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Previewing the "State Of The Union"; Executive Order For Minimum Wage; Excruciating Cold; U.S. Ship to Destroy Syrian Weapons; Remembering A Folk Icon

Aired January 28, 2014 - 06:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, is the president going to raise the minimum wage himself without Congress? Breaking new details on what he plans to say in tonight's state of the union address. We're live in Washington.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: State of emergency. The Deep South bracing for its worst winter storm in decades. Ice and snow set to cripple the region as the Midwest and east get slammed with more record lows.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Folk hero. Breaking overnight, the father of American folk music has passed away. We remember Pete Seeger, the man, the music, the mission.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, January 28th, six o'clock in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo coming to you live from Capitol Hill. We're here at the belly of the beast, because tonight, the president's going to deliver his "State of the Union" address.

BOLDUAN: And I'm Kate Bolduan in New York following all the other big top stories that we've got going on this morning including this, startling new revelations about the NSA spying on you through mobile apps. But first, we have breaking news out of Washington.

CUOMO: Breaking news because overnight CNN learned that President Obama in tonight's "State of Union" speech isn't going to just ask to raise the minimum wage. He's going to do it himself by executive order. That's right, an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 for new federal contractors. This will be welcome or unwelcome as a surprise depending on your party and raises the question, what else does the president have in store for his sixth "State of the Union" address? Get ready to hear the words income inequality a lot, but those words mean different things to different down here. So what will the president chart and what could be his last year to get anything meaningful done? Let's go to CNN's Brianna Keilar live at the White House with a preview. We've heard him talk jobs. We've heard him talk income inequality. This time needs to be different, Brianna. What do we expect?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does but it's really going to be tough for him, Chris. In this new announcement out just this morning really speaks to that. Increasing the minimum wage for not everyone and not all federal contract workers, but just employees of new federal contracts. It really speaks to the fact that he is hamstrung by a Republican Congress and it will be really tough for him to push his agenda this year.


KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama pushing forward in his bid to close the gap between rich and poor. He'll tell lawmakers tonight he's not waiting on them to raise the minimum wage at least for Americans working on government project. His executive action will force any company signing a new contract with the feds to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour, almost $3 more than the current federal minimum wage. Janitors and construction workers all seeing a boost in pay according to the White House. It was just one vow from last year's "State of the Union."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

KEILAR: That didn't get traction in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Remember that passionate call for a vote on new gun laws?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The families of New Town deserve a vote.

KEILAR: It failed and the push for an immigration overhaul --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done.

KEILAR: Stalled on Capitol Hill. Now Obama wants action and with the clock ticking on his second term, he's ready to tell Congress to get on board or step aside.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.

KEILAR: Executive actions, rallying businesses, colleges and local leaders to the cause and developing programs that don't require congressional approval. All part of Obama's plan to bypass Congress.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's an American citizen and it stands to reason that he might be frustrated with Congress since most American citizens are. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Now, Chris, we understand that the speech was largely written yesterday pretty much complete, allowing President Obama some time to just go over it with a fine-toothed comb, get comfortable with it. But, of course, this isn't the end. He will continue to sell his message in a road trip in the coming days. He'll be going to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, really trying to drive home his message.

CUOMO: All right, Brianna, a tall task to be sure, but very important. Thank you for the coverage from there. Joining us now for more now is Manu Raju, a senior congressional reporter for "Politico." Manu, very good to have you here. Now let's talk about this. He couldn't get $9 done. Remember? That was in the last "State of the Union." So this time he's saying it I'm raising it to $10.10 in stages and I'm going to do it myself, the impact?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": The impact is to put pressure on Congress to raise it for all private sector employees.

CUOMO: Important qualification, this is federal contracts, new contracts, it's limited in terms of what he can do himself.

RAJU: Right. He's going to say look, this is what I can do. Now, Congress you need to match what the government is doing. The real idea here is to put pressure on Republicans in Congress. The minimum wage issue is going to be one of the biggest issues that Democrats want to run on this election year. They want to run on Obamacare and the problems with Obamacare.

They run on these populist economic issues, things that will resonate with the middle class and they believe the minimum wage issue does just that, by dividing Republicans, uniting their party, in something they can rally around. You can expect to hear that a lot this year.

CUOMO: Is the minimum wage part of what we are hearing from Paul Ryan and others about the war on poverty, fixing poverty. How do you do poverty without the minimum wage?

RAJU: You know, the Republicans offer a variety of ideas in order to bring folks into the middle class, such as providing tax incentives and tax breaks for people who are in some of those lower income tax brackets. They're not talking about raising the minimum wage. They're trying to set the stage for a different argument. Republicans know full well, they are not going to see this man to the White House.

