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Seahawks Win Super Bowl; Hoffman Death Investigation; Obamacare Website Troubles; Olympic Terror Concerns

Aired February 3, 2014 - 05:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the world's truly great actors dead this morning, Philip Seymour Hoffman. All signs point to an overdose. Overnight, new questions about signs that might have been missed. We will have the very latest on the investigation.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Will Americans be safe in Sochi? Rising concerns this morning about security in Russia with only days to go before the Olympics there. This morning, new information on how Americans would be evacuated if terrorists strike. We're live.

BERMAN: An all-night party! The Seahawks crushed the Broncos. I mean crushed! This morning, the celebrations, the heroes and the questions. Where on earth was Peyton Manning?

ROMANS: Wow. If you're just waking up and didn't see it, we have got everything for you, because it was something.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Monday, February 3rd. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ROMANS: All right. Up first, for the Denver Broncos and their fans, Super Bowl XLVIII wasn't a game, it was a shame --

BERMAN: It was a sham!

ROMANS: The cover of "The Denver Post" says "Sea Sick". The Seattle Seahawks crushed the Broncos 43-8 to win their first Super Bowl title. They dominated from start to finish, really from the opening moments, turning Peyton Manning into a mere mortal quarterback.

Fans celebrating the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory, they're giving new meaning to "sleepless in Seattle", though, some may have gotten a little bit out of hand. That's not sleepless at all right there.

Andy Scholes joins us now with the big-game details.

Where were they? Where were the Broncos?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Man, the big game really was a big blowout, wasn't it, guys? You know, we've been spoiled with great Super Bowls over the last decade, but last night's game wasn't great for anyone unless you lived in Seattle and got to go burn things in the streets.

Joe Namath, I don't know if you saw this, guys, he took over Twitter at the beginning of the game rockin' that awesome fur coat. He almost had a false start trying to -- can't even talk about it, looking at that fur coat.

BERMAN: Leaves you speechless, it really does.

SCHOLES: He tried to toss the coin before anyone was even ready. Nothing rattles Joe Namath, but as for the Broncos, they were rattled in this one. First play of the game, ball snapped right over Peyton Manning's head, goes through the end zone for a safety. Miscommunication with the center, Manny Ramirez right there.

It would only snowball from there, guys. The next possession, manning overthrows Julius Thomas, picked off by Kam Chancellor.

Here we go again. Manning hit again in the second half, this time Malcolm Smith? The MVP of the game picked it off, returned it for a touchdown. That was 22-0 at the half, guys.

You thought maybe the Broncos were going to come back and make a game of this, but Percy Harvin put an end to that quickly, returning the second-half kickoff all the way for a touchdown. Oh, man.

This one just complete domination by the Seahawks. They get their first ever Super Bowl championship, 43-8 was the final. Richard Sherman, he sprained his ankle late in this one, guys, but nothing's going to spoil the feeling of being world champs.


RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Feels amazing, man. It feels like all the hard work, all the extra work, all the sore days, the extra lifting, the extra film paid off, man, and we've got a real good team and we really cemented our legacy today.

PEYTON MANNING, DENVER BRONCOS: It's disappointing for our entire team. We worked hard to get to this point, overcame a lot of obstacles to be here, but certainly to finish this way, it's very disappointing, and it's not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually, we have to.


SCHOLES: You know, Manning's setting records for yards, points, touchdowns this season, and then winning his fifth MVP, and then you just didn't see this coming.

BERMAN: No. That safety on his first snap of the game, for that to happen is stunning!

SCHOLES: Yes, and a lot of people now talking about his legacy. Where does he -- can't say he's the best quarterback of all time after going 1-2 in three Super Bowls.

ROMANS: But what was the Joe Namath coat made out of?

SCHOLES: I saw a lot of jokes on Twitter about this. They said the losers of the puppy bowl.


SCHOLES: That's what happens.

BERMAN: Then the big winner last night besides the Seahawks, Bruno Mars. Everybody's talking about -- he did a pretty good job, certainly way better than the Broncos at halftime, played better football than the Broncos. They didn't play at all.

SCHOLES: Right, didn't show up. I mean, I was stunned. I really thought the Broncos even up until halftime were going to make a game of this thing.

ROMANS: Yes, "The Denver Post" headline this morning, just a big banner headline, "Sea Sick."

BERMAN: That says it all.

All right. Andy Scholes, great to see you this morning. Appreciate it.

