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Seventh Storm for Midwest and New England; CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products; Four Arrested in Hoffman Drug Probe; Bombing Suspect Killed in Police Shootout; White House Fires Back at Obamacare Jobs Report

Aired February 5, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of news for you this morning so to the NEWSROOM with Miss Carol Costello. Aloha.


NEWSROOM starts now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight, arrests in the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Police are now questioning them about the drugs found inside Philip Seymour Hoffman's Manhattan apartment.

COSTELLO: New details and developments, a bust in this New York City apartment, police laser focus this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll probably going to look at the CCTV to see if there was anybody in the background if those transactions were made simply by Hoffman.

COSTELLO: Also frozen nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was headed into work and I got stuck twice.

COSTELLO: From Missouri to Maine, 120 million in the path of this massive snowstorm.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is not a day you want to be stuck in the snow or stuck with a flat tire and nothing inside to keep you warm.

COSTELLO: Plane stuck in snow bank. Interstates becoming ice rink. Plus --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are now less than two days away from the opening ceremony.

COSTELLO: Sochi stalled. The most expensive Olympics ever and this is what we're seeing? Camp like bedrooms, bathrooms that don't work, dirty water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as the hotels, yes, I mean, they're -- the construction is obviously still going on.

COSTELLO: And this from the Russian Olympic Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're dealing with it, we're on it.

COSTELLO: And leap of faith. The Red Hot Chili Peppers unplugged and giving it away. The band admitting to miming during the Super Bowl.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

For 120 million Americans it's deja vu all over again. Snow and ice are -- are smothering much of the country stretching all the way from Wyoming to Maine. Since Thanksgiving it's the seventh storm to plow across the northeast and New England. Turning roads treacherous and sometimes deadly.

At least one person died on the Pennsylvania turnpike when a tractor- trailer plunged through a barrier into oncoming traffic. More than 2,000 flights already cancelled today. The Southwest plane hit a snow bank and bogged down as it was trying to taxi at Kansas City International Airport.

Some areas of the state got more than a foot of snow. And today parts of the northeast could also see 12 inches. The Boston area as you can see is now getting buried under wet heavy snow. That snow could pile up at a rate of an inch or two an hour.

Chad Myers is in New York's Central Park. Margaret Conley is in Boston.

Chad, I'm going to start with you. Good morning.

MYERS: Good morning, Carol. What's coming down now is exactly the consistency of a snow cone and I mean exactly. Sleet pellets coming out of the sky. You would think it just came out of a snow cone machine. But earlier today it was raining and it was 31 and this is what was happening all over the city.

All of these little ice crystals, all of this coming down here, freezing up on every single surface. And this is only the second storm this week. There are two more are coming next week.


MYERS (voice-over): From Wyoming to Maine more than 100 million people are waking up to another round of snow and ice this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrible. Horrible.

MYERS: Overnight snow beginning to pile up in New England where more than a foot of snow is forecast in some parts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been crazy. Snow-pocalypse.

MYERS: In the Midwest up to 11 inches of snow blanketed parts of Kansas. The state's governor has declared a state of emergency.

In Illinois your white-out conditions coupled with sleet and ice sent car after car skidding off the road.

Snow emergencies were declared across southern Michigan as heavy notice fell at the rate of an inch per hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've had crews out since early morning.

MYERS: Down south icy roads abound leading to this fatal crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The temperatures right now are perfect for icy continues.

MYERS: And in Oklahoma a school bus transporting students had to turn around because the driver feared getting stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's beautiful for a little bit but too many times, yes, it makes it a hazard getting around.

MYERS: This is the seventh winter storm battering the Midwest and New England since December. Nearly 40 inches of snow have fallen in Detroit last month alone and across the country it's the coldest winter in 20 years.


MYERS: And, Carol, people are sick of it. I'm not even saying a little bit sick of it. They are a lot sick of it. And they're really mad at Punxsutawney Phil, by the way, because he says more is coming and so do I because this is no -- there's no change in the pattern.

Here's a look at the radar right now. We see snow all the way across parts of New York, in Vermont, New Hampshire. Some spots in Vermont now are indicating three inches of snow per hour at times.


Even out towards the Berkshires as well. We are seeing the frozen. That's the pink stuff. 300,000 people without power in Philadelphia, 80,000 around Baltimore. There's the snow that's going to come down over a foot in the purple. But what we have south of that is the ice event. The ice event that's bringing down power lines, bringing down all of those branches, and we're going to see power outages here in New York City as well, I believe throughout the day as this continues.

