Return to Transcripts main page


Tight Security; Deep South Braces for Ice and Snow; Obama's State of the Union Address Tonight; British Reports Says Royal Bank Account Down to Last Million Pounds

Aired January 28, 2014 - 12:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the south is bracing for snow and ice, even as far south as New Orleans. And schools, they're closing all over the country.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Security very high at two major sporting events happening just days from now. We're talking about the Super Bowl, of course, and the Winter Olympics. We're going to have a look at what is being done to protect people.

PHILLIPS: And President Obama is planning to talk about inequality, immigration and climate change at tonight's State of the Union Address. We will definitely have a preview.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Kyra Phillips, in today for Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: It's been a while.

PHILLIPS: Yes, it has.

HOLMES: Nice to have you here.

PHILLIPS: Good to see you.

HOLMES: Good to see you.

I'm Michael Holmes, of course.

And we're going to begin with those two major sporting events ramping up the highest levels of protection ever afforded to any game.

PHILLIPS: That's right, armies of human and high-tech security, actually, are taking measures, they're being deployed as we speak, both for the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend and then next weekend for Sochi and the start of the Winter Olympics in Russia.

Let's go ahead and begin with the Super Bowl, shall we? Evan Perez is joining us from Washington.

So, Evan, what exactly are you hearing from Homeland Security with regard to the safety measures right now? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, they're deploying - Kyra, they're deploying a lot of resources to New Jersey and New York for this coming weekend. One of the things they're doing is they're adding more air marshals, more radiological detection teams, which are going to be going through the transit hubs in New Jersey and New York to try to make sure that they can find any problems before they occur. More random baggage checks are going to be done at some of the transit stations. Passengers screening at airports and -- they're going to add people to help get people through those lines.

And we just got some new information that there's going to be a lot more emphasis on sex trafficking, which is a big problem around big sporting events. The NYPD tells us that they've made about 200 arrests in the last couple weeks alone on this. And they're going to be emphasizing a lot more on this. The FBI is also involved with that, Kyra.

HOLMES: Yes, I heard about people at airports getting training in how to spot potential victims of sex trafficking. So that's some good news.

I'm curious, Evan, is this a response to any specific threat or new threat, or just the usual abundance of caution?

PEREZ: Well, you know, I think this is not - it's not anything specific. This is what they do for Super Bowls. This Super Bowl is particularly tricky. You have a very congested region just outside of New York City. You have rail lines that run -- there's a train station that's just yards away from the entrance to the stadium.

And so, one of the things that the TSA is doing is deploying these teams that includes air marshals and behavior specialists. They're going to be going through 100 percent baggage checks between Secaucus Junction, which is a train station that's a little further away from the stadium for 15,000 people that are expected to travel on that train line.

So this is actually an issue of more New York and high-profile New York that it is and the fact that you have so many people that are going to be depending on transit, Michael.

PHILLIPS: Well, bottom line -


PHILLIPS: I mean, since 9/11, right, everything has changed for us. So when we all pack into one venue, thousands and thousands of people, it's always - it's a target.

HOLMES: You're going to - you're going to be checked.

PHILLIPS: Right, exactly.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.

PHILLIPS: And I guess we're talking about, what, 80,000 football fans, Evan, expected at MetLife Stadium? I mean, what do you think the biggest challenge would be?

PEREZ: Well, one of the biggest things is it's going to be so cold this weekend. Everybody's going to be carrying big coats and big -- and a lot of things on them to keep warm. And as you know, Kyra, you know, getting into these stadiums, they have to screen you, they have to get -- you have to get through these screening stations.

And in the last couple years, the NFL has banned bags from coming into stadiums. So this is going to be a bigger headache than one, let's say, if you put this Super Bowl -- played this Super Bowl in Miami or in San Diego, where there are much warmer temperatures expected than what we're expecting this weekend in New York.


PHILLIPS: No big bags. It's hard to get the big flask in there.

HOLMES: I was just going to say, I -

PHILLIPS: Or the hot toddy.

HOLMES: Evan makes - exactly. Evan makes a very good point too. I think next year it's going to be in Texas, where it will be 80 degrees this weekend. So --

PHILIPS: Yes. There won't be any issues.

