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Heavy Security Planned At The Super Bowls; Cold, Ice, Snow Target Deep South; Middle Class Still Struggling Five Years Later; Report: NSA Spying Through Angry Birds; Folk Icon Peter Seeger Dead At 94; Sochi Most Corrupt Games Ever?
Aired January 28, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, I mean, they have been billing this as a New York Super Bowl. We do know that Metlife is in New Jersey. It would be nice to include but thinking, New York City, you know how marketing folks go.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, any Nischelle. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. New this hour, we are learning details about stepped-up security measures for the Super Bowl. Federal agencies including Homeland Security, will be working with local police at Metlife Stadium and transit stations and airports. They say everything going into that stadium, from seat cushions to food to drinks to merchandise, all of that will be x-rayed.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us with more on this massive security effort. Good morning.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Good morning, Carol. This is going to be a big undertaking. The Homeland Security Department is sending hundreds of employees and officers up to New Jersey, as you just pointed out. The FBI is going to have more people on the ground. They are all preparing for the eventuality. In case something goes wrong. They need to be able to deal with any situation that comes up.
Now, the location of the stadium, which is in New Jersey, there is train lines that go nearby. There is Newark Airport right next door. There are some rivers right next door. This is calling for a lot of resources from the coast guard. The TSA says it is going to deploy visible, intermodal prevention response units, which are called viper teams, including federal air marshals, behavioral specialist, people that will be able to check for luggage going from various train stations in New York, New Jersey, Penn Station and grand central stations, for instance, more screenings at the airports and trains.
A crackdown on sex trafficking by the NYPD and FBI. ICE says they will be doing a crackdown on counterfeiting. There will be a lot of resources poured into this area between today and Super Bowl Sunday. The first sign will be tomorrow when you are seeing a lot more baggage checks at some of the major train hubs in the New York City region -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Understandable, Evan Perez, many thanks to you.
For tens of millions of people, a month of brutal cold is about to get worse. Doesn't that look like the frozen tundra? These pictures are from Iowa, an arctic blast is plunging some areas into the coldest temperatures of the year so much for that sinister polar vortex a couple of weeks ago.
This new frigid cold is downright dangerous. School systems are shutting down today from Minneapolis to Mississippi and all across the Deep South. The big concern is a winter storm threatening to dump snow and ice from the gulf coast all the way to the Carolina Coast. It could be the biggest wallop to the region in years.
Louisiana has declared a state of emergency. With ice in the forecast, many states are warning widespread power outages. The weather has forced some 2800 flight cancellations and counting. CNN's Ted Rowlands brings you the big picture.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions waking up this morning to dangerous subzero temperatures in the double digits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really cold and getting colder.
ROWLANDS: This new blast of frigid arctic air bringing the coldest temps this winter and wreaking havoc yet again for air travelers, more than 2,000 flights canceled on Tuesday. From the Midwest to the southeast, schools and government offices are closed again as bitter cold air plunges windchills to 40 below in some states.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like winter has been forever and we're just -- I don't even know if we're in the middle of winter yet.
ROWLANDS: Chicago preparing for a historic deep freeze, subzero temps that will struggle to rise above zero for another day could have the windy city in the lowest stretch of cold since 1983 forcing schools across the state closed for a second day and commuter trains to slowdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just reduces the stress on the rails to operate a little bit slow. It's kind of precaution.
ROWLANDS: The brutal cold near record breaking territory say state officials since October, Iowa is experiencing the ninth coldest winter in over 100 years. The long cold is creating a significant propane shortage across the Midwest.
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: We continue to have an exceptionally cold winter.
ROWLANDS: Wisconsin, the latest to declare an energy emergency as thousands fear not being able to heat their homes. Adding to the misery, blinding whiteout conditions in the northern plains, wind gust reaching up to 60 miles per hour. It blew cars right off the road. In Central Minnesota, the howling wind caused massive snow drifts higher than this SUV.
The National Weather Service says much of the country will be shivering with temps up to 30 degrees below normal through Wednesday.
COSTELLO: Much of the country shivering as concerns remain over that growing demand and shrinking supply of propane in many states. So let's bring in Ted Rowlands. He is live in Minneapolis. It was 40 below overnight.
