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Terror Message Intercepted, U.S. Embassies Shut; "One Guy Bent on Doing Evil"; Alex Rodriguez Suspension Expected; Houses Collapses in Fire; Russia After Gaga & Madonna; An Emotional Journey

Aired August 5, 2013 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the usual kind of chatter, but had to be corroborated to take this kind of action.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Significant threat. New details on the al Qaeda messages that forced the U.S. to close embassies across the Middle East and North Africa for a week. Is the plot already in motion?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: In an instant, the terrifying moments caught on tape as this building collapses and firefighters narrowly escape. One split second decision saved their lives.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Russia versus Gaga. The country takes on two of America's biggest top idols, Lady Gaga and Madonna saying they broke Russian law. Are they trying to stop artists for speaking out for gay rights?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you remember about what I told you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had asked me what I thought of when I thought of breast cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of all the things this kid could ask for. He just wanted to help people.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It is Monday, August 5th, 8:00 in the East. I'm Kate Bolduan.

CUOMO: And I'm Chris Cuomo here as always with news anchor Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Good morning.

CUOMO: Baseball expected to suspend Alex Rodriguez today, but the slugger is not likely to go down quietly. What does the fight mean for the Yankee star and the game overall. The managing editor of "Sports Illustrated" will join us live to discuss.

BOLDUAN: A lot of money at stake. That's also for sure.

So, plus, get ready for Matt Damon, everyone. I sat down with the mega star to talk about his new movie, "Elysium". Find out what drew him to the movie and what he's planning to do next.

PEREIRA: And, boy, is this one a sight for sore eyes. We welcome back our friend, our colleague, our family member, Zoraida Sambolin. She is back, returned to "EARLY START" and got icing on Berman's nose there, after her remarkable experience and story of survival. We're going to talk to her all. What it was like going through all of that with her family, to be sure.

Strong lady.

CUOMO: Touching story she has to share with everybody.

All right. We're going to start this morning, though, with a developing news about an al Qaeda terror threat. It's serious enough to shut down 19 embassies and consulates in Middle East and Africa for a week. And the U.S. is warning Americans traveling overseas to be on high alert.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live with more details. Good morning, Barbara.


It began with the shut down of 22 embassies over the weekend. Now, so many will be shut down across North Africa and the Middle East for the rest of the week. The details about the plot behind all of this are chilling.


STARR (voice-over): The CIA and the National Security Agency had been secretly monitoring intelligence tips for weeks. There were indications of a possible terrorist attack in Yemen, the stronghold of one of al Qaeda's deadliest affiliates.

Alarm bells went off across Washington when a crucial message was intercepted, involving communications in the last several days among senior al Qaeda operatives.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is their wakeup call. Al Qaeda is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11.

STARR: Final planning for an attack may be complete. Dozens of U.S. intelligence analysts are urgently scouring data bases, telephone intercepts and Web sites for clues.

The U.S. response -- going beyond worldwide travel warning and closing embassies across the Middle East and North Africa. After meeting with defense commanders, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. forces in Spain and Italy onto a higher state of alert, 1,500 Marines on board three Navy warships in the Red Sea will now remain off the coast of Yemen ready to react.

CNN has agreed to an administration official's request to withhold details of the intercept that helped trigger the response because the information is so sensitive.

But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee confirms it's the controversial NSA surveillance program that picked up the alarming terrorist chatter.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: What we have heard is some specifics on what's intended to be done and some individuals who are making plans such as we saw before 9/11.


STARR: So, how serious is all of this? Well, we've learned that late last night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the latest about the threat -- Chris.

CUOMO: Barbara, let me ask you this. Giving the information that we're closing these consulates and embassies and here's where we're doing it and here's why. What is the thinking why that is an effective deterrent?

STARR: Well, think of it this way. So many of us have traveled overseas, and when you see a U.S. embassy overseas, it's a large group of people. You have a concentration of American citizens and very often you have a concentration of local nationals in that country waiting outside every morning to get visas, to consult with the embassy on a number of matters. It presents a huge target.

That's what they don't want to have. They don't want to have a target of Americans and local nationals that al Qaeda could go after. That's why there's immediate action -- Chris.

CUOMO: So, making the situation more of a hard target. Barbara Starr, thank you very much for the reporting. I appreciate it.

