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Dangerous Outdoor Mix; Fast Food Strike; Pope Assembling Sex Abuse Panel; Sandy Hook 911 Calls Released, Opening Wounds; American Imprisoned in Dubai

Aired December 5, 2013 - 08:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And then we've got those bone- chilling temperatures. So cold, in fact, Denver hit a record for December 4th, hitting negative 13 degrees last night. And we're only going to see single digits for highs today. This is just the beginning as this polar express continues to spread.


CABRERA (voice-over): A dangerous and drastic temperature plunge has millions shivering this morning across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thermometer in my truck says seven degrees as I was driving over here. So it's cold.

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

CARRIE JOHNSON, WAUSAU, WI 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 the 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: And sadly we've learned of at least one weather related death, a 16-year-old Minnesota girl died after hitting slush and losing control behind the wheel. We do have some good news. The power outages reported about an hour ago here in Colorado, some 1,500 people who have lost power for a few hours overnight, that power is just restored within the last 15 minutes -- Chris. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Ana, thanks for the update.

We know where the storm is. The big question of course, where is it going? Meteorologist Indra Petersons has that.

Indra, what do we know?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just in the last hour, Chris, we actually started seeing reports of freezing rain right around St. Louis. So, here we go, let's talk about why we are talking about the threat for freezing rain,

It's all about the temperatures, notice we're seeing temperatures up in the 70s, ahead of the system, behind the system, below freezing, where we would see snow. But it's this in-between area, notice St. Louis is pretty much just right at 33, that we have this threat to start seeing freezing rain, especially as this arctic air continues to plunge farther down to the south, notice, starting in Dallas spreading right around through St. Louis, we have this threat of an ice storm, which is exactly where we find Ed Lavandera right now knowing that the system is heading right in your direction.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boy, Indra, here people are bracing for the worst, waiting to see exactly what this winter storm is going to bring but around the region, north Texas, crews are preparing for the worst and it could be a messy situation on the roadways later in the day.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Late Wednesday, city parks in downtown Dallas looked more like a California coast boardwalk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're Texans, it's 80 degrees today and the next day it's going to be 30, so you never -- people panic.

LAVANDERA: A mass of arctic air and rain is threatening to turn these scenes of paradise into this.

It seems like the Dallas-Ft. Worth area experiences epic battles with sheets of ice and sleet crippling the region every few years, causing power outages, shutting down schools, not even leaving children with snow to play in. City officials say street crews will be available to work around the clock using about 70 trucks to spread a mixture of salt on the icy streets if needed. But this potential ice storm is threatening two major events, a downtown holiday parade on Saturday and the Dallas marathon Sunday. Slippery ice doesn't go well with marchers and runners.

The last wicked winter storm was in 2011 in the days leading up to the Super Bowl hosted in the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Football fans struggled to navigate the treacherous roadways and street crews struggled to keep many roadways driveable.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: So, today will be about squeezing in the last-minute preparations as the storm barrels toward the north Texas area as schools and businesses will be closely monitoring the situation to figure out what to do Friday, because come Friday morning as cold as it is right now, Indra, it will look a lot different around here. At least that's the expectation.

PETERSONS: Yes, definitely a scaring thought when you talk about that, Ed.

Let's talk about why, what is this freezing rain search talking about, how does it form? Remember, I showed you the temperature contrast. Up in the sky, we had snow, but once it enters the warm air in the middle of the atmosphere it starts to melt but at the surface freezing temperatures again.

So with that you have that huge danger of whatever falls freezing on contact, so you're talking about the roads, the bridges, the trees and most importantly those power lines, and we always talk about the threshold of a half inch I'm going to keep saying it, because that's when a power line weighs 500 pounds, power outages likely as we go through the weekend for any area over half an inch.

And here's that likely probability, anywhere from Paducah, all the way going back to just east of Dallas, that's where we're looking for the threshold of this ice storm. Many places outside still looking for even a possibility of a quarter inch.

And here's the real scary thought here. This is just one of the two systems making their way across. This is the first one we're dealing today. Exits off to the East Coast by Saturday morning, but another system on its tail end will be impacting the exact same region as you go into Saturday and even in through Sunday -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Indra.

So if you are looking for a fast food fix today you might have to cross a picket line to get it. Workers in 100 cities are staging walkouts today and they're demanding what they call a living wage. CNN's Alison Kosik is in Brooklyn, taking a look at it all.

But where you are, Alison, is where a large protest is expected today. What are you seeing?


All is quiet at this Wendy's in Brooklyn but a different story over at McDonald's earlier this morning, in New York City. So, this is just a taste of what you could see happen across the country today as thousands of fast food workers are expected to walk off the job.



KOSIK (voice-over): 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 in their fight.

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: You couldn't even pay your apartment, 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.

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, COLUMBIA PROFESSOR: Workers are taking these jobs because they are desperate in an economy that is still not creating enough work for people who want to go to work and still not creating enough middle class jobs or jobs that have a ladder to the middle class.

