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Bitter, Dangerous Mix Outside; Push To Raise The Minimum Wage; Fines Levied In Yarnell Hill Fire; "Significant Apprehension"; Kerry In Israel; Sandy Hook Tapes Released; Gap Between the Rich and Poor

Aired December 5, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the thermometer in my truck says it's seven degrees as I was driving over, so it's cold.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The ice maker cometh. A snow-dumping storm covered the Rockies and is now headed south toward major cities. We're tracking the dangerous conditions.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, new reports the NSA is collecting 5 billion cellphone records a day worldwide. But exactly what information are they looking for/

MICHEALA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Watch out. Fast food workers across the country, planning to walk off the job today. Could their protest lead to a higher minimum wage or higher prices for you?

CUOMO: Your new day starts right now.

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY". It's Thursday, December 5th, six o'clock in the east. Winter's grip getting tighter. The next phase of extreme weather expected to be a major ice storm across the southern planes into the Ohio Valley. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, under the gun. More snow will fall in already hard-hit spots like Denver. And that's where Ana Cabrera is.

Good morning, Ana. What do we know?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It is incredibly cold here this morning. Denver hit a record yesterday of negative 13 degrees below zero. And the temperatures are still falling. Negative 14 degrees in Denver right now, so dangerously cold. And Colorado, of course, is not alone, as this arctic air mass continues to spread.


CABRERA (voice-over): A dangerous and drastic temperature plunge has millions shivering this morning across the country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the thermometer in my truck said seven degrees when I was driving over here so it's cold.

CABRERA: Overnight, the mercury dipping even lower, some places experiencing bone-chilling, feels-like temps of 30 to 40 degrees below zero. The arctic blast is stretching from the southern Rockies to Duluth, Minnesota. This massive winter storm is unleashing strong winds along with heavy snow, a treacherous combination, creating poor visibility and super slick conditions.

CARRIE JOHNSON, WAUSAW POLICE DEPARTMENT: People started going into the ditch, losing control of their vehicles.

CABRERA: In Denver, a van rolls off a deceptively slippery road. And in South Dakota, a tanker truck slides off a snowy highway. The relentless pounding snow and ice really piling up across the nation's midsection, it's a lot of hard work for residents trying to clear those driveways and sidewalks and the heavy equipment struggling to keep up across the country's interstates and highways with some spots seeing more than a foot of snow in a matter of hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody that can't find a place to be indoors, that's obviously a real problem.


CABRERA: We do know of at least one weather-related death because of this storm in Minnesota. A 16-year-old girl died after she lost control behind the wheel having hit a slushy spot. Now, amazingly, there have been relatively few other injuries or serious issues related to this storm. So far it seems people have been prepared - Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Ana, thank you so much. Stay warm out there today. Thank you for that report. Let's get over to meteorologist, Indra Petersons now with the look at where the system is headed -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The real danger right now we are talking is these temperatures. Take a look at what the feels like temperatures are. Great falls, negative 36. Talk about the risk of hypothermia. Denver right now feels almost negative 30. Unbelievable how cold this air mass is. The big threat remains to be over the next several hours whether or not we get an ice storm out of this.

The likelihood does look high. We start to see the threat for freezing rain spreading as we go through the evening and even lasting in through tomorrow. We'll be talking about this threat of icing. By Saturday it looks like this first wave going to move offshore. As far as how much rain and snow we're expecting, 2 inches of rain in the southeast. We'll see some heavier snow melt possibly right into the Midwest.

We could see amounts now over half of an inch. We are talking about anywhere from Paducah all the way down to the just East of Dallas. We could see amounts over half an inch. Paducah to just east of Dallas. When you have that, you are talking about power outages likely. Here's the problem. It's not one weight of this lasting two days.

The first one kicks through, notice behind it, here comes a second guy by Saturday or Sunday. People lose power the first time around. They'll be talking about cold temperatures and another round of ice for the second half of the weekend -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right Indra, thanks so much. A one-two punch.

CUOMO: Fast food workers taking to the picket line today. Walkouts are expected in 100 cities across the nation. Why? Workers are demanding higher wages and more freedom to form unions. Wednesday they got a big boost from President Obama who said now is the time to raise the federal minimum wage.