By the way, the Seahawks not the only one scoring last night. Check out this tweet from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the game. She puts this out. It says, "It's so much more fun to watch FOX when it's someone else being blitzed and sacked!" Of course, the game was on FOX.

A Clinton spokesman says this was meant as a good-natured, lighthearted and self-deprecating joke. This thing was retweeted about 10 gillion times.


You know, the left, people loved it, a very, very wise move that's going to excite the base there.

All right, we're going from fun and celebration now to pure, pure tragedy. The death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is being remembered by actors, directors and fans as really one of the greatest of our time. Just 46 years old. He left an indelible mark on the screen and stage. Just 46 years old.

He was found dead Sunday in his New York apartment, apparently from a drug overdose. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Alexandra Field.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, John, the acting community is grieving the loss of one of its most prolific stars, while devoted fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman pay tribute, leaving flowers and even candles right here at his doorstep.

This is the apartment building where friends of the 46-year-old actor found him on the bathroom floor Sunday morning. Police believe that he died of an apparent heroin overdose. Law enforcement sources tell CNN he was found with a needle in his arm and that police found a substance in the apartment which they believe to be heroin.

In the past, Philip Seymour Hoffman has been open about his problems with drug use and his effort to get help.

His family has now put out a statement, saying, quote, "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss, and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."

The NYPD crime scene unit responded to the apartment in Greenwich Village, spending several hours inside. The medical examiner was also on scene. About seven hours after he was found, Hoffman's body was wheeled away in a medical examiner's van.

Police say that Hoffman was last seen around 8:00 Saturday night. He never showed up for an appointment he had with his children on Sunday morning. After that, his friends went inside the apartment to discover his body. An autopsy will be conducted later today -- Christine, John.


ROMANS: Wow. Such a sad, sad story.

BERMAN: Three kids. Three kids. And he had been sober for 20 years.

ROMANS: That's just what's so heartbreaking about it, you know?

BERMAN: It's insidious. Heroin is just an insidious drug.

ROMANS: All right, the NFL definitely dodged a weather bullet. It was a positive balmy Super Bowl, 48 degrees. We were so worried about being frozen out, right?

But now, the frozen after the storm. The storm has pummeled the rest of the country with snow and ice. It's being felt now in the East.

BERMAN: Let's get more now. I should say, more than 800 flights have been canceled across the country and Chad Myers is up from Atlanta in for Indra today to tell us all about it.

Hey, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, 200 flights already are canceled out of New York City today, either LaGuardia or Newark or into JFK.

Now, you think about 150 people per plane. That's 30,000 people that aren't going -- or at least 3,000 people, that aren't going to get where they want to be today, probably all football fans. So, there's an awful lot going on here and not such good weather.

New York, Philadelphia, a lot of snow coming in. We will see seven inches of snow on MetLife Stadium by 7:00 tonight. At least it wasn't yesterday or that would have been another snow bowl. Winter storm warnings for New York City, at least five to seven here. Snowing in Philadelphia later on this afternoon.

Most of the day is rain, most of the rain back down to Atlanta today. So, an ugly day to fly. Atlanta, you're going to see cancellations and lots of delays as well. Three to five inches, four to six, four to eight, depending where you are in the mountains, but I think for New York City, five to seven is a really good number.

And remember what happened with 2.6 inches of snow in Atlanta. We'll see how New York City does with a morning start -- it's now starting to snow -- a morning start to the snow. And by the time they get to rush hour, five inches of snow on the ground tonight. That's the storm that's gone by today, gone later on tonight, at least. Then for Wednesday, another storm comes in.

First of all, rain, snow for New York City, but the heaviest snow from Toledo back to Cleveland, even into Buffalo, New York. Could be eight inches of snow with this one, not for the city so much because it's going to be warmer for New York City, but an awful lot for the Midwest. Watch out for cancellations, because once the airports start to get delayed, it just goes down from there.

BERMAN: It is happening. Wow, five inches! Didn't know that was coming. All right. Chad, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Thanks, Chad.

All right. Developing this morning: new troubles for the Obamacare Web site. "The Washington Post" reports the Web site is not yet equipped to fix errors the system made when people were signing up for the new federal health care law. Appeals by some 25,000 Americans said to be sitting untouched in a government computer. "The Post" reports that the Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the problem with the appeals system.

BERMAN: A Senate vote on a huge farm bill is expected this week perhaps as early as today. The bill passed the House last week with bipartisan support. This replaces farm subsidies with enhanced insurance options and cuts roughly $8 billion from the food stamp program. If the Senate approves, the president is expected to sign it.

