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A-Rod Suspended; No Tap Water; High Winds and Storms; NSA Reforms; Iraq Violence

Aired January 12, 2014 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Suspended for an entire season. That's the decision on the immediate future of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez. We've got his reaction, what his team is saying and A-Rod's next move, ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The windows. Oh, no, look at that.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, buildings collapsed, trucks turned over and it's just from the wind. Severe weather swirling all around the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.


BLACKWELL: He's grappled with giant robots and stared down giant meteors, but a speaking engagement may have done in director Michael Bay. So, how do you handle it when stage fright hits? An expert gives us the dos and the don'ts.

Your NEW DAY starts now.

PAUL: I feel so bad for him. I always feel bad for people --

BLACKWELL: Well, haven't we all been there though?

PAUL: We have, yes.


PAUL: That's why you should not feel bad, Michael. And we're going to make sure nobody else is in that position by the end of the day.

Thank you so much for waking up with us on this Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always a pleasure to be with you.

It is NEW DAY SUNDAY, 6:00 here on the East Coast, and there's no joy in Mudville. The mighty A-Rod has struck out. If you don't know the reference, it's from "Casey at Bat." We had this conversation with our producer this morning.


BLACKWELL: New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez has officially lost his appeal of the record-setting suspension handed down over use of performance-enhancing drugs. And at least one New York paper is celebrating that decision. Take a look at the front cover of "The New York Post," "a-dios for idiots." I guess this is A-Rod. A-Rod banished to an island there.

PAUL: Yes, they always have a lot of fun, don't they, with somebody else's misery.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes, (INAUDIBLE) a lot of fun, yes.

PAUL: A-Rod has been shut out of Major League Base's entire 2014 season. We're talking 162 games. And he's not going to be eligible for any post season games. Rodriguez continues, though, to deny claims of drug use and he vows he's going to keep fighting this thing. Andy Scholes is with us with more.

What's the reaction in the sports world? What are you all saying?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Well, there's different reaction depending on what side you're on here. If you're on the Yankee side, you're kind of happy about this because you don't have to pay A-Rod all that money his upcoming season. Now if you're on the player's side on things, on A-Rod's side of things, you obviously don't like this decision.

But this definitely a decision that A-Rod saw coming, his whole camp, ever since that first day of when they were having the arbitration hearing and A-Rod kicked over a suitcase, he stormed out of the room, they knew this was what the outcome was going to be. They didn't know the exact amount of games, but they knew it was going to be a lot.

So it ends up being 162 games. All of next - all of this upcoming season and all of the post-season. Now, A-Rod, he's vowed, hey, I still haven't done anything wrong, I'm going to fight this all the way to federal court. And in a statement he released yesterday, he said, "the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man's decision that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test. It is at odds with the facts and inconsistent with the terms of the joint drug agreement and the basic agreement."

Now, I think that's the part that A-Rod has the most beef with. It's that he never failed a drug test. This is just Major League Baseball going after him based on the testimony of basically one man, Anthony Bosch, based on the Biogenesis clinic and all the evidence they found there. And that's the thing that A-Rod has a problem with. He never failed a drug test. And if they would just come at him with a 50 game suspension or a 65 game suspension, he probably would have just said OK. But it's the fact that they want to get him for the 211, now the 162 games and all the post season.

PAUL: But, wait, there were other players involved with Biogenesis who took 50 game suspensions, right?

SCHOLES: You're right, a bunch of them took 50. And Ryan Braun, former National League MVP, he took 65. And he was like, got me. OK, I'm going to take it and go.


SCHOLES: And that's what I think A-Rod's having the biggest problem with is they want to get him for so much more. But - and that's the reason they - but they want to get A-Rod for not only using performance-enhancing drugs, they want to get him for lying and supposedly -

PAUL: For tampering, right?

SCHOLES: Obstructing and tampering the investigation.

BLACKWELL: So you talked about the money that's being saved by the Yankees off the top. How much?

SCHOLES: Well, they're going to save $24 million this year. And they've probably been operating with the fact that they knew that they were going to have that money available because they offered and signed big contracts, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Now, it's going to be interesting what happens going forward. They owe A-Rod $61 million from the 2015 to 2017 seasons. So it will be interesting to see what happens with that. A-Rod's going to be 39 years old when he eventually comes back to play baseball.

BLACKWELL: Do you think he's coming back?

SCHOLES: I think we've seen the last of him playing Major League Baseball.

PAUL: Wow. All right.

SCHOLES: That's my prediction right there.

PAUL: We'll see. Andy, thank you so much for breaking it down for us.

SCHOLES: You're welcome.

PAUL: I absolutely hate to have to say this yet again this morning, but they still don't know when people in nine West Virginia counties are going to be able to use their tap water again.

BLACKWELL: Yes, for the time being, the Department of Homeland Security is trucking in bottled water for them to use.