ROWLANDS: Yes, with the windchill right now, it is hovering around 10 below. It is still horrible, Carol. The big problem isn't the propane issue. Not only here in Minnesota but in many states in the Midwest, there is a shortage and a huge price increase. You have people that are literally being rationed not being able to fill their tanks and people that are self-rationed because the price is doubled there. They are literally sitting around in their homes with blankets and coats. A huge issue when you go through temperatures like we are feeling right now.
COSTELLO: So what are government officials doing about this, Ted?
ROWLANDS: They are opening up regulations. They are basically saying that some of the transportation guidelines and rules can be temporarily broken during these times of states of emergency, if you will. Twenty plus states have those now in place to allow at least for the transport of propane when it is available to move more fluidly.
COSTELLO: Ted Rowlands, live in Minneapolis, this morning, thanks, Ted.
We are just hours away from President Obama's fifth state of the union. First up on the agenda, the wage gap in America, the president will tell lawmakers, he is not waiting on them to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. He will sign an executive order forcing any company signing a new contract with the federal government to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour. That's almost $3 more than the current federal minimum wage. Who will be affected and how will it impact taxpayers? Let's bring in Christine Romans. Good morning, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Let's be clear when the president signs his executive order, no one gets a pay raise until someone new is hired. What kind of workers are we talking about here, well, the White House says, imagine its laundry workers at military bases, janitors in federal buildings, and construction workers in government buildings. These are exactly the kind of jobs they are targeting.
The last hour, the director of White House communications told you, Carol, that they are trying to advance the conversation. Many economists are saying this is a small sliver of minimum wage workers we're talking about here, new workers. The government White House giving these federal contractors time to rejigger their bids and the like. Going forward, they would have to pay higher wages but it would take some time -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Well, the White House communication director did say they wanted to further the conversation on raising minimum wage for all Americans. The House Speaker, John Boehner, Republican, just came out and said the president seems to be overstepping his bounds. He was not happy with that executive order.
ROMANS: This is interesting. This is a debate we have already had. We have had this debate over and over again, these two sides meeting at a brick wall in the middle about whether it is the right time to raise the minimum wage for everyone in the country. Some are saying this morning that the president making this move, they are trying to decide if it helps or hinders the raise the wage campaign in America, to raise the minimum wage for more Americans.
But I think what it shows, Carol, I think it shows that the economy is still the number one issue for this president, five years, five of these state of the unions now. Presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. The economy is stronger. Not everyone is feeling it. Tonight, that would be the focus of his remarks.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our economy is badly weakened. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered.
ROMANS (voice-over): In the depth of the economic crisis, the president promised action. Five years later, the recovery is real for some.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We have cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis.
ROMANS: Home values are soaring, a series of stock market records have boosted 401(k)s. Banks have paid back government loans and are turning huge profits. Sales of American cars are at a six-year high.
KEN ROGOFF, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: The U.S. economy is healing and if you compare it to pastimes, our economy or other economies that have had this kind of horrible financial crisis, we don't look so bad.
ROMANS: The fed has pumped trillions of dollars into the economy and kept interest rates near historic lows. That has helped investors and homeowners. Most say the economy is still in poor shape. In the Obama economy, the rich have got richer, 95 percent of the income gains since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent of income earners.
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Income in equality first and foremost is an abomination. It strains how our whole system operates. It is a drag on the economy overall while the overall economy is growing.
ROMANS: Jobs are coming back, but the middle class jobs the U.S. lost in the recession are being replaced by low wage jobs. About 10.4 million Americans still out looking for work, 38 percent of them out of work for 27 weeks or more. That's why the president says, it is too soon to pull back on emergency recession era programs.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Folks aren't looking for a handout. The job market is still tough and people need support.
ROMANS: Republicans say the president's policies aren't helping.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Instead of helping to create jobs, the president is focused on making it easier to live without one.
ROMANS: Economists say it is precisely this kind of squabbling in Washington that has held back the recovery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Congressman and president could have done a lot to make the economy better. They could have agreed on budget deals, avoided government shutdowns or threats of debt crises.
ROMANS: For those left behind, 2014 may be the year the economy starts working for more Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may take a while longer for everyone to be included in this recovery. I think there is now a sense in the markets that the economy has turned a corner.
ROMANS: And that is precisely what we expect to hear from the president in tonight's state of the union. It is clear the economy has improved under his presidency over the past years. What's also clear, Carol, the poll numbers don't show that Americans feel like it.
