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Ice Storm to Hit Virginia; Weather Outlook; Mandela Memorial; Bleacher Report; Newman back Home

Aired December 8, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until this really stops, I don't think we'll see any improvement at all.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, yes, it's not over. Just as the south begins to thaw from a massive ice storm, a new system moves into the northeast, bringing snow, sleet, ice. And bull's eye for this wicked weather? Our nation's capital.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: It's a day of prayer in South Africa as the country mourns a loss of a legend. We're live in Johannesburg remembering Mandela.

PAUL: And from dysfunction to destiny. An intense battle. Auburn claims the SEC title over Missouri. Will they go all the way, though? The BCS title's as stake.

Are you waking up from a football hangover? Wasn't good for me, let me just tell you in my defense (ph).

BLACKWELL: No, no, not so much.

PAUL: It was not so good.

BLACKWELL: I know that -

PAUL: So, I hope it was better for everybody else.

BLACKWELL: Nischelle Turner, our entertainment correspondent, is excited, because she loves Auburn. Loves it.

PAUL: Good for her.


PAUL: Congratulations to you.

And good morning to all of you. I hope Sunday's been treating you well so far at this early hour. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. 6:00 is the early hour here on the East Coast, 3:00 out west. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY. PAUL: So, let me tell you something. If you're one of the - you know, those winter wonderland people -

BLACKWELL: Uh-huh, you - yes.



PAUL: Today is your day.

BLACKWELL: Yes. If the mere thought of ice and snow makes you shiver and you're pretty clumsy, like me, stay inside, because a fierce storm is going to spread ice and storm from northern Kentucky to Washington, D.C., today. Now, before the day is over, New York, Philly, Boston, all expected to get slammed. And the storm hit the Dallas area hard Saturday. You remember pictures like this. Miles of drivers, they were just stuck on I-35. You know, some of them were there for up to 10 hours. The storm led to hundreds of canceled flights and left thousands of people without power.

PAUL: Now, we know a man lost control of his truck on I-35, skidded into a lake and rescue drivers just couldn't reach him fast enough. He had died by the time they pulled the truck out of the water. We know a total of seven deaths are blamed on the storm at this point. Dallas, in fact, was so cold, SMU and Central Florida played football, look at this, a nearly empty stadium. Dallas topped out at 26 degrees yesterday. That is the coldest December 7th on record there.

In Memphis, officials canceled the St. Jude Marathon. Look at those people, though. They're like, yes, you can cancel it. We're not going to stop. We're running for more than just ourselves. Thank you for them.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you train as long as it takes to run, you know, 26.2, somebody's going to go out and run it.

Let's talk about Roanoke, Virginia, prime target today. Western Virginia is likely to get the brunt of all this ice.

PAUL: CNN's Tory Dunnan is in Roanoke this morning here.

So, OK, Tory, is the city ready for this?

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Victor and Christi, they're used to winter weather here. But when we talk about a three letter word, "ice," it's honestly a different story. It's never a good situation. And, actually, they're expecting possibly a thick coating of ice here in the region. So what does that mean? It means it's going to be a dangerous situation on the roadways. If it gathers power lines and trees, it could mean power outages.

But they are taking preparations here in the area. They've pretreated some of the major roadways. At the airport, they've decided to put crews on 24-hour shifts. They've got all the equipment ready. But the thing everyone is going to be watching, this is going to make a huge difference, is the temperature here. Right now we're reading probably about closer to 35, 36 degrees. But we are told in the next few hours or so, it's going to drop below freezing. That means we could see more wintry mix, more sleet like this. And I have to tell you guys, Victor and Christi, Victor, this is really a far cry from when we used to work in Florida together. It's a lot colder out here. And these people are tough.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we used to work at WPVF in West Palm Beach and you said 40, it would be top story because it was never that cold.

PAUL: Oh, yes, see the two of you are having that moment.


