Return to Transcripts main page


Propane Plant Explosions; Weiner Poll Numbers Tumble; National Cathedral Vandalized; Cyclospora Infections Spread; Pope: "Who Am I to Judge?"

Aired July 30, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ooh. Did you see that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- flying through the air.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, massive explosions at a propane plant in Florida. Workers rushed to the hospital. Residents a mile away evacuated. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mystery spreading. A vicious stomach virus now hitting 15 states. Hundreds sickened and officials do not know where it's coming from. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on what you need to know.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The big score. New details on that historic jewel heist. $136 million in jewels stolen from a French hotel, one of the biggest jewel thefts ever. How did they get away with it?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, July 30th, 6:00 in the East, and I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: End of July already. Crazy, crazy. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan here along with news anchor, Michaela Pereira. Good morning, Michaela.

PEREIRA: Good morning.

BOLDUAN: Coming up this morning, Anthony Weiner doubling down on his campaign for New York City mayor. But his supporters, they seem to be fleeing. Bill and Hillary Clinton turned against him and guess who's taking shots at him now, as well, Eliot Spitzer. No saint himself. We're going to have the latest twists and also speak live to his chief opponent coming up. CUOMO: All right. Plus, some more political intrigue for you. Hillary Clinton set to have breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden this morning. They both could be eyeing the presidency in 2016. So, everyone in Washington is wondering what are they going to talk about or more importantly, not talk about.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PEREIRA: And certainly, a mystery happening in Washington of a different sort. Who is going around defacing some of the country's most treasured landmarks? The Lincoln Memorial was hit last night. The National Cathedral was, too. There has been an arrest, but officials are not sure the woman arrested was working alone. We'll have more on that coming up.

BOLDUAN: Breaking overnight, want to get to a big story, powerful explosions rattling windows 15 miles away, sending huge plumes of fire shooting into the sky. The series of explosions began just before 11:00 last night in a Blue Rhino facility that's in Lake County, Florida near Orlando.

CNN's Alina Machado is following that story. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. There were 53,000 propane cylinders in the plant when the fire broke out. A witness says the explosion sounded like bombs were going off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see that?

MACHADO (voice-over): One after another, explosions so big and so loud, they could be seen and heard and felt for miles. The raging inferno lighting up the night sky just after 11:00 over the Blue Rhino propane plant in Tavaris, Florida, northwest of Orlando. The danger so great, officials forced to evacuate residents a mile away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are just shooting off like missiles right now.

MACHADO: This video captures what looks like propane tanks shooting up into the sky, fires burning out of control just feet away from three large propane tanks. Dozens of emergency responders racing to the scene to treat the injured while firefighters fought to put down the flames. Plant officials have accounted for the two dozen employees working at the time. At least seven were taken to area hospitals. Miraculously, no one died.

JOHN HARRELL, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: There were propane cylinders stored in various parts of the property, 53,000 20-pound cylinders.

MACHADO: This plant explosion happened on the heels of a deadly one at a fertilizer plant just three months ago that rocked the small town of West, Texas. Fifteen people died, most of them first responders. The devastation there spanned a five block radius. The cause of that deadly blast is still under investigation. The investigation in Florida is just beginning.


MACHADO: No word yet on a possible cause. We should get a better sense of the devastation with daylight. By the way, Blue Rhino is a company that supplies those small propane tanks used for backyard barbecues -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Alina, thanks so much for that update. There was a similar frightening scene we want to tell you about this morning, a gas explosion destroyed three Philadelphia raw houses. The explosion sent at least eight people to area hospitals Monday including one man who is now in critical condition with severe burns. Fire investigators say the contractor working in a vacant home was having trouble with a hot water heater just moments before the explosion.

CUOMO: That is terrible. Luckily nobody seriously injured there. No fatalities. All right, well, the segue way here almost writes itself, from a massive explosion to a massive implosion. New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner says he's still in to win it, but his polls say not so much. Now several powerful politicians are having their say about his most admission of inappropriate conduct with women online.

