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Jobs Report to Be Released for January; President Mentions Captive American in North Korea in Speech; House Speaker Shelves Immigration Reform; Audio of Alleged Conversation Between U.S. Diplomats Released; Surviving Castaway In and Out of Hospital; Olympic Security

Aired February 7, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rescue crews are searching for two people missing after their boat capsized off the Florida coast. Three people were killed in the accident and several people were pulled from the water by a Dutch naval vessel heading towards Florida. All of the people on board were believed to be migrants. They've been handed over to the Coast Guard and taken to Key West.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Apple buying back $14 billion worth of its own stock. The company's chief executive Tim Cook telling the "Wall Street Journal" he's surprised by an eight percent pullback since reporting a disappointing first quarter results some two weeks ago. Apple has now repurchased $40 billion of its own shares in the last 12 months.

CUOMO: Buy back will help the stock price, that's for sure. Also new this morning, the first jobs report of 2014 just a few hours away. There could be some wild card factors that could be swaying these numbers. Let's bring in Christine Romans at the magic wall with more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Guys, remember how surprised we were last month that only 74,000 jobs were created? A lot of eyes on this one. Economists are expecting and predict 178,000 jobs created last month and the unemployment rate staying unchanged at 6.7 percent. That unemployment rate is basically the lowest in five years, but there are a couple of wild cards now that could change these numbers or at least really distort these numbers.

We've been talking a lot about how the rough weather has been hurting the economy. It could affect how many jobs were created. In fact some economists think the December jobs number came in because of that bad weather. We'll have to see whether that continued into January. Jobs in construction, for example, there aren't as many construction jobs during colder weather. You're not building Houses. That's one way that you can see that factor, you simply don't have as many people.

You also have another factor, this long-term unemployment benefits expired at the end of December for 1.3 million people. To get those benefits, you guys, someone who is jobless had to be actively looking for a job no matter how badly they were striking out. So some economists are telling me they think that now those benefits are gone, those people are just going to drop out of the labor market. That would make the unemployment rate fall even more but for the wrong reasons, because the workforce participation rate they call it is getting smaller and smaller.

So we could see an unusual jobs report ahead. There's going to be a lot to parse, and I'm going to tell you right now, not a lot of people I know are putting money squarely on their number. They want to see what the government's going to say about it.

BOLDUAN: Christine, thanks so much.

We have some new medical information to share with you this morning, revised stroke prevention guidelines, specifically for women. They recognize issues including high blood pressure during pregnancy, use of birth control pills and other hormonal factors even in younger women. More than half of the estimated 800,000 strokes in the U.S. each year occur in women.

CUOMO: New developments in the search for missing police reserve captain Kevin Quick. Searchers in Virginia say they discovered a body, but it's important to note the investigation is ongoing. The remains have not yet been identified. Quick last seen a week ago.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Mr. President. The family of Kenneth Bae delighted to hear President Obama say the U.S. will do everything in its power to secure his release from North Korea. The president making his remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast. It's his first public mention of Bae, the American missionary who has been held now for 15 months in North Korea. Bae's family says they're grateful to have that commitment from the White House and hope it will lead to further dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

CUOMO: Hundreds of thousands still without power after an epic ice storm in Pennsylvania, some residents waking up to their third day without electricity or heat as temperatures dropped well below freezing. Utility companies say power should be back up for most by tonight, but some could remain in the dark until Sunday. Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers for what to expect for this weekend.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I have been the bearer of bad news all week. But today I have some good news, two great stories. One is that we're not going to see as much snow in the northeast because the storm that's going to come in from the west and one from the south will not get together at the same time and will not make that big snowstorm across parts of the northwest. We'll see two to five inches of snow.

And to the west, look at this. This is a huge stream of moisture coming in from Hawaii. That is the pineapple express. That's going to bring rain to California who could really use it. There's a severe drought going on out there. They're even worried about growing crops out in California this year. Take the rain where we can get it, much- needed rainfall here. Michaela?

PEREIRA: They certainly need it in the west where there's fire danger as well. Thanks, Chad. Happening today, President Obama signing the new trillion-dollar farm Bill into law. He will be at Michigan State University for the ceremony where he is expected to talk up agricultural programs. The bill will cut direct payments to farmers but increase crop insurance. It will also cut food stamps by about $800 million a year.

