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Judge Slams NSA Spying Program; Senate Taking up Budget; Mega Millions Mania; Do Antibacterial Soaps Work?

Aired December 17, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Unconstitutional. A federal judge takes on key points of the NSA spying program, saying they had no right to collect your phone calls. Will it survive the challenge?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Jackpot. One of the biggest lottery prices ever could be handed out tonight. Nearly $600 million. Could it hit $1 billion by Christmas?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Enough is enough, so say researchers. Two new studies come out strongly saying multivitamins are not helping and may even be doing harm. So should you stop taking them?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

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

BOLDUAN: Good morning. And welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, December 17th, 8:00 in the East.

We begin this hour with the future of the NSA spying program hanging in the balance. A federal judge calling the collection of domestic phone records likely unconstitutional. This, as tech heavyweights are meeting face to face with President Obama today, some of them already slamming the surveillance program.

CNN's Jim Sciutto has much more from Washington.

Good morning, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, those tech heavies likely to be cheering this decision. They estimate their losses from NSA surveillance at $35 billion. But this court decision, first successful legal challenge of the NSA's mass surveillance program, a federal judge scathing in his criticism, calling it almost Orwellian and adding that the author of the Constitution, James Madison, would have been aghast at its violation of Americans' freedom.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Six months after Edward Snowden revealed it to the world, a federal judge ruled the NSA program that sweeps up American's phone call records is likely unconstitutional. The judge wrote, quote, "I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion that this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen."

Snowden described it as a vindication of his hacking, saying, "I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance program would not withstand a constitutional challenge. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans' rights."

Snowden remains holed up in Russia, avoiding charges in the U.S. of espionage. But a senior NSA official floated an unlikely solution on CBS's "60 Minutes" to get Snowden back here, give him amnesty, an idea the White House quickly dismissed.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He should be returned to the White House where he will be accorded full due process and protections in our system. So that's our position and it has not changed.

SCIUTTO: Still, the court's decision is a body blow for the administration.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is just an absolutely scathing rejection of the NSA program that the government has defended so strongly. And it is worth noting that the judge was a George W. Bush appointee, someone who had worked for Republicans in Congress, hardly a screaming liberal.


SCIUTTO: Now, the judge has ordered the government to stop collecting data on the plaintiffs in this case. This was brought by a leading conservative activist.

However, for the rest of us, he stayed his ruling to allow the government time to appeal, noting, quote, "That significant national security interests are at stake in this case." That process could take six months.

And, Chris, you know, they're talking about how many legal experts we've talked to might have to go all the way to the Supreme Court before we get a final answer.

CUOMO: Well, that's where you get one. That's for sure.

Jim, thank you for that. And we have our eyes on the building positioned over your handsome left shoulder, the Capitol, because work watches on in DC. We will have a budget.

Is that the dream? Of course it is. Why? So services can be funded, government can function. A key vote comes today to help break a Republican filibuster. Will progress be had? That's the question.

CNN's Dana Bash joins us from Capitol Hill, crunching the numbers.

What do you think, Dana? What are the chances? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty good. Sources in both parties say that they feel confident that this vote later this morning will pass this key procedural hurdle. And we know that based on their private tally and based on the fact that we now have a pretty significant number of Republicans who are say that they will vote yes.

Voting yes, despite the fact that you have conservative grassroots groups saying that this doesn't do enough to attack the debt and deficit and you have military retiree families saying that this is really going to hurt them because there are cuts for those benefits.

So what does this mean on the Democratic side? Well, Democratic sources say they feel confident if they need all 55 Democrats, they would get them. But if there's enough cushion from those Republican yeses, you'll probably see some of the liberal Democrats like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts vote no if they can because they're upset that this doesn't do enough to deal with unemployment benefits -- 1.3 million people are going to lose those benefits. And this does nothing to address that.

