is touting its progress, saying there is a night and day difference between today and when it launched two months ago.

Probably not surprising the Republicans in Congress are not impressed.

John Avlon is a CNN political analyst and executive editor of "The Daily Beast" joining us now to talk about this.

So, it's thick. Let's move on?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, we're back where we start. Yes, Democrats, we love to turn the page right now.

Look, you know, this is a self grading mechanism right now. Jeff Zients saying this is night and day, 90 percent of viewers won't be affected. There are some verifiable ways to gauge the progress, as Chris may be discovering. The site is demonstrably faster.

But it has --

CUOMO: It was faster but it does say we apologize for the inconvenience.

AVLON: Nice.

CUOMO: New York state specific marketplace is undergoing regularly scheduled maintenance right now.

AVLON: See? And they're regularly scheduled. So nothing to see here folks. The reality is when you self grade and say it's 90 percent, that still means that 10 percent of folks aren't going to get exactly the service they need and deserve. That's a lot of wiggle room built in. But 10 percent, that's a Web site that isn't working.

While enormous progress has been made in the last two months, there's still a long way to go, folks.

BOLDUAN: So, Republicans, from what I'm gauging, a bit of -- I would say in the news biz, a muted response to the successful kind of relaunch, if you will. It seems they are moving onto the next fight. It's not about the Web site anymore?

AVLON: Well, look, I mean, everyone is doing their typical spin here. Republicans are saying that this is fundamentally flawed. So let's not worry about what progress is made, Democrats are like all things were sunshine and light --

BOLDUAN: But the Web site rollout was the biggest failure.

AVLON: It was the biggest failure. And let's drill a little bit farther on why this was so damaging. The Republicans don't even need to pile on. The screw up this rollout, which is a fundamental signature achievement of this administration also cuts to the heart of this administration but Democrats' belief that government can step in and take on big challenges and do them well. So, that -- this failure in the rollout has undercut that. Now, there is a second chance to make a first impression here.

BOLDUAN: You think?

AVLON: Now, I do think that, because as we get throws to the meaningful deadline, the end of December for folks that need healthcare in 2014. The end of March before the penalties start kicking in.

If people start getting good responses on the Web site, if they are able to sign up and they really like what's in place in the future, that can ameliorate a lot of these bad feelings. Let's not get stuck in the swamp, so we don't see with any perspective.

But this rollout has been a major problem. It's reflected in the president's polls and it does create a significant hurdle that they're going to have to overcome.

CUOMO: All right. So, anyway, the site is allowing me to navigate more quickly.

AVLON: All right.

CUOMO: The state exchange, I'm New York, so I went to New York. It's a state that has its own exchanges. That wasn't so great. California's was quicker. So that's OK.

But let's deal with what is being ignored here, and growing frustration for people.

AVLON: Sure.

CUOMO: Metaphor would be the house is on fire, OK? Democrats are saying, boy, I hope the house goes out. And the Republicans are saying, let it burn, baby, let it burn. Neither of this is an acceptable approach to dealing with the house on fire. And this is what's been ignored.

Give me your take on this, John. The health care system was a mess before Obamacare, incredibly raising rates. You know, the insurance companies overrunning everybody, families struggling, rising number of people without it, without insurance. There are no solutions to that yet.

Where do we see that in the political momentum of dealing with the problem?

AVLON: Well, this is a point you made over and over, Chris, which is that there is not a problem solving mentality in Washington right now. Everyone is quick to retreat to the partisan rampart --

CUOMO: And how do you win when you go to the voters?

AVLON: Well, this is -- the largest problem right now is that we are in the negative cycle right now.