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EARLY START

Meeting For Peace; Small Cars Get Crushed In Crash Test

Aired January 22, 2014 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A rude awakening for millions of Americans. This winter storm creating absolute chaos. Some parts of the country buried under more than a foot of snow. We have roads closed, flights grounded. Complete team coverage this morning as the snow continues to fall in some places.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Two political scandals creating double trouble for the GOP this morning. A former governor charged with corruption, while there are growing calls this morning for a current governor to step down from some of his responsibilities.

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BERMAN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS (on-camera): I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 30 minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: And if you can see it on the ground behind me this morning, a lot of snow. It was falling fast and furious in New York City for about 15 hours. And beyond the snow, I can tell you first hand, if I can feel my hands, it is very, very cold this morning. About 15 or 16 degrees here. And that's before the wind chill. The snow piled up just under a foot here in New York.

You look at a map, a lot more down in Philadelphia. And this storm affecting millions of people from Kentucky all the way up to Massachusetts. The federal government, we should tell you, is back in business this morning. But, it's opening a little late. Federal workers in Washington, D.C. are being told to come in two hours later than normal. If you can't get in, it's OK to stay at home, they say.

The D.C. area received about six inches of snow. That's a lot for D.C. It's a good thing many people did stay home yesterday given the storm there. Take a look at these pictures from Alexandria. That car just spinning out of control there, on the beltway, just outside of D.C. Wow! There was a fatal accident in Landover, Maryland as well. Both of those accidents being blamed on the slick roads.

Temperatures there are plunging this morning with wind chills of five to 15 below. That's the big story today. In New York, it may be a very, very tough commute to work. Just look at this. This is the snow-covered roads. They're getting icy. They will stay icy for some time. These pictures are from Long Island which was hit hard by the storm. They got about 10 inches of snow out there. Though, it's hard to walk even for people in Brooklyn. Look at that, just braving the winds. The snow fell so fast.

People were out there. They couldn't shovel fast enough to keep up with it. It is icy, cold this morning in Charlotte, North Carolina. Yes, that's the North Carolina that's in the south. Temperatures have been plunging there about 20 degrees, that, after snow fell up in the mountains. Tuesday was not a day there to be out driving.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were doing 180s down the road earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got behind a scraper that let us go for a little bit, but it didn't work after that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Ski goggles in Charlotte. Now, to Delaware where the governor says stay off the roads. There is a state of emergency there and a level one driving warning. Parts of the state received well over half a foot of snow. The National Guard is ready to go out and help if emergency officials there make the request. There is no relief in sight, meanwhile, out in the northwest, Chicago, Northwest Indiana, temperatures are dropping.

The wind chills are expected to hit 25 below. And this comes after about two feet of lake-effect snow fell in some places that were just huge traffic jams late into the night and Chicago. That made for difficult, difficult conditions for the plows to get through. They tried to clear the roads, awfully tough.

All right. That's the situation out in Chicago. As we said, millions of people affected by the storm. Our Indra Petersons is live in Boston this morning, keeping those cold, shivering eyes on conditions. And what we can expect today, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: At least I have some good news, and that is that the conditions will be improving as the storm is going to be lifting out offshore and kind of looking to the north at the same time. So, yes, it will get better from here, but not necessarily temperature-wise, because it's cold. We all know there's still wind out here. And now, with all the snow on the ground, it's not really going to feel any different, because it's going to pick up this light area snow and still blow it around.

So, -- this is coming from the sky or the ground, it feels the same. That's the problem this morning. But let's talk about that system. Where is it right now? Yes. It is lifting out to the east out and towards Atlantic and to the north at the same time. So, by the late morning hours, the bulk of this should be tapering off. Massachusetts, yes, here in Boston, we're still talking about some of this light snow. But even here, the conditions will improve. The toughest spot, it's still going to be on the cape where they still have blizzard warnings even this morning. So, that's about 1:00 p.m. this afternoon. They're still going to be talking about those conditions bringing visibility near zero. Thanks to all that blowing snow out there. The other story, once the snow tapers off by about 1:00 p.m., it should really already be out to sea. Again, we're talking about that cold arctic air now in place.

There's a second system, believe it or not, behind this one that's still going to bring even more snow to the Midwest today and reinforce the cold air that's already here. So, all the snow you see on the ground, it is going to be staying here for the next several days. In the afternoon, many places, a good 20 degrees below normal.

That means highs in the teens and single digits for many places in the north. Midwest seeing just those single digits down to the south there, still talking about the low -- wind chill, a lot of subzero temperatures here this morning. So, I think we all need to get used to it. It's going to be here for the next several days, John.