GOV. EARL RAY TOMBLIN, WEST VIRGINIA: The water use ban is still in place. If you are in an affected area, do not use tap water for drinking, bathing, cooking or cleaning. We will let you know as soon as the water company lifts the ban.


PAUL: In fact, officials say it could be days before the water is safe again. Now this ban started Thursday when it was discovered that 7,500 gallons of a dangerous chemical leaked into the water supply. So far there's been more than 1,000 calls to poison control and officials say the water crisis may have another problem now, it could contribute to the spread of the flu because people can't easily, obviously, wash their hands.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Alina Machado is covering this for us. She's in Charleston, West Virginia, with the latest for us.


ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, this was supposed to be a very busy weekend here in Charleston with thousands of people expected to come out here for several planned events. But downtown Charleston is an absolute ghost town and residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the uncertainty of the situation.


NEVA HADDY, RESIDENT: As soon as we can, fresh water, clean water.

MACHADO (voice-over): That's the plea from more than 300,000 people waiting to learn their tap water is safe. It's been more than 48 hours since they were told to stop using the water. The end is still unknown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would expect that we are talking days.

MACHADO (on camera): You think the city will be this slow for so many days?

MAYOR DANNY JONES, CHARLESTON, NEW JERSEY: Well, it's just hope - it's just you feel hopeless. And you think about the -- what it's going to cost all these businesses.

MACHADO (voice-over): That's the mayor in downtown Charleston, where every restaurant has been closed since Thursday when the chemical leak was detected.

LISA CROUCH, GENERAL MANAGER, CHILI'S: And I almost forgot it was a weekend because, you know, it's always so busy.

MACHADO: Lisa Crouch manages this Chili's. She says they are one of the few restaurants preparing to open sometime Sunday after getting the green light from the health department and taking special precautions.

CROUCH: Make sure that we have a three pot sink with certain water. It's got to be bottled water only to -- for sanitizing. We have to have all of our bathrooms and our sinks, our hand washing sinks, set up with sanitizers, set up with a water station and set up with paper towels. Make sure if we cook, we use gloves.

MACHADO: Authorities continue to test the water for the chemical, which is typically used to clean coal. In the meantime, the main priority for thousands is finding water that's safe to drink and use. FEMA has already sent truckloads of water to help residents with that task.

REVEREND MELVIN HOOVER, CHARLESTON RESIDENT: People are anxious because they don't have certainty about what's going on. I mean we are too in the sense that we don't know how long this is going on, but it doesn't make sense to panic right now. We still have options.


MACHADO: County officials say the longer this goes on, the greater the concern for those vulnerable populations like the elderly who might not necessarily have access to bottled water. Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney's office is investigating the chemical leak.

Christi. Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alina Machado for us there in Charleston, West Virginia. Thank you.

PAUL: Yes. Now some dangerous winds, icy conditions, you know it, another weekend of severe weather causing headaches across the country.

BLACKWELL: Haven't we had enough? I think we've had enough. But in the Midwest, look at this.

PAUL: It's only January.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, that's true. We've got February coming.

Dozens of accidents are being blamed on the slick roads there, like this one in Wisconsin. Look at this. A jackknifed semi landed on top of a truck and there was a person stuck inside that mess for about 45 minutes before being rescued.

PAUL: In the south, thousands of people didn't have power after severe storms toppled down trees and power lines. At least one death is being blamed on this storm too.

BLACKWELL: And wind gusts reached 85 miles per hour in North Carolina. You have to see this. The winds were so strong an apartment complex under construction collapsed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few of the windows - the windows -- oh, no, look at that!


BLACKWELL: That's just unbelievable. The winds that strong, knocked it all over.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness.

OK, let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Gray in because we want to know what we need to prepare for today, Jen.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, luckily everything is quite today. Those storms have pushed off, but they definitely left a punch. Look at that, Boulder, Colorado, had an 87 mile-per-hour wind gust. And just as you mentioned before, North Carolina, 86. Colorado, Montana, even Virginia all reporting wind gusts higher than 80 miles per hour. Those are hurricane force winds. Those are very, very strong winds. But they're gusts. And so we had a lot of wind reports yesterday. We had hail reports yesterday totaling about 151 reports, especially across the south and the southeast.

For today, a much better picture. Look at this. A quiet nation. We are seeing just a couple of snow showers in upstate New York. We're seeing a little bit of snow in the higher elevations in the west. Still a stormy day for the Pacific Northwest today. But as we zoom in, you can see just a couple of snow showers right there in upstate New York. That's really all we're seeing. Like we mentioned before, higher elevations getting the snow in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, another stormy day for you.

Look at these highs. We were in the deep freeze just this past week. Now look at this, Washington, nine degrees above normal, Nashville, 11. New York City, you're at seven degrees above normal today and you're going to continue this trend over the next several days, staying warmer than normal.

