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Deadly Bus Blast in Russia; Rescue Put on Hold; Arctic Blast

Aired December 30, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, at least 14 people killed when a bomb explodes on a bus in Russia. It's the second deadly attack there in two days. The violence raising big questions about security at the Olympics, now just a month away.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Rescue effort in Jeopardy. Overnight, another attempt to help the dozens of stranded people in Antarctica put on hold. Options for a rescue are getting more desperate.

ROMANS: And bundle up! Temperatures across a huge chunk of the U.S. are plummeting. Will 2014 kick off with a deep freeze? We'll have the latest for you on that.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START this Monday morning, the last Monday of the year! I'm Christine Romans.

CABRERA: That cold weather will wake you up at this early hour. I'm Ana Cabrera in for John Berman.

Thanks so much for joining us on this Monday, December 30th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get started with this breaking news this morning from Russia this morning.

A deadly terrorist bombing for the second time in as many days. At least 14 people are dead in this bus explosion. This is a day after 17 people killed when a railway station was targeted in the same city. This happens just a month before the winter Olympics in Sochi, an event Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised will be the safest Olympics in history.

CNN's Diana Magnay is in Moscow this morning with the very latest.

How is Russia trying to calm with security fears at this hour?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very difficult. It's clear that two attacks in two days in the same city shows how vulnerable this entire country is to terrorist attacks.

You have Sochi, very, very close to the extremely troubled North Caucuses region where Russia has been fighting for more than a decade. When the Olympics were announced that they would take place in Sochi, the big fear was that President Putin would not be able to contain the emanation of terrorism from that area. And these two attacks on as many days, there was also another attack on Friday, a car bomb three people were killed just on Friday on another town in the North Caucuses just goes to show how difficult it is to contain that threat. Sure, Volgograd is some 420 miles away from Sochi, but it is still very -- you can still see that the terrorists are spreading fear and it is a major rail hub for anyone travel from Moscow to Central Russia en route to Sochi. So, it is a way of spreading fear amongst those who might be looking to attend the games.

ROMANS: And, clearly, though, the security for the Olympics will be very tight in Sochi. What do we know? What does this mean for the planning of the Olympics or for the security surrounding the Olympics?

MAGNAY: Well, Sochi is a limited area. We have done in our reporting, we have seen how many checks that will be there. For example, heavy -- you know, you won't be able to bring your car unless it's registered in advance. There will be metal detectors everywhere and you will be frisked. It will be very and difficult to get near the Olympic Games for terrorists, and that is possibly why they are targeting other cities in southern Russia which are much easier.

It may also be a divisionary tactics so that authorities' attention is focused on this. Will the terrorist plan something bigger either against the games or in targets such as Moscow, for example?

ROMANS: All right. Diana Magnay, two deadly blasts in two days, another blast you said on Friday, clearly, clearly fierce there just a month before the Olympics. Thanks, Diana.

CABRERA: And now to a developing story down South. Severe weather conditions forcing an Australian ice breaker to suspend efforts to search that ship that's been stranded in Antarctica. Seventy-four people are on board this research vessel. They've been stuck in the thick ice, at the bottom of the earth now for a whole week.

An ice breaking ship from Australia is just miles away but can't move ahead because of heavy snow and poor visibility.

CNN's Matthew Chance is monitoring the situation from London. He's joining us live with the latest.

Matthew, these poor guys just can't catch a break.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. It's incredible, isn't it? It's been a saga that's been going on since Christmas Day when their ship, the Academic Shokalskiy as it's called, carrying tourists and scientists and crew members to this very remote area of the eastern continent of Antarctica was trapped in unseasonably thick, packed eye there.

