Return to Transcripts main page


Winter Storm Heads to New England; Pope's Reign Winding Down; White House Drafts Immigration Legislation; Controversy Over Dead Model's TV Show

Aired February 17, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul, in for Randi Kaye. Seven o'clock on the East Coast and 4:00 on the West.

Are you up early or just getting to bed? Either way, we're glad for your company. Thanks for starting your morning with us here.

I want to begin with this weather, again, another round of severe stuff in the Northeast, just a week after last weekend's monster blizzard.

I want to bring in CNN weather center meteorologist Samantha Mohr.

So, let's talk about exactly where they're going to see more snow and how much is the accumulation going to be?

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, much like last week, it's going to be on the same spots in New England, across the Northeast, but not like last weekend. Not as much snow, but we will see blowing snow and it is a mess across much of New England this morning, and even down in the Carolinas, because we saw the low move through here yesterday and we ended up seeing some thunder snow across here.

Now, that has ended but we are concerned about the moisture on the ground, the subfreezing temperatures, black ice possible. Watch those overpasses. Watch the bridges. They'll most likely be frozen this morning as you head out, and it could be very slick and black ice is very hard to see. That's why it's called black ice. So, be careful out there across the Carolinas this morning. That advisory is in effect until 10:00 a.m.

Now, our eyes turn to New England where the heavy snow is coming down as we speak from eastern Long Island on up into down east Maine. We're going to continue to see the heavy snow and the blowing snow today.

So, we're expecting to see the snow pile up in Plymouth and five to nine inches expected. Boston a half foot or snow and then that heavy snow extending to Maine. So, because of that, winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings here and then on up the coast, we're talking about blizzard warnings. So, that means limited visibility, less than a quarter of a mile. So, basically, down to zero in some spots.

And the problem, the culprit, these gusty winds caused by that deepening area of low pressure. So, we're going to continue to see those gusts to 50 miles per hour through tonight and still tomorrow morning on the gusty side on Monday morning, Presidents Day morning, around 35 miles per hour in Boston.

So, look at the wind chill factors here in the single digits and down below in some of these spots. Boston currently at 5 degrees. So, bundle up there.

And it's not just the Northeast. Check out Florida. These are the current wind chill factors. It feels like 23 in Jacksonville, 25 in Ocala and even down in the southern tip of Florida right now. It is close to freezing here and Ft. Pierce at 44 degrees, Christi.

So, put away the bikinis and layer it up in south Florida today.

PAUL: Yes, at least for the time being. Hey, Sam, so good to see you. Thank you.

MOHR: Good to see you, too.

PAUL: That snow already causing trouble in Detroit.

By the way, we want to show you some pictures we're getting out. There was this blinding whiteout that led to this massive pileup that was in the major free way here now. The good thing is, no immediate reports of fatalities, but we know at least 44 vehicles collided. This is on Interstate 75.

Heavy snow squalls closed stretches of I-94 and other roads, as well. And listen to this couple, they were caught in the middle of this I-75 smash up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just like somebody suddenly threw a white sheet across the windshield and we couldn't see anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More cars you could hear them smashing into each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can everybody behind us, just one after another banging.


PAUL: As Sam talked about the Northeast, but little further south in North Carolina, the snow has stopped falling, we know, for the most part and there is the threat as she mentioned of the black ice. Snow blanketed areas like Fayetteville yesterday and you know how quickly it was coming down. Look at this, it made for a pretty slushy drive around town.

This morning, the state is seeing 91 of its counties -- 91 -- under a weather alert. Some churches are cancelling or delaying services, as well, too. So, do be careful out there.

All right. Let's get you to Vatican City and Pope Benedict's farewell tour. He resided the Angelus from St. Peter Square this morning. And in it, he thanked the faithful for their prayers and called for prayers for the next pope, as well. This is one of the last public appearances he's going to make.

On the other end, though, it's audition day for some of his possible successors. So, the end maybe of his reign and beginning of another, speaking to congregations around the globe today.

And right now, from Rome, CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman.

Let's start with Pope Benedict, again, Ben. How is he going to spend his last 11 days as pope?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that once he's done with this Angelus mass, he's going to be going into a Lenten retreat for a week. This is one of the normal rituals of the Lenten period that leads to, of course, Easter. And during that time, he will be in this retreat when prayer and contemplation with other leading bishops and cardinals.

