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Aftermatch of Major Snow Strom; California Prison Escape; Officials: Fight Staged To Distract Guards, Escape; Paris Terrorists Featured In Propaganda Clip; McDonald's Sales Soar Thanks To All-Day Breakfast; Judge Denies Order To Stop Detroit Teacher "Sick-Outs". Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 25, 2016 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

More on the national lead.

Let's show you some stunning video. It really illustrates how dangerous blizzard 2016 was and continues to be. Look at this. The weight of the snow here piled high on top of a church caused the roof to collapse. Only outside walls are still standing. Luckily, no one was inside the church at the time, but this is just one of many scenes like it throughout the U.S. today.

We're checking conditions in the major cities and airports.

We're going to start with CNN's Boris Sanchez in New York City.

Boris, the snow totals there are similar to D.C. and Philly, and yet those cities are still near a standstill in many places, New York City up and running.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Up and running, Jake. It seems like a regular day in the city. The halal food is cooking. Tourists are moving around.

But they are dealing with a lot of snow. I want to show you something. This public safety officer has been helping people cross this nasty puddle of melted snow here, a thankless job. But it's what people are dealing with today, a lot of slush out on the street. It's really nasty out.


Other than that, for the most part, things are returning to normal. Traffic is moving along. Obviously, there's the concern that a lot of this slush is going to melt overnight, as temperatures get back closer to freezing.

In terms of the commute, the Long Island Railroad, one of the longest commuter lines in the country, was delayed in opening this morning. Part of that is that the lines were clean, but some of the ice froze that was cleaned overnight. And so they were operating at about 80 percent capacity at last check. They're almost back to normal now.

So, as we watch this gentleman escort ladies over that puddle, we are going to go to Rene Marsh. She's in Washington, D.C., keeping an eye on air traffic there -- Rene.


Well, Boris, if you're flying out of New York City, if you're flying out of Washington, D.C., air travel is up and running, but it is slow- going. Passengers are still dealing with a massive number of cancellations and delays, more than 1,600 cancellations today alone, more than 400 slated for tomorrow.

Now, I have been speaking with the airlines, and they say that the majority of the passengers have been rebooked on brand-new flights. However, it could take the rest of the week before they get everyone to their destination, Jake.

TAPPER: Rene Marsh and Boris Sanchez, thanks to both of you.

We're just getting word right now that the death toll has gone up to 31, bad news when it comes to the storm.

Christopher Geldart, he is head of D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. He joins us by the phone.

Thanks for joining us again.

So, D.C. got less snow than New York City, but that city seems to be up and running. The subways are running. School is in session. Why is that city able to recover more quickly?

CHRISTOPHER GELDART, DIRECTOR, D.C. HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Jake, look, New York has a different subway system than we do. And, you know, they're just apples and oranges between the two cities, topography and everything else.

So, we're doing what we're doing here in D.C. We have got our crews focused. We have got the public safety in mind and we're keeping focused on what we're doing here.

TAPPER: Because I had to come here to the CNN D.C. bureau over the weekend to anchor, I was out and about a few times in the middle of the snowfall. I didn't see a huge number of plows or salt trucks.

Maybe I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but did you deploy everything you needed to get out there?

GELDART: Oh, yes, we deployed throughout the entire event all of the resources that we had on hand at the time, all of our traditional resources, plus some additional contract plows, and national highway system plows.

We were out there throughout the storm keeping the roads as passable as possible for our emergency services and trying to reduce the volume along with that.

TAPPER: Are you satisfied with the response to the blizzard? Is there anything that could be done better next time?

GELDART: You know, honestly, we are out there. We're working with our crews. The public is chipping in and shoveling their walks and their sidewalks. And, you know, 24 inches of snow, we're in recovery mode right now, a response mode, recovery mode, just a lot of volume and a lot of things to pick up.

TAPPER: So, a lot of people, I see, walking in the middle of these icy streets because the sidewalks haven't been cleared and drivers are trying to avoid hitting them, drivers, meanwhile, still not able to see around snow mounds blocking their view at intersections.

When can we expect that the streets for pedestrians and for drivers will be at safer levels?

GELDART: You know, I just drove through the city myself, and all of our major arterials, all of the major routes, like 14th Street, 16th Street, 395-295 -- that's separate from what we're talking about, but all of our major arterials, mostly down to the pavement, wet.

When it comes to the sidewalks, we're relying on our businesses that have those sidewalks in front of them to clean them. That's our law, and residents to clean the sidewalks in front of their house.

You know, again, we have asked folks as well when they're shoveling to take their time, and make sure they're drinking plenty of water, and don't go above the level as which they can as they're shoveling, so, again, a lot of volume. We want to make sure people are safe.

