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Eastern U.S. Braces for Dangerous Winter Storm; Sarah Palin on Campaign Trail for Trump; World Financial Markets Look to Rebound; Interview with Erin Brockovich; Death Toll rises to 22 in Pakistan University Attack; U.S. Sends Mixed Messages about Missing American; Zarif Speaks to CNN about Iran Nuclear Deal; . U.S. Braces for Epic Winter Storm; Earth Had Record Warmth in 2015 as Ninth Planet Discovered. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 21, 2016 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:13] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour on the stump with Donald Trump. Sarah Palin serves up some red meat at a campaign rally in Oklahoma.

The brown colored, lead-filled water of Flint, Michigan. Activist Erin Brockovich is here, she says there are 100 American cities just like Flint.

Plus the world drowning in oil, taking world markets and your investments on a wild ride.

Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Vause. Another hour of NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

We'll get to the politics in a moment. But first we're following some dangerous winter weather which is hitting the U.S. East Coast. Schools in Nashville, Tennessee, are closed on Thursday. And in Washington drivers are being told to stay off the roads.

Derek Van Dam live again at the CNN Weather Center with the very latest. And this is just getting started, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right. In fact, you are right, John, because Nashville public schools being closed tomorrow. Virginia State Police indicating that over 150 accidents have already occurred. And it looks as if President Obama has also had a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the change in weather in the nation's capital. You can see him almost slipping as he exited Air Force One there. That is thanks to a snowstorm that is still brewing.

Those snowflakes you saw there are not the main event. In fact the blockbuster snowstorm we continue to talk about is still gathering steam across the Gulf Coast states. We've got the possibility of severe weather. Up to an inch of ice possible throughout the Carolinas and then the main event that being the snowstorm that could create blizzard historic conditions across the nation's capital. We'll highlight it all for you coming up later in the show.

John, back to you.

VAUSE: Derek, thank you for the update. We'll check in a little later this hour.

Sarah Palin is back on the campaign trail, stumping for Donald Trump a day after she gave him her endorsement. The former vice presidential candidate missed a stop in Iowa on Wednesday morning but she caught up with the Republican frontrunner in Oklahoma. Her campaign speech is much like her endorsement speech, it's aimed at firing up conservative voters.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready to stump for Trump? I'm here to support the next president of the United States of America.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to make our country great again. We are going to win. We are going to win. And we are going to win.


VAUSE: Trump has reason to feel confident. A new CNN/WMUR poll shows he is holding his 20-point lead in New Hampshire. His nearest rival, Senator Cruz, is on the rise, though. 14 percent. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio tied for third with 10 percent each.

And Trump is taking aim at Democrat Hillary Clinton over e-mails on her personal server. A report says Clinton's server contained classified intelligence from top secret programs. Trump says the issue goes to Clinton's character.


Why would you be so stupid to have done such a thing? This shows such bad judgment. How can a person running for president and wanting to be president show this kind of judgment? And historically she's had this judgment, whether it is Whitewater or -- you know, it's always something. It's always something traumatic.


VAUSE: In a radio interview, Secretary Clinton brushed off the report calling it a leak designed to hurt her campaign. She denies sending or receiving classified materials on that private server.

As Jeb Bush moves to third place in that New Hampshire poll, he is stressing he is more electable than Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is the big personality on the stage, but that's not how you win elections. We need a committed conservative that has a proven record to take on Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton hit machine will be fierce. And you need to have someone that actually has a proven record, that's been thoroughly vetted that can take her on and take her on directly.


VAUSE: Lynn Warwick joins me now to talk more about Donald Trump's lead in the 2016 Republican presidential race for the nomination.

You're a political professor -- professor of political science, I should say, at UCLA. OK. Let's talk about this hookup between Trump and Palin because, you know, Sarah Palin, she's kind of toxic in a general election. But right now it's all about Iowa and delivering that group of conservative Tea Party voters. And is she going to do it? Is she the bright ticket for Trump?

LYNN WARWICK, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UCLA: Well, Donald Trump is still beating Ted Cruz with these Tea Party voters. But I think bringing her at this moment in time is a sign that he's a little worried about Ted Cruz. And so he wants to hold that lead that he has among those Tea Party voters.

