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NSA Leaker Departs Hong Kong; Two Killed in Stunt Plane Crash; More Rain in Calgary's Forecast; Zimmerman Judge: No 911 Audio Experts; Questioning "God's Will"
Aired June 23, 2013 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 8:00.
And we begin with breaking news on Edward Snowden. The NSA leaker is on the move for the first time since the NSA story broke. Snowden is on a plane for Russia and should arrive shortly.
But that's supposedly just a stopover. There are now reports he could then be headed to Iceland, Ecuador, Cuba, or Venezuela.
CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is live in Hong Kong. Nic, how did he get away?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite simply, the Hong Kong authorities say they didn't have enough information from the United States to issue a provisional arrest warrant as was requested, and because there wasn't an arrest warrant, he wasn't on an international watch list, meaning he could leave the country, cross the borders, and he was able therefore legally and freely to leave.
He got on a commercial aircraft right about lunchtime, Hong Kong time today, and that was the reason. That's shocking for one legal expert we talked to today who's followed the case closely. He said the legal justification here would be that Edward Snowden was wanted for prosecution in the United States and that he was in Hong Kong. This lawyer said, well, obviously, both of those were valid, and he's wondering why the Hong Kong authorities actually allowed this to happen, which seems to have happened, Alison.
KOSIK: We're now getting word, Nic, that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, that he's about to enter a statement. Tell us about his involvement with Edward Snowden.
ROBERSTON: Julian Assange has helped the Edward Snowden case from the beginning, giving him verbal support, but we now know -- giving him legal support and financial support. We know in the last few days now that one of Julian Assange's business associates with WikiLeaks in Iceland has organized, or said at least it organized $500,000 to fly Snowden on a private charter jet from Hong Kong all the way to Iceland, depending on Icelandic authorities.
That obviously hasn't happened, but it's an indication of the depth of support that Julian Assange is giving to Snowden, and Assange's position on this is that Snowden is doing the right thing for people by breaking out all this information, and it's very much in keeping with Assange's own philosophy of greater free many dos o freedoms on the internet and greater information for people.
And for him, Snowden, essentially, is somebody who should be supported -- Alison.
KOSIK: OK. Nic Robertson, thank you.
And we are just getting this WikiLeaks statement in. It says, "Mr. Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by the U.S. intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks."
The statement goes on to say that Mr. Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal presence to assure his own security. Once he arrives, his request will be formally processed. Former Spanish Judge Garcon, director of WikiLeaks and lawyer for Julian Assange once again making this statement, saying that "WikiLeaks and I are interested in preserving Mr. Snowden's rights and protecting him as a person. What's being done to Mr. Snowden and to Mr. Julian Assange for making disclosures in the public interest is an assault against the people."
That is the WikiLeaks statement just now being released.
So, we just heard from Nic Robertson. I want to go to Moscow now and our Phil Black, who actually joins me on the phone at the airport, right?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): On our way there right now, Alison, yes.
KOSIK: Do you know if there's going to be extra security on hand there when Snowden lands in Moscow?
BLACK: Well, at this stage, we're not sure. We're not getting a lot of comment from the Russian government precisely about what they know, what their intentions are. They're aware of the media report that Snowden is inbound to the Russian capital at this moment, but they are not saying what they know about his intentions or how they will respond to them.
Throughout the story, if you like, since Snowden's identity and his role in releasing this information had become public, Russia had always been discussed as a possible country where Snowden could flee to, to try to remain beyond the reach of the United States, and throughout that time Russia has been noncommittal on just how it would respond to that possibility. It's always said that, in the event it receives formal asylum application from him, it would be considered on its merits, on its fact.
So not promising to help him practically in any way, but at the same time not ruling out it would assist him. KOSIK: So you're alluding to this, Phil, that this isn't the first time we've heard Russia mentioned in connection with Snowden. What are the chances he's staying there? Could the police there maybe detain him or try to talk to him when he's there?