This is a few more hours of this to go and there's a lot of ice already on the ground -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, it's snowing like mad in Boston. I'm going to take our viewers there right now.

Chad Myers, many thanks.

Margaret Conley is in Boston and boy, it's really coming down. MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Carol. We're expecting to see one to two inches of snow per hour throughout the day today. If you take a look it's coming down heavy. It's wet. And it's coming down fast.

Nationwide it's impacting travel, over 2,000 flights have been cancelled. If you're flying out of Boston 45 percent of flights have been cancelled out of Logan.

Now on the roads the Department of Transportation they have 200,000 tons of salt ready to tackle this. They have 3,000 snowplows out on the ground already. Capacity is 4,000 so that gives you some perspective about what they are coping with.

So they're preparing to deal with the salt. And we talked to a lot of people out here this morning who have been out walking their dogs at 6:00 and you know people in Boston, some of them, they're taking it in stride.


DAN LATTANZI, BOSTON RESIDENT: You should be prepared for a lot of snow, a lot of wind. Some ice if it drops a little colder. But definitely bundle up. This is wet and heavy. So this -- this will stick. This will stick to the roads. I mean, all of Boston is closed. You got the plows out. But yes, put your boots on. Lace them up. And get out there.


CONLEY: Now if you do get out there remember to be very careful. Boston's new mayor, Walsh, he has declared this a snow emergency. Public schools are closed.

And after we get through this, Carol, we have this storm but just in a few days there will be another one -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm just looking at the dogs playing behind you. They are having a great time.


CONLEY: They are loving it out here. They have been out here since 6:00 this morning.

COSTELLO: Awesome.

Margaret Conley, thanks so much.

A bombshell from the business world this morning. Starting in October you'll no longer be able to buy cigarettes at CVS. The nation's largest pharmacy has announced it will stop selling not only cigarettes but all tobacco products.

The move is the first-ever by a drugstore chain. The company's CEO explained the decision this morning on CBS. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY MERLO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CVS CAREMARK: We had a lot of discussions among our management team and I think everybody came to, you know, the right decision that, you know, it's a real contradiction to talk about all the things that we're doing to help people on their path to better health and at the same time sell tobacco products.


COSTELLO: Christine Romans live in New York to talk more about this story.

Will other chains follow suit?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And that's the big question because CVS is the first to do it, the first of its kind. It's a bold move and something that health care professional are hailing this morning. They love this. Even the White House coming out with a statement specifically naming that CEO and this company and saying this is the right thing to do.

Look, this morning we bought a pack of smokes at a CVS, right? You will not be able to do that by October 1st. They are phasing out all of their tobacco products. They say it is inconsistent with the goal of this company. They are a company that has nurse practitioners, they give flu mist, they these minute clinics where they're helping people get healthy, and they don't think that they could be selling these products at the very same time.

The company -- the CEO saying, "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

They are going to be giving up, Carol, $2 billion in money out of the pocket for smokers who go there every year to buy cigarettes. But the growth of this company is in health care. It is moving itself away from a traditional retail drugstore and more towards health care and cigarettes not part of that package for them.

COSTELLO: Christine Romans reporting live for us from New York. Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Four people now in police custody believed to be connected to the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. Also today investigators say they found the actor's private journal and they are combing through that journal for clues. This comes as police are releasing more information on the type of heroin that killed Hoffman. Where he was just hours before he died.

CNN's Nischelle Turner is following that angle of the story.

Good morning.

TURNER: Hey, good morning, Carol. Yes, we continue to get more and more information as this story develops. Big developments overnight. The NYPD raided an apartment in Manhattan last night. They executed search warrants and arrested four individuals.

Police are now questioning them about the drugs found inside Philip Seymour Hoffman's Manhattan apartment.


TURNER (voice-over): Overnight police arrested three men and a woman in this New York apartment building who they believe are connected to the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. During the raid police recovered 350 bags thought to be heroin.

This as new details are emerging about his death, the result of an apparent heroin overdose.


A law enforcement source says preliminary results show the heroin found in Hoffman's apartment was not laced with a strong pain killer fentanyl.

On Tuesday Hoffman's former partner Mimi O'Donnell was seen here at a local funeral home. O'Donnell reportedly told Hoffman to move into another apartment in the city not with their children when she discovered he was abusing drugs. An ongoing battle he recently shared with magazine writer John Arundel.