[01:05:01] VAUSE: This seems to be all about sealing the deal. I mean, Donald Trump does not leave much to chance. Would that be a fair assessment for you?

WARWICK: I think that's right. He is a great tactician.

VAUSE: Yes -- not a great strategist, I think.

WARWICK: I think that's exactly what I mean.


VAUSE: OK. Donald Trump, if nothing else, has managed to again control the news cycle for the last 24 hours. Most of the coverage has been Trump and Palin and if any candidate has had a look in here, it's what do you think of Trump and Palin, so I guess Ted Cruz, has he lost momentum because of this?

WARWICK: Well, I know that there are a lot people saying that. But I'm not willing to go there. I think the fact that everybody is attacking Ted Cruz is because he is surging. He is the guy right now, who people are trying to stop. And so, although it's uncomfortable for him, it's probably a good sign.

VAUSE: OK. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, you look at them on the stage together. They always seem like, you know, the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee. I mean, I know we saw this in 2008. Is that possible? It's that where this is heading? Or is she just sort of too toxic come a general election?

WARWICK: I doubt that's where it's heading for two reasons. The first is that it didn't work out so well for John McCain.

VAUSE: You're right.

WARWICK: And the second is that she probably doesn't want to give up her news status to go be a government employee. So she is really, you know, become a celebrity herself. And why give that up.

VAUSE: Right. OK. Well, she did say she'd like the Energy Department, secretary of energy. But I guess, you know, would she do reality TV instead?

WARWICK: Only to take it apart, though, right?

VAUSE: Exactly.


VAUSE: To disband the Department of Energy.

WARWICK: Yes. It's a one-day job.

VAUSE: One thing which I found quite interesting when I was looking at Sarah Palin in the last 24 hours. How much has she changed? The Sarah Palin of 2016 seems very, very different to the Sarah Palin of 2008. In your opinion how has she changed and why has she changed?

WARWICK: I think she's become much more comfortable as a celebrity. And she is. She's as much a reality TV personality as Donald Trump. And so the way she talks to those crowd, the way she knows the room, she was good at it in 2008. But she's pretty masterful at it now. So that I think is the biggest difference.

VAUSE: OK. Lynn, thanks for being with us.

WARWICK: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Now many analysts, though, have questioned how much Trump will gain from having Palin's endorsement. But one former campaign official says there is no denying her ability to draw a crowd.

Here's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day two of a political marriage made in sound bite heaven.

PALIN: Kick ISIS ass.

LAH: It's not so much what Palin says, it's what she brings, says Christian Ferry, the deputy campaign manager for McCain-Palin, Ferry sought in 2008.

CHRISTIAN FERRY, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR MCCAIN-PALIN 2008: We went from having rallies of 8,000 people to 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 even 40,000-person rallies after Sarah Palin joined the ticket. LAH: And she continues to fascinate. Ferry calls Palin's endorsement

the difference maker in 2010 when Nikki Haley ran for governor and Ted Cruz as he won his Senate seat. But now for Trump?

FERRY: What are we not talking about? We're not talking about Jeb Bush. We're not talking about Chris Christie. We're not talking about Marco Rubio and we're not talking about Ted Cruz. And that is really I think the big deal out of all this for Donald Trump is he, again, has found a way to dominate the news cycle for multiple days.

LAH: The reality TV star turned politician finding traction in a politician turned reality TV star. In 2009 Palin resigned of governor as Alaska and entered the land of entertainment.

PALIN: Don't retreat. Just reload.

LAH: Sarah Palin's "Alaska" aired on TLC in 2010 canceled after one season. A second show followed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you heading?

PALIN: Somewhere amazing.

LAH: "Amazing America" on the Sportsman Channel. Since her vice presidential run Palin helped pen three books earning millions in the process. She hit the speaker circuit pulling in a reported $100,000 an event. She joined Fox News as a commentator and was featured parody on "Saturday Night Live.".

TINA FEY, ACTRESS: And I can see Russia from my house.

LAH: The Palin name so potent her daughter Bristol got her own reality TV show about being a single mom.

BRISTOL PALIN, SARAH PALIN'S DAUGHTER: I was thinking about calling Levi.