You know you are in trouble when Eliot Spitzer, who knows about sex scandals, is coming after you. CNN's newest correspondent, Rosa Flores, is here with more from Baton Rouge. Welcome, my friend.


CUOMO: Good to have you here. Anthony Weiner, some story to start off with.

FLORES: Big story, lots of conversation. Good morning to you at home. You know, what's really interesting about this is that we've been covering a lot of Weiner's events since all of these raunchy revelations have come out. These new ones and I can tell that he's received applause and support at every single appearance, which makes you wonder, is that what's keeping him in the race?


DENISE SAMPSON STEPHENS, NEW YORK VOTER: As a candidate, you should have moral values and right now, I think that his moral values are shot.

FLORES (voice-over): Harsh words and even a harsher reality for embattled mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. His poll numbers plummeting from first to fourth in a new Quinnipiac University poll, the survey conducted after a new round of lewd internet chats were revealed. Take a look, the former congressman's support dropping 10 percentage points in just five days, from 26 percent to 16 percent.

ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to leave this to the people of the city of New York to decide, period, end of conversation. FLORES: His vow to stay in the race angering the Clintons. A source close to the political power couple tells CNN they are livid with Weiner personally because they care about Huma. Adding salt to the wound, Democratic candidate for comptroller, Eliot Spitzer trying to resurrect his own career after his own sex scandal is turning his back on Weiner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to vote for Anthony Weiner. Can you say that now?


WEINER: I'm interested in what pundits say. I'm interested in what other politicians say, but not that much.

FLORES: Despite all, he continues campaigning across the city and finding supporters at every stop, wooing voters in Queens with a little Mandarin. Making it clear he's fighting for every vote he can get.


FLORES: Now, Weiner has also been sending his supporters e-mails asking for their votes and of course for their money. Because as we all know, campaigns are very expensive. Now, Chris and Kate, I of course asked him about Huma yesterday and he only said she's doing great and then moved on to answering other questions.

BOLDUAN: He would love to move on, that's for sure.

CUOMO: Absolutely. You want to put this in the background. As you say, the voters are starting to come out for him. He thinks that would be good. When Eliot Spitzer enters in, it creates energy around this and keeps on going. The good news is there is actually a real race there. And later this morning, Kate is going to talk with Weiner's opponent, New York City mayoral candidate, Christine Quinn. She's in the lead and she'll be here at about 8:05 Eastern Time.

BOLDUAN: Definitely talking about those latest polls for one thing, lots to talk about there.

Now let's go to the nation's capital. Someone is vandalizing great American landmarks in Washington, D.C. The National Cathedral, that beautiful, beautiful building, is the latest location to be targeted with green paint and now police have made an arrest.

Pamela Brown is in the nation's capital live from the National Cathedral. So what are you hearing? What's the latest, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's really a bizarre series of vandalism here in the nation's capital. The National Cathedral right behind me here is the fourth D.C. landmark to be targeted just in the past few days. Now, there is one person who was taken into custody yesterday in connection with only on one of the crimes. So this is still very much a mystery here. Investigators are looking into whether this vandalism is perhaps connected or if these are copy cat crimes. Authorities do tell us, though, that at this point, there is no reason to believe that 58-year-old woman taken into custody is responsible for all the vandalism.


BROWN (voice-over): Cleaning crews spent Monday night scrubbing green paint off an organ and a wall inside two National Cathedral chapels. Police arrested Tian Jiamel and charged her with defacing property. A law enforcement source says the 58-year-old woman was found carrying a green paint can when she was arrested.

RICHARD WEINBERG, NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: I can confirm late this afternoon an arrest was made, suspect who appears to have vandalized both Bethlehem Chapel and Children's Chapel here at Washington National Cathedral. The original vandalism was found in the Bethlehem chapel on the lower level and so we closed the lower level and then later in the afternoon, additional paint had been found in Children's Chapel.