They've been bashed for years and years for cuddling the top 2 percent. They know heading in this election year, they need to show the public that they have ideas too that can bring folks into the middle class and attract that critical block of voters. That's what this is all about, setting the stage for November.

CUOMO: We now know about the minimum wage. It's not just teenagers anymore right, 80 percent are adults, 46 percent of people earning the minimum wage. They're bringing home their main check with that pay. So it's very important for a lot of people. It wasn't always that way. If you're Obama and I'm the Republicans and you do this yourself, how are you encouraging me to work with you?

I feel like you just slapped me in the face. I feel like you think you can get it done yourself. You're proving you can't cooperate with me and you are letting everybody else know now.

RAJU: Well, if I'm the White House, I'm thinking, Republicans aren't going to work with me anyway so I might as well try to do some of this stuff myself. I mean, there are really only a couple of things on the Hill that they need to get done with Republicans. There's a farm bill that could pass Congress by the end of next week.

Immigration that's still out there, but still a very heavy lift to get that done and of course, raising the national debt ceiling, that's a huge, huge issue next month. The rest of things probably will fall by the way side and this is going to be a political argument from here on out.

CUOMO: You are a big shot at "Politico." We are going to be covering this all day. Let me ask you a quick prediction. What gets more run? The president doing this by executive order or Hillary Clinton saying she hasn't driven a car since 1996.

RAJU: Probably the latter unfortunately.

CUOMO: Hasn't driven a car since the gas was a buck and a quarter. What does that mean? We are going to have to figure that out today as well. Manu, great to have you here.

RAJU: Absolutely.

CUOMO: All right, so you see how the dialogue is going to develop here. This is a big development from the president. Does it help? Does it hurt? Stay tuned. Of course, because here on CNN, we're going to have the most complete coverage and analysis of the president's "State of the Union" address starting here on NEW DAY and our coverage is going to go all day. And then at 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, we're going to have the prime time coverage setting to the big speech -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, we'll be with you. Thank you so much.

Let's turn to the other big story we're watching. Epic, excruciating, you pick the word for it, cold that just won't quit. Half the nation now coping with an arctic blast driving the snow in sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest and single digits in the northeast, dangerous snow, ice and sleet are moving into the south sending a shiver through states that don't typically get these brutal temperatures. Don't even get close to is normally.

This is the kind of cold that can kill. Schools are shutting down from Minneapolis to Cleveland and from Houston to Macon. We have the extreme cold covered like no one else can. Let's begin with Ted Rowlands in Minneapolis where 40 below zero windchills were recorded overnight. It's difficult for me to say. Good morning to you with those temperatures, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is freezing. We're at 16 below regular temperature now. Windchill's much worse. Another brutally cold day in what has been an excruciatingly cold winter.


ROWLANDS (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.


ROWLANDS: Kate, it is very cold today. We're supposed to get a little bit of a break later on today, but 53 days until spring. That seems like an awful long time. Hopefully things will get better sooner than later.

BOLDUAN: I love it, though. We can mark our calendars. Thanks so much, Ted. Stay warm, my friend.

As Ted was laying out there, it could be the worst winter storm the south has seen in decades. Right now winter storm warnings are in effect from Texas to Virginia sending a big chill through a 1,300 mile stretch of the country. A state of emergency already declared in Louisiana.

Let's turn to meteorologist, Chad Myers, who is live in New Orleans for us this morning. Unusual temperatures down there right now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's 30. My goodness, we have breaking news at 30 degrees. Yesterday, it was 60. A week ago for me, I was in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and it felt 30 below. So right now, Kate, I feel 60 degrees warmer than I did this time last week. These are the trolley tracks and the trolley should be running us down, but they're not running at all. People can't even find a ride to the airport. They may not need one, 2,500 planes are already canceled for today. School districts are shut down all the way from Houston to Georgia because it's going to be 30, but it's going to rain.

That's the issue here. It isn't so much that it's cold. I have thin weather gloves on, but it's going to rain this afternoon, and things are going to shut down all across the Deep South, and they haven't already. I was just talking to a couple over here. They have a flight. They still think they have a flight. It's going to leave at 6:00 Central Time. They can't get a cab. There's nobody running.

Finally, this is the very first bus that I have seen driving all morning long. Finally, we're getting some transportation here, but I think the best thing to do if you're in the Deep South, stay home, hunker down because you know those lonely baskets of fruit that sit on the hotel desk, all week, they just kind of rot. Those fruit baskets are gone. People are taking the fruit up to their rooms because they don't know how much food they may get in the coming days -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Chad, we often talk about, you know, the snow is something we always talk about, but it's the threat of if that rain becomes ice and the damage that it can bring that's going to be a big problem down there especially in a place not suited for those types of temperatures and conditions. Chad Myers, stay relatively warm, relatively speaking. We'll talk to you soon.