CNN's Alison Kosik is with striking workers in Brooklyn. What's the situation, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This movement has gained momentum over the past year since that very first protest in New York City. A couple hundred showed up and walk off the job. Today, thousands are expected to walk off the job demanding higher wages.


KOSIK (voice-over)P: It's a growing movement, workers banding together, fighting to raise minimum wage. Today is billed to be one of the largest strikes in a series of walkouts with protests planned in nearly 100 cities across the country. This summer, thousands of fast food workers gathered in nearly 60 cities coast to coast. In New York and Chicago, fired up protesters swarmed McDonald's restaurants, trying to persuade their fellow workers to join them.

EDUARDO SHOY, KFC WORKER: Living on $7.25, you cannot do it.

KOSIK: Many fast food workers making minimum wage are struggling to get by.

SHOY: How can you live on $7.25? You can't pay your apartment or buy food.

KOSIK: Eduardo Shoy lost his job a few years ago. Now 58 with two children headed to college he works at Kentucky Fried Chicken in New York earning $7.25 an hour. He also works a night shift as a forklift operator at Kennedy Airport.

SHOY: It's tough, real tough. I can't do none of the things I used to do, able to pay my mortgage, my car payment, able to take my family out to dinner. That we had to cut out, you know, we had to sacrifice a lot of stuff.

KOSIK: Median pay for fast food workers is $9 an hour or $18,720 a year, well below the Census Bureau's poverty line of about $23,000 for a family of four.

DORIAN WARREN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Workers are taking these jobs because they are desperate. And in an economy that is not creating enough work for people who want to go to work and still not creating enough middle class jobs.

KOSIK: The president is paying attention to the issue, calling for a raise in the federal minimum wage.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office.


KOSIK: In this push for a higher minimum wage, a higher federal minimum wage likely to not go away anytime soon. The Bureau of Labor statistics shows that six out of ten fastest growing positions over the next decade will be low paying positions. These are positions including home health aides and veterinary assistants. So Michaela, it's not just fast food workers who are trying to pay the bills on minimum wage - Michaela.

PEREIRA: Yes, a lot of folks are struggling. That's for sure. We'll be watching these protests with you, Alison, across the nation. Thank you so much.

In other headlines now, Vice President Joe Biden says China's new air defense zone over the East China Sea is causing significant apprehension. He's in Beijing meeting with the country's top leaders. Biden says he expressed Washington's firm position and expectations regarding the zone. The air space is over a disputed island chain claimed by both China and Japan. Later today, Biden heads to Seoul, the last stop on his Asian tour.

Right now, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel. He is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussing the recent nuclear deal with Iran, which Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized. Kerry going to try to push the Mideast peace process forward and meet with President Mahmoud Abbas in the west bank later today.

New developments in the massive Yarnell Hill fire, it killed 19 elite Arizona firefighters last June. A new report accused the administration of forestry of failing to have a proper plan to combat that forest fire. They've been fined more than $500,000 for workplace violations during the tragedy and has 15 days to appeal.

Prosecutors say they have wrapped up the rape investigation of Florida State University quarterback, Jameis Winston. A news conference to discuss those findings is scheduled for this afternoon. Winston is a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Many voters are waiting to see whether he's charged before they cast their ballots. Much more on this story in our next hour.

One of the first pooches causing a bit of a stir at the White House, the Obama's Portuguese water dog, quite exuberantly. Sunny went nose to nose with a 2-year-old girl who was taking a tour of the White House holiday decorations. Sonny jumped up as excited puppies will do. Little Ashtyn Gardner got knocked on the ground, took a bit of a tumble. Ashtyn got up, told the first lady that she was OK and received some kisses from Sunny.

PEREIRA: All right, coming up next, we are going to take a break. Coming up next on "NEW DAY", the just released 911 calls from the Sandy Hook shooting, shedding light on the heroism of the staff and emergency responders of that tragic day. We'll bring you the mixed reaction from the families of the victims as they continue to recover.

