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AMC offers IPO; Snow and Ice Across Nation; Princeton Begins Vaccinations; "Heart" Refuses to Perform at SeaWorld; Winter Weather Impacts NFL Games

Aired December 9, 2013 - 09:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Berman, in for Carol Costello today.

And we have the opening bell ringing on Wall Street, where stocks are on solid footing this morning after that better than expected jobs report on Friday. Market opening up just a little bit today and soon traders will be tracking a new addition to the New York Stock Exchange. AMC Theaters preparing to go public. And some of the movie chains most loyal customer will reap the rewards. Alison Kosik has more on this.

Good morning, Alison.


Very quickly, stocks, you know, got to mention stocks, because the market's still in that afterglow of the strong jobs report, along with the drop in unemployment to 7 percent. The optimism really being fueled by a jump in economic growth in the third quarter as well. You know, the thought was that investors would sell because of worries the Fed would pull back on stimulus. Now it seems like the market's not bothered by it because the thinking at the moment is the economy could just be strong enough to handle it.

OK, AMC, it's all about that stock, you know, a little popcorn, a little stock. AMC Theaters gearing up to go public at the New York Stock Exchange, expected to happen at the end of the month. And it's really going to reward its most loyal 2.5 million customers because they're going to have a chance to buy shares usually reserved for the big investors.

Now, in a letter from the company's CEO, from Gerry Lopez, he says members of the AMC Stubs Rewards Program will be offered the same price as the big banks and large Wall Street institutions, meaning the little guy gets to buy the shares a day before they go public. So, finally, John, finally the little guy can get in on the action, just like the big guys.


BERMAN: Maybe a little hot buttered stock to go with your popcorn and a movie.

KOSIK: There you go.

BERMAN: All right, Alison Kosik, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Checking some of the top story this is morning.

American Airlines and U.S. Airway will officially become the world's largest airline today after the merger beat a number of legal challenges. The new company will be called American Airlines and trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol AAL. In the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM, I will be speaking with the CEO of American Airlines, Doug Parker. That's coming up at 10:15. If you have questions, tweet us now.

The railroad line involved in that deadly train derailment in New York is announcing new safety upgrades. Metro North will install reinforcements at critical curves and moveable bridges. Signals will also alert train engineers to reduce speed when approaching the curve where the train derailed last week. That train jumped the tracks while heading into a curve at 82 miles per hour. That's nearly three times the posted speed limit on that curve.

The deadly ice storm that's dumped plenty of snow and ice from Texas to Philadelphia is expected to slam the northeast again today. Driving in many places just downright dangerous. This is a 24-car pile-up that left 30 people injured in Yonkers, New York, last night.

CNN's Indra Petersons with more now on all the trouble from the ice and the heavy snow.


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Snow, freezing rain and dangerous ice.


PETERSONS: In Plano, Texas, residents captured these videos showing sheets of ice cascading down from the rooftops.


PETERSONS: And another early winter storm is wreaking havoc across much of the nation. The frigid storm put Dallas in a deep freeze over the weekend and made a mess from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast. Road crews were out in full force plowing and salting streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to stop working until the roads are clear.

PETERSONS: The wintry mix created treacherous conditions on major roadways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been really rough. I think every year people forget how to drive in the snow.

PETERSONS: The dangerous mix of snow and ice caused this 50-car pile- up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing at least one person. Roads and highways in the Milwaukee area also had their share of problems, three separate wrecks involving over 100 cars, buses in ditches, semitrailers jack-knifed, causing a number of injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was bad. And like you could barely see up the road, just swerving through cars, dodging cars and we ended up in a ditch.

PETERSONS: Heavy snow was the headline in at least four NFL games on Sunday. Blowing snow made it nearly impossible for fans to tell exactly where the ball was. The football field looked more like ice rinks with players slipping and sliding. At the Eagles/Lions game in Philadelphia, snow measured as high as six inches in the middle of the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you need any kind of help, John, right?