CUOMO: Washington watch -- more proof of not getting the job done. Another dead-end in the Senate over a three much extension of long term unemployment benefits. Democrats came up one vote shy of the 60 needed to beat a filibuster. Critics say they want spending cuts to lessen the impact on the deficit. But even if the Senate does reach a deal, House Republicans have shown little interest in this.

PEREIRA: Also new this morning, a rising Republican star is now the target of an ethics investigation. Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers allegedly mixed campaign and congressional funds improperly to finance a bid for a party leadership post. Rodgers won the House Republican conference chairmanship following the 2012 election. Last month she delivered the GOP response to the president's state of the union.

BOLDUAN: And new this morning, Vice President Joe Biden in an exclusive interview here on NEW DAY reacting to word Republicans won't be seeking a deal on immigration reform any time this year. Speaker John Boehner says it's because House Republican don't trust the president. I asked Vice President Biden if that means the push is over, at least for now.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: No. Look, the thing we have going for us is the vast majority American people support reform. The vast majority of Republicans support immigration reform. And if you allowed a vote tomorrow on the Senate Bill that passed a significant portion of Republicans and all the Democrats would vote for it. He's getting understandably a great deal of pressure from the right that wants no part of this. I think he will work his way through this. I still think we can get this done. It doesn't take much time.


BOLDUAN: Hear what the vice president says right there. The speaker's comments once again leave the president looking for Republican votes to pass a major part of his agenda, as we well know. Let's get straight over to CNN's chief Congressional correspondent Dana Bash in Washington to talk more about this. So Dana, where do things stand in terms of the House Speaker John Boehner and where House Republicans are on immigration reform today?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think life support might even be too strong based on what the House speaker said yesterday that you got the vice president to react to.

Look, he has a point about the fact that Republicans are, you know, sort of fighting amongst themselves, are unsure amongst themselves whether or not this is the right way to go policy-wise, immigration this year, but more importantly when it comes to politics, because a big part of the issue has been that even some who are for reform, who think it's important to do, don't think it's a great idea to do it this year, an election year, when House Republicans, many of them, their biggest fear is a primary challenge from the right, not so much to be defeated from a Democrat. So that is absolutely a dynamic going on here. So the vice president has an absolute point.

Based on what the speaker said yesterday, Kate, it is pretty clear that he wanted to get out there that it's not looking good for the House to do this this year.

BOLDUAN: And I also asked the vice president if he sees what John Boehner says, that they don't trust the president to enforce their laws. I asked if he saw this as pushback to the president's statement in the State of the Union of sidestepping Congress. The vice president said he doesn't think that's the reasons at all. He thinks that everybody knows it's the internal politics in the House that is really at play here. What do you think? Do you think there's an element here of retaliation?

BASH: I don't know if it's so much retaliation, but there is an element of distress, a big element. That's not a news flash that House Republicans don't trust the president. At the House Republican retreat last week where they discussed this topic, I am told that a big issue wasn't necessarily what we heard so many times, which is amnesty for illegal immigrants. That was the major opposition from many Republicans. It was, how do we really understand and make sure that the president is going to follow through on what we pass? So that absolutely is a big issue. Is it the issue? Unlikely.

BOLDUAN: It sure does make you wonder if they're going to be able to get anything done. This has been something they've been talking about fighting for and every generally supports doing something about.

BASH: Don't hold your breath until 2015.

BOLDUAN: I can't hold my breath that long. Dana, great to see you. Have a great weekend.

CUOMO: Police and protestors clash in Brazil over a hike in public transit fares. Riot police fired tear gas while protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails during rush hours. The hike increases a bus fare from the equivalent of $1.20 to $1.30. Six people were hurt, 20 arrested.

BOLDUAN: Democratic Senator Max Baucus in Montana could be sworn in as early as today as the new U.S. ambassador to China. He was unanimously confirmed Thursday. President Obama tapped Baucus for the high profile diplomatic post after he announced he would leave the Senate after serving six terms, almost 36 years. Aides say Baucus acknowledges he isn't a China expert, but he says he's excited to live and work there.

