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Clean Sweep in Slopestyle Skiing; Comcast to Buy Time Warner Cable; Rand Paul Sues the President; Winter Slams Northeast; Debt Ceiling Raised

Aired February 13, 2014 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our biggest concern going forward is that people continue to heed the warnings.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: the catastrophic storm that battered the South now hitting the Northeast as a full-blown nor'easter. One hundred million people grappling with its effects, nearly a million out of power. And it's far from over.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Blockbuster deal. A giant merger breaking overnight. Comcast moving to buy Time Warner Cable, creating a giant in cable television. What does this mean for your cable bill?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Awaiting his fate. The jury in the so- called loud music murder trial resumes deliberations in just a few short hours. Will Michael Dunn walk?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

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

BOLDUAN: Good morning.

It will be a tough morning for a lot of people this morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

It's Thursday, February 13th, 8:00 in the East. Today, tens of millions of people in the Northeast are going to be slammed by that deadly winter storm.

Let's take a look at this system that's already being blamed for 10 deaths. And also look at the chaos it left behind in the Carolinas. There's a state of emergency there. Monumental traffic jams forcing hundreds of drivers to abandon their cars on ice-packed roads.

CUOMO: In Atlanta, obvious story line because of what happened there just weeks ago. Streets impassable but they seem to have done a better job preparing and thinking about whether to leave the house, a lot of people staying home, streets much more empty there. All the ice is taking down tree limbs and power lines. The roof on this house near Atlanta, no match for a tree that once stood in the front yard. Well over 4,000 flights canceled, with schools closed from Alabama to Maine.

So let's kick off our extreme weather coverage. We have meteorologist Indra Petersons in White Plains, New York.

Indra, it looks snowy. How is it changing?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, a lot of people keep asking, are you cold out there? The answer is, no. I've taken a layer off, which is a big deal if you know me. And that sounds like it would be a good one.

But that's exactly the problem. We're right at the freezing line. It's the reason we're getting this very heavy, wet snow. And it's also the reason we've been having so many problems, into the Southeast, a half an inch to even an inch of ice, a crippling ice storm and now heavy snow affecting the Northeast.


PETERSONS (voice-over): Developing into a full-fledge nor'easter overnight, more than 100 million people in the path of a catastrophic winter storm now pounding the Eastern Seaboard. The crippling blast marching at the I-95 corridors dumping over a foot of snow some places.

In Virginia, the governor declaring a state of emergency as hundreds of accidents riddled the roadways. One man died from a head-on collision. The National Guard, on the move.

SPECIALIST ROBERT AYERS, VIRGINIA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: We'll have a lot of downed tree, and helping people out and getting nurses and doctors where they need to go.

PETERSONS: In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia closed its doors for all non-essential personnel as snow and freezing rain will make travel treacherous.

NICK MARTINO: Certain parts of the district we're getting heavy snow, up to 14 inches.

PETERSONS: Sleet, ice and snow suspending some Amtrak trains in the northeast. Snow caking the doors of this train headed to New York, a disastrous mix for air travel. Thousands of flights cancelled again today.

In Maryland, grocery store shelves laid bare as the rest of the east coast up to New England braced for the worst.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This has just been a brutal winter where it's never really gotten warmer.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PETERSONS: You know, what a different type of brutal winter. Before we were talking about just really cold temperatures, these storms that were bringing temperatures with windchill 40 below. This storm, again, I keep talking about the temperature line because that freezing line is making all the difference. In the Southeast, half an inch to an inch of ice has been seen. More icing expected.

And now, we're talking about what's going to happen as we go throughout the day. Once we go past late morning, we're going to see a lot of places closer to the coastline transition from this wet snow to sleet and in some places, even some rain. That's on the front side of this system. Then the sun goes down tonight. Everyone transitions back to snow.

You'll see more of this heavy, wet snow. You'll see winds picking up as the low makes its way closer, 30, 40-mile per hour wind visibility, very poor out there. If you are in the D.C. area, look for that snow to kind of taper off by late evening tonight.