It's been there since Christmas Day, 74 members of the passengers and crew on board haven't been able to get anywhere. They've got plenty of food and water and the ship is functioning in terms of its heating, so they're not in any immediate danger. But all efforts so far, Ana, have been abandoned to try and rescue. Three separate attempts now. First, a Chinese icebreaker called the Snow Dragon tried to reach them, got within eight nautical miles and had to call it off because the ship stalled in the thick ice. A French icebreaker tried to do the same, also called its mission to on reach the ships.

Now, an Australian icebreaker has done the same thing. It simply cannot get there. The weather conditions are so bad. The ice is so thick. These icebreakers which are, of course, the whole purpose is to break through this packed ice are not able to reach it.

So, what people, at the moment, are saying, the rescue teams, at the moment are saying is that they're going to have to sit tight and wait for things to change.

CABRERA: Wow. Those 74 people on board have got to be getting a little bit of nervous. As you mentioned three rescue attempts failing. What are the options for rescue at this point?

CHANCE: Well, they're not good at this point. The rescue teams said they have to wait until the weather conditions change. There is a possibility they could be ferried off, air-lifted off the ship by helicopter. But at the moment, the winds are so high there that they can't find a helicopter in the region either.

So, they're just going to have to wait for the weather conditions to change.

CABRERA: The message is hunker down and be patient.

Matthew Chance, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. I guess this is a perfect segue for Matthew Chance's story in this frozen ocean.

CABRERA: Right, if we think it's cold, right?

ROMANS: If you live in the Northern Plains, if you live in the Northeast, you can expect to mark the end of 2013 with freezing temperatures and snow.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is following the next dose of winter.

We won't need an icebreaker but we will a warm parka.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we will definitely need a warm coat.

You know, surprisingly, or you may not realize it, but the southern hemisphere is in summer now. So, a lot of these areas in the Northern Plains are actually colder than it is where they are.

Yes. So, we are seeing temperatures very, very cold. Temperatures, 23 degrees below zero in Minneapolis. This is what it feels like this morning with the wind chill. Of course, 36 below zero in international falls. It's very, very cold.

We have wind-chill advisories and warnings in effect right now where the wind-chill this morning in places in the Northern Plains will feel like 20 to 30 degrees below zero. So, very, very cold.

These cold temperatures really aren't going to go anywhere the next couple of days. So, in the Northern Plains, you'll be ringing in the New Year on a very cold note, with temperatures about 15 degrees below normal. You can see New York City by Tuesday, 37 degrees.

So, we're not that far from normal as we get into the middle to the end of the week, a lot of this cold air will be pushing into the Northeast. And so, we'll be in the deep freeze here in the Northeast by the end of the week.

A couple of little clipper systems in the north. Of course, we are waiting on this main front that is going to pull through by the end of the week. It could bring snow and even rain to a large portion of the east. Of course, we'll be talking about that as we go through the end of the week as well.

But as far as through New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, snow accumulations, most of the country staying very, very quiet, where we will see a little bit of snow up in the north, and could see anywhere from three to six inches of snow in the Northern Plains and around the Great Lakes could see two to four.

CABRERA: The snow making you feel festive at the very least, right?

ROMANS: All right. Jennifer Gray, thanks, Jennifer.

CABRERA: Five o' seven now here in the East.

The NSA goes James Bond. According to reports in Germany's "Ders Spiegel" magazine, the spy agency actually intercepts computer deliveries and outfits them with some special gear to spy on users. Computer cables hacks to record key strokes, memory sticks embedded with covert radio transmitters.

This is all part of a top secret program to, quote, "get the ungettable." It's not clear whether leaker Edward Snowden had anything to do with this leak.

ROMANS: After a rocky star, Obamacare enrollments are seeing a major turnaround. The White House says more than 1.1 million people enrolled in health care coverage through the federal marketplace between October 1st and Christmas Eve. Most people signing up just this month with 975,000 in December alone.

The Obama administration's overall goal is to get 7 million signed up by the end of March. Still have a very long way to that goal.

