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Gates Criticizes Obama Administration; Cassim To Be Released

Aired January 8, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The death toll rising. Record- breaking cold temperatures take hold of this country. This morning, blizzards burying communities. Roads so icy they're really just unpassable, and pipes bursting everywhere. Indra Petersons shows us the damage and explains what's next.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Bashing Biden. Former secretary of defense, Robert Gates, attacking the White House, criticizing the White House in his new book. Shocking words he had for Vice President Joe Biden.

BERMAN: And set to be free. A Minnesota man behind bars jailed for posting a parody on YouTube. His release could be imminent. We'll have the latest details on this story.


ROMANS (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is now 31 minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: All right. For some parts of the country today, it will feel like summer -- OK, it's not --


ROMANS: But it will be dramatically warmer today. It's all relative. That's the good news this morning. The deep freeze is thawing.


ROMANS (voice-over): But not before another cold morning. These are the temperatures right now, 13 below in some parts of Minnesota. At least 16 deaths now blamed on this freezing weather.

BERMAN (voice-over): Snow, actually a blizzard is hitting hard in the village of Hamburg near Buffalo. People there have had to deal with whiteout conditions, strong wind, this heavy, heavy snow which you can barely see. Conditions changed on a dime so any breaks they thought they might have to try to dig out are short lived.

ROMANS: It's so cold in Chicago, people there have renamed it Chiberia.


BERMAN: So funny in Chicago.

ROMANS: They are. Right. The city finally broke a streak of 37 hours of subzero temperatures Tuesday, but it's still brutally cold. Getting around potentially dangerous, drivers in the area dealing with the threat to the road. It's hard to see, black ice. Just like that video, it's hard to see. This is what I love. Look at this, this is the ice overtaking parts of Lake Michigan.


ROMANS: I want you to look at this. The shoreline frozen up. The meteorologists there say the lake itself hasn't frozen over. And guess what, the Lincoln Park Zoo, it was so cold -- Lincoln Park Zoo is like inside and outside. They wouldn't let the polar bear outside.

BERMAN: That's like the movie "Frozen." That looks like something --

ROMANS: It's crazy. But it was too cold for a polar bear in Chicago.

BERMAN: How cold is it? Too cold for a polar bear.

All right. Take look at this. This could be frightening and dangerous, this weather. This car accident caught on camera in Minnesota. That's a truck flying off a bridge just north the Minneapolis. It landed near the southbound lane of Interstate 35, narrowly avoided being hit by oncoming traffic. Get this, the driver amazingly, miraculously survived. Authorities say the road obviously very icy at the time of the accident.

ROMANS: Century old pipes in Central Connecticut no match for wind chills well below zero. Old pipes, cold weather, not a good combination. Emergency crews rushing to water main breaks in Hartford and other towns nearby.

BERMAN: Thousands of people lost power in South Carolina because of the cold. And that led to scenes like this. Burst pipes and ice everywhere. In this case, because of what happened on the top floor of a condo complex, a pipe in a laundry room erupted from the cold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like you could ice climb up the side of the building there. I just woke up to a six-story man made waterfall.


BERMAN: And again, that ice made waterfall in South Carolina. The south.

ROMANS: The economy is picking up for plumbers. In Arkansas, temperatures finally rising. Pipes rupturing across the state. There's a three-day wait, three-day wait for service calls in Little Rock right now.

BERMAN: The worst sound you can ever hear, and so many people experiencing that. Their cars not starting because of the cold. In Maryland, AAA says it received more than a thousand calls an hour.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really busy. Really busy. I mean, we're totally swamped right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is, we got to get the battery replaced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hoping for the car to start so I could get my kid to school.


ROMANS: So, the cold and the bad weather causing thousands of flight cancellations in the last few days. More than 500 flights grounded today mostly in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo. There's hope that many passengers may finally get on their way to their destination today. Some say even if they got on a flight in the past few days, their luggage, though, didn't come with them.


JOHN SINDONE, PASSENGER: They kept telling us they were loading our luggage on the plane and that's why we were delayed on the runway for like three or four hours. But then when we got to Orlando, it never actually came at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there was no luggage --

SINDONE: For the whole entire plane.


BERMAN: All right. And look at this. Guess what state this is? Florida. Florida. Even the sunshine state could not escape the icy cold. These pictures taken by an iReporter not far from Tallahassee. Temperatures there dipped as low as 19 degrees on Tuesday.


ROMANS (on-camera): Wow. Indra Petersons has the latest on the cold and what we can expect today -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And finally, I can say, we have hope insight. Right. We're actually talking about temperatures are warming up for once instead of going down. They're going to be going up but slowly. I mean, today, we're still talking about that horrible wind chill for so many of you. It's a little bit of upside, instead of negative 55, about 33 or 31 below now in Duluth.