PAUL: You're remembering the palm trees and the sun. Good luck with that.

Tory, we're just -


PAUL: Well, enjoy it as much as you can, Tory. Thank you so much, covering today's big ice storm from Roanoke, Virginia, there.

BLACKWELL: So let's bring in someone else with, as my mother would call it, thin blood. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray, just coming to Atlanta from Miami, and she's tracking the storm's path from the CNN Severe Weather Center.

PAUL: All you Florida folks.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I'm remembering the palm trees, too.


GRAY: It is cold even in Atlanta for me.

Yes, we are dealing with the freezing rain, the ice, the snow over the next 24 to 48 hours. And, yes, the ice is really what's going to cause a problem. We are doing to see even already starting to pick up a little bit of a change over right outside of Nashville, even right outside of Memphis maybe picking up just a tad. But if you zoom in on some of these locations, you can see snow up to the north. We have a little freezing rain, ice, and then rain down to the south.

Hasn't hit D.C. yet, as you just saw, but it's only going to be a matter of hours before we start to see that push into the D.C. area and then on into the northeast. This is an hour by hour forecast, Sunday morning, around 8:00, still south of the city. But then as you go through the afternoon, we really start to see the ice pick up late this afternoon into this evening. And then as it pushes up into the northeast, we're really planning on more of a wintry mix for places like New York City and Boston.

And if you're looking at the snow totals, we are going to see a possibility of up to five inches in the west. But then as you head over on the East Coast, D.C., New York, we're not going to see anything more of - more than about an inch or two of snow and then possibly half an inch accumulation of ice, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, the snow beats the ice. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

You know, I don't know if you heard about this, but there's been a tragedy aboard a Delta Airlines flight. A 16-year-old was on the flight from Seattle to Atlanta yesterday and suffered a medical emergency of some sort. Now, the plane made an emergency landing in Spokane, but the teenager died. We know that he'd been traveling with his mother and they were joining his father, who's soldier, for Christmas. The Spokane Medical Examiner's Office says it appears that he died of natural causes, but an autopsy will be done tomorrow, but certainly thinking of that family.

BLACKWELL: All across South Africa today, millions of people gathering in churches, in mosques, in temples, in synagogues, all to honor Nelson Mandela.

PAUL: The congregation at one church singing that in tribute. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend today's memorial service for Mr. Mandela. So will former President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Robyn Curnow joins us now from Johannesburg. So we know about the U.S. delegation, at least, the president and former presidents. Tell us more about who will be at Tuesday's memorial and Sunday's state funeral.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that at least 90,000 South Africans will cram into that soccer stadium outside Johannesburg on Tuesday to honor Nelson Mandela. And joining them, in addition to the U.S. presidents, will be a number of heads of states. And the reason I can't give you the exact number is because the South Africans don't know yet due to sensitivities around traditional beliefs about not talking about this. The embassies were only really given details of Tuesday's events yesterday. So, you know, we do know that someone like David Cameron, the U.K. prime minister, Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean prime minister, will be here. We're waiting to hear if the Syrians or the Iranians or the Israelis will be here, too. So I think there's going to be a rather - someone described it, it's going to be like the United Nations in that football stadium on Tuesday.

So, beyond that, the actual funeral will take place under a large tent in the middle of the hills. An amphitheater of natural beauty in Qunu. A very remote, rural area where Nelson Mandela grew up. There will be a huge tent. About 4,000 people will attend that. Mostly friends, close family and political figures here in South Africa with a few VIPs who make that trip down there.

But potentially what we're seeing is a very protracted, how do you describe it, continuous prayer service for Nelson Mandela. It's 10 days' worth of memories, of singing, as you can hear. Everybody really feels like one day just isn't enough. They need 10 days to send him home.

BLACKWELL: Robyn, we're seeing this huge crowd here gathered with the flags. And we can hear the singing in the background. This is a national day of prayer. Can you tell us about the tens of thousands of people - here's the shot - that - and that's just an estimate -- tens of thousands of people we're seeing in this shot here.