So how much damage can people expect from this storm? Let's get right over to meteorologist, Indra Petersons for a look at that. A lot to track right now, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Once you get past the icing threat, you talk about the threat of snow. In places like the deep south, where they are definitely not used to this. New Orleans could see about a quarter inch of icing, but notice even as we in through tomorrow. We still have the threat of icing in higher amounts especially around Wilmington where they get close to that threshold about half an inch of ice where you are really start to concern with downed power lines.

That's just the first part of the system. Once that cold air moves in, you still have the moisture in place, you start talking about the threat of snow. Yes, snow up into the gulf. I mean, look at this, we are talking about even as much as 6 inches especially in through the Carolinas. These are not areas that are used to clearing the snow so definitely a difficult situation over the next several days.

And notice the temperatures and how this pans out. You can see where it's already cold, where it's below freezing. Right along the gulf, temperatures are above freezing. That's the reason you get that wintry mix right in between. We will start to see that. By noon it will really pan out along the entire gulf and tomorrow still in through the Carolinas. For everyone else, dangerously cold temperatures, but by the afternoon, this is as warm as it gets. Chicago, the best it will be for you is 12 below -- Michaela and Kate.

BOLDUAN: My goodness, that's what I'm talking about. When you see those temperatures in Indiana, that's why I say to my parents, stay home.

PEREIRA: She said the best and 12 below in the same phrase.

BOLDUAN: She's confused. She's conflicted. She needs some coffee.

PEREIRA: I'll do the headlines. We'll get back to you. Here are your headlines at this hour. This morning, a U.S. ship is headed to Europe to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons. It will make the two-week trip to Italy where the materials are being delivered. They will be transferred to the ship and destroyed at sea. Congress secretly approved funding through September.

Well, the Sochi games just ten days away now. Today, the Olympic torch will make its way through the capitol of the Chechnya Republican. In the meantime, terror threats remain a grave concern for athletes and tourists. Here in the United States, the National Hockey League says they will re-evaluate whether to send players to Sochi if something significant happens between now and February 9th.

New developments in a story we've been following very closely here on NEW DAY. A second grand jury has indicted a North Carolina police officer for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a former college football player. Last week, a different grand jury had declined to indict. Randall Kerrick shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell in September, after a woman called police saying Ferrell was trying to break her down. Ferrell was reportedly seeking help following a car accident.

New details emerging, rather, in the Bridgegate scandal rocking New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. State lawmakers have merged separate investigations into lane closures that snarled traffic on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. The bipartisan committee will look into whether Christie aides order the closures to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie for reelection.

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94. He was an American original. The singer, songwriter and environmental and political activist, really his was a storied career that spanned more than seven decades. Here's a look back at his incredible life. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA (voice-over): A gentleman with a gentle voice -- and a burning passion for a world of causes. Pete Seeger spent his life raising the political temperature, often taking heat for his believes.

He was born in New York City back in 1919. He dropped out of Harvard to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician.

PETE SEEGER, LEGENDARY FOLK SINGER: I come from a family of teachers. I was looking for a job on the newspaper and not getting one. There was an ad, I can get $5 for you if you come sing a song for my class. Five dollars in 1939, you got to work all day or two days to make $5. It seemed like stealing. But I went took it, and pretty soon I was singing in another school, and another school, and another, then I did end up working on a newspaper.

PEREIRA: Seeger helped bring folk music to the mainstream back in the 1940s. He hit the road with fellow folk legend Woody Guthrie, and landed on the record charts with the Weavers.

His songs including classics like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "If I Had a Hammer" would later be covered by such artists as Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin. Seeger would go on to inspire the careers of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, but he is perhaps best known for his activism, championing civil rights, environmental causes and protesting the war in Vietnam.

After releasing a hundred records and influencing the musical world, Pete Seeger may not be best remember for what he sang, but for why he sang.


PEREIRA: It may seem so old fashioned to kid's musical taste today, but that voice and that man and his life and his career were such a part of American history really. You know, like the music book that made up our childhood.

BOLDUAN: As you perfectly lay out, he is a source of inspiration for many of the artists that we all listen to today. We were talking about it this morning. It's always sad the passing of someone that people know so well and can connect with, but what a good long life.

PEREIRA: Ninety-four years.

BOLDUAN: All right. We're going to take a break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: shocking new revelations about NSA spying. How far does the agency really reach? Here's a hint for you. If you play Angry Birds, which we all do, chances are the government may know about it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, I didn't know that about the Angry Birds.

All right. We're down here in Washington, D.C., and, obviously, we're going to talk about the State of the Union.