CUOMO: And President Obama is on a mission to fire up his base, pledging to fix income inequality. We'll test the president's plan and chances for agreement on it in our political gut check.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's almost one year since a gunman killed 20 children and six staffers inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The 911 recordings from that day were just made public. After quite a lot of discussion here, CNN has decided to air portions of the calls because as a network we believe they are newsworthy, particularly in how they shed light on the heroic response from the school staff and emergency responders.

We'll be playing them sparingly and immediately after you going to hear from the families of Newtown victims. Some who listened to the calls said they found solace in them. Others refuse d. What we're about to play could be tough to hear. First to Deborah Feyerick.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first call came in from the school's secretary, moments after classes started, giving insight into how the shooter, Adam Lanza, began his rampage.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Newtown 911, what's the location of your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Sandy Hook School. I think there is somebody shooting in here, in Sandy Hook School.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK, what makes you think that?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Because somebody has a gun. I saw glimpse of somebody running down hallway. They're still running. They're still shooting. Sandy Hook School please.

FEYERICK: Seven 911 calls were released. They captured the fear and quiet urgency and lack of panic of those inside and the police dispatch. One woman shot in the foot crawled into a classroom where several children hid near a bookcase.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK, are you safe right now?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I think my classroom door is not locked.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK, is there anybody that can lock it without -- being safe? UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Just stay where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There are children in this room too.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Try to apply pressure, OK? We have people coming, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: All right. Is there any other teacher in there with you or just students?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: No. There are two other adults in the room with me.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: OK. Are they right next to you? Where are they in the room?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: No. They're over on the other side of the book shelf.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: All right. Are you OK right now?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: For now hopefully.

FEYERICK: According to a report by the state's attorney, that teacher and the students in the classroom survived. It was custodian, Rick Thorne, in a different part of the school who became the eyes and ears for a police dispatcher.

RICK THORNE, CALLED 911 DURING SHOOTING: I am down the corridor.

POLICE DISPATCHER: All right. I want to you take cover. Jen, get the sergeant. All right, get everybody you can going down there.

All right, let me get some information from you. What makes you think that?

THORNE: The front glass is all shot out. It kept going on.


THORNE: It is still happening.

POLICE DISPATCHER: All right. What about the students in the front of the building?

THORNE: Everything is lock up as far as I know. I'm not in the front.

POLICE DISPATCHER: You're in lockdown?

THORNE: They're in lockdown. DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At one point the custodian still on the phone with the dispatcher is confronted by responding police officers.

THORNE: Custodian! Custodian!

FEYERICK: He relays information between the officers and the 911 dispatcher.

THORNE: I'm on the phone with dispatch. Victims in the building. Victims in the building.


THORNE: How many?


THORNE: Two down.

FEYERICK: What becomes clear from the released audio is how police and those in the school responded. No apparent chaos, just calm determination to deal with the unimaginable.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Newtown officials and families of the victims, they fought successfully to block pictures of the crime scene from being released, but some also fought to keep those 911 recordings from being made public as well.

CNN's Pamela Brown is here now with reaction from some of the families who were impacted by this.

Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate.

And as you mentioned earlier, Kate, the reaction among Newtown families is mixed. Two of the relatives we spoke with are unequivocally opposed to the 911 calls being made public, saying releasing the audio only pours salt into the wound.

But another relative told CNN the audio helped her make sense of the detail in what was a senseless tragedy.


NICOLE HOCKLEY, SON KILLED IN SANDY HOOK MASSACRE: I have no desire whatsoever to hear the slaughter of 26 people, including my 6-year-old boy and I can't imagine why anyone else would want to hear that as well.

BROWN (voice-over): Nicole Hockley is bracing for the one-year anniversary of the death of her son, Dylan, a first grader killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hockley also faces the fear of hearing the 911 calls placed from inside her son's school during the shooting spree.

(on camera): Even not hearing them, do you feel like it opens up wounds, just knowing that it's out there?

HOCKLEY: Yes, because I don't know if I'm going to turn on the radio one day or turn on the TV one day or be Googling on something and just happen to come across them by accident.