BROWN: It's still unknown if the suspect is linked to the vandalism of three other D.C. landmarks in recent days. On Friday, authorities discovered green paint splattered on the Lincoln Memorial. As crews continue to clean up the historic landmark, authorities discovered what looks like green painted symbols on the statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian.

Adding to the mystery, green paint was discovered on a statue of Martin Luther at a D.C. church a day before the National Cathedral incident. Officials are still investigating whether the vandalism is linked or if these are copy cat crimes.


BROWN: And park police are using video at the Lincoln Memorial to help with the investigation there, but so far officials are not telling us what exactly is in that video. And again, authorities are not yet linking this vandalism with the similar M.O. with the green paint and so a lot of unanswered questions about why this is happening. Still park police saying that they are stepping up patrols at monuments and D.C. landmarks here -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Pamela, thank you very much for covering that for us. You heard about this one, a new mystery stomach illness that's spreading across the country. Doctors are baffled. The numbers are growing. At least 350 people have reported infections in 14 states. What's going on?

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta with what we need to know about this outbreak. Good morning.


CUOMO: Sanjay, this is like real, it's spreading. At first we thought it was discreet, and now it's going through more states, more people. What do we know? GUPTA: Yes, and it's been going on since mid-June, as well. So people hearing about this maybe now for the first time, but it's been out there for some time. And it's been a little bit slow in terms of figuring this out. Chris, I'll tell you having covered a lot of these types of outbreaks usually you have a better handle on this. But right now they don't have a clear idea what is causing this.

You put up that map there. Three of those states have the most cases, Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas. There is about 353 people who have been sickened. There are probably more people, Chris, that have had symptoms but haven't gone to their doctor and then you have about 21 people who have been hospitalized. No one has died yet, but obviously this is of significant concern. It's a bit of a whodunit.

These are how these medical investigations often work and the symptoms, it's not really morning show kind of stuff to describe, but the symptoms are pretty awful. There is a treatment for this. So if people have symptoms and they're worried about it, they can go to their doctor and get a very effective treatment.

But right now, the key is to identify them. By the way, we have a picture of what the pesky little thing is, a parasite that's causing this, cyclospora. It might be the first time you've heard that term. There have been food outbreaks is the past, but that's what's causing the problem there - Chris.

CUOMO: What am I looking at, Sanjay, when I look at those slides? Is that what it turns into or is it different forms of the same bug? Should I even care? Like am I going to see that anywhere?

GUPTA: You're looking at a very microscopic image and, no, you won't see that. Doctors even have a hard time identifying that. It's a cyclospora. It's not a bacteria, not a virus, this is a parasite, but it still responds pretty well meaning antibiotics still deal with it pretty effectively. So the antibiotic bactrim, you probably heard of this, that tends to be a very effective treatment for this.

CUOMO: So the obvious question is, what can you do to help yourself in this situation? Can you protect yourself at all?

GUPTA: There are two avenues. First of all, you have the public health officials that still need to figure this out. At some point, the thinking seems to be that the vegetable that likely caused this is probably off the shelves by now. Just because of the half life. So that may be good news and you may be seeing a down turn in cases because of that. But you have to wash your fruit and vegetables very, very carefully and that sounds obvious.

After even washing them, making sure you try them very carefully because sometimes residue can stick to the fruits and vegetables, and then making sure you don't cross contaminate. Look, a lot of people do that already and think that's very basic sort of knowledge. But despite a significant percentage of the population that forgets that and that can be effective in terms of wiping away the parasite.

CUOMO: And also people may dismiss it as just another virus going around so at least now they will have heightened awareness so they can get the right treatment. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much as always. It's always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the weather now. Paradise is getting pounded this morning. Even though Tropical Storm Flossie has been downgraded to a tropical depression, parts of Hawaii could see up to 10 inches of rain by the time the system moves out. Indra Peterson is here obviously tracking the latest developments, 10 inches of rain, that is a lot.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLGOIST: That is a lot of rain and it has to do with where the mountains area and of course, where the strong winds are and whether or not they are facing the mountains. So it could be varied throughout the area as well. We're still waiting for the latest reports.