BLACK: They could certainly in theory. There would be very little or nothing to stop them from doing so. I think it is just a question of whether or not they would be prepared to and deal with the consequences, the ramifications of those actions because if only to take advantage of his presence here in the country, spend time with him, to interview him more than to assist him in any specific way, there would undoubtedly be political fallout from that.
So, it's the question of whether or not Russia is willing to aggravate its relationship with the United States to some degree for the information they believe they would get from assisting Edward Snowden.
KOSIK: Phil Black in Moscow, thanks.
For more on what Snowden's departure from Hong Kong means for the U.S., I want to bring in White House correspondent Dan Lothian.
Dan, this certainly changes extradition plans. What happens now?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really does. It just complicates the whole situation. This is not what the White House had wanted. You know, this is a busy week for the president. He is headed overseas for an extended trip to Africa on Tuesday. He plans to be focusing on climate change.
And now, his administration has to deal with this diplomatic situation of trying to get Snowden back to the U.S. officials were fairly confident in their request to have Snowden extradited back to the U.S., and that request that was made to Hong Kong officials, they believe that, based on this agreement that the U.S. has with Hong Kong to surrender fugitive offenders, that he would have been returned.
Some very strong words from administration officials yesterday urging Hong Kong to essentially act quickly. A senior administration officials saying that if they don't act soon, it would complicate the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Hong Kong and it would raise questions about Hong Kong's commitment to the rule of law.
So, there were concerns already based on that statement from a senior administration official that Hong Kong perhaps was not willing to hand him over even though officials were expressing confidence. So unclear what the next move will be. Presumably, officials here waiting to find out exactly what that democratic nation, as a statement points out, will be that accepts Snowden.
KOSIK: OK. Dan Lothian at the White House, thanks.
Supporters of Snowden gave White House minority leader Nancy Pelosi a mouthful. She was speaking at a White House event yesterday when she mentioned Snowden and got this reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: As far as Snowden, he did -- and I may be in disagreement with you -- he did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents. We don't know --
PELOSI: I understand. I understand. I understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Pelosi with that Netroots nation. It's a gathering of liberal activists and bloggers. Now, before the comments you just heard, Pelosi actually got a standing ovation.
Now to other stories making news this morning:
In Dayton, Ohio, investigators are on their way to check out why a stunt plane took a sudden dive into the ground. Spectators at an air show were devastated when the biplane burst into flames.
KOSIK (voice-over): It's a stunt that veteran wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot have performed before.
UNIDENTIFIEID MALE: Watch this. Jane Wicker sitting on top of the world.
KOSIK: But this time something went terribly wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was coming right for us. I could see something was going wrong. I was almost ready to tell everybody to get out of the way.
KOSIK: Wicker and her pilot were in the middle of a maneuver when the plane suddenly plunged to the ground and exploded in flames. They both died. Spectators described what they saw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I seen was the plane rolled over and hit the ground. They were too close to the ground. There was no way they could make that turn. Just flipped straight over and hit the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to get my friend. Look at this plane. It's just so low. It looked like the plane started wobbling, and they just got way too low and just crashed.
KOSIK: The FAA will now try to determine what happened. Officials with the Dayton air show suspended the remaining performances as spectators remained in shock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrible. I never seen it happen before. We never expect to see something like that happen. It's awful. Just terrifies you.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KOSIK: And the air show will go on as planned today. Here are some pictures of Jane Wicker in action. She began her wing walker career on a whim back in 1990.
On her Web site, she talks about how her plane is meticulously maintained. In an interview last week, she admitted being nervous up there but believed that everything would be okay.
Tonight, daredevil Nik Wallenda will try to become the first man to tight rope walk across the Grand Canyon with no safety harness. Last summer, he crossed the Niagara Falls wearing a tether.
Wallenda is the great grandson of Karl Wallenda, a famous acrobat who plunged to his death. Four other families have died while performing. Wallenda says they're his inspiration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIK WALLENDA, ACTROBAT AND AERILIST: I've also trained very hard in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida, where we put up a cable that was 500 feet long but it was rigged identical to the way that it would be one rigged over the canyon. When you're walking at a height greater than the Empire State Building, it can play tricks on your mind. So it's important that I'm always in charge of those thoughts. One of the big challenges leading up to a walk like this is all the media that wants to talk about the doom and gloom.
