Return to Transcripts main page


Arizona Governor Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill; Panic on a Delta Flight; Waking Up to Bitter Cold; Gunmen Seize Crimean Parliament

Aired February 27, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Bill vetoed. Arizona's governor killed a controversial religious rights bill many said was simply anti-gay. Why she says she had to do it?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. Panic inside a Delta Airlines flight. You can hear screaming on this video, smoke filling the cabin. What passengers say happened, next.

ROMANS: Trees ripped from the ground, rivers becoming sheets of ice. Millions waking up this morning to bitter cold temperatures. Indra Petersons breaking it down from coast to coast.

BERMAN: A lot of big weather news this morning.

ROMANS: And I know, and there's something for everyone in the weather report, guys.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty minutes past the hour right now.

And overnight, it was decided. Arizona's controversial religious freedom bill will not become a law. Opponents argued the measure would have given business owners license to discriminate against gays and pretty much anyone. Governor Jan Brewer ultimately agreed.


GOV. JAN BREWER, (R) ARIZONA: Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago.


BERMAN: All the arguments included so many businesses from around the country saying that they would just get out of Arizona had that law stayed in place. Supporters of the measure say it was wrongly depicted by all of its opponents. ROMANS: Yes. When you have that many CEOs saying hey, I have a big plant in your state or I might have a big plant in your state, and we don't like this law and we don't want to operate where there's this kind of law, that kind of talk really matters.

All right. Breaking news, frightening moments for passengers on a Delta connection flight from Los Angeles to Oakland. Look, as it landed, they were told to quickly get off the plane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot breathe back here. Go.


ROMANS: Go, go, go, because the smell of smoke in the cabin. Here's what one of the passengers said about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot breathe back here. Go.

LINTON JOHNSON, PASSENGER ON PLANE: By the time we got to the gate, the cabin started filling up. It smelled like burnt rubber. And the pilots just immediately put the plane to a stop, you know, just really came to a jolting stop. And the flight attendants were telling everybody to get off, get off the plane, get off the plane. Leave your stuff behind, get off the plane.


ROMANS: All of the passengers and the crew were able to depart the plane without injuries, thankfully. Authorities are now trying to determine the source of the smell.

Millions across the country waking up to severe weather. If I had a dollar for every time I said that. But look, in California, really some much-needed rain, and we have not been able to say that in a long time. But is it too much of a good thing? The concern has now turned from drought to mud slides and flash floods after torrential rains.

BERMAN: They're going to get a lot more in the coming days. Indra is about to tell that in a second here.

Meanwhile, trees were no match for violent storms in and around the San Francisco Bay area. Heavy rain, high winds bringing trees down. You can see the power lines sagging right there. Such a dangerous job for cleanup crews. Be very careful there.

ROMANS: In the Midwest, a deep freeze causing ice jams, ice jams, and providing some stunning views of the Kankakee River. Look at that, the Kankakee River in Illinois. Impressive as it is, residents tell CNN that when the jam breaks, it could be trouble.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you what happens when it starts to thaw and it becomes water?

JOJO BROADWELL, RESIDENT: That's when we've got the problem. That's when you've got the story, because that's when the water is going to come up like a backed-up toilet. The ice is going to come up, and it's going to take out everything in its path.


ROMANS: Like a backed-up toilet, wow.

BERMAN: Beautiful picture, though. If Gary Tuchman were truly a committed reporter, he'd get into that river to see how cold it is. That cold stretches all the way from the Midwest to the east coast, look at that. Temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below normal in some places. You know, we're all feeling spring. We want it to come in here.

ROMANS: What is it, 21 days until spring?

BERMAN: It can't come soon enough.

ROMANS: Twenty-one days.

BERMAN: All right. Our Indra Petersons is here. Indra, you've got a lot in the 4:00 cast, including what's going on in California.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I mean, definitely, it's going to feel like it's a long ways away with everything that's currently going on. Let's talk about the actual current temperatures this morning where a lot of you are already seeing temperatures below zero, but this is without even the wind chill. So, Minneapolis nine below, Chicago 10. Let's throw in the wind chill, because that's where you really get the idea of how dangerous this actually is.