CURNOW: You know, it's something extraordinary. I'm South African and I've been trying to think, you know, what compares to these unbelievable scenes of people walking, bringing their children along, walking and walking to come and pay tribute here outside his house on Vilicasi (ph) Street in Soweto, across this nation. You have these extraordinary themes of people coming together. And really the last time I can think of something like this, this magnitude, the sense of occasion, the sense of importance, was when we all voted in those first democratic elections in 1994, voted in Nelson Mandela. This is a national event that, you know, I think people will really feel and be moved for, moved about for years to come. They want to be here. So they bringing in their children to be part of the celebration of his life.

PAUL: Sure. What a memory they're all making together, you know, for those kids too. Robyn Curnow, thank you so much for letting us know what's going on there.

BLACKWELL: Yes, national and international moment for people around the world who will be traveling to South Africa.

PAUL: Oh, yes. Oh, sure.

BLACKWELL: But there is a sheriff in South Carolina, he's refusing to lower the American flag to honor Nelson Mandela.

PAUL: Yes, President Obama ordered the flags to be lowered to half- staff until sunset tomorrow. Pickens County sheriff, however, Rick Clark says he doesn't think it's right.


SHERIFF RICK CLARK, PICKENS COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: To show a sign of respect for what Nelson Mandela has done, I have no problem with lowering it in South Africa, in their country. But for our country, it should be the people, in my opinion, who have sacrifice for our country.


BLACKWELL: So, it is rare for a U.S. president to order flags lowered for a non-U.S. citizen, but it has happened. George W. Bush did it for Pope John Paul II in 2005. President Bill Clinton did it for prime minister -- former prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin. The practice goes back to actually 1965 when President Johnson lowered the flags for Winston Churchill. PAUL: All right, coming up, last night, Florida State didn't just beat Duke, it crushed them. Check out the quarterback there, hurdling over the defense for a touchdown and a route (ph) to victory. Highlights, upsets from all of Saturday's big games coming up for you.

BLACKWELL: Plus, detained in North Korea for more than a month, now an American war veteran returns home to the U.S. as a free man. We're going to hear from Merrill Newman in his own words. He'll talk to us.


BLACKWELL: College football's national champion matchup appears to be set.

PAUL: Yes, thanks to a huge upset. The SEC now has a chance to win its eighth straight BCS title. Joe Carter here with sports.


PAUL: And we're joined by meteorologist Jennifer Gray, a big college sports fan, also here.

CARTER: So thanks to your Ohio States Buckeyes -

PAUL: Come on.

CARTER: The SEC back in the national championship picture.

BLACKWELL: Didn't work out well.

PAUL: Somebody already - somebody already tweeted me and said, are you an Ohio State fan, Christi? If so, I'm so sorry for your loss.

BLACKWELL: I sent my sympathies out this morning too.

PAUL: Thank you (INAUDIBLE). Thank you. I appreciate it.

CARTER: I think that you're sulking this morning because Ohio State, I mean, they picked a really bad time to lose their first game in two years.

PAUL: I know.

CARTER: They were coming into this game having won 24 games in a row, 24 games in a row, one more win and they would have been in the national championship game. But, you know, going into this, it was like, OK, Ohio State looked pretty good in the third quarter. They were up by a touchdown, but then Michigan State's defense, which is the best defense in all of college football, they really toughened up and their offense scored the final 17 points of the game. So, there you have it, Michigan State upsets number two Ohio State 32-24. It's obviously Urban Meyer's first loss since he took over the job. Michigan State, now, is headed to its first Rose Bowl in 25 years.