New York City about midnight. Still lasting in through Boston through your morning commute. Boston looking for four to eight inches, D.C. and New York City still has the potential of upwards of a foot of snow, higher amounts even inland, guys.

CUOMO: All right. Indra, thank you.

The combination that Indra is talking, that you have snow, and then there's ice, and more snow is really going to create chaos on the roads. We're seeing it already. Hundreds of people forced to abandon their cars along major interstates.

Our storm coverage will continue with David Mattingly in Charlotte, South Carolina, taking a look at the situation there -- David.


Yesterday, the problem we were having here was snow. Lots of it. Falling very fast. In some parts of the state, too fast and catching motorists by surprise. That's why we saw the gridlock in the city of Raleigh last night. That's been cleared up, according to the state highway.

But today, look at this -- the problem now is ice. All of this precipitation coming in overnight and this morning, now freezing and causing new problems.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Hit hard by the winter storm, the Carolinas are digging out this morning. Emergency crews working to clear snow- covered streets, motorists reclaiming abandoned cars. Ice and heavy snow hitting some areas at one to two inches per hour resulting in travel chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came on so Fast and Furious. It just happened so quickly. That is why so many of us were caught. A lot of cars were abandoned. They just left. Next thing you know, I see planes.

MATTINGLY: Drivers stuck on highways in Raleigh. Cars skidding off streets. Some people simply abandoning their vehicles. And more than 200,000 people in South Carolina are right now in the dark. Energy crews calling in reinforcements to help repair fallen power lines.


MATTINGLY: And there are signs of hope this morning. We woke up this morning in Charlotte to find the road we were on last night, which was covered with snow, now plowed and open. But the word of the day is for everyone to stay home and not be out on these roads if they absolutely do not have to be -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is not over yet as you are showing us. David, thank you very much.

And in Atlanta, they are coping with the second major storm to hit the city in just two weeks. You'll remember hundreds of thousands of people are without power in the state as heavy snow and ice downed power lines across Georgia.

Our storm coverage is going to continue with George Howell, who is live in Forest Park, outside of Atlanta.

George, you've been slip sliding all morning.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. I have. Take a look at why, if we can go down here and show you. The nice coat of ice, or the snow but you look down below the snow and it's just a bed of ice. You see this everywhere.

It's on the side streets especially, on some highways. The concern is that if people go back on to the roads, they could find themselves in major problems. So, again you hear the officials warning folks. And also the local TV affiliates warning people to stay indoors. Stay inside.

You are also hearing complaints from folks they want to get outside. They have cabin fever. But again, you know, the best advice is to stay in.

We're dealing with the ice event right now, a little snow coming down. No sleet. No freezing rain, though the effects you can see, this tree that fell on a power line you see this all over, really. That tree fell over and this community for the last several hours has been sleeping in the cold.

It could take several days before power is restored. But again, the good news is this was a situation here in Atlanta where millions of people, unlike two weeks ago, millions of people were trapped on the highways. This time that didn't happen.

BOLDUAN: All right, George. Thank you very much. At least they are getting it right this time, it seems. CUOMO: I know. And that problem behind George is what we'll see in so many areas. The ice comes, weighs down the power lines and then breaks. You're going to see in the D.C. area as well. They're facing some of their heaviest snowfall in years. As much as 10 inches expected.

Federal offices, D.C. public schools are closed.

Let's get to Erin McPike on the National Mall with the latest -- Erin.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, we already had a state of emergency here in D.C., also in Maryland and Virginia. Now, here in D.C., bus service has been completely suspended. As you know, Washington is a heavy commuter city. A lot of people come in and do business here all week long.

However, a lot of them aren't going to be able to get out today because all of the runways at Dulles airport are shut down. All of the runways at Reagan National Airport shut down. Baltimore- Washington International Airport, the runways are open but most of the flights have been canceled.

It's easy to see why. Take a look at this really heavy, heavy wet snow. So, we actually already have 11 inches of it in some parts of Washington. So, this is the worst snowstorm we've seen in four years when, Kate, you were right out here covering it then.

