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19 Firefighters Killed in Arizona Fire; Historic Heat Wave Out West; President Bush in Africa; More Allegations of NSA Spying; Deadly Clashes Across Egypt; Helicopter Forced to Land in Hudson River; George Zimmerman on Trial

Aired July 1, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our entire crew was lost. We lost 19 people.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, 19 firefighters are lost battling wildfires in Arizona. The worst loss of life for fire crews since 9/11. We're on the scene.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN exclusive, former president George W. Bush speaking out for the first time on Edward Snowden and controversial NSA surveillance program he put into place.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Horror at the circus. A Cirque Du Soleil acrobat dies on stage in Las Vegas, plunging 50 feet in the air in front of a shocked audience. What went wrong?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NEW DAY. I'm Chris Cuomo. It is Monday, July 1st, 6:00 in the East.

BOLDUAN: I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here with news anchor Michaela Pereira. And we want to welcome our international viewers, as well.

First off this morning, the governor of Arizona may have said it best. Today is truly a dark day. Nineteen firefighters were killed late yesterday trapped while battling a fast moving wildfire that suddenly turned on them.

CUOMO: They were called the hot shots, the best of the best, the one sent into the most dangerous situations. The president traveling in Africa released a statement this morning saying, "They were heroes who put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet."

The community of Prescott, Arizona, waking up to the devastating news this morning, 19 of their own gone. BOLDUAN: So quickly. The crew was digging barriers around the Yarnell Hill fire in Central Arizona which has burned through 6,000 acres just since Friday. CNN's Kyung Lah is in Arizona with more.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Yarnell Hill fire began moving at a ferocious pace on Sunday, suddenly changing direction, claiming the most firefighter lives since 9/11, trapping 19 firefighters with no way out.

CHIEF DAN FRAIJO, PRESCOTT FIRE DEPARTMENT: We're devastated. We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you'll ever meet. I mean, right now, we're in crisis.

LAH: The firefighters were part of the Prescott Fire Department Hot Shot crew, getting their name because they worked in the hottest parts of the wildfire, confronting wildfires up close and setting up barriers to stop the destructive spread.

FRAIJO: These are the guys that will go out there with 40, 50 pounds of equipment and walk five miles, they will sleep out there. These are quality people.

LAH: The crew was tasked with digging a fire line and creating an escape route. The flames hadn't even touched Prescott. But like many other fire departments across the state, the Prescott team jumped into help fight the blaze. The fire which began Friday has burned at least 6,000 acres and at least 100 structures destroyed. Forced to evacuate, some residents had only minutes to grab their belongings. Others witnessed their homes burn as they fled the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went up to get the wife because the fire was getting close. And I woke her up and got the evacuation notice and we had no time. We got the dogs. We got the wife and it's gone.

LAH: Officials believe lightning may have sparked the fire. The area has been experiencing severe drought conditions.


CUOMO: All right, thanks to Kyung Lah there trying to get in position, very difficult because as the fire moves, our positions have to move, as well. To give you some perspective on just how terrible this loss is, this wildfire is the deadliest Arizona has ever seen. That's for sure, wiping out more than 20 percent of the Prescott Fire Department's manpower.

Right now, I want to bring in Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin. He joins us on the phone. Mr. Tobin, can you hear us?

ANDY TOBIN, ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER (via telephone): I can hear you just fine. Thanks.

CUOMO: Thank you for coming to us during such a difficult time. These aren't just statistics to you obviously. These are men and people fighting for property and for lives there. And you knew some of these fallen heroes, is that right?

TOBIN: This is a very close knit community. We know them, we know somebody who knows them. The police officer that drove me to Yarnell early today leaned over to tell me that he had just gotten a call that his friend was in the fire and killed. So nobody here in this community will go untouched by this.

CUOMO: It doesn't make sense when you hear about this number of first responders being lost until you start to understand exactly what the hot shots do. Help us understand how deeply they have to go in, how urgent the situation is that they face.

TOBIN: These are the best of the best. These are the most special first responders we have. It's almost unbearable to even think that these things happen. No one is trained better. No one works like a family better than they do. No one is as brave and goes into these situations to defend life and to protect our homes like these guys did. It's almost indescribable what's happened here earlier today.