But big picture, this whole issue is turned on its head. This is a very same budget deal that passed the House, really sailed through the House, the Republican-led House. And now, it's having trouble in the Senate. Usually, it's the other way around.

But in large part because of the pressure on Senate conservatives, the number one Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. The number two Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn. Both of them are probably going to vote no on this. And it is because they have primarily challenges from the right.

Again, conservatives saying this simply doesn't go far enough. They're not happy about it. It's the same with other Republicans who are sitting on their hands saying we're not going to for this even though, again, it passed in a bipartisan way, sailed through the House of Representatives last week.

BOLDUAN: Dana, as we all know, you don't call a vote until the gavel has fallen. So, we're to wait to say that test vote this morning, along with you. Thank you so much.

All right. Now to the $586 million question for you this morning -- have you bought your mega millions ticket yet? No one has gotten a perfect match in 21 drawings. And if the trend continues, it's possible that the jackpot could hit a record $1 billion by Christmas. It is hard to believe.

Pamela Brown is at a convenience store here in New York.

So Pamela, what are people saying no this morning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people are lined up to buy their tickets here, Kate. You can definitely sort of feel the energy and excitement about this jackpot. I think the fact that we're already at over half a billion dollars just a week out from Christmas is only adding to the frenzy here. And we're also learning that the jackpot could go up by tonight's drawing at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And if there isn't a winner tonight, then we might even break U.S. jackpot records.


BROWN (voice-over): It's beginning to look a lot like a very green Christmas for one soon to be jolly American. The epic mega million jackpot is at a whopping $586 million and climbing.

PAULA OTTO, LEAD DIRECTOR FOR MEGA MILLIONS: We have never been in this position to have a jackpot this tremendous, over half a billion dollars already a week before Christmas.

BROWN: Just how massive could the jackpot get? Lottery officials say if there's no winner in tonight's drawing, the prize would swell to $800 million and possibly a billion by Christmas, causing a very festive frenzy for what could end up becoming the largest lotto in mega millions history.

TODD NORTHROP, FOUNDER OF LOTTERYPOST.COM: This time of year around Christmas, lottery tickets make great gifts. People are thinking about gift giving.

BROWN: The mega millions is one of the biggest jackpots in the world right now, and the fourth largest in U.S. history. If no one wins tonight, it will likely surpass the largest U.S. payout set in March 2012 by over $100 million.

NORTHROP: Winning the mega millions is akin to getting struck by lightning at the same time you're being eaten by a shark. I mean, it's pretty wild how long the odds are.

BROWN: In October, mega millions lottery increase the range of numbers you can get on the five balls from 56 to 75, dramatically decreasing your chances of winning. Since then, there have been 21 consecutive drawings without a winner.

Since you're up against the worst odds of any U.S. lottery, to clinch the jackpot, you'll have to strike the winning number combo out of an incredible 259 million combinations. A lottery official says by the next drawing, 75 percent of possible combinations will likely be sold, but it's still no guarantee that someone will win the mega bucks.


BROWN: And if you don't win the big jackpot, important to still check your ticket. That's because dozens or more could win $1 million or more. By the way, Chris, Kate, and, Michaela, get this -- $100 million goes unclaimed every year, more than what the jackpot is right now. Pretty unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: Well, they should be watching the show, then, because we're going to help them out. BROWN: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much, Pamela. Bring our tickets back.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at your headlines at nine minutes after the hour.

The parents of Colorado gunman Karl Pierson are speaking out. They are saying they are praying for 17-year-old wounded high school senior Claire Davis. She is still in a coma, in critical condition, but is stable. On Friday, police say Pierson went to Arapahoe High School, intent of harming the Librarian who kicked him off the debate team and said he hit Davis and then turned the gun on himself.

A massive wildfire in the Los Padres National Forest in California causing evacuations this morning. So far, 100 people have been forced to leave their homes and 15 homes have been reduced to ashes, including one owned by the Big Sur fire chief. Five hundred acres have been blackened. Firefighters are hoping to contain the flames in the next couple of days.

