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Snow and Ice Blasting Georgia; House Passed Clean Debt Ceiling Bill; Washington Turns Hollywood during state dinner with French President; Checking Out Sochi Olympics;

Aired February 12, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: To scrap those drills in unlikely concession from the South. But the talks are raising hopes of improving the neighbors' strained relationship.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Former NBC News "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw revealing that he has cancer. He is battling multiple myeloma which is the cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He's been battling it since August. In a statement, he says doctors are encouraged by his progress and, quoting here, "I remain the luckiest guy I know."

Ahead on NEW DAY, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down Brokaw's diagnosis.

MICHAEL PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of child car seats made Graco are now being recalled over a buckling issue. One of the biggest such recalls ever. It involves harnesses on toddler seats made between 2009 and 2013. The problem, issues with release buttons that can stick making it difficult to remove a child in an emergency. Graco is offering free replacement buckles.

BOLDUAN: And breaking right now, the Deep South in the grip of another bitter icy dangerous cold. A winter storm that some forecasters have called mind boggling and potentially catastrophic. People in Georgia and the Carolinas inundated with snow and ice overnight. In some spots, the Carolinas aren't out of the woods yet. Ice coated roads, tree branches and power lines are raising the risk of dangerous car wrecks and massive power outages.

This morning another big headache, air travel of course. The storm scrapping more than 2700 flights so far -- 2500 flights to far.

Following every new development for you this morning, meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking the storm for us, but let's begin with "NEWSROOM" anchor Carol Costello who's live outside in Atlanta for us this morning.

Good morning again, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: It's cold and the sleet is coming down. And I must say the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia certainly seems prepared. In fact, the state has been in a state of emergency since this weekend and the storm has only begun right now. Ice is starting to form on the trees behind me and that's the big danger here because as I said ice forms on the trees, it will fall on the power lines and knock out power. Nine thousand people already without power in the state of Georgia. Mostly to the east and south of the city of Atlanta. And it's bound to get worse.

The good news, people are heeding the warnings to stay off of the roads. I've been listening to local traffic reports and the traffic reporters say this may be the lightest travel day in the history of Georgia.

People have also heeded the governor's warning. They've gone to the grocery stores. They're getting a week's supply of food just in case that power goes out because if the power lines come down, as you well know, John Berman, it can be a week or more before the power is restored.

BERMAN: Well, let's hope that all the warning, all the preparations this time have people prepared for this storm certainly much more so than the last one that hit.

Carol Costello, thank you so much.

Let's get a sense of what will be happening the rest of today and then heading out to the rest of the week because this storm has got a lot of people in its path.

Indra Petersons is here with the forecast.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the biggest concern is a lot of people looked at the first wave that hit yesterday and said, you know, it wasn't that bad. Not the case. It is the second of the system that we knew was going to be much stronger than the way that went through just yesterday. And you can actually see the freezing rain already now falling in places like Atlanta and South Carolina.

This could be the worst ice storm they have seen in 10 years into the southeast. When you're talking about half an inch of ice, you're talking about catastrophic ice storm, and these amounts could be even higher than that. Why? Because power lines, they weigh 30 times more, they weigh 500 pounds, they come down, you could be left without power in some places for weeks.

And it's not the only side of the story. We're also talking about the potential for a severe snowstorm especially as it starts to make its way up to the mid-Atlantic and into the northeast. All this bringing some places like D.C. Biggest snowstorm they've seen in even four years, guys.

All this already going on right now. We're looking at the transitioning now into freezing rain. Eventually as it go throughout the day we will see heavy icing and then it looks like overnight in through tomorrow we'll start to see it make its way up the coastline and turn into a very strong snow system towards the northeast -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Looks like any of our hopes of that thing just getting out of here is not going to do that any time soon.

Indra, thank you so, so very much.

All right. Let's -- I guess the line is, turn them in or destroy them immediately. New documents reveal that was the order given by the head of the U.S. Special Forces concerning photos of Osama bin Laden's dead body just weeks after his death.

A conservative group obtained an e-mail from the -- admiral and have called for the release of those photos. There was concern pictures could incite violence from people angry at the bin Laden raid.

BERMAN: Breaking overnight, a very big recall by Toyota. Nearly two million Prius cars are being recalled because of a software glitch that could cause them to stall. More than 700,000 of them are here in the U.S. The car maker says the affected cars were manufactured between 2009 and just this month.