CABRERA: And it's not shaping up to be a happy New Year for the 1.3 million Americans whose long-term unemployment benefits expired Saturday after Congress failed to pass an extension. Democrats are vowing to make reinstating those benefits a top priority when Congress returns in January, but many Republicans argue that emergency assistance is just no longer necessary as the economy improves.

ROMANS: Lawmakers taking aim at a report in "The New York Times", a report that says al Qaeda was not involved in the 2012 Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Republican Mike Rogers insists that analysis is just not true.


REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: There was aspiration to conduct an attack by al Qaeda and their affiliates in Libya, we know that. The individuals on the ground talk about a planned tactical movement on the compound.


ROMANS: Republicans have long claimed the attack was planned for the anniversary of 9/11, but some Democrats are taking issue with this "New York Times" report.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Intelligence indicates that al Qaeda was involved, but there are also plenty of people and militias that were unaffiliated with al Qaeda that were involved.


ROMANS: "Times" really analyzing this and saying not a great understanding of these militias on ground and how they were at play there, placing most of the play with the anti-Muslim video. Initial claims -- but says the initial claims by the White House weren't exactly right either, painting a very murky picture what was happening there on the ground. That's what "The New York Times" report does.

CABRERA: A suspected bank robber shot and killed in Arizona after a nationwide manhunt. This morning, we are learning, he has served time for threatening the president in 2010.

Forty-year-old Mario Edward Garnett was shot by a detective on Saturday as he left the Phoenix bank with a bag of cash.


OFFICER JAMES HOLMES, PHOENIX POLICE: When this suspect started firing on our officer, the detective had arrived and he saw this occurring. At that point, he pulled his service weapon and he fired upon the suspect, striking him in the upper body and the suspect went down.


CABRERA: The FBI says Garnett is suspected in a whole week-long robbery spree that spanned from Georgia to Arizona. In fact, he got into a shoot-out with police in Mississippi. He killed a police officer there.

ROMANS: The Coast Guard searching for a Canadian man who jumped off a cruise ship about 15 miles from Puerto Rico. Other passengers saw the 26-year-old man jump Saturday night. It was the final night of a cruise with his family. Royal Caribbean says the captain immediately turned around to look for the man and alerted local authorities. No word on what led him to jump.

CABRERA: A development now in a story we have been following closely here on CNN. Time now running out for the family of this 13-year-old girl, Jahi McMath, who has been on a ventilator following complications after a tonsillectomy. A judge's ruling will now allow Children's Hospital in Oakland to remove Jahi from life support at 5:00 p.m. unless her family appeals. Doctors have declared the girl brain dead.


SAM SINGER, SPOKESPERSON FOR CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OAKLAND: Barring any unforeseen legal action by Mr. Golan (ph) and the family tomorrow when 5:00 comes around, the ventilator will be pulled.


CABRERA: Jahi's family launched an online Crowdsourcing page to raise money to transfer her to another hospital. And as of Sunday afternoon, they have reached their goal of $20,000, so a lot of eyes on what's going to happen next in this saga.

ROMANS: All right. Minimum wages set to go up in several states this week. Workers in New Jersey will see a dollar increase to $8.25 an hour. That starts New Year's Day. Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York will also see bumps between a quarter to 75 cents an hour.

Nine other states will see increases, thanks to annual cost of living adjustments. Thirteen states in all, you can see the states there.

CABRERA: A supreme New Yorker will do the honors on Times Square on New Year's Eve this year. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will push that ceremonial button that lowers the Times Square ball, ushering into 2014. She'll also lead the crowd in the final 60-secone countdown.

Sotomayor, of course, was the third woman and the first Hispanic to become a Supreme Court justice.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, a popular race car driver clinging to life this morning after a horrific skiing accident. Details on his condition, next.

CABRERA: Plus, an autistic teen missing in the wilderness has been found and this is the second time this has happened. How he was rescued is just ahead.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START this Monday morning.

