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GOP Looking At Short Term Deal; Libyan's Zeidan Freed; Dead Body Stuffed With Paper; Special Delivery; Hot Air Balloon Hits Power Line; Crowded Subway Shooting; Too Intoxicated To Be Guilty?; The "Healthy" Obese; Interview with Dr. Roshini Raj

Aired October 10, 2013 - 07:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, the 10th of October. Want to bring you up to date on the very latest news.

CNN has learned Republican House members are getting a proposal ready to temporarily raise the debt ceiling, likely for four to six weeks, but still keep the government shutdown. Top GOP leaders are set to meet with the president later today.

In the meantime, the Fisher House Foundation will cover death benefits for military families during the shutdown as Congress works on a bill to restore that fund today.

Libya's prime minister kidnapped, then freed within a matter of hours, armed rebels pulling Ali Zeidan out of a hotel in Tripoli at dawn. Witnesses say he was whisked away in a convoy of waiting cars. Libyan sources telling CNN the prime minister was freed a few hours later after the abduction and was unharmed.

A stunning development in the case of a Georgia teen found dead in a high school gym, CNN has learned that parts of Kendrick Johnson's body were stuffed with newspaper before his burial. This revelation adding fuel to the fire that Kendrick's cause of death is being covered up. He was found dead in a rolled up gym mat in January, his death was ruled accidental. His parents, however, aren't buying that.

Tinsley and Danny Stevens of Atlanta, boy, they have something to tell their new born son, Owen, when he grows up. Tinsley went into labor and had to drive herself to the hospital because her husband who is a paramedic was at work. She quickly ascertained that she would not make it in time.

So she pulled into his station, hopped into the back of the ambulance with him, his partner behind the wheel and off they went. But by the time the ambulance actually arrived at the hospital, they had already done the work. Little Owen had arrived, 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Mom and baby are reportedly doing just fine. Dad just doing his job, check and check.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Never been more nervous in his life.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The clarity she had. She is awesome and your baby is adorable.

CUOMO: I know and healthy, most important.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

A startling scene in New Mexico to tell you about this morning, two men rushed to the hospital, just take a look at that picture, after their hot air balloon crashes into power lines. It really seems to explode into a fireball and then plummets 40 feet to the ground. "EARLY START" anchor, Zoraida Sambolin, is here with more on this. That picture tells you.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": It looks terrible, doesn't it?


SAMBOLIN: The accident happening during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Wednesday. Event organizers say 59-year-old Mark Kilgore and 66-year-old Daniel Lavoto are being treated for burns.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): A ball of flames lights the sky outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico Wednesday as a hot air balloon catches fire midflight at the International Balloon Fiesta Festival. Two men are trapped inside. The balloon ignited after hitting a power line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At that point there was an explosion, shot flames out about 20 feet to the side. I saw him slump. I didn't know about the condition. At that point, the gondola really started to drop.

SAMBOLIN: Both victims must be dragged out of the burning balloon. They are now in the hospital, suffering severe burns. Frightening ballooning accidents like this one are extremely rare. The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated only 760 accidents in the United States since 1964 and 67 of those have been fatal.

In January, an entire wedding party survived crash landing behind a house in San Diego. The bride and groom made it to their reception after the accident, but sometimes incidents are deadly. Just this February, 19 tourists in Egypt were killed when a hot air balloon burst into flames and plummeted to the ground. And last year, 11 people were killed in New Zealand when a balloon exploded after striking a power line.


SAMBOLIN: Well, accidents have been pretty common at this event in Albuquerque. A local station says a balloon hit a power pole Saturday and then on Sunday, another one hit some power lines. Both managed to land safely. We are happy to report, but when it's bad news, it's really bad news.

BOLDUAN: It looks so scary.

SAMBOLIN: Couldn't imagine being in it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. From far away it's scary, imagine being there. All right, thanks, Zoraida.

CUOMO: Are you ready for this story, clueless or scared stiff? That's the question being raised by the story out of San Francisco. Here's the situation. A brazen shooting happens on a crowded subway car. The killer is caught on surveillance video apparently choosing the victim at random.

The bizarre part that raises the question, before he fires, he waves the gun around, even points it at people. No one seems to bat an eyelash. So what had riders so distracted? CNN's Kyung Lah explains.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man looks agitated, shifting back and forth, sometimes smiling for no reason. It's 9:30 at night. The San Francisco Muni train car is crowded with a dozen other passengers. Police say this man is armed and about to murder someone.