This is real, this is untethered. This is not like Niagara Falls where my network said you have to wear a tether. This is with the Discovery Channel and they believe in me and they're allowing me no tether. So this is life or death, this crossing, and it's important that I'm mentally in control of everything.
While the media wants to play up it's so dangerous, you could lose your life, what about your family? I have to filter those thoughts out and continue to focus on the positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Want to see it? "Skywalker Live with Nik Wallenda" airs tonight on the Discovery Channel at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Cars underwater, boats parked on the street. Historic flooding devastates Canadian communities, and more misery may be coming.
Plus, have you noticed just how big and how bright the moon is this morning? We're going tell you why this is so special.
KOSIK: Bigger, brighter, closer. Have you looked up in the sky recently? Meaning last night or this morning. You may have noticed the super moon is reaching its peak this morning.
Meteorologist Alexandra Steele in the weather center with more. Alexandra, what is so special about this super moon?
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What makes it look so special is that it's bigger and brighter.
So, it's really a fusing of two things. One, the moon is at what's called perigee, which in its elliptical spin around the Earth makes it's closest to Earth. But that at the same time we have a full moon makes is more special.
So, it's 221,000 miles from earth, which relatively isn't that far, so it's about 17,000 miles closer than it typically is. So, you know, it's all relative.
So, there you go. This is what we're seeing this morning.
How much brighter? Well, it's about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter, and it's really at this very moment what makes it so special is where it is now at the horizon line, which makes it even more vibrant than if you'd seen it two or three or four hours ago higher in the sky, Alison.
KOSIK: (AUDIO GAP) look at it. I walked out this morning, and it really just lights up the night, doesn't it?
STEELE: It does although I've read online people are saying a little disappointed going out there with all the hype. What's so super? I mean, it is brighter. It's bigger. Don't expect to feel like you're on top of it. But it is kind of cool.
So if you get the time, put on your coffee and go out and take a look. It does certainly illuminate the sky, that's for sure. On a dark street, you can really see the difference.
KOSIK: Definitely. Alexandra Steele, thanks.
STEELE: Sure. Have a great day.
KOSIK: Taking you around the world.
We start in Brazil, where protesters took to the streets in more than 20 cities on Saturday despite assurances their concerns will be addressed. Some Brazilians are concerned about lavish spending for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games. They say the needs of the people have been neglected.
To Qatar Now, where Secretary of State John Kerry is casting doubt on the future of U.S. talks with the Taliban, saying they need to, quote, "get back on track in order to push forward." Talks were supposed to happen this week in Doha, but the U.S. is waiting for a Taliban response on a date.
Now to Canada's Alberta Province where rivers are bursting at their seams, forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate so far. Now the rush of water is targeting even more communities. Three people have died in the floodwater. In some neighborhoods, boats are parked like cars, and cars are underwater.
CNN's Paula Newton is in Calgary to get a close-up look.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Calgary stampede, billed as the greatest outdoor show on earth, now has some competition. The flood of 2013. It's been record breaking, and, yes, heartbreaking.
The fairgrounds, the chuckwagon stalls, the viewing stands -- no match for the potent mix of two teeming rivers spilling their banks. There has been a menacing pace to this flood, raging waters. Flash flooding has kept rescuers busy for days and rendered the very heart of Canada's energy capital powerless.
(on camera): Now, here in downtown Calgary, one of the hardest hit areas is going to take days to get this city up and running again. This is why. You can see the kind of flooding that's been suffered here downtown. At a substation here in one of the basements, a major one providing power, completely flooded right now.
And they need to get that substation cleaned out and ready to go again if they're going to be back in business here. I want you to come with me to see what the hydro teams are now doing. They're trying to suck the water out through the manhole here in the downtown cores. The more water they can take out of these man holes, the less likely it will be the basements will flood, and they'll be able to dry out those substations.
