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Obamacare Milestone; New Year, New Laws; Safety on the Slopes

Aired December 31, 2013 - 06:30   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: New video this morning of the Phoenix bank robbery suspect gunned down after a shoot-out with police. This is Mario Edward Garnett, seen walking around that bank with his gun drawn, making demands. This was on Saturday.

Garnett was shot by plain clothes officers after exiting the bank and engaging in a shoot-out. Now, officials believe he is the same man who shot and killed a police officer in Mississippi.

Kim Jong-un is marking the New Year with a visit to the ski resort, the ski resort he is building. As a pet project of sorts for himself and the country's elite. It features 70 miles of ski runs, a hotel, heliport and ski lifts.

He told state media it will open very soon. Kim was seen touring the resort with a former ally of his uncle, the one he had executed earlier this month.

Listen to this -- a university in Michigan, I should say, is ready to put a few of the year's most overused words to bed. Lake Superior University has put out a list of the most annoying words. Among the winners: you could guess -- selfie. The move made popular by Miley Cyrus, twerk. Those are a couple of the words the university wants to banish due to overuse and just overall fatigue. The list is made up of nominations sent to the school throughout the year.

John and Michaela, a couple of the other words, Twittersphere, as well as hashtag.



PEREIRA: I like Totes Magotes. I'll stop at totes.

JOHN BERMAN: All right. Thank you, Ana. I appreciate it.

We're going to have to think about this for a little while. See if we can --

CABRERA: There are a lot of words.

BERMAN: It is time for our political gut check, New Year's Eve edition. January 1st marks so many things. But among other things, it marks the first day for Americans who have signed up for health insurance through the Obamacare site. It's the first day that their plans will actually take effect. A lot of people wondering, will it go smoothly, especially given everything that happened with the Obamacare rollout.

We're joined now by CNN political analyst and the executive editor of "The Daily Beast", John Avlon, here to break it all down for us.

As we said, I mean, we're just a few hours away from when these health plans take effect, when people start using the insurance they've been trying to sign up for since October 1st. There was a lot of talk about the back end of the site here, whether or not it would be implemented smoothly.

How high are the concerns right now?

JOHN AVLON, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, given the history of the rollout, I think this will be flawless. I mean, look, this is where the rubber meets the road, right? One of the challenges the president and administration faces with the implementation of Obamacare isn't just the precedent of the Web site. It's the fact that any problems and frustrations that people have with their health care, they will blame on Obama and Obamacare.

BERMAN: I think there are people looking for problems and frustrations with the rollout of the insurance who may highlight that.

AVLON: You think?


AVLON: I don't know. Somewhere I think there's a partisan media that might jump all over that. Of course, you know? But there's also the flip side, which is that if things aren't as bad has been advertised by folks in partisan media, there could be a reality check that kicks in before November. But now is where the rubber meets the road, where the people have any frustrations with the insurance they bought, if there are bumps -- yes, there will be the moment where those voices get ratcheted up real quick.

BERMAN: Although we should point, the White House is also trying to do their own propaganda. They're looking for Obamacare success stories apparently to start highlighting and promoting the minute it goes into service tomorrow.

AVLON: Of course.

BERMAN: And whenever you can engage with the "p" word, propaganda, there are a lot of dangers there to free press too, because life has a way of poking holes in that.

PEREIRA: So, it's last day of the year. We often think about the fact that we reflect on the year to come and the mistakes we made in the past, speaking of Obamacare. Some would point to other big political missteps, Benghazi. We saw the president's poll numbers suffer as a consequence.

What do you think he has to do to get back on track, the president, looking into the New Year?

AVLON: You know, I actually think the president's number one challenge, this is seen with the sense of perspective, not being reactive to a lot of these smaller things, is reining in the surveillance state. He's got a historic opportunity to do. He has that was brought in by series of experts on how to poll in the NSA. And it's a historic opportunity for a president who was a constitutional law professor, who now is commander in chief, to try to reconcile those two things. That's on historic sense, that's one of the biggest fights he can take.

But he's also got to show not just success in the midterm election, which will determine how successful a second term is ultimately, but has to have a steadier hand on the tiller and allow a sense of perspective to kick in about Obamacare. But the biggest thing is something we're not really talking about, I think, is that the ability to whether he can rein in the surveillance state that's really cut his credibility in so many ways.

BERMAN: John, there's a lot of talk about whether or not he'll try to be accommodating to the Republicans in Congress, or whether he will be confrontational?