STARR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Let's go to California now, where police say a suspect is in custody after the hit in Venice Beach this weekend. The incident was caught on tape. A car plowing into a crowd on the iconic Venice boardwalk killing one and injuring 11 more. Now, witnesses are saying it looked like the driver was trying to hit them on purpose.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has more.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surveillance video taken from a nearby restaurant shows the suspect's car plowing into people on the crowded Venice boardwalk and squirming around barriers. DAVE BLACKBURN, SANTA MONICA: He just drove and took the left turn down the center of the board walk and just started driving and bodies were scattering and bodies were flying in the air. People were screaming. It was absolute mayhem.

VERCAMMEN: A second camera angle shows the driver getting out of his car, apparently casing the popular boardwalk. He gets back into the sedan and floors it.

LANDON BLACKBURN, EYEWITNESS: He had to press his foot to the gas, pedal to the medal, because the tires were screeching. He was looking for blood. That guy's intention was to kill people.

VERCAMMEN: An Italian tourist on her honeymoon was killed and 11 others injured in a scene a quarter mile long. The suspect is 38- year-old Nathan Campbell of Los Angeles.

Just two hours after this horrifying hit and run, Campbell surrendered to police in neighboring Santa Monica. Authorities say he told authorities, "I think you are looking for me."

The woman killed is Alice Gruppioni, 32 years from Bologna, Italy. The Italian consulate says Gruppioni and her husband Christian Cassidy (ph) were married July 20th. And that the new groom was by her side at the time of the accident and tried to pull his wife away from the speeding car.

If there is a motive in this carnage, police aren't saying right now. But they did say that Campbell was bent on evil.


BOLDUAN: All right. That was our Paul Vercammen for us. Thanks so much, Paul.

CUOMO: All right. Let's go to baseball news right now. Alex Rodriguez may be ready to rejoin his Yankee brothers on the field tonight, but that may be out of his hands. Major League Baseball is expected to suspend the star third baseman in a ban that could last through 2014. But it is clear A-Rod is not going down without a fight.

Joining us now to discuss, Chris Stone, managing editor of "Sports Illustrated," which profiled Rodriguez in this week's issue. It was very good article, very well done, because there's a lot of analysis here.

A-Rod, individually, is meaningful, but also metaphor for what the league wants to show, right?

CHRIS STONE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Today is going to be a circus. Some time around noon, the knives are really going to come out. He is suspended, but he's not suspended. He's banned, but he's playing tonight.

It's -- you know, for the next month, the story isn't going to go away.

BOLDUAN: So, what does today mean then? It's the beginning of the real fight rather than the speculation of the fight?

STONE: Yes, I mean, it's going to become clear pretty quickly. The hand each side is holding here. Lifetime ban is clearly off the table here. But for A-Rod, I think the biggest question is, he's fighting this. And it's pretty clear why he's fighting this, because the suspension that has been reported, which would be 214 games, which would take him through the end of next year -- 214 games is far greater than any other punishment that's likely to be meted out here.

And the question is, why is this one so much greater than all the other suspensions? Can't just be for lack of cooperation we're talking about 60-game suspension, 65-game suspension to Ryan Braun, 214 games. That's a huge leap.

CUOMO: Well, they're also establishing precedent with how it's going to go when they suspend somebody going forward, right, because if he finds channels of appeal, if this becomes a legal issue that the courts can decide as opposed to just being within the league, that changes the game totally, no pun intended, right?

STONE: Right. It's not going to be a clean case, because what MLB is working here, we don't know the quality of their evidence, we don't know the quality of their witnesses and how this ends up.

And the mediator has the power here, he can settle in between. I mean, he can remove the suspension, which I would say would be pretty highly unlikely. He could uphold the suspension or settle somewhere in between, which is where I think most fans and people following this story feel where it should end up.

You get the feeling if they did meet somewhere in between, it would be difficult for Rodriguez to fight that.

PEREIRA: It's a wider scandal, wider ramifications, of other players across the league. But let's talk about him individually.

Let's say it's through 2014. He's 40 years old. He's been challenged by injuries. How much game will he have left in him at that point?

STONE: Remember, his contract takes him through the year, 2017. The 10-year $275 million extension he signed back in 2007. So, there was an assumption that Rodriguez was going to play until he was 42 years old.