So, yes, that cold arctic air is starting to lift back to where it should be, back to the North Pole. New York City still seven below this morning with that wind chill. Here you go. There's the pattern change. Notice that cold air went all the way down south even in towards Florida where the high today there is near the 40s, but notice the change, as this lifts up by the weekend, we're actually get a lot of warm air off the gulf.

Look at that, we're going to be talking about 60s, even some 70s, near 80 degrees today by the weekend. But look at the change. We're talking about temperatures still, yes, highs today on the cool side. D.C. just above freezing at 33. Single digits still out towards Minneapolis. That is still 20 degrees below normal for them. But looking better down towards the southeast. So, it is a gradual change but hello. Check this out.

Tampa going to 79 degrees by the weekend. Loving that. Finally, people can actually get their beach vacations that went down there. And New York City goes to above normal, almost like 20 degrees, about 56. Even Chicago goes above normal by Saturday looking at the 30s. Anyway, that is all that anyone cares about right now were going from below normal to well above normal.

BERMAN: You can't go much lower than below normal.

PETERSONS: Yes. Not really.

BERMAN: All right. Indra, thank you so much.

So, what's everyone in Washington talking about this morning? It is this criticism levied at the president from his former secretary of defense.


BERMAN (voice-over): Robert Gates saying in a new book that he almost quit in 2009 over the war in Afghanistan and deep policy disputes within the administration. He claims President Obama lost faith in the Afghan war strategy, questioned his own commanders, and listened too much to negative news from his advisers, including Vice President Biden.

Now, Gates calls the vice president a man of integrity, but listen to this, he writes, "I think he's been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." That, folks, scathing criticism. The administration responded with a statement saying that deliberations over Afghan war policy have been widely reported and that the president relies on the vice president's, quote, "good counsel every day."

ROMANS (voice-over): Staying in Washington. Extending unemployment benefits cleared a hurdle in the Senate. Six Republicans joining with Democrats to get this bill to 60 votes it needed to advance. Now, in exchange for those votes, those Republicans want to find new spending cuts. They want to find revenue to pay the $6.5 billion price tag.

It's not clear if that's something that can easily happen in Washington where they really don't agree on very much. Still, President Obama called on Congress to send him a bill, a bill he could sign to help, right now, the more than one million Americans who lost emergency unemployment benefits last month.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's hard out there. There are a lot of our friends, a lot of our neighbors who lost their jobs and they are working their tails off every single day trying to find a new job. Now, as the job market keeps getting better, more and more of these folks will find work. But in the meantime, the insurance keeps them from falling off a cliff.


ROMANS: There's no word yet if the House plans to take up that extension.

BERMAN: Congressman Trey Radel getting back to business. The Florida Republican returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the first time since pleading guilty to cocaine possession in November. Radel says his job now was trying to rebuild trust and he will continue drug and alcohol treatment, but his political future very much up in the air. He faces a tough re-election fight later this year.

ROMANS: Former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, speaking out three years to the day, three years to the day after she was shot in a Tucson parking lot, talking about her rehabilitation on her ongoing efforts to enact new drug laws. In a "New York Times" column, Giffords writes that after many hours of rehab and a whole lot of work, she has new feeling in her right arm.

Something she says she never imagine could have happened without a lot of hard work. And she urges similar patients over gun control. She tells her supporters with work and time, change will happen.

BERMAN: Her recovery has been remarkable.

Overseas, Syria has started moving chemical weapons materials out of the country. U.N. officials say the poison gas ingredients were transported to the Syrian port area and on to a Danish vessel to be taken into international waters. They'll be destroyed aboard a U.S. navy ship. This is the first and critical step in the international operation of ridding Syria of its declared chemical weapons program by the middle of this year.


ROMANS (on-camera): After nine months in jail, an American from Minnesota could finally be on his way home from the United Arab Emirates in just a few days. Shezanne Cassim was arrested back in April in Dubai after posting a comedy video on YouTubem, spoofing youth culture there. And now, the state department says he is closer to being released.

Sara Sidner has been covering the story for us. She's in Abu Dhabi this morning. So, how close do we think he is to coming home, Sara? SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that it's probably going to happen in the next 24 hours. We understand from the state department that he's been sent to a deportation facility.

And so, it is imminent that he will be leaving the U.A.E., deported after being in prison for nine months where a YouTube film that he put online, intending it to be funny, intending it to be a joke, a satire, about life in the suburb of Dubai, where these wannabe gangsters are going around trying to protect people in a neighborhood that they are saying is dangerous which of course, everyone knows is not.

This is one of those cases where there is much confusion in the minds of the young men who put this video together. They had no intention of seeing anything go wrong. And all of a sudden, they find themselves in prison with no explanation for many months as to why they were there. Finally, they were told they were arrested under the cybercrimes law that has been newly enhanced here in the U.A.E. for this video which they said they didn't intend to be anything more than a joke.

