Return to Transcripts main page


Extreme Cold Temperatures Continue in Part of U.S.; President Prepares State of the Union Address; Stock Market Shaky After Selloff; Olympic Families Decide to Go or Stay

Aired January 27, 2014 - 07:00   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Today it moves down the east coast, and by Tuesday it flows into the deep south. The bitter cold will bring another round of subzero temperatures. This morning schools in Chicago, Milwaukee and parts of Minnesota and Iowa are closing their doors and asking parents to keep their kids home. Wind chills of 30 below in Chicago are forcing officials to action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's too much of a danger of them getting frostbite or hypothermia.

PETERSONS: In northern Texas, Mother Nature is leaving many with weather whiplash. It was in the 70s on Sunday, and just 24 hours later, temperatures are expected to plummet 30 degrees. These cities have subzero temperatures way below average this month, and the worst has yet to come. a mounting concern for families in the Midwest who rely on propane to heat their homes, shortages and price increases making it hard for 12 million Americans to stay warm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people that are down to five percent, 10 percent. And with this cold weather coming up, they're going to be out.

PETERSONS: In New Jersey, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are arriving in the area for Sunday's Super Bowl game. The menacing winter weather has officials anxiously monitoring the forecast. They need to decide by the end of the week whether to move up the date of the game or change its time. As of today the forecast is a change of snow for the weekend but just cloudy conditions during game time.


PETERSONS: I get a lot of questions. Is this the coldest it has ever been? No. I actually put the comparison this morning of what these current temperatures are in comparison to the record. There's a big difference, currently 14 below in Minneapolis, the record still 23 below. So we have a long way to go.

But there's still a lot of perspective here. Anchorage, Alaska, their high today expected to be 40 degrees. Meanwhile, Chicago, your high supposed to be just around one degree. So that's a big difference there, definitely not comfortable for any of us. The cold air still expected to drop even farther down to the south so that by tomorrow winter weather and possibly snow in places like New Orleans or places in Georgia. So we're going to be watching that. They have not seen snow or freezing rain in these areas in some places in over three years.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Indra, we'll keep an eye on it. Thank you so much.

Investors are nervously watching the markets this morning after a banner year for stocks. Last week was the worst on Wall Street in more than a year. And this morning overseas markets are already seem to be plunging, particularly in Asia and Europe. So what is going on? What are we looking for now? Let's bring in chief business correspondent Christine Romans for more. Today is a very touchy day.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is. And I'm looking for stability right now. I see Dow futures are up right now. But the selloff has circled the globe. Tokyo the lowest level in two months. Hong Kong, South Korea, two percent losses. That's big. Europe, down modestly. Stock futures up a bit, not much, about 20 points on the Dow. What I want to see stability this morning after a horrific last week.

And 2013 was the year of the rally. Look at the far right of that chart, 2014 seems to be the year of unease. Weak quarterly earnings from corporate America, weak economic data from China, an economy that's been growing at a pretty solid pace in China now showing some trouble and turbulence in emerging markets. Kate, the S&P 500 has tripled over the past five years. This is a five-year-long bull market. It has tripled and we haven't had a meaningful pullback. Now you have Dow down 4.2 percent. This could be the beginning of that pullback.

BOLDUAN: As you point out, we haven't had a meaningful pullback yet in a very long time. So do you think this could be the start of a bigger trend?

ROMANS: It really is about time. You got the Fed that's going to be pulling off on the accelerator. You've got all these earnings coming in, State of the Union this week, a Fed meeting this week, I mean, what could go wrong? There's so many things out there. Companies reporting, earnings reports, and they're saying they're worried about emerging markets. They're saying sales are moving slightly higher but they're not hiring to do that.

So I think there's a lot of risk this year for investors. Last year was a straight up year for investors. It's almost been straight up for five years. It's time for a little bit of a pullback. Does that pullback refresh the trend or is it the start of something new? We just don't know.

BOLDUAN: But today is an important day for us to be watching.

ROMANS: I'm seeing stability right now. But this whole thing went around the globe. We'll see if the U.S. can stop it today.