Currently as you mentioned, it was downgraded so now 35-mile-per-hour steady winds. What are we expecting from here? In the next 36 hours, it's expected to be downgraded again to a remnant low. Behind that, it should disintegrate completely about the next 72 hours. That is the good news, but you can still tell they're looking for some of those heavy rains out towards Hawaii currently.

Behind that, talking about heavy rain, I mean, notice what happened in Kansas overnight, record breaking rain, a very slow moving system brought about 7 inches of rain. Now the same system now still making its way to the Mississippi Valley so looking for another 2 inches to 4 inches today.

Even the Dakotas near the front, looking for the threat for severe weather. The one piece of good news we have today, look at this area of high pressure. Beautiful weather expected in the northeast behind that, though, here is the good news, even cooler temperatures. Actually an area of high pressure is bringing in cool air, 5 degrees to 10 degrees below normal, which I think we deserve. We fade for it a couple weeks ago. I like it.

BOLDUAN: I like it, too. It was a beautiful day here yesterday. Definitely cooling off. Thank you so much, Indra. There's clearly a lot of news developing at this hour so let's get straight to Michaela for the headlines.

PEREIRA: Good morning to the two of you and good morning to everyone at home. Making news, more information about the NSA surveillance programs could be declassified as soon as today. A senior U.S. official says the revelations not only include reports on surveillance programs, but also previously undisclosed information about the secret foreign intelligence surveillance court.

On ac 360, NSA leader Edward Snowden's father slammed people who focus on his son rather than the questionable acts he revealed.


LON SNOWDEN, EDWARD SNOWDEN'S FATHER: There has been a clear effort by those who have been threatened politically and/or embarrassed by these revelations to focus on the so to speak center, my son, who has revealed these instead of the sins, the actual revelations.


PEREIRA: When asked if he thought his son could get a fair trial in the U.S., Lon Snowden said absolutely not.

James Comey will be the next director of the FBI. The Senate confirming its nomination on Monday. Comey served as deputy attorney general under former presidents, George W. Bush. During his confirmation hearing, Comey defended the NSA's collection of metadata, but said he didn't have details on the NSA's current programs.

A verdict coming today in the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning. The former army intelligence analyst has been accused in the WikiLeaks scandal. The biggest leak in classified information in U.S. history. Manning could face a life sentence if found guilty of aiding the enemy. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tells CNN that Bradley Manning is a hero. The judge will announce her decision at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Unfolding overnight, a driver of a commuter train is missing after his train collided with another head-on. It happened in western Switzerland. Search crews trying to fry open the train's crash cabs. At least five people were injured. Several of them were actually injured, 40 injured, five were seriously injured. Investigators are looking in to what caused that terrible crash.

CBS and Time Warner Cable continue their negotiations this morning. Just hours ago, they appeared to be at an impasse. At midnight Eastern, Time Warner Cable started pulling CBS owned stations off the air in several major cities.

But a short time later, both sides issued statements saying negotiations were back on. Time Warner says it has stopped going dark on CBS channels at the request of CBS.

Well, they're known for living large on the reality show, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey. But Teresa Giudice and her husband Joe now facing serious, very serious felony fraud charges. Prosecutors say they scammed mortgage companies to get nearly $5 million in loans. They'll be officially indicted today in a federal court in Newark.

The reality couple is facing up to 30 years in prison. We'll have much more coming up for you on this story later in our program.

Very real. Not fake TV at all. That's very real.

BOLDUAN: Not reality TV at all.

CUOMO: Reality and then there's real reality. That's what they're dealing with there.

All right. Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY.

When we come back, courting Clinton. First, a private lunch with the president. Now, a power breakfast with Joe Biden. Is Hillary just hungry? And if so, hungry for what?

