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Deadly Winter Storm; America's Secrets Exposed?; Chaos in Ukraine

Aired December 16, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Digging out from a deadly winter storm. The East Coast digging out from a deadly winter storm. Snow canceling hundreds of flights. Indra Petersons is tracking the damage and what's coming up next.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking revelations from the NSA, admitting just how much leaker Edward Snowden may know about secret surveillance on other countries. What they say -- why they say he may hold the key to the kingdom.

ROMANS: U.S. senators in Ukraine joining protesters in the streets, who are demanding their president to step down. Is America involved in a revolution? We're live.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans this Monday morning.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, December 16th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we begin with the Northeast. What a great way to start the week if you're a penguin or a masochist, or both. Knee-deep in snow and digging out this morning. More than a foot of snow falling in parts of New York and New England. Hundreds of flights canceled, pure fun, and if that is not enough FedEx is warning the bad weather could mean delays for millions of holiday packages.

ROMANS: That's right. You're going to have to knit something now.

Up to nine inches of snow, making a mess of the roads in Pennsylvania, take a look at this -- tractor-trailer coming within inches of sliding off an overpass. Be careful out there.

BERMAN: More of the same in Massachusetts. Check out the conditions on I-93, in Wilmington, spinouts and accidents all over the state. Look at that one. More than a foot snow recorded north of the fight in Massachusetts.

ROMANS: Let's look at Boston area. Concerns about the morning commute. All of that slush and rain freezing up as the temperatures fall. Drivers being warned to take it slow this Monday morning.

BERMAN: And in Albany as well, they are breaking out snow blowers in that part of New York, putting the parts of the capital buried under more than a foot of snow. The temperature with the wind chill this morning, a toasty seven below. Florida escaping the snow but still picking up the pieces from a brutal storm. Seven homes along Florida's Palm Coast destroyed by a tornado Saturday night, over 160 more suffering some damage. There is nothing left of 77-year-old Johnny Coberly's house. The twister tornado tore off his roof, left him lying beneath a file of rubble.


JOHNNY COBERLY, HOME DESTROYED BY TORNADO: My house blew up and I'm probably dead. I think I prayed a little bit and that is about all. I said, I think it's over and I got to try to get out of here and it was pitch dark, of course. I felt my way to the front door.


BERMAN: Wow. What a tragedy. But a miracle he survived. Can't believe that.

All right. Wild weather this weekend for millions of Americans. The question now is, is it over yet? Are we going to get hit with more?

Indra Petersons is tracking it all for us.

ROMANS: Good morning.


Let's talk about what we saw. I mean, I know some of you guys in Vermont you saw nine inches or so. But look at this big heavy spot. We're talking about Maine, saw a good 16 inches. Also around Maine, 12 inches around Standish. New Hampshire, about a foot.

Now here in New York, we saw about 5 inches, also around Boston, five to six inches.

The big question is there any more? Yes, there is more snow on the way and most likely overnight tonight. Little waves, little pieces of energy are going to come through but nothing like this weekend. But either way, Chicago today, you can see about an inch or so and in through tomorrow, it looks like the snow is expected to come on down again and another 2 to 3 inches of snow is headed our way. So, nothing like it was but still beautiful and temperatures staying cold. We don't have maps this morning as you can tell so a quick summary until we get that going.

BERMAN: You can draw the map. It's time drawing it. Thanks, Indra. Appreciate.

The head of the task force looking into Edward Snowden's leaks warned that America's enemies could benefit great from these disclosures. Rick Ledgett tells "60 Minutes" that the information Snowden reveals weak spots in American intelligence capabilities, that could easily be exploited.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK LEDGETT, NSA: It would give them a road map of what we know and don't know and give them implicitly a way to protect their information from the U.S. intelligence community's view.

JOHN MILLER, CBS: For an adversary in the intelligence game, it's a gold mine.

LEDGETT: It is the keys to the kingdom.


BERMAN: Ledgett also says the NSA had to spend tens of millions of dollars to protect technology after Snowden fled to make sure he couldn't hack into the system or damage it from a dance.

NSA Director Keith Alexander keeps on insisting that only terrorists are being spied on, not American citizens, unless court finds probable cause.

ROMANS: Meantime, Senator John McCain is addressing another apparent intelligence debacle. He says the CIA lied to Congress about Bob Levinson, who went missing in Iran seven years. Officials claim he was conducting business at the time but his link to the CIA was formally reported last week.

McCain suggested it's time to reexamine the oversight role Congress has over U.S. intelligence agencies.