BOLDUAN: We'll see how it opens up.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Christine. Chris? CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Kate.

This morning the president and his team are putting the finishing touches on Tuesday's State of the Union address. The focus will be income inequality. The president also signaling if Congress doesn't get behind his agenda, he's got a, quote, "phone and a pen," unquote, to go it alone. Let's break down what will happen tomorrow with Ron Brownstein. He is CNN senior political analyst and the editorial director of "The National Journal." Ron, great to have you here.


CUOMO: We start win consistency. We want to talk about income inequality, but, by the way, if you don't work with me, I'll go it alone. What message does that send?

BROWNSTEIN: Arctic blast isn't a bad description for the kind of climate here in Washington as well. Look, the president faces the challenge of how do you articulate an agenda in 2014 after coming off a pretty resounding reelection victory in 2013. He was really unable to get the Republican Congress to move on his priorities.

And I think piling up another set of legislative proposals on top of the ones that didn't move last year seems to be of limited use. So I think they have very limited expectations what they can achieve legislatively. They're talking about what they can do through executive action. And I think just as important as that, they're talking about trying to frame themes for the 2014 elections which will decide whether Democrats can hold the Senate for the final two years of this presidency.

CUOMO: Ron, let's dig down into the game as it stands. The Democrats are saying let's talk income inequality. That's really a shot at the rich. The Republicans are saying let's talk about how to cure poverty, that's what we hear from Paul Ryan. That's really, let's leave alone the rich. However, both parties fixated on taxes as some kind of magical fix in this situation. Are they avoiding the real issues of how you get Americans working in better jobs with more pay again?

BROWNSTEIN: I think that's a very good question. The phenomena that both sides are talking about are global. We're seeing inequality widen in almost every industrialized economy, and we are looking at a long-term stagnation in living standard for average American families, which is probably more important, that has persisted from the Bush presidency into the Obama presidency. The median income today is lower now than it was in 2000, which is almost unprecedented in American history.

And there is I think a legitimate question whether either side's agenda can really make a dent in these fundamental trends, which are I think seeding a lot of the unease with the political class and the leadership class that we have seen in American politics recently. When you're talking about over a decade of stagnant incomes, it's surprising a lot of Americans are feeling unhappy with the way their country is being governed. CUOMO: They're going to be more unhappy, won't they, Ron, because this is a game, raise the taxes, lower the taxes, that's the answer? We have to know there is a level of BS in that rationale, because when you look at what's going on with the convergence and the resulting divergence since the 70s, what did it? It was that you had business here. You had jobs here. Education was a priority, technological advancement without our own society was a priority. That's all gone. They don't want to touch it because it's too difficult. They think the rest of us will forget.

BROWNSTEIN: Clearly , you're talking about big trends driving these income difficulties. Most people look at globalization and technology as the key ones, but I would say there is still a fundamental difference between the parties about how you respond that does have meaning.

I mean, the question really is are you most likely to combat these by cutting taxes, cutting spending, and cutting regulation, which is the Republican agenda pretty much since the Reagan administration, or, as the president would argue, do you need public investments and things like education and health care to move more people into the middle class? There is a fundamental difference here that you see play out on issue after issue.

And the reality is we are stuck right now. We have a Democratic majority at the presidential level, Republican majority in the House that have very different visions and have seen very little incentive at the moment to come together. So as a country we're having trouble moving very far in either direction as the trends persist and doubt about the political leadership mounts.

CUOMO: One simple question to end it -- the person who wins the next set of elections, the party that wins it is going to be the one that uses the "jobs" in the most effective way. Do you know of any plan that is out there right now, that we'll hear in the State of the Union tomorrow night and we'll hear in the rebuttal that will satisfy people's need to know where jobs are going to come from in the future?

BROWNSTEIN: My three words of advice, whichever party wins in 2014, is don't unpack everything, because against this economic climate it's hard to see either party sustaining. The answer is no for the reason I think we just talked about. When the two sides are stalemated, really all you can talk about is relatively modest moves in either direction. We're not moving dramatically in a Republican or a Democratic direction. And as a result we are drifting with sustained unemployment and living standards that are stagnant, and, as I said, growing dissatisfaction, and it's not really hard to see why.