BERMAN: That's a great point, Indra. If there is snow outside your window, it will be there for a long, long time. All right. Indra Petersons in Boston for us. Thank you so much.

So, if you are trying to get on a plane this morning, we're very, very sorry. The delays and cancellation from the storm wreaking havoc with air travel. Rene Marsh live at Reagan National Airport in Washington this morning where Rene is really waking up with people who've been stuck there overnight -- Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's like rise and shine downstairs on the lower level here at Reagan National Airport because this is where some people had to spend the night. They were simply stuck. JetBlue -- I was just on Twitter, and JetBlue COO, he's tweeted out letting passengers know, look, we started thinning out operations last night. We will continue doing that this morning.

So, what does that mean? If you're watching us this morning, and you are stuck, that means more cancellations today. More delays today. We're already starting this morning with more than 1,000 cancellations. The really hardest-hit airports, we're keeping an eye at this hour are the airports in Boston, New York City, as well as the Philadelphia Area. They are seeing the most cancellations at this hour.

As far as airlines go, JetBlue at this hour seeing the most cancellations. More than a quarter of their flights have been canceled, so far, this morning. So, the big question is, how long is it going to take before these airlines can catch up to themselves? Take a listen to what one analyst is predicting.

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SETH KAPLAN, AIRLINE EXPERT: Once the storm is over, it will be a day or two before it gets back to normal. You know, airlines nowadays actually optimize for getting things back to normal after the storm. They actually cancel a lot more flight than they used to do that, but the good news is that the planes and people are usually more or less where they need to be afterwards.

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MARSH: All right. So, again, we need for the storm to move out first. And then according to analysts, you know, it might be a day or two before they can actually catch back up to themselves. The good part of this and the silver lining here is that this storm did hit when there wasn't an extremely high volume of traffic here and it did happen in the middle of the week.

That means that you're going to be able to be rebooked. And you have more options to get to your destination compared to what we saw earlier this month -- John.

BERMAN: We'll take any silver ling we can get this morning. Rene Marsh for us in Washington, D.C. Thank you so much.

Out in Minnesota this morning, police are on the hunt for a robber who used snow that's fallen there to make his getaway. This is after he struck a convenience store near the twin cities. He apparently pointed a gun at the clerk, grabbed some cash, and then made his getaway.

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SHERIFF RICK DUNCAN, CHICAGO COUNTY: The person behind the clerk said that the person got away on a snowmobile which is unique. We don't get too many robberies with a snowmobile.

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BERMAN: Yes. Got away on a snowmobile. That is not something you see like in Alabama or something.

All right. That is all from the weather from the cold streets of New York for now. A lot of other news going on. Let's go back up to Christine upstairs.

ROMANS: Hi there, John. Let's get right to it. Virginia's former governor is pledging this morning to fight back now that he and his wife have been indicted on federal corruption charges. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, stand accused of accepting thousands of dollars of gifts and loans from the head of a dietary supplement company, Johnny Williams, who wanted help promoting his products. At a news conference, McDonnell said he did nothing illegal.

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BOB MCDONNELL, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: I never promised and Mr. Williams and his company never received any government benefit of any kind from me or from my administration. No contract, loan, grant, funding, legislation, budget appropriation, regulation border commission assignment, or any other official state benefit. And not one penny of taxpayer money went to him or to star scientific during our administration. Not one penny.

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ROMANS: McDonnell claims prosecutors are guilty of what he called unjust overreach and says he'll be vindicated at trial.

There's some new advice this morning for New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. Focus on your state. Republican former Virginia attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, tells CNN's "Crossfire" that he thinks Christie should give up his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and should put all of his attention instead on fixing his reputation at home.

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KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think just from the perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes sense for him to step aside in that role. He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman. Every governor does better by setting everything else aside. If the goal is to be the best governor you can be, that's done better by setting everything else aside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Christie has said the scandal over allegations his top aides strong-armed his political opponents, he has said that scandal will not affect his ability to help other governors nationally. And he spent this past weekend helping fundraise in Florida for Republican governor, Rick Scott.

This morning, Edward Snowden is insisting he is no spy. The Admitted NSA leaker tells "The New Yorker" he doesn't work for Russia saying he acted alone without any help from any government despite suggestion from the contrary from some members of Congress. Snowden says he never intended to live in Russia but actually was planning on going to Cuba, but the U.S. canceled his passport before he could get there.

This morning, the family of a missing FBI agent is demanding answers and coming forward to talk about what happened to him in Iran. Bob Levinson disappeared seven years ago. And the U.S. government long claimed he went there -- he went to Iran on a private trip. But now, his family tells CNN's Susan Candiotti they knew he was there working for the CIA, but they were told not to talk about it for fear it could put him in jeopardy.

