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Terror Threat Shuts Embassies; "I Am Not A Monster"; Castro Gets Life In Prison; Snowden Staying With American Friends; "A Slap In The Face Of All Americans"; Calls For Million-Man March; Hearing For Alleged D.C. Vandal; MLB Performance Enhancing Drugs Scandal

Aired August 2, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What is this linked to? We get an explanation it was a variety of greens, it may not be on the shelves.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Not on the shelves anymore so don't worry about it, but people are worried.

CUOMO: So we're going to get after it, all right. But first the story we'll talk about is this terror threat, the State Department is shutting down key U.S. embassies and consulates in throughout the Middle East including Egypt and Israel, and they are doing it based on a, quote, "credible and serious," end quote, threat to U.S. targets overseas so let's go now to CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Good morning, Barbara. What's going on here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, this may be the most significant shutdown of U.S. embassies since the 9/11 attacks.


STARR (voice-over): In an extraordinary move, the U.S. is closing embassies around the world after what one senior U.S. official told CNN was more than the usual chatter about a potential terrorist threat.

MARIE HARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The department has been apprised of information that out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations indicates we should institute these precautionary steps.

STARR: The move comes as the holy days that mark the end of Ramadan approach and nearly a year after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Now the embassy in the capital Tripoli will be closed, other embassies in the Middle East also posted they will be shut. From Egypt when a year ago violent protests threatened the embassy in Cairo to Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Riyadh and Doha, Qatar, all embassies that, quote, "would have been normally open on Sunday are being shutdown."

And the closings may expand to include additional days. Another official told CNN the Obama administration is monitoring threats against the American embassy in Yemen. The move came on the same day President Obama met with the president of Yemen who has cracked down on al Qaeda.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What we've seen is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP moved back out of territories that it was controlling.


STARR: So here's the obvious question, is this threat due to al Qaeda? Well, Al Qaeda is now an organization so spread out across the region with so many affiliate organizations in so many countries. This may be best thought of as an al Qaeda-inspired threat trying to lead to more attacks across the region -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Barbara, watching it for us at the Pentagon, thanks so much.

To Cleveland now, where Ariel Castro is now locked up for life. During his sentencing hearing, the Cleveland kidnaper said he was not a monster, but one of the women he tortured for a decade had a very different story to tell, an emotional but defiant Michelle Knight said she would overcome what happened, but that Castro would face hell for eternity.

Pamela Brown is in Cleveland with more on this gut-wrenching day in court. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate, no doubt the most powerful moment of yesterday's sentencing was when Michelle Knight boldly faced her tormenter, the man who kidnapped, raped, beat and terminated her pregnancy as an emotionless Ariel Castro looked on.


MICHELLE KNIGHT, CLEVELAND KIDNAPPING VICTIM: He deserves life in prison. I could forgive you, but I'll never forget.

BROWN (voice-over): Despite her tearful statement and the 937 counts against him, Ariel Castro was defiant, almost rebellious in court.

ARIEL CASTRO, CLEVELAND KIDNAPPER, RAPIST: I'm not a monster. I'm a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction. Just like an alcoholic has an addiction.

BROWN: He even claimed he never beat, tortured or raped the three women he held captive for a decade.

CASTRO: Most of the sex in the house, practically all of it was consensual. The allegation that it was forcefully is totally wrong because there was times that they would even ask me for sex, many times.

BROWN: The graphic evidence in court paints a horrifying picture, rusty chains, doors with homemade alarms, a gun Castro would show the women as a form of control all while Castro claimed it was a happy home.

CASTRO: We had a lot of harmony going on in that home.

BROWN: He even mentioned this YouTube video of Amanda Berry smiling on stage at a Nelly concert as a testament that she wasn't tortured. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Berry's grandmother says she's appalled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they'd have put one of the chains around his neck, I wonder how happy he would have felt. It wasn't a home. It was a dungeon.

BROWN: Photos also released of all three victims a day after their dramatic rescue, fragile and pale from years of confinement. Friends of the victims are outraged.

