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New Storm Targets Midwest, East Coast; Report: NSA Memo Says Snowden Stole Colleague's Password To Access Info; Son-in-Law Charged In Deadly Package Bomb; CEO: U.S. Poor Would Be Wealthy In India; About 30 Vehicles Involved In Two Crashes; Student May Have Spread Measles; GM Recalls 780,000 Cars For Faulty Ignition; Virginia Same- Sex Marriage Ban Overturned; Justice Department Investigates Death Of Texas Man; Massive Crash Shuts Pennsylvania Turnpike
Aired February 14, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me and Happy Valentine's Day, and for millions of Americans good luck getting flowers to or from your sweetheart.
Right now, on the Pennsylvania turnpike, motorists venturing out from yesterday's pounding nor'easter are discovering travel can be pretty darn treacherous. These are live pictures from CNN affiliate, KYW, where as many as 100 vehicles have become entangled in this pileup.
The east coast slogging through the slushy sloppy remnants of this week's nor'easter and Americans wake up to a sobering statistic. Right now, there is snow somewhere in 49 of the 50 states, only Florida is spared.
The northeast power coming back on, air travel lurching back from the worst day of cancellations so far this winter. And there is this, a new storm is winding up and heading east. So for millions of Americans, you can put down the snow shovel, but you can't put it away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish the winter would stop. We keep getting hit over and over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been very, very cold, and one of the worst winters I have seen in a lot of time.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Cold, a lot of snow. It is coming down a little bit hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so ready for spring to come and summer and everything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Aren't we all? Ashleigh Banfield is in the middle of the mess. She joins us live from New York. Good morning, Ashleigh.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm an outdoorsy girl, but this is getting ridiculous, Carol, honestly. In fact, it may look like a beautiful day and that the sun has come out, which it has. It is 35 degrees in New York City, but we are still headed for another deep freeze.
So with all this melt going up to 40 degrees today, there is a big risk of black ice. Down to 16 tomorrow and 11 degrees on Sunday. This risk and this danger, this threat isn't over yet sadly enough. It's very deceiving though when you see this pretty image behind me in New York City.
But all told, 75,000 flights have been canceled in 2014. This is only Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day to you. That's that. What's your card and what's your gift, Carol?
I know that you and I have probably joked at some point yesterday amid the flurry of blizzard-like conditions that Al Roker, over in beautiful, balmy Sochi had taken on the New York City mayor over not closing the schools here. As it turned out, only about 45 percent of the kids even showed up anyway.
The "New York Post," one of my favorite New York newspapers, I will put it up in the wind for you. It is really skewering the chancellors of the schools, because guess what she said? It is absolutely a beautiful day out there. I am living proof that it wasn't anything but a beautiful day out here yesterday. It was troublesome.
This is still going on. I don't know if Al Roker and Mayor De Blasio are still going to have at her, but this is still an issue with that many kids staying out of school yesterday. The 1.1 million kids in the school district, and they were all told to come to school, teachers, everybody.
So still an issue. But again, like I said, I think today, what are we, 1200 flights, piece of cake, right? Now we are so used to seeing massive flight closures or flight cancellations that 1,200 don't seem that bad unless you are one of the people who has to fly today, like Steven, my producer right here.
COSTELLO: OK, well, good luck, Steven. Thank you, Ashleigh. I appreciate it.
BANFIELD: Sure thing.
COSTELLO: As Ashleigh mentioned, fewer flights are being canceled today than yesterday, but that probably won't make any better if you are grounded, 1,300 flights have been stopped today compared to 7,100 canceled on Thursday. Rosa Flores is at New York LaGuardia this morning. Good morning.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, I am convinced that Mother Nature is single. Her boyfriend lives in New York City and he is trying to get out of LaGuardia or some other airport around the country because there are about 200 flight delays. At the moment, we checked the misery map on flightaware.com. It has Newark at the very top. We also checked with the FAA with about 200 delays coming out of there, in LaGuardia, about 139. It makes flying quite miserable, specially, like you mention, if it is you who is stuck at the airport.
Thank goodness for things like this, our cell phones because I know that I always get little updates on my cell phone. I always check before heading out to the airport. That's what a lot of folks are doing. That's what we are finding today.
That a lot of people are asking their airline beforehand, checking online, to make sure they don't get stuck at the airport. Instead, they are stuck at home. So Carol, again, lots of delays around the country. People have to pack some patience and that cupid probably needs de-icer on his wings today for Valentine's Day.