HOLMES: Yes, a bit of a difference.

Evan, good to see you. Evan Perez there.

All right, now let's turn to the Winter Olympics, speaking of chill. Ten days now before the start of the games and records already being set.

PHILLIPS: That's right, and not in athletic competitions, though, but in terms of the security force that's in place to prevent terrorist attacks. Ivan Watson in Sochi now with details on what's happening.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra and Michael, workers here on the ground in Sochi are working overtime. They're putting the final touches on the venues, on the cities and towns here ahead of the opening of the Olympics, about 10 days away.

And we've also been seeing how the Russian security forces are tightening their so-called ring of steel around the Olympic venues. For example, there is a brand-new highway and high-speed rail line that have been built just for these Olympics connecting the Olympic Park over my shoulder and running more than 25 miles up into the Caucasus Mountains to the venues where the alpine sports will be held.

And along the route, which we drove along today, we could see Russian soldiers in green camouflage uniforms. They are based there, every couple of hundred yards it seems, in tents, in camouflage along the route of these two strategic -- this highway and this rail line. And we also saw entire bases where it's clear that there are thousands of Russian police officers and soldiers currently residing to provide security for the Olympics.

And as the final touches are being put into effect here, there are also fresh allegations of corruption coming from Russian opposition leaders, most recently, a leader called Alexei Navalny. And he released a new website, which is pretty slick. It's got an interactive map. And it accuses the Russian government of rampant corruption, of running billions of dollars over the budget, over the initial projected budget of about $12 billion to more than $50 billion with Navalny accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of doling out construction contracts to his -- to enrich his friends. These are, of course, charges that the Russian president has repeatedly denied.

Kyra and Michael.

PHILLIPS: All right, Ivan, thank you so much.

Another major issues surrounding the Olympics is Russia's new anti-gay law as well. It criminalizes anything seen as homosexual propaganda.

HOLMES: Yes, very controversial. Now, Washington's response, sending three openly gay athletes to Sochi as part of the U.S. delegation. Former Olympic gold medal figure skater, Brian Boitano, is one of them. He says it is important to be part of the U.S. message of diversity and tolerance so gay athletes can focus on their competition and not a cause.


BRIAN BOITANO, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I think that the athletes who go over there, they have a task at hand. They have to live out their dream, number one, and they have to focus on representing our country as well as they can for the Olympics. I mean anything that detracts from that, their focus, anything, I don't advise that. As an athlete, I would have never done that.

Also, demonstrations under the Olympic charter are, you know, they don't allow demonstrations. So they could be sent home, they could have their medals taken away. So I think that that's why this presidential delegation is important because we can speak volumes from being there and the athletes don't have to put their medals on the line or their reputation.


PHILLIPS: Well, Brian Boitano will be joined by openly lesbian athletes, tennis legend Billie Jean King, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

HOLMES: Got to love Billie Jean King.

All right, now, the only kind of white dusting New Orleans is used to seeing is the powdered sugar sprinkled on beignets (ph). You didn't think I was going to say that, did you?


HOLMES: Yes, not -

PHILLIPS: I'm glad you did. I lived there, so I know what he's talking about. They're awesome.

HOLMES: Yes, you do. They are great.

PHILLIPS: The chicory (ph) coffee has to go with them, though.

HOLMES: Is that it? We need anything else?

PHILLIPS: Yes, just the beignet and the chicory coffee.

HOLMES: I love the beignets too. I do. I do remember those.

PHILLIPS: Sorry, we digress.

HOLMES: Well, the reason we're talking about it is because there's a whole lot of other cities in the south that rarely get things called ice and snow. And, guess what, they're bracing for a huge winter storm.

PHILLIPS: That's right. People from Texas to Georgia, they're in the path of this winter blast. 140 million people under some kind of winter advisory or warning now. A lot of schools are out. Nearly 3,000 flights have already been canceled. And then you've got power companies preparing for all those outages.

HOLMES: Unbelievable, isn't it.

Chad Myers is in New Orleans.

That's why I didn't see you here when I came in today.