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

OBAMA: 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: And now there's a growing trend where six out of the 10 fastest growing jobs over the next decade will be low wage jobs, Michaela, and that's because -- that's why you're going to see this push for higher minimum wage, that push is really gaining momentum -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Folks struggling to make ends meet. Alison Kosik, thank you.

Breaking news, Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him about protecting kids from sexually abusive priests. Boston's cardinal announced the new commission this morning after the pontiff met with his eight-cardinal advisers. He said they would look at closer programs to protect kids, better screen priests and train church workers. Vice President Joe Biden in South Korea this morning, he held intense meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing over their newly declared defense zone. Biden telling China's president America will not recognize the zone over the East China Sea. Both Japan and China sovereignty over that disputed region.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East this morning. Earlier, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, discussing the nuclear deal six world powers reached with Iran, a deal that Netanyahu has criticized. Kerry is also trying to push the Mideast peace process forward by offering ideas for west bank security plan. He is set to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today.

The NSA gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cell phones around the world, including those blogging to some Americans abroad. "The Washington Post" reported that the documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden detail how this database is able to track people worldwide and map out their relationships with others.

What a story to tell, this is newborn Kingsley Johnson, couldn't wait to arrive in the world. This is video mom took minutes after she gave birth. Her husband had been driving her to the hospital in Edmond, Oklahoma, when detectives in an unmarked car pulled them over for speeding.

Their timing was perfect, they had the honor of delivering little Kingsley, stylishly outfitted, mom and baby are said to be doing great.

What a story. What an arrival. He's like, I am coming now, people.

BOLDUAN: Congratulations.

CUOMO: I am coming now.

PEREIRA: He was trying for an escort to the hospital I think.

CUOMO: Absolutely and he got it.

PEREIRA: He did.

CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY": question of the day, should the 9/11 calls from the Newtown massacre be broadcast? Some families of victims say it will only reopen old wounds. Others say it may help the healing process. We have a live report, next.

BOLDUAN: And desperate efforts to free an American man jailed in the United Arab Emirates. His family says it's over a parody video he made with his friends. We're going to talk with his brother and sister live, coming up.


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. And the 911 recordings were just made public.

After a lot of discussion CNN decided to air portions of the calls because we believe as a network they are newsworthy, particularly in how they shed light on heroic response from the school's staff and emergency responders. We're playing them sparingly, and immediately after, you'll hear from the families of Newtown victims some who listened to the calls found solace in them. Others refused and said they never wanted them released. What we're about to play could be tough to hear.

First, here's CNN's 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 911 OPERATOR: Newtown 911, what's the location of your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sandy Hook School. I think there's somebody who's shooting in here. In Sandy Hook School.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. What makes you think that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because somebody has a gun. I saw a glimpse of somebody running down the hallway.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 of those inside, and the professionalism of the police dispatchers. One woman shot in the foot crawled into a classroom where several children hid near a bookcase.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Try to apply pressure, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. We have people coming, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: All right. Is there any other teacher with you in there or just students?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there's two other adults in the room with me. UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. All right, are they -- are they right next to you? Where are they in the room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they're over on the other side of the bookshelf.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. All right, are you OK right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For now, hopefully.

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

RICH THORNE, SCHOOL CUSTODIAN: I'm down the corridor.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: 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 -- let me get some information from you. What makes you think that?

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm on the line with a 911 call --

THORNE: It's still happening.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: All right, what about the students in the front of the building --

THORNE: Everything's locked up as far as I know. I'm not in the front.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: All right, you're in lockdown?

THORNE: Yes, they're in lockdown.

FEYERICK: At one point the custodian, still on the phone with the dispatcher, is confronted by responding police officers.

THORNE: Custodian, custodian. Custodian.

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

THORNE: I'm on the phone with dispatch. 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 scenes from being released but some also fought to keep those 911 recordings from being made public.

CNN's Pamela Brown is here now with some reaction from the families of the Newtown victims.

Good morning, Pamela.

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

We did; we spoke with several Newtown families who had very strong reactions to the 911 calls. One of the victim's relatives told us the recordings actually helped her make sense of the details in what was a senseless situation. Others we spoke with say they are unequivocally opposed to these 911 calls being made public saying releasing the audio only pours salt into the wound.


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 calls only serves to fuel speculation in our law enforcement officials.

NEIL HESLIN, SON KILLED IN SANDY HOOK SCHOOL 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 needed to do or wanted to do, just to know. You know, Jesse was my son. I brought -- I brought him into the world.

BROWN: Some victims' relatives like the daughter of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung tell 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 victims' privacy, she said, the public has the right to know.

One thing all the victims' 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, you know, just do an act of kindness or try to do a good deed, and remember the tragedy and the victims and in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary schoolchildren and the teachers.