But we do want the pedestrians off the road, but we need to get those sidewalks clear as well.

TAPPER: All right, best of luck with the rest of the snow-clearing.

Appreciate it, Christopher Geldart. Thank you.

GELDART: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: In our world lead, ISIS bragging about its deadly attack in Paris, as the group issues a new warning for another one of the world's superpowers.

But, first, three dangerous inmates now on the run after a daring jailbreak -- the unbelievable way they escaped coming up.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

These three dangerous and possibly armed criminals made a dramatic escape from a maximum security jail in California over the weekend. The Orange County sheriff says they cut through steel bars, then made their way through plumbing tunnels to get to the roof. Then they climbed down five stories using a makeshift rope.

Since disappearing last Friday, these three inmates, one of whom has a previous homicide conviction and is accused of castrating a man, the others, two, have reported Vietnamese gang ties, authorities do not seem to have any idea where the three are.

Let's now bring in CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles.

Paul, how similar is this case to the two convicted murderers who escaped from the state prison in New York last summer?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's similar in this. It was very elaborate. It involved crawling and hacking through metal and somehow getting ahold of equipment that would allow them to cut this metal.

It's different in these ways. Basically, there was a fight staged that delayed the head count at this jail, which gave these inmates some lead time, a chance to get away. It's similar because these are all very dangerous inmates, but the concern is, especially with the two Vietnamese gang members, alleged, that they would just sort of blend into the community.

And, unlike Upstate New York, where it's rural and you have rivers and wide open spaces, we've got a major urban area and that's their concern. Let's listen.


LT. DAVID SAWYER, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF: We feel that they may be embedded somewhere in the community, and that's why we're reaching out to the community and letting them know, we understand that you're in danger. We understand that you're fearful.

We understand that you may be fearful about coming forward with information about where these individuals are located. We're telling the community it's an obligation for you to come out and let us know.

We can keep you anonymous if you want to remain anonymous, but we need the information to help us go forward to find these people.


VERCAMMEN: There's a $50,000 reward out there. Witnesses and victims have been warned by law enforcement and here's why. Let's take a look at these individual rap sheets. They are absolutely staggering.

Jake, you alluded to the first of these men, Nayeri (ph), he is considered absolutely sadistic among his many charges, kidnapping and torture, and aggravated mayhem.

The second, the man in the middle is the youngest. He is 20 years old, went into the system when he was 15. He is an accused murderer.

Then you have Bac Tien Duong (ph), the last man, attempted murder, assault with deadly weapon, avoiding arrest and on and on and on.

They are warning people in the public if they have any sight of these men, they are to call the authorities immediately and of course not try to confront them because they are considered armed at this point and they are clearly extremely dangerous -- Jake.

TAPPER: Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. Let's turn to our World Lead now. ISIS terrorists releasing a new propaganda video purporting to show the final messages of the Paris attackers.

One hundred thirty people were killed during the deadly rampage that rocked the city of light in November. The 17-minute video concludes with an ominous terror warning to another European superpower, the U.K.

Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Barbara, does this propaganda video reveal anything useful to intelligence authorities?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does certainly reveal some concerns, of course, because of that implication of a threat to the United Kingdom, to Britain, additional threats to France.

This video, however, propaganda to say the least, it is so brutal, so sadistic that, of course, there is much of it we simply cannot show, it is too violent.

Several of the Paris attackers shown in this very slickly produced video. Several men we don't know who they are shown murdered by them.

Another effort by ISIS leadership to show they have strength, power, the ability to kill, the ability to intimidate and the ability now that this video is out to issue threats literally from beyond the grave -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara, is there any mention in this video or any appearance of the eighth terrorist from Paris, (inaudible), who survived, fled France and is still wanted and on the run?

STARR: Well, interestingly no. There appears to be an audio message attributed to him potentially, but we don't really see him. Why is the question, I'm not sure there's a really good answer to that just yet by the U.S. intelligence community and the French security services.

Now that his face is known and he's on the run he's a very limited value to ISIS that may be one reason. There's another interesting tidbit. There is someone in the video who is blurred.

That is not something ISIS typically does in these videos. Who could that person be? Could it be another operative not ready yet to show his face -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's chilling. Barbara, you're also getting some new details about the U.S. potentially expanding operations in Libya where ISIS has been gaining a greater foothold?

STARR: You know, General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has just returned from Paris talking to his military French counterparts about ISIS since the Paris attacks. The French had been very active.

General Dunford telling a small group of reporters on that trip that the U.S. and the allies, including France, are now looking towards what he's calling decisive military action against ISIS inside Libya.

There is growing concern by the day that ISIS is really opening up a third front in Libya, leaving Syria, leaving Iraq because of the air strikes there, moving to Libya, setting up shop there.

