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Floods Threaten Parts of U.S.; Wildfire Burning Uncontrolled in California; Obama Cancels Summit with Russian President; Interview with Fareed Zakaria; America's Scariest Police Chief; Small Cars Put to the Test

Aired August 8, 2013 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never had to deal with anything like this.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: State of emergency. Severe flooding across the Midwest, towns submerged, rain now set to pound the east coast. Out west, a quick moving wildfire forcing the evacuation of entire communities.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Golden tickets, three big winners in last night's Powerball drawing the $448 million prize now split three ways. Two of the winning tickets from the same state.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Living in fear. A town sheriff suspended after making these frightening videos. Now, he and his armed supporters accused of intimidating this small town. We're live with the latest.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our relationship with Russia has been a roller coaster ride at times.

ANNOUNCER: Announcer: what you just have to see.

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


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, August 8th, 7:00 in the East. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here with news anchor Michaela Pereira. Coming up this hour, the three of us are here, means we did not win, but three other people did, waking up very happy as the lucky winners of the $448 Powerball jackpot. So where were the golden tickets sold. CUOMO: Then we have details in this bizarre story that I'm sure you've been hearing about. These two young brothers are believed to have been strangled to death by a python, stunning images of the boys playing in a snake tank as criminal charges are being considered against the snake's owner. We'll ask wildlife expert Jeff Corwin, could the snake have done this? We'll take you through it.

PEREIRA: And a CNN exclusive we brought you a story a few weeks ago about this man who was unconscious for days, woke up in the hospital not remembering anything including how to speak English. Now can he only speak Swedish. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings us an exclusive interview with this man and talks about what his life is like now.

BOLDUAN: That's going to be a very interesting story, very, very fascinating.

But first up this morning, several states facing severe flooding, today parts of Missouri getting hit the hardest. Look at this video, a young boy was killed when he was washed away in a car, another woman swept away by floodwaters is still missing. Plenty of people in the Midwest and southeast are dealing with extreme weather. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking it all.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're dealing with the exact same area dealing with heavy rain and flash flood emergencies are currently in effect. They're not the only ones dealing with this line of storms today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just seen a funnel cloud come down, I seen trees and debris come up.

PETERSONS: A roof ripped off a home after a possibly tornado touchdown in Ohio. Parts of the country are battling severe weather and even the threat of flash flooding. A powerful storm tore through Wisconsin leaving behind a path of destruction just outside of Green Bay. One man was killed clearing debris. Missouri is under flood alert. Deadly waters have reportedly claimed the life of a young boy in Waynesville and police are still searching for a woman who may be the child's mother. Heavy rains hammered the area. Dozens had to be rescued after waist-deep waters rushed into residential neighborhoods. The governor declared a state of emergency, calling in 50 National Guardsmen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to cry. That's all I can say is I want to cry. I don't know. I've never had to deal with anything like this.

PETERSONS: The floodgates were opened off the Osage River to release rising waters. Flash flood could affect cities from Colorado to the Carolinas and even stretching up to the northeast by the end of the week. In Missouri on I-44 there was flooding as far as the eye could see, between 100 to 200 structures were destroyed. This submerged neighborhood could get hit again. And check out the hail in Minnesota this week. In the southeast the south has been relentless. Gilmore county, Virginia, has already seen three to inches of rain, and there's even more rain in the forecast. And in Birmingham, Alabama, the heavy downpours have caused flash flooding in the suburbs.


PETERSONS: We're going to show you the current radar in the region, Oklahoma and Kansas, and even Missouri once again early in the morning hours talking about heavy thunderstorms in the region. You'll notice the outline here, that's the region we're looking for in the forecast today for severe weather as we go through the afternoon. You can tell once again this is not going and we're going to be dealing with more rain in the forecast and looks like that rain is expected to last through Saturday.

This is the reason why it is a stalled front out there, so in the south all of the warm moisture out of the gulf continues to produce the afternoon thunderstorms once you get the extra sunshine. We have to watch this cold front and see whether or not it will speed up or stall out. That is going to be affecting a big chunk of the northeast.