Now, it's important to keep in mind that the election for the pope is not like the election in most places. It's a very solemn affair and the cardinals, the bishops, they talk about the qualities they would like to see in a pope. But it's very bad taste for anybody to actually campaign actively. Usually, they leave it up to others to do so.

So, that's going to be, obviously, one of the topics during this Lenten retreat. The pope after that will resume his normal activities. He'll be, for instance, next Saturday meeting with the Italian president and, of course, a week from now will be his last mass.

Now, today, we saw a very large crowd in St. Peter's Square. We are expecting an even larger crowd next Sunday when people will really have their last opportunity to say good-bye to Pope Benedict before he resigns on the 28th of February -- Christi.

PAUL: You know, you mentioned the next pope and the qualities that they're going to be looking for. What specifically is at the top of the list for the next pope, in terms of what is on the wish list?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, on the wish list would be probably to get the church back to the business of faith and to put behind it many of these scandals that have really been a headache not only for this pope, but Pope John Paul II, as well. The question of the pedophile scandals, the ongoing financial problems or complications or scandals of the Vatican Bank, which had a new president appointed on this last Friday.

Obviously, there's a lot of talk about the changing nature of the Catholic Church. Today, only one in four Catholics lives in Europe. Most live in North America, South America, Asia and Africa. So, really, it's going to be a time for the church to redefine itself looking towards those areas where its numbers are growing -- Christi.

PAUL: It's going to be interesting to see if they choose a pope that is European or perhaps of another heritage.

Thank you so much, Ben Wedeman. We appreciate you bringing us the latest from Rome there.

And coming up in our 8:00 hour, by the way, we'll look at the intrigue and the secrecy in the church, as well as Hollywood's obsession with the Vatican.

So, I want to get you to Washington now. Take a look at this live picture of one beautiful sunrise. Good morning to all of you waking up in that in D.C.

And you know what else folks are waking up to? A first draft of the president's immigration plan. "USA Today" reporting that the draft sent to several federal agencies includes an eight-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

We understand there's also increases in border security and an expansion of the E-verify system in this draft. In the Senate, the so-called "Group of Eight" are working toward concrete legislation on immigration. So, White House spokesman said the president's plan is a way forward, if Congress fails to act.

OK, to South Africa now where people aren't sure of what to make of this new reality show featuring the slain girlfriend of Olympian Oscar Pistorius. The show did make its debut last night as Pistorius, of course, sits in jail waiting for his bond hearing on Tuesday.

CNN's Errol Barnett is in Johannesburg with more.


ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Listen to the first words South Africans heard from Reeva Steenkamp after her death at the home of her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius.

REEVA STEENKAMP, MODEL: You fall in love being in love with love.

BARNETT: This is how her lighthearted reality show "Tropika Island of Treasure 5" began on Saturday. Airing on SABC1, it quickly became a topic of debate.

Prosecutors plan to charge Pistorius with premeditated murder in Steenkamp's death, something he strongly rejects. He goes back to court Tuesday. But with so few facts available on what happened, with her death occurring only a few days ago, critics say the decision to air her show is opportunistic.

Samantha Moon, the show's creator explained her decision in this statement to CNN, quote, "Reeva was an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman and we feel it would be an injustice to keep that unknown from those who didn't know her personally."

Reaction is mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to make money out of it and it's just too much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It gives people a good memory of her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I was a producer of the reality show itself, I would think business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the decision is maybe a bit inappropriate considering that the tragic outcome of what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a tribute to her life. I mean, you are keeping her spirit going.

BARNETT: Producers also included this clip of Steenkamp, which appears to be taken from her goodbye message to the cast.

STEENKAMP: I take home with me so many amazing memories and things that are in here and that are in here, that I'll treasure forever. I'm going to miss you all so much. I love very, very much.

BARNETT (on camera): Now, it may be strange for South Africans to watch someone they know is dead. Still, the program will continue to air weekly for nine more episodes. But, of course, the fate of the "Blade Runner" is much more uncertain.

Errol Barnett, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.


PAUL: Isn't that just bizarre timing?