LAH: Even Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol's first baby, made a few bucks on some nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Levin Johnston does it with protection.

LAH: Her evangelical base more entranced by Palin's promises to shake up the establishment than family troubles. And today the conservative crowd once again embracing Palin as she addressed her son's arrest this week for assault calling it the effects of PTSD after serving in Iraq.

PALIN: When my own son is going through what he goes through coming back --

LAH (on camera): So where does Palin go from here? Well, the 2008 McCain-Palin deputy campaign manager says his advice, get her on the road as much as possible.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We'll turn now to the turmoil in the world's financial markets where falling oil prices continue to drag stocks down. Trading has just ended for the day in Tokyo.

[01:10:09] And let's have a look at the numbers. You had the Nikkei finished down almost 2.5 percent. Shanghai Composite down, 1.25 percent. In Hong Kong negative territories swell down by 1 percent. And a third percent in Australia, though, the ASX 200 closed in positive territory, up by almost half of 1 percent.

In the United States, the Dow fell more than 560 points on Wednesday before regaining some ground to close down 1.5 percent. The S&P was off by a little more than 1 percent. And the Nasdaq was down .1 percent.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks now. She's looking at the situation from Seoul in South Korea. Look at markets around Asia right now. I mean, the numbers are -- the negative territory is significant but it's not the huge force that we've seen.

Are we looking at a situation now possibly there's some stabilization here?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we are still seeing these markets heading down as you say. And they're not small drops, for Tokyo's Nikkei for example. So even though they're not significant as they were yesterday, we are still seeing a downward trend and we're still seeing that investors are jittery about what they're looking at, at this point.

Of course the main thing that they will be looking at is those oil prices. As the oil prices dip even lower than we're seeing these markets dip even lower. And the fact is we can't see, according to some analysts, when we're going to see stability in these markets. If the oil prices have not found a bottom at this point. If they could still go even lower.

Now the main reason for this of course is there an oversupply in the world oil market. And when you bear in mind that Iran over the next weeks or potentially months will be adding to that supply in the market. Now Western sanctions have been lifted it could only expect to become worse. Just this week the International Energy Agency said that the world is drowning in oil. It used the word drowning so of course that is a concern and that is going to keep these markets jittery -- John.

VAUSE: And Paula, if we look at the situation in China right now, the Central Bank there just pumped a lot of money into the financial system. How much and why?

HANCOCKS: That's right, John. Yes. The Central Bank today pumped in almost $17 billion. And they said publicly that over the next couple of weeks it will be about $91 billion in all. Now this is what they quite often do before the Lunar New Year. A

very important holiday in China. It's a week-long holiday when many people are feasting, they're exchanging gifts with each other. And so they are looking for cash. And certainly the Central Bank is saying that it's trying to do this at this point so that it eases any liquidity squeezes that you might see over the next couple of weeks.

But they've certainly been injecting a lot of money into the banking system, not just because of the Lunar New Year but recently to try and ease stability in that -- in that banking system. Just last year, remember the market turmoil you saw last summer, Goldman Sachs said that they injected some $236 billion at that point. So this isn't something new that we're seeing. But I think the timing at this point according to the Central Bank is pegged to that upcoming holiday -- John.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live this hour in Seoul.

And with the Dow down more than 1600 points so far this year, the market is so officially in a correction. Richard Quest looks at how we got here.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: The trading day around the world started badly. And when New York opened, it got a great deal worse.

The new year market was down from the start. And at one point had fallen more than 560 points. Towards the afternoon, though, calmer minds came into the market. And the Dow Jones Industrials pulled back from many of the losses. It was still down nearly 250 and the Closing Bell rang.

Behind all of this, the falling price of oil which just keeps dropping. Brent crude was off nearly 2 percent, while West Texas was down nearly 7 percent. Both now under $27 a barrel.

Putting this all together and the markets are seriously concerned about the future direction, the strength of the global economy, and where, indeed, to go next. The next few days will be marked by volatility.

Richard Quest, CNN, Davos.


VAUSE: Michigan lawmakers have approved millions to fix the lead poisoned water in the city of Flint. Just ahead, we will talk with actress Erin Brockovich about what else needs to be done as well as similar problems all across the United States.