BOLDUAN: Quite a tease.

And five words from Pope Francis giving millions of gay Catholics hope this morning. Those five words: Who am I to judge? We'll tell you what he said and what it means.


CUOMO: Welcome back, everybody, here at NEW DAY.

Pope Francis breaking the mold, that's the question. Why? He told reporters, "Who am I to judge gay priests?", who he called his brothers.

A sign of sea change for the church or not really change from the Holy See? That's the discussion.

Let's bring in CNN contributor and Catholic priest, Father Edward Beck. Father, always good to have you. You tell me, take the position of why this is meaningful what we heard.

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, Mo, you know everybody wants to be loved and accepted, right?

CUOMO: Yes, especially me.

BECK: Especially you, I know that.

This pope went to Brazil and reached out to everyone, especially those on the fringe. Then he gets on the plane, this impromptu press conference, which he surprised everybody and he reaches out to three disaffected groups in the church -- gays, women and divorced and remarried people.

So once again, it's a sea change because we have not seen a pope do it in very colloquial, familiar language. He really said I want you to be part of us by what he did.

CUOMO: So because it's the pope, even if it's just talk, it still matters.

BECK: It still matters because such a tone change. In 2005, there was a document that came out of the Vatican that said homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.


BECK: So, now, eight years later, you have a pope, saying, who am I to judge? These are my brothers. It's a sea change.

CUOMO: But he is in charge, right? There is only one entity above him. So, he can make whatever he rules he wants. Is it enough? If he wants to take a step into this, why not just raise the question, why not answer the question?

You know, should divorced people be able to get communion? Yes, I think they should. Why isn't that the change?

BECK: Because he does collaborate. He said on the plane in October, I'm bringing together eight cardinals for that council that he's going to have to advise him. And I'm going to put on the agenda this issue of marriage. We're going to talk about pastoral care of marriage.

He said about women. He goes I think it should be more than tokenism. I don't think its just having altar girls. I don't think it's just making them heads of committees. They need real leadership positions. He said the church is feminine.

CUOMO: But not priests.

BECK: He said not priests. But John Paul II closed the door on that, in a definitive statement, and he's not going to open that door.

CUOMO: Well, he could, just because one pope said, it doesn't mean another pope cannot say.

BECK: Not really. It's a little more complicated than that. John Paul II made it almost an infallible statement and doctrine by what he did and said.

So, this pope isn't going to, right now, by the way, in the first five months in his papacy say, you know, forget what John Paul II said, we're going to do something else. It's going to happen much more slowly than that if it happens.

CUOMO: Fair to say, though, now that he's started this dialogue. He has to continue talking about it, bringing it up, though. You can't just bring it up once and walk away, otherwise you raise expectations and then drop them.

BECK: Most definitely. And what I was interested in is that married priests didn't come up. All those reporters, 82 minutes, didn't say --

CUOMO: Yes, what about that?

BECK: -- hey, you people, he called you the lions, you didn't grab (ph) him with that. How come?

CUOMO: Yes, why not?

BECK: I don't know. You should have been on that plane, you could have asked him.

CUOMO: If I had, I sure would.

BECK: Maybe there is hope no you some day.

CUOMO: Even the pope complaint help with that.

BECK: Oh, man.

CUOMO: Father Beck, thank you for charity on this. We hope it becomes a continuing story line what Pope Francis has to offer his people.

BECK: Me, too.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

All right.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

CUOMO: I think I just got in trouble with a priest. Let see what happens in the break.

BOLDUAN: You do get in trouble all the time. Thank you, Father Beck. It's great to see you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton's private lunch with the president. The White House insists it's just two friends catching up. John King has our political gut check. Next, we're going to ask him about it.

CUOMO: All right. And we have new developments from the jewel heist in the south of France. Authorities now say it could be -- get this -- the largest theft of its kind in history. That's big.