(voice-over): More than 100,000 people have been evacuated so far through southern Alberta and counting. Calgary's mayor says the city has turned the corner, but this emergency isn't over yet.
MAYOR NAHEED NENSHI, CALGARY, ALBERTA: I can't control Mother Nature. God is pouring from a teapot, and we've only got a tea cup to catch it. But what we can do is make sure that when that tea cup overflows, people are safe and we protect them.
NEWTON: And with that, Mayor Nenshi vows within two weeks these flooded fairgrounds will be dried out and restored so the Calgary stampede can once again be the only spectacle along the river bank.
NEWTON: Now, Alison, that's a police car there. I'll show you why the mayor is optimistic. Now, if you're looking at the police car in that area, it's dried out a bit. The water was up to the windshield. As you can see now, the water slowly but surely is receding. The problem is downstream, Alison, in a place called medicine hat, sandbagging - furiously. They've evacuated 10,000 people and could yet have more damage downstream.
The city behind me, Alison, could be into midweek before it's back to normal. It will take weeks to actually restore power and get a lot of those basements and everything dried out -- Alison. KOSIK: Just incredible pictures. Paula Newton, thank you.
Paula Deen serving up controversy, but her fans say they aren't ready to turn their back on the celebrity cook.
KOSIK: It's been a rough week for Paula Deen. The Food Network has opted not to renew her contract after she revealed in a lawsuit deposition that she has used the "N" word in the past. The queen of Southern cooking made an appeal directly to her audience via a message on YouTube.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me, but it's what's in the heart, what's in the heart. And my family and I try to live by that. And I am here to say, I am so sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Deen started her TV career on the Food Network back in 2002, hosting "Paula's Best Dishes." She also owns a very successful restaurant in Savannah called Lady and Sons, and it was at that restaurant that her fans gathered to show their support after the controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it right? No. I mean, she could have used another term, but, hey, it was a mistake that she made.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She made a mistake, and she probably shouldn't have said that, but she has apologized. I think maybe we ought to take that for what it's worth. It sounds like it was sincere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a learning lesson for her and is a learning lesson for people that do forgive. So, I will forgive her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Deen released a statement reflecting on her time at the Food Network, saying, quote, "I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared with me the most touching and personal stories. This would not have been possible without the Food Network."
Maria Sharapova versus Serena Williams. The matches haven't even started, but the top two seeds at Wimbledon are firing verbal shots at each other. It all began with Williams' comments in a "Rolling Stone" article, which some think were a shot at Sharapova, who's dating one of Williams' exes.
Williams is quoted as saying, "She begins every interview with I'm so happy. I'm so lucky. It's so boring," says Serena in a loud voice. "She's still not going to be invited to all the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."
Sharapova shot back this weekend reminding everyone that Williams has been romantically linked to her coach although neither side confirms this rumor. Listen to this.
Well, obviously, that's not what we wanted to show, but Williams also drew a lot of heat this week for other comments she made in the "Rolling Stone" article about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case saying the victim, quote, "shouldn't have put herself in that position."
Williams is scheduled to hold a pretournament news conference at Wimbledon today. We do want to go to that quote from her, that sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA SHARAPOVA, NO. 2 SPEED WIMBLEDON: I just think that she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements rather than everything else that's just getting attention and controversy. If she wants to talk about something personal, we should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids, you know? We should talk about other things but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life and many positives. I think that's what it should be about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Like a soap opera, isn't it?
Edward Snowden is on the move. NSA leaker is on the way to Moscow, as we speak. How did he get out of Hong Kong? We're going to take you there live.
KOSIK: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik.
Here are five things you need to know.
Number one is the whereabouts of Edward Snowden. The admitted NSA leaker left Hong Kong earlier this morning. He's on his way to Russia apparently with a legal team from WikiLeaks. But Russia is only expected to be a stopover.
We're going to have a live report in a minute.