BERMAN: Does the bipartisan deal signal to return to order on Capitol Hill? Don't bet on it. Republican Paul Ryan and his Senate counterpart, Democrat Patty Murray have been saying a lot of nice things about each other lately, but Murray cautions it is not the start of a trend. Still, Ryan says the deal is a good place to start.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: This isn't a large agreement but this is a symbolical large agreement. I would love to throw a few more zeros at the end of these numbers but the fact we are doing this preventing shutdowns and passing bipartisan legislation, it passed the House 332-94, majority of both parties. That's a good step in the right direction.


BERMAN: The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow to end debate on the budget deal. A vote on final passage could happen Wednesday before lawmakers break for the holidays.

ROMANS: Insured Americans are blaming President Obama and his health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles. In a new "Associated Press" poll, 69 percent of Americans say their premiums are going up next year, 59 percent say their co-pays and deductibles will be rising. Seventy-seven percent of those people blaming the increases on Obamacare. BERMAN: John Kerry making a return to the water ways of Vietnam, 44 years after patrolling them as a young naval officer. The Secretary of State in Southeast Asia is delivering a message about the growing threat of climate change. Water levels along the Mekong delta are dropping, threatening millions down stream in Cambodia and in Vietnam.

ROMANS: The Obama administration is trying hard to get the Israelis on board with the nuclear deal with Iran. National security adviser Susan Rice is hosting a series of meetings with Israel officials last week. She and the president urging Jerusalem to use the next six months to test whether Iran is really serious about dismantling its nuclear programs.

BERMAN: Lawmakers in Yemen passed an anti-drone measures, designed to stop attacks on the hills of a recent strike that kills more than a dozen civilians in a wedding convoy. The nearly unanimous vote by Yemen's parliament was a strong warning to the U.S. the motion is nonbinding, still needs to be approved by Yemen's president.

ROMANS: Football isn't the only sport dealing with chronic brain injuries. Nearly a year after he admitted suicide at the age of 36, researchers say former big league baseball player Ryan Freel had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is the first Major League Baseball ever diagnosed with the disorder. He was a fearless player with the Cincinnati Reds, often diving head-first into bases or crashing into outfield walls.


ROBERT STERN, CTE EXPERT, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Important cases like Ryan Freel make a difference because it is showing us that you don't need to have the kind of hits that we see in football or in hockey or in other real collision sports. You just need a lot of brain trauma it seems.

ROMANS: Freel died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound last December leaving behind three daughters.

BERMAN: This is a big deal and baseball is making a lot of changes to try to do away with this. They're going to try to get away with home plate collisions, those things, because the runners just plow over catchers at home plate. They want those to go to away, because the concussion issue is becoming so serious in baseball as well.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, U.S. Senators in Kiev rallying with thousands of protesters, demanding change from their government. Is the U.S. getting involved in the chaos in Ukraine? We are live.

BERMAN: A deadly confession relieved. Now, we hear it. A newlywed wife admitting she pushed her husband off a cliff when we come back.


BERMAN: Developing story this morning out of Philippines. At least 15 people were killed when their bus plunged off an elevated free way in Manila really this morning. It landed on top of a van. Investigators don't know this accident. Witnesses say traffic was heavy and the highway was wet from recent rain.

ROMANS: Mounting unrest in the Ukraine this morning. Thousands of pro-western demonstrators taking to Kiev again on Sunday. They are furious with their pro-Russian president. And right in the middle of the mayhem is U.S. Senator John McCain.

Diana Magnay live from the capital city of Kiev this morning.

Good morning.


Yes. Well, John McCain stood on the stage behind me yesterday and gave a very rousing speech, expressing his solidarity with the people in Ukraine who have been protesting into this square into their fourth week. As you say, protesting their government who they believe is trying to bring them in a closer union with Russia while they want to get closer to the European Union and John McCain stood there and said the United States is with you and they chanted in their response, "Thank you, USA. Thank you, USA."

Of course, from the Russian perspective, this could be construed as the U.S. interfering in this situation but this is what John McCain had to say to that allegation.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: These people love the United States of America, they love freedom, and I don't think you could view this as anything but our traditional support for people who want free and democratic society. We are not talking about military action. We're not talking about blockades. We are talking about the possibility of sanctions if they continue to brutally repress their people.


MAGNAY: And the question is, Christine, whether he will use force against his people. We have seen two police crackdowns one much more violent than the second and, of course, the protesters are trying their utmost to make sure that this stays peaceful, but that they stay in the eyes of the world -- Chris Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Diana Magnay, certainly continue to follow that for us. Thank you.

BEWRMAN: It's been going on for a long time now.