COSTELLO: Yes, he does. Rosa Flores, many thanks. Of course, we are all suffering together, right? Lots and lots of people suffering, especially those stuck in the massive traffic jam on the Pennsylvania turnpike. This is just outside of Philadelphia. At least 100 vehicles are involved in this crash.
From what we could see from earlier pictures, a tractor-trailer jackknifed across the turnpike and that caused this massive traffic jam. It doesn't appear that there are any serious injuries. But of course, I cannot say that for sure. It just looks like traffic has come to an absolute stand still.
Yesterday, I know authorities closed parts of the Pennsylvania turnpike due to the weather and because of heavy snow. Today, it is really cold outside of Philadelphia. So you have black ice. That's probably what caused that tractor-trailer to jack knife.
Look at that backup. Wow. My heart goes out to all of those people. It's bad enough to be driving on the turn bike, the most boring drive ever. You just want to get to where you are going. We'll check back periodically, but man, that's a terrible situation on the Pennsylvania turnpike this morning.
Other top stories for you now, an internal national security agency memo is giving new insight into how Edward Snowden got access to the agency's huge database. The memo first reported by NBC News says a civilian employee has resigned after being reprimanded for giving Snowden access to his password.
According to the memo, Snowden tricked his fellow co-worker by getting him to enter his password at Snowden's computer terminal. Snowden has previously denied stealing a password to get greater access to classified information.
In Tennessee, the son-in-law of a retired couple killed by a package bomb has been charged with their murders. Police say Richard Parker left a note with the bomb, but they are not revealing what that note said. Friends of the retired couple are in shock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN CALDWELL, FAMILY FRIEND: They were true Christians and honorable people that I would trust to the end of the earth. What doesn't make sense at all, when I've heard it said that it was targeted, I thought, well, they must have targeted the wrong person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Jon Setzer was killed instantly when the bomb went off. His wife died a few days later at the hospital. Police are not releasing a motive behind the attack.
Some of America's wealthiest are at it again telling everyday Americans to quit complaining about being poor. This time it is the CEO of fashion label, Nicole Miller. Listen to what he said on CNBC.
BUD KONHEIM, CEO NICOLE MILLER: What is it that we make that anybody needs? Nothing, nothing. So we've got a country that the poverty level is wealth in 99 percent of the rest of the world. We are talking about how woe is me and woe is us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our 99 percent are the 1 percent in the rest of the world.
KONHEIM: The figure is even bigger than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree. Thank you.
KONHEIM: So here we are incredibly wealthy. Money is all over the place. The guy that's making, my God, he is make $35,000 a year. Why don't you try that out in India or some countries we can't even name, China. He is wealthy.
COSTELLO: Christine, I'm just digesting that for a second because I'm a little nauseated now frankly. Maybe he should live on $35,000 a year and maybe while he is doing that, he can do it with a wife and four children and see what it is like.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you, Carol, there is this drumbeat, this conversation among the 1 percent right now. You are hearing it a little bit more playing out in public, that there is this maligning of the top 1 percent and that it is not fair.
Now, we talked last week about Sam Zell who is a billionaire self-made real estate mogul in Chicago. How he said the 99 should emulate the top 1 percent. We heard last night a venture capitalist. He said it is unfair that maligning of the top 1 percent. He said, when you have 47 percent of Americans that don't pay taxes, that's a real problem. Listen to what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM PERKINS, VENTURE CAPITALIST: The Tom Perkins system is, you don't get to vote unless you pay $1 of taxes. What I really think is that it should be like a corporation. If you pay $1 million in taxes, you should get 1 million votes. How is that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: He later said, you know, people were expecting an outrageous answer from him and he believes it. You are starting to get this drumbeat from the top 1 percent, from the wealthiest Americans who are saying, look, it is not fair to be somehow telling us that we are not paying our fair share. We are actually creating a lot of things.
You know, I'll tell you Warren Buffett does not share that view. He has said there is class warfare in American and the top 1 percent is winning the war. They have taken over. We know this in the recovery. The top 1 percent has taken 95 percent of the income in the recovery.
So we know the recovery has gone to the top 1 percent. Some of these voices are saying it is not fair to malign them for it, Carol.
COSTELLO: I find it fascinating that they are willing to come out and say these things.
ROMANS: You know, you haven't heard it. You are hearing it now more than you have even in the past year. These are kind of -- privately, people would say, to the victor go the spoils. Work harder. There are too many people that aren't -- there is somebody in Congress who said, too many people are in the wagon, not enough people are pulling the wagon. That's not good for America.