PEREIRA: Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky taking President Obama to court over the NSA. The potential 2016 presidential candidate announcing plans for a class action lawsuit over surveillance saying the program infringe on basic civil liberties under the Constitution. He'll also name the National Intelligence director, FBI director and head of the NSA in that lawsuit.

BOLDUAN: So after three years of brinkmanship over raising the debt ceiling may be over at least for now, we can say. The House voting to raise the borrowing limit without demanding really anything in return. While the clean bill avoids a drawn-out fight the measure is facing backlash from within the Republican Party.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.


BOLDUAN: You remember that filibuster from Senator Ted Cruz? We could see once again Senator Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Senate floor if he wants to take this filibuster all the way through.

Let's bring in senior congressional reporter for Politico, Manu Raju.

Manu, great to see you.


BOLDUAN: So let's talk about the Senate and where it's going to go in just one second, but let's talk about what happened in the House. This is not just inside baseball. This is important to everyone who has been watching the brinksmanship play out in Washington over the past three years. The Boehner rule, as it's been known, which is Boehner back in 2011, the speaker said any raise to the debt ceiling has to be met with an equal or more amount of the debt reduction. He's finally put that aside.

Aside from the fact that of course everyone likes to keep score in Washington, why is this so significant?

RAJU: I mean, it shows that the issue of the debt ceiling may back -- go back to what it has been for so many years, which has been a political vote, a symbolic vote, one in which the party does not really want to raise the debt ceiling but will have to vote to raise the debt ceiling and really just get attacked on the campaign trail.

What Boehner tried to do was something different. Try to demand very, very significant policy changes in exchange for the must-do thing, which is to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a potential debt default. Now that really led to such a intraparty battle. The Republicans could never unite over what exactly they wanted for the debt ceiling increase.

And the White House learned how to deal with this. Just say no. Don't give them anything that they want and force them to deal with their own internal party divisions.

We're going to have -- right now if this -- after this midterm election, if we returned back to a divided government, if we returned back to a House Republican and a Democratic Senate, you're going to see the debt ceiling probably return back to that really symbolic vote and not into this big policy fight that we've seen over the last several years.

BOLDUAN: Manu, let's cut through the noise and the press releases saying it's a surrender and a victory. Democrats are going to be happy to call this a surrender by House Republicans, of course.

But is this more John Boehner making the only play, the only strategy that he could? Exhaust every possibility so his own members see that there is no other option? Really crystallizing the divisions within the House Republican conference.

RAJU: Absolutely. And, you know, when you talk to Republicans about this, they'll say, look, we did this in October. Yes, it was over the government shutdown. This led to 16 days of a really intraparty fight and it led to terrible poll numbers for Republicans. At the end of the day, the party is looking at November.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

RAJU: They know that if they go into the debt default right now, they probably will get the blame for this. The party will be divided about how to get out of it. When they feel like they are on firm ground, when they push on Obamacare and they believe that's their ticket back to the Senate majority and to keep the House, why get into an intraparty fight now when we're in the middle of an election year, when the party believes it can be focusing on the one thing that actually unites it?

BOLDUAN: Which, Manu, of course begs the question then, what is going to happen in the Senate? Ted Cruz was happy to send out a press release yesterday saying that he is going to filibuster. But is this a real threat? What's going to happen?

RAJU: No, I think that, you know, what he's going to do is demand 60 votes to pass this legislation rather than a simple majority of 51 votes. That will require five Republicans to join with Democrats. I don't think he's going to prolong this and force the Senate to sit through the snowstorm.

Remember, that's the one thing that will really unite these guys -- getting out of town particularly ahead of a snowstorm.

BOLDUAN: You can always say, what gets them in line, the snow and jet fumes when they got to get out of town. That one thing seems to be a universal truth.

RAJU: Right.

BOLDUAN: Manu, it's great to see you. I do want to have you back so we can talk about what this kind of episode means in forecast for those other big policy fights like immigration. We'll talk about that later but it is great to see you.

RAJU: Any time. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Kate, let's take a look at what's in the papers this morning.

We'll start with the "Dallas Morning News," shocking new costs associated with the West Nile virus. A study by CDC researchers -- pardon me -- says the mosquito borne virus has cost more -- Americans more than three quarters of a billion dollars in hospital bills and lost wages since it first appeared back in 1999. The highest cost were for people suffering from polio like symptoms from West Nile.