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CHRISTINE LEVINSON, WIFE: He was doing what he always did, which is working for the United States government and investigating criminal activities. And the United States government has not taken ownership of it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel he was abandoned?

LEVINSON: I feel he was left there. He was a man left behind. DAN LEVINSON, SON: We were told by the U.S. government that by revealing what he was actually doing over there would have been harmful to his safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The family says the want the government to come clean about what bob Levinson was doing in Iran. And they want the Obama administration to work harder to bring him home.

In the markets, Dow future is lower this morning. The Dow down 44 points yesterday. The NASDAQ and the S&P both closed higher. In Europe right now, stocks in London, Frankfurt, Paris mostly higher. The markets closed in Asia. The Nikkei finishing with the gain. Asian market still benefiting from -- the Bank of China's moves to ease fears of a credit crunch.

And Warren Buffett offering a billion dollars to the college basket fan who does the near impossible, forecast a perfect NCAA bracket. The contest run by Quick and Loans (ph) will award a billion dollars to the lucky person or people who correctly predict every winner in the 64-team bracket. Don't get your hopes up, the bracket has nine quintillion possible combinations.

Happening this morning, high-stakes talks to end the war in Syria are now under way. Secretary of state, John Kerry, is there, but some key players are not. We are live with the developing story next.

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ROMANS: Breaking news from Switzerland where a conference designed to bring an end to the war in Syria is already off to a rocky start. Secretary of state, John Kerry, and the Syrian foreign minister are facing off over the future of president Bashar al-Assad with language that could point to an impasse. Elise Labott is live in Switzerland. Elise, it was already a very fragile, fragile meeting. What's happening now?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: It was fragile to start, Christine. And now, this morning, a lot of drama here. And I've covered a lot of these conferences, I have to tell you, and I've never seen anything like this. U.N. secretary general, Ban ki-Moon kicked it off by telling everybody at the conference, look, let's be kind to each other. Let's be federal and constructive. That didn't start off so well.

Secretary of state, John Kerry, really put it on the line saying President Assad had absolutely no chance in a transitional government that everyone was here to discuss. Let's take a little listen.

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JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no way, no way possible in the imagination that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man, and those who have supported him, can no longer hold an entire nation and the region hostage.

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LABOTT: And then, what happened was, the Syrian foreign minister, Muallem, basically addressed Kerry by name saying "Secretary Kerry, you have absolutely no right to dictate anything for the Syrian people. The Syrian people will decide that." He went on for about 20 minutes. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon tried to cut him off numerous times. He refused. Then the Syrian opposition leader, Mr. Jarba, took the stage.

He asked leaders of the delegation to abandon President Assad, joining the opposition in a transitional government saying time is blood. Christine, all the Syrian sides are supposed to get together on Friday for direct talks. But when you listen to what happened here today, it's really unclear whether there's an atmosphere for any kind of productive talks.

ROMANS: And for the people in Syria, three years now of civil war, and they don't see any changes on the ground. Elise Labbot, thank you, Elise.

BERMAN: And mostly people being hurt.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: So true.

All right. There are new calls this morning for a fraternity in Arizona State University to be expelled. They threw a party with what they called a black theme. Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity told attendees to, quote, "dress black." The photos posted online showed people wearing sports jerseys and holding watermelon cups. ASU has suspended this chapter indefinitely.

ROMANS: That's just logic to find.

The search is on in Florida this morning for six missing pilot whales. They had been stuck in shallow waters on Fort Myers. Eight other whales part of the same pod have died. Scientists aren't sure what led the whales to swim to shore, but they say they appear to have been illed.

BERMAN: No classes today at Indiana's Purdue University after a shooting death on campus. Officials now say one teacher's assistant killed another in the school's electrical engineering building. Twenty-two-year-old Cody Cousins (ph) is being held on suspicion of homicide. His alleged victim reportedly worked for the same professor. The suspect is being held without bond.

Still in jail this morning, two Maryland women charged with killing two young children in an alleged exorcism. Twenty-year-old Zakieya Avery (ph), 21-year-old Monifa Sanford (ph) told investigators they were part of a group known as demon assassins, and an exorcism was needed to drive the demons out of the two little kids, a one-year-old and a two-year-old, babies, really. Prosecutors are seeking a mental evaluation to determine if these women are competent to stand trial.

BERMAN: I got to say I find that story deeply, deeply troubling.

ROMANS: It really is. really is.

Coming up, new trouble this morning for Toronto's controversial crack- smoking, drinking, non-sober mayor. What he did this time on camera, next.