ROMANS: Another troubling security breach exposing your credit and debit card information.


Thousands of guests at hotels like Marriott, Sheraton and Westin. This breach reportedly took place last year at a company called White Lodging.

White Lodging manages 168 hotels in 21 states under those brand names we just mentioned. The firm will only say an investigation is in progress and they'll reveal more information when it's available.

Investors around the world waiting to see how stocks start the month of February, because January was ugly. The Dow down 5.3 percent.

Predicting the outcome of stocks for the year is about as difficult as predicting who will win the Super Bowl, but according to the stock traders almanac, when the first month of the year is negative, there's a 50/50 chance that the year will end negative as well. Signs of what we call a correction, that's a decline of 10 percent in stocks, which many say the U.S. market is long overdue for that, has markets rattled overseas.

You've got Japan's Nikkei hovering around a loss of 2 percent on the day. Most other Asian markets on the day are closed for the lunar New Year. Markets in Europe are bouncing basically around break even there. No real direction there.

At the Fed, the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve in its 100- year history, she took the reins of the U.S. Central Bank over the weekend. Janet Yellen will be formally sworn in today. And she has a very, very big job ahead of her.

BERMAN: Yes, she does. How about the market, though? Five percent for the year?

ROMANS: Five percent.

I mean, look, last year was straight up. The one question people are asking, will February be better than January? And no one really knows for sure. If you need -- if you're going to have a real correction, you've got another 4 percent dip.

BERMAN: I also asked what went wrong with Peyton Manning. So I asked you what will happen with the market in February and also what went wrong with Peyton Manning?

ROMANS: I'll work on that during the break and have something cogent for you afterwards.

BERMAN: Eleven minutes after the hour. Coming up, new security concerns just days ahead of the Winter Olympics. Sochi enters lockdown. This morning, there are new targets of terror threats. We are live with the latest.

ROMANS: And a big day for Chris Christie. Investigators revealing thousands of pages of potential evidence in the bridgegate scandal. The very latest, next.



BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

The Winter Games in Sochi just four days away now with concerns over security burning white hot this morning. CNN has learned the U.S. is putting the finishing touches on its plan to have military aircraft and personnel at the ready to evacuate Americans, if necessary.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Sochi this morning.

Good morning, Nick. What's the latest there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know on Friday, CNN was told by Barack Obama he believes the games themselves will be safe for Americans to attend, and we've seen them come in in the past days in growing numbers. You can hear the chatter of American athletes around the hotels here.

The security, you mentioned, you say CNN learned that two cargo aircraft or a number of them in the area will be given orders in the coming days to be ready to implement a plan of evacuation, if that is necessary.

Now, of course, the Kremlin giving assurances to everybody who will listen that these games will be safe. We're seeing a remarkable security presence on the streets here, 37,000 security personnel drawn in. We're seeing roads here on lockdown. It's hard for some local vehicles to get around.

That real sense of, as you said, a lockdown, the dragnet promise being brought in, even a security camera on a hot air balloon behind me are permanently around the Olympic venue.

That's to make people coming to Sochi know the games are safe. The concern, though, really being, John, that this is a wide area in southern Russia, volatile for over a decade. Somewhere, perhaps, there may be a hole in the security plans laid out, John.

BERMAN: Opening ceremonies Friday night. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Sochi, thanks so much, Nick.

ROMANS: Happening today, thousands of pages of documents in the New Jersey Bridge scandal will be turned over to state and federal investigators. It could take weeks for them to analyze these documents to see whether Governor Chris Christie had any prior knowledge of those lane closures that stifled traffic at the George Washington Bridge in September.

Another Christie staffer who was subpoenaed by a legislative panel has resigned amid the investigation. Christina Renna left the governor's office Friday. She reported to deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, who apparently set the lane closings in motion.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Yes, I don't think he should step down. I think he should stay there. REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: No, I don't think he should step down because nothing has been proven, and you always give a person the benefit of the doubt in those kinds of situations, in my judgment.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: The governor has denied it. So far, there's no evidence to suggest that he's not telling the truth. I think the governor knows the consequences. If he's lying, it's a really bad situation. If he's not lying, then something very unfair is being done to him.


ROMANS: Those are Republicans on the Sunday talk shows weighing in on the political future, or what he should do next, Governor Christie. Governor Christie insists he knew nothing about the traffic-blocking operation and has fired back at a former Port Authority official, Brian Wildstein's claims he personally ordered the lane closures.