Also many in the U.S. are being told to stay off the road ahead of what could be a monster storm.




VAUSE: Well, in the United States, Detroit school system is asking a judge to stop teachers from calling out sick as a form of protest. On Wednesday, almost all the schools there were closed. Teachers are protesting what they say are poor working conditions in public schools, rat infestations, crumbling walls, classroom overcrowding, as well as low pay. Detroit school officials say there isn't enough money to fix everything. And the school system is deep in debt.

We learned new details about how officials in Michigan have dealt with the contaminated water crisis in the city of Flint over the past two years. The governor has released all of his e-mails about the situation. They include comments from one staffer who says it was the city's problem not the state government. Others seem to dismiss the complaints even calling the issue a political football.

Meanwhile, Michigan lawmakers have proved $28 million in emergency funding to deal with the crisis in the city of Flint where lead has contaminated drinking water. But the mayor says fixing the damage to infrastructure and people's health could cost as much as $1.5 billion.

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed this issue during a visit to Detroit on Wednesday.


[01:20:05] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very proud of what I've done as president. But the only job that's more important to me is the job of father. And I know that if I was a parent up there I would be beside myself that my kid's health could be at risk. That's why over the weekend I declared a federal emergency in Flint to send more resources on top of the assistance that we have put on the ground.


VAUSE: Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is with me now for more on the water crisis in Flint.

OK. Very quickly. There is no quick fix to this problem in Flint right now. I mean, for starters they have to replace all the piping in the entire city, right?

ERIN BROCKOVICH, CONSUMER ADVOCATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Yes. There is absolutely no quick fix. And then sounding the all call is something that the residents don't trust. And we don't trust. You know, I give analogy, you know, if you have on a white blouse and you spill red wine, and all you can do is dab it out, it could take a month. It's the same process --

VAUSE: Or never come out. Yes. BROCKOVICH: Absolutely. It's the same process in Flint. And we have

to understand that every surface, body of water, water quality is different. State-by-state, river-by-river. And we can't just keep switching river waters and switching chemicals and adding and taking away causing a corrosive condition. It ruins the distribution system. It causes manganese, and iron, and lead and all of that to leech out and it's not going to be an overnight fix. There's no way.

VAUSE: And we're talking years, right?

BROCKOVICH: It could be years and we're talking tens of millions of dollars.

VAUSE: The water was so bad in Flint that GM refused to use it because it was corrosive and it was rusting parts for cars. Who is to blame for this? Who should be held accountable?

BROCKOVICH: The emergency city manager and the governor. We were out in Flint a year ago. We actually wrote a protocol for them on when they switched to the Flint water, the corrosiveness of it, what would happen and how to treat it so that this didn't happen. They knew. They disregarded. The state -- the city had gone into bankruptcy. And the emergency city manager had an idea on how to save money. And it was through the water system. And the governor gave approval. So both of them knowing -- I absolutely would tell you I hold accountable for this situation.

VAUSE: I read, and CNN has the reported, that if they had to put an anti-corrosive agent into the water at cost of $100 a day. Most of these problems could have been avoided. Is that accurate?

BROCKOVICH: Well, yes. And we gave them a protocol a year ago as well on exactly how to avoid this disaster. And they did not want to listen.

VAUSE: So they knew that. So -- they knew that.

BROCKOVICH: They knew that.

VAUSE: OK. Everyone is looking at Flint right now. Finally, even though this has been going on for more than a year. Same drinking water around the United States is a big problem. You have the Environmental Working Group which found more than six million people are drinking water tainted with chemicals which are used in the manufacture of Teflon. The University of Nebraska found two major aquifers in the Great Plains and California have high levels of natural uranium. But that's caused by dumping nitrates into the water which sparks the uranium. And then there's the situation in Stockton, California. This concern that ammonia is being added to the water supply.

So what's going on here? How worried should people be?

BROCKOVICH: We should be very worried. It is a national water crisis. We are definitely involved in the PFOAs in three different states. KFO and that type of farming clearly causes nitrates and the run-off. It can go into the water supplies. It can create algae blooms. It can suffocate the municipal system and they have to shut the water down.