ANGEL ARROYO, FRIEND OF GINA DEJESUS: That's straight villain, straight monster, a person with no emotions so I hope that he gets what he deserves.

BROWN: Their abductor will spend the rest of his life behind bars. His victims looking healthier with smiles that capture their astonishing resilience as they close this chapter of their lives.

KNIGHT: After 11 years, I'm finally being heard and it's liberating.


BROWN: Michelle Knight there, a woman small in stature. She is only about 4 feet tall, but she clearly has an indominable spirit. Not only did she speak during yesterday's sentencing, but she stayed there through the very end and at the end of the sentencing, she cracked a little smile. Chris, you can imagine the sense of relief that not only she feels, but the other two women as well. They feel if they can close this chapter of their lives. By the way, the courage fund set up for them has raised more than $1.2 million -- Chris.

CUOMO: Well, that's great news and to be sure, Pamela, he can never hurt them again. Thank you for the reporting from Cleveland. Appreciate it.

All right now, we're going to move overseas. NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, is free as you now, and any moment now may be speaking for the first time since Russia granted him a year-long asylum. Apparently, he's staying with some Americans he met online and even has a job waiting for him if he wants it.

CNN's Phil Black joins us live from Moscow this morning. Good morning, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Yes, the job offer comes from a founder of a popular social networking site here. It's often described as the Russian version of Facebook. His lawyer says Snowden is now surrounding himself by people he thinks he can trust. These are people who reached out to him online while he was stranded at the airport and he says they include American citizens.


BLACK (voice-over): That man with his back to the camera is Edward Snowden and this was the moment he left Moscow's airport after six weeks there. That's according to his lawyer who is standing next to him in the photo. This document grants Snowden permission to live in Russia for one year which also keeps him beyond the reach of the United States for that time. Kucherena describes his location as secret and safe.

He says he's staying with other Americans who live in Russia. He say they are people Snowden doesn't know personally, but who reached out via the internet and offered to help while he was staying at the airport. The lawyer says Snowden will take a few days getting used to his freedom and recovering from his airport ordeal.

After that he'll do some media interviews, then, well, he doesn't know. Edward Snowden must build a new life in a country he officially entered for the first time just one day ago.


BLACK: Snowden won't just be relying upon the kindness of strangers for long. Arrangements are under way to arrange a visa for his father so he can travel to Moscow as soon as possible to be reunited with his son. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Phil, thanks so much. So many in Washington consider the asylum decision a complete slap in the face that has set back relations with Moscow. The White House so upset that President Obama might, they are considering, maybe, backing out of a planned meeting next month with Russia's president. Let's go live to the White House for more on this, where Dan Lothian standing by. Everyone is wondering, Dan, what is the White House's next move?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And you know, all of this, Kate, comes at a difficult time in U.S./Russia relations while a source tells CNN that the Russians had been signalling this move. The White House says that they were not told ahead of time that Snowden would be getting temporary asylum so all of this is putting pressure on president Obama to get tough on President Putin.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): It may take a much bigger reset button.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia has stabbed us in the back.

LOTHIAN: To ease tense relations.

REPRESENTATIVE STENY HOYER (D) MARYLAND: This is not going to help the relations between the United States and Russia.

LOTHIAN: After NSA leaker, Edward Snowden got the asylum he was asking for and his biggest supporter, Wikileaks declared on a tweet, "We have won the battle." JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step, this move by the Russian government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation.

LOTHIAN: U.S. lawmakers frustrated by Snowden's cat and mouse game, and now Russia's temporary embrace are pushing for a tough response.

SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D) NEW YORK: As long as Prime Minister Putin acts like a bully, we have only one choice, to stand up to him and show him that bullies pay a price.

LOTHIAN: President Obama is scheduled to travel to Moscow in September for a face-to-face meeting with President Putin and then to St. Petersburg for the G20 Summit.

CARNEY: Obviously this is not a positive development and we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit.