BERMAN: Again.

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BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. More trouble today for Toronto mayor, Rob Ford. Of course, the admitted crack smoker is now admitting he has been drinking again despite his earlier insistence that he is now sober. This latest incident came to light in a YouTube video.

It shows the mayor of North America's fourth largest city babbling really incoherently at a restaurant speaking with sound -- it sounds like he's trying to fake some sort of Jamaican accent. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: (INAUDIBLE) they chase he around for five months, (INAUDIBLE) he's hiding here, I'm hiding here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you drinking last night?

FORD: Yes, I was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were drinking last night?

FORD: A little bit. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that video was offensive to people?

FORD: No, I was with some friends, and what I do with my personal life and my personal friends, that's up to me. It has nothing to do with you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Remember, Ford had said he quit drinking. Apparently now, that is no longer the case. He has resisted calls to step down despite having most of his powers stripped. He's currently running for re-election. As we said, a lot of people are making jokes about this, but if he has been trying to be sober now -- I'm not sure that's any laughing matter.

ROMANS: No, it's not funny at all.

All right. This morning, we're hearing more from Richard Sherman whose epic post-championship rant in which he called out 49ers receiver, Michael Crabtree, still getting lots of attention in the early run-up to Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawk star telling CNN's Rachelle Nichols he does have a few regrets.

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RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS CORNERBACK: Mostly I regret, I guess, the storm afterwards. That, you know, the way it was covered, the way it was perceived, and the attention it took away from the fantastic performances from my teammates, you know? And that being the only part of it I regret, you know, the way it's covered. You know, it is what it is. What I said is what I've said.

You know, I don't say -- I probably shouldn't have attacked another person. You know, I don't mean to attack him. And that was immature. And I probably shouldn't have done that. I regret doing that. But I just felt like my teammates deserve better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: You can see the entire interview with Richard Sherman on "Unguarded with Rachel Nichols" this Friday at 10:30 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. You know, I've never played football. I can't imagine how amped up they must be on the field. Just how amped up you must be and you want to see that in a player and then we criticize them when they're, you know?

BERMAN: Amped like we are for EARLY START every day.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: You should see Romans before the show. I love listening to Richard Sherman talking about anything because I think the guy is really, really, really interesting.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, you think your car is safe? Think again. The new test that shows some small vehicles simply don't hold up. "Money Time" is next.

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ROMANS: About three minutes to the top of the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." Carmakers take notice, many of the smallest cars sold in America did very poorly in a crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The test is called an overlap test. A vehicle hits a barrier at 40 miles an hour with just a quarter of its front bumper. The impact occurs on the left side just in front of the driver's seat.

Six of the cars on the test earned the institute's lowest rating, poor. They were the Nissan Versa, the Toyota Prius C, the Hyundai Accent. Also, the Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500, and the Honda Fit.

Here's a thought for you. Colleges that will pay your student loan bills, doesn't sound real, but it is. A small but growing group of colleges are guaranteeing students that they will help pay their student loan bills until they secure a well-paying job known as loan repayment assistance programs. Law schools have been doing this for years, but now, dozens of private colleges are getting on the bandwagon with similar programs.

CNNMoney found eight small private Christian colleges offering the programs. And students there say it was a big attraction in picking a school. There are some caveats, of course. Once a graduate breaks through the income threshold, the assistance is gone. No longer getting the loan repayment assistance even if then later the income falls in future years.

Quick market check for you. Dow futures lower this morning. Kind of a drift, I would say, stock markets are. The Dow finished down 44 points. The NASDAQ and S&P both closed higher. In Europe this morning, markets in London, Frankfurt, and Paris are mixed. In Asia, the Nikkei finishing with a gain. Asian markets still benefiting from the Bank of China's move to ease fears of a credit crunch there.

BERMAN: All right. Get on adrift.

ROMANS: On a drift.

BERMAN: Fix yourself, market.

ROMANS: A drift. You got three hours, four hours to get on a drift.

BERMAN: That is all for us this morning. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then all of a sudden, boom, snow everywhere.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news. Northeast people, take a look outside the window, we have a whiteout. Schools closed, highways crippled, thousands of flights canceled. Cars are cupcaked as tens of millions wake up to dig out. And we're in it with you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking overnight, dramatic new video of a private plane crashing in Aspen. Passengers walked away from it, but how could anyone survive this?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN exclusive, the man behind the sideline rant speaks out. The first television interview with Richard Sherman. Does he regret his outburst, and what he now says about the backlash?

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It is a wintery Wednesday, January 22nd, six o'clock in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo outside in a very cold and snowy New York.