JOHN ARUNDEL, MAGAZINE WRITER: He took off his hat and he said, I'm a heroin addict.

TURNER: Arundel says Hoffman made this confession two weeks before his death. During a one-on-one chat at the Sundance Film Festival. Hoffman saying he just got out of rehab.

ARUNDEL: He seemed like he was having a -- one of those coming-to-god moments where it just struck him as, you know, this is the revelatory moment.

TURNER: The night before Hoffman died CNN has also learned that he withdrew $1200 in six transactions from this ATM at the grocery store near his apartment. A witness telling the investigators he saw Hoffman talking to two men wearing messenger bags. The next morning Hoffman was found dead in his bathroom, a needle still in his arm.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: He was a really special human being and he was -- he was one of the best actors to ever live without a doubt.

TURNER: Hoffman's friends and colleagues mourned his loss at New York's "The Monuments Men" premier Tuesday night.

GEORGE CLOONEY, FRIEND OF PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: Had dinner with him a couple of months ago and I have to say he seemed to be in pretty good shape. And -- I mean there's no way to explain it.

DAMON: Does something ever come out of it? Like is there -- you know, is there somebody watching who goes wow, that guy was amazing, maybe I should just stop doing this, or maybe I should try to find help.


TURNER: Of course Matt Damon starring with him in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," George Clooney starring with him in the "Ides of March." Now George Clooney also echoed what Matt Damon was saying there. He said that he hopes if anything positive -- if there is anything that comes out of this positive maybe this can be a teaching moment, although George Clooney says he doesn't know if there are any great lessons to be learned now that someone so important to him is gone.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's representatives have also announced, Carol, that there will be a private funeral service held in New York for the actor's family and close friends. Also in the works, plans for a memorial service that will happen later in the month.

COSTELLO: Nischelle Turner, many thanks.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, just days before the Winter Olympics get under way the suspected mastermind behind those twin bombings in Russia is killed by police.

Phil Black live in Moscow this morning.

Hi, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Yes, security forces in this country say they have killed the leader of a terror group which had promised to lodge more devastating attacks during the games. Details in just a moment.



COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 16 minutes past the hour.

New report from the United Nations is demanding the Vatican take action against child abuse. The U.N. is urging the Catholic Church to remove all suspected abusers and amend church law so violation of children will be considered a crime.

The Obama administration the honoring a request from Pakistan to cutback on drone strikes as it continues peace talks with the Taliban. A U.S. official tells "The Washington Post" it agreed to the request but will continue attacks against any senior al Qaeda officials and will move to stop any direct threats to the United States.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shawn White is withdrawing from the slope style competition in this year's Winter Olympics. He says he wants to focus on the half pipe. Earlier this week, White voiced concerns over the difficulty of the slope style course during training runs.

White won the gold medal in the half pipe competition in the 2006 and 2010 games.

And just days before the start of the Winter Olympics, the suspected mastermind of those deadly bomb attacks in Volgograd, Russia has been killed in a shoot out with police. The December bombings killed 34 people and left 100 others injured. Russian state media says the shoot out happened in northern Dagestan during a police raid on a house.

Phil Black live in Moscow to tell us more.

Hi, Phil.


Yes. So, police here are saying through Russian state media they surrounded a house in Dagestan. One person surrendered, gave himself up. But the rest inside the building refused. There was a shootout, everyone inside was eventually killed. Including this man who authorities believe was the mastermind of the Volgograd attacks, a man named Mirasayev (ph).

Now, they say that they are determined to catch all the people involved in this attack. Last week, they arrested two people who they say were accomplices in the Volgograd bombing, who they say actually transported the suicide bombers from Dagestan to Volgograd and they're determined to track down the rest because these people have shown, this particular group, that it is capable of staging large scale devastating attacks. More than that it has declared its intention to stage mover them.

In a video claiming responsibility for the attacks in Volgograd, they said there will be more attacks with lots of people taking part especially during the Sochi Games. Now, while authorities here insist that Sochi is secure, that all security has got the city in lock down no one can get in without authorities being aware, what this group has shown is they do not need to strike Sochi directly in order to score a win, make their point and embarrass the Russian government during the games.

While there may be a ring of steel around Sochi, it's not possible to maintain that same level of security across this vast country so there are many other potentially vulnerable targets. So, Russian authorities say they are still going after these people who are behind these bombings in Volgograd which killed 34 people at a train station and on a bus just a few weeks ago, Carol.