LOTHIAN: Senator Lindsey Graham who suggested the U.S. should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, but has since changed his mind says Russia's action is a disgrace, a deliberate effort to embarrass the U.S. that should not be tolerated.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would hope the president would consider counsel the bilateral meeting with Putin because I think it sends really the wrong signal about how seriously we take the Snowden episode.

LOTHIAN: A potentially high price for as Wikileaks puts it, winning the battle.


LOTHIAN: The White House says that the U.S. will continue to be in communication with Russian officials expressing extreme disappointment and making the case that there is a legal justification for Snowden to be returned to the U.S. -- Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Dan, thanks so much. I mean, it makes you wonder other than expressing extreme disappointment in the decision what is there that the U.S. can do about it.

CUOMO: Not much, but we'll get into it. We have a couple of lawmakers on key committees and we'll see what the response will be. A lot of news this morning to tell you about, but perhaps none of it bigger than the man who will tell you about it, ladies and gentlemen, John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they checked the local bars for someone to fill in for Michaela Pereira. They couldn't find anyone so they asked me. Making news this morning, a group supporting deposed President Mohammed Morsy calling for a million-man march from 33 different mosques under the banner of Egypt against the coup and they called on all free people in all countries of the world to demonstrate peacefully in support of their marches. All this is happening after Egypt's interior ministry warned pro-Morsy protesters to leave two Cairo squares.

The wildfire fight turns deadly in Central Oregon. The 58-year-old firefighter John Hemic was killed and fellow firefighter 48-year-old Norman Crawford was injured when a tree fell on them. They were working to contain a fire at the Chutes National Forest. This is among 12 wildfires burning in the Northwest right now. Hemic is the first Oregon firefighter killed in the line of duty since 2008 and the first to die fighting an Oregon wildfire since 1994.

The woman who D.C. police say is the green paint vandal expected to appear in court later this morning. The hearing will determine whether there's probable cause to Jiamei Tian. She has been charged with felony, destruction of property for allegedly splattering paint on two locations inside the National Cathedral, if found guilty, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. announcing a $100,000 reward to solve a personal cold case, his mother's abduction. Violet Ripken was taken at gunpoint from her Maryland home in July of last year. She was held captive for nearly 24 hours before being found in the back seat of her car near her home, hands bound but otherwise unharmed. The surveillance photos of the suspect led to tips, but really nothing panned out, hence the reward.

Finally actress, Jamie Lee Curtis, in a pretty nasty car wreck, TMZ reports the black SUV she was in collided with a BMW in Venice, California. Who did Jamie Lee Curtis call for help? Her good friend and fellow actress, Jodie Foster, who apparently got there so fast that she beat the police to the scene. Jamie Lee Curtis was taken to a hospital where she was treated for minor injuries. She was released.

CUOMO: I'm not surprised by that. I believe Jodie Foster has been running a rescue service to accident victims for about four and a half years now.

BERMAN: Jodie Foster is a good one to call.

BOLDUAN: I don't know if that says more about the great friend she is or the response of the police.

CUOMO: She's fast.

BERMAN: She didn't get to the hospital. I mean, there were first responders to take her to the hospital

CUOMO: The good news is she's OK, right, because we all want that. We all love Jamie Lee Curtis, it's a big battle between AAA and Jodie Foster, trading on her name.

BOLDUAN: It's all about branding.

CUOMO: Who do you want to come, some guy looks like me or Jodie Foster? BOLDUAN: I can't decide right now. So let's go to Indra keeping track of the latest forecast including a tornado in Florida.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We were just talking about a waterspout several days, right, those conditions are so right. This is actually video here of an EF2 tornado and 125-mile-per-hour winds out there, three to four inches of rain in just 30 minutes. This is the devastation. We saw five homes damaged and 15 to 20 structures in the area.

I'll show you the conditions here in the map and you can actually see, again, Florida is like this, they move so fast and these storms almost come up out of nowhere. You can literally pops up that quickly. Unfortunately about 4:00 in the afternoon yesterday is when they did see the thunderstorm develop.

