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Winter Storm Warning; Crisis for Chris Christie?; Dow Dropping

Aired February 4, 2014 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: One down, two to go. Another winter storm barreling across the country today. Schools canceled, flights grounded, millions bracing for more snow, more sleet, and now ice.

Chad Myers is tracking the storm's path for us this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Crisis mode for Chris Christie. Brand new polling showing his popularity plunging as the investigation into his office heats up. This morning, his new defense against these accusations.

ROMANS: Oh, no! How low will it go? The Dow dropping more than 300 points -- its biggest one-day decline in seven months. Markets this morning are not responding well. A sell-off circling the globe.

I'm going to tell you how long we can expect the sell-off to last.

BERMAN: All right. So, despite all that awful stuff we just told you, it is great to see you this morning! Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, February 4th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: And as you wake up this morning, the weather is going from unbearable to downright offensive. After all the record-breaking cold we've been through, after the snow that snarled travel for millions from Washington to Boston, and we're still straightening out that mess, by the way, this monster storm is coming.

Yes, we're talking about another one, potentially even worse, and it's set to deliver snow, rain, sleet, ice. You name it. It's coming to more than 100 million people in two dozen states from the Rockies all the way here to the East Coast.

ROMANS: Kansas City just one of many places in the Midwest shut down today, schools closed. Employers are being told, you know what, let your workers stay home today. We don't want them on the streets.

The city could see eight or more inches of snow with the first flake set to fall this hour, just in time for the morning commute.

BERMAN: Yes, and New York is cleaning up this morning after eight inches of snow fell. That was the taking of the range in Central Park. The storm turned deadly in Brooklyn, where a 73-year-old man was killed after being hit by a backhoe. The machine was moving snow near his home.

ROMANS: That's too bad.

In Connecticut, there were a lot of accidents like this one.

BERMAN: Oh, my goodness!

ROMANS: The snow piling up, a car flipping over in Stanford, on a slippery road there. The driver thankfully said to be OK.

BERMAN: Expect another stormy night. Another one of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after being blasted by snow late into the afternoon commute. It piled up and made driving tough. That area of Pennsylvania's received about a foot more snow than usual so far this season.

ROMANS: All right. The snow left thousands of flights canceled, a few hundred more grounded today. This morning, those who were stuck at the airport are hoping to get out and get back home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We found out that we were -- flight had been canceled until 6:00 a.m. in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't our first rodeo, so we know about this, but we'll get through it.


ROMANS: The guy in the Broncos Jersey, just think about that. His team lost, then he's stuck in LaGuardia for a day and a half.

Chad Myers tracking the latest weather for us.

Chad, what can we expect today?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, what we're going to see with the next storm is a swath of snow, heavier than what we had before, but about 200 miles farther to the north. New York City, we're going to get an icy mess. It's going to be rain, sleet, snow, all mixed together, but Saratoga, for Binghamton, for Buffalo, for Pittsburgh, that's where the snow is going to be heaviest, and that's where the winter storm warning is, all the way to Boston.

Yes, that's 12 plus. See that purple area right there? Let me highlight it for you. That purple area, that's a foot of snow or more everywhere. Some spots could pick up 20 inches. But here, look at New York City.


MYERS: Not snowing. Why? Because I have better news, because there's ice coming. This is the ice event down here. Ice for Scranton and Binghamton, Allentown, Bethlehem, Lancaster, right back into New York City. I think most of the northern suburbs are going to be hit hard. South of the city, it's all rain.

But that's only the first storm that's still to come, because the one on Sunday is significantly worse. Some models are putting up 30 inches of snow for big cities in the Northeast.

Now, that's still five days away.


MYERS: I get it. You can't say yes, left or right, can't say where it's going to be, but the potential is there for a monster nor'easter that develops Sunday night into Monday that paralyzes, literally -- I use that word rarely -- paralyzes the Northeast.

BERMAN: All right. You heard an audible gasp from this part of the room when you talked about Sunday. I don't think we knew that was coming. Looks ominous. Meanwhile, the ice, you talk about the snow totals for the storm hitting tomorrow night, but the ice in New York City and areas like that, that could be very, very dangerous.

MYERS: It takes that much ice, you know. It takes inches of snow, because you still get traction. You get this much ice and the whole place just goes right to the hand basket. And that goes on the bridges overnight tonight.

So, if they're not salted, if they're not pre-salted, we're all a mess.

BERMAN: We'll be watching all this for you because it could be a serious situation. Thank you, Chad Myers, so much.

ROMANS: Right to the hand basket. That's the G-rated version of what he really wants to say. Thanks, Chad.