It is quite innocuous and have a lot of people puzzled as to why exactly they were put in jail for so long, but the government didn't agree. The judge sentencing Shezanne Cassim and several others to one year in prison. He has served about nine months which the courts look at things -- they don't look at the number of days on a calendar and they don't do it that way.

They sort of shorten it a bit. This is about the amount of time that you would serve for a sentence like that, but there's been a lot of heartache for the family who has fought and fought and fought to try to get Shezanne home and that looks like it's going to happen very soon.

ROMANS: And it is a reminder, Sara, to Americans traveling there that the legal system is very, very different and you have to be very, very careful as a foreigner in many of those countries. Thank you so much, Sara.

BERMAN (on-camera): Forty-two minutes after the hour. Coming up, an American helicopter goes down off the English coast, and four airmen are dead. We're going to have the latest n this tragedy when we come back.


ROMANS: Four American airmen are dead after a helicopter crash in England.


ROMANS (voice-over): It happened northeast of London when the air force, Pave Hawk, went down along the north sea. No cause has been determined yet. The chopper was on a training mission when it crashed. And investigators say debris is scattered over such a large area it may take days before they have a better sense of exactly what happened there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A deadly avalanche in Vail, Colorado has killed the grandson of the man credited with founding that resort. Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Seibert (ph) died in a popular back country area on Tuesday morning. He and three other people were trapped in the avalanche. It's not clear if they were skiing or if they were snowboarding. Rescuers were able to free three other people. Experts are telling us that the avalanche danger in Colorado now is particularly bad.


ETHAN GREENE, DIRECTOR, COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER: It's been described as a couple hundred yards wide and maybe up to ten feet deep. Running close to a thousand feet of vertical. We've been seeing over the last ten days or so just a general increase in the size of the avalanches in the back country.


BERMAN: This is the second avalanche death in Colorado just over the last week.

A Montana judge who made national headlines over his sentence for a convicted rapist has decided to retire. But Judge Todd Baugh insists that his decision to step down from the bench after 30 years has nothing to do with the controversial case.

When he sentenced former teacher, Stacey Rambold, to serve just 30 days in jail despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to raping a 14- year-old student that caused quite a stir. But Again, the judge says that is not why he's retiring.

ROMANS: A Missouri teen at the center of a small town rape scandal that made national headlines is recovering from a suicide attempt. Daisy Coleman claimed she was viciously bullied after reporting an alleged sexual assault in 2012. She was just 14 at the time. The assault charges were eventually dropped, but according to the girl's mother, the bullying never stopped. A special prosecutor is reviewing the case.

BERMAN: So, how cold was it in Kentucky earlier this week? So cold that an escaped prisoner begged a man to help him get back to jail. The inmate, Robert Vick (ph), apparently escaped from a minimum security facility on Sunday. He was serving a six-year sentence for burglary, but his temperatures dropped into the low single digits he went to a home and a motel, asked for food, and then made the request, please call the police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was ready to go back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was frost bit. He (INAUDIBLE) on his fingers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was shivering. He was real cold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He frost bit. Our barn's out back. I guess slept there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said can you call the law on me? And I looked at him like he was crazy or something.


BERMAN: So, as you can imagine, the dispatchers didn't believe him when he called, but they did send an ambulance and a police car to take him to the hospital and then, yes, ultimately, back to jail.

ROMANS: Washington State could soon face an unusual problem, too much marijuana. State-licensed stores are set to open for business midyear. Now, officials say they have too many applicants for both growing it and selling it. They're hoping to cap production about 46 acres and limit the number of retailers, but applications have been flooding in. Officials say they might have to resort to a lottery system for who can grow and who can sell it.

BERMAN: A Baltimore-bound jet forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday. Officials say the American Airline departed Dallas but just after reaching cruising altitude, a water pipe burst. Some of the 147 passengers reportedly were soaked in the incident. Ooh. The pilot landed without incident in Little Rock. And after repaired, passengers reportedly re-boarded the flight.

ROMANS: Wow. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY" this morning.

BERMAN: Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, what's going on, guys?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. happy Tueday, guys.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let's take a look --

BOLDUAN: What is going --

CUOMO: What is coming up here on "NEW DAY?"

BERMAN: Happy Tuesday, it's Wednesday.


BOLDUAN: Oh. Did I say Tuesday? There's a good start of the day. I'm still back there. I enjoyed it so much.

ROMANS: You guys made so much news on Tuesday, you're still in it.

BOLDUAN: Just replay that video.

CUOMO: And by "we," you mean Dennis Rodman.

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: So, we're going to take a look at that today. Obviously, you probably heard about the interview with Dennis Rodman. He got very WWF in here with questions about whether or not he would take his access to the ruler and use it to do some good, specifically, with American, Kenneth Bae. All of this, the context is, with the gentlemen around them, a basketball game that they're playing about now in North Korea.