Have you heard about this yet? The parents of a toddler who say a 60-year-old man slapped their son on a Delta flight are speaking out now. Hear what they think should be done to him.


PAUL: All right. We know flying with a toddler can be challenging, right, for the parents of the toddler and everybody else on the plane. But listen to this, one Minnesota mom and her son faced an ordeal that no traveler should have to confront. A man sitting next to them allegedly slapped the young boy.

Dave Berggren with our affiliate KARE fills us in here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sing twinkle, twinkle.

DAVE BERGGREN, KARE REPORTER (voice-over): Jonah Bennett is a smart and smiley 19-month-old.

But it's what happened on a Delta flight that has Jonah's parents doing anything but smiling.

JESSICA BENNETT, MOTHER: He hit a child. And he said what he said. And that it's disgusting.

BERGGREN: Jessica Bennett and her son were flying to Atlanta and sat next to this man, 60-year-old Joe Hundley of Idaho.

BENNETT: He was being rude and belligerent, and just felt very uncomfortable.

BERGGREN: She said Hundley wreaked of alcohol and continued to drink on board. But as the plane began to descend, Jonah got fussy, and the already uncomfortable flight got worse.

BENNETT: I was having trouble comforting him and that's when the guy had made his comment to me.

BERGGREN: As court documents state, this is when Hundley allegedly told Jessica to, quote, "Shut that N-word baby up."

But it didn't end there. Hundley used the racial slur a second time and then allegedly slapped Jonah, hitting him in the eye.

BENNETT: I could not believe that he would say something like that and to a baby or about a baby and then to hit him was just -- I felt like I was in another world. I was shaking.

BERGGREN: Jessica said other passengers eventually came to her aid and the two were given a new seat. But while Jonah is back to being a curious toddler, his parents call his actions heinous and hateful and want something to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the evidence is sufficient enough to support what we're saying and I think that we hope he's punished as much as he possibly can be.

BERGGREN: It's an experience the Bennetts never want to go through, again. But one this family will think about next time they fly.

BENNETT: I think I'll replay it the whole time. Very traumatic.


PAUL: I know you're watching that and we were talking here about what we'd do. I would be very honest with you, I would have the tendency to want to hit him back.

Dave Berggren from our affiliate KARE with that report there. Joe Hundley, by the way, has since been suspended from his job, pending an investigation and his attorney says, quote, "We want the case to move along as it is supposed to. We hope it will resolve itself."

All right, let's get you to Florida. The great python challenge is over. That was the state-sponsored hunt for Burmese python remember, an invasive snake species to the snake. Oh, look at that thing.

The search yielded 68 dead pythons out of 100,000 estimated to live in the Everglades. The longest of the giant snakes, 14 feet 3 inches, netted the hunter a prize of $1,000. Looking there like maybe some new shoes, I don't know.

His empire is worth an estimated $80 million. He's only 29. We caught up with the fashion phenom Alexander Wang to see what is behind his appeal.


PAUL: So, get this. He started his own fashion line at the age of 20. Today, his brand is worth an estimated $80 million. Alexander Wang has secured a really coveted place in fashion. CNN's Alina Cho looks at what makes him stand out.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baby-faced and adorable, Alexander Wang is something of a phenom. The creative force behind his own brand, and the new creative director of European fashion house Balenciaga, a coveted job that when he landed it sent shock waves through the industry.

(on camera): You're 29.

ALEXANDER WANG, FASHION DESIGNER: You know, if I'm not digging now, I'm not going to do it at any other point. So --

CHO (voice-over): Wang started his label at age 20.

A. WANG: Hi. Nice to meet you.

CHO: With the idea of creating a modern dressed down uniform. He even coined the phrase to describe it "model off duty."

(on camera): Who is the Alex Wang girl?

A. WANG: You know, it's always this idea of elevating the everyday.

CHO (voice-over): Wang's business is now worth an estimated $80 million, with 15 stores worldwide and a new collaboration with Samsung.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, DESIGNER: I think he's definitely talented but many people are talented. He has a clarity.

CHO (on camera): You basically came out of the womb wanting to be a fashion designer, didn't you?

A. WANG: I mean, not right out of the womb. But --

CHO (voice-over): Well, close. YING WANG, ALEXANDER WANG'S MOTHER: Since he was four. Yes. He hold a "Vogue" magazine at the time. I said that's not for the, you know, little boy to read. He said, mom, that's going to be my future business.