We do have another front coming in, guys, by Monday night, but it doesn't look like it's going to be near as strong.

PAUL: OK. Thank goodness. Jennifer Grey, thank you so much. I got tired of - I shouldn't say I got tired -- my husband got tired of covering the plants outside. I'm not going to take credit. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to (INAUDIBLE) --

BLACKWELL: You didn't do any of the work? He did all of it?

PAUL: I didn't, no, no.

OK, but thank you, Jennifer.

This week we can see major changes to the NSA's surveillance programs. Hear what President Obama plans to do to protect your privacy.

BLACKWELL: Plus, why the lead investigator in the New Jersey bridge scandal says he thinks Governor Christie's officials broke the law.


PAUL: Oh, look at that beauty. Good morning to all of you waking up in Washington and early at 13 minutes past the hour. A live look there at the Capitol building. And what a busy week in the nation's capital. Today, though, let's just take time to enjoy the present, shall we?


PAUL: Relax in the moment.

BLACKWELL: Very nice.

PAUL: A high of 52 degrees and sunny.

BLACKWELL: A little bit of wind there. You can see the flag whipping around there. Bit of a breeze. Good morning, D.C.

Hey, later this week, President Obama is expected to outline new reforms to the NSA surveillance programs.

PAUL: Yes, ever since Edward Snowden started leaking information about the program's reach, people around the world have demanded stricter regulation. Now, the president's been hearing recommendations from a review panel. And that picture there you see live of the White House this morning.

BLACKWELL: And now we may finally hear how he plans to rein in the mass surveillance. CNN's Erin McPike is in Washington with more.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, President Obama's public image has taken a big hit over the past year and one of the contributing factors was this constant stream of leaks about just how intrusive NSA's spying seemed to a number of Americans. Now before he left for his two week vacation in December, the president said he'd make a, quote, "pretty definitive statement" about how he'd like to change the agency to make Americans feel more comfortable.


MCPIKE (voice-over): Trying to end a worldwide uproar over NSA spying, President Obama will unveil how he'll keep his promise to reform government surveillance programs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may have to refine this further to give people more confidence. And I'm going to be working very hard on doing that. And we've got to provide more confidence to the international community.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: We should find a better balance, end mass surveillance.

MCPIKE: The president has suffered months of blowback since Edward Snowden's revelations last summer that the NSA has been collecting personal phone records on every American and spying on world leaders, including allies like Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel. He's called on experts, tech company leaders, and in the past few days, key members of Congress.

SEN. MARK UDALL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There were many members of Congress there from both the House and the Senate who covered the ideological spectrum, who urged him to throttle back the collection of metadata on a bulk level. I hope he listens.

MCPIKE: He's deciding whether to accept recommendation from an independent review commission that include storing personal data outside the government with a private third-party, possibly phone companies, and requiring the government get a judge to approve access. A public advocate to represent Americans privacy rights when those decisions get made. And, that spying on foreign leaders get high level approval.

PETER SWIRE, NSA REVIEW GROUP: We have many countries with common interest. So having a more thorough process to really look through that and don't do it just because there's an opportunity to do it.

MCPIKE: Balancing security and privacy is a tricky political question and critics are bound to be unsatisfied.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We can't continue to refer to ourselves as a quote/unquote free country when the United States government is collecting information on virtually every telephone call made in America, getting into people's emails, focusing on the websites that certain people are visiting.


MCPIKE: And, politically, the most controversial piece of this issue is the domestic spying on American civilians. But going about changing some of the programs will take congressional approval. So, of course, look for some fireworks on Capitol Hill in the coming months.

Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right, CNN's Erin McPike. Erin, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: The White House is teaming up with the world's largest consulting firm to fix its troubled Obamacare website. Accenture will be in charge of improving in preparation for open enrollment in the fall. Now, since the site launched in October, users have faced slow speeds and lots of error messages. Now we know at least two of the improvements coming, one, 24/7 customer support, also improved eligibility and enrollment functions.

PAUL: Well, the New Jersey Democrat leading the investigation into the bridge scandal that's rocked Republican Governor Chris Christie's administration tells CNN he believes a crime may have been committed.


JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLY: I'm not a prosecutor, but I do think laws have been broken. And clearly Pat Foye said that on September 13th. And public research is the bridge, the police officers, the people who move the cones, all were used for a political purpose, for some type of retribution and that violates the law. And so I think law enforcement ought to be looking at this as well to make sure that any violations of law are addressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: That was John Wisniewski from an interview that we had with him yesterday. He also says he finds it hard to believe Christie was kept in the dark. This comes after investigators released more than 2,000 pages of documents on the scandal. Christie's allies are accused of manufacturing a traffic jam at the world's busiest bridge as a form of political retaliation. Christie has denied any wrongdoing, and the new documents do not seem to show that he had a role in the plot. This week, New Jersey lawmakers are going to have a special session to try to extend the subpoena power of the legislative investigators.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, 60 people are dead, nearly 300 have been injured. Violence has broken out across Iraq.