CUOMO: We're being told that they faced the worst combinations of situations, a very difficult and fast moving fire, very dry conditions, a lot of heat whipping the wind allowing for higher flames and expected. They had a tough trek into where they were. What do you understand about the situation that took them?

TOBIN: Well, what's being explained to us last night was we were in Yarnell is that these winds took a 180-degree turn without any notice at all. So in the middle of -- it looks as if the getaway path was immediately cut off and that it's extremely unusual, but these winds are so unpredictable. That's probably what you'll hear in the next several days is you how the winds shifted almost on the right degree angle, almost right backwards. So it was a terrible accident is all we can say, but it's dark here now. There will be a lot of investigating going on tomorrow. There will be -- this will hurt for a very, very long time.

CUOMO: And we understand, Mr. Tobin, the fight is far from over. Thank you for coming to us this morning. Let us know if we can help in any way. We're very sorry for your loss.

TOBIN: Send all the prayers you can and we thank you for your concern.

CUOMO: We will. We will, sir. Thank you for joining us. Tough situation, not over.

BOLDUAN: You can hear the strain in his voice and it's definitely not over yet. So let's get straight to Indra in the weather center. What can you tell us about really this seems to be an out of control fire?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. I mean, there are three ingredients really with fires that really make them bad. We've already been talking about that record heat out there, but those three ingredients, oxygen, heat, and fuel. Unfortunately, we've had all three of these ingredients in the wildfires this weekend. The heat we already know. Temperatures record breaking heat out there, humidity, very dry conditions, down to about 15 percent at times within the fire itself.

And then we have the drought conditions so the fuel is all out there, very, very dry conditions that have persisted for some time. And then the most interesting thing that we keep talking about is the monsoonal thunderstorms that have been picking up in the afternoon. So you can see how quickly in the afternoon the thunderstorms pick up. When that happens, you see very quick change in the wind direction and it that is the heat.

Once you get that, that's the most variable element of that triangle. It impacts everything within that equation. You get one of those three things out of balance and everything changes. Just to take a look how quickly things shifted, you have winds at 8 miles per hour and after even 30, 40-mile-per-hour gusts. So things rapidly changing out there and that was one of the biggest things that we're hearing at this time played a factor here. Of course, they have those fire tents they can put over them, but in this case the winds were too strong.

BOLDUAN: Such a risky job and the winds completely unpredictable.

PETERSONS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Indra, thanks so much.

CUOMO: And that complication as Indra is explaining is that the heat literally allows the wind to almost have a turbo charging effect. So it winds up driving a fire like what's going on in Arizona right now. It has been the heat, historic heat wave, literally roasting the west with triple digit temperatures. It's so hot in some places. Sneakers are melting on the sizzling streets.

In Death Valley, the mercury could top 130 degrees today, which is close to the highest temperature ever recorded on earth. That's where Tory Dunnan is trying to stay cool this morning. Tory, what's the latest from there?

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, that is going to be a very difficult task trying to stay cool because it is 3:00 in the morning here in Death Valley, the thermometer is already reading at 102 degrees and the day is far from over.


DUNNAN (voice-over): A deadly heat wave broils from Texas to the western seaboard.


DUNNAN: Scorching through Southern California where a hiker died. The sweltering temps may also be to blame for the death of an elderly Las Vegas man. It's even affected flights in Arizona and California where dozens of small planes were grounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 110 and 115 degrees, the air is thinner, the thinner the air, the less lift on the airplane. DUNNA: Animals are also feeling the burn. Monkeys turned to cup size popsicles. This Death Valley, the wind is more like a hair drier than a cool breeze.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The high today being Sunday was --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But very beautiful.

DUNNAN: Tourists are flocking at the chance to witness record- breaking temps.

(on camera): Describe how you're feeling.


DUNNAN (voice-over): But down here, it's not all it too hot to handle. These two put the phrase hot enough to fry an egg to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't taste bad.

DUNNAN (on camera): Did you really just eat that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really did. It's not bad.

DUNNAN (voice-over): The west coast has turned into a life like oven.


DUNNAN: All right, so today people are going to be checking out this thermometer here in Death Valley because temperatures as you mentioned will be soaring close to 130 degrees. And Chris and Kate, there is only one way to describe that after feeling it yesterday, absolutely brutal.