Stockton, California, is about adding chloramines which in part is part of Flint's problem. We're having a town hall meeting out there on February 2nd. We are working on no less than 100, but currently 20 very similar situations. Several of them as bad as Flint. And it is happening across the country.

VAUSE: When you say you're working on 100 cities like Flint, are you saying that 100 cities in the United States right now are facing the prospect of having poison water coming out of their tap? Or they do have it right now?

BROCKOVICH: Absolutely. We've already been working on and giving the communities have come to us with the brown water, that's full of manganese and iron, and potentially lead. In Tyler, Texas, Hannibal, Missouri, Hugo, Oklahoma, Stockton California, St. Bernard Parrish, we've already dealt with Poughkeepsie, New York, where the chloramines destroyed -- destroyed the system. Pittsburgh, it's all over the United States. Where people are having to be bathing in this, forced to drink it, told that it's safe. And it is of national crisis.

VAUSE: Very quickly, if you're out there, you've got a young kid, you know, who is very susceptible to lead poisoning or a family or whatever, what's the -- what advice do you give to people right now?

BROCKOVICH: Be very vigilant. Be very aware. Be proactive. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

[01:25:04] If you see a change in your water, if you smell a difference in the water, get ahold of your water quality people. If you don't trust them, e-mail us. And find bottled water or another source until you have certainty that the water is safe to drink.

VAUSE: Erin, thanks for coming. Good to speak with you.

BROCKOVICH: You're welcome. Thanks.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

A deadly attack at a university in Pakistan has exposed divisions within the Taliban. Still to come here, the terror group just can't agree on who carried out the attack.

Also ahead for the first time since the Iran nuclear deal took effect, a senior Iranian official is speaking to CNN. Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also ahead.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Coming up to 10:30 here on a Wednesday night in the -- on the West Coast. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.


[01:30:45] VAUSE: We are now told 22 people have died from the attack at a university in Pakistan. A local official says about 50 people are being questioned for any possible connection to the assault. Four militants were killed during Wednesday's siege. The Pakistani Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, but another spokesman denied any role and actually condemned the attack.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in New Delhi with more about the timing of this attack.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears the attack was timed to coincide with the celebration on campus that would maximize the number of students and guest who were at the university at the time. It would also maximize the potential number of casualties for the militants who carried out this attack.

Students there at the time say the attackers looked young, around their age. They were armed with A.K.-47s.


FIELD (voice-over): Security forces swarm the university in northwest Pakistan after militants storm the Bacha Khan campus.

"We heard firing from the back of the campus," he says.

Four attackers open fire, taking hostages and lobbing hand grenade.

"They said, don't go out. Then the security forces came."

One student says his professor was struck by a bullet while telling others to hide.

Bacha Khan is just northwest of Peshawar, the site of another deadly school attack. In 2014, more than 140 people were killed, most of them young school children. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that massacre.

A spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban is now claiming responsibility for this attack, calling retaliation for military operations against the group.

But in a conflicting statement, a central commander for the group disavowed any role, condemning the attack on civilians saying they're not in accordance with Sharia Law.


FIELD: Officials say it all could have been worse. There had been intelligence that attacks were being planned in the region. That had given the university some time to prepare, stepping up the security on campus. Because of added security guards, officials are saying the attackers were contained to one part of the campus. In New Delhi, Alexandra Field, CNN.


VAUSE: The family of a former FBI agent last seen in Iran in 2007 is calling mixed messages from the U.S. government outrageous. White House officials say they believe Robert Levinson is not in Iran but somewhere else in southwest Asia.

The FBI has been heading up the investigation into Levinson's disappearance.

Our Evan Perez has been speaking with officials at the FBI.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Investigators believe that if Robert Levinson is alive, he is being held in Iran. That's in contrast to comments we've heard from the White House and State Department officials saying that Levinson is no longer believed to be in Iran.

Levinson is a former FBI agent. At the time he disappeared in 2007, he was working as a CIA contractor. His family has been highly critical of the deal announced this weekend in which Iran released five U.S. citizens it held in prison while the U.S. released seven Iranians it held and dropped charges against others.


VAUSE: Just days ago, Iran released five Americans and Tehran promised to help with the Levinson investigation.

The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is speaking to the media for the first time since sanctions against his country were lifted.