The winningest formula one driver in history severely injured on Sunday, not on the race track. Forty-four-year-old Michael Schumacher is in critical condition following emergency brain surgery. The seven-time champion sustaining severe head trauma while skiing in the French Alps.

CNN's Amanda Davies is in London with the latest for us.

Good morning, Amanda.


We're now about 24 hours on since 44-year-old Michael Schumacher was involved in this accident in the French ski resort of Meribel. He was air-lifted to a hospital in Grenoble. We received one statement about 10:30 local time last night saying that yes, Michael Schumacher was in critical condition with severe brain trauma.

I can tell you another press conference at the hospital has just concluded. The three surgeons who have been dealing with him have been speaking to the media with an update and they said that he is still in a critical condition fighting for his life. He's in an artificial induced coma, having undergone one operation, suffering severe brain lesions as they put it.

He's also is in a state of induced hypothermia which is the traditional brain cooling strategy that they use to try and reduce the pressure on the brain. They wouldn't go as far as making any long- term predictions. They said they are very much dealing on an hour-by- hour basis.

They did say the fact that Michael Schumaker while skiing, the fact that he was wearing a helmet most definitely saved his life. They said it protected him and without the helmet he wouldn't have reached this stage. They've said no more developments until they are necessary, but still very worrying times for Formula 1 fans.

ROMANS: And he was wearing a helmet. What an interesting detail. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Amanda.

CABRERA: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called his Egyptian counterpart expressing concerns about recent violence in Egypt, and the political climate ahead of the country's constitutional referendum. Now, a Pentagon statement says Hagel offered his condolences for victims of the rash of bombings there, one Friday, one Sunday, one just this morning, and he also offered U.S. assistance to investigate those incidents.

ROMANS: In the first border flair up of its kind, in four months, at least one rocket-fired from Lebanon hit northern Israeli Sunday. It sparked a heavy artillery barrage from Israeli forces in response. No injuries are reported on either side.

It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hezbollah for that strike, and the condemned the Lebanese army for failing to rein in that group.

CABRERA: Meantime, Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to the Mideast region again to keep pushing for peace. He is expected to travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah and the West Banks starting on New Year's Day. And on his agenda, including discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

ROMANS: Senator Ted Cruz says he doesn't want to be from Canada any more. The Texas Republican has hired a lawyer to help renounce his Canadian citizenship. Cruz was born north of the border, to an American mother and a Cuban father in Canada. He says he didn't realize he had dual citizenship until a Dallas paper raised the issue. Cruz is a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

CABRERA: This volcano erupted in El Salvador and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The volcano located in San Miguel region spewed ash, and black smoke went over a wide area, threatening coffee plantations, which the area is known for. Now, emergency shelters were set up for the people who lived within two miles of that volcano. But so far, no reports of any injury.

ROMANS: A shocking scene in Mexico where a coastal highway completely collapsed. A driver in a cement truck was able to escape just as the ground started to shift. The truck ended up tumbling into the ocean. One of the holes created by this landslide was more than 40 feet deep. It stretched 200 feet long. Right now, we don't know what caused the collapse. Officials say it could take up to a year to repair the damage between Ensenada and Tijuana, Mexico.

CABRERA: An autistic teenager will spend a night lost in Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is safe at home this morning with his family. Sixteen-year-old Alex Irvin became separated from a hiking group Saturday afternoon, prompting a massive search and rescue operation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we were calling out blowing our whistles, we were trying to listen really carefully because he wasn't going to yell to try to get our attention.

BRUCE IRVIN, FATHER: Like a lot of children with autism, he's a very smart boy, and he is -- he's resilient. He has an excellent sense of direction. But, you know, we need to keep a better eye on him too. I feel bad that we let it happened.


CABRERA: So here is how it all unfolded. Alex somehow managed to find a remote lodge and a camper called 911. Now, this is not the first time he went missing while on a hike. In 2008, he was gone for three days. That was near Mt. St. Helen's.