And in the "Denver Post," Colorado lawmakers rejecting a bill that would have allowed concealed guns in the classrooms. A Republican state representative pushed for the bill in the wake of several mass school shootings across the nation, arguing that school employees with a valid permit should have the option to carry. The state judiciary -- the state house judiciary committee voted no along party lines.

And the "Seattle Times" reports the federal government is poised to unveil a way for legal pot sellers in Washington and in Colorado to use banks to stash their profits. Washington Congressman Danny (INAUDIBLE) says he expects new guidance for banks and regulators to be released in the next few days. Right now, federally insured banks refuse to provide service to legal marijuana businesses because it is still illegal on a federal level -- John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much. Big Olympics news overnight. That top step of the podium, very, very crowded after history was made in this morning's women's downhill ski event in Sochi. Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin or Gisin of Switzerland finished their downhill skiing runs with the exact same time. I mean, exactly the same time. They finished 1:47 and 57 hundredths of a second. Both of them. This is the first tie for gold in Alpine skiing in Olympic history.

BOLDUAN: Wow. So what is next for Shaun White? The U.S. snowboarding sensation and two-time gold medalist failed to make the podium in the men's halfpipe finals Tuesday. But he's already announced big new plans trading in his board and picking up his ax. White plans to go on tour with his band -- his rock band, Bad Things, in which the artist formerly known as the Flying Tomato plays guitar.

BERMAN: An Olympic first for the United States. Erin Hamlin became the first American to medal in the single luge event. She finished with a composite time of just over three minutes and 21 second to take the bronze. This is a big jump for Hamlin to finish 16th four years ago, although a lot of that had to do with the tracks. She's very, very good. She did not win any events in the World Cup races last year.

BOLDUAN: And the Olympic spirit on full display. This is a great one. A cross country free sprint competitor from Russia fell and broke one of his skis during Tuesday's semi-finals. He was determined to finish the race at all cost so he kept going essentially on one ski. Seconds later, Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth ran onto the -- onto the course and gave him a new ski. Reminder, not from the same country. He came in dead last, but he did finish.

BERMAN: And you look at that face. I get chills every time I see that story.

BOLDUAN: I know.

BERMAN: All right. A quick update now in the medal count. Norway remains on top with 11 medal, four golds. They're followed by Canada, then the Netherlands, then the U.S. and host, Russia.

The next medal event is the Nordic Combine, that's the cross country race part of that gets under way at the bottom of the hour.

So today could be a big day for team USA in Sochi. Shani Davis looking for his third straight gold medal in the thousand meter speed skating event. Speed skating, one of the most exciting events there.

The American women also have this huge hockey game against Canada any minute now.

Let's get back to Sochi where Rachel Nichols is standing by with a preview. Shani Davis could make history.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Nobody in speed skating has ever won a gold medal in three straight Olympics. Not even the great Eric Heiden, so Davis says he goes into this competition which starts in just about two hours, with a huge target on his back. In fact one of his main rivals, a Kazakh named Dennis Kuzin, when he beat Davis in just a lower level competition last year, the state government there gave him a two-bedroom apartment.

Kuzin says if he beats Davis today, they'll probably just going to give him the whole country of Kazakhstan. So hey, I don't know if the mayor of Chicago where Davis is from is planning on giving away any real estate, but Davis says he is plenty motivated and in fact, John, he's going to -- compete in the 1500 as well and he says I've got two hands, I'm ready to get two medals.

BERMAN: Speed skating stunts are some of the craziest I've ever seen. The building shakes during these events.

And talking about building shaking, just a huge hockey game coming up between team USA and team Canada. That's set to go at 7:30, just a few minutes from now. And these two teams, they don't like each -- Rachel.

NICHOLS: No. They got into a fight. And that might not seem like women's hockey, but hey, the stakes are high. In fact, as one of the Canadian player said recently, the Olympics, this is our Stanley Cup and there is no more bitter rivals than the Canadian and the American women's players.

When this event was first introduced for women, the Americans won the first gold medal. Well, the Canadians have won the next three. So that tell you a little bit what's at stake here. Today, just a preliminary round game. Technically matter because both teams expected to advance. But this is pretty much assured to be a preview of the final.

There are big barraging right here and we'll see,, Mike, get a little physical again. Who knows?

BERMAN: Yes. It may not matter for the medal, but it matters for pride.

All right. Rachel Nichols, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: The national pride at stake here.

BERMAN: The pride.