CUOMO: I can only imagine. Hopefully they get some relief out there, but also hopefully people learn how to be safe, including you, Tory. Take it easy out there. The heat can get you when you least expect it.

BOLDUAN: Sun's not even up and it's 102 right now, a tough week for many.

Let's get straight to some of the other top news we're following this morning. In less than two hours, President Obama will arrive in Tanzania, the last leg of his three nation African tour. But he's not the only U.S. president in Africa this week. His predecessor George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are in Zambia on a humanitarian mission helping women there fight cancer.

And CNN's Robyn Curnow spoke with them in an Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" exclusive. Robin is joining me now from South Africa with that. So what did the former president have to say, Robyn? ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Kate. Well, as President Mandela spends his fourth week in this hospital, I asked President Bush and Mrs. Bush to reflect on what he means to them.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Sometimes there are leaders who come and go. His legacy will last for a long time.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: He is I think really an inspiration to people around the world and to a lot of American and a figure that we watched from afar from the United States, and I have a lot of respect for him, of course.

CURNOW: He was quite tough on you. He criticized you publicly about the Iraq war.

GEORGE W. BUSH: He wasn't the only guy. It's OK. I didn't look at him any differently because he didn't agree with me on an issue.


CURNOW: Now, after 9/11, the Bush administration stepped up surveillance programs. About that in mind, I asked President Bush his reaction to the Edward Snowden leaks.


CURNOW: Do you think he's a traitor?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I know he damaged the country. The Obama administration will deal with it.

CURNOW: Do you think it's possible for one man to damage the security of the nation?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I think he damaged the security of the country.

CURNOW: And when it comes to surveillance, there can be real time understanding of what you're Googling --

GEORGE W. BUSH: I put the program in place to protect the country and one of the certainties is civil liberties were guaranteed.

CURNOW: So you don't think there is a compromise between security and privacy?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I think there needs to be a balance and as the president described, there is a proper balance.

CURNOW: You don't want to criticize the Obama administration?

GEORGE W. BUSH: It doesn't do any good. It's a hard job. He has plenty on his agenda and it's difficult. Former president doesn't need to make it harder. CURNOW: Because in the polls you're --

GEORGE W. BUSH: Could care less.

CURNOW: Whether people think you're favorable or unfavorable?

GEORGE W. BUSH: Only time I really cared was on Election Day. You know, I guess it's nice. Let me rephrase that. Thank you for bringing it up.

CURNOW: You like the idea that people perhaps are looking at you differently?

GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, ultimately history will judge the decisions that I made. And I won't be around because it's going to take a while for the objective historians to show up. So I'm pretty comfortable with it. I did what I did. I know the spirit this much I did it.


CURNOW: Comfortable in retirement, President Bush and Mrs. Bush open up that clinic today. It helps diagnose and treat cervical cancer. They hope thousands of lives will be saved. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Robin, and you hit on many important topics with the former president and former first lady this morning. Robyn Curnow in South Africa. Thanks, Robyn. You can watch Robyn's full exclusive interview with President Bush tonight on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.

CUOMO: We have the news in Africa. We have wildfires back here, literally things happening all over the globe this morning. So let's get to Michaela with the latest.

PEREIRA: Good morning. Happy Monday. Making news, European Union officials angry over alleged NSA spying on friendly E.U. diplomats, citing documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The web site for Germany's (inaudible) magazine reports the U.S. bugged E.U. offices at the U.N., Washington and Brussels, and that the agency hacked into its computer network. In the meantime, Ecuador now saying Snowden's fate is up to Russia. Venezuela's president saying he'd consider granting Snowden asylum.

In Egypt, President Mohammad Morsi's first anniversary marked with deadly clashes. At least five people killed. More than 600 others injured across seven provinces Sunday. Protesters taking to the streets demanding Morsi's resignation. His supporters also rallying in mostly peaceful demonstrations. The State Department and officials in the U.K. are now urging citizens to cancel travel plans to go to or within Egypt.

A sightseeing ride over New York City turns quite scary for a group of Swedish tourists. Their helicopter had to make an emergency landing will in the Hudson River. Fire officials say four people suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital. A local TV station reporting two adults and two kids were on board. The pilot says the helicopter lost power.