ROMANS: Wow, so glad that came out well.

All right. Coming up, this has been an incredible season for Peyton Manning. The quarterback breaks another record. That and more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

CABRERA: Go Broncos.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START.

What a finish to the NFL regular season. Ten teams were fighting for four playoff spots yesterday. My team did not make it into one of those spots.

Andy Scholes joins us now with more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". My seven-year-old crying about the Bears!

CABRERA: It was a good game, though.

ROMANS: It was a lovely game. It was a wonderful game, but my team didn't win.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: I'm a Texans fan. I've been crying all season. I'm a Texas fan.

All right. Yesterday was awesome. There were two games that were basically, they were basically playoff games. Cowboys and Eagles and Packers and Bears, they're both win and you're in scenarios.

After missing seven weeks with a broken collarbone, Aaron Rodgers back under center for Green Bay and, boy, did he come through in the clutch for the Packers. Down one late in the fourth quarter, on fourth and eight, Rodgers hits Randall Cobb in stride for the 48-yard touchdown! An amazing, amazing play. Packers go on to win 33-28 and they are now heading back to the playoffs.

All right. With Tony Romo out for the year after back surgery, Kyle Orton getting the start for the Cowboys. Now, Dallas, they were down late in this one when Orton finds Dez Bryant for a 32-yard touchdown. The cowboys, they don't get the two-point conversion, so they were still down two. They would get the ball back with a chance to go down and win the game, but, oh, man, this is definitely familiar for Cowboys fans.

Orton throws the interception. Eagles would run out the clock and get the 24-22 win.

All right. The Pittsburgh Steelers, their chances to make the playoffs were very slim. They needed to win and have the Dolphins and Ravens and Chargers all lose. All of the scenarios were about to play out, but the Chiefs; Ryan Succop, he missed a very makeable 41-yard field goal that would have won the game. Actually, there should have been a penalty called on this play, with Chargers too many people on one side of the ball which is a penalty now. The Chargers should have gotten or the Chiefs should have gotten another chance at the field goal, but it was not flagged. The Chargers go on to win this game in overtime and making Steelers fans very unhappy.

All right. Here is a look at the playoff schedule for next weekend on Saturday. The Colts will host the Chiefs, followed by the Eagles hosting the Saints. Then, on Sunday, the Bengals will host the Chargers and the Packers and Niners are going to renew their rivalry at Lambeau Field.

The Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks and Panthers will all have a bye next week. And turning on this morning is Peyton Manning's amazing stats this season. Manning threw for 266 yards yesterday against the readers, breaking the single season record for yards in this season.

So, this year, he's beat records for yards, touchdowns and the Broncos scored more points than any team in NFL history. But, guys, that's not always a good thing. The previous ten high scoring teams, only three of them made the Super Bowl and only one of them won the Super Bowl, the '99 Rams.

So, you know, as the saying goes, defense wins championships.

CABRERA: You never know. I don't mean to gloat but I am from Denver. So, I just got a couple of fist pump this morning.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

CABRERA: Just ahead, the top headlines. Everything you need to know for today after the break.


ROMANS: Deadly explosion in Russia. At least 14 people killed on a bus just one day after another suicide bombing at a train station. Will tourists be safe during the upcoming Olympics?

CABRERA: Waiting to be rescued. Another ship trying to help dozens of people stranded in Antarctica is forced to turn back. Is there any relief in sight?

ROMANS: And brace for the cold. Another burst of freezing winter weather on the way and kicking off the New Year. More snow. We'll have the details.

Welcome back to EARLY START this Monday morning.

CABRERA: And I'm Ana Cabrera. We are warm inside, with smiles. John Berman is getting ready to anchor NEW DAY. So, we're keeping his feet warm. It's now 30 minutes past the hour. Thanks for being here.

We want to get back to our breaking news, that deadly explosion in Russia. This is the second terrorist bombing in as many days.