Now, right now, he's gone through two hip surgeries in the last two years, but he's still, you look at him as a player. He's still a little rusty in the minors but still has clear value to the Yankees. He has more value to the Yankees than what they have right now. You know, a year off, that could enable him to rehabilitate and come back healthier than he's been in years in 2015.

BOLDUAN: And that's the card he's holding. He's still that value of a player. He knows his value. That's what he's working with. CUOMO: There's a lot of speculation, though, that the Yankees are being quiet about this because $34 million on the table for him. If the suspension goes and he's without pay, $34 million they get back.

STONE: I mean, really, it's closer to $100 million when you take into account the rest of the contract here. I mean, $34 million through the end of next season, $64 million roughly after that.

CUOMO: Right, on the balance, yes. Good stuff.

BOLDUAN: All right. Chris Stone, thanks so much. You have a long day ahead of you.

CUOMO: You'll be back.


BOLDUAN: There's a lot of news developing at this hour, so let's get to Michaela for the latest.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at the headlines right now.

About 100 people in Louisiana waiting to hear this morning if they can go home. A train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed over the weekend and forced evacuations in the area. One of those cars was carrying sodium hydroxide which can be fatal. The governor says crews need to assess the damage before people can go home.

Rookie officers in the Bronx shoot and kill an armed 14-year-old boy who they say would not drop his gun. They say Shaaliver Douse was shooting at people outside a deli and didn't respond when officers ordered him to drop that weapon. Relatives say police didn't have to kill him.

The NYPD police commissioner says Douse is the youngest person to die in a police-involved shooting that he can recall.

With five weeks to go before primary day, Anthony Weiner forging ahead with his campaign for New York City mayor despite being plagued by another online sex scandal. He is expected to release a new 2013 policy book today, spelling out his positions on the issues of the day.

The embattled former congressman marched yesterday in an Ecuadorian pride parade in Queens.

Seattle City officials are defending an internal memo that question the use of the terms brown bag and citizen on the job. The city's Office of Civil Rights says the terms can be deemed offensive or history of being offensive. Brown bag is a segregation era phrase, and citizens may not be inclusive enough. An official there says the memo isn't a ban, he says it's more of a friendly suggestion.

And, finally, terrifying new video that shows just how dangerous it is to be a firefighter. This raging inferno began at a house, fire in Boise, Idaho, but watch as the home engulfed in flames crumbles into nothing. And thanks to one man's training and experience, a group of firefighters are all here to tell what happened next.


PEREIRA (voice-over): The video is so intense, it could be from the set of a Hollywood action movie. Firefighters battle this three-alarm fire that consumed a two-story home in Boise, Idaho.

Captain Randy Christianson (ph) noticed the wall of the house starting to vow and quickly warned fire crews to get out of the way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy all units. This is command. Back up from your positions out of the collapse zone of the structure. Back up.

PEREIRA: Just 15 seconds after his warning, the home gave way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, send me additional ambulance, we've had a collapse.

PEREIRA: You can see how quickly it all happened after the warning that clearly saved multiple lives.

A few were pelted with burning debris, some were knocked to the ground but no one was trapped inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Command (INAUDIBLE) engine 5 and engine 2 crew all accounted for.

PEREIRA: A blessing fire chief Dennis Doan recognized.

DENNIS DOAN, BOISE FIRE CHIEF: We could have had firefighters trapped underneath here, and it was chaos for a little bit because we thought we had one.

PEREIRA: The fire also spread to the roofs of two nearby homes, but crews were able to contain it to keep the damage minimal.


PEREIRA: That home was undergoing a complete renovation. So, luckily, there were no residents inside, a blessing, but also a bit of a curse, because the gutted home allowed the fire to spread really quickly and prevent it to spreading even further, firefighters had to stay in close proximity. Just another reminder to ask us of the risks men and women in the fire service take to save lives and protect property every single day when they get a call.

BOLDUAN: He was so calm. You could really see his training right there. That was really amazing, years of experience. Thanks so much, Michaela.

PEREIRA: You're welcome (ph).

BOLDUAN: Let's get over to Indra Petersons in the weather center for the forecast as you're heading out the door this morning. INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, yes. First, I want to show you some video from this weekend.