Number two, the Taliban taking credit for an attack on tourists in Pakistan. Gunmen opened fire at a small hotel around midnight, killing nine people. Pakistan's interior minister says the attackers abducted two local guides to find out where foreigners were staying. The victims were from China and Ukraine.
Number three, federal investigators are expected to take a closer look at this crash at an air show in Dayton, Ohio. The biplane slammed into the ground just after it rolled over with a wing walker on board. The stuntwoman and the pilot were both killed. The air show is going on as planned today.
At number four, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to issue four historic rulings in the next week. Two cases are on same-sex marriage. California's Proposition 8 and the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act. Then there is a case on affirmative action and one on the Voting Rights Act. The justices have already secretly voted on the issues but don't announce what days the rulings come out.
At number five, the state of New Jersey will fly all American and state flags at half-staff tomorrow. The executive order made by Governor Chris Christie will honor famed actor and New Jersey native James Gandolfini, who died last week of a heart attack.
All right. While you were sleeping Edward Snowden was hopping a commercial flight right out of Hong Kong, he's due to land in Russia any time now. Let's go live to Hong Kong and CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. Nic, how did he get out of Hong Kong?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He got out really simply, which is a surprise for a lot of people here, Alison. He got on a commercial airline bound for Moscow. How did that happen? Well Hong Kong authorities here were saying that the United States didn't give them enough legal information to allow them to issue a provisional arrest warrant, which is what the United States asked for late on Friday. And they're saying for that reason there was no arrest warrant. He wasn't on a watch list. He was a free man, free to leave the country.
One legal analyst I've talked to here though does tell me that he is absolutely shocked. He's been following this case closely. He said the legal necessities for Hong Kong to issue an arrest warrant would have been very, very simply that Edward Snowden was in Hong Kong and that the United States wanted to prosecute him. Both are things -- both these things, he said, were very clear.
And we've also learned the Hong Kong authorities not only letting Edward Snowden, it appears, leave but now also saying they're sending a letter to the United States government asking why and how computers in Hong Kong and China were hacked by the NSA -- Alison.
KOSIK: So what is the word on his next stop? I mean, after Russia.
ROBERTSON: Yes, well, he's clearly getting a lot of help from Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and the whole WikiLeaks organization. And we've had this statement in the last -- last 20 -- 25 minutes or so from WikiLeaks and I'm going to read you something from it which gives us perhaps the best detail we've had so far.
It says "Mr. Edward Snowden was left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for purposes of asylum and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks. Mr. Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr. Snowden arrives at his final destination, his request will be formally processed."
The indication here is that perhaps Moscow, where his flight is due to touchdown in the next hour, is not Snowden's final destination. That he'll be going on somewhere else. Not precisely clear where that might be -- Alison.
KOSIK: Ok Nic Robertson thanks.
It's a decision that could change the course of the George Zimmerman murder trial ahead of tomorrow's opening statements. The judge ruled testimony from the state's two voice experts who analyze just who was screaming in the background of the 911 calls, that it cannot be used. CNN legal correspondent Jean Casarez is in Sanford, Florida with me right now. Jean good morning. So this obviously is not good news for the prosecution's case, but just how bad is it?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it will change their opening statements definitely. The prosecution tomorrow in giving those opening statements will not say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will hear expert testimony on whose voice is on that 911 call", but they may say you will hear from the people that knew the voice the best of Trayvon Martin and those are his parents, and they will tell you that was the voice of Trayvon.
So the prosecution still has that because both parents have said it was Trayvon but the defense can then counter by saying the father of George Zimmerman said that is George and George Zimmerman himself has said, "If this comes before the jury in an excited utterance minutes after this happened to law enforcement, I was crying out for help, but no one came to help me."
KOSIK: This was key, though, right?
CASAREZ: This was key for the prosecution in the sense that expert testimony is expert testimony, and jurors can rely upon it from someone that just has esteem in the area. But the judge ruled that at this point, although speaker identification is done through the process of science that can be justified and relied upon, this was scream identification and when you think about the call and the screams, there was just nothing that is accepted in the scientific community to show that it is reliable to determine whose voice that was.