Potentially going after Libya's oil resources for cash, a new flow of cash, so the allies, led by the United States, clearly looking at some new options for new action against ISIS in Libya -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon for us. Thanks so much.

Thousands of children forced to stay home from school, teachers refusing to do their jobs due to disgusting conditions in the classrooms like black mold and buckling floors. When will this end? We'll go there next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our Money Lead now, it turns out that all day hash browns haven't been a life saver for hangovers everywhere, they're also bringing McDonald's back to life.

The fastfood giant's fourth quarter revenues and earnings easily topped analysts' predictions with a nearly 6 percent jump in same- store sales in the U.S.

McDonald's CEO is saying all-day breakfast coupled with mild weather are behind the company's turn-around. The golden arches are now outperforming rivals like Burger King and Wendy's.

In our National Lead, Michigan's top prosecutor warns water in Flint is so toxic, so unsafe, parents should keep their children away from it. They're being told not to bathe their children in it.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also announced today a former prosecutor and retired FBI investigator will lead an independent investigation into determine just what went wrong in Flint.

This could only be the beginning of the problem for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who has been blaming the EPA for causing the water crisis.

[16:55:10] CNN now obtained documents showing that the governor's office actually knew about the potential problem at least two years before providing toxic water to people in Flint. Back in 2012, Flint's emergency manager warned against using the contaminated Flint River as a water resource after consulting with the EPA.

But the governor's office dismissed that warning as first reported by "The Daily Beast" and gave the green light to providing lead-laced water to 100,000 people in Flint.

Another serious problem continuing to brew in a different Michigan city today, in Detroit. Teachers have been calling in sick and skipping school on occasion, attempting to bring national attention to deplorable conditions in their schools.

Such as black mold or even mushrooms growing in classrooms and a broken heating system while students are sitting in freezing and sometimes rodent-infested classrooms.

Today a court ruling was issued today siding with the teachers, legally allowing more sickouts, but are these protests helping or potentially even harming innocent students?

Let's bring in Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Thanks so much for joining me, Randi. You toured two public schools in Detroit a couple of weeks ago. What did you see?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So the conditions are deplorable, Jake. I've frankly never seen conditions like this before and I taught in New York City in the 1990s where we had atrocious conditions, where we had to scavenge for chalk.

But in one of the schools I was in, it's not just buckling floors, it's not just black mold, it's not just that you can't breathe, it's not that you have windows open when it's 15 degrees outside because it's either too hot or there's no heat whatsoever.

It's what signal it's sending to kids, that they don't matter. And frankly, we toured with a CNN crew. I have asthma and my asthma was worse that day because of what we were breathing in.

A technology school where they don't have the internet. So the conditions are terrible. And frankly, what teachers have been trying to do is they have been trying to say to people pay attention to this.

And the governor and the emergency manager who was the emergency manager in Flint just ignored and ignored and ignored, and out of frustration they have done some of these actions to get the attention to these schools.

TAPPER: You visit schools all over the country.


TAPPER: Some of them are pretty horrific. How does this compare to other places in the United States where the schools are in horrible condition? WEINGARTEN: I would say that Detroit is the worst and this is a city that is on the rise again. You go to downtown Detroit, you see the city on the rise again, and yet the schools are deplorable. They have been under state control for 15 out of 17 years when the state took over there was a surplus. Now scores are down and the debt is up.

TAPPER: So the Detroit School District filed an injunction to basically ban the sickouts. A judge denied the request. I understand that the orchestrated sickouts aim to bring attention to this, but talk about those who are worried that this actually hurts kids, because those are days that kids aren't learning.

WEINGARTEN: Look, today everybody is back in school except for the 28 teachers that the Detroit public schools sued and had to be in court today, so that school was closed.

Teachers who, by the way, many of whom had never done any kind of sickout, one of whom because they wrote something in the newspaper, they were sued. One of whom has been on FMLA because of cancer issues.

But to your point, Jake, our teachers want to be in school. You know, they want to shine the spotlight on these conditions. But if you've tried to shine it in every which way and you've been totally ignored, you totally understand the frustration.

Teachers want to teach. But remember, these folks as well for the last ten years hasn't had a raise. There are 200 vacancies, and this is after these teachers have given over a 10 percent pay cut about ten years ago to try to save Detroit.

What they're doing is they're trying to bring attention to the deplorable conditions in schools so that kids can learn.

TAPPER: Well, they have brought the attention. What now?

WEINGARTEN: So what now is that we are actually continuing to do the advocacy with the governor, with the emergency manager, with anybody who we can talk to, to say fix these conditions --

TAPPER: All right.

WEINGARTEN: -- and if we can't get that done, we'll do other things as well.

TAPPER: Randi Weingarten, thank you so much for your time. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.