Look at this. This is Kansas and about five hours worth of rain. I mean, seven hours worth of rain. That's what they saw in Hutchinson, Kansas, unbelievable, the flood waters out there and, unfortunately, more rain in the forecast.

I wanted to show you what it looked like in that early morning hours. I mean, heavy thunderstorms training or just kind of staying over the area one after the next. Again, like I mentioned, more rain expected in the area today. So, of course, the flood threat in the area remained high and actually I looked towards the weekend and it looks like that threat of thunderstorms will remain in the area throughout the week.

So, definitely something we are going to keep our eye on as we go throughout this week. As far as more rain, we're talking about the severe weather threat today. This is going to be from Montana, straight down, yes, Kansas. Heavy thunderstorms again in that region.

But not just heavy thunderstorms but looking for the possible tornado. Isolated, minimal chance there, really looking for damaging winds and large hail in that area. And, of course, we have down to the Southeast, they are not getting a break out there. Speaking of that, right, one to three inches of rain still responsible into the Southeast today, but it is nice somewhere. That happens to be right here.

If you're in the Northeast, temperatures into the 70s and they're going to stay that way. So, gorgeous weather. But only for a day, guys. We can keep laughing, but in the next couple days, more rain right here, too.

BOLDUAN: All right. Enjoy today.

CUOMO: One day at a time, works for me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Matt Damon goes from movie about Liberace, remember that role, to a hard-body sci-fi action flick. He's talking to me about the new role in "Elysium."

CUOMO: Word is he was tongue tied because he was so taken by you.


CUOMO: So, word on the street, ladies and gentlemen. Just fresh from the device.

Also, the Russian government isn't gaga for Gaga or Madonna. It's taking them to task for visa violations. But is that really, is it cover for something else? We're going to tell you what might be the story behind the story.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. Pop super stars, Lady Gaga and Madonna are in trouble with Russia. The official charge, work visa violations. But, is it just a coincidence that both performers are supporters of gay rights which are under serious threat in Russia? Could the charges be payback for their on-stage comments during concerts their recently. CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Moscow with the latest. Good morning, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Russian officials say they could actually prosecute Lady Gaga and Madonna after discovering they entered the country last year with the wrong paperwork and played concerts here. The problem only came to light after a complaint was made by a leading anti-gay Russian lawmaker raising suspensions that the whole thing is about punishing the stars for their gay rights stance.


CHANCE (voice-over): Even if you're one of the world's biggest superstars speaking out on Gay rights in Russia, risky. Lady Gaga is finding out.


LADY GAGA, SINGER/MUSICIAN: Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house.

CHANCE: Now, Russian officials say the pop star staged her concert without proper work visas. It's not officially linked to her remarks, but the complaint was filed by Vitaly Milonov, lawmaker behind Russia's controversial anti-gay laws. Another icon, Madonna is also accused of spreading what Russia calls gay propaganda after she spoke out at her concert in St. Petersburg last year.

MADONNA, SINGER/MUSICIAN: Now, I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights.

CHANCE: But in Russia, activists say gay rights are under increasing pressure along with anyone who dares to support them.


CHANCE (on-camera): If they're prosecuted, they could face state fines, even a ban on entering Russia in the future. But critics say the big problem is they could deter American artists from playing concerts in Russia in the future -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Matthew, appreciate the reporting this morning. We're going to take a break now.

When we come back on NEW DAY, how do you tell your kids that you have cancer? Imagine this horrible thing. Our own Zoraida had to face that challenge, and now, she's back to share her story. A really worth watching. BOLDUAN: She took it head on. She is a great example.

And, also this coming up on NEW DAY, my one-on-one with, you know that face, needs no introduction, Matt Damon. Wait until you hear what the actor had to do to prepare for his latest role in the new film "Elysium."


BOLDUAN: We love rock 'n' roll. Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's Monday, August 5th. I'm Kate Bolduan.

CUOMO: And I'm Chris Cuomo here with news anchor, Michaela Pereira. Coming up in this half hour, it's tough enough being diagnosed with cancer, but for our own Zoraida Sambolin, the really hard part came next, how do you tell your kids? Zoraida, thank the Lord, is back and she's going to share her emotional story with us. It's going to be great.

BOLDUAN: So, so great. That story I can't wait for. But also, you might want to stick around for this one, as well.