Eight months after the Boston marathon bombings, new details about the suspect who was killed. Tamerlan Tsarnaev might have been hearing another voice in his head starting years and told his mother he felt like two people were inside him. And as he got older the other voice grew more demanding. A doctor was worried that Tamerlan might be schizophrenic but the family never sought treatment. These revelations are all based on a five-month investigation now being published by "The Boston Globe." ROMANS: Colorado's governor praising the efforts of local law enforcement in Friday's terrifying school shooting in Centennial. Governor John Hickenlooper says it was the quick response of the school deputy that prevented 18-year-old Karl Pierson from taking more lives.


GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: This kid by all accounts didn't exhibit the warning signs of mental illness. Obviously, it's hard to fathom why he would have done this without being somewhat crazy.


ROMANS: The governor says the security officer followed newly active established protocols for a shooter. The whole ordeal lasted more than a minute and a half. Pierson died of a gunshot wound after shooting another student. That student remains in critical condition this morning.

BERMAN: An Ohio man is charged with murder the in death of a 9-year- old girl whose body was found in a trash bin. Twenty-four-year-old Jerrod Metsker was arrested at his home Sunday, nearly 12 hours after the police found the body of Reann Murphy near girl near her home in Smithville. Police say Metsker is a family friend who lives in the same mobile home park as the victim.

ROMANS: Newly released video showing the newlywed who pushed her husband off a cliff after lying to police. Jordan Linn Graham pleaded guilty to second degree last week during her trial. Initially, she told investigators in Missoula, Montana, that her husband left town with two friends initially.


JORDAN LINN GRAHAM, NEWLYWED: I got a message saying that he was going to go for a ride with somebody out of town who was visiting and they were from Washington, so my guess is -- so he walked out or made a call or something. He was in the garage. I got a text saying he was going.


BERMAN: Wow. That's not true.

ROMANS: No. None of that is true. Cody Johnson's body was later found in Glacier National Park. Graham's plea deal helped her avoid a first-degree murder charge and a charge of lying to authorities.

BERMAN: Now for the first time, we are hearing the chilling desperate words of 19 firefighters who died in an Arizona wildfire last June. Experts say the elite Granite Mountain Hot Shots from the Prescott, Arizona, fire department likely knew they were going to die. These final radio transmissions recorded from the helmet cam of a firefighter in the seconds before flames overcame that group.


DIVISION ALPHA: Yes, I'm here with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing deployment and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush and give you a call when we are under the shelters.


BERMAN: The 19 lives lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Prescott makes it the deadliest for firefighters since 1933.

ROMANS: Oh, wow.

The governor of Utah expressing concern over a federal judge's ruling that strikes down a key provision of the state's polygamy laws. Now, it's a legal victory for Cody Brown and his four wives, the stars of the reality show, "Sister Wives", challenged the provision that prohibited cohabitation claiming it violated the First Amendment. The judge agreed. Supporters of polygamy are hailing the ruling as a step for decriminalizing the practice in Utah.

BERMAN: It's not the last you've heard of that.

ROMANS: No way.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, a giant of the screen and stage is gone this morning. Legendary actor Peter O'Toole died Saturday in London after a long illness. O'Toole rocketed to stardom after his epic performance in "Lawrence of Arabia." I think the greatest film of all time.


BERMAN: He was nominated for eight Academy Awards during his distinguish career. But he never won until he was arrested an honorary Oscar in 2003.

O'Toole who lived hard was 81.

ROMANS: All right. "Hobbits" rocking the box office. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" coming in number one for the weekend with almost $74 million in ticket sales. That dropped Disney's "Frozen" out of the top spot. You could say froze Disney out of the top spot. The animated --

BERMAN: You could. I mean, you wouldn't necessarily want to.

ROMANS: It would be a little cheesy especially -- I don't know. Look, grossing just over $22 million in its third weekend.

Rounding up the top three, Tyler Perry's "Madea's Christmas" with $16.2 million.

BERMAN: If you want to have a little extra money to spend on the movies, how about this as a stocking stuffer? The mega millions jackpot now stands at $550 million. ROMANS: No way. You're not going to win, Berman.

BERMAN: I'm not. Neither are you.

That is the fourth highest total ever. By the time they draw the numbers tomorrow night lottery officials believe the jackpot could grow $656 million. That be an all-time --

ROMANS: You could buy a country for that or something, right?

BERMAN: A small one. If we don't have a winner soon, if no one wins, for instance, tomorrow night, we could be looking at the first billion dollar jackpot and could happen before Christmas.

ROMANS: Can you imagine being on the "Forbes" list for just buying a lottery ticket at the QuikTrip?