You heard the makers versus takers conversation during the election. It is coming back here in the idea that there is this assault on the 1 percent from some people in the 1 percent who think they are being unfairly scrutinized for being the winners in the economy.
COSTELLO: I'll just wrap this up by saying this again. It is not that people are jealous of the very well, think's money. It is not that. It is like they feel that the system is stacked against those who are not making lots and lots of money. That's really it.
ROMANS: The income games for the people in the middle have been going like this. The income games at the top have been going this. You feel that if you're in the middle. You really feel it.
COSTELLO: Christine Romans, thanks so much. I have to get back to our breaking news on the Pennsylvania turnpike. There is the tractor- trailer that jackknifed. That's causing, my goodness, hundreds and hundreds of cars. At least it looks like that. There are cars backed up all the way down the turnpike outside of Philadelphia. Margaret Conley, we have you on the phone. Are you in the middle of all this mess?
MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes. Hi, Carol. We were driving from Abington. We are near exit 343. It happened around exit 350. There are many injuries, no fatalities. The state troopers are saying 12-20 vehicles are involved, maybe more. They cannot confirm that at this moment. They are not going to get exact numbers until the weekend.
There are two other accident areas near to where we are. Again, no injuries, less cars involved there. Two to three in one, three to five in another. There was a Medevac helicopter that did pull out somebody from one of those areas that person is in non-life threatening conditions.
We did ask if any of these accidents were weather related. As you know, there has been so much snow and ice. The state troopers say, no, these are not weather related, just people driving too fast and following too closely. He is advising everybody on the roads to be very careful out there -- Carol.
COSTELLO: It is not weather related just driver irresponsibility.
CONLEY: That's what the state trooper is saying. I asked him that several times. We saw all the weather that we had here. We are seeing a little bit of ice on the road. The sun is melting it. So I'm sure we will get more information soon. We are now sitting here. They do estimate in our area, we will be waiting here for three to four hours at least.
COSTELLO: Thirty vehicles directly involved in that accident. As you might imagine, traffic backed, backed, backed way up from there. Many drivers involved in this mess. We'll have much more when we come back.
COSTELLO: Checking out top stories. It's 17 minutes past the hour. In California, health officials are worried a college student with measles may have affected train riders. The University of California at Berkley says the student likely contracted the highly contagious respiratory virus while traveling overseas. It can linger in the air for up to two hours aft infected person leaves the area.
General Motors recalling 750,000 of its older mod compact cars. It affects Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G-5, model years, 2005-2007. Drivers who have those cars can have their ignition fixed at a GM dealership.
A striking blow to voter approved bans on same-sex marriage, a federal judge in Virginia has ruled the state's ban is unconstitutional. Virginia's gay couples cannot tie the knot quite yet. The ruling is on hold pending appeal. But that appeal will not come from the governor's office. Last month, the new Democratic governor and attorney general promised he would not defend the marriage ban.
In November, Alfred Wright called his wife to say he was having car trouble and that he needed someone to come pick him up. When his parents showed up to help, he was nowhere to be found. The Sabine County Texas Sheriff's Office initially led a search, but called it off after only four days. Wright's body was found a few weeks later. His family said he was the victim of foul play saying his throat was cut and other parts of his body were mutilated. The sheriff still will not call it a homicide. The justice department is taking over the investigation. Here is CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alfred Wright's body was found less than 150 yards from where sheriff deputies had originally set up their search command post.
LAUREN WRIGHT, ALFRED WRIGHT'S WIFE: How was he so close? We didn't find him. It's not like he was miles away. He was right there.
FEYERICK: Saying there was no foul play. Sheriff Tom Maddox called off the search after only four days leaving family and friends to find the body on their own.
DOUGLAS WRIGHT, ALFRED WRIGHT'S FATHER: His spirit spoke out to me and said, daddy, I knew you were going to find me.
FEYERICK: Just as the sheriff had foreseen, an autopsy did find drugs, three kinds, including meth. Though his family insists they had never seen Alfred do any drugs.
WRIGHT: I still know and believe wholeheartedly that someone did this to my husband.
COSTELLO: Deborah Feyerick joins us live from New York with more on this story. You are going to have a special report this weekend, right?
FEYERICK: We are. As a matter of fact, the special run, Saturday 7:30 and then again, Sunday at 11:30 at night. There are so many questions involving how he disappeared and why he ran from his truck, his truck after it had broken down right next to a gas station. Most of all, the question is, why did the sheriff give up looking so quickly and why did he determine this was, in fact, drug related when there was no evidence suggesting that?