Three former Penn State administrators accused of a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky scandal have a hearing today.

Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz face multiple charges, including perjury and failing to report child sexual abuse. Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, is serving a 30 to 60-year sentence for sexually abusing young boys.

A conservative American cardinal has been replaced on a powerful Vatican committee. Pope Francis took Cardinal Raymond Burke off the congregation for bishops, which decides who serves as bishops all over the world. Burke is an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage. The pope has been trying to shift focus off those issues to make the church more inclusive.

I want to show a home owner in Southwest Florida got quite a scare from three bears. They made it through her screened-in porch, all the way up to her sliding glass door. This is like the fairy tale, isn't it? Three bears. They took an hour-long dip in her pool and then ran away. The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is deciding whether to set traps to capture the bears.

CUOMO: That's not fairy tale if that's your pool.

PEREIRA: Three bears -- it's like the modern version of it.

CUOMO: Where's the third one?

PEREIRA: Three bears come to your house, take an hour-long dip in the pool.

BOLDUAN: In the diving board.

CUOMO: Was he?


CUOMO: Working on his can opener. I can't quite reach my paw.

All right. So, we'll go from that nice, warm scene where you need to dip to all the cold that's going on because of yet another storm already dumped half a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest. Now, coming to the Northeast, doing some damage to us. The latest in a series of storm that is have left much of the country blanketed in white this December.

So, outside in the cold, where better to find Indra Petersons outside the studio.

How is it out there? At least, it's bright now.


You know, it's actually stopped for a little bit. It's not that bad right this second. But I'm side tracking for a second. We're talking about fairy tales. We had to pan out.

We were talking about the lotto. If you guys are doing a group pool, you better not forget to add my name just because I'm out here. Now that I'm done and I haven't forgotten that, we're good.

Now let's talk about the actual storm. We're talking about system still right now producing some light showers or snow showers around Chicago this morning. Also little clippers around the lakes and Ohio Valleys, and northern portion of the Ohio Valley could see an inch or two today. And the bigger system that we're looking at as a low is forming off the coast, producing heavier amounts of snow.

Still looking potentially here, anywhere from two to four inches around New York City, also Boston. Farther up the coastline, though, we could be talking about those heavier amounts, especially if that low forms really right along that coastline. You get that extra moisture. Even as much as eight inches, if not more, especially through New England.

But temperatures are pretty obvious, right? It's snowy and cold. It will stay that way the next several days. But that's not the case everywhere. If you look at the actual rest of the country, you see a little bit of a cold front making its way through.

So, the Southeast, you've been above normal. You'll see a little bit of a hint of a change. Temperatures may go down for like a day here, and very slight as that front from our system does kick through in your region.

Otherwise, the big thing I want to say, what goes up must come down. So, yes, you're warm. You're enjoying it. But this pattern will shift. Temperatures in the Northeast will warm up by the end of the week and anyone else that is cool will go back down.

So, temperatures flip flopping. Notice that means the system could be here again this weekend. More snow. BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra. At least it's beautiful -- it really is a beautiful scene behind you, although it's probably not fun to be out there right now.

PETERSONS: Kate, did you answer the lotto question though? I'm wondering about that.

BOLDUAN: What? The lotto question?

PETERSONS: Yes. You guys have a pool out there. Do you put my name on it?

BOLDUAN: You're name is on it. Don't worry, don't worry.

CUOMO: Pony up the cash.

PETERSONS: Just want to make sure everyone hears that, in case you guys like --


BOLDUAN: I'm pretty sure everyone's heard now.

PETERSONS: Excellent.

CUOMO: Indra is not hearing pony up the cash portion.

PETERSONS: Right. You got me, Chris. You're fine.

CUOMO: All right, all right.