PETERSONS: The Lions fumbled six times before half-time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Reggie Bush with the hood on.


BERMAN: Man, what a mess. Indra Petersons joins me now live.

Indra, the question is, how much longer is this thing going to stick around?

PETERSONS: Yes, I wish I had better news, but, of course, we still have that system in place. And this morning, think about poor Dallas. Everything they endured and, yes, they had a freezing fog advisory this morning starting to lift out of the region at least near the airport. But in the northeast, yes, we are still dealing with conditions here where we continue, if you notice the radar, to have a threat of a wintry mix. The system is trying to make its way out of here. But notice you're actually going to see that we still have the threat, not only from freezing rain out there, but for another system behind it.

The snow that we saw, yes, that's kind of exiting off to the northeast, but the tail end of this system that we're dealing with in the northeast, this guy's going to crawl up the East Coast. And by overnight tonight, in through tomorrow, another round of this wintry mix. Primarily though this time a little bit better. Not as much freezing rain. Primarily just the snow and the rain. But I can tell you myself, since I had 10 hours' worth of delays last week, low visibility and fog alone could mean more delays tomorrow. Take it from me, John.

BERMAN: I was going to say, get comfortable at those airports. Keep your eyes on CNN. We'll keep you posted about how this thing's doing.

Indra Petersons, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Still to come for us, eight cases of meningitis b reported at Princeton University. Now students can get a vaccine, but it's one that's not yet licensed in the United States. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Princeton University begins offering students meningitis b vaccinations today. Eight cases of meningitis b have been reported at the university since March. The CDC signed off on the use of the vaccine, Bexsero, which is currently not licensed in the United States. Dr. Rohit Bhalla joins us now via Skype. He is the chief of infectious diseases at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.

And, doctor, why this vaccine? Do you think this will contain whatever issues you have now at Princeton?

DR. ROHIT BHALLA, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER OF PRINCETON: Good morning, John. How are you? Yes, this vaccine is specifically for serotype b, which is the serotype of meningitis, which is currently involved in the outbreak at Princeton University. So yes, this vaccine will help contain the outbreak at the university.

BERMAN: And you're calling it an outbreak there. Is the vaccine alone enough? What have you advised students at the university to do? I know if I were a parent of a kid there, I'd be awfully worried.

BHALLA: Yes. The vaccine is only part of the measure that we advised. Obviously, containment involves a lot of issues. The transmission of meningitis can occur generally with saliva. So we advised them not to share saliva in terms of kissing, sharing cups, you know, sharing cigarettes. That's our first -- the first thing we try to do, make sure that they don't share saliva.

The vaccine is the other thing we try to do. We make sure that they have meningitis vaccine upon entry into college, but the meningitis vaccine only covers serotypes a, c, y and w. The meningitis that's currently circulating is serotype b, and this new vaccine will cover serotype b.

BERMAN: You know, I don't mean to be glib here, but no kissing at college has got to be a pretty tough sell. Any sense that this outbreak is still spreading at this point?

BHALLA: Well, the latest case was in late November. And right now we haven't had any recent cases since then.

BERMAN: Well, that's good news. As an expert on this, this vaccine has not yet been licensed here in the United States. Does that give you any concern as you're making it available to all the students at the university?

BHALLA: Well, right now, it's actually been licensed in Europe as of January of this year and also in Australia as of August of this year. As you know, it's currently in clinical trials here in the U.S. And because of the outbreak at Princeton University, the FDA and the CDC had made it available for the university students here in Princeton. BERMAN: Well, we certainly hope it works and achieves the goals you would like it to achieve at Princeton. Again, meningitis on a college campus is an awfully scary sounding thing. Dr. Rohit Bhalla, thanks very much for being with us, at the University Medical Center in Princeton.

BHALLA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next for us, the backlash against SeaWorld mounts. Moved by a CNN documentary about the treatment of captive whales, another band is refusing to perform at the theme park. Here's Martin Savidge with more.