We talked about temperatures that feel like almost 40 below. That's Minnesota, Detroit, feeling like one below, even out towards New York City, currently feels like 11. Boston, just single digits at four degrees with that wind chill. We go through the afternoon. You hope to warm up, but unfortunately, temperatures really far from where they should be for even this time of year. Chicago, about 30 below average.

New York City now spreading into the northeast about 15 below average. So, this is a concern even as we go through the weekend. We're still going to be talking about these temperatures well below normal. Big thing to note, by Sunday night in through Monday in the northeast, now a chance for a significant snowstorm. So, temperatures rebound. But unfortunately, that does also mean a snowstorm on the way. That's the story for the Midwest and the east, but out west, an even bigger story.

Remember, these are drought conditions. They have not had drier conditions since we've been keeping records. And now, one storm making its way through, but it is the second storm that could bring significant rainfall. The biggest storm they have seen in three years, guys. Even the threat for tornadoes, hail, winds as high as 50, 60 miles per hour, heavy snow in the mountains.

And of course, all this comes right as we go towards all through Sunday. Its timing Friday in through Saturday, but as you're getting ready on Oscar Sunday, still the concern will be out there.

BERMAN: Yes. Soggy red carpet. But you know, that doesn't, you know, measure against the considerations out there with the drought and the water they need.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: We're also following a breaking news story out in Ukraine. Tensions rising again. Overnight, some armed 50 gunmen seized parliament Ukraine's Crimea region. A Russian flag is now flying over the parliament building. That's a big deal. This comes as Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered surprise military exercises for 150,000 Russian troops, including those deployed near the border with Ukraine.

Also today, Ukrainian lawmakers are voting to install a new post- Yanukovych government. Yanukovych is the deposed leader just forced out of office and now very much on the run with a warrant out for his arrest.

ROMANS: All right. The Obama Administration wants to hang on to phone records the National Security Agency collected on millions of Americans. Those records are supposed to be destroyed after five years, but the justice department says those records must be preserved. Why? Because of civil lawsuits over the surveillance program.

The information might end up as evidence in court. The court is expected to approve the request, but it might want the NSA to agree not to access the material for intelligence gathering.

BERMAN: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warning of a grim future for Afghanistan without U.S. help. Army general, Martin Dempsey, says the absence of a long-term security pact would affect the morale of Afghan soldiers, and the general's afraid some could end up siding with the Taliban. The Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign the agreement.

President Obama wants the Pentagon to speed up plans to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Still, he is hoping that Hamid Karzai's replacement will sign the pact. The election in Afghanistan is this spring.

ROMANS: New developments concerning sex assault in the military. The army says it has removed nearly 600 soldiers from positions of trust as rape counselors, recruiters, and drill sergeants because of infractions ranging from sex assaults to child abuse to drunk driving.

Meantime, a Senate bill aimed at taking the prosecution of sexual offenders out of the hands of military commanders, that's expected to come up for a vote in the next few weeks. On Wednesday, lawmakers heard from victims who said they felt abandoned by their superiors and attempted suicide.

BERMAN: A celebration today for the Tea Party. Today is the fifth anniversary of that political movement. They're marking it with an event in the capitol. Speakers will include some prominent conservatives. You're going to see Ted Cruz there, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Tea Party officials say they will reflect on how the movement was formed and they'll talk about what they believe to be their successes over the last few years.

ROMANS: All right. Big news today about the label on your food. Those food nutrition labels are about to get a big-time makeover. The goal here is reflecting how people actually eat and drink. First lady, Michelle Obama, will announce them today as part of a week-long fourth anniversary celebration of her "Let's Move" campaign to combat obesity.

Now, these new labels are expected to show the calories much more prominently on the new labels, the amount of added sugar in a food product. And you know how sometimes you get something, it says 2 1/2 servings per can?

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: And then you have to do the math to figure out, wait a minute, you know, how much am I consuming? Maybe they're going to streamline that.

BERMAN: No. It's the holy grail, really, of food labeling, accurate serving sizes. You know, ice cream, it gives you this impossibly small serving size.

ROMANS: Easier to understand.

All right. Big news from two major retailers today. From target, we have the first indications of just how last year's massive security breach hurt the company. The verdict? Fewer people are shopping at Target. Target's fourth quarter sales fell 2.5 percent. It's only the second quarterly drop in four years. Profit sliced almost in half.