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY: Harvard University getting the all-clear after a frightening bomb scare. It's the latest in a series of threats against schools, leaving a lot of parents wondering if their children are becoming targets now.

CUOMO: And we hear it all the time. We tell our kids and ourselves, wash your hands. But could the soap you're using actually be doing more harm than good? It's a startling new report, but we'll take you through it.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The FDA says there's no evidence that anti-bacterial soaps work better than old-fashioned soap and water. But they do say there is possible evidence that the products could actually be doing some harm.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is live at the CNN Center with more.

This definitely demands further explanation, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, because I know so many of us go to the supermarket. You see the labels and you think you're buying something that's going to make you healthier. But the FDA says think again.


COHEN (voice-over): You see them everywhere. These antibacterial soaps with killer claims. But these labels might become a thing of the past. The Food and Drug Administration says antibacterial soaps may actually be harmful. They could post health risks such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.

The most common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, Triclosan.

MAE WU, ATTORNEY, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: There are some impacts Triclosan may have on the hormone system which could affect developing bodies like children and infants. If it's not putting any good, then why are we putting this potentially harmful chemical in our homes?

COHEN: That's right. The FDA says there's no evidence antibacterial soaps prevent illness any better than plain old soap and water.

So, the agency has put this demand on soap manufacturers: prove that your antibacterial products are safe and better than regular soap. And if you can't, scrub off those claims.

Soap manufacturers say they're up to the task.

BRIAN SANSONI, AMERICAN CLEANING INSTITUTE: Manufacturers have presented such data in the past. And with this new proposed rule that's out, we'll have another opportunity to present newer research that shows, again, a germ-killing benefit of antibacterial soap and data that does show that these soaps are safe.


COHEN: Now the companies have a year to make their arguments to the FDA. So, none of this is going to be happening any time soon -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Elizabeth, we'll be watching that, especially in my house.

I want to tell you about another story now. An uneasy calm at Harvard this morning after bomb threats Monday that locked down four buildings and shut down finals. Police say good news, no explosives were found. But this apparent hoax is being taken very seriously. Unfortunately, it's just the latest in a list of schools nationwide.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tracking the situation.

What do we know?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this campus was covered by K9 units, bomb squad, local state and federal authorities. The sight of an all-out response like that can, of course, be unnerving for students, but it is something we are all getting used to seeing.

We've seen similar scenes play out on three other college campuses since just last month.


FIELD (voice-over): Technical teams fanning out on Harvard university's prestigious campus, America's oldest college now in a new group, schools plagued by violence or, in this case, just the threat of it.

LEA PETROVIC, HARVARD UNIVERSITY RESEARCH ASSISTANT: I'm from Boston. With everything that's happened in the past year, it definitely did remind me a little bit of April and what had happened.

FIELD: An apparent hoax Monday morning had thousands of students on alert. Harvard's fabled yard locked down. Four buildings evacuated following a report of explosives on campus. Some final exams were canceled or postponed.

Six hours of searching turned up nothing, prompting investigators to give the all-clear.

School officials say the threat was made by e-mail. A suspect has not been named but the sender could face a slew of charge.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There was a time when a kid trying to get out of a final exam might call in some kind of a bogus threat and they would get a slap on the wrist. But given the threat of terrorism in the United States, these threats are taken very seriously.

FIELD: A similar scare Monday at nearby UMass Boston where a false report of a gunman on campus prompted officials to evacuate a building. These incidents just the latest on what seems like a series of threats on college and high school and college campuses, leaving administration officials and students on high alert, fearing their schools are becoming targets.

STEVE KARDIAN, RETIRED POLICE: Everybody is on edge because it's happening. And it's happening at a more frequent rate than we ever anticipated.

FIELD: Last week, police responded to reports of a gunman at American University in Washington. The school was placed on lockdown and students were urged to take shelter. The suspected gunman turned out to be an off-duty officer.