BOLDUAN: Right. I bet you are a fierce competitor when it comes to a snowfall fight. That looks like snowball fight snow right there.

Thank you so much, Erin. A lot of fun, but again, very serious. And folks need to be staying off the road. Thanks for that, Erin.

CUOMO: We also have high drama going on in Washington that doesn't have to do with the snow. The Senate voted to raise the debt ceil bug not before a big challenge from Republican Senator Ted Cruz. No Dr. Seuss reading this time because his party leaders crossed the aisle to stop his threatened filibuster.

CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House where the president is expected to sign the bill -- Jim.


Chris, you might see, a thaw in some of the frosty relations between the White House and Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans. But not too much of a thaw, as we have a snowman here built by our White House crew as we've been working here this morning, Chris and Michaela and Kate. But, yes, the president did release a statement last night thanking lawmakers for passing this debt ceiling bill, saying that he hopes it's an end to the politics of brinksmanship here in Washington.

But as you saw yesterday, Senate Republicans led by their Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, managed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Texas Republican Ted Cruz. And it was also a victory for the president because he got this debt ceiling bill with no strings attached, and that is what he got in the end.

So, White House officials are optimistic because of what happened with the debt ceiling bill that perhaps they might get some other legislative victories on the minimum wage and immigration reform. But, guys, as this midterm election cycle gets very, very close, the prospects of those bills getting to passage and getting to the president are getting gloomier -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: They certainly are. Your snowman, however, is not getting gloomier.

ACOSTA: No, he's very happy. He's very happy this morning.

PEREIRA: The fact you can pick him up and move him around. He's feeling manhandled. I don't know how I feel about that.

ACOSTA: That's right. Well, you know, we can't get too ambitious out here. Maybe later on we'll -- oh, my gosh. I just dropped him.

PEREIRA: Snowman down. Breaking news from Washington, the snowman --

ACOSTA: Of course, it had to happen.

BOLDUAN: Jim ruined the snow day.

ACOSTA: We can rebuild him.

PEREIRA: You can, always, always hopeful. Thanks so much.

Eight-twelve, let's take a look at our headlines at this hour.

Sixty-five alleged Taliban fighters have been freed from jail in Afghanistan despite objections from the United States. American authorities say the move poses a threat to Afghan and NATO forces still in the region. Many of those released prisoners have links to attacks that killed Americans. Tensions have already escalated over President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a security agreement.

More than 3 million people have now signed for health insurance under Obama care. A surge in enrollment during January. More than a million Americans signing on through state and federal health exchanges. Even more promising, the number of young people enrolling has risen 3 percent last month.

New developments in the case against Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A federal judge has set a November 3rd trial date. That is a lot sooner than the defense requested. They wanted a September 2015 trial. The next hearing is scheduled for June and they'll discuss a possible change of venue.

Check out some jaw-dropping pictures of people stuck 60 feet in the air on a roller coaster. They were stranded on Busch Garden's cheetah hunt ride for three hours in the rain on Wednesday. Firefighters end up having to use an aerial ladder truck to rescue them. Tampa fire rescue said 16 people were evacuated from the ride. Park officials are now looking into what caused that coaster to malfunction. And check this out. It's a mysterious fireball in the sky over Maine captured last weekend on a guy's mobile phone. It's gone viral online. Folks wondering what it could be.

An astronomer at the University of Southern Maine says if he had to guess, he would say it's space junk, pieces of a satellite falling to the Earth. But, boy, if you were driving along -- I might pull over.

BOLDUAN: That's scary.

Space correspondent, what do you think?

PEREIRA: Well, I might pull over, Kate. Thanks for asking.


PEREIRA: I would get out my cell phone and fumble with it and wouldn't take the picture because that's what I do.

BOLDUAN: But then we talk about it, and you'd have a good story.

PEREIRA: I would, all up here.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll both give it to you. Join me on this one, Michaela.