Let's go over to Michaela Pereira for what's trending now.

PEREIRA: I'm so conflicted. I'm so conflicted on the game.

All right. Let's take a look at what's trending. We'll do that instead.

Paula Dean trying to get past her N word scandal and trying to cook up some new ideas and deals. She's reinventing herself, y'all. Forming a new company with a new investor with deep pocket. Dean reportedly wants more control and ownership and partnerships with retail and other companies not just selling her likeness and her expertise. Also reportedly in initial talks with TV networks for a show but she wouldn't discuss specific partnerships.

Some surprising comments from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He says Americans have become too sensitive about race compared to what he experienced growing up. Thomas says the issue rarely came up when he was growing up in Georgia. He also said he's experienced more discrimination in the north by what he calls northern liberal elite.

Michael Jordan celebrating the arrival of twin daughters. The NBA great's wife Yvette giving birth over the weekend. Congratulations. Identical twins named Victoria and Isabel were born Sunday in Florida. Jordan already has two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage. So the family is growing. Congratulations.

And the new "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue, the 50th annual, hits the stand next week. It's already generating some criticism for what's inside. Alongside the humans, yes, Barbie has a bit of a spread of her own, showing off various swimsuit. Has a lot of folks angry saying the doll just does not set a realistic image for girls. We've been hearing this for -- a while now. Mattel paid for the chance to put Barbie in the magazine.

BOLDUAN: A battle we are not going to win because we have been talking about this --

PEREIRA: For ages.

BOLDUAN: The same thing forever, right, Michaela?

PEREIRA: Absolutely.


BOLDUAN: All right. French President Francois Hollande heads to San Francisco today as we're learning new details about the state dinner last night. Hollande came alone on his U.S. visit making for an interesting seating arrangement at the glitzy affair. That and the high-profile guest list that was there with him has everyone talking.

CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House with the details.

Of course, you were in attendance, Jim. So what do we know?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, my invitation got lost in the mail. I'm very upset about this, but yes, the stars were out at the White House at the state dinner on a night that turned Washington into Hollywood on the Potomac and offered a brief reprieve from so much drama on the world stage.


ACOSTA (voice-over): For at least one night in Washington, it was out with the gridlock and in with the glitz and glamour. As stars Stephen Colbert, Bradley Cooper, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mary J. Blige arrived at the White House. To mix with Washington's own headliners at the state dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have now officially exhausted my French.

ACOSTA: And while President Obama's French only went so far, he made sure his toast to one of America's closest allies wasn't lost in translation.

OBAMA: To our friend and partner, President Hollande, to all of our friends from France, who are here today, viva la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations.

ACOSTA: The high-profile dinner capped off two days of diplomacy, smoothing over such thorny issues as NSA surveillance overseas. A practice the president acknowledged as widespread.

OBAMA: There's no country where we have a no spy agreement.

ACOSTA: At the leaders' joint news conference Mr. Obama warned companies against following the lead of a group of French corporate executives who try to do business in Iran even as the world is trying to reign in that country's nuclear program.

OBAMA: They do so at their own peril right now because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

ACOSTA: Both presidents expressed frustration over the bloody war in Syria, but agreed there is no military solution, at least not for now. But the two leaders getting along famously one French reporter asked Mr. Obama if France could replace Great Britain as America's closest ally.

OBAMA: First of all, I have two daughters. And they are both gorgeous and wonderful, and I would never choose between them. And that's how I feel about my outstanding European partners.


ACOSTA: And speaking of partners, it is no secret that the Hollande, the newly single Hollande, went stag to last night's state dinner. So he was seated right in between president and Mrs. Obama. That was likely the other reason for another change at last night's dinner. No dancing.

But one other seating arrangement to take note of, guys, Vice President Joe Biden, he was seated right next to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who of course plays the vice president on HBO -- John, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And I can only imagine how fun that dinner conversation was.

BERMAN: I want to be at that table.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.


BOLDUAN: Jim, thank you very much. ACOSTA: You bet.

BERMAN: All right, next up for us on NEW DAY, a blockbuster day in court. The man accused of killing a teen for playing music too loud takes the stand, telling jurors it was life and death. But you will never believe who contradicted his story.

BOLDUAN: Plus veteran newsman Tom Brokaw diagnosed with cancer. We'll discuss the prognosis and what you need to know coming up.