What do you think the first sign will be that he's made a decision here? What will we be able to see what direction he's decided to go in?

AVLON: State of the Union, January 20th. That will be really key, because it will show what sort of an agenda he's putting forth for an election year. And again, the fact this is a midterm election year means it's surprise, surprise, Capitol Hill doesn't like to be any more productive than it was in the past, probably less so.

I do think there are imperatives on things like immigration reform. But if the president chooses to be simply confrontational, there could be blow-back come the midterm elections. This is really all about whether the midterm elections can show some gain, as there were in Bill Clinton's second term, where it actually ends up breaking the fever.

We've heard a lot of that talk on Capitol Hill. The parties are deeply entrenched. The Republicans realize, we saw the leadership saying this, that they have a problem with the extreme of their own party. That's going to be one of the really fascinating things to watch play out this year.

BERMAN: Happy New Year. We'll all be needing some of this.

PEREIRA: We will, yes. And we know you've got a little one at home. So, you'll probably turn in early tonight?

BERMAN: You know, there's no such as turning in early --

AVLON: Why start now?

PEREIRA: Why start now? Happy New Year.

AVLON: Happy New Year, guys.

PEREIRA: Next up on NEW DAY, the turn of the calendar will mean a whole lot of new laws. They could affect anywhere from what you can smoke, to what you can do with your pets. We'll break it all down for you, coming up.

BERMAN: And despite all that beautiful white snow on so many slopes, this is a dangerous time of year to ski. There have been a lot of avalanches lately. The information you need to know to stay safe, coming up.


PEREIRA: And welcome back to NEW DAY.

Let's go around the world. We'll start in Italy where a famous volcano, Mt. Etna is erupting. It is showering lava and ash. Erin McLaughlin has that.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mt. Etna is at it again. Europe's tallest and most active volcano erupted in the early hours of Monday morning, sending plumes of smoke and debris into the air, illuminating the Italian skyline.

Now, Etna has been pretty active lately. This is the 20th eruption of 2013. And while it may look ominous, they say it's posed no risk to nearby residents. The last major eruption was in 1992.

Back to you, Michaela.


PEREIRA: All right. Thanks so much, Erin. And in China, a spectacular city chiseled from ice has taken shape. It's part of an annual winter festival. Can you say frozen skyscrapers?

Anna Coren has details.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, braving subzero temperatures in northeastern China. Artists are making the final preparations to the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival which officially opens in the New Year.

This 30-year tradition showcases massive sculptures and buildings made entirely from ice and snow that attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. Well, 10,000 workers have spent months using chisels, ice picks and lasers on more than 180,000 blocks of ice and 150 cubic meters of snow to create this winter wonderland. Back to you, Michaela.


PEREIRA: Right. How cool is that?

BERMAN: That's just plain cool.

PEREIRA: We love to see that.

BERMAN: All right. The New Year means a lot of things. One of the things it also means is new laws. From Florida to Washington state, an estimated 40,000 will take effect next year. Many of them begin at midnight tonight. So, it's time to bone up. Learn what's what.

CNN's Rosa Flores has what you need to know to stay on the right side of the new laws in 2014.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From flash mob crackdowns -- to pet lemon laws, 2014 will ring in nearly 40,000 new state rules.

Here are the highs and the lows:

Smoking a reefer in Colorado is legal.

Oh, but don't toss the butt of a cigarette in a public street in Illinois. It's considered littering. You could pay in cash or jail time.

Don't even think about lighting one in a car with a child in Oregon. The Beaver State won't allow it.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First we said, can you smoke in this part of the restaurant? Then, we said, well, can you smoke outside? Then, we said, can you smoke down the street? Then, we said can you move to another state?

I mean, we do not like regular smokers. Meanwhile, when it comes to marijuana, marijuana is fast becoming a legal substance in the United States.

FLORES: But new moms in Oregon can get away with this, taking their placentas home from the hospital. If you're wondering why do that in the first place? Some experts think eating it has positive health benefits.

JOY GETMAN, OREGON MOTHER: As long as they're not giving it to other people to eat. I suppose it's OK.

FLORES: And talking about health, no more tanning beds for some teens in Illinois and Oregon. You'll have to be 18 to tan in a salon in those places.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a happy girl.

FLORES: But you don't have to keep your new pet if it's sick. Illinois's new pet lemon law allows people to return a pet if an illness was not disclosed by the seller.

In California, gender will no longer determine what's school bathroom children can use. It's gender identity that matters.