Yes, this is the third band to back out of its gig with SeaWorld. We'll tell you who it is and tell you who may be next, John.


BERMAN: Checking "Top Stories" now.

The FHA is pulling back on big mortgages, a sign it sees the real estate market getting stronger. Starting next year the agency will reduce the top limits of loans that it ensures while maintaining the current limits in areas where home prices are lower. The FHA raised limits during the housing market meltdown to help more home buyers.

And yes, you are seeing things clearly, that is the first lady and President Obama rocking out to Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg among other names, along with a star studded crowd last night at the Annual Kennedy Center Honors -- one of the best events of the year. Among the honorees this year: Billy Joel, rocker Carlos Santana and jazz legend Herbie Hancock. They were among the five artists to receive one of the nation's highest artistic honors. Great pictures there.

In other rock and roll news, another rock band is cutting ties with SeaWorld. This is the latest protest move following the CNN documentary "Blackfish". The rock band duo "Heart" says it will not perform at SeaWorld because of concerns over the water park's treatment of captive killer whales. Legendary singer Willie Nelson and the Bare Naked Ladies have also canceled their shows at SeaWorld.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Atlanta with the latest. Martin, the list keeps on growing here.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does indeed, John. Yes and you would think that that would be a worry to SeaWorld although they say it is not bands, brews and barbecue is the name of the festival that SeaWorld had scheduled in February.

However there does seem to be a kind of musical protest going on and the latest group is now bringing the number to three.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE (voice over): Millions tuned in to see the critically acclaimed documentary "Blackfish" when it aired on CNN in October. The film has fueled the controversial debate over keeping killer whales in captivity and the dangers they pose to trainers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're meant to be in the wild and that's pretty much where they should be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd rather see them out in like international habitats.

SAVIDGE: Petitions on have amassed thousands of signatures calling on SeaWorld to free its killer whales and pressured several musical groups to pull out of scheduled performances at its Orlando theme park taking notice of the public outcry.

"Heart" has chosen to decline their forthcoming performance at SeaWorld in February 9th, 2014 due to the controversial documentary film "Blackfish" and they're not alone. Country singer Willie Nelson and Canadian rock group Bare Naked Ladies also bowing out of their February performances because of issues raised by the film.

Bare Naked ladies explained to their fans on Facebook, "We don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time."

SeaWorld releases a statement regarding the cancellations which says in part, "While we're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld, we respect the bands' decisions."

SeaWorld signature killer whale performances came to a halt in 2010 after veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a 12,000-pound orca. The film highlights Brancheau's tragic death and raises questions about the practices at SeaWorld and their treatment of these whales in captivity. SeaWorld says the documentary ignores the park's conservation efforts and research.


SAVIDGE: There are still a bunch more bands that are planning to perform at the festival and upcoming events at SeaWorld. Many of those opposed to SeaWorld will be following to see if any of them changed their minds.

It also I should be pointed out John that despite all of this negative publicity you might think for SeaWorld, SeaWorld's profits this year on their way to another record -- John.

BERMAN: Well that's interesting. I didn't know that. Martin Savidge in Atlanta -- thank you very much. It will be interesting to see if more bands follow suit.

All right all new for us in the next hour of NEWSROOM, imagine waking up after a quick flight. The only person on a dark, cold plane -- you were all alone and you can't get out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I woke up and the lights were out. And I was like, what's going on?


BERMAN: So this actually happened to this guy. He thought he was dreaming -- stuck in a plane with the doors locked. Hear more of what he says happened after he dozed off. That's all new, coming up at 10:00.


BERMAN: What a Sunday in the NFL. We saw snow everywhere we saw record setting scoring and a bunch of sensational finishes -- really sensational.

Andy Scholes joins us now to talk about one of the craziest Sundays you will see in the NFL ever.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes good morning John. Yesterday a perfect example of why the NFL is the most popular sports in the country. The snowstorm that made its way across the northeast definitely made for some fun atmospheres. There were blizzard like conditions in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia. And you've got to check out the snow plowing guy in Baltimore he's like get out of the way, I'm trying to work here.