And from JCPenney, a huge jump in its stock price this morning. Those shares, JCP, up 12 percent in premarket trading. Sales rose two percent last quarter, a big deal for JCPenney, which has been really struggling with a major turn-around here. The year before, JCPenney quarterly sales plunged more than 30 percent. You know, people who are going to write the business school textbooks say that JCPenney actually fired its own customer for a while there. Now, they're trying to get it back.

BERMAN: We were ready to write their obituary. Now, they're back.

ROMANS: You know, I mean, they're back. We'll see if it can last. Taking a look at the overall market, John, stock futures here, markets overseas are mixed. Wall Street waiting on testimony from fed chief, Janet Yellen. The last time we heard from her, the stock market jumped about -- the Dow jumped about 200 points. So, we'll see what she has to say today.

All right. New this morning, two suspected 2016, suspected --

BERMAN: Suspected.

ROMANS: Suspected.

BERMAN: Allegedly.

ROMANS: Expected, I guess, we should say, of presidential candidates playing to the people. Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie taking questions from the public as new poll numbers reveal what voters want. We're suspecting that Paul Steinhauser's going to have more on these suspects after the break.

BERMAN: Yes. He's suspect. Look at that smile.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. We continue to follow the developing news out of Arizona. Late last night, Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed businesses and individuals to refuse service to gays and lesbians. Take a listen to what she said.


BREWER: Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value so is nondiscrimination. Going forward, let's turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans.


BERMAN: So many people waiting for her to come out and make a statement about what she would do.

ROMANS: She took her time.

BERMAN: She took her time. Very, very highly watched speech. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now from Washington.

ROMANS: Hey, Paul.

BERMAN: Jan Brewer in the spotlight, Paul.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: No doubt about it, and it really puts the Republican Party in a way in the spotlight over this issue. You saw a lot of senior Republicans, both of Arizona's Republican senators, John McCain, Jeff Flake, coming out and urging Brewer to veto the bill. Same thing with their former presidential nominee, their last one, Mitt Romney, saying the same thing.

You know, guys, the GOP touts itself as they party of pro-business, right? A pro-business party, and this bill, let's be honest, was not good for business. But at the same time, social conservatives are a key part, a very crucial part of the GOP base. And, well, on this issue, they have a different opinion, and there is a struggle going on in the Republican Party over gay rights. Take a look at this poll on the related issue of gay marriage.

This is a brand new poll out last night on gay marriage, supporting legal same-sex marriage. Look at that. Democrats definitely on board. Independents, a majority. A minority of Republicans on board on this issue. It is a troubling issue for the Republican Party, guys.

Hillary Clinton, by the way, did speak out on this issue last night. If you were wondering, she was at the University of Miami. She topped off her speech talking about this, wanting (ph) with the governor of Arizona did in vetoing the bill saying, listen, this is a key part of what she wanted to talk about, giving equal rights to all Americans and the government's role in doing that -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: You know, Paul, she looked -- wow -- she looked like she was campaigning last night.


ROMANS: She looked like she could be on any kind -- that's just my opinion. She looked like she was on stage. She really commanded that stage. It looked like the crowd loved her. What else did she have to say, Paul?

STEINHAUSER: Are you talking about 2016, maybe, and whether she will make another run for the White House?


STEINHAUSER: I think that's what you're getting at, right?

ROMANS: No one's asked her that question, but --

BERMAN: She's never been asked before.


ROMANS: Maybe it's a long-shot to even consider it, but I was wondering if she said anything.


STEINHAUSER: All right. Well, she was asked about it, one of the students there in the University of Miami, and here she is talking to students, maybe trying to tee up the younger vote in 2016. The student asked her about her bio on Twitter which made a lot of news last year. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us some insight to how the TBD in your file will play out?



HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I'd really like to, but I have no characters left. I will certainly ponder that.


STEINHAUSER: And take a look at this brand new poll. We just talked about that CBS/"New York Times" poll. They asked Democrats, should Hillary Clinton run in 2016? I think the overwhelming answer -- you can see it on the left side -- is yes. What about Vice President Biden? Democrats are divided -- Christine, John.

BERMAN: You know, in that same poll, though, they asked about Republicans about Governor Chris Christie, and more Republicans than not said they don't want Chris Christie to run for president, Paul.

ROMANS: Real change.