Down to the south we have heavier amounts of rain, Springfield two to three inches, Atlanta about one to two inches. In the northern portion a little bit more tricky, some afternoon thunderstorms are possible out of it. Where we get the downpours is when you talk about heavy rain and threat of flooding out there, urban flooding. There's areas we don't see much at all but a mixed bag in the northeast.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: If it's not floods in one place it's wildfires in another. This morning a fast moving fire in southern California is completely out of control, 450 firefighters working the silver fire, so far to little effect. The fire now covering more than 6,000 acres. Stephanie Elam is in Banning, California, the focus of the fire fight right now. Stephanie, I've been following your tweets all morning, we know you're there close to the action. What's the latest?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One thing we can tell you, Chris, they are in there still fighting, about 1,000 firefighters are out there fighting. The fire is cresting over the mountain behind us. They're saying the fire line is about eight miles long at this point. We know two firefighters have been injured fighting this and one civilian we do not know their condition at this point. But there's 1,500 people evacuated and 15 structures at least that have been damaged. They're hoping to get in there later in the day after the sun breaks figure out just what these structures were, how many of the structures were houses.

They're also very concerned about the wind. As you can see if you look around me, you look at my hair, it's very windy out here right now so that is a concern going into the day. One good thing is that it's a little chilly right now and that is helping the firefighters. But they're hoping to get in there and make some more ground on containing this fire, which it is not contained at this point. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Stephanie Elam tracking it all for us this morning, thank you so much.

A different story this morning but a big headline many of you care about. For most of us back to the drawing board, but there are three big winners in last night's $448 million Powerball lottery drawing. The winning tickets sold in two states, one in Minnesota and two in New Jersey. Here are the numbers in case you are waking up and you have that ticket number, 5, 25, 30, 58, 59, and Powerball number 32.

Our Zain Asher is at the supermarket in South Brunswick, New Jersey, where one of those winning tickets was sold. Zain, any expectation of when we're going to learn who these lucky winners are?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have no idea right now, Kate, but I can tell you there is a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement here in South Brunswick, New Jersey. I spoke to one of the workers at this stop & shop where that winning ticket was sold, and he said to me he has never seen so much media attention descend on a small town in a short space of time. You have to think this must be overwhelming for people here to wake up and see reporters outside their local store.

Yes, $448 million, split that three ways. What that means is somebody in South Brunswick will be walking away with about $150 million. And not only did that mean instant wealth, it's instant celebrity because in New Jersey you can't be anonymous if you win the lottery. You have to come forward. This is really a tiny town, population about 43,000 people, about an hour outside of New York. You have a year to collect your winnings, plenty of time to quit your job. My advice if you are in New Jersey and happened to play the lottery in the last few days you might want to start looking for your tickets. Kate?

BOLDUAN: I would say so.

CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy, thanks so Zain for that. Appreciate the reporting. Look at how exciting she is. That's how exciting the lottery is, you don't even win and you're excited.

President Obama will not meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. That's the headline. The White House says it's because "lack of progress on our shared agenda." And also NSA leaker Edward Snowden, let's put that into the calculation. Russia granted him temporary asylum in what appears to be a slap in the face to the United States. But it turns out Snowden may be a symptom in the illness between relations of the two nations.

CNN's Jill Dougherty is at the White House with more on that. Good morning, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris. Snowden really is one thing, and it's big. But the Russians keep saying, look, it's not our fault. He showed up on our doorstep, we're just dealing with it legally according to our laws but the United States doesn't see it that way and they say they could send him back to the United States if they wanted to. But there are really a lot of other issues that the two sides can't see eye to eye on, you'd have to say arms control, that missile defense system that the United States wants to install in Europe. You also have trade, big differences on trade, global security issues, and finally, human rights, to crack down on human rights group, and also this anti-gay probable began propaganda law that the United States and president Obama say is a throwback to the dark ages and the cold war. They're also making the word that it's really downhill with Putin.

BOLDUAN: It seems to be a long time coming but not in such a public way this is going down.