CEVALLOS: The student who identifies as a different gender may feel comfortable in that bathroom. What about all the other student? I think that's going to be a problem and I think you're going to see parents really revolting against this law.

FLORES: Serious moves can have serious consequences in Illinois. The maximum penalty doubled to six years prison time for organizing a violent flash mob using social media.

Rosa Flores, CNN, New York.


PEREIRA: Did you get that all? Write it down.

BERMAN: It's a long list.

PEREIRA: Pay attention.

All right. Let's head back outside where Jennifer Gray who's in for Indra Petersons. She's is in Times Square taking a look at this forecast which is set to be a very cold one this year.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It is going to be very cold for the next couple of days.

You know, we're in Times Square, feels like the teens, actual temperatures in the 20s. And this is nothing. Over the next couple of days, it is only going to get worse. It is going to feel like roughly 17, 18 degrees as you ring in the New Year in Times Square.

And if that's not cold enough, just give it time. We have a system that's pushing across the coast and it is going to bring possibly snow and a lot of it to the Northeast. We already have very, very cold air in place. There are actually two scenarios with this, computer models aren't quite agreeing yet. One takes it well offshore which would be the best case scenario. Worst case has the low sitting a little closer to shore and that can mean a lot of snow.

Let's track it as it goes across the coast, across the country, rather. By the time it makes it to the northeast, Thursday night/Friday time frame. If this is the track that it takes, this could mean possibly six to eight inches of snow in New York City, possibly eight to 10 of snow in places like Boston.

So, we're talking a lot of snow in the Northeast, significant when you're talking about temperatures in the teens and single digits across much of the country with this storm system. So, not only the snow, it's going to bring very, very cold temperatures and folks better bring layers today, to Times Square.

Let me just tell you, because it is very, very cold. We're less than 18 hours away, guys, from the big moment, watching the ball drop. So, this place will be packed in a couple of hours for sure.

PEREIRA: You're going to stay right there to secure your position for the big show tonight, right?

BERMAN: You have a front row seat.

GRAY: Not a chance! You know what, I'm going to tell all of my friends, you know what I was in Times Square for new years eve.

PEREIRA: That's true.

GRAY: I was there.

PEREIRA: You have pictures to prove it. You might want to photo shop some other people in the crowd.

BERMAN: That's the way all of us go to bed at 6:00 p.m.

PEREIRA: I saw her leave with the studio and she had a bag of layers. She's very well prepared.

BERMAN: Jennifer, hang in there.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, if you're planning to go skiing this week, a new warning about the potential dangers. Avalanches, they seem to be happening more frequently, especially this time of year. The reasons you need to be extra careful on the slopes, coming up.

PEREIRA: And Peyton Manning may not be the best after all. His newest record could be snatched away. Over seven yards. You heard me right. Over seven yards. That's coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. Tim Tebow will be back in football next season, sort of.


BERMAN: Andy Scholes joins us now with more in The Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning guys.

Well, you know when you wake up on Saturday mornings next fall to watch college football, Tim Tebow will be there to break it all down for you. ESPN announced yesterday they've signed Tebow to be a part of their new SEC network that will launch next fall. Tebow isn't giving up on football just yet. He said he'll pursue his dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, but the opportunity with ESPN was too good to pass up. Tebow is going to make his TV debut during next week's BCS national championship game. All right, number two in the lineup section on today, Peyton Manning's record for yards in a season may be the shortest-lived record of all time; according to reports, the NFL is currently reviewing this play where Peyton Manning made a pass to Eric Decker. It went for seven yards but it really does look like it's a lateral. The NFL could actually change this to a running play and if they do, he would fall six yards shy of Drew Brees's previous record for passing yards in a season.

PEREIRA: That would suck hard.

SCHOOLES: It would be rough.

All right, this week, guys, the Memphis Grizzlies made an awesome acquisition. The team, along with the Make A Wish Foundation made 8- year-old Charvis Brewer's wish come true. The Grizzlies drafted Charvis into a team, giving his own press conference, contract, and of course a draft hat. He then got to attend a practice and a team game with the Bulls. Now, Charvis, who suffers from cerebral palsy, he not only got to have a wish come true, he also made history to become the youngest player to ever be drafted in the NBA. What a cool deal for him.

PEREIRA: That is fantastic. Look at how happy that kiddo was.

SCHOLES: It was awesome. I love it when teams do stuff like that.

PEREIRA: What a great move! Youngest draft in the NBA. I like it.