BOLDUAN: New this morning, a big butt controversial study on mammograms saying the screenings do not prevent deaths from breast cancer and could even actually be harmful. Researchers report one in five women were overdiagnosed after taking the exams leading to unnecessary surgery and treatment.

The study is one of the largest done on the subject following 90,000 women over a quarter century. Though this isn't the final word. Critics point to earlier studies that found mammograms as being quite effective. So clearly a lot of mixed messages here

Let's bring in chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to try to help up better understand this.

Because, Sanjay, this absolutely grabbed my attention. And this statistic is why everyone should care. Every year, 37 million mammograms are performed costing about a hundred dollars per mammogram. Not only does everyone gets this done, it's also very expensive.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, there's no question. I mean, there's a huge cost here. And the question for a long time has been what's the benefit to doing these -- mammograms and could there be a potential harm?

And as you point out, Kate, this is a controversial topic. I've been covering this almost as long as I've been a medical reporter here at CNN. Here's what I'll point out. This is -- this is one of many studies. It is a long study. It is a large study. They looked at around 90,000 women. And what they did here was they essentially separated them into two groups. About half the group went into a group that got mammograms and regular self breast exams and the other group got self breast exams alone.

These women were between the ages of 40 and 59. And what they found after 25 years was there was really no difference between the two groups. They found the same number of cancers in both groups and they have the same number of deaths in both groups. So they're making the argument based on this study again that mammography did not offer benefit over just simple breast exams alone, doing your own breast exams.

Now there have been other studies which have shown differences, which have shown that mammography is beneficial and that benefit increases as women age. So -- but a lot of people are paying attention to this for the reasons you stated this morning.

BOLDUAN: By it really is a head-scratcher because just on the surface, it seems like it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, when you're told over and over again, pay attention to your health, be your own patient advocate, early detection in the key. This seems to fly in the face of that.

GUPTA: Yes. And essentially you have to look at these things over time. So let me give you a couple of examples. I spent some time reading the study. First of all the study really started back in the 1980s when mammography wasn't as good a technology as it is today. So it just -- they didn't find breast cancers as easily as they do now.

Second of all, the treatments have gotten a lot better meaning that even if you're diagnosed with a later stage breast cancer, you've got pretty good options here in terms of treatment. And that may equalize the two groups. It may make early -- and still important, but not as important as it used to be.

And finally, when you look at studies like this, Kate, it's really important from a science perspective. Women who are really concerned about breast cancer, they may have opted to go in one group versus the other. They may have opted to go under the group that got mammography. So that sort of skews results as well. Because of all those reasons a lot of people within the organized cancer community are saying, look, nothing is going to change. We stand by the guidelines that we've had for years. This is one study in comparison to many other studies. So don't get too excited about this just yet.

BOLDUAN: And I think when it comes to this important issue and the kind of very conflicting, confusing information coming at you, more than ever I want to know, and women everywhere and men need to know, what should we do?

GUPTA: Yes. And I think it's a very important question. Look, we doctors have to be able to answer this question with some degree of conviction and confidence. I can tell you that in the United States, the guidelines -- they're not changing based on this. Obviously this is one study that's going to be looked at. But right now, for women, starting at age 40, you should get a mammogram.

And then depending on your family history, you may get a mammogram sooner. Depending on what mammography shows at age 40, you may need to get more frequent mammograms afterward. But that's really still the recommendation. They say women in their '20s and '30s should do self-breast exams.

But as far as mammograms gold, remember the age 40 in the United States, that's when it should start. Now one thing I should point is that a lot of times you hear these studies and people say look, mammograms don't work, so let's just throw out the test. They've done with other screaming pets as well. Let's just throw up the test and say let's not do it at all.

There is a real push to make these screening tests better. They need to be better. They're not perfect by any means. But I think the sort of momentum is to stay, don't throw it away. Let's improve it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, not have -- not having extreme reaction or response to what clearly is still information that we're all working through. And more details needs to come forth but important, important advice this morning.

Sanjay, thank you so much.

Sanjay is going to stick around. He's going to be back a little in the Joe. He's going to be joining us to talk about the announcement, the public announcement of Tom Brokaw's cancer diagnosis and he's going to give you some information you need to know about that as well -- John.

BERMAN: All right. We'll look forward to that.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, he says it was life and death. The Florida man on trial for shooting and killing a teenager after a confrontation about loud music. The defendant took the stand, but will his testimony sway the jury?

Our legal analysts break it down coming up next.