COSTELLO: No, they don't. Christine Romans, many thanks. Stay tune to CNN for the most complete coverage and analysis of the president's state of the union. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
You are probably aware of the reports that the NSA is keeping track of your phone calls. Guess what? They might also be learning more about you every time you play "Angry Birds" on your Smartphone or tablet. According to "The New York Times," popular apps like angry birds might be feeding the government everything about you, your location, how many kids you have, even your sexual orientation. Laurie Segall is live with more on this. This is disturbing.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is a little bit disturbing. They are not just looking for your high score and I have a very high score when it comes to angry birds. This report that "The New York Times" put out showed that the government is very interested in what people are doing on their Smartphones. They say they are specifically focused on foreign intelligence, the kind of information they are able to get. We're talking age, location, where you've been, who your contacts are, who you have been talking to.
When you open up an app, the last thing you think is that you are sharing a lot of this information. They said the Smartphone was a golden nugget for this kind of information. We are learning that a little bit more and more. Think about when you upload a picture on Facebook, it also has a gio tag. There is a lot of information you can get. What the papers say is that the government is completely utilizing it -- Carol.
COSTELLO: What will companies do to protect consumers, because I would assume consumers want to be protected from this kind of thing?
SEGALL: Absolutely. Here is the tension. A lot of these companies are saying, I speak to folks in Silicon Valley all the time that put their hands up and say, we need more transparency. They are able to get a little more transparency, just yesterday, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! They all essentially over the summer had sued the government to be able to publish more information especially what kind of information is government collecting, how many requests are out there. Yesterday, the decision came in and they are able to do that.
I spoke to a partner in Silicon Valley and asked them if there was more friction between the NSA. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT KUPOR, PARTNER, ANDERSON HOROWITZ: I don't know if there is growing friction there. I think there has always been friction. Now, it is coming to light. I think these big companies recognize they have to live in a world that has regulatory boundaries. They are doing what they are required to. In a perfect world, they wouldn't have to deal with that. This is part of the cost of doing business in an ever-increasing technology world.
SEGALL: Marissa Mayer was in Davos. She said, this has hurt her business, the NSA, and hurt customer trust. It is about doing the dance and how much information is too much and how transparent can we be with also protecting our country.
COSTELLO: Tough questions. Laurie Segall, thanks so much.
The upcoming Olympics in Russia already the most expensive games ever. Now, they claim it is also the most corrupt. We'll take you live to Sochi next.
COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 18 minutes past the hour, with around 650 crew passengers are crew sick, a Royal Caribbean Cruise is heading home early, docking two days earlier than scheduled. Shows sickened have symptoms similar to norovirus, which spreads quite easily and can lead to terrible stomach problems. They plan to give passengers a 50 percent refund and a 50 percent cruise credit.
A grand jury has indicted a Charlotte, North Carolina police officer for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a former A&M football player. The indictment comes a week after another grand jury decided not to indict Officer Randall Kerrick. He shot him 12 times after call from a woman thinking he was trying to break into her home. It turns out he was seeking help after crashing his car. > Legendary folk singer, Pete Seeger has died. His career spanned more than 70 years including in moving performance at President Obama's first inauguration. His grandson said he died of natural causes. Best known for "Turn, Turn, Turn," "if I had a hammer." he was 94.
Figure skater says he believes that athletes will be safe at the Winter Olympics. Brian Boitano is part of the official delegation. Last night, he talked with CNN's Piers Morgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN BOITANO, OLYMIC GOLD MEDALIST: I think everybody is worried about security but I do think it is the first priority. I think the safest place will be the Olympic village. The athletes' safety should be the first priority so they can focus on what they need to do. There had been talk of canceling it or something like that. I think that would be very devastating to the athletes, especially since the Olympics sort of represent playing on the field of sports and putting your country's differences aside. I think the number one issue is going to be security and I think that athletes will be safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: They are talking about security in Sochi this morning. CNN senior correspondent, Ivan Watson is live to tell us more. Good morning or good night to you.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, good night, Carol. That's right. The Olympic torch is still making its way through Russia. For the past through days, it has been going through the turbulent caucuses, today, through that former war-torn region of Chechnya. We have had reports that the route of the heavily guarded torch had to be shrunk somewhat there. We are waiting to find out more. Here in Sochi, the workers are putting the final touches, working overtime trying to put the final touches on the Olympics before they start about ten days from now.