CUOMO: New this morning, America's top diplomat to Europe apologizing for dropping an f-bomb in a conversation with another U.S. diplomat in Kiev, a conversation that was bugged, recorded, and posted online. Now, the White House is suggesting the Russians were behind it. Let's bring in foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott live from Washington. What is the deal?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a lot of questions this morning for Victoria Nuland at a press conference in Ukraine. She said she won't comment on private diplomatic conversations, but it's a little late for that because her undiplomatic language is anything but private.


LABOTT: On the eve of the Sochi games, U.S.-Russian relations hit a major snag. Russia now accused of leaking this private audio recording between U.S. diplomats discussing what to do about the current political turmoil in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it. And, you know -- the EU.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. And I think we've got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.

LABOTT: That sounds like Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland telling the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine that they were going to bring in a U.N. envoy to close the deal. That audio first posted on YouTube with Russian subtitles and tweeted by a Kremlin official, is highly embarrassing for the U.S. U.S. officials wouldn't confirm the authenticity of the tape, but they didn't deny it either. The Obama administration is now scrambling to slap down speculation of a rift between the U.S. and EU instead of pointing the finger back at Russia.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Certainly we think this is a new low in Russian trade craft. I don't have any other independent details about the origin of the YouTube video, but this is something they've been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly that we feel that represents a new low.

LABOTT: The month's long protest in Ukraine to oust that country's president have divided the U.S. and Russia, with both accusing the other of meddling in the volatile situation, attention now fully on display thanks to a Russian tweet of a YouTube link.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.


CUOMO: Well, is this a situation where the truth hurts? I mean, it seems like dirty pool here, Elise. How are we supposed to make sense of this?

LABOTT: Chris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel just called the comment unacceptable. But for the most part the State Department at least publicly doesn't seem overly concerned about what happened. It's embarrassing, to be sure, but it doesn't seem to be indicative of a major disagreement. The U.S. and the Europeans are pretty much on the same side here. They both prefer a Ukraine integrated with Europe over to one closer to Russia. So it's really just about tactics I think Nuland was talking about. And if you know her, she's really a tough lady. So this is kind of common language for her and it just got caught on tape. It's embarrassing, but I think they'll get over it.

CUOMO: To me, the story is all about the tactics of Russia in terms of what they're exposing and what that means going forward. But Elise Labott, appreciate the perspective this morning. Thank you.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at what is in the papers this morning starting with "The New York Times." The Obama administration hitting nearly three dozen foreign companies and individuals with penalties for allegedly evading U.S. sanctions aimed at Iran. It is the most extensive enforcement since an interim nuclear agreement with Iran took effect last month. The penalties include restriction on doing business in the U.S., also the seizure of property on American soil.

To the "Wall Street Journal," the Pentagon dropping plans to retire one of its nuclear powered aircraft carriers, the USS George Washington, all in order to cut costs. That's after the White House intervened to keep a behind the scenes battle from getting out of hand. The carrier early retirement would reduce the fleet to 10, which touched a nerve among a bipartisan group of lawmakers. They wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to block it.

And in "USA Today," the U.S. State Department now required to make sure the United Nations protects whistleblowers and report corruption. If it doesn't, 15 percent of the contributions the U.S. makes to the U.N. will be forfeited. President Obama signed the law last month after high level U.N. official retaliated against a 28-year-old U.N. employee who reported a half-million dollar kickback scheme involving the construction of a power plant in Kosovo. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Today a private funeral service will be held for Philip Seymour Hoffman in New York City. He's being laid to rest a day after family and friends gathered for a wake to remember the 46-year-old Oscar winning actor. Actress Amy Adams was among the visitors as well as was Kate Blanchett who was a close family friend. Hoffman died last weekend in his apartment from an apparent drug overdose. Three people have now been arrested as police continue to investigate where Hoffman got the heroin that apparently killed him.

Meantime, a report says producers of "The Hunger Games" film franchise plan to digitally recreate Hoffman using CGI technology to complete his un-filmed scenes in the final "Hunger Games" movie. Hoffman still had seven days left of shooting for "Mockingjay" part two.

PEREIRA; All right. Let's take a look at what is trending at this hour. Google celebrates Sochi while taking a stand against Russia's anti-gay laws with its latest doodle. Check it out. The rainbow colored design is a nod to the pride flags and banners used in the LGBT community. But Google takes it a step further, citing the Olympic charter, which takes a stand for all athletes, gay, straight otherwise, saying that sport is a human right. What do you have, Nischelle?