(on camera): What happens next is something we can't show you. The gunman lifts his weapon, three to four times in plain view. The dozen or so other passengers on the train, none of them notices. Why? According to the prosecutor, their faces were all buried in their cell phones.

(voice-over): It's not until the gun fires that people looked up. Shot in the back and killed, 20-year-old Justin Valdez, a promising San Francisco State student, seemingly picked at random. He was simply heading home after classes that night.

(on camera): How close are these people to him?

GEORGE GASCON, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Some of these people are probably no more than about 2 feet to 3 feet away from him.

LAH (voice-over): San Francisco's district attorney is disheartened that no one was paying attention.

GASCON: We're seeing people so disconnected with their surroundings. We know this is not unique. We're seeing people being robbed. People are getting hurt.

LAH: Gascon is as aghast as people were in 1964 when this woman was brutally stabbed at her apartment building in Queens, New York. Numerous people heard the attack, but assumed others would call for help, the now famous bystander effect. Today, social phenomenon, people are too absorbed in their smartphones to be aware of what's happening around him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like he's turning into another driveway --

LAH: It's now common place to see examples of it. A man so engrossed in his phone, he doesn't see a giant bear right in front of him -- or another texter walking right into a fountain. Classmates of Justin Valdez are feeling the impact of this behavior.

WHITNEY BULMER, SFSU STUDENT: It's just people's stupidity, I guess, and ignorance towards what's going on around them.

LAH: There's no sign of this changing, as we watched at the very train stop that Valdez boarded for the last time, students were still buried in their phones. Kyung Lah, CNN, San Francisco.



CUOMO: I'm guilty of it. We are all look at these. Let's not forget what the true responsibility here is. It's the man with the gun that decided to do a horrible act. That's where it begins and ends, really.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, here is a pretty provocative question for you. Too intoxicated to be a killer? Three people were convicted of homicide in separate car crashes now say they were too drunk to understand what they were doing when taking the wheel. We'll talk about this.

CUOMO: And how about this? The words healthy and obese can't go together, right? Wrong. We're going to tell you what research is telling us about the widening waistlines and overall health in America.


CUOMO: The better question may be carry an umbrella or not. Let's get to Indra Petersons at the Weather Center for a look at the forecast. What do you know, my friend?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That is the question. Does anyone have an umbrella? Did anyone listen to me yesterday? That was a no. I thought that was a yes, Michaela. We have a sideline the guy in the middle. Here we go, either way, the rain is here whether you have the umbrella or not, such a cheesy weather line, right.

But there we go. We're talking about this system. It will hang out over the next several days so get used to it. We're talking about not heavy rain over one period of time, but it's lingering day after day. We are going to start to accumulate a pretty good amount so anywhere in the mid-Atlantic, about 3 inches to 5 inches of rain over the next three days.

So that's all thanks to that low. It's parking itself here. The other side of this is strong winds coming out of the northeast. Gusty conditions in addition to the rainfall that we're already looking at. Also, cool temperatures, notice, temperatures will be in a lot of places the highs today just into the upper 50s. Averages should be the high 60s. It is below normal, again, across most of the northeast and mid-Atlantic. The other big storm in the Pacific Northwest again starting to make its way out of the Rockies so look for some severe weather it looks like from South Dakota into the panhandle of Texas. Back to you -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, thanks so much, Indra.

The question that we've posed before the break and we've been talking about a lot in the break, too intoxicated to drive is one thing, but then too intoxicated to be guilty of murder? That's the question facing the New York State Court of Appeals. Three people all convicted of second degree murder after they drove under the influence and killed victims in collisions. All three are appealing with this defense. They were too intoxicated to be charged with murder.

CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here to talk more about this. Talk about a provocative question.


BOLDUAN: It centers on the state of mind of these people who were charged. The legal question I was reading up on this, obviously. The person has shown a depraved indifference to human life. What does this mean?

TOOBIN: Every crime has two parts. It has an act, you have to do something.


TOOBIN: And you have to have intent. The question, these are all issues about intent. What count as murder? Now usually we think of murder as I want to kill this person and I killed them like intentional murder. But you know, since the 1970s, the country has been so outraged about drunk driving, we want to try to increase the penalties as much as possible.