COSTELLO: Phil Black reporting live from Moscow this morning.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM: later this hour, security is not the only concern in Sochi. What about the hotel rooms. Some guests have arrived and they are shocked by what they found. We're going to talk about that.

Also, a new report on Obamacare and it's impact on jobs has critics of the law pouncing. But does the spin get in the way of the facts? The story from Washington after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COSTELLO: The White House is firing back against a renewed attack on Obamacare, as critics say a new nonpartisan report proves the law will indeed kill jobs. But when you cut through the spin, this is all about worker's choices, not job cuts.

Our senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has the story.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got to feel kind of shock --

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While President Obama was out trying to sell his agenda --

OBAMA: We still have more work to do to reach more kids and reach them faster.

KEILAR: -- the White House found itself playing defense.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Creating that kind of choice for people is a good thing.

KEILAR: A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating Obamacare will cause Americans to leave the workforce, emboldening Republican claims that the law is a job killer.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The CBO report is certainly not pretty if you're interested in creating jobs in America.

KEILAR: The report says Americans may choose to work fewer hours or not at all to maintain their eligibility for Medicaid or federal subsidies or because they can purchase insurance on the individual market rather than relying on an employer. The report says that will cause a reduction of the labor force equaled to more than 2 million workers in 2017, 2.5 million by 2024.

White House officials are calling the CBO's calculations incomplete, saying they ignore job growth the health care law will create.

(on camera): Is that an admission that there's winners and losers when you talk about people who want to participate in the workforce?

CARNEY: There is nothing as documented. There's nothing here that by giving you the option of affordable and quality health insurance, we're not giving you -- that's not a negative thing.

KEILAR (voice-over) The report also finds 1 million fewer people than expected will sign up for Obamacare by the end of March when the enrollment window closes, 6 million instead of 7 million initially projected. But the White House is touting the CBO's finding the deficit will fall to $514 billion this year, it's lowest point since 2007, reassuring news to economists.

(on camera): The president's top economist Jason Furman was asked if this projected reduction in the workforce is a net drag on the economy. He wouldn't commit to an answer. But he and other White House officials are emphasizing what they feel are positives that the report doesn't include, there would be more productivity, more job mobility and they think more people will strike out on their own as entrepreneurs.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, the White House.


COSTELLO: Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

So, Jim, to be clear -- the CBO did not say jobs would actually be lost it said workers can choose to work fewer hours to meet Obamacare requirements for coverage.

You know, I just think many people have already made up their mind about Obamacare, either they like it or they don't like it.


COSTELLO: So -- will the president at some point come out and talk about this latest twist?

ACOSTA: Well, I think we're going to have to wait and see. You know, he is going to be over at National's Park, the baseball stadium here in Washington, with Bill Clinton later today, to address Senate Democrats at their retreat and this will be all about 2014 mid-term politics, getting the party's agenda on table for the upcoming mid- term election.

So, I would imagine that Obamacare will come up. Remember last week at the State of the Union speech -- one of the big lines of applause among Democrats up on Capitol Hill when the president was delivering those remarks was a stout defense of Obamacare.

So, Democrats really rallied around the president, rallied around the White House yesterday when the CBO report came out to basically make sure people understood what the CBO was saying that people as a result of these subsidies may decide to work less over the next ten years and that cumulative effect adds up to 2.5 million jobs.

But no doubt about it -- any time you have the word Obamacare and jobs out in a government report and that gets injected into the political blood stream, you're going to get a lot of people up on Capitol Hill talking about this.

And in a half hour now, Douglas Elmendorf, who is sort of the budget guru at the Congressional Budget Office. He's going to be pressed on these details and that thing that Brianna was mentioning right at the head of her office about how Jason Furman, who is the head of the council of economic advisors here at the White House, the fact he couldn't answer the question as to what happens when you pull the equivalent of 2.5 million people out of the workforce over the next 10 years that can't be a good net effect on the economy.

Jason Furman did not answer that question and I think Douglas Elmendorf, that will be one of the key questions to him later tonight, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Well, stay tuned. Jim Acosta live from the White House this morning. Thank you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, a second day of apologies and answers on Capitol Hill, executives from Target and Neiman Marcus looking at day two of tough questions from lawmakers.

Joe Johns is on that story. Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Big fix to stop hackers from breaking in and stealing your personal information on payment cards. But it's not exactly new. I'll have that coming up next.