And check this out, guys. This is the scene at the iconic landmark known as Toomer's Corner. Thousands of Auburn fans packed the street to celebrate Ohio State's loss and, obviously, Auburn's win, because, you know, they're partying because Ohio State's loss opens the door for Auburn to go into the national championship because Auburn simply took care of business earlier in the day by beating Missouri in a good old-fashioned shoot-out. I mean this thing was incredible, 59-42 was the final score. What a great game it was and a remarkable turnaround for Auburn. Nobody gave this school a chance at the start of the season. Last year they were 0-8 in the SEC. Now they're 12-1, SEC champs, and headed to Pasadena, more than likely obviously, we'll know tonight for sure, but headed to Pasadena to play the number one team in the country, Florida State.

And what can you say about quarterback Jameis Winston? I mean obviously the guy is the favorite to win the Heisman trophy, He led his team to an easy win over Duke, 45-7. And, by the way, it was their 12th win by at least 27 points. The Seminoles, obviously, have put together one of the most dominate teams in college football history. Florida State finishes a perfect 13-0.

So now, obviously, we wait for the official word tonight from the BCS, but it looks like, more than likely, it's going to be Florida State, Auburn in the national championship game. Obviously Auburn had two weeks to prepare for Atlanta and they beat them. Now they have four weeks to prepare for Florida State, because college football, you know, they get all the excitement and they make us wait for a whole month until we get the championship game.

PAUL: Right.


CARTER: We get like 98 bowls before we get to the actual championship game. But I think we picked - I think we have the two best teams in the national championship game. What do you think?

GRAY: Yes. And those look -- that's who I wanted. I wanted Auburn and Florida State. I wanted to see the SEC, of course, in the national championships. I'm an LSU fan.

CARTER: The two best teams are playing. So, it's plain and simple, they got it right this year.

GRAY: Yes.

BLACKWELL: All right, so now let's do the real winners and losers here before the games yesterday.

CARTER: Real losers.


You three tried to -

PAUL: Yes, what about you?

GRAY: Where were you? BLACKWELL: Yes. Here's the thing. I don't know much about college football. So for me to pick, I mean, I wouldn't pick anybody who'd even have a chance. So, Jennifer got every game right.

CARTER: Congratulations, Jennifer.

PAUL: Congratulations, yes.

GRAY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: OK. Now we've got the standings here? Joe missed the Missouri game.

CARTER: Well, I had to go - I had to go with Missouri because I knew she was going to pick Auburn. And I'm the gentlemen here.


CARTER: I wanted to, you know, give its fair -

PAUL: Such a kind man, isn't he.


BLACKWELL: Ah, the chivalry.

So Christi missed two games.

PAUL: And I will say, I kind of -- I did the same thing. I saw that nobody picked Duke. So I'm like, all right, you know, I'll throw Duke up there.

CARTER: Smart.

PAUL: But if I don't pick OSU, people, my dad disowns me.


BLACKWELL: So you're OK with the OSU loss.

PAUL: It doesn't matter what happens. Yes. Oh, yes, yes.

BLACKWELL: I mean with the loss in the standings.

PAUL: They beat Michigan. I don't care.


PAUL: You know for any OSU fan, that is the big thing, you've got to beat Michigan. Not Michigan State, Michigan the Wolverines.


CARTER: (INAUDIBLE) the first game in two years. They've won more in the national -

BLACKWELL: We've got to give out the award of the day. The award of the day goes to Jennifer.

PAUL: Good job.

BLACKWELL: Apparently a magic eight ball. All signs point to yes.

CARTER: Everything right.

GARY: What do I get?

CARTER: Nothing.


PAUL: You get bragging rights.

BLACKWELL: We've got a graphic or something? We've got a sound effect or anything?



GRAY: I'll get bragging rights. OK.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: We'll buy you something down - you know, like a doughnut or something.

GRAY: A doughnut.

PAUL: Yes.

Sorry about that.

BLACKWELL: Joe Carter, Jennifer Gray, thank you.

CARTER: That was fun. Thank you.

GRAY: Thanks you guys.