BERMAN: All right. This morning we're hearing from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He is defending himself in a radio interview, saying that he knew nothing about plans to shut down the George Washington Bridge.


He insisted he did not tell others to do it for him and he took aim at a former adviser who says there is evidence that Christie lied.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Here's the thing that I find so interesting, because what's going on now with all this other stuff is just a game of gotcha, you know. When did I first learn about this or that? Well, the fact of the matter is, I've been very clear about this.

Before these lanes were closed, I knew nothing about it. I didn't plan it, I didn't authorize it, I didn't approve it. I knew nothing about it.


BERMAN: All right, a new CNN/ORC poll shows that Christie's popularity is slipping. This is having an effect among Republicans. Now, just 10 percent back him to be their presidential nominee in 2016. It was much, much higher back in November.

Meanwhile, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, is now refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by a legislative committee investigating the bridge shutdown. She is the one accused of actually ordering the lane closures. Her lawyer writes that turning over the documents would violate her Fifth Amendment rights, since she is also being investigated by federal prosecutors.

ROMANS: All right. In stock markets around the world, brutal selling. Markets in Asia right now sharply lower. Stocks in Europe tracking that Wall Street sell-off as well. Yesterday's triple-digit losses for the Dow put the loss now at 7 percent for the year.

Everyone talking correction. What is a correction? That's a technical loss of 10 percent or more. It may happen.

Lots of things rattling this market -- manufacturing concerns here in the U.S. and in China, the stability of emerging markets, there's a jobs report on Friday that has many on edge, but the biggest reason, it's probably just time. Even with recent declines that are likely rippling into your 401(k), no question, the Dow is still up, up 135 percent since the low it hit five years ago.

Early indications today investors may start buying into the sale on Wall Street. Futures are up, so maybe there are some stocks people think are a good deal right now. Futures up right now, but still, circling the globe, very big losses yesterday, then in Asia, now in Europe, too.

BERMAN: Nice to see some increases on the Dow today because we've seen drop after drop after drop.

ROMANS: We want to see that last. We have 4 1/2 hours to go. Definitely want to see that last.

BERMAN: You stay tuned.

Seven minutes after the hour.

And this morning, if you stayed at a hotel owned by White Lodging, you should check your credit card statements. Do it now. The company which owns more than 150 Marriott, Sheraton, Westin and other hotels says the credit card data was stolen at 14 hotels in Chicago, Austin, Denver, other cities as well. White Lodging is not revealing how many card numbers were taken but will offer customers free credit monitoring.

ROMANS: Target is in the congressional hot seat today. The company's chief financial officer will go before a Senate committee to talk about the massive data breach involving maybe as many as 110 million Target customers. Critics have complained the retailer has not done enough to explain how this breach happened. It's currently facing federal and state investigations and numerous lawsuits.

BERMAN: All right. This story is going to blow your mind, I promise. A new warning about just how vulnerable the government is to a cyber attack. A report due out today from the Republican staff of the Senate Homeland Security Committee says federal agencies are not prepared to defend their networks against hackers.

It says most security software has not been updated, and this is the part that made my brain explode. The most common password on government systems is the word "password." This report says the Homeland Security Department is one of the worst offenders here.

ROMANS: That last line is what makes my brain explode. The Homeland Security Department is one of the worst offenders.

BERMAN: Not what you want to hear at eight minutes after the hour.

ROMANS: All right. Later this morning, we could find out more about the threats facing the U.S. from overseas. Lawmakers will be briefed on the latest world dangers and the impact of the Edward Snowden leaks by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, along with the directors of the CIA and the FBI, all appearing before the House Intelligence Committee.

BERMAN: After three years of haggling, Congress is poised to pass a new farm bill. The measure just cleared its last hurdle in the Senate. A final vote as early as today could send this to the president's desk. The nearly $1 trillion bill does cut food stamps for the poor. It also ends direct payments to farmers.

Meanwhile, expanding federal crop insurance and consolidates some conservation programs.

ROMANS: Sanctions against Iran will be another key topic discussed today in Congress. The State Department's lead negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, will go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to talk about the status of the talks. She is also expected to again warn Congress that putting any new sanctions in place could set back the discussions aimed at ending Iran's nuclear programs.

BERMAN: Big meeting at the White House today. President Obama set to talk with military leaders about the war in Afghanistan, including top U.S. commander there, General Joseph Dunford.

CNN has learned the discussions will focus on plans to draw down the remaining U.S. troops to just 10,000 by July, unless Afghanistan agrees to deal with the U.S.


Those remaining forces, even those 10,000, will have to leave by the end of 2014.

All right. Ten minutes after the hour

The Winter Olympics kick off in about three days, and today in Russia, President Vladimir Putin and top international officials are scheduled to put final touches on the games that Russia is pledging will be the safest ever.