Governor Jindal doesn't want anyone out driving. I mean this is a place -- we think Atlanta's bad when there's a whiff of snow, but New Orleans -- you just don't see it there, do you?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No. And the other problem is, a lot of this town is built on a bridge. Almost all of I-10 from Lafayette over to Baton Rouge is literally a bridge. It's over a lake. It's over a bayou. And so all of that now, 55 solid miles of I-10 shut down. There's no way to control the ice on that right now.

This right here is how people are getting around. The buses are running today because what should be right here is a trolley car. That, right there, those are trolley car lanes. But the trolley cars are shut down today because the power will probably go out. If the power goes out, the trolleys get stuck. They don't want the trolleys stuck on these tracks. They are only running buses today.

Everybody says it's raining and 34. This isn't going to happen. I have news for you. It's going to happen. It's sleeting now. And the temperature is going to go down to 30 and that is going to all be ice, Michael and Kyra. This is going to be a mess.

HOLMES: Oh. PHILLIPS: No street car named desire.

The Midwest and Northeast nearly 30 degrees below normal, right?

HOLMES: Unbelievable.

MYERS: Yes, you bet. Even though we're 32 today, just a couple days ago I was in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was 30 below zero with the wind chill. So it, to me, feels 60 degrees warmer than it did when I was in Massachusetts. So this isn't bad just yet. I'll get away from that bus so you can hear me.

But it is going to get down to 30. And all the way from Texas all the way to Georgia, even parts of northern Florida, will see rain and 30 degrees. That will be that frozen ice, ice storm that you literally can't drive in. You can get traction in snow. You can't get traction on what's coming down right now.


MYERS: This ice storm is going to devastate the power lines. This entire city is going to shut down tonight.

HOLMES: Oh, boy. Oh, boy, be careful. There's a car coming up behind you, I think.


HOLMES: Hey, listen, I can't let you go because I'm a big football fan. And, mean, if you're going to have the Super Bowl outdoors in the Northeast, a, it's going to be cold. What are your -- what's your forecast?

MYERS: I see -- I'm going up on Friday, by the way, if I can get out of here tomorrow or Thursday. I think that the snow is going to be there on Saturday and then the storm clears out by Sunday. It's going to be colder than normal, but still somewhere around 30. Nothing that they can't play in. It just might be the wind, that crosswind across the Meadowland Stadium -- across Metlife Stadium that could maybe take that ball and turn it to the left or turn it to the right, depending on which way you're marching up or down the field, guys.

PHILLIPS: He's going to be marching up and down Bourbon Street watching the Super Bowl.

HOLMES: Yes, give him a couple of hours.

PHILLIPS: Yes, exactly.

Chad, thanks.

HOLMES: Oh, boy.

MYERS: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: All right, let's take a quick look at how the markets are doing right now, shall we? U.S. stocks fell yesterday for the fifth straight day. But this morning, the Dow opened with a 90-point gain. It's been in the green ever since.


PHILLIPS: It's up 60 points now, yes?

HOLMES: Yes, nearly 0.4 of a percentage point. The S&P also up. And that's always a - I always like that as an indicator better.

But some of the anxiety on Wall Street, of course, came from the uncertainty in emerging markets. We're talking about places like Turkey and India. But their currencies apparently have stabilized. That brought a little more calm to Wall Street. I mean, it went down a few points last week, but you look at it, it's still hovering around 16,000. You go back three years, I mean, this is a pretty healthy market.

PHILLIPS: I just want the 401(k) in good shape.


PHILLIPS: That's all I look at. Every --

HOLMES: Oh, you've got another 35 years before you need that.

PHILLIPS: Oh, Michael.

HOLMES: There you go. That's how to suck up to Kyra.

All right, here's more on what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

Ukrainian protesters getting some of what they've been demanding. The prime minister is going to resign. A lot of people say he jumped before he was pushed. The protesters say it's not enough. We're live in Kiev.

PHILLIPS: Also, a new report claims that the queen of England is broke. Well, at least for a queen. So why the royal household overspent on its budget and left the queen financially strapped. Say it isn't so.

HOLMES: Oh, heaven forbid.

Also, an amazing find. A 4,000-year-old stone tablet that gives the story of the great flood. What it tells us about Noah's Ark. All of that and more when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

President Barack Obama, laying out his agenda for the next year, that will be tonight, his fifth State of the Union address.