BOLDUAN: One-on-one with Matt Damon. I had to pull it off when Michaela was away, because we're going to have a fist fight about it.


BOLDUAN: But that's just the back story. This Hollywood star decided to take a pretty big gamble in taking on his new role in the film, "Elysium." We'll talk much more about that. There's a lot going on with his family, as well.

PEREIRA: He seems charming, is he?

BOLDUAN: He's many in adjective. He's very charming and I will tell you, normal as can be, which is a huge compliment --


BOLDUAN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Very nice. Look forward to that. Not jealous at all.


CUOMO: You know, if I could just boil a day down to five things that I need to know?

PEREIRA: What would you do?

CUOMO: I don't know.

PEREIRA: Would you turn to me?

CUOMO: I would turn to you and I'd say, what are these five things?

BOLDUAN: I just saw an image of Michaela when she was seven. Would you turn to me?


PEREIRA: It's true. All right. Here we go. Here are the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. At number one, a worldwide terror alert. The U.S. shutting down 19 U.S. consulates and embassies in the Mid East and Africa through Saturday. An intercepted al Qaeda message raising fears of a possible terror attack.

Sources telling CNN that the Yankee slugger, Alex Rodriguez, will likely be suspended from baseball today. Some reports say A-Rod will be suspended for over 200 games which means he would not be eligible to play again until 2015.

Both the prosecution and the defense set to deliver their closing arguments today in Whitey Bulger's murder and racketeering trial. He is accused of 19 killings and 13 counts of extortion and money laundering.

Fifty Cent headed to court today in L.A. on a domestic violence charge. The rapper's ex-girlfriend claimed he attack her in June and tore up her condo.

And, at number five, Tiger Woods looking good going into PGA Championship week, the fourth and final major of the year. Woods won his eighth career Bridgestone open on Sunday blowing away the field by seven strokes.

You know, we always update those five things to know. So, stay on top of it by going to for the very latest. And it's like you just ask for it in there, I gave it to you.

CUOMO: Five things, beautiful.

BOLDUAN: Beautiful thing.

CUOMO: You know, I have to -- yes, many beautiful things. You know what one of them is? That Zoraida is back. I have to tell you, things just haven't been the same around here since the "EARLY START" anchor had taken leave saying that she was battling breast cancer.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Zoraida underwent a double mastectomy back in May, and she talked about the strength of a woman. She documented, really, the challenges throughout the way, but the biggest challenge of all, you ask, not fighting the cancer, not beating the cancer, it's breaking the news to her children. Zoraida is back and better than ever, and she's here to share her emotional story. It's great to see you, beautiful.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": It's wonderful to be here. And I really appreciate the big welcome that you all had given me. It's really heartwarming and I finally got a chance to hug you. So, this has been really great. (LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: It has been a really complicated journey. And, I got to tell you, I went through this surgery and it was absolutely nothing compared to having to tell my children and, in particular, the hardest part was figuring out what to say to Nikko.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The first thought I had when I was diagnosed with cancer was this. How will I tell my kids? I have two. Nikko is 14 and Sofia is 10.

(on-camera) What do you remember about how I told you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would ask me what I thought of when I heard breast cancer and if I felt --

SAMBOLIN: You said I think of a fight.

(voice-over) Once he knew, my son became one of the 2.85 million U.S. children sharing their parent's fight against cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what could you do to change that?

SAMBOLIN: At Gilda's Club, which provides support to people coping with cancer, they urge kids to seek strength from each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children and adults have very different life experiences. So, part of the goal of educating kids about what cancer is is helping alleviate any of that anxiety or fear when they hear that word.

SAMBOLIN: Nikko reached out to his friends, Kyle and Miles, to find strength.

(on-camera) What kind of advice were you giving him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay strong and know that everything is going to be OK, look to God and just reach out to me if he needed anything, if he needed any support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you ever need anything, I'm there for you. And, yes, just stay strong.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Nikko worried my fiance, Kenny, would walk away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was tough for me to think about was Kenny's reaction. Can he really stuck by your side because of your entire situation?

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): That is a good man, right? You are two of the strongest men I know.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): I need their strength. Nikko's was the last familiar face I saw before surgery and the first when I came out. I was used to caring for my kids, not the other way around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zoraida is a rock, is a matriarch of this family. And to think that you may lose her, that's a very debilitating thought at time.