So maybe it's better for the prosecution that this didn't come in because when you heard the theories of the prosecution experts, some people really had to scratch their heads.
KOSIK: Ok Jean Casarez, thank you.
A teenager's life forever changed after a car crash left him paralyzed. Was it simply a tragic series of bad circumstances or God's will? Joshua Prager joins us next.
KOSIK: Today for "Faces of Faith", we're talking about God's will and how some people say pain, suffering, and tragedy are all part of God's plan. Our guest today is Josh Prager seen here in 1990 the day before a truck driver crashed into his tour bus in Jerusalem. The crash broke his neck leaving him paralyzed. After years of recovery he's walking. But he's split down the middle. His left side still does not function properly.
Prager wanted answers, so he tracked down the truck driver who crashed into him. And he said the accident was God's will, but Prager disagreed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSHUA PRAGER, BUS CRASH SURVIVOR: I wish to tell him that one does not have to say that a bad thing is good. That a crash is from God and so a crash is good. A broken neck is good. One can say that a bad thing sucks, but that this natural world still has many glories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Josh Prager joins us now from New York. He's the author of "Half Life: Reflections from Jerusalem on a Broken Neck," available on Amazon. Josh, good morning to you. Tell us why you struggled with the idea that the crash was God's will.
PRAGER: Well first of all, thank you for having me. I think it's a difficult thing to have to say thank you to a God for leaving you paralyzed or leaving your life compromised and more difficult. And I grappled with this, like everyone else does, for many years.
Personally, I have a mom who is sick. And so it was always difficult for me to reconcile the fact that a good person was suffering. And then when it was even more personal, when I was the one who was initially quadriplegic and then limping along, the questions were even more immediate.
KOSIK: You know how people say some things happen for a reason, do you believe that?
PRAGER: Well, the answer is no. It was interesting. In the beginning, when my accident happened, I kept getting better, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath, when people were praying for me. And it was almost funny. The doctors and nurses would say what came back this Saturday? And I would tell them. And it was very comforting for me, and I was content to sort of leave aside the questions that that presented.
But then I started thinking more about it, and I said, well, if I'm going to be thankful to God for getting better, I obviously also need to hold God accountable for having -- had my neck break in the first place. And all the while, while I was getting better, there was a man one room over who was an orthodox rabbi to boot who was also being prayed for and wasn't getting better.
And so I started to tell myself you have to be consistent in your thinking, and there was a word that came to represent this for me. The word is paredolia and it means that people perceive pattern or meaning where it does not exist. And I was trying to tell myself you know what don't perceive pattern or meaning where it does not exist. KOSIK: How do you describe your connection to God today?
PRAGER: Well, it's interesting. Religion is obviously the province of God, and I love religion. I grew up in a traditional Jewish home, and I'm still a traditional Jew and what I love, particularly other traditions and the learning. And so my connection to religion is very strong.
It's a big, big part of my life, and one of the beautiful things that I learned while being in the hospital for so long and I continued to see all these years is what we need most of all is community. We need to feel connected. And religion, of course, is a community, and it's a way for us to feel connected.
But do I believe in God? No. I would call myself an agnostic because it's hard to say that what we don't know -- what we don't cannot exist. So I'm more comfortable calling myself agnostic than an atheist, but I don't believe.
KOSIK: What do you really think caused the crash?
PRAGER: What do I think caused the crash? Well it's interesting. When I met the other people who were involved in the crash, meaning the man himself who caused it and the other people who were passengers with me in the crash and also the widow of the man who died in the crash, all of them said, God is the one who caused it. And that is initially comforting to me too because there's a reason for it.
But then I looked a little more closely and well, the driver had had 26 driving violations by the age of 25. That's one. It was a very steep and dangerous road. That's two. It was actually called the turn of the street of death in Hebrew -- of blood. Excuse me. And also, my seat didn't have a headrest. So when my head snapped back, my neck could break. So things that had once seemed only possible as a result of some God were actually the inevitable consequence of just simple bad driving conditions.