Now look at the Dolphins, oh the poor Dolphins they look like fish out of the water trying to deal with the conditions in Pittsburgh. But out of all the game the Arctic blast was the worst in Philly. Look at Calvin Johnson on this catch he gets a face full of snow. That is incredible.

Now ground crews they did their best to trying to improve the playing conditions all day. But it was definitely tough. The Lions fumbled seven times. The teams wouldn't even try to kick field goals. It was definitely fun for us to watch at home. But man it had to be tough for those players out there.

Now the weather did help facilitate some crazy finishes. In a span of 20 minutes, three games ended in wild fashion. Vikings-Ravens it was by far the craziest finish, the two teams combined to score five touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game. The Ravens got the last one won four seconds left to go to get the win.

And then just two minutes later the Steelers had no time in the clock they needed a touchdown to win. Antonio Brown breaks free for the score. But he stepped out of bounds. The game would end on that play. Dolphins win.

Then a few minutes later in Fox Borough the Patriots they made an amazing comeback, they scored a touchdown, got an on sidekick and scored another touchdown all within 30 seconds. They beat the Browns by a single point -- amazing comeback there. All right turning on today after 15 years of controversy, the final year of the BCS ends without a debate. No doubt the best two teams in college football will be playing for all the marbles on one side yes Florida State, they are 13-0. ACC champs crashing teams by at least four touchdown and then on the other side, the team of destiny Auburn. They've had a miracle turn around this year from worst to first, had two of the most memorable last-second wins ever in college football. The game will be January 6th in Pasadena.

John, of course, we've always got good weather in California when the game is there. Now the Super Bowl on the other hand, that good old farmer's almanac predicting a winter storm for February 1st through the 3rd. It's going to be interesting to see if the Super Bowl in New York this year is going to have the traditions that we saw yesterday in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

BERMAN: No doubt. And as we said the next significant game to be played in the New York area will be the Super Bowl. Of course, the college championship on January 6th -- now we have a month of every bowl under the sun. Like the soap bowl.

SCHOLES: Right, yes.

BERMAN: You know, the Purina Dog Food Bowl. All the bowls. So it's good times --

SCHOLES: That one's my favorite.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

SCHOLES: That's good.

BERMAN: All right. So it's almost 10:00 in the East. Do you know where your dog is? In South Carolina, Kato (ph) the husky was able to escape, sneak into a discount store and steal all kinds of treats. Employees had no idea who or what was stealing the pig ears, beef bones and other goodies, until they looked back at the surveillance tape.

Kato's owner says she has received -- he's gotten into several stores in the area but assures everyone that she feeds him every day. I've actually covered more than one pet who steals stuff. And it's not out of hunger. It's usually some kind of, you know, self-confidence issues.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Good morning everyone. I'm John Berman. Carol Costello is off today.

A storm system that has dumped plenty of ice and snow from Texas to Pennsylvania and killed at least seven people is expected to keep causing problems today. If you're heading to the airport, about 1,100 flights are canceled so far today. Check with your airline. One man has been stuck at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport for days. He's venting on YouTube. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES ARCHIBALD, PASSENGER: This is day four, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Times are getting desperate. I don't understand why they can't get the ice off the runway. You know, I'm from Canada. We've got four or five feet of snow on the runway. Boom. Plows go by. I know it's for our own safety but it's getting a bit silly.


BERMAN: On the roads, heavy snows and icy roads have led to down right treacherous conditions. At least 50 crashes were reported yesterday along this five-mile stretch of I-94 between Chicago and Milwaukee, a mess. And in Yonkers, New York -- look at that pile up -- police say 30 people were injured in a 24-plus car pileup on the (inaudible) of a parkway last night. The weather is also causing a rather unusual problem. Jason Whitely from our affiliate WFAA has more.