Also developing overnight security officials in Yemen claim to have foiled an Al Qaeda plot to fire missiles at the U.S. embassy in Sana'a. Meantime we're learning about a new drone strike targeting militants inside Yemen. Barbara Starr is live in the Pentagon following all these moving parts. Barbara, what is the latest?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Another drone strike in Yemen, it is said several people were killed in it, remains to be seen as always whether many of them were major Al Qaeda operatives, the people the U.S. really want to go after with the drones. Also reports from Yemen, an attack foiled against oil and gas facilities in the south, not clear if that is tied to the plot. U.S. officials say they put everything they can into place to deter in the attack and and they are just waiting to see what unfolds next. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you so much. Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you very much. Let's bring in Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." This is a situation that demands clarity. Good to have it here in human form. I think we need to get rid of the blah-blah-blah in this situation. There's a little bit going on with the U.S. government, why this is happening may not be as important as how the United States is handling it. Fareed, I'd like to set up our conversation with something that Senator Schumer said on the subject yesterday, get your take. Let's listen to what Senator Schumer had to say on NEW DAY yesterday.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: He goes out of his way to stick the knife into the United States. I know what he's doing. I mean, he's trying to make Russia a big power again. But there are good ways and bad ways to do it. The number one thing we can and should do and I urge the administration to do is not have the bilateral one-on-one talks with Mr. Putin.


CUOMO: There's Senator Schumer talking about Putin and what he believes a president should do. There's two ways to look at what happens with this. The first is it looks like the president clearly watches "new day" first of all, that's incontrovertible. But is listening to members of his own party concerned about weakness abroad, do you think what fueled this situation? FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": No, I think what fueled this fundamentally is a genuine frustration with the Russians because it isn't just Snowden. Let's be honest, Chris, if a Russian spy fell into our hands I'm not so sure that we would very quickly extradite this guy back to Moscow so there's a little bit tit-for-tat that goes on in this spy versus spy game.

The big disappointment has been on Syria where the Russians have been very difficult to deal with and in some ways not even acting in their own interests. They've got an Islamic radicalism problem that is going to get worse if Syria spins out of control. On arms control where they have not come forward with a big proposal. So the Snowden thing was the straw kind of thing that broke the camel's back.

CUOMO: So it really comes down to how we're dealing with this, because the reasons have existed, as you're saying, even in the White House statement this is a review that's gone on since early July they said so it's not immediate. But how the president is dealing with this and how he is perceived weakness, loss of mojo, do you believe these are fair criticisms?

ZAKARIA: I don't think it's a fair criticism, but I think it's fair to say that is acting as a kind of background condition in explaining the decision to cancel the summit. Look, part of the problem is, the president said it on "Jay Leno" which is I think true that we're looking forward and trying to find a constructive relations with the Russians. They sometimes slip into a cold war mentality.

Remember, Putin joined the KGB, Russia's spy serve, in 1975 at the height of the cold war, and he stayed in it until 1991. Literally when the Soviet Union collapsed is when he resigned from the KGB. Obama in 1975 was playing basketball in Hawaii. These are very different people with a very different outlook on the world.

CUOMO: But right now it does seem as though Russia has upper hand, is dictating the action, doesn't care about the United States' own intentions. Doesn't that have to change and quickly?

ZAKARIA: We're in a new world. We don't have the ability with Russia, with China, even with we've seen with turkey, with Egypt to issue the kind of commands we were once able to do. With Russia there's only a brief period where they were collapsing we could issue those demands. We're in a new world, these guys are powerful.

The underlying condition of Putin's strength is high oil prices. When oil prices were $15 a barrel the Soviet Union collapsed and Boris Yeltsin came begging to the United States for help and did whatever we said. Today oil prices are closer to $100 a barrel. Russia is a kind of Siberian Saudi Arabia. It is a huge oil power, and as long as oil prices stay high Putin has the cash to be a spoiler. I wouldn't say he is setting the agenda, but he is the spoiler, and he has the money and power to do that.

CUOMO: Fareed I appreciate the perspective, because so many see it as simply as I'm laying it out to you, and you're letting us know it's more complicated these days. You just don't bang your fist, and in fact if you do you probably get less.

ZAKARIA: If you want to really break Russia's power, let's get off our addiction to oil, and that will do more to free us than anything else.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, Fareed Zakaria, always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY.

Lot of other news out there as well, so let's get over to Micky for the latest.

PEREIRA: All right, Chris, let's bring you up to date.

Breaking news we're watching in Dallas. Police there say a man identified as Erbie Bowser walked into his ex-girlfriend's home in Dallas looking for her and shot four people inside, killing two, injuring two other two. CNN affiliate WFAA says Bowser's girlfriend was not in the home. Police say they then -- say he then went to another home in DeSoto, tossed an explosive device inside, and opened fire. Two adults were killed in that shooting, including his ex- girlfriend. Two children were also wounded. We'll keep an eye on that situation.