KOSIK: Why did you feel such a compulsion to go ahead and track down the man who broke your neck?
PRAGER: You know, I think, as I said in that clip that you played, when something bad happens, we have a choice. We can either say it's bad or it's good. If it's good, of course, it comes from God. And if it's bad, it's bad. And what comforted me as a person who felt that it was bad was I wanted to not just be some passive victim. To know more helped me. And so I could sort of exert agency over this difficult thing and one of the ways to know more was to find all of the people who have been involved in it.
KOSIK: I see Josh Prager, thanks so much for your time this morning.
And if you'd like to see more stories on faith, be sure to check out our belief blog at CNN.com/belief.
She's unemployed and down on her luck, which makes one Texas teacher's good deed even more admirable. We'll tell you what she found and return to its rightful owner.
KOSIK: Ok. It's been a really busy Sunday morning but come with me. I'm going to get you ready for the week ahead. On Monday, the Supreme Court is kind of decision countdown because it's expected to rule on some very controversial issues, including affirmative action, voting rights, and same-sex marriage all due before the Supreme Court goes into recess.
Also on Monday, statements for the George Zimmerman murder trial getting under way. The neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with fatally shooting teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman says he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense. That trial gets under way.
Tuesday, the coffee is getting more expensive if you buy it at Starbucks. Starbucks is set to raise prices on some of its drinks in the U.S. by an average of one percent. But if you count calories, it's also going to start posting these calorie counters so you can see just how much you're really drinking in calories.
All right. Wednesday, President Obama and the First Family departing on a trip to Africa; they're going to be visiting Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania. Obama is expected to meet with leaders to discuss expanding trade and investment.
And Friday, if you're a comedy fan, the movie "The Heat," the buddy cop film opening in theaters stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
There's a full-on man hunt for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. We're all waiting to see where he's going to land. Let's bring in host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Candy Crowley.
Candy, the government said they were confident Hong Kong would actually cooperate in turning over Snowden. Now that he was able to actually leave that country legally, does this look like a black eye for the government?
For the U.S. government? Well, it certainly does say something about the extent of their influence on Hong Kong at this point. They're basically pretty good bilateral relationships have been -- the government yesterday issued -- the U.S. government issued a pretty strong push to Hong Kong saying, well, we expect them to live up to the treaty. And if they didn't, it would harm bilateral relations.
So there certainly was a strong push to influence Hong Kong. You get the sense that Hong Kong didn't want to be between the U.S. government and its own citizens, who may be angry about revelations that the U.S. has a long arm of spying. But whatever the rationale, Hong Kong did not pay attention to what were clearly huge pushes from the Obama administration.
KOSIK: So what kind of diplomatic impact could other countries face if they harbor Snowden? CROWLEY: Well, I don't know what -- the diplomatic impact, you know, is nil on a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States. If there is influence with one that does -- and Hong Kong does under its sort of its own separate government within China, does have an extradition treaty with the U.S. so there's that.
But my sense is from reading what we're hearing from WikiLeaks and others, that Mr. Snowden is headed for a place that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, in which case, you wait.
KOSIK: Ok. So there is one congressman who's been adamantly against the leaks, Senator Rand Paul, and you have an exclusive interview with him. What do you plan to discuss?
CROWLEY: We're going to talk about how far he has been sympathetic to those who are sympathetic with Edward Snowden, what he did. He, in particular, Rand Paul, has been critical of the expanse of what the NSA is doing. And while he said, yes, Edward Snowden broke the law he says he understands in a certain sense what prompted Snowden to do this.
So we want to talk about what he thinks about where Snowden should end up. And if he things -- I mean let's face it, Snowden has been charged with spying and theft of government property here in the U.S., and there are mixed feelings because there certainly are folks in the U.S., Nancy Pelosi, as you know the Speaker of the House, got booed last night when she talked about how Snowden had broken the law. So there are mixed feelings about what he's done. We want to get his take on that.