So the question in these cases is, can you -- I mean, these people who were high, they were drunk, they didn't get up that morning and say I'm going to kill somebody. So it's not traditional murder. But was their behavior so awful, was it so reckless, so depraved, that it counts as murder, that we should punish it like murder? That's what the court is trying to decide. It's a hard question.

PEREIRA: The argument is we know the consequences of drinking and driving. We know the potential is there for people to be harmed.

TOOBIN: Right. And traditionally, drunk driving homicides have been treated as manslaughter. They've been treated as unintentional murder.

PEREIRA: Because somebody died in the end.

TOOBIN: Somebody died. It's certainly a crime, but what makes these cases different is that they're not charging manslaughter. They're charging murder. They're charging it as if you're a hitman, as if you're like setting out to kill somebody and the defendants are saying, look, what I did was bad, but it wasn't that bad.

PEREIRA: Because I wasn't in control.

TOOBIN: Right.

CUOMO: Here it is. There's competing pressures. Professor, tell me what you think about this is that the prosecutors want to get the highest value crime they can to send the strongest message.


CUOMO: But then on the defense side you have people fighting for what is legally acceptable. So when you say depraved mind, why, because that's more harsh than reckless. Reckless is I knew this was risky, I did it anyway, doesn't carry as big a penalty. Sometimes a handful of years, people feel it's not enough punishment so you go, instead of dealing with sentencing, you go to the next crime. But depraved can mean something legally that winds up allowing you to escape responsibility.

PEREIRA: Doesn't depraved somehow get into an issue of mental illness then?

CUOMO: Not really, no.

TOOBIN: No. It's really just more about a bad mind, you know, bad intent.


TOOBIN: And I just think it's a real sign of how the society has changed. You know what until the 1970s people didn't used to be prosecuted at all for drunk driving homicides.

BOLDUAN: Who then is going to be the arbiter of how drunk is too drunk to actually be guilty?

TOOBIN: Juries. That's what -- in these cases -- that's what the whole issue in the case. In each of these cases at the trial, there was no doubt the person was driving the car, no doubt the person died. The only issue was, was their state of mind bad enough to be considered depraved, to be considered murder? The jury said yes. The juries convicted them and so these people are looking at 25 to life. The Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York is deciding whether that's legitimate or not

CUOMO: I mean, one of the big reasons they are doing it is it's actually if you look at it legally, it winds up running contrary to what you want to happen on a human level. Here's why. If you are drunk, intoxicated, how do you form the intent that is necessary for these crimes? Almost by definition you're not thinking straight.

And that's what the jury has to wrestle with, whether they reward the defendant for being so messed up that they can't think straight because ultimately the law would allow for that. And that's why they came up with a lot of legal exceptions to this over the years. They have a whole doctrine of diminished capacity where it makes you responsible for a lesser crime, but not completely not responsible.

BOLDUAN: How is the court of appeals going to decide in what do you think?

TOOBIN: I don't know. It's a really hard case. This discussion, this is why people find law school interesting. These are hard questions. It's not an obvious answer.

BOLDUAN: What does that mean for other states then?

TOOBIN: This is all part of the broader pattern of states punishing drunk driving, more harshly all the time. Fortunately, there aren't that many people that die as a result of drunk driving. But the penalties for drunk driving only go in one direction, they're getting more harsh and you know, if I had to guess, I think they'd uphold the conviction.

CUOMO: So New York State has gone the other direction on this issue before in terms of whether to punish intent and how to do it. So they could do the same thing here and say deal with it harshly, but pick the right law as prosecutors. Don't overcharge.

BOLDUAN: All right, Jeffrey, great to see you.

TOOBIN: Good to see you.

CUOMO: Always good to have the professor here. I call him that because he's very smart and can teach.

Coming up on NEW DAY, kidnapping survivor Hannah Anderson is speaking out. People wanted to hear her story. What happened during those days of captivity? What she says about the man who abducted here and the game of Russian roulette he made her play. Details, coming up.

BOLDUAN: And a new study suggesting you can be obese and still be very healthy. That means having normal cholesterol and regular blood pressure. How does the science match up? We're going to take a look at the research.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A fascinating new study suggests as many as a third of obese adults are actually considered healthy, meaning they have normal cholesterol and show no signs of developing diabetes. Let's talk more about this.