BROWN (voice-over): Hockley is one of many who fought to keep the 911 calls confidential but the town released the nearly 18-minute recording Wednesday after a court ruling. The judge in the case says not releasing the call only serves to fuel speculation in our law enforcement officials.

NEIL HESLIN, SON KILLED IN SANDY HOOK MASSACRE: I did listen to them. I did hear them.

BROWN: Neil Heslin lost his 6-year-old son Jesse. While he didn't want the calls to be released, he felt compelled to listen.

HESLIN: I felt it was something I need to do or wanted to do, just to know. You know, Jesse was my son. I brought him into the world.

BROWN: Some victims relatives like the daughter of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung tells CNN the audio helped paint a more complete picture of what unfolded inside the school that horrendous day.

"There is nothing on the recordings that violates the victim's privacy," she said. "The public has the right to know."

One thing all the victim's families stand united on, continuing their loved one's legacy.

HOCKLEY: I prefer to focus less on the tragedy but instead be seen as something in a person that is going to help prevent future violence in this country.

HESLIN: I guess if I had one wish, I wish that everyone could do an act of kindness or try to do a good deed and remember a tragedy in the victims in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary School children and the teachers.


BROWN: Media organizations across the country delicately debated what, if anything, from the tapes should be aired. Out of respect for the families who worried they're nightmare would be sensationalized for TV, many news organizations, including CNN, are choosing to air only selective parts at certain times. Others are choosing not to broadcast any of the audio. So you're seeing a mixed response in that respect -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And it is clear that the families continue to struggle with the immense loss they're dealing with. And it goes without saying that the nation continues to mourn with them.

Pamela, thanks for bringing that perspective. Thank you.


CUOMO: All right. Coming up on "NEW DAY", the NSA may know where you are just about everyone else as well. The latest leak suggests billions of you are tracked through your cell phones. We'll tell you why.

And President Obama begins to take on his next big initiative. What he says is the defining challenge of our time. We'll tell you what it is.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to "NEW DAY" on this Thursday. I want to bring you the latest on the latest headlines.

A powerful arctic blast is set to deliver its next punch, a snow and ice storm that is expected to stretch from the Southern Plains to the Ohio Valley. More snow also falling in the Rockies but at a bit of a slower pace and snow continues to fall in the Upper Midwest.

In Minnesota, the storm is already being blamed for nearly 500 car crashes statewide on Wednesday alone.

Actor Paul Walker may have survived the initial impact of Saturday's fatal crash. Autopsy results suggest the "Fast & Furious" star died from a combination of traumatic injuries from the crash and the resulting fire. The report also confirmed that Walker was not the driver of the car.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures says it is shutting down production of "Fast & Furious 7" indefinitely.

Hackers have stolen roughly 2 million e-mails and social media passwords, and user names. A new report from a cyber security firm says an untold number of computers were hit with malware, affecting accounts at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, among others. Steps have been taken to inform many of the users whose accounts were compromised.

Toronto's scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford may have tried to buy damaging video that appears to show him smoking crack. The offer was allegedly made some two months before the existence of the tape was reported. This information comes from police wiretaps of gang members. One is heard saying he rejected Ford's $5,000 offer and planned to demand $150,000 from him instead.

Check this out. Oh, it's so beautiful, the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree is shining bright in New York City. They flipped the switch last night in a ceremony watched by millions. It is a 76-foot Norway Spruce, thanks for asking, illuminated with 45,000 multicolored lights.

And that is quite a star, 9 1/2 feet wide. It is a Swarovski crystal star.

CUOMO: Swarovski.


BOLDUAN: Another word I cannot say.

PEREIRA: Erecting it first of all is a challenge and decorating it and making it look symmetrical, I'd have the back half of it forgotten.

BOLDUAN: Kind of like our hairstyles every day.

The story of the family who gifted -- I don't know what the word is. The mom got really emotional. It's been part of their family their whole lives.

PEREIRA: It's quite an honor to have your tree chosen.

BOLDUAN: Good way to go out.

CUOMO: Now that you've announced it's a Swarovski star, you keep a camera on that tree. You'll see the guys climbing up that tree. If I can just --



Let's move now to our political gut check of the morning.