And also from Senator Chuck Schumer to see what he's thinking at this point about the flight of Edward Snowden.
KOSIK: Ok. Candy Crowley, thank you. Stay right here for "STATE OF THE UNION", which starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Maria Sharapova versus Serena Williams -- matches haven't even gotten started, but the top two seeds at Wimbledon are firing verbal shots at each other. Sharapova now making headlines for her tough remarks this weekend -- you'll hear it next.
KOSIK: Time now for the good stuff. It's the part of the show we feature stories about some of the good news out there. First up, Candace Scott, she's a teacher from College Station, Texas. She's unemployed, really down on her luck.
Well, all that may have changed when she ran over a plastic bag in the middle of the street. What was in it? More than $20,000 in $100 bills. She could have pocketed the money but instead she noticed a Chase logo on the bag. She drove it to her the local branch and turned it in to a pretty shocked employee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CANDACE SCOTT, UNEMPLOYED TEACHER: I just told her, I said, you know, this has your bank's name on it. I just found it in the middle of the street. She said, "If there's ever anything Chase can do for you, please don't hesitate to call us." I thought about turning around and saying, "Find me a job."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Who knows? They may. For her trouble, Candace gets a $500 gift card and a thank you note.
And an incredible save in Brooklyn, New York. A toddler fell two stories from a fire escape, bounced off an awning, and right into the arms of Christina Torre, the daughter of all-star catcher and legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre -- seriously. She spoke to CNN about the hall of fame deserving catch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINA TORRE CAUGHT FALLING BABY: Honestly, I didn't feel his weight. It was effortless. I was very surprised because I wasn't sure about that. He felt as light as a feather, and I just -- you know, it was easy to hold him. Again, I just think I kicked into gear, and whatever forces behind me just made sure I did what needed to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: The boy's parents were charged with reckless endangerment. Child Protective Services took the couple's three other kids into their custody.
The Chicago Blackhawks taking a giant step towards winning a second Stanley Cup in four seasons with a win on their home ice last night.
Joe Carter joins me now with this morning's "Bleacher Report". Good morning.
JOE CARTER, "BLEACHER REPORT": Hi good morning. You know, big time players come out in big games. Six years ago yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Patrick Kane number one overall, and, boy, he was the difference last night scoring not one, but two big goals.
The first came 17 minutes into the first period. That gave Chicago the 1-0 lead. Then in the second period, Kane had another putback opportunity, and he converted again. The Blackhawks would go on to win last night 3-1.
So here we are. Another Stanley Cup championship is in reach for Chicago. They can close it out with a win in Boston Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK KANE, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: This is what you work for all year, all summer. When you're training throughout the year at training camp, whatever it may be, this is what you work for, this opportunity. So we've got to seize the moment and take advantage of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Danish driver Allen Simonsen was killed during the 24 hours of Le Mans race yesterday. His Aston Martin spun off the track and crashed into a barrier. It happened less than ten minutes into the race. He was immediately treated at the scene of the crash and then taken to the hospital where he died shortly afterwards. Allen Simonsen was only 34 years old.
In all 22 drivers have died at this track. Despite the tragedy, the track always runs the 24-hour race. Le Mans has never been stopped, dating back to 1923.
Serena Williams drew a lot of hit this week for comments in a "Rolling stone" article related to the Steubenville, Ohio rape case. In that same article Serena also took a personal shot at what many are assuming to be Maria Sharapova. Sharapova fired back at a news conference yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA SHARAPOVA, PRO TENNIS PLAYER: If she wants to talk about something personal, you know, we should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend now who's married and getting a divorce and has kids. We should talk about other things but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life and many positives. I think that's what it should be about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: All right. It's a war of words. We'll see how it goes. That's your "Bleacher Report" update. Back to you.
KOSIK: Crazy soap opera. Thanks, Joe Carter.
Thanks for watching today. And again, we're going to have more on Edward Snowden and "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley bringing the latest on that. It starts right now.