Otherwise, we're going to give you an update on Gil still a Category 1 hurricane, 85-mile-per-hour steady winds. Right now, it's still in some warm water so it's going to hold on to that strength for just a little bit longer, behind it the water will dissipate and it is staying south of Hawaii, likely to get good surf with this, I don't think there's any complainers about this.

As far as Dorian, the moisture in the Bahamas today now heading towards Miami so some heavy rain expected in that area, some flooding potential there and eventually it will curve out to sea and that actually has the chance of developing again so we're actually monitoring that little area right there.

And then there's the big question: it is the weekend, where is the rain? Well, in the Midwest today, you'll see some rain and once you head, of course, to the mid-Atlantic, Saturday is the rain and Sunday looks so much better for everyone except we talked about this morning, the Dakotas not so good on Sunday.

BOLDUAN: All right. No Dakotas this weekend. I always turn my travel plans around on Fridays. All right.

CUOMO: So all the blue over New York and Long Island, you're saying that's going to be OK?

PETERSONS: Over a period of time. It's like little pulses so thunderstorms in New York Friday and whole Saturday.

CUOMO: Indra gives some weather, I get out to go fishing. All of a sudden, the next thing I know.

PETERSONS: Hey, hey, now!

BOLDUAN: He's blaming it on you.


CUOMO: We'll take a break here and everybody's going to get after me in the break I can feel it. Coming up on NEW DAY: Could baseball's biggest star be banned from the game? We're going to have the latest on the ongoing A-Rod steroid saga.

BOLDUAN: Plus, the potential witness in the murder of a medical student. We've been following this case. So, the witness comes forward and we'll tell you what he said to police and why is may have brought the investigation all the way back to square one.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody.

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez heads to Trenton, New Jersey, today to begin a two-game rehab stint with the Yankees minor league team, but he may be getting ahead of himself as off the field, high level talks continue between Rodriguez and Major League Baseball. He's trying to negotiate a long suspension and avoid a lifetime ban from the game.

CNN's Rachel Nichols is here to bring us up to speed.

Great to have you, Rachel. Good morning.


Well, Chris, this has turned into the summer soap opera that just will not end for baseball fans. Alex Rodriguez, of course, one of several players under investigation for ties to a Miami clinic that was doling out performance-enhancing drugs.

We're expecting baseball to announce a spate of suspensions in the coming days. Still, none is expected to be as harsh and none has garnered much interest as the punishment for A-Rod, whenever it comes.


NICHOLS (voice-over): Alex Rodriguez is in the middle of a delicate dance with Major League Baseball and as the Yankee third baseman's career hangs in the balance, baseball fans are left waiting and waiting and waiting.

So, what's the holdup?

Baseball is giving A-Rod the chance at a lesser suspension if he admits to wrongdoing and promises not to appeal, similar to a plea bargain. That's the route former National League MVP Ryan Braun chose. After his admission of guilt, Braun was suspended only 65 games, down from the 100-game mark baseball had reportedly started at.

Initially, A-Rod's representatives insisted they had no interest in making a similar deal, but baseball officials have spent the past few days working to change their minds. They've reportedly presented, quote, "volumes of evidence". They also leaked that the commissioner is considering a lifetime ban for A-Rod -- a threat meant to further pressure him at the bargaining table.

Publicly, A-Rod still remains noncommittal. In a recent interview with CNN, Rodriguez declined to address his situation directly.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER, NY YANKEES: There's so many he says leaks here and there. I think it's important we have a process. I think we have a good system with major league baseball and let's let the process play out.

NICHOLS: It's a process that has turned into a waiting game, possibly the most important game Alex Rodriguez has ever played.


NICHOLS: Now, guys, just because he's talking to Major League Baseball doesn't mean they will agree on anything. Baseball is thinking of a harsh penalty against Rodriguez, even if there is a plea type of deal. And we don't know if he's going to agree to that.

BOLDUAN: Is it about setting an example with A-Rod's such a big name?

NICHOLS: I mean, he is the highest paid player in baseball and this is a different way of going after guys. In the past, we've seen only if there's a positive test, if they can prove that with physical evidence. In this case, they went after all the guys associated with this clinic and they're compiling different kinds of evidence, receipts, witness testimony. Really in sports, the druggies are always ahead of the drug testers, that's the way science works.