President Obama is recommitting himself to closing the growing gap between the rich and the poor. In a speech he delivered from one of Washington's working class neighborhoods, he said making the economy work for all Americans is in his words the defining challenge of our time.

Here to talk more about this, John Avlon, CNN political analyst and executive editor of "The Daily Beast."

Good morning, John.


BOLDUAN: The president has talked about this issue before. He's pushed for this issue before.

Why now? What do you make of the timing?

AVLON: This is significant because the president and White House is pushing this idea. The president wants to make this a signature issue of his second term. And it really speaks to two twin dynamics.

First of all, going back to his roots as a community organizer, this is a president who cares about these issues, on income inequality going way back. The second issue is this is a fundamental fault line in the current debate inside the Democratic Party. You've got the centrist Democrats of the Bill Clinton era that were always closest to business. And then you have someone who is fixated and focused on addressing this issue of inequality which has gotten, not just over the past decades, but over the course of this presidency. So this is a really fascinating political and policy speech.

BOLDUAN: When you're heading into a midterm does that indicate this could be a tough issue for some Democrats in tough re-election battles.

AVLON: It could, right? I mean, you know, you've got Democrats in swing states. This is not an issue that swing voters are necessarily focused on.


AVLON: This is about the Democratic base. This is also about social justice. Issues that rile up the base.

To some extent, I think the president is trying to get enthusiasm from his base. You've got today and the last couple of weeks, you know, protests around the cover over the issue of minimum wage and fast food --

BOLDUAN: Very timely.

AVLON: So, this is timely, this is cutting edge, this is coupled with a push to raise the minimum wage which appears to the base. But there are political risks for the president. He's framing this as a moral issue.

And you have a fascinating dynamic, where not only the gap between the rich and poor, but the super rich and the middle class. Stock market all-time high, but poverty also at an all-time high.

CUOMO: You've got to find a way to bring business back here then. I mean, the United States still manufacturers more than any other country in the world, something that people lose site of because of what's happened with China. But, you know, it's easy to say raise the minimum wage, another thing to get it done politically.


CUOMO: Isn't the real challenge finding ways to get higher paying jobs in the country.

AVLON: It absolutely is. And the president did talk about sort of in-sourcing manufacturing, something that was a theme throughout his reelect and really through his presidency.

CUOMO: Hasn't done much, though.

AVLON: But critics will say exactly that point. The governors are more involved in a day-to-day basis in that job of coaxing industry to actually create jobs. This president has been more rhetorical than really job-creating focus, in that granular day-to-day unglamorous way.

BOLDUAN: Can this -- my first inclination is to assume this is not going to go anywhere in Congress right now because, House -- number one, nothing does. Number two, House is controlled by Republicans and you're seeing obvious opposition from them. I mean, Kevin McCarthy came out and said yesterday, clearly they want to -- no, no, that was me making my note.

CUOMO: That was always your note. That's what I want to know --

BOLDUAN: My note is more important. Kevin McCarthy is accusing the president of trying to change the subject, something we've heard over and over again. Clearly, Republicans want to stay on one topic, Obamacare.

AVLON: Yes. And so, whenever anything happens in the world, like, oh, I don't know, potential deal with Iran, some -- a Republican senator says this is a distraction from the real issue, which is the failure of Obamacare.

Both sides want to stick to their script. This is definitely -- the president would rather be talking about moral issues than the flawed rollout of his health care website.

BOLDUAN: Republicans must know or must feel this issue is not good for them?

AVLON: You know, I think it's more subtle. The president is trying to actually take the health care law and put it in the larger argument for what he wants to get done. It's a legacy item. It's a legacy priority. For the Republicans, this is anathema. They're content to criticize the president on more Americans being on food stamps.

But then the real question is, what do you do about it? That's not obligation to propose as well as oppose, and that's where that gap is fundamentally in Washington today.

CUOMO: I was trying to get the #dobetter going. I think that's the message, because that's what it will come down to. And I would argue Republicans have a big interest in this, because cultivating business here, cultivating job production here is much an agenda item for them on their platform as it is for Democrats.