He's already made some major moves, like announcing an increase in the minimum wage for federal contractors.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CO-ANCHOR: That's right. And the White House says that move that's part of a new game plan to use more of his executive powers to get things done without Congress. And we know everything has been written about Congress in the past, for sure.

The latest polls actually show the country is with the president on the minimum-wage issue. A new CBS poll shows 72 percent agree with raising it from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Only 26 percent oppose raising the minimum wage.

HOLMES: They have big numbers.

Jim Acosta joins us from the North Lawn of the White House. Jim, this poll shows support for the president on that one sort of specific issue, but his approval numbers under 50 percent, nine points lower than last year when he did the State of the Union.

He's no French president, who I think hovers around 17 percent, but on a scale of one to 10, what do you see of his chances to get that minimum wage raised for all Americans?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's going to be very, very tough, Michael and Kyra.

I think this White House recognizes that it's going to be difficult to get legislation passed through the Congress this year.

After all, it's an election year, midterms coming up in the fall. That is why you're seeing this president take this course of the executive action route.

You mentioned the one that he announced earlier this morning, the White House announced earlier this morning, he's going to increase the minimum wage for future federally contracted workers to $10.10.

The House speaker, John Boehner, react to some of the talk of executive actions at the White House saying they're not going to allow the president to trample the House.

And it's interesting, because just as the House speaker was saying, I was talking with Cecilia Munoz, director of the policy council at the White House, had a hand of the State of the Union speech and said on this issue of raising the minimum wage for new federally-contracted workers, she says the president does have the authority in this area.

Here's what she had to say.


CECILIA MUNOZ, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL: We know that the American people on both sides of the aisle strongly support increasing the minimum wage.

This is about making sure that people who work hard and play by the rules can make enough to support their families. That's why the president is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage for the whole work force. It's why he's taking action today with respect to federal contractors where he clearly has the authority, where it's clearly good value for the taxpayers' dollar.

ACOSTA: You feel you have the authority?



ACOSTA: And as you mentioned, Michael, the president is going to make that call for an overall increase to the minimum wage for everybody else in the country.

And that's not the only thing he'll be asking for from Congress tonight. He'll also make a big push for immigration, as well.


PHILLIPS: How about this new game plan, right, to go at it alone, without Congress.

Isn't he sort of sticking it in Congress's face to publicly acknowledge this tactic, the same day he goes before the joint session of Congress?

ACOSTA: And that's what House Republicans have been saying. The speaker said, hey, we just passed a budget, we're working on immigration.

And the White House has indicated the president may be willing to sign on to what the House is working on. They want to see the details, but there is some talk in that direction.

But take a look at this. This is why the White House feels this is an untapped area when it comes to executive orders, President Obama in his first five years in office, only 167 executive orders, contrast with George W. Bush, 197, and Bill Clinton with 238.

They feel this is a weapon in the president's arsenal that has not been used enough. That's why you're going to hear the president talk about this a lot tonight.

I talked to a White House official who said, unlike every other State of the Union speech, this president has delivered before to the American people, this one more than those others will focus on these executive actions. He says he's not going to wait for Congress to act. He's going to move forward.

HOLMES: Wow, interesting numbers, Jim. Yeah, that's interesting to see that.

He can turn around and say, hey, the former president did it more than me, so, yeah, good stuff.

Thanks, Jim. Good to see you, Jim Acosta there.

ACOSTA: You bet.

PHILLIPS: As a reminder, too, you can watch President Obama's speech tonight, right here, CNN's coverage, State of the Union, live from Washington, 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

HOLMES: Yeah. Now the president going to mostly focus on domestic issues tonight, we're told, in the State of the Union.

Last year, he gave foreign affairs, for example, only about 10 minutes.

PHILLIPS: So here's the question. Is he missing another opportunity this year on issues like Iran?

CNN's Tom Foreman in our Washington bureau covering what might and might not be said tonight.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rising worry about Iran's nuclear ambitions were running high during last year's State of the Union.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.

FOREMAN: What's happened since is complicated. The Iranians elected a new president who seems more open to talks with the West. They struck a deal to scale back on nuclear development in exchange for lightened sanctions.