Nick Paton Walsh is live in Sochi this morning.

Nick, I've been reading unbelievable stories about hotels aren't even open yet, stores not open, a long way to go in three days, Nick. How are things looking today?

WALSH: Well, certainly, I think you'll see the games behind me happen without a hiccup. There are certainly hotels that aren't ready. They seem to have been struggling for a week. Many of the areas we were in a week ago, they said they'd be ready by tomorrow lunchtime. Clearly, that hasn't happened.

But actually, what happens behind me is Putin is due to arrive in the hours ahead. That will all go smoothly. These are his games. It's kind of the pinnacle, almost, of his 14 years at the head of the Russian state.

And all the security measures you're seeing here, the perhaps confusing decision to hold Winter Games in perhaps the only part of Russia that doesn't have solid snow throughout winter is all down to him choosing the venue, wanting to show that the impossible is possible in his Russia and that a $51 billion bill, the most expensive, perhaps in history, is something Moscow can stomach, John.

BERMAN: All right. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Sochi, three days to go. We will see soon if they are ready for the games. Thanks, Nick.

ROMANS: All right. The largest health study of its type about sugar. Before you reach for some sugar for your coffee this morning, Berman, stop.

A new study finds most Americans eat too much added sugar, not just in their coffee, but in soft drinks, prepared foods, even bread and cereal. The researchers finding lots of added sugar dramatically increases your risk of heart disease. We knew about diabetes, we knew about obesity. Heart disease.

Adults on average now take in about 15 percent of their daily calories from sugar.


ROMANS: Way too high. That's about 300 calories a day from sugar, three times the recommended amount. You know, even just like a can of soda right there puts you at 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of sugar. Think of how much more you -- if you have just one soda a day, think of all the other things out there that you're consuming.

BERMAN: And you're sweet enough already, Christine Romans. ROMANS: Oh, Berman, that's -- actually, shocking, disturbing.


ROMANS: Coming up, a discovery inside the apartment of Philip Seymour Hoffman, new details into the actor's tragic death and what police officers are doing about it this morning.

BERMAN: And a desperate search after a police captain up and vanishes. We'll tell you about the new clues in this case, coming up next.



BERMAN: This morning, an intense manhunt is finally over and a convicted murderer back in jail.

Michael David Elliott was captured in Indiana after spending a day on the run. He had broken out of prison in Michigan, apparently after crawling underneath a fence, then carjacking a woman using a box cutter. Police say he then stole four cars before sheriff's deputies caught up with him in Indiana. What they did is they threw down tire deflation sticks, which forced him to crash into a snow bank. They then grabbed Elliott as he tried to crawl out of a window.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took him out of the car and laid him on the ground and placed him in handcuffs and asked him his name, and he told me his name was Michael Elliott. I asked him if he was the Michael Elliott, and he said yes.


BERMAN: It's like the most mild-mannered police officer ever after a giant manhunt. Deputies say that Elliott looked tired, he was quiet and polite. He's serving five life sentences for the 1993 murders of four people. He insists that he is innocent.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight. A former California educator has now been arrested after a former student went public on YouTube with her allegations of sex abuse. Forty-year-old Andrea Cardoza (ph) now faces 16 counts of aggravated sexual assault involving two underage victims. Jamie Coreo (ph) made her allegations public last month, posting an emotional phone call with the woman she says began assaulting her when she was just 12 years old. She says she's gratified now by this arrest.

BERMAN: This morning, a possible clue to the whereabouts of a missing Virginia police officer. Waynesboro Reserve Captain Kevin Quick disappeared last Friday. State police investigators say they have now located his vehicles and they're searching it for clues. Police also have photographs of two men they believe may have information about quick's disappearance. Authorities have expressed grave concern, grave concern for the officer's safety.

ROMANS: The NTSB expected to be on the ground today near Nashville, at the site of a deadly small plane crash. The twin engine Gulf Stream fell from the sky a few miles from the international airport. It apparently missed the first landing at the airport and was preparing to try again when it crashed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could hear it coming. It sounded like a freight train. All I seen was a little bit of white, because it was a white plane, and it exploded.


ROMANS: All four people on board were killed. They're believed to be members of the same family. The plane was on route from Kansas when it crashed.

BERMAN: In Maine, a man is lucky to be alive this morning after being shot in the head while watching a friend ice fish. Scott Fraley was at a stream north of Portland on Sunday talking with his friend when a hunter fired his gun in the woods nearby and hit him! Amazingly, this wound was just superficial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we're having a conversation, and I hear a gun go off, a gunshot, and then all of a sudden, it was as if somebody cracked me in the back of the head with a baseball bat. And then I grabbed my head and I could feel that there was a big lump on my head. I didn't know what had happened. I looked at my hand. I had a lot of blood on it.