BOLDUAN: We have a spoiler alert for you. We always have to give. It's very important. Unfortunately, we don't get to spoil it ourselves because we happen --

PEREIRA: Nobody spoils --

BOLDUAN: I know, we spoil it ourselves for ourselves.

All right. We're going to share a big result from Sochi. If you don't want to know, turn away for just a second.

Team USA taking all the medals in the first ever slopestyle skiing event. It was gold, silver and bronze for Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nicholas Goepper. Congratulations.

CNN's Rachel Nichols -- congratulations -- is back with us from Sochi.

So that's great news. Now what else can we look forward to?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. men's hockey team is on the ice right now. They are not the favorites in this tournament. Remember, these are collections of NHL players and the Canadians and the Russians hold that favorite title. But this American group is really close nip. Thirteen of them were on the 2010 team in Vancouver. And you got to give them credit, they're even patching up rivalries they have in the NHL.

Two of the top U.S. players got in a fight last month on the ice in the NHL, and they've made nice. They're passing to each other in practice. This is lovely here. Much more serious story on the bobsled track. We're also watching, unfortunately, a bobsled hit a worker on the track, delayed some of the qualifying event there.

But much more seriously, that worker was taken away in an ambulance. We don't have the update on his condition from the Russian officials yet, but we'll keep an eye on that as well.

BOLDUAN: That's horrible. Yes. You also absolutely have to keep us updated on that. But looking back at the games, we've been talking about it this morning. The U.S. team seems to be doing really well in halfpipe but especially slopestyle. What is it about the Americans? I would just say it's just because we're American that makes it that we're doing so well in these extreme sports, do you think, Rachel?

NICHOLS: Yes. Five medals in a 16-hour stretch. Not bad, right? And the sayings around Sochi right now are, hey, the Dutch are good at speed skating, the Russians are good at figure skating, and you know those Americans, they're good at snowboarding and slopestyle. Not things that you would have heard come out of anyone's mouth in maybe 10, 15 years ago.

But the Americans had the early parks, the early training parks, American ski resorts really adapted early and that's why the Americans are so good at this. It also fits the American character, right? A little more creativity, a little bit more style, and something that is really grown up. And the Americans who are medaling in these events love it. They love that they're the new face of the American athlete at the winter Olympics.

I got to tell you, guys, when those three American men went one, two, three in slopestyle this morning, that's only the third time in winter Olympics history that Americans have swept the podium. It happened once in the 1950s. It happened once in 2002 with the halfpipe in Salt Lake, and today. So, they are making a huge statement.

BOLDUAN: More Olympic history. Man, is it fun to watch, too. Thank you so much, Rachel.

Let's give you another update on the medal count of where things being (ph) this morning. It's been changing as the hours have ticked by. Norway is remaining in the lead, though, with 13 followed closely by the United States, Canada, theNetherlands and Russia. Other medals will be handed out today in men's biathlon, luge and lady's speed skating. So, a lot to look forward to today.

Take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Rand Paul is suing President Obama and other government officials over government surveillance. But is the lawsuit more about presidential ambition than the NSA?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, big deliberations going on in Florida. Jurors about to resume in the so-called loud music murder trial. The verdict very well could be coming today. We're going to give you the latest from Jacksonville. The decision will have a big impact on that community. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: A big story we're following this morning that's breaking overnight. A huge media merger. Comcast about to announce a $45 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable. It would combine the country's two largest cable TV providers. Chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here to break it down. This is -- did you take these two companies, this is a big deal.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is, and they've announced it. So, their press release has come out. We're expecting it all morning. And now, they have announced at $45 billion stock deal. This is a very big -- would be a very big merger if regulators allow this to happen. This putting the sixth and seventh in terms of customer satisfaction on one survey out of seven together.

So, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, they have a lot of market in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It would be roughly a third of the nation's pay TV channels under one roof. You would be writing a check likely to a different cable provider. The big question this morning from the consumer advocates, you guys, is will there be better customer service? What's in it for the consumer?