BROWN: And some of the families we spoke with say the timing of the release of these 911 calls is especially difficult, considering, you know, it's the holidays and the one-year anniversary is right around the corner but, Kate, they also said that they hope if there's any good that can come from this that it will bring more attention to their causes such as Sandy Hook Promise.

BOLDUAN: We should never forget those beautiful little faces.

Thank you, Pamela. Thanks for that perspective.

Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: All right, Kate.

Coming up on "NEW DAY", an American man imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates. His family says it's over a mockumentary he and his friends made. We're going to talk with his brother and sister.

And the desperate battle to keep dozens of pilot whales alive. Wildlife officials aren't sure they can save them. We'll take you to the scene in Florida.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

Time now for the five things you need to know for your "NEW DAY" and we begin with that bitter arctic blast that's not letting go. Its next punch a snow and ice storm that is expected to stretch from the southern plains to the Ohio Valley.

Fast food workers in 100 cities staging a walkout today. Their demands? Higher wages and greater freedom to form unions. All part of a continuing push to raise wages about $15 an hour.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East this morning. He spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about security and the landmark deal on Iran's nuclear program. Later he'll go to the West Bank.

House Democrats are talking Obamacare with governor -- Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear today, part of the White House's new push to sell the health care law. Beshearr's state is considered an Obamacare success story.

And how about this at number five? An early working draft one of Bruce Springsteen's biggest hits going up for auction today. It is the handwritten lyrics sheet to "Born to Run." It's estimated to bring in $70,000 to $100,000.

We always update those five things to know so be sure to for the very latest.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

A desperate effort is under way to save an American man being held in Abu Dhabi. Shezanne Cassim and his friends arrested over a parody video they made and posted online.

We're going to talk with his brother and sister live in just a moment. But first here's more of the story.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Shezanne Cassim is behind bars in Abu Dhabi for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Home of the Deadly Satwa G's.

BOLDUAN: A parody video the 29-year-old from Minnesota posted online. In it, he pokes fun at a clique of teens who were being trained in a fictional combat school to patrol the streets of suburban Dubai.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. It's a very dangerous area. Where are you going?

BOLDUAN: The 19-minute video begins with a disclaimer explaining it's fiction, portraying themselves as wannabe gangsters, as you can see Cassim, that he and others learned to throw shoes as weapons, and use cell phones to call for backup.

Cassim who has worked in Dubai for seven years as a business consultant has now been in jail since April because of the video. He was interrogated and arrested in Dubai before being transferred to a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi. His family says it was five months before he was notified of the charges against him.

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates claim the comedic video violates cyber crime laws and poses a threat to national security but Cassim's family says they haven't been told why the video endangered security and they say the law wasn't passed until after the video had been released. Two bail attempts rejected, his next court date is December 16th.

SUSAN BURNS, CASSIM FAMILY ATTORNEY: We don't know what's going to happen and that's the difficulty here. There's no predictability to it. There's no end in sight. It could end tomorrow. It could keep going as it has been, postponed week after week after week after week.

BOLDUAN: His family continues to plead to the U.S. government for help.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: What I think we need to do is to call attention to this so that the United Arab Emirates steps back and looks at this again and expedites his case so that there's justice for this young man and his family.

BOLDUAN: Officials in the United Arab Emirates did not respond to CNN's requests for details about the charges Cassim faces and why.


BOLDUAN: Joining us now is Shervon and Shalali Cassim, brother and sister of Shezanne.

Thank you both for coming in this morning.


BOLDUAN: Of course. Such a difficult time for your family. Your brother has been behind bars now for months. When was the last time you heard from him?

SHERVON CASSIM: We got a phone call from him just this morning when he was able to get a phone call out.

BOLDUAN: And what did he say? How is he?

SHERVON CASSIM: He tries to put on a brave face. He said that he was doing fine, not to worry about him, but I could just sense that he's a little depressed and he's -- my impression is that he's going just a little bit crazy in his cell.

BOLDUAN: And Shalali, what does your brother make of all of this?

SHALALI CASSIM, SISTER OF SHEZANNE CASSIM: He doesn't understand it, just like we don't. It's just made no sense to any one of us.

BOLDUAN: And of course I'm sure you have asked him, why did he make the video? What was the point of it?

SHERVON CASSIM: It was just for fun. It was -- he's a big fan of sketch comedies. He's a big fan of "SNL," "Funny or Die," all those shows and he and his friends just wanted to make a funny sketch comedy in their spare time.

BOLDUAN: Now I watched the video and I -- people should go online and they should look it up -- at themselves, it is an innocuous video especially looking at it from our perspective here in the U.S. But you well know now more than ever that when you're abroad you are subject to local law and local customs.

Does your brother say anything -- does your brother believe he has done anything wrong?

SHERVON CASSIM: No. He -- he -- there was no indication in local law that making a comedy video, making fun of teenagers in the suburbs was a threat to the UAE's national security.