PAUL: All right, so coming up, pulled off a plane, detained in North Korea more than a month ago, now an 85-year-old American war veteran is back on U.S. soil. You're going to hear about his journey in his own words.


BLACKWELL: Twenty-two minutes after the hour now. A Korean War veteran is waking up at home this morning after being held captive in North Korea for more than a month.

PAUL: Yes, 85-year-old Merrill Newman was pulled off a plane and detained just as he was getting ready to return to the U.S. with his tour group. BLACKWELL: Now, he landed in San Francisco yesterday, thrilled, understandably, to be back on American soil. CNN's Dan Simon has the latest.


MERRILL NEWMAN, RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREA: Good morning. I'm delighted to be home.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Merrill Newman, the 85- year-old Korean War veteran spent six long weeks in captivity. It's not clear why the North Korean government suddenly let him go, but the state's news agency said he was deported for humanitarian reasons and because he was repentant.

NEWMAN: I can understand that in U.S. and western countries there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.

SIMON: It came a week after the former Army intelligence officer and later Silicon Valley executive gave this statement for his alleged war crimes while in Korea some 60 years ago.

NEWMAN: And killed three innocent operators, delayed the munition supply.

SIMON: Some described it as highly scripted political fear.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: This is a pattern of the North Koreans. They make some of these prisoners do confessions. They basically feel they have enormous leverage over you. And, you know, you're in a North Korean prison. You say that.

SIMON: Following his release, Newman first went to China, then flew home to San Francisco. His son and wife, by his side, at the airport.

NEWMAN: It's been a great, great homecoming. And I'm tired, but (INAUDIBLE) and be with my family now. And thank you all for the support we got.

SIMON (on camera): Here in Palo Alto at Newman's retirement complex, you can see the yellow ribbons to welcome him home. Though the U.S. has no formal relations with North Korea, a White House official says that Newman's release was the direct result of contact between Washington and the North Korean capital.

SIMON (voice-over): Thousands of westerners travel to North Korea each year at their own peril. Newman went there in October as part of a 10- day tour. The day before leaving he had reportedly spoken to some Korean authorities about his military service. He was eventually pulled off his airplane just minutes before it was to depart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do when you get home?

NEWMAN: Relax.

SIMON: An adventurous and worldwide traveler, Newman was asked if he'd ever return to North Korea. His answer, "probably not."

Dan Simon, CNN, Palo Alto, California.


BLACKWELL: Probably not.

Still to come, an innocent man lost 25 years of his life.


MICHAEL MORTON: I couldn't imagine what could possibly be manufactured to make 12 people think that I'd killed my wife.


PAUL: We'll tell you how Michael Morton was convicted of killing his wife despite so much evidence proving he wasn't even there.


PAUL: Mortgage rates ended this past week a little mixed. Take a look.


PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) for all of you early birds, welcome back. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you with us.

Let's start with five things you need to know for your new day.

PAUL: Yes, at number one, that early winter storm is going to spread a layer of ice and snow from Virginia to New England today and tomorrow. But look at the mess it left behind in Dallas. Drivers got stuck on Interstate 35 for hours. And behind the storm, brutal cold. We know seven deaths nationwide are blamed on the bad weather.

BLACKWELL: Number two, South Africans are celebrating Nelson Mandela during a national day of prayer. They have gathered in churches, in mosques, in synagogues all across the nation to pay tribute to South Africa's first black president, an icon of reconciliation and forgiveness. President Obama and former President George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter will attend Tuesday's memorial service for Mandela. That's in Johannesburg.

PAUL: Number three, a South Carolina sheriff is defying President Obama's order to lower the flag for Nelson Mandela. Now, Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says the flag should only be lowered for Americans who sacrifice for their country. U.S. presidents, though, have lowered flags for foreign citizens several times in the past.

BLACKWELL: Number four, the merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways has been given the go ahead after the Supreme Court refused to hear a request from a consumer group that wanted to block the deal.