The security forces are clearly tightening their so-called, ring of steel around the Olympic Park, which is behind me here. We have seen examples of the extreme lengths the Russian security forces are going to protect the area. There is a brand new very expensive parallel highway and high-speed rail line that runs from the Olympic Park over my shoulder up into the caucuses mountains, more than 25 miles to the location where the alpine sports will be held.
We drove along that highway, which is protected every couple of hundred yards by camouflaged soldiers hiding in bunkers and in camouflage tents. We passed several compounds where clearly thousands of soldiers and police are being temporarily baffle wagged. That's the sign of the enormous security forces that have been deployed to protect the Olympic venues -- Carol.
COSTELLO: There is also talk that this Olympic game could be the most corrupt in history. What can you tell us about that?
WATSON: Well, that's certainly coming from members of the Russian opposition who are making those accusations, accusations that, of course, the Russian government has denied. The most recent charges come from a leading opposition figure who released this very slick web site today which he titled, the encyclopedia of spending, an interactive map have of the Olympic venues along with so-called champions of corruption and claims of different projects, including that new highway and high-speed rail that he claims the Russian government simply embezzled money or allowed state corporations to embezzle money, charges of corruption, that he claims led to billions of dollars' worth of overspending.
Of course, the Russian government has denied that. The International Olympic Committee so far is standing by the Russian government. By many estimates, this Olympics is costing some $50 billion, more than four times more than the Russians originally projected in 2007 when they won the bid to host the Olympics in the first place.
COSTELLO: Unbelievable. Ivan Watson reporting live. Thank you.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Hillary Clinton hasn't driven a car since 1996. What about riding the subway or chowing down on a burrito from Chipotle.
These and other burning questions were posed to one of his closest aides and he was not happy.
COSTELLO: The burning questions we want to know, some of us at least. Hillary Clinton says she hasn't driven in nearly two decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The last time I drove a car myself was 1996. I remember it very well and unfortunately, so does the Secret Service, which is why I haven't driven since then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Those comments prompted the people at "Buzzfeed" to ask one of Clinton's long-time aides, Philip Grimes, about some other everyday things Hillary has or has not done, like buy things online or eat at Chipotle. His response was colorful. He slammed the web site renaming bull feed, calling the questions inane and providing photos of her eating at Chipotle. CNN's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter join me now to talk about this and you my first thought is, "Buzzfeed" is fun. Where is his sense of humor?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I thought it was very smart of "Buzzfeed" to ask these questions. I wasn't total will I surprised by the response because this spokesman has a reputation of being combative, for being funny like this, for being provocative like this. These are questions that Hillary Clinton will someday have to answer.
COSTELLO: Whether she ate at Chipotle. STELTER: We have seen over the years, presidential candidates get into trouble whether they don't seem to connect to ordinary Americans. The American people, we are a contradictory bunch. We want our presidents to be just like us but better than us, smarter than us, wiser than us. Questions like whether they have ate on at Chipotle and what the price of a gallon of milk is are legitimate questions. Right now, she isn't running for anything. So maybe it is fair to swap the questions away. People are going to want to know if she is relatable if and when she runs.
COSTELLO: Why did those questions -- Phillippe Ryan has been in the political biz for a very long time. Why did those questions bother him?
STELTER: First of all, the answer that she gave about driving a car is getting some negative attention, scrutiny. Maybe he was trying to disarm further questions about how in touch she is with ordinary Americans by swatting it away in a humorous way. I thought it was a very funny e-mail to call "Buzzfeed" bullfeed. It was very clever.
But the reality is there will be other reporters asking questions like this in the future. Maybe Hillary Clinton will be able to poke fun of herself by saying she hasn't been allowed to drive a car, because the Secret Service won't let her. Maybe that will work. Maybe she will be able to step aside from the questions like that. There will be a lot more in years to come.
COSTELLO: When candidates run for president, you saw President Obama trying to ride the bull. Ronald Reagan rode a horse, which he did well. Jimmy Carter like made much of the fact he was a simple peanut farmer even though he is a pretty wealthy peanut farmer so I guess, you made --