CHO: Part of his appeal is that Wang doesn't take it all so seriously. Just look at his new ad featuring Bon Kweekwee, one of his favorite characters from Mad TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get me the right size, please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to go in the basement. They got like 300 shoes down there. I'm going to get lost. No, girl, this is going to work.

CHO (on camera): From a grand stand point, I mean, you know, is that part of connecting with your girl, too?

A. WANG: It is because I think to a certain extent, why can't it?

CHO (voice-over): On the runway in New York, Wang put on a show rivaling the collections in Paris, clothes that fashion insiders say could hint at what's to come at Balenciaga.

(on camera): Are you practicing your French?

A. WANG: I am practicing my French. I have my Rosetta Stone installed and you know, ready to go.

CHO (voice-over): To all the critics who say he's too young and too commercial for an old fashioned house like Balenciaga --

A. WANG: Opposition pushes me and it challenges me and, you know, hopefully they enjoy the collection.

CHO: Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Impressive. Interesting to see where he goes.

Fighter jets scramble, not one, but two planes enter restricted airspace over where President Obama is vacationing. We have details for you next.

But, first, I want to check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a look at what's coming up on "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." at the bottom of the hour.

Good morning, Sanjay.


R. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, is your food worth dying for? The place called the Heart Attack Grill prides itself on the quadruple bypass burger and flatliner fries. No joke. But are they responsible when someone dies?

Also everyone's favorite bigger loser. I love this lady. Jillian Michaels, she's going to stop by to talk about how to lose weight the healthy way.

All that is coming up, "SGMD" at 7:30 Eastern.



PAUL: Military fighter jets chased down two planes near the Florida resort where President Obama is staying.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little plane and 2 F-16s up in the air.


PAUL: The Secret Service and FAA are looking into why a Cessna 152 violated flight restrictions. This was around noon yesterday. Five hours later, fighter jets accompanied a smaller, two-seater aircraft to its destination. The president is taking some R&R this weekend, hitting the fairways in Palm City, while the first lady and her daughters hit the slopes in Colorado.

In Russia, they're cleaning up the damage done by the exploding meteor, but they now they have to prepare for another explosion. We're talking to tourism boom. Meteorite hunters -- yes, they exist -- are already booking trips to see what's s left after the once in a lifetime event. And people in the region can also make money off the space debris. Meteorite prices vary, but a recent check found one for sale for more than $3,000 and that piece weighed less than an ounce. The 3 grand, by the way, is about four times what a doctor makes in that region of Russia, just to give you some perspective.

The crippled cruise ship Triumph continues to run on emergency power right now as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard begin their investigation. Right now, some officials estimate it could take up to a year. Meanwhile, those investigators will not be alone onboard. Carnival dispatched a crew to help clean up the mess that included all that raw sewage we heard about.

You know that this ship, Triumph, back after being stranded at sea couldn't escape "Saturday Night Live" poking some fun at their experience. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, welcome back. Welcome pack to the fiesta ballroom here on the Carnival ship Triumph, OK? I'm your cruise director Dean and this is assistant director, Diana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I say? For people who have not showered in four days, you guys look great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you do. Just because we're stuck in the middle of the ocean with no working toilets doesn't mean we can't have some fun, all right? But, first, a tiny update.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, now as we informed you yesterday, a tug boat is pulling us back to shore, which is great news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure is, yes, but a slight snag, the tow line broke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking of headlines, one of the helicopters flying above us dropped down a couple papers, so we thought we'd catch you up on what you missed this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, there is a God. There is a God. He has not abandoned us, OK?

All right. Let's see what's in the news. The pope resigned. Oh, Lord.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, here's something fun. North Korea successfully launched a nuclear -- nope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go, here we go. I got one. Hey, you guys remember Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic sprinter who ran on blades?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazing story. So uplifting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Well, it says here that, nope, nope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Hey, this is interesting. OK, you guys think you might have it bad, but do you have it worse than 4,000 stranded on nightmare cruise. That is about us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's us, yes.


PAUL: They are so creative. I'm going to see you back here at the top of the hour 8:00 Eastern. Up next, food worth dying for?

"SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." starts right now.