Andy Scholes, we hope you have a fantastic and safe new year.

SCHOLES: You, too, guys.

BERMAN: Thanks.

So, December of course marks the start of the ski season, many flocking to the resorts for a winter retreat. But as we have seen the last few days, the early part of ski season can often be the most dangerous. There have been avalanches, accidents, as skiers push things too far.

We should say there is good news this morning about famous race car driver hurt in a ski accident, Michael Schumacher the Formula 1 champion. His doctors say he has improved slightly after surgery in France. Let's go back to Poppy Harlow for what you need to know about the dangers of skiing.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah I mean that's good news about Michael Schumacher overnight having a second surgery. But it was a skiing accident, and there have been a number of them -- 34 deaths in the United States from avalanches last year. And there are special avalanche advisories being issued for the holiday right now in Colorado, in Wyoming. A lot of skiers out west may be spending more time in the lodge than on the slopes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: Trails are closed at this Utah resort after an avalanche temporarily buried several skiers Monday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing to play with. It's serious stuff. And you know, just glad everybody is okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do their best to control the environment. We're in mother nature and you can't always predict what's going to happen.

HARLOW: They were lucky to get out; near the Wyoming/Idaho border, two people died in the last week when a skier and snowmobiler were buried in two separate avalanches. Look at this unbelievable video, captured as brothers Edwin and Davis LaMair were off-trail skiing in Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that an avalanche? We're in an avalanche!


HARLOW: Davis rushed to his brother's side. He was buried up to his head in snow after being caught in a sudden avalanche. Edwin survived with only a leg injury, lucky his brother was there to help.

DAVE BYRD, DIRECTOR, RISK & REGULATORY AFFAIRS, NATL. SKI AREAS ASSOCIATION: Skiing within sight of a partner is always a good idea. Making sure that others know where you're going, staying in control, having the proper equipment.

HARLOW: Avalanches often take place after fresh powder piles on top of frozen-over snow. The sudden surge of snow can sometimes be triggered by the skier. This amazing video of a free skier in Spain was meant to be part of a car commercial. When he got caught in an avalanche, he deployed an inflatable backpack that saved his life. The accident turned into an ad for the company instead.

BYRD: The common equipment you need to have with you, a beacon, a probe, a shovel at a minimum. You should be prepared and educate yourself, know before you go.


HARLOW: Absolutely also always wear a helmet. Most people don't. Experts say helmets can be life saving as in the case of Michael Schumacher and in addition to that, you saw the inflatable backpack. There's also a device called an Avalong (ph), and that allows you to hold your breath under the snow for about 30 minutes as rescuers dig you out.

Always go with someone who can dig you out, call for help. I also ready something interesting, and they said it may seem like why would you ski with a cell phone? But if you're anywhere in range, always bring a cell phone with a charged battery. You can call for help or the GPS signal.

PEREIRA: They can ping your location. Thank you for that, Poppy, it's a sad reality but we have to be aware of this. HARLOW: It seems like it's more frequent but experts say more people are skiing off piste or off trail.


PEREIRA: Going to turn to our Must-See Moment. You should stick around for this, it's fun. A contestant on "The Price Is Right" is going to have a very happy 2013. Sherri Hill from Tacoma, Washington won a car, an Audi R8-V8 Spider Quattro S-tronic (ph) price tag $157,300. Check her out. Jumping for joy, disbelief. What we'd all do if we won a prize like that. The car makes Sherri the biggest prize winner in "The Price Is Right" history. Her T-shirt said, being on The Price Is Right is on her bucket list.

BERMAN: She's going to pop a blood vessel.



HARLOW: She deserved the car.


PEREIRA: Wouldn't you? I would lose my mind. Congratulations.

HARLOW: I love that. I love that.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, we have some worries in North Dakota after a dramatic train collision and this explosion. Look at that. Evacuations are underway amid concern that the smoke could be toxic. We'll have the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be very cold. We're all wearing three of four layers.

PEREIRA: New years freeze, a brutal cold hits much of Midwest. Tonight, many partying outdoors in below freezing temperatures. Will your celebration be frozen out?

BERMAN: Rescue by air, helicopters set to rescue those stranded passengers, trapped on a ship in the Antarctica, but the nasty weather isn't letting up. New video this morning as they prepare to finally get out.

PEREIRA: Beyonce controversy, the song that has NASA officials hurt and upset. Why does her new song use audio from the space shuttle Challenger explosion? Your NEW DAY starts right now!