Folks in the San Francisco Bay area, chaotic commute this morning. The first BART strike since 1997 is on. There will be no train service today, prepare yourself. Transit workers and management have not reached an agreement on pay. Now, in order to ease the morning and evening rush, more ferries will be so-called to run. Buses will also be beefed up despite their own labor dispute. Those workers could go on strike tomorrow.

A tornado took an Oklahoma woman's home and the life of her family's dog back this May, but Michelle Hawk says out of nowhere she received a big dose of hope. A woman who found a big white ball of mess came to her and asked her if she knew whose it was, it was Michelle's wedding dress. She says for her finding the dress symbolizes power of true love and how much one can overcome with the right person by their side. Take that to the cleaners and be as good as new. A good story to tell.

BOLDUAN: To put up in that next home, right?


BOLDUAN: That's he a good story. Thanks so much, Michaela.

Still coming up next on NEW DAY: the judge set to rule on a criminal piece of evidence in the George Zimmerman trial. Will the jury get to see videotaped statements Zimmerman made in the hours just after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.

CUOMO: A big day. It's going to be a big week in that trial.

Also, take a look. How did this happen in Poland? It was supposed to be a car show. Obviously, it went terribly wrong. More than a dozen people hurt.

We'll take you through all of it, after the break.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. It is Monday time. Christine Romans is here with all the business news you need to really one story we want to focus on today.


CUOMO: Student loan, rate goes up while politicians are on vacation?

ROMANS: Absolutely right.

CUOMO: Who is going to be hit by this and why?

ROMANS: About 7 million students who are going to use these Stafford loans starting the fall. If you already have Stafford loans right now, this is not you. But if you're borrowing money for college starting this fall, you're already in college, you're going to have more loans in the fall -- this is you, 7 million of you. The rate is going to go from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. It is double because Congress couldn't decide on how to fix it. So now it's going to double. This is real money. It's maybe up to $5,000 if you pull out the maximum amount of Stafford loans, 5 grand more it's going to cost you to go, $4,500, 5 grand more.

BOLDUAN: Why is this happening?

ROMANS: It's happening because part of the budget process, the student loan interest rate issue has been tied up in the in-at of Washington to get anything done quite frankly. So what has probably consistently been pushed off it keep the rate low because students scream and their parents scream, this time Congress wasn't able to do it.

We think that both members of the House and the Senate really want to push after the fact to try to fix this. Maybe there could be something retroactive. But financial planners are saying prepare for the worst. You need to run the numbers now like you're going to pay 6.8 percent.

CUOMO: But it's time to push your leaders because they can push want to push after the fact to try to fix this.

ROMANS: Absolutely. They can retroactively.


CUOMO: -- for another year, retroactive is the right.

ROMANS: But just like the air traffic controller. They wait until people actually feel it and scream and then they're fixing things one thing at a time.

BOLDUAN: It's governing from crisis to crisis, which we've been facing for a while.

ROMANS: Which is bad.

CUOMO: And, of course, your priorities. You help the banks in an instant, right? They get to worry for nothing. But the students, not so easy for them. Hopefully, that will change.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

Very critical day for prosecutors in the George Zimmerman case. The judge is expected to rule whether to allow statements made by Zimmerman in the hours after he shot Trayvon Martin. Those statements could be crucial to proving second degree murder, giving the prosecutors a chance to use Zimmerman's own words against him.

CNN's George Howell in Sanford, Florida, with the latest. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. So we have been able to hear George Zimmerman in the 911 audiotapes. Now the jury could get a chance to see him in a video reenactment walk through the events of the day, step by step, letting attorneys analyze his every word.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, MURDER DEFENDANT: All I could think about is when he was hitting my head, it felt like my head was going explode.

HOWELL (voice-over): It's George Zimmerman walking investigators through the incident less than 24 hours after shooting and killing Trayvon martin. This video, along with two audio statements and a written statement he gave police that could become critical new evidence in the case.

If Judge Deborah Nelson allows it in court, the jury could examine Zimmerman's demeanor and possible inconsistencies in his statements.

Prosecutors are also expected to call on more pivotal witnesses this week, including the lead investigators from the Sanford Police Department, Chris Serino and Doris Singleton, who found that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

Jurors ended the week on day five hearing from the only eyewitness to the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. John Good told police he saw two people on the ground. The person on top was wearing darker clothes. And the man underneath, he says, seemed to have a lighter complexion like George Zimmerman.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What you saw was the person on top in an MMA style straddle position, correct?