CUOMO: You talk to economists, they say taxes are a part of the picture, but they're more of a distraction that anything else. These guys are avoiding the tough issues. Let's see what happens tomorrow night. Ron Brownstein, you did not avoid anything. Thank you for the good perspective this morning.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you. CUOMO: CNN, we're going to cover all the angles. You hear a little bit of where we're coming on this right there with my discussion with Ron. I'm going to down there to cover it tomorrow morning for sure. But also watch the special reporting of the president's State of the Union address beginning tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris, thanks so much.

Let's take a look at your headlines at this hour. A U.S. missile strike in Somalia may or may not have killed the senior leader affiliated with Al Qaeda and al Shabaab. Military officials confirm he was the target of an air strike Sunday, but they are still trying to determine if he was actually killed. Officials say the attack involved missiles and no Americans troops were on the ground. This comes after a raid last October when Navy SEAL's tried to capture another al Shabaab leader.

Back here at home, new details emerging on that Maryland mall shooting that left three dead, including the suspect. Officials say 19-year- old Darion Marcus Aguilar was carrying a 12 gauge shotgun and crude explosives when he walked into a skateboard shop and opened fire. The victims, 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. Aguilar also allegedly turned the gun on himself. Police say there is no connection between the suspect and victims.

A pregnant brain-dead Texas woman has been taken off a ventilator after a bitter and an emotional two-month battle. That's how long a Fort Worth hospital has been defying the wishes of 33-year-old Marlise Munoz's family. Hospital officials claim Texas law requires them to maintain treatment for all pregnant patients regardless of their condition. Over the weekend a judge disagreed and ordered that ventilator disconnected. Now the family says they're focused on her funeral and on their grieving.

This morning thousands are without power following a spectacular natural gas pipeline explosion in Canada. Officials say about 4,000 Manitoba residents served by the pipeline are reportedly now without heat, this as temperatures dip down to minus 18. Schools in the area are closed today. Officials say it could take days before this problem is fixed.

And a congressman who hasn't been seen on Capitol Hill in weeks, will he resurface today? Steve Stockman of Texas, who is also running for the Senate, has missed 17 votes in a row. Now a bizarre tweet from the AWOL Congressman has appeared. It reads "Where am I? Find out Monday." Meantime, there are other reports surfacing he is currently in London after a trip to Russia. Bit of a mystery.

Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: Michaela, thank you very much. Let's take a break here. Coming up on NEW DAY, unfounded fears or looming disaster? You've heard the reports about the Sochi Olympics and how dangerous it could be. We're going to get the real story with the people you see around me right now, security experts, athletes, and their families. Who's going, whose staying and why? We'll unpack it all.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Another day, another warning about the Sochi Olympics, and they're beginning to take their toll. Some Olympic athletes are telling their family members to stay home, while others are braving the trip to support their loved ones.

We wanted to bring together a panel of guests who have family members preparing to compete in Sochi and discuss some of the real concerns facing athletes and fans.

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in all of our guests. You see them right here.

Sequocoria Mallory-Evans, mother of a member of the U.S. bobsled team, Asia Evans; Kate Carcelen, wife of cross-country skier Roberto Carcelen -- Roberto's gonna be joining us via Skype a little later in the next -- in a few minutes from Luxembourg where he's training.

And also for some context on the Sochi games and the security situation there, we have Elsie Granderson, CNN commentator and senior writer for ESPN and Fran Townsend, CNN national security analyst.

Good morning, guys. Thank you all for being here.

First, though, let's kind of set the stage of where things stand. So let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson, who is live on the ground in Sochi for us again this morning.

So, Ivan, what is the latest on the security situation?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. The Russian security force is sending in tens of thousands of security personnel. We've seen Coast Guard ships right off the coast here, all after a series of bombings a few weeks ago in a city north of here killed more than 30 people and have really put people on edge about possible terrorist threats.


WATSON (voice-over): Over the weekend, a new warning from terrorists in Dagestan, a region plagued by Islamist insurgents, promising more attacks like this recent bombing in Russia, though not specifically mentioning the Sochi games.