Our Christiane Amanpour sat down with Zarif for an exclusive TV interview. Christiane asked Zarif how his country is now reacting to the nuclear deal, which was worked out with the United States and other world powers.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First senior Iranian official to talk about implementation and the new day. Is Iran happy about this new chapter?

JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Of course. We worked very hard for several years. We withstood pressure, sanctions, probably the most extensive sanctions that has been imposed on any country. But our people did not give up their rights just because they were under economic pressure. We started negotiations based on the principle of non-zero sum.

AMANPOUR: Win-win, as we put it. [01:35:00] ZARIF: Win-win, as you say. As here, economists say,

positive-sum game. So that everybody would look at what they needed to achieve, explain what they needed to achieve, and achieve it. From our perspective, we wanted two things. We wanted to have our nuclear program, which was peaceful. We wanted to be delivered from sanctions. From the other side, ostensibly, they wanted to make sure that we wouldn't build nuclear weapons. So from my perspective, from day one, it was a win-win situation because we could provide them with what they needed because we didn't expect or didn't intend to develop nuclear weapons. And at the same time, we just had to work out the details. And because of the extent of mistrust that existed, we needed to work out every minute detail of what we needed to do.


VAUSE: Christiane also asked Mr. Zarif about rising tensions between Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. He said Iran is ready to work with the Saudis in the region.

Still to come on NEWSROOM L.A., astronomers believe they've found a ninth planet in a very cold part of our solar system. This comes on the same day NASA reveals just how hot our own planet was last year.

And the eastern United States bracing for what could be a very bad winter storm.

Derek Van Dam, live in the CNN Weather Center -- Derek?

VAN DAM: The nation's capital could experience twice its average annual snowstorm, snow, in just one snowstorm. I will have all the details on this epic, epic storm coming up.


[01:39:50] VAUSE: The east coast of the United States getting ready for what could be one of the biggest snowstorms ever recorded. Multiple car wrecks in Washington, D.C., have prevented workers from treating the icy roads. The mayor is asking everyone to stay home if they can. The system could affect tens of millions of people in Virginia. State police reported 163 car accidents because of slippery conditions. In Nashville, public schools are closed on Thursday.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with more on this.

And the big day is going to be Friday, isn't it?

VAN DAM: That's right. You have been paying attention, haven't you, John.


VAUSE: I've been taking notes.

VAN DAM: Right. Good for you. As should everybody along the east coast of the United States. There are three important criteria that need to be met for this full-

on blizzard to take shape, that's 35 mile per hour wind, quarter mile visibility or less, and this all needs to occur for three hours or more. So, will we reach that criteria? The answer is, yes, most definitely. We have blizzard watches across the greater Washington/Baltimore area. This is winter storm watches from Nashville through western Virginia.

And look at the snow totals. We have anywhere between 12 to 24 inches. The bull's eye centered on Maryland and the nation's capital for potential of two feet of snow. That's according to the American GFS, the global forecast model. On top of that, we have the winds to help meet the blizzard criteria as well. Look at wind gusts for well in excess of three hours for the nation's capital, in Philly. But the northern periphery is what is crucial. Take a look at this, Washington, D.C., the forecast calls for 30 inches. That's double their average snowfall and way more snow than they experienced just in one season last year. But let's compare that to other major cities along the east coast, including New York City. There is Washington, 30 inches. New York, 7 inches. That's down from 10 inches. And earlier computer model run with the global forecast model. And that's not a typo there. Boston. We are not anticipating any snowfall. A few flakes. They will certainly feel the wind from this particular storm.

Let's time it out for you here so you know exactly what to expect. This storm, its still gathering some steam across the Gulf of Mexico. By the way, we have potential of severe weather across Louisiana and Alabama as well as Florida. That's for Thursday. Friday, a potential of ice from Tennessee into South Carolina. And then we start to shift that focus along the east coast, the snow overspreads the nation's capital.

Look at this, John, we have the potential of a quarter to half an inch of ice accumulation with upward of two feet of snow. That means Interstate 95 is going to be treacherous for travel.

VAUSE: I notice you didn't mention it will be 70 degrees in L.A. tomorrow.


VAN DAM: Got to rub it in. Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Talk to you tomorrow. Thank you.