Meanwhile, the manhunt for James DiMaggio stretching up and down the West Coast now. The southern California man suspected of murdering a mother of two before abducting her 16-year-old daughter and possibly her eight-year-old son. An Amber Alert for teenager Hannah Anderson now reaching from southern California to Oregon.

The trial of Fort Hood massacre suspect Nidal Hasan on hold this morning. Lawyers working with the Army psychiatrist telling the judge they want off the case. Hasan is representing himself, but the legal team appointed to him says he's trying to get the death penalty and they want no part of that. The judge is expected to hold a closed door hearing today with Hasan and those attorneys.

A deadly bus accident in China caught on camera. A bus driver misses his exit, trying to back up on a highway, when a truck traveling at a high speed smashed right into the back of the bus. The impact, as you can see, sent passengers flying, the bus rolling over and skidding 165 feet. The bus driver and 10 passengers thrown from the bus. We're told the truck driver was killed in that crash.

Want to show you something kind of crazy. It may look like some sort of alien invasion, but it's actually a cloud formation. Forgive me that I'm dipping into Indra's territory here. This is called a shelf cloud. This one was spotted off the coast of Belgian, caught on tape. It's gone viral. Weather experts say the menacing looking clouds typically form on the front end of thunderstorms. Indra tells us that these are quite uncommon in coastal areas because of the ocean's cool waters, but they are very common in the Midwest, especially in tornado alley. But that one, in Belgian. And I'm sure lots of people snapping picks. Very intense. You feel too. You sort of feel like ooh, ooh, ohh!

CUOMO: Oh, yes. It's -- BOLDUAN: It's beautiful as long as you're out of the range of it.

CUOMO: Exactly.


CUOMO: Exactly.

PEREIRA: Key point there.


CUOMO: That is very cool stuff right there.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

PEREIRA: You're welcome.

CUOMO: But I think Indra's not happy, though.

PEREIRA: I know. Sorry, Indra.

CUOMO: Glad I'm not you right now, I'll tell you that.

PEREIRA: I'm trying to get an apprenticeship in the weather department.

BOLDUAN: Stop creating conflict (ph).

CUOMO: I see her over there. Oh, man, she's got the same bolts of lightning that were coming out of that cloud.

PEREIRA: Well, the lightening first and then the cloud. I know, it's a lot.

CUOMO: It's coming at you, Michaela (ph).

PEREIRA: Sorry, Indra. Love you. Heart you.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break here just in case anything goes down. I'll have to clean it up.

Coming up on NEW DAY, he's supposed to protect them, so why is this man from a Pennsylvania town doing this, scaring his own people? He is the former police chief. He's now suspended. Why? Behavior like this. We'll tell you the story.

BOLDUAN: And also, how well would your car protect you if it hits another vehicle or a pole or maybe even a tree. The results of so- called overlap crashes, that's ahead. Important information.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody.

Residents of a tiny Pennsylvania town say they are living in fear and they're afraid of this man, Mark Kessler. Kessler heads a political organization 100 men strong. They are armed and they have free reign over Gilberton, Pennsylvania. He also happens to be, ready for this, the chief of police. Joe Johns is live in Gilberton this morning.

So, Joe, tell us, what's making people so nervous about this man?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, harshly-worded rants against liberal politicians, using firearms as visual aids. The police chief here has an unusual way of attracting attention and he's taken a lot of heat for it.



JOHNS (voice-over): Gilberton, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Mark Kessler is the only officer in this small town of about 1,000 people, but some are calling on him to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kessler is a detriment to this borough. So, my wife is afraid of him, so I am going to be afraid of him, too.


JOHNS: The calls for Kessler's ouster started after he posted profanity-laced videos of himself shooting semiautomatic weapons.


JOHNS: The borough council met on July 31st to suspend Kessler for 30 days. Kessler posted about the meeting on his FaceBook page saying, "I am expecting a large crowd of anti-gunners and anti-constitutionalists to show up."

A couple dozen or more armed men showed up. Kessler, who also heads a group whose stated aim is to uphold the Constitution, says the men with guns at the meeting were just supporters of his.

KESSLER: Some of my supporters showed up and, as you well know that -- for those who don't know, Pennsylvania's an open carry state. So some people showed up with firearms, and I encourage that.