HOWELL: Good's testimony is important to the defense because it contradicts the testimony of two key witnesses for the state.

Selma Mora told the jury she heard yelling, stepped out of the home and saw a man, who appeared to be George Zimmerman on top.

O'MARA: The person on top did not respond to the first two times that you called to him, correct?


O'MARA: And the third time he said, just call the police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call the police, correct.

HOWELL: Another important witness for prosecutors, Rachel Jeantel, who is on the phone with Martin moments before he was killed. Over four hours of questioning, she maintained that it was George Zimmerman who was the aggressor. DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I thought, in fact, that you said it could have been, for all you know, Trayvon Martin smashing George Zimmerman in the face is what you actually heard?


WEST: Yes, just earlier today.

JEANTEL: By who?

WEST: By you.

JEANTEL: You got (ph) that from me?


ZIMMERMAN: So, court is expected to start at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. That is when attorneys and this judge will decide whether those statements, the video statement and those audio recordings, whether the jury can hear them in this trial -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, George, thanks so much. We'll be back with you for sure later in the coming hours.

But, first, let's bring Jasmine Rand. She's an attorney with Parks and Crump, the law firm representing Trayvon Martin's parents. She's been in the courtroom during week one of trial and has been in close touch with the family, as you would expect.

Jasmine is joining me now from Miami. Jasmine, thanks so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: I want to talk about week two and look ahead, but first I want to ask you about week one. What have Trayvon's parents said about how week one went? How do they think it went?

RAND: The parents are very pleased with the performance of the prosecution. I think the prosecution made a very poignant comment in their opening statement. What they said is that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin for the absolute worst reason, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. And certainly this past week has been very difficult for the parents in the court room. You know, Sybrina has said she'll have to see things she doesn't want to see and hear things she doesn't want to have to hear, but she'll be there to bring justice for her son.

BOLDUAN: And we're seeing images, and obviously, we watched over during the week that it was -- they were both very emotional and understandably so at points, even sometimes leaving the courtroom when difficult things were happening.

You've talked with both parents. What have they said is most difficult for them going through this trial? RAND: I mean, I think obviously the photographs and the 911 call. And what's different for Tracy and Sybrina than for other parents is that they actually have to hear their son screaming for help over and over, and there is nothing that they can do to help him at this point except bring justice and try to get the conviction of George Zimmerman for the murder of their son.

BOLDUAN: Yes, no matter where you stand in this case, any parent can empathize with having to sit through something like that.

I want to ask you looking into week two. Some of the commentary that I've been reading and some of the people talking about this trim trial so far is that week one went pretty well for the defense, in terms of their questioning of the prosecutions weakness. After week one, looking into week two, do you think your colleagues need to change strategy?

RAND: No, I think the prosecution performed exceptionally well this past week. I think that their testimony from the witnesses is consistent with the prosecution's theory of the case. And they started out telling us that they're going to show us George Zimmerman's tangled web of lies. And this week, when we speak with the investigators and the police department, I think it's going to be especially evident just how many lies Zimmerman told.

BOLDUAN: And one big question heading into this second week is will Trayvon's parents take the stand. Do you think they will testify?

RAND: They will testify if they need to and the prosecution calls upon them to do so. But the prosecution has not confirmed whether or not they will call Trayvon Martin's parents.

BOLDUAN: All right. Jasmine Rand, great to speak to with you. Thanks so much for coming in this morning.

RAND: Thank you.


CUOMO: A lot of speculation obviously is, can you identify the voice on the tape?


CUOMO: And maybe Trayvon's parents would be able to do that. And then you have Zimmerman's family who would try to say, no, it's him. So it goes back and forth, but hard to the family.

BOLDUAN: Hard for the family and if they take the stand, everyone will be glued to the television screens.

CUOMO: Absolutely. That's why it's important to watch. We'll have it covered. We'll unpack it for you coming up on the show.

But coming up next on NEW DAY: a Cirque du Soleil acrobat falls to her death in front of a live audience. The latest on this terrifying accident, next.

BOLDUAN: And hot air balloon coming down on a freeway in San Diego. We'll tell you what went wrong and also what went right.