BERMAN: Wow, was this guy lucky. Prosecutors are considering charging the shooter because it is illegal to hunt on a Sunday in Maine. Police say the hunter is cooperating. He claims he was shooting at a squirrel.

ROMANS: This morning, authorities are on the hunt for the person who may have given actor Philip Seymour Hoffman the drugs believed to have killed him. The medical examiner telling CNN its tests are still ongoing into the death of the 46-year-old academy award winner. He was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday with what police say was close to 50 envelopes of what's believed to be heroin.

Also in the apartment, a wide range of medications. It's not clear if Hoffman had prescriptions for them. Hoffman was 46.

BERMAN: California is telling Google today, move that barge. The state agency asking the tech giant to relocate its mystery barge from an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay because Google apparently does not have the proper permits for this barge sitting in the middle of San Francisco Bay. For over a year now, Google has been assembling shipping containers at this secretive site believed to be an interactive space for exploring new technology.


ROMANS: There was some rumors among the tech crowd that it was some sort of a party space, potentially? John and I would love to be invited to whatever party that is, but it certainly looks -- it looks really odd out there.

BERMAN: We're not nearly cool enough to go to the Google barge.

ROMANS: And we're about 25 years too old. All right.

BERMAN: Coming up for us, the Super Bowl may not have been great football or even good football, but it was great television! It made a lot of people a lot of money. Joe Carter will have the latest on just how many people tuned in to the game. That's in the "Bleacher Report," next.


BERMAN: All right. Despite being a dud of a game, Super Bowl XLVIII turned out to be the most watched TV program ever, not counting yesterday's EARLY START.

ROMANS: Joe Carter's here with the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys.

Yes, you have to think that all those advertisers that paid a record $4.5 million for a 30-second ad certainly got a lot of money or a lot of bang for their buck, all that money they spent, because both the game and the halftime show set TV records for ratings. An average of 111.5 million viewers tuned in during the broadcast. And what's really surprising is that the viewership held throughout the entire game.

I mean, in the fourth quarter, Seattle was blowing out the Denver Broncos, but viewership only dropped by 5 percent.


Now, it was also a huge hit on the web. The live stream of the Super Bowl was the most viewed sporting event ever. And social media mentions on things like Twitter and Facebook, they were up 50 percent from last year's Super Bowl.

So, despite all the bad weather that you guys are seeing out there in New York, the champions were able to get out of town and return home to Seattle last night. They landed to cheers from the 12th man. A couple hundred fans showed up. But the real party is going to be, of course, tomorrow. That's when the championship parade will go off. It will start at 11:00 a.m. local time in downtown Seattle.

So, I know a lot of people wondering when watching that Super Bowl, how was the highest scoring offense in NFL history held to just 8 points in the game? Well, according to Richard Sherman, the Seattle defense figured out what Peyton manning's pre-snap hand signals meant.

Now, that knowledge gave them, of course, a great advantage. Sherman said they knew what routes Denver's receivers were going to run before they ran them.

Hey, trending this morning on, this is a cute story. A furniture store in Houston, Texas, lost $7 million because the Seahawks won Sunday night. Now, the store ran a Super Bowl promotion, basically giving customers who spent more than $6,000 and had their furniture delivered by kickoff, they got a full refund if the Seahawks beat the broncos.


JIM MCINGVALE, FURNITURE STORE OWNER: Trying to create customers and make the store relevant and fun and it was a great, fun promotion for everybody, and the customers won and that's what it's all about.


CARTER: All right. So, don't feel too bad for this company, guys, because apparently, that $7 million is only about 5 percent of its annual sales. And you know how these things go. I mean, any time they have these big promotions where they give things away if a team wins, they get huge marketing incentives on the back end, so they end up winning rather than losing.

BERMAN: And most -- I guess they did not have insurance, Joe, but most of these stores that do that also have something called prize indemnity insurance. There's insurance for just this type of situation.

CARTER: I've been thinking for many years that I should get into the insurance business and make a lot more money than I am right now in the TV business, but you know, insurance for everything.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: Joe Carter and his sports insurance business.

BERMAN: I was going to say, Carter, Berman and Romans, the next firm for insurance.

Thanks, Joe. I appreciate.

ROMANS: But who's the CEO?

BERMAN: You. I've got no problem with that one. ROMANS: All right. The huge winter storm bringing a real mess to millions today. We're going to have the latest you need to know for your trip to work and school, and start thinking about 30 inches of snow -- oh, maybe by later this weekend. We will have that after the break.