The family has so many questions. They believe that Alfred Wright was tortured and the drugs were pumped into his body sometime during his disappearance. All of that is being watched very closely by the Justice Department and just having researched this story and gone down there a couple of times. You are not sure who is in charge.
Right now, the Texas Rangers have the investigation, the sheriff punted over to a different agency. The district attorney has recused himself. The attorney general has said he is not taking the case. Right now, you have the rangers and the Justice Department just sort of keeping an eye to see what they come up with -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I'll be interested to watch that. Deborah Feyerick, thanks so much. Again, you can catch the CNN special, mysterious deaths Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday night, 11:30 Eastern.
More now on the 100-car pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Bill Capone, who is the chief of communications for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is on the phone. Welcome, sir.
BILL CAPONE, PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION (via telephone): Hi, Carol.
COSTELLO: From what I'm seeing, it looks terrible. What reports are you getting into your office?
CAPONE: Pardon me, I didn't hear that.
COSTELLO: What kind of information are you getting about this accident?
CAPONE: We don't have a whole lot of information from the scene. Initially, we had an accident at about 8:25 this morning. It involved about ten cars and four or five tractor trailers and then obviously there was a series of secondary accidents coming in behind that accident that resulted in multiple chain reaction accidents. I heard you say 100 vehicles.
I have not been able to confirm that in terms of total number of vehicles involved. Some people are assuming it is more, because when you look at the camera views from some of the local affiliate TV station helicopters, it shows all the traffic that's backed up behind it, but many of those vehicles were not involved in the accident. They are just stuck in traffic behind the various accident scenes.
COSTELLO: It just looks unbelievable. How do you go about clearing this?
CAPONE: Well, obviously, our first priority is to attend to the injured. We had three minor injuries in the initial accident and they have all been transported by ground ambulance to local hospitals. So obviously and now, we are trying to assess any injuries in some of these secondary accidents. We have personnel walking through the entire back lot checking on folks that may have been injured, people that may have special needs, medical or otherwise.
State police is trying to sort out all the details. We're in the process of trying to remove some of these tractor trailers at the front of the accident to begin opening this up to traffic. It is going to be a long-term closure because of the sheer number of vehicles involved.
COSTELLO: When you say long-term closure, what do you mean?
CAPONE: Well, it has been closed for almost two hours. Given the vehicles that have been damaged, many cannot be repaired and it will be some time before they can be removed to open up the roadway. I don't have an estimated time of when the turnpike may be reopened, but it is going to be probably several more hours before that can be done. We are -- we have closed traffic eastbound. So people have to exit at the turnpike prior to this event. COSTELLO: Tell me exactly where this is so people can avoid it.
CAPONE: Well, it is at the east easternmost portion of the turnpike, nine or ten miles from the Pennsylvania/New Jersey line, the initial accident occurred at miles post 350 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The backlog goes back toward Willow Grove Interchange, which happens to be in Montgomery County. It is Eastern Montgomery, Western Bucks County, about 9 or 10 miles from the New Jersey/Pennsylvania line.
COSTELLO: All right, Bill Capone with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Thank you, Bill Capone. We appreciate it.
CAPONE: Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: The east coast slogging through what's left of this week's nor'easter. In Maryland, more snow is on the way after the latest storm dumped up to 2 feet in some places. CNN's Erin McPike is in Walkersville, Maryland. Good morning.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning. The National Weather Service is urging drivers to be careful again today because of all of the freezing rain that came last night after the snow. This is really slick. That's making for another headache here today.
Look at how high this snow is. We have got about 19 inches here in Walkersville yesterday and because of that freezing rain, this is really tough to get through. We do have somebody shoveling across over here today. There are lots of snow heaps today. I did see five people shoveling at 4:00 in the morning. This problem is not going away any time soon -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Erin McPike, thanks so much. After all this nasty weather, we hope you get your flowers on that Valentine's Day. As you might imagine, the snowstorm that rolled up the east coast, it is a disaster for florist. They depend on a $2 million payday today. Flowers are delayed and shops are scrambling to get flowers where they need to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SHOVER, KARLO'S FLOWER, VIENNA, VIRGINIA: This is actually Super Bowl for florists. With the weather it just adds another element that we have to deal with.
CARLOS FALCON: In Virginia, we had a delivery where the snow had covered all the area and we couldn't identify the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just asking to kind of cooperate with us. We don't have any control over the weather.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: One florist tells the "Washington Post" that because of delayed deliveries, some people may not get their flowers until Sunday.