So, this league is basically saying, we want to take control of the process. We'll see if, legally, they're going to be able to pull it off.

CUOMO: And avoid the slippery slope, right, because if there are drugs in the game, you have to make a decision of what you do about it. If you start getting all of the guys out of it who do the drugs, you might wind up having a big pool of people who aren't playing baseball.

NICHOLS: But isn't that OK? Doesn't that leave room for the other people who aren't drugs? Isn't that the example we want to set for our kids?

I think baseball will be OK with getting out the people who are on drugs in the game. The thing that we've seen that's so interesting is in the old steroid era, players closed ranks around the guys who were accused. This time around, we're seeing the other guys in the clubhouse point and say, get them out, we don't want to have to compete against them. Really, the tide has turned in this sport. We'll have to see if that happens in other sports.

CUOMO: This is the discussion. This is the discussion of our generation in sports will be about this.

Rachel, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY: a medical student murdered in cold blood at a top university. Why a witness sought out by police on this case may have provided more questions than answers. CUOMO: Plus, Oprah Winfrey playing politics. There she is with her candidate, Cory Booker, the Newark mayor. We're going to tell you about their political alliance and the fancy fund-raiser she threw for him.


CUOMO: Come inside. Welcome back, everybody. Here we are on NEW DAY. It's Friday, August 2nd. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

A lot coming up this hour.

Growing outrage over why officials won't reveal what brand of bagged salad is making hundreds of people sickened in several states. The latest on the series of bug outbreak, we'll have that next hour.

CUOMO: Also, we have today's must-see moment a bear, of course. With Mickey not here, we're going to go strong with the animals. This has a little thing for German food. We're going to show this big fellow went dumpster diving for his dinner.

Could show his strength, by the way. Not easy to move one of those things.

BOLDUAN: I know. That looks a little light.

CUOMO: The only other person I know who could do it?


CUOMO: John Berman, here with the news.

BERMAN: It is hard to follow the Schnitzel loving bear. I want to give you my best here.

Making news --

BOLDUAN: Berman, big on dumpster diving.

BERMAN: A credible and serious threat to tell you about -- a terror threat prompting the State Department to close embassies in key Mideast countries Sunday, including in Egypt and Israel.

The decision also affects facilities in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq and Kuwait. A U.S. official says the Obama administration is monitoring threats against the embassy in Sana'a in Yemen.

A horrifying crime and now, the sentence. The judge hands Ariel Castro a sentence of life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years. In addressing the court, Castro insisted he wasn't a monster.

The hero yesterday, though, Michelle Knight, who was taken first and held the longest. She told him, "You took 11 years of my life away. I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning." Very brave moments from her in court yesterday.

"Will you visit me in prison?" James Holmes posted that on a dating Web site before the movie theater shootings last year in Colorado. Now, a judge says prosecutors may use it as evidence in his trial. They claim the post is proof that Holmes knew right from wrong and they hope it will torpedo his insanity defense.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to killing 12 people and wounding many more.

In Florida, a young boy was sucked into a drain pipe, dumped into a river and he survived. He traveled the length of three football fields and was underwater for more than a minute. That's a long time. The boy was at a party in Fort Myers when he began splashing in a puddle in a ditch.


SIDNEY OAKES-LOTTIRIDGE, NEIGHBOR: It was just completely covered with water and there was a tiny whirlpool. I mean, you would never be able to tell there was a drainage pipe under it.

CHRIS BEVAN, FORT MYERS BATTALION CHIEF: It appears that the child was swept through the storm drain, all the way out into the river, approximately 300 yards.

OAKES-LOTTIRIDGE: We saw the little kid. He was being put on the stretcher and you could tell his back was just beat up and he was just crying.

BEVAN: It turned out to be a lucky day for this child.


BERMAN: When police ran to the other end of the drain pipe, they heard the boy screaming, they pulled him to safety. The great part, doctors say he is going to be OK. Lucky kid.