TURNER: Well, Michaela, I have the show me five. Yeah, Missouri State Representative Allen Curtis has introduced a bill to make the high five the state's official greeting. It is a symbolic gesture of course, but there is a method to the madness. Curtis thinks it's high time for law makers to be more friendly towards one another, and he says they'll be more productive as a result. I like that, but I'm from Missouri. I kind of like the universal --

PEREIRA: Yeah, it's kind of biased. I see your high five, and I raise you an enormous nasty blob, Nischelle. Yeah, it is actually a five-foot long snotty jellyfish. It is its actual name. It's the largest species of its kind, also known as lion's mane jelly, but that's not quite as cool. In Washington shore (ph) and southern Tasmania, Australian scientists are absolutely stunned by its size. Apparently it was a 12-year-old tourist who spotted it and of course touched it and said it felt pretty cool.

TURNER: There's no way I would be touching that at all.

It was an emotional night for Jay Leno as he passed the "Tonight Show" torch to Jimmy Fallon. Earlier, we played the long goodbye from Leno, but Conan O'Brien, who took over for Leno briefly before he was sent packing, took one last dig.


CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: That's right. NBC has the Olympics. It's a big deal. NBC will finally get to show somebody who's OK with passing the torch.



TURNER: Well, I guess you got to get in where you fit in, Conan. The "Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon" debuts from New York February 17th.

BOLDUAN: And new developments on the Pacific ocean castaway who resurfaced after more than a year lost at sea. You remember this story. Officials say the El Salvadoran is now out of the hospital after being admitted Thursday for severe dehydration.

Meanwhile, the family of his deceased traveling companion is looking for answers. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is at the CNN center with much more. What are we learning this morning, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, we're learning is that the castaway has been going in and out of the hospital. And as this is all happening, his case has really prompted both fascination and skepticism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COHEN (voice-over): At first, it seemed to be a stunning survival story, a man lost at sea for 13 months lives to tell his story. But another chapter unfolded Thursday. Jose Salvador Alvarenga was readmitted to the hospital wane and visibly weak. His doctors say he was severely dehydrated, unable to absorb fluids. His limbs were swollen, his body low on vitamins and minerals.

DR. FRANKLIN HOUSE, PHYSICIAN: It doesn't surprise me that his entire system is compromised and is going to take significant amount of time to detoxify and to recover its function. His recovery is going to take weeks, not days.

COHEN: Alvarenga says he survived so many months by eating protein, the flesh of turtles and birds and rain water collected in the well of this boat, the camaroneros de la costa. Despite allowing him to survive, such a lopsided diet, so few vitamins would have taken a toll.

DR. CLAUDE A. PIANTADOSI (ph), DUKE CENTER: He would lose body fat. He would waste muscle. He could lose quite a large percentage of his muscle mass.

COHEN: Yet somehow despite all that loss, Alvarenga survived.

PIANTADOSI: This person was used to being at sea. He knew what to expect. And I think he knew how to protect himself. I think the more usual fate would be that fate that befell his companion who died after a couple of months or maybe three or four months.

COHEN: Alvarenga says his companion when his boat launched so many months ago, Ezekiel Cordoba, died as the boat floated aimlessly.

Now Cordoba's family wants to speak with Alvarenga to find out about his last days.


COHEN (on-camera): Now, doctors say it can be tricky getting someone out of this state of dehydration. If you hydrate them too quickly, you can actually cause harm.

Chris, Kate?

CUOMO: All right, Elizabeth. And, obviously, the questions about what happened to the companion are going to loom large going forward.

All right, let's take a break here on NEW DAY.

Ready or not here they come, the opening of the Olympics and threat after threat attached to this in a moment. So we're going to talk with Rachel Nichols -- she's on the ground in Sochi -- and get new information about the threats there for you after the break.


CUOMO: Welcome back. We're just hours away from the opening ceremonies in Sochi, the start of an Olympics that's been more about terror threats and nightmare accommodations than sports so far. We got CNN's Rachel Nichols on the ground in Sochi and terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Rachel, I want to start with you. Give me a little feel of how it is on the ground there and what it was like to get there.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well what I'm learning so far, Chris, is that the official narrative is not necessarily the same as the practical experience narrative.