But did you hear about this? Hillary Clinton made an announcement that she's not any good at driving. In fact, wait until you hear what the former secretary of state says about when she actually last drove a car. You won't believe it and you may not even believe why she would admit it. We'll tell you when we come back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

If you play Angry Birds, the NSA could be spying on you. That's according to new classified documents released from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that say American and British spy agencies are mining personal information from smart phone users. And it's not just Angry Birds. Some of the biggest mobile apps including Facebook, Twitter, and Google Maps could leave you open to spying eyes.

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more on these new details.

Good morning, Barbara.


Of course, when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is log on to the CNN app. But then the question is, what happens next?


STARR (voice-over): Angry Birds, one of the most popular game applications, has been downloaded more than 1 billion times. But the next time you open it up, could the NSA be tracking you?

According to "The New York Times", the NSA is trying to collect and store user data from apps. "The Times" says the classified program focuses on so-called "leaky apps" that spew everything from user smart phone identification codes to where they have been that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to track what people are doing on the Internet, you have to move to apps. I think that's what's driving NSA to track apps.

STARR: In response to "The Times" story, the NSA issued a statement saying, in part, "any implication that the NSA's foreign intelligence collection is focused on the Smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true."

At the White House, more pushback.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not interested in the communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets.

STARR: The report is based on documents said to be leaked by Edward Snowden. In one document, which could not be verified by CNN, the effort is described as a "Golden Nugget". Information that could be connected includes location of users, networks to which they connect, Web sites visited, buddy lists and downloaded documents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would need really tight controls to make sure they weren't taking advantage of it.


STARR: And now, there will be a new head of the NSA. The current director, General Keith Alexander, long scheduled to retire. We now understand that Vice Admiral Michael Rogers will be nominated to succeed him -- Rogers, both a trained cryptologist and an intelligence officer. So, he will take over in the coming weeks as soon as he's confirmed, if he's confirmed by the Senate. And he will be left to try and sort out all of President Obama's changes and the big mess at NSA -- Kate, Michaela.

BOLDUAN: What a time to be coming in. Barbara Starr -- thanks so much, Barbara.

PEREIRA: So much for Angry Birds on my phone now.

BOLDUAN: And everything else.

PEREIRA: Let's talk about other games, the big game. Nothing is off limits when it's Super Bowl weekend, including the topic of NFL players using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Andy Scholes is here in studio with more with the live version in color of the "Bleacher Report".

BOLDUAN: Who will be you taking this one on (ph)?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Right. You know, ironically guys the only two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use are the two teams in the Super Bowl. That's, of course, Colorado, Denver and Seattle, Colorado and Washington, two states they come from.

Now, head coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks, he was asked yesterday if he thinks players should be able to use the drug for medicinal purposes. And he definitely did not shoot down the idea.


PETE CARROLL, SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: We have to continue to explore and compete to find ways that are going to make our game a better game and take care of our players the best way possible. The fact that it's in the world of medicine is obviously something the commissioner realizes. Making the expression we need to follow the information and the research, absolutely, I'm in support of.


SCHOLES: That's NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he will always consider what's best for the players, but their medical experts are not saying marijuana is not what's best to treat injury. That's just concussions right now. And speaking of concussions, ESPN recently conducted an anonymous poll of 320 NFL players, and 85 percent of them said they would play in the Super Bowl with a concussion. That sure says a lot about how important this game is to the players.

Now, all of the players in this year's Super Bowl received a nice gift from Dr. Dre this week. They all got this diamond encrusted Beats by Dre headphones. Now, Richard Sherman who endorses the headphones surprised the Seahawks teammates. The retail value of these bad boys estimated value is $25,000. Right? It's pretty expensive gift.

BOLDUAN: I would not be walking around with those things on my head.

SCHOLES: You know, they gave out about 120 of these. It's pretty expensive, but they think it's well worth it, Dr. Dre does, considering the exposure they're going to get this week, with every player wearing to and from all of the Super Bowl.

BOLDUAN: I feel like Beats does not need the help.

PEREIRA: They sure don't. (INAUDIBLE)

BOLDUAN: What you're saying?

PEREIRA: We're not getting them for each other.

BOLDUAN: What? We're now not part.

SCHOLES: I'd love a pair.

BOLDUAN: The Kaepernick commercial, the Beats commercial with Kaepernick and that song "The Man", so good, right?

Andy doesn't know because Andy doesn't listen to music this morning.

PEREIRA: He's a top 40 guy.

BOLDUAN: Top 40, marinate on (ph) that. And we're going to take a break.

PEREIRA: Good to have you here with us.

BOLDUAN: Andy is never coming back.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: It will be 24 hours before some 600 sick passengers and crew members can get off their Royal Caribbean cruise ship. We're going to hear from some of the passengers about the still mysterious illness.

PEREIRA: And she may or may not be on a fast track back to the White House. One thing is for certain, you will not see Hillary Clinton driving there. Find out why the former secretary of state hasn't been behind the wheel of a car in nearly two decades.