As Olympic athletes begin to arrive, the U.S. State Department issued another warning last week urging American athletes not to wear their uniforms outside the games' ring of steel.

CHUCH HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this.

WATSON: In the event of an attack, U.S. officials say they have contingency plans at the ready, helicopters on standby on two warships in the Black Sea, and c-17 transport aircraft in Germany could be on the scene in two hours.

But Russian officials hope these emergency plans won't be needed, assuring their security forces will be vigilant.

SERGEY KISLYAK, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I'm absolutely certain because we are doing everything that is needed in order to make sure it is going to be safe, and it will be as safe as any other Olympics that can be held currently in the world.

WATSON: But others, like U.S. Congressman Peter King said on ABC's "This Week," he can't give that same promise.

REP. PETER KING, CHAIRMAN HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: I cannot give them 100 percent guarantee. The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics, probably more than any we've had in our past.

WATSON: The U.S. continues to offer counterterrorism expertise to Russia with IED detection software, jamming equipment and war ships at the ready. All Russia needs is to give the green light.

HAGEL: Whatever we can do we want to do to help, but right now there has been no request from the Russian government.


WATSON (on-camera): Now, Chris and Kate, the Russians have also brought in 400 Cossacks wearing fur hats and swords to help protect the games. And right off the coast here, we've been watching Coast Guard ships patrolling on the waters of the Black Sea, right next to the Olympic park, another sign of the security lockdown being carried out here in Sochi.

Chris and Kate?

CUOMO: All right, Ivan, thank you very much. You know, it's interesting. You can look at it two ways. The more we talk about the threat, the more that keeps getting added to the preparations, the more the U.S. is getting involved, is that supposed to make you feel more safe or less safe?

Looking at it, it doesn't matter to anyone as much as it does to you two because you have families involved here. You're making decisions for yourself.

So, Sequocoria, let me start with you. Your daughter is on the bobsled team. They had a big win, finished second, beat Canada, looking good going into the games after this last set of races. But when you think about where she is, what's she's dealing with, where is your head on this?

SEQUOCORIA MALLORY-EVANS, MOTHER OF U.S. BOBSLED TEAM MEMBER: Well, certainly I would hope for Asia that she can focus on her competition and performance. She is doing fine as far as feeling assured that she's going to be OK and safe and that we will be OK and safe. She knows that my family is planning to go. We certainly don't portray any type of fear. I'm not afraid to go. I'm excited about going, and I'm certainly encouraged that the United States has offered to lend a hand to Russia and that Russia has really made this a top priority, their security concerns and preparation.

BOLDUAN: I know you've said that you wouldn't send your daughter anywhere that you wouldn't go, and that's one of the reasons behind your decision that you're still going. But was there ever a moment after you saw threat after threat and the attacks recently that this was just not the right time for you to be traveling there?

MALLORY-EVANS: Well, certainly I want to adhere to any type of protocol that the United States sets because I don't want to go and put myself and my family's self in harm's way.

But at that point, the United States began to release information about their security plan and, you know, I felt reassured that it was OK to go. So it was only a minor afterthought.

CUOMO: Right, you got a lot of variables, though, as you start looking into going over there. OK, so you have your ring of steel here, but what about charter buses? What about more non-screened (ph) areas? These are things that your husband's been thinking about, right? And, Kate, so when you're making the determination as a family, he's a competitor, it's very important. Where is he on this? Where are you on this?

KATE CARCELEN, WIFE OF OLYMPIC SKIER: Yeah, I really wanted to go. I wanted to bring my daughter. She's six, so it would be a really great experience for her, but the more we talked about it about to months ago, we were all on board, and -- but then we continued to talk about what our plans were, where we were going to stay. And I could just tell by the look on his face and just his reaction, and I finally just asked him, "Look, is this going to stress you out for us being there?" And he just immediately said yes.

CUOMO: Not because of him racing and that pressure, but all these other issues, right?

K. CARCELEN: Right, yeah, yeah. I mean, there's a little bit of focus he'd like to have rather than wondering where we are, but really I think primarily it is just what is happening in the region and the events that are going on there and threat of the black widow and a lot of things that have come out in the news since.