JOHNS: And Kessler offers no apologies for the videos. He broke no laws and says he was expressing his constitutional rights of free speech and to bear arms.

KESSLER: Come and get it!

JOHNS (on camera): Does your firing the weapon and using profanity or whatever, does it reflect badly on the town?

KESSLER: Well, you know, everybody's entitled to their opinion and I would hope everybody would express their opinion under the Constitution, the First Amendment, just like I have in my videos.

Oh, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out there, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) private (ph).


JOHNS: Mark Kessler is also on the county school board here. At a meeting just night, no one uttered a word of criticism about him or the videos.


BOLDUAN: All right, Joe. Well, a lot of people are muttering words about those videos and what he's saying all across the country now, that's for sure. Joe Johns, thank you so much.

So, do you ever wonder how safe is your car? A new report is raising questions about some small vehicles when it comes to a certain kind of front end crash. And according to the safety group that conducted the test, it's a problem that's not all that easy to fix. CNN's Rene Marsh is in Washington with more on this.

So what are we learning in the report, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kate.

You know, these small cars, they are big sellers on the market. But one highway safety group says the way that manufacturers have built them leave drivers vulnerable to serious injuries when it comes to certain types of crashes. That group crash tested a dozen of those small cars and here are the results.


MARSH (voice-over): It's this type of crash that happens on U.S. roads thousands of times per year. Watch closely. Not quite a head-on, but what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls "overlap frontal crashes," where part of the car's front end strikes an object. The group says some popular small cars on the road don't make the grade in overlap crashes.

Twelve small cars put to the test. The Honda Civic received the top grade. The head and chest of the test dummy was protected, the air bag released on time, and the structure of the car did not cave in on the driver's side. The Kia Forte performed the worst.

DAVID ZUBY, IIHS CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER: The structure collapsed and we've got the restraints not doing a good job of controlling the motion of the occupant.

MARSH: The group says manufacturers have built cars to best absorb impact in the center. Take a look. A more head-on impact on the left and an overlap crash on the right. The damage, much worse in the overlap crash.

ZUBY: So as manufacturers redesign their cars, they need to try to figure out ways to provide better protection for the people inside.

MARSH: Along with the Honda Civic, the Dodge Dart, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra and Scion TC passed the test. The Chevrolet Sonic, Volkswagen Beetle, Chevrolet Cruze, and Nissan Sentra, Kia Soul and Forte all performed poorly.


MARSH: All right, well, if you own one of these vehicles, the group says, don't worry too much. Even though half of the cars performed poorly in this particular crash situation, they say it doesn't negate the overall safety of the vehicles.

Now, the automakers of the cars that did perform poorly tell CNN that their vehicles exceed federal requirements, but some, like Nissan and VW, say they will review the results of the crash testing.

Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: It's important to review those results, but it's also -- this is particularly important -- well, it's important no matter what, but it's also important because this is a really fast growing market, small cars in this country, right?

MARSH: Absolutely. They are very popular. And, you know, I asked the folks there with this highway safety group, how do you decide which cars are you going to test, that you're going to test? And they say, we look at the cars that are selling the most. So all of those cars that you saw in the piece, extremely popular among consumers. So this is just something they want people to have in mind if you are in the market for a new car.


BOLDUAN: All right. Rene Marsh in Washington. Thanks so much, Rene.

CUOMO: One of the reasons that they're popular. Also one of the reasons that big cars and SUVs remain popular because --

BOLDUAN: An excellent point.

CUOMO: Especially when you're putting your family in a vehicle, you want to know you're going to win. Now my wife, if she were here, would say, well cars are so much safer today than they were back in the day.


CUOMO: You don't need to just have a lot of steel around you. That's true too. But when you see that kind of thing.

BOLDUAN: It's the combination of, you know, efficiency, being a smaller car, as well as safety. You know those don't all -- clearly don't always go hand in hand.

CUOMO: True, true.

BOLDUAN: True, true, true.

CUOMO: Time for a break. Coming up on NEW DAY, we have shocking images new this morning. Two brothers strangled by an escaped python. It was like 100 pounds, by the way. It was 15 feet long. What were they doing, though, in a snake's enclosure? We have pictures of it. We'll talk to you about it.

CUOMO: And an update on a very odd story. A man wakes up one day with no memory and only able to communicate in Swedish. Now he's sharing his story for the very first time exclusively to CNN.