PAUL: We're going to take you live to Baghdad in just a moment with Michael Holmes. Stay close.


PAUL: Good morning, Paris. A live look at the Eiffel Tower there this morning, or at least part of it.

BLACKWELL: A quarter of it.

PAUL: Yes. It's just about noon or after noon right now there and Paris is going to be actually a pretty important place to watch this week.

BLACKWELL: Can you imagine waiting your whole life to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower and then only seeing a quarter of it.

PAUL: And then only seeing -- it will clear. It will clear. It's like San Francisco.

BLACKWELL: Yes, just wait.

PAUL: Early in the day, it's, you know -

BLACKWELL: It's coming.

Well, Secretary of State John Kerry touched down there this morning. His first order of business in France, a meeting of the Friends of Syria Group at the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

PAUL: Yes, Kerry's going to try to convince the newly elected head of the Syrian opposition party to attend talks later this month in Switzerland. The U.S. believes the Assad regime has lost legitimacy all together and should have no role as Syria moves forward.

BLACKWELL: Sectarian violence is on the rise in Iraq. Seven people were killed today and at least 60 people have died in the last two weeks as violence grips that country.

PAUL: Yes, battles have raged, this is between al Qaeda linked fighters and government troops in Fallujah. CNN's Michael Holmes is live in Baghdad right now following all of this violence.

Michael, good to see you this morning. What's happening there?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, things have actually been fairly quiet in Anbar province, Fallujah and Ramadi, that we've been reporting on so much and where there's been all that fighting, both by the al Qaeda backed groups, or linked groups, but also by Sunni tribesmen there who have their own beef with the government. They feel they've been cut out of everything.

But I've got to tell you, here in Baghdad today, it's been pretty busy too. Two car bombs have gone off here today, one of them at a bus station targeting recruits who'd signed up and were about to head back to their home towns -- three killed, 12 wounded. There was another bomb also in Kadamia (ph), that's a Shia neighborhood here in Baghdad, and there were four killed there, 14 wounded. And then a third car bomb, this was in the north of the country, Mosul, a familiar name to many who follow Iraq and a place where al Qaeda has been very active since -- particularly since 2011. So, three bombs in all going off today and the death toll continues.

I've got to tell you also, up in the Ninawa (ph) province, that's where Mosul is as well, and where al Qaeda has been so active in the past. Police say they have arrested 137 people they suspect are members of that al Qaeda-linked group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. We also heard that they've had choppers up there, the military, along the Syrian border in Ninawa province. They took out three pickups and killed five of what they say were these fighters as well. So a lot of activity going around. And there's a general sense of nervousness here that this does not get completely out of hand and become a full on sectarian battle. A lot of calls for Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister here, to reach out to these Sunni groups and try to bring them back into the fold because, of course, they say, they've been cut out of everything. No reconciliation that was promised all along here.

BLACKWELL: All right, Michael Holmes reporting live for us in Baghdad. Michael, thank you.

PAUL: I want to take you now to Jerusalem, where the body of Ariel Sharon is lying in state this morning. Here are some live pictures out of the city right now. The former Israeli prime minister, remember, died at the age of 85 yesterday after eight years in a coma. After today's viewing at Israel's parliament, known as the Knesset, Sharon will have a state memorial service. That happens tomorrow. World leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair are expected to attend.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, a disappointing day for A-Rod fans. The Yankee superstar sitting out this season. Ahead, the latest on his suspension, including how this all started.

Plus, get ready for glitz and glamour. Tonight is the night for the Golden Globes as Hollywood's awards season kicks into full gear.


PAUL: Well, mortgage rates dipped this week. Take a look. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: OK, is the morning flying by yet or are you just trying to get yourself out of bed this morning on a Sunday?


PAUL: It's already the bottom of the hour. We're glad to have you here. I'm Christie Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your new day.

Up first, officials in West Virginia, they say the water crisis may go on for days and people are scrambling to find clean water. Homeland Security has sent in 16 trucks of bottled water to help. You know more than 300,000 people have been warned to not drink, shower or wash clothes or dishes in the tap water after chemicals leaked into the water supply.

PAUL: Hundreds of people, our number two here, lined up for free flu shots in Dallas this weekend. This after at least six Texans died last week from the virus. Now, the CDC says 35 states, you see them there in brown, now have widespread flu activity and the season soon could reach its peak. One big change from previous flu seasons, though. The most typical strain this year has been H1N1, which is also known as the swine flu.

BLACKWELL: Number three, and controversial -- a controversial auction sparks protest outside a Dallas convention center. Now, inside, a permit to hunt one of the world's most endangered animals was auctioned off for $350,000.