It was supposed to be a cultural exchange, that's what the guys around him thought, but Dennis Rodman (INAUDIBLE) into a gift for the ruler. So, what does that change? Why was he so upset? We're going to bring in some people with different perspectives. Greg Anthony, you may remember him, another NBA great, also avery intelligent on the topic of culture exchange and what this situation should be seen as, defending the players somewhat.

Former ambassador, Bill Richardson, is going to talk about the situation in North Korea and what he thinks Rodman's impact may be.

Also, and perhaps, most importantly, the sister of Kenneth Bae. She's going to be here to talk about and remind all of us why he is, where he is, what he really confessed to and not, and how she feels that Dennis Rodman may be affecting the fate of her brother.

BOLDUAN: We're tracking that.

And another story that we're going to be talking about today as a Target employee being called a hero this morning. We're going to find out how police say she helped them track down a man suspected of kidnapping a little girl. This person was just at work. They did much more than their job and this story. We'll bring that story to you.

ROMANS: Sounds good, guys. We'll be there for sure. Thanks.

BERMAN: Coming up for us next with new laws come new opportunities. The question is, should you invest in pot? Now, you can, but should you?


BERMAN: The story in "Money Time" is next.


BERMAN: All right. This is breaking news now. You're looking at live pictures from Dunwoody, Georgia. This is near Atlanta. Look at that, that is water simply flying into the air. It's a broken water main spraying this water. It's not clear if the weather had anything to do with this. But I've got to say, we've been seeing broken pipes in water mains all across the country, even in the south, over the last few days.

And look at those power lines now just covered, covered in ice from that spraying water. Looks like it's pretty out of control right there right now and creating a dangerous situation. We'll keep our eye on this --

ROMANS: And you know, that cold is a real business story. You can't build houses when it's cold. You know, you can't -- when the roads closed like that, you know, the people who are going to go work -- you can't drill for oil, you can't frac for gas, you can't ship railcars. I mean, it's really nuts how this deep freeze has affected so many different businesses. You look at pictures like that -- I mean, you look at pictures like that, I see a business story, but --

BERMAN: I see ice.

ROMANS: I see a lot of ice and I see a lot of people who are irritated.

All right. It's "Money Time" this morning. You know, we have the first rally of 2014. Finally, yesterday, the Dow up more than 100 points. S&P/NASDAQ closed higher. One stocl may be to watch today, Ford. Its CEO, Alan Mulally, put the bed rumors that he was heading to run Microsoft. John, I've heard these rumors every week.

BERMAN: Forever.

ROMANS: Forever. He personally said he's staying put through 2014 at Ford. The speculation has been relentless. He personally wanted to put this thing to bed. Another place to look today, pot stocks. Have you heard about them? Pot stocks.

BERMAN: Maybe.

ROMANS: With legal marijuana comes a new space in the stock market. Call them pot stocks. They lit up yesterday on ripples (ph), I guess, from Colorado's blooming marijuana business. Many of these are risky penny stocks. Some of those, though, are legitimate big companies. How do you invest in the pot business?

BERMAN: Very carefully.

ROMANS: Think pot safes, pot vending machines, pot security, technology for pot nurseries, companies that tweak their existing technology to apply directly to the pot-growing business. Huge rallies for those stocks. We'll see how high they can go.

The reigning queen of Silicon Valley --

BERMAN: Christine Romans?

ROMANS: No, no. Marissa Mayer. She took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday. Marissa Mayer, looks at this, she's there with some big fire power. She's the CEO of Yahoo! She's there with her friends like the new anchor, Katie Couric, the global anchor for Yahoo! She announced the acquisition of smartphone app maker, Aviate.


MARISSA MAYER, YAHOO! CEO: Think about how much your phone understands about you, your location, your contacts, your calendar, your e-mails. And now, imagine what happens when that context becomes part of the search experience. The future of search is contextual knowledge. A mere investing to be part of this future.


ROMANS: Shares of Yahoo! have gained more than 160 percent since Marissa Mayer took over in 2012.

BERMAN: So says the reigning queen of EARLY START. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: All right, friends. Don't go change it.

ROMANS: "NEW DAY" starts right now.


CUOMO: Whiteout. A massive snowstorm dumping as much as two feet in parts. Stranded drivers rescued by snowmobiles. And then, the cold. Watch as this driver skids off an icy bridge. So, when does this toll (ph) begin?

BOLDUAN: Game on. Dennis Rodman and his team of Americans playing in their big game in North Korea this morning just a day after his fiery interview here on "NEW DAY." We are tracking the fallout from Washington to Pyongyang.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Target hero. She's the employee who spotted something amiss. With her quick action, she was able to save this kidnapped seven-year-old girl. Now this, the kidnapper is speaking out from jail.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.