BOLDUAN: What are your big questions as your husband is going to be there? What are your big questions for him? I know you traveled with him to the 2010 winter Olympic games in Vancouver. This is a very different situation, obviously. What are your big questions and concerns?

K. CARCELEN: I mean ,it would be interesting to me to understand -- having been at 2010, I know how security and protocol was done for the athletes and the events. And it was quite good, very amazing. But it would be interesting for me to understand what will really be the difference in Russia, like what additionally are they doing. My concern probably is outside of the athletes' village, what's happening there?

CUOMO: Gets complicated, right?

And Fran, we've been on this from jump. And people were saying this is a little bit media hysteria. You know, you're just creating hype. Has there been another Olympics that was sited in a place that has this kind of regional conflict and has this kind of concern for security that we're seeing here?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Not in recent memory. Look, Chris, I've worked all these Olympics, Athens and China. And you know, we've not seen specific threats like we've seen here.

That said, some of the plans that -- you know, the security plans that the government's talking about we did for every Olympics, so an extraction plan to get the athletes and Americans out in an emergency. That's kind of standard planning, emergency planning. You hope you never have to use it, but it's good to know that the government is thinking about it.

Security measures related to the athletes and the families and sort of those spectators are really quite different. There's a level of planning and sort of the ring of steel that you put around the athletes so that they can focus. Because you want them -- this is their moment they've been training for. You want them not to have to think about anything else.

But it's a very individual decision, as you can see just here on the panel, how the athlete feels about having their family there, how the family feels, how confident they are. And there are measures if you are going. There's the registered traveler program. Let the U.S. government know that you're going to be there. Have a communications plan. Understand your environment, and be cognizant of your environment.

Know every country, every security service has a tip line. Understand when you check into your hotel what that is so that if you see something, you can report it to authorities. You know, you want to have some sense of your own responsibility and control for your environment. And so, if you're going, you just want to be smart about it.

BOLDUAN: Some very important tips. And much more to discuss on the security situations. Sequoconia, on some of your concerns, as well.

But let's take just a quick moment and get over to Michaela.

We've been looking. There's been a lot of reaction on social media surrounding the Sochi Olympics and the threat there.

PEREIRA: There has. And we're gonna talk about the social media aspect in a minute or two. What's really interesting is to take people's temperature, your temperature at home. We've heard what the families and the athletes' families are saying, and that's what's really important.

But here, let's look at this Quinnipiac poll that has been released. This poll found that half of those questioned believe a terrorist attack at the winters games is very likely or somewhat likely. Those are pretty alarming numbers.

We wanted to reach out to our viewers to get your take, and we posed sort of an informal question on Twitter and on Facebook. Given the security concerns around Sochi for Olympians, fans, family, would you cancel your trip at this point if you were planning to go? And what's very interesting, and the numbers speak for themselves, 53 percent say they would cancel. Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, we're going to take a break. We're going to continue this discussion in just a second.

But coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to have much more on the concerns about traveling to Russia. We're going to talk to Kate's husband. He's going to be joining us. He's an Olympic cross country skier. As we mentioned, he's heading to Sochi. So is he concerned about the terror threat there and what security measures are in place?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Once again we're continuing our discussion with family members of Olympic athletes who have some very serious and real concerns about safety in Sochi leading up to the games, just 11 days away now, of course.

CUOMO: All right, so let's bring in Roberto Carcelen. He is a cross- country skier competing in Sochi for the Peruvian team. Roberto joins us via Skype from Luxembourg. He's still getting in some final race prep before he goes. Here we have his wife, Kate, joining us on the panel.

Roberto, can you hear us?


CUOMO: So give us the perspective of somebody who has to go there and compete, what assurances you've been given, the level of anxiety that you see from the athletes' perspective and what it means in terms of how you feel about your family.

R. CARCELEN: Well, the thing -- the threat is real. Here are the thing with the Olympics. The Olympics are built on the foundation of peace and freedom values. So this is kind of the perfect environment for terrorist groups to let their voices (ph) here. So we feel like it's a little bit stressful.