While parts of the U.S. bracing for freezing temperatures, the earth had a record warm year in 2015 according to new data released by NASA.

For more on that, I'm joined by Danny Olivas, a former astronaut with NASA.

OK, we're looking at this new record. Does this actually indicate to you that we are now on track for the planet to continue to get warmer, warmer, warmer, like we have seen over the last couple years? DANNY OLIVAS, FORMER ASTRONAUT, NASA: It's not just a snapshot in

time. We have been tracking the trends of global warming for the past several years. And what's more remarkable is that, in 2014, we had a record high average temperature. You can argue whether or not it was a real number. Clearly, this year, in 2015, there was enough of an increase that --

VAUSE: Big increase.

OLIVAS: Big increase, exactly.

VAUSE: OK. So, what about the scientists who attribute some to El Nino as the part of the warming trend?

OLIVAS: I think it is clear El Nino does have a contribution. But in studies of previous El Ninos, we've had warmer contributions that didn't lead to similar type of global warming. There is some factor in there. But I think the trend is still headed in the upper direction.

VAUSE: Good news, when we destroy the planet and it is no longer habitable, we found a new planet. It's really, really big. Ninth planet. What more do we know about the ninth planet? When can we go?

OLIVAS: It is going to be very, very cold. It's out beyond the orbit of Pluto, just recently discovered. There is strong indications that there is something that is a large mass that is orbiting outside of the perimeter of Pluto's orbit, influencing other celestial bodies out there.


VAUSE: You can't see it.

OLIVAS: Exactly.

VAUSE: S gravitational pulls and what's happening around it. Very cold. We can warm that up when we get there.


They are also looking at a pretty big special moment, if we look to the skies. What's this, alignment of the planets? When is this all happening?

OLIVAS: Over the course of next month, we are going to have our -- our neighborhood in the solar system. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, are all going to be visible on the eastern sky in the early morning hours. So it will be a great celestial phenomenon to go out and see with the naked eye. These all can be seen from earth. Really neat.


VAUSE: How often does something like this happen? [01:45:10] OLIVAS: Oh, well, phenomena happens at all different

points of time. I don't know when the next time this will happen. I will make sure I will be up to go watch that.

VAUSE: This is one of the things too, where people, I guess, do sort of weird things when they see stuff in the sky?


OLIVAS: I won't be doing weird things. Maybe getting ready to go to work.

VAUSE: OK. Danny Olivas, thank you for coming in. We appreciate you sharing some of your expertise and talking to us about the global warming. We kind of joked about it. It is a serious problem. A lot of people trying to deal with right now.

One last question, quickly, before you go. What do you say to people, the planet is actually not getting warmer, warming stopped a couple years ago?

OLIVAS: Well, you have to look at the data. It's hard to argue with the data. Clearly, we're seeing an increasing trend. You know, 2016 will show us what the numbers are. And I think all indications are we are headed in that same direction.

VAUSE: Two degrees Celsius point that we have to be careful of.

OLIVAS: Exactly. And we're about halfway there.

VAUSE: Thanks, Danny. Appreciate you being with us.

OLIVAS: Absolutely.

VAUSE: OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, Sarah Palin and her sayings are back in the national spotlight as she stumps for Trump. We'll take a look at her latest Palinisms, with our very own Palintologist, when we come back.




[01:50:16] VAUSE: It has been many years since we have seen this much Sarah Palin on the lame-stream media, as she likes to say. Her endorsement of Donald Trump has put her center stage just like it's 2008 all over again. It is no exaggeration to say the former governor of Alaska has developed an unusual turn of phrase over the years.

Craig Tomashoff is the author of "Can't-Idates: Running for President when Nobody Knows Your Name." He joins me to talk more about the message and the appeal of Palinspeak.

Craig, it's fair to say no one in U.S. politics delivers a speech like Sarah Palin.

CRAIG TOMASHOFF, AUTHOR: That is very true.

VAUSE: Let's take a look. We'll start with a golden oldie.


SARAH PALIN, (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR & FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're telling us we need to just chill. And I say, they're stomping on our neck and they're telling us just chill? No, we won't chill. In fact, it's time to drill, baby, drill down on what's going on and hold them accountable.