Christie said an e-mail to supporters, quote, "David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein."

BERMAN: So, this note Christie sent out is really shocking. It accuses Wildstein of some really, really strange things, including my favorite one. This note says Wildstein was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.


BERMAN: So, the Christie folks digging all the way back to high school to discredit David Wildstein. It shows you how concerned they are about this situation.

All right. This morning, major legal concerns to tell you about. Thousands of criminal cases in Florida could be compromised because of a law enforcement chemist who allegedly stole drugs from an evidence room. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirms the unnamed chemist is linked to over 2,600 cases in the last seven years, and in many of those cases, drugs that were confiscated as evidence vanished, replaced by over-the-counter medications. Officials say it's not clear whether the suspended chemist stole the drugs to use or maybe to sell.

ROMANS: Oh, my.

A stunning study released while you were sleeping. U.S. abortion rates are at the lowest level in 40 years. That according to the latest national survey of abortion providers. The report says the number of procedures fell 13 percent between 2008 and 2011. Abortion rates peaked back in 1981.

The researchers say the decline likely linked to a steep national decline in overall pregnancy and birth rates.

BERMAN: Huge decline.

ROMANS: Yes. BERMAN: All right, 19 minutes after the hour.

Troubling, new information this morning which shows that the number of school shootings across the country has not decreased, despite elevated security measures. An analysis by "The Associated Press" finds there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, along with other cases of gun violence when classes were not in session.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, more than a dozen dead after a volcano suddenly erupts. We're live right after the break.



BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

New developments this morning in the international effort to cap Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran's foreign minister striking a collaborative tone after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that Tehran will work in good faith with six world powers to reach a definitive deal when they met in Vienna later this month.

ROMANS: This morning, it appears North Korea has given the green light for negotiations with South Korea to reunite families separated by war 60 years ago. Officials say Pyongyang has agreed to a meeting this week at the border village of Panmunjom. Millions of Korean families were split apart by the conflict that sealed the division of the Korean Peninsula.

BERMAN: Happening today, Ukrainian President Yanukovych returns to work amid the country's ongoing political crisis. It is a mess there. Officials say the president has been suffering from acute respiratory illness which sidelined him for four days. This has not stopped growing calls for his resignation, despite a number of concessions that he's tried to make to the opposition.

ROMANS: In Syria, more bloodshed in the civil war there. Reports from antigovernment activists say military aircraft struck rebel-held areas in Aleppo with barrel bombs, killing at least three dozen people, most of them women and children. Opposition rebels point to days of heavy bombing in Aleppo as proof the Syrian president, Assad, has no interest in a negotiated end to the 3-year-old conflict.

BERMAN: This is something developing overnight, at least 15 people have now died from the sudden eruption of a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Reports say this is the first time that Mt. Sinabung's eruptions have been deadly. And this morning, search and recovery teams have resumed the grim task of looking for victims. The pictures there are stunning.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is monitoring developments for us.

(05:25:01) Good morning, Paula.


Well, this eruption of the volcano was so sudden and so swift that many of those who were trying to outrun the hot ash simply couldn't. And as you say, at least 15 people are known to have been killed after this eruption on Saturday. Search-and-rescue teams are on the ground. There is the grim task of retrieving the bodies, but also looking for potentially more victims, as this is the first time they've really been able to get close to the crater itself.

Now, this happened in a village less than two miles from the crater, and the devastating part about this is that this is a village that had been evacuated back in September when the eruptions had started in earnest before as well.

And it was only one day before that these villagers were actually allowed to return to this area. So, just one day before this sudden eruption once again. And we are understanding from officials that there were plumes of ash spewing more than a mile into the air, and the ash itself was of scalding temperatures, up to 700 degrees in temperature, and only took about two or three minutes to reach the bottom of the slopes. So, just showing how difficult it was for many who were trying to outrun this ash.

And of course, those search-and-rescue teams are still there on the ground, seeing if there have been more casualties. But this does really show that this is a very unpredictable volcano. Officials simply don't know when it will spew ash again. It was dormant for about 500 years with a little activity just starting back in 2010, but of course, many of those villagers, tens of thousands, are currently evacuated once again and in temporary housing -- John.

BERMAN: Such a volatile situation there and so tragic that the people were allowed to go back just days before it erupted one more time.

Paula Hancocks monitoring the situation for us. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right, this morning, one of the biggest Super Bowl blowouts ever! What a game. Fans going wild in the streets overnight. Plus, we now know what's next for the big game's winner. It's all after the break.