Yesterday afternoon, the head of the Sochi airport gave an interview to one of our CNN crews explaining how nobody was allowed in with creams or liquids or toothpaste. And that's one of the reasons they knew that security was going to be so good at the airport.

Well, a few hours later, I flew in via New York to Moscow into here at Sochi. And guess what? Nobody checked me for any of those things. In fact, on the flight from Moscow to Sochi, I went through a security check that frankly was a lot more lax than what we go through at home with the TSA. I put my bag through a scanner. No one asked me to take out my computer. No one asked me to take out my liquid or toiletries, shampoo, anything like that, and I walked through with my shoes on.

So it's definitely a different account in terms of the official word versus what many of my fellow passengers were seeing. And from talking to people on the ground here in Russia, that's apparently par for the course, that's there's a little bit of a random aspect to some of the security, not necessarily the most reassuring thing if you're one of the people on the ground.

But I will say we did see a lot of military police officers around, really everywhere we go. And supposedly, they have 40,000 combined military and police here in Sochi.

To give you a comparison, when the U.S. hosted the Salt Lake City Olympics, which was, as we remember, right after the September 11 attacks, they had according to the U.S. Homeland Security Department about 13,000 police and military on the ground there.

So a big difference here if you believe the actual official account. I gotta say, after my airplane experience, I'm taking everything a little bit not quite as face value.

CUOMO: Well, it certainly answers the question about why your smile looks so good this morning, Rachel, but raises other questions as well.

So let me bring you in, Paul. You know, we heard about the toothpaste. It's supposed to be serious. Where did the threat come from? What does this mean about the consistency of follow through, what we just heard from Rachel?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: Well, Chris, at the center of the toothpaste appears threat, it appears to be a fast-moving investigation in France. On Tuesday, two Chechen women were arrested in France.

Now that followed a tip from Russian security services to their French counterparts in late December. They believe these two women wanted to return to Russia to launch a suicide bombing against the winter Olympics.

Now when the French moved in on Tuesday, they were specifically looking for toothpaste bombs. So they didn't find any, nor did they find any other explosives or any evidence that these women were planning were planning to return to Russia to launch an attack.

CUOMO: Now, to be very clear, the reasons for the concern is that these Olympics were cited by Putin in a place that is a little bit of a thumb in the eye to the resistance groups there. What do we make about the group that is targeting these attacks and the idea of a threat at Sochi and beyond in the outer Russian region?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, the group everybody is concerned about is the Kaptaz emirite (ph), which is this sort of umbrella group for all the different subgroups in the region, in the Caucasus region.

And one of those groups is called Vilayat Dagestan. They're the most powerful of these subgroups. And they're the group that carried out those twin suicide bombings in Volgograd. Well, they promised more attacks, attacks against the Olympics. So there's concern they may launch attacks perhaps against soft targets in southern Russia, perhaps more difficult for them to target the actual Olympic facilities themselves.

CUOMO: Outside the ring of steel, but still would inspire terror. That's interesting.

Rachel, let me finish with you. You're obviously at the Olympics to cover sport. Heading into it, as we see the preliminaries, do you get a little taste yet of what might be a story line that could develop there sports-wise?

NICHOLS: Yeah, I think the figure skating team event is picking up some momentum is being interesting. And of course, the Olympic opening ceremonies are tonight. You talk to athletes, and they said that all those hours that they put in as kids when they went to practice instead of going to the movies, marching in the opening ceremonies is one of the ideas they had in their heads. So its the fruition of a dream come true for a lot of the American athletes.

It's also in this time that we're talking about wars near by and terrorist attacks. It's not lost on the athletes I've spoken to that this is an opportunity to march into the stadium with other athletes from other countries and have a gathering of everybody in a peaceful, orderly manner, shake some hands you might not normally shake, and show the world this can be done.

CUOMO: Hopefully the anxieties at the Olympics are limited to the outcomes of the events. Rachel Nichols, we'll be talking to you going forward for sure. Paul Cruickshank, thank you very much for being here. We're going to need your help as well to get through the Olympics. Appreciate you both being with us. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thank you so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, will he or won't he run? In my exclusive interview, I pressed Vice President Joe Biden on of course the question of 2016. His revealing answer. You'll want to hear it ahead.