VAUSE: OK, drill, baby, drill. We have heard that one before. So what else is she mixing in here? What is she talking about?

TOMASHOFF: I don't know. I think somewhere in her head it made sense before it came out. Watching her, sort of the wedding toast gone wrong. Where somebody has a really good idea of something to say, they start talking, you have no idea what they're referring to. They just have the one little phrase she has got to get in.

VAUSE: Another phrase, another memorable moment which came from the Tuesday night endorsement, she started talking about opium.


PALIN: Power. When he is in D.C., it's not going to come off of OPM, being high off OPM, other people's money. That OPM that other dopes in Washington sure get high off, because they take it from you and then they distribute that other people's money. That's not Trump.


VAUSE: I thought she came close to saying opium for the people -- Karl Marx about religion -- but she kind of thought it out. But, again, this is central to her message that Barack Obama, the Democrat, says they're the big spenders, whereas, Donald Trump doesn't need your money and won't spend it.

TOMASHOFF: The OPM thing just sort of -- everything she said sort of threw me because like -- she looks like she was sort of on something anyway. Then start making a drug reference in a conservative world, seems sort of out of step.

VAUSE: I don't think she --


TOMASHOFF: She may not know what OPM was, metaphorically.

VAUSE: A new line she tested on the campaign trail in Oklahoma today, about not being red enough.


PALIN: Now it is funny to be here in Oklahoma. Here, the land of red dirt, you know with your red bud trees --


PALIN: -- and here we got a redhead from the big red apple running for president. And, yet, the GOP machine, all of a sudden, they're saying, we're not red enough. We're not conservative enough.


VAUSE: Who is the redhead? Is it Trump she is referring to?

TOMASHOFF: I thought it was Kool-Ade man, for a little while. I couldn't tell. Again, I assume that's what she was referring to him as. We don't quite know the hair color.

VAUSE: It's more orange than red.

TOMASHOFF: It's orange skin. So I don't know if she said orange --


VAUSE: Blond and orange skin. Not quite red.

TOMASHOFF: It's an interesting thing for her to draw attention to, rather than politics and talking about --


VAUSE: OK, of course, one of the favorite themes of Sarah Palin, going back to 2008, about Barack Obama, is that he is weak, that he is a weak leader. And she managed to mix in a little current news with this zinger to the crowd.


PALIN: What the enemy was doing was sending a message to the rest of the world. That message they tried to send was that, oh, they will capture, and America will kowtow, and America will apologize. And then in the deal we will bend over and then say thank you.


VAUSE: This is the kind of stuff that the Tea Party, ultraconservatives, they eat this up. It's like Obama is weak, people are taking advantage of the United States. And she is sort of -- you know, a lot of mixed imagery going on here, right?

TOMASHOFF: She is somebody who has given up politics for entertainment. I don't think she sees herself as a politician. She sees herself as an entertainer. Watching her doing that, it was watching a comedian you have seen too many times. They have five bits. They don't have anything else you like. They fall back on the old bits. They try to force it into whatever, telling jokes about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Doesn't apply anymore. She doesn't quite know that.

[01:55:07] VAUSE: The other thing, just in general, watching the endorsement on Tuesday, I thought that this was the first time that Donald Trump lost control of the message. For 37 minutes, he was not controlling the message coming from his campaign.

TOMASHOFF: That was actually my favorite part of the whole thing. I was trying to picture the thought bubble going on in his head. Was he planning what he was going to have for dinner? Was he planning how quickly he dumps her after Iowa? And then her thumbing through notes? How is that written? What was she looking at? Did it sound in her head like it sounded to the rest of us watching it? I did not see the connection.

VAUSE: A good point. You know, people, part of the speech, riled up a lot of people, maybe not the reception Donald Trump received, certainly.

TOMASHOFF: Like watching "Celebrity Apprentice."

VAUSE: Got the attention.

Craig, thank you for being with us.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I am John Vause. Please stay with us.

For our viewers in North America, "Amanpour" is up next.

And for everyone else, the news continues with Rosemary Church and Errol Barnett right after this.


[02:00:09] ERROL BARNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Europe's leaders taking measures to deal with the migrant crisis.