STEINHAUSER: You got it. Look at those numbers right there, and that is interesting. Maybe that's a little bit to do with that bridge controversy, maybe not. Look at the numbers for Jeb Bush there, the former Florida governor. It is a different story. Hey, we still have a long way to go. This race for the White House really doesn't get under way until after the midterms in November -- Christine, John.

BERMAN: It's under way right now. I mean, at this point.



BERMAN: It's on. Bring it. All right. Paul Steinhauser, great to see you. Thanks so much for coming in.

ROMANS: I just have a real quick question, do they really just ponder or do they -- I mean, do they really not know Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton or do you have to kind of know that you're going to do it and lay it out?

BERMAN: I think there's a middle ground. I think what you do is you say I'm doing everything that I need to do in case I decide I want to run. So, I've decided that I'm doing everything possible, but I can still pull the trigger one way the other later on down the line. So, I think that's where they all are right now.

ROMANS: Keeping the rest of us guessing.

BERMAN: All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan with us this morning.

ROMANS: Hey, Kate. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning, guys. We're going to be taking a closer look at those new nutrition labels. This is fascinating and important for everybody. These nutrition labels are going to be debuting today. They're supposed to make it easier to figure out honestly what's healthy for your family or at least what you're eating in each of these serving sizes.

But of course, the question is, whenever anyone tries to correct and help us, so they're going to just make it more confusing for us with these new labels. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be here to try to help explain what it all means and what you should take from it.

But also, this. It was a very inspiring moment. No one can forget it. It was everyone -- probably the most memorable moment of the state of the union. Army sergeant Cody Rumsberg (ph) singled down by the president from battling back after a bomb attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, left him seriously injured. He's blind in one eye. He's still struggling with movements on his left side.

He was in a coma for weeks. He's fighting back, and he just celebrated his 31st birthday. And we got a chance to check in with him, see how he's doing. It's a remarkable story, and we're going to bring that to you on "New Day."

BERMAN: Cannot wait to see that. A special, special person.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: A new warning that a lot of people will want to take notice of, especially men, especially older men wanting to be fathers. The health risk that researchers say your children could be facing. I read every word of this story. That's coming up next.


ROMANS: A troubling new finding suggests that chronic brain trauma more commonly found in violent sports like football and boxing also extends to the soccer field. Researchers posthumously diagnosing the degenerative disease in a 29-year-old. Patrick Grange (ph) is the first named soccer player found to have this condition.

Now, according to his parents, Grange sustained a few concussions, but doctors say the damage to his brain seems to have come from repeatedly heading the ball. That was a skill he was noted for.

BERMAN: I played soccer my whole life, my kids play. You do these drills where you head the ball again and again and again and again into the goal, and you do wonder the impact it is having.

There's another big medical study out today that has a lot of people talking. Men, pay attention, particularly, older men. You may have reason to pay closer attention to your biological clocks. An international team of researchers studied 2.6 million Swedish children and found that older fathers have a much greater risk of having kids with learning disabilities and mental health problems. The study concludes that the older the father, the larger the risk of conditions like ADHD, autism, and bipolar disorder in their children. The study suggests one possibility might be that as men age, the sperm mutates with these genetic issues.

ROMANS: Wow! Certainly that's important research.

BERMAN: Very important. All right. We'll be right back.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time" this morning. The S&P 500's record high is slipping away. Stock futures are down this morning and European markets struggling a bit, too. But the S&P is only three points away from its all-time closing highs, so don't cry yet.

The market could get a boost from Janet Yellen. The new fed chief speaks to a Senate committee later this morning. The first time we heard of her a couple of weeks ago, this, right there, is how investors responded. The Dow popped nearly 200 points because she plans to keep the fed's easy money policies in place, at least, for now. So, stay tuned.

Tesla planning to build a giant, $5 billion lithium battery factory and several states want in on the action.

BERMAN: Yes, they do.

ROMANS: Arizona, hey, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas are the finalists for what Tesla is calling a giga factory. Other automakers make lithium ion batteries for electric cars, but Tesla says the plant will be much bigger. By 2020, Tesla plans to have this one factory produce more batteries annually than were produced worldwide last year. They expect the factory to lead to 6,500 new jobs. Tesla shares at a record high.

BERMAN: That's some big business.

ROMANS: That's a big -- a big giga factory.

BERMAN: A giga factory. All right. Thank you for watching the giga news this morning. "NEW DAY" starts right now.