Let's bring in contributing medical editor for "Health" magazine, Dr. Roshini Raj. Dr. Raj, it's great to see you. Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: This had us talking that's for sure. As many as a third of obese adults are considered metabolically healthy. What does that mean most importantly how significant do you think this research is?

RAJ: OK, so before everyone starts going for the French fries let's make this reality. So in one study coming out of Australia, looking at thousands of obese people, obese as measured by body mass index, they did find that up to about a third don't have some of the traditional metabolic diseases we associate with obesity, so fatty liver, diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure.

But another study that came out more recently coming out of Finland also looked at this issue and saw that in twins, identical twins one of whom was obese and one who was lean they did find some of the obese patients actually were metabolically healthy. This doesn't mean they don't get arthritis and acid reflux, a lot of the other diseases associated with obesity.

In the Australian study when they followed those, quote/unquote, "healthy" obese people, they found that many of them did go on to develop the unhealthy diseases.

BOLDUAN: Later on.

RAJ: So this might just be a transient phase that we're going through. I think what we need to take away is that this is not a free pass. It doesn't mean you're not going to develop all of these health conditions, but there might be a subset of obese people that are different. I mean, we are all different and we're learning how our bodies handle fat differently.

PEREIRA: Well, given the fact that, you know, there's great concern about obesity rates here at least in our own country, are you concerned about the confusing message this might put out to people?

RAJ: I am a little bit.

PEREIRA: Who only hear what they want to hear?

RAJ: Yes. I think that sometimes -- you know, some people might look at this and say see it's just a conspiracy, we're not as unhealthy as everyone says. The truth is we're still saying two-thirds for sure are quite unhealthy and the one-third number is in one study, we don't know. Again, is this a temporary healthy phase?

You're going to go on to become unhealthy? I think you need to talk to your doctor about your particular risk factors for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver and taking to your family history into account as well. It makes a big difference.

CUOMO: Fair criticism that as a culture we get too caught up in the numbers. The criticism is we don't take this issue seriously enough and that's why we have a problem. I get that, but when I go to get my physical, they do the B, the body mass index and I'm obese --

PEREIRA: We wanted to talk to you about that.

CUOMO: We get caught up in the numbers and the labels. Is there something to that in this study?

RAJ: Well, absolutely a number is just a number. It has to be taken into the whole context, but we use those numbers as crude measures when we are looking at populations, when we're doing simple screening and the doctor who measures your BMI obviously is not going to say you're obese. They're going to say, well, based on this number you are, but you have a lot of muscle, they have to give you the full conversation.

CUOMO: That's true, quite obvious.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Doctor.

CUOMO: Especially in my head.

BOLDUAN: The twins study is interesting, identical twins. Is there a good explanation why one identical twin, what was different about that identical twin to make them healthy or unhealthy obese?

RAJ: They didn't get into that yet but I suspect they will and brings up the whole question how much is environment a factor versus genetics and you know, these, I put it in quotes because I'm not 100 percent convinced, but the "healthy" obese people is there something in their environment that is causing them to be a certain way and if they change that environment it's going to be different.

So we have to learn a lot more. I think really the interesting part of this whole article is that it's going to lead hopefully to more research on what makes certain people healthy and not and maybe that will help treatments and prevention for obesity.

PEREIRA: Maybe more nuanced too because people are very black and white with this.

RAJ: Absolutely. Medicine in general is heading toward this individualized approach where not one size fits all, look at the individual and figure out the treatment.

CUOMO: Healthfulness, thank you very much, Doctor. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you.

RAJ: You, too.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Republican Congressman Michele Bachmann joining us live. We're going to ask her about the shutdown. Does she want to avert it, if so how and what does she think about the debt limit? Her answers may well surprise you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Boehner, take the gun out of the head of this nation.


CUOMO: Let's make a deal, both sides finally moving in the same direction. Is there a short term fix that could pull the country back from the brink?

BOLDUAN: Hannah speaks, Hannah Anderson candidly opening up about her time in captivity, what she says happened during those terrifying days.

PEREIRA: Heroes, the men and women who helped shape our world for the better. Anderson Cooper joining us to announce this year's "CNN Heroes."

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.