But it is a temporary agreement, and there's wide debate about whether it will actually work.

So promising signs, sure, but we still could only call this a work in progress.


PHILLIPS: All right, Tom, thanks.

Tom also is going to be back with us later in the hour with a look at how the president may address the situation in Afghanistan in tonight's State of the Union speech.

HOLMES: Yeah. OK, now what happened to all of the queen's money? The funds in her majesty's account to maintain those palaces and castles running a little low.

PHILLIPS: Do you feel sorry for her?

HOLMES: No. PHILLIPS: That story is next.


PHILLIPS: Oh, where, oh, where, have all the royal reserves gone? I didn't even know there were royal reserves.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah, big ones.



PHILLIPS: Apparently this report from Britain's House of Commons says the royal family's bank account, set aside to maintain the palaces and castles, is actually down to the last million pounds.

That's about 1.6 million bucks, right?

HOLMES: Yeah. Yeah.

PHILLIPS: And some of the places, apparently, are in pretty bad shape and they need a lot of repairs.

HOLMES: Yeah. That doesn't come cheap.

Now, this is report that says staff are actually having to use buckets to catch rain coming through some leaky roofs.

Max Foster is standing by, our royal correspondent, there in London.

Heaven forbid, I mean, let's face it. We all thought she was loaded.

PHILLIPS: As in a lot of money, let's be clear.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, don't worry too much. She's still a billionaire, so you don't need to worry about her personal money. What we're talking about here is the $50 million she gets a year for her public work and to look after all those very grand buildings.

And basically, she has been overspending, and all of her staff have had to dip into this reserve fund, which was standing at, you know, $10 million not long ago. Now down to $1.6 million. So they mishandled the money, and not only that, but they put off all this maintenance work.

So this parliamentary committee today, the amount of the backlog for work on the palace is at $50 million, money they simply don't have at the moment, and they are talking about buckets being used in the palace, and this old boiler that hasn't been updated for 60 years, Buckingham Palace, costing a million dollars a year to run, to keep the electricity going.

PHILLIPS: So, is the government going to pitch in and help? And, also, how did those in London feel about this? Do they look at it as, look, this is historic, this is a part of our culture, you need to do what you need to do? It's not about giving the royals cash.

FOSTER: Well, certainly, there's a lot of support for the monarchy and they want to keep the monarchy going, so they want to support.

There is some frustration that they haven't kept up with the cutbacks. Other government departments have made huge cutbacks and the palace just hasn't.

So, the committee is saying they need to get rid of some staff to save some money there, and they need to open up the palaces for the public, paying tourists, to come in.

They're only allowed in during the summer at the moment. They should be allowed in all year-round. That will bring in revenues.

And that will create some goodwill around the country for the palace, as well, because everyone's made cutbacks.

We're going through austere times, but doesn't seem the queen has been doing the same.

HOLMES: All right, a little belt-tightening at the palace. Max, good to see you, Max Foster there in London.

PHILLIPS: Here are some other stories that are making headlines AROUND THE WORLD right now.

Egypt's ousted president, Mohamed Morsy, appeared in court today in a glass cage. He's on trial for allegedly breaking out of prison three years ago before he became Egypt's first democratically elected president, by the way.

He was voted into office after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for almost three decades. Morsy served only a year in office before being ousted in that military coup.

And in court today, he reportedly declared himself the, quote, "legitimate president" of Egypt, and he said he has not seen anyone from his family or his defense team.

HOLMES: Soundproof, too, that thing, because of all of the upheaval going on in court.

Now, let's go to Syria. Aid agencies waiting for the go-ahead to start delivering food to people literally starving in the war-ravaged city of Homs.

We're told the trucks are ready, ready to go in, as soon as all sides agree to let that happen. But there's no breakthrough yet at those peace talks going on in Geneva, if anything, a hardening of positions.

An estimated 2,500 people are trapped in Homs. No word on when civilians will be allowed out. A dreadful situation continuing there. And if you want to find out how to help the refugee situation in Syria, go to

PHILLIPS: All right. Before you download another app or play another game on your Smartphone, you may want to consider this.

The NSA may be tracking you through that little device of yours. Details, straight ahead.