BERMAN: It's a good way to do it.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, record breaking comeback by the packers stunning the Dallas Cowboys! Joe Carter breaks down the amazing plays in "The Bleacher Report", next.


BERMAN: Uh-oh, the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo failed to get it done again! In the clutch, you could call it a choke!

Joe Carter explains in "The Bleacher Report."

Good to see you, Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good to see you, too, guys.

Yes, this was an incredible choke, an incredible collapse, the worst loss in the Cowboys' 53-year history. You know, it looked like Dallas is going to cruise to an easy win. I mean, they were up 23 points at half time. Tony Romo was playing like the million dollar man he is and looked all took easy but in the second half it all fell apart.

Dallas defense melted. Tony Romo melted. And they could have stopped the bleeding several times. Instead, Romo threw two interceptions in the game's final three minutes and the Packers would shock the Cowboys with a 37-36 come-from-behind win!

Number two in the lineup section at, pretty funny video, maybe embarrassing, came from the Dolphins game. Miscommunication on the field goal attempt and results in an unforgettable or forgettable moment for the holder.

But it gets better for the Dolphins. Sorry, John Berman. Tom Brady always clutch late in the games but not yesterday. He's picked off in the end zone. And the Patriots would lose to the Dolphins and Tom Brady was not a happy camper afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDE OCLIP) TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: We had plenty of chances all day. So, you know, we made some good plays and will make plenty of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) plays.


CARTER: Whoa! Brady!

The Cincinnati Bengals took a beating from the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday as the punter Kevin Huber got the worst of it. Blindsided by a block and completely leveled. Huber suffered a broken jaw on this hit, guys. Ouch!

The Steelers get a must win over their division rival and stay in playoff contention.

Hey, he's youngest Heisman ever. He was 19 years old. But it was no surprise when Jameis Winston's name was called on Saturday night. The Florida state quarterback won in a landslide by the seventh largest margin ever, 80 percent of the voters went with him and 118 left him off their ballots most likely because of the sexual assault investigation where he was never charged.

Now, Winston became emotional at times during his acceptance speech, it's obviously because he has a very successful year on the field but quite a trying one off for both him and his parents.

Guys, the national championship game and he has all of next season because he has to play as a sophomore and he is the front-runner to win the Heisman trophy again next year.

BERMAN: That is awfully hard to do winning it back-to-back. Who is the guy that did it --

CARTER: It had been done once.

BERMAN: Was it Griffin? What was his name?

CARTER: Yes, Archie Griffin, yes.

BERMAN: Archie Griffin in the '70s, right, of Ohio State. My head is still ringing from that hit that Kevin Huber took. The punter. That was insane.

CARTER: Yes, he didn't sign up for something like that, right? You're supposed to punt the ball and go to the sidelines.

BERMAN: Oh, man. Broken jaw there. I hope he is doing OK after that. That is hard to see.

All right. Joe Carter, thanks so much.

CARTER: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. The top headlines, everything you need to know for your day right after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK

BERMAN: A deadly snowstorm pounding the East Coast. Chaos at the airports. Tragedy on the roads, folks.

Indra Petersons is tracking the damage and she will tell us what is coming next.

ROMANS: An American behind bars for months for posting a parody video online going before a judge this morning. We are live with the latest developments.

BERMAN: And now, is the game of baseball getting too dangerous? Reports revealing a deadly brain disease in a former baseball player. Did too many concussions ultimately cause Ryan Freel to take his own life?

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: Let's begin with a very messy Monday morning in the Northeast. Millions of people knee-deep snow digging out right now. More than a foot of snow falling on parts of New York and New England, hundreds of flights cancelled. FedEx warning all of the bad weather could mean major delays for millions of holiday packages.

BERMAN: Happy Monday, everybody! Ice and up to 9 inches of snow making a mess of the roads in Pennsylvania.

Take a look at this tractor-trailer coming within inches of sliding right off of an overpass there. Check that out.

ROMANS: More of the mayhem in Massachusetts. Check out the conditions on I-93. A spinouts and accidents all over the state with more than a foot of snow recorded north of the Massachusetts turnpike.

BERMAN: All throughout the Boston area, big concerns about the morning commute, all the slosh and rain, it's freezing u as temperatures fall. Drivers are being warned to take it slow this morning, or in the Boston area, they say take it wicked slow.

ROMANS: They're dusting up the snowballs in Albany, New York, part of the capitol is buried under more than a foot of snow. The temperature with the wind-chill this morning is 7 below.

BERMAN: All right. Florida escaping the snow but still picking up the pieces. Check this out, a brutal storm down there.