Three things the consumers really care about. They want easy dealing with the cable guy, right? This rank sixth and seventh out of seven in customer satisfaction. So, a lot of noise this morning, conversation -- right -- about, you know, hating the cable guy on this. Also, people don't want blackouts. They hate those blackouts. Would this bigger entity have more leverage with content providers to prevent blackouts?

And will their bills rise. Look, bills have been rising six percent every year for a long time. And it looks like you're going to have probably a $200 cable bill on average by the year 2020. No sign that your cable bill is not going to go up, too. Very big merger. A lot of people involved.

BOLDUAN: Big merger. And we will continue to search for what the up side is for cable TV. All of us.


BOLDUAN: All of us --

ROMANS: Viewers.

BOLDUAN: Viewers, exactly. Thank you, Christine.

CUOMO: All right. New questions this morning about Senator Rand Paul's lawsuit against President Obama and security intelligence officials. The Tea Party conservative is arguing that the NSA phone surveillance is unconstitutional. But is this suit more about politics and ambition, namely his own? This morning, there are new assertions that Paul plagiarized the lawsuit. Can that be done? Does it matter? CNN's Joe Johns has details.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Rand Paul's lawsuit joined by the Tea Party umbrella group, Freedom Works, is the latest legal effort to put the heat on President Obama and the National Security Agency over collection of telephone metadata. The numbers, dates and times of calls but not the content.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: This, we believe, will be a historic lawsuit. We think it may well be the largest class action lawsuit ever filed on behalf of the bill of rights.

JOHNS: An unusual lawsuit that Paul hopes will gain public support. It goes after the president and the director of National Intelligence, of the NSA and the FBI on behalf of millions who've been customers, users and subscribers of phone service since 2006. Paul wants the federal courts to declare the metadata collection program unconstitutional, shut it down, and order the government to purge the information from its systems. But the administration insists the program is legal.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It has been found to be lawful by multiple courts, and it receives oversight from all three branches of government, including the Congress.

JOHNS: Is the lawsuit a good idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our information, I think, it should be private.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea that anybody could be listening to my private life, I kind of, you know, it's a little bit creepy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's just kind of a stunt to get attention. I doubt anything like -- lawsuit.

JOHNS: There are already cases in the federal courts involving the same legal question whether the program violates your constitutional right.

STEVE VLADECK, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW: There's no question that the underlying legal question is going to have to be resolved by the federal courts sometime soon. It just doesn't seem like Senator Paul's suit is going to be the vehicle through which the courts do it.

JOHNS: Complicating the legal issues is a behind the scenes spat over's the alleged hijacking of a prominent Washington attorney's work. Sources said conservative constitutional legal scholar, Bruce Fein, had worked on the lawsuit since December. But when it was released publicly, his name was not on the document and former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who left office in January was featured as the lead lawyer.

When CNN asked Cuccinelli who authored the document, Cuccinelli said it was a legal team, including Fein and that Fein would participate in the litigation. Fein told CNN he looks forward to working with the others with transparency and no ulterior motives. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


CUOMO: Joe tied it up nicely for you there. The plagiarism issue goes away because Fein saying he's part of the team and -- to work with him. So, that goes away. But, you know, on its face, it is inherently a political tactic because the issue may make its way there, but this lawsuit is not going to be the key to that issue getting reviewed by the Supreme Court.

BOLDUAN: And it could be years even if they do continued fighting.

CUOMO: Or it will happen. The underlying issue is very important. It's going to get Supreme Court review but this is not the case that gets it there.

All right. What do you think? Tweet us #NEWDAY.

Coming up, the northeast is in the throes of a nasty northeaster. You know that. We're monitoring the situation for you, because in one place, thousands of people who just got their power back are facing new outages. We're going to take you there and show you that community on edge.

BOLDUAN: Talk about painful there. But here's a good story for you. She took silver in women's slopestyle in Sochi with her unbelievable cork 7 trick (ph). No, we don't know what that means, but she's going to tell us and she's going to join us live from the Olympics.