Last month, Yale University was locked down for nearly six hours after officials received a tip that an armed man was coming to shoot up the campus. Authorities say that phone call turned out to be a hoax.

And the student at Central Connecticut State University was arrested last month while wearing a Halloween costume. His air gun was mistaken for a real gun, prompting a campus lockdown and massive response from police. KARDIAN: Years ago, you come on to the college campus, you did feel more safe. Now you have to prepare to shelter in place. You've got to prepare for a gunman to come into the classroom or school building.


FIELD: Today, Harvard officials are trying to reassure students of their safety. They put out a statement letting the community know there are no continued or specific threats to the campus.

And, Kate, exams are back on as planned today.

BOLDUAN: All right. Good to know. Alexandra, thank you so much for the update on that.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: we all know that infamous Carnival cruise ship, the Triumph, that left thousands of passengers stranded and unclean conditions at sea. Well, now, CNN has exclusive reporting. Did the cruise line know of the problems it was facing in advance?


PEREIRA: All right. It is time for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

We'll start with number one. Get those snow boots again if you're in the Northeast. More snow is coming in this ever-snowy December. As much as nine inches could fall in Maine.

A federal judge calling the NSA's domestic phone surveillance operation unconstitutional and almost Orwellian. The spying can continue no for now, the judge giving the government time to mount an appeal.

Well, it looks like enough Republicans will be back the new budget deal today. There's a procedural vote in the Senate. Sixty votes are needed to overcome a filibuster and bring the two-year spending plan to a final vote.

Overnight, 59 rare Beatles recordings were released to prevent copyrights from expiring. The previously unheard version of songs on iTunes in certain countries only for a brief time.

And at number five, mega millions. Someone could get rich beyond their wildest dreams tonight. The mega millions jackpot, $586 million. But if no one wins, the jackpot possibly hitting $1 billion by Christmas. I didn't do the Dr. Evil pinky thing.

Always update those five things to know. So, be sure to go to -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thanks, Mike.

A cruise can provide a lovely respite. But there is risk in all things. Remember, back in February, when more than 3,000 passengers found themselves stranded on the Carnival Triumph, they drift for the record days in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine fire knocked out power.

No air. No lights. Most notably and painfully memorable for those on board, no toilets.

Now CNN has learned the cruise set sail despite knowing there were serious safety concerns.

Investigative Drew Griffin joins us with this morning's exclusive on this.

Drew, what do we know?


You know, when the triumph left Galveston, Texas, this past February, not only was the cruise line dealing with that potential fire hazard it was trying to solve, but one in possibly two of the Triumph's six generators were not even operational. Passengers of that ill-fated trip are now suing, saying that ship should have never left port.


BETTINA RODRIGUEZ PASSENGER: This was supposed to be the fun ship, and we were basically having to fend for ourselves.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bettina Rodriguez and her daughter, Isabelle, have planned this cruise for half a year. They would sail on the Carnival Triumph and celebrate Isabelle's birthday. It was the trip of a lifetime until they awoke to a fire alarm, smoke in the hallway, and then days and days of misery. Human waste was piling up just outside their door.

RODRIGUEZ: Just on our deck alone, there were the biohazard bags lined up across the floor. We're talking about raw sewage at just the end of our deck alone. It was --

GRIFFIN (on camera): Really?

RODRIGUEZ: It was repulsive.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was, according to Rodriguez, a nightmare -- now made even worse because of these. The cruise line's own reports, inspections and maintenance records detailed the problem that had been developing on board the Carnival Triumph more than a year before Rodriguez and her daughter were on board.

Houston attorney Frank Spagnoletti obtained the documents in his lawsuit against Carnival.

FRANK SPAGNOLETTI, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: That ship should have never set sail in February. It was unseaworthy at the convention of the voyage. These documents tell you that the company -- and I'm saying to you the corporation back in Miami -- had knowledge of the fact that this vessel had a propensity for fires, that there were things that could have been, should have been, and weren't done.