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Ice Storm Hits Parts of U.S.; Weather Grounds Flights in Dallas; South Africa Continues Mourning Nelson Mandela; Major Websites Object to NSA Spying; Student Shot Dead During Traffic Stop

Aired December 9, 2013 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk now, though, about the big story here in the U.S., that massive, deadly storm that's slamming the east coast. Right now we are talking snow, rain, ice. It's wreaked havoc across nearly half of the country. The deep freeze canceling thousands of flights this morning, and the deadly pileup on icy roads has made driving very dangerous. We are covering every angle of the story for you. Let's to Indra Petersons of course tracking the weather. Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Like it's not bad enough. We are still talking about delays, even freezing rain expected in the northeast continuing to fall. And in Dallas this morning after tons of delays over the weekend, they are dealing with freezing fog after a weekend filled with freezing rain, snow, and ice.


PETERSONS: Snow, freezing rain, and dangerous ice.


PETERSONS: In Plano, Texas, residents captured these videos showing sheets of ice cascading down from the rooftops. And another early winter storm is wreaking havoc across much of the nation. The frigid storm put Dallas in a deep freeze over the weekend and made a mess from the Ohio Valley to the northeast. Road crews were out in full force plowing and salting streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going to stop working until the roads are clear.

PETERSONS: The wintry mix created treacherous conditions on major roadways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been really rough. I think every year people forget how to drive in the snow.

PETERSONS: The dangerous mix of snow and ice caused this 50-car pileup on the Pennsylvania turnpike, killing at least one person. Roads and highways in the Milwaukee area also had their share of problems, three separate wrecks involving over 100 cars, buses in ditches, semitrailers jackknifed, causing a number of injuries.

LUIS ALANIS, BUS PASSENGER IN ACCIDENT: It was bad. You can barely see on the road, just swerving through cars, dodging cars. We ended up in the ditch.

PETERSONS: Heavy snow was the headline in at least four NFL games on Sunday. Blowing snow made it nearly impossible for fans to tell exactly where the ball was. The football field looked like ice rinks with players slipping and sliding. At the Eagles-Lion's game in Philadelphia, snow measured as high as six inches in the middle of the field. The Lions fumbled six times before half-time.


PETERSONS: We had those two powerful systems over the weekend this morning. The northeast is dealing with that second system. But on the tail end of this system comes another system expected to affect us all tomorrow. With will have those details coming up in the full forecast in a few minutes.

BOLDUAN: Indra, thank you so much. When you talk about that kind of weather, you are talking flight cancellations, unfortunately. More than 1,000 flights have already been canceled today because of the storm. Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the major hubs crippled by the cold weather and pretty extensive ice. Some travelers have been stuck there for days waiting for flights to be rescheduled. And for CNN's Ed Lavandera, is any good news for these travelers, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There does seem to be some good news today, but however you cut this, some 4,000 people had to sleep at the airport here in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Friday night. That number was down to 650 last night. But any way you count it, there have been enough people in these terminals this weekend to populate a small Texas town.


JAMES ARCHIBALD, TRAVELER: This is day four, Dallas-Ft. Worth international airport. Times are getting desperate.

LAVANDERA: Growing frustrations for thousands of passengers after being stranded at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport since Friday. James Archibald of Canada is one of them.

ARCHIBALD: I don't understand why they can't get the ice off the runway. From Canada, we got four, five feet on the runway, boom. Plows go by. I know it's for our own safety, but it's getting a bit silly.

LAVANDERA: Mr. Archibald is posting video updates on YouTube, chronicling his misadventure in north Texas. As he waits out the weather, he is amusing himself by interviewing other travelers stuck at the gates.

ARCHIBALD: I'm going home, I don't like this place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you mean, this isn't your home?

ARCHIBALD: They say home is where you hang your hat.

LAVANDERA: On Friday, nearly 700 flights, or about 97 percent of the total were canceled, about 400 more on Sunday. These newlyweds were on their honeymoon and trying to get to Cancun, Mexico, when the ice storm grounded them. The couple from Tokyo, a long way from that beach-front honeymoon, slept in chairs like so many others. Some were lucky enough to get cots.

The cancellations continued through the weekend while airport workers provided food and drinks to travelers. They also brought in jugglers, illustrators, and balloon artists, but that was little relief for some.

ARCHIBALD: Have you showered in four days?


LAVANDERA: The temperature was above freezing at the airport for five hours on Sunday. That helps crews clear ice from the runways.


LAVANDERA: And the good news is that DFW airport officials tell us that four out of the seven runways are now fully functional, and that is enough to run a full schedule. However, a lot of these flights will be headed to the northeast, so there will obviously be some delays and cancellations to deal with. But we just took a look at the board here second ago, Kate, and it is starting to look a lot better than it did Friday and Saturday, that's for sure.

BOLDUAN: All right, some good news at least to start the day off. Thank you so much.

In the next hour we will have a live, exclusive interview with a very different plane nightmare. A passenger who slept through the de- boarding process and woke up trapped inside the plane if you can believe it. We will talk to him how it happened and what he makes of all this. That's going to be coming up in our next hour.

But first let's get back to South Africa where Chris is in Johannesburg with Robyn Curnow, who has been covering this from the very beginning. It sure seems, Chris, that the memorial and celebrations of Nelson Mandela's life haven't ended since his death was announced.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, so true, Kate, just waves of emotion. The celebration here is taking on the character of the man, himself. There is a lot of fun, what Robyn was saying, that he had, the singing, the dancing. Of course, this complexity, like many things in South Africa, the mood outside versus the mood outside. what are we seeing in both places?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the past few day, we haven't really had any understanding of what is going on in there, a lot of secrecy or privacy of what is taking place at his home. We do understand his widow is going through traditional preparations for a funeral as the widow. She is sitting on a mattress receiving visitors, and people are going through that front entrance, stars, politicians, the who's who of South Africa, and paying their respects to her.

CUOMO: Are you in anyway surprised of what we are feeling as energy around the globe of people responding and coming here and making a moment of this?

CURNOW: Not at all. The thing about Mandela, he made a point of looking you in the eye. You always felt like you were quite special around him. Even if you hadn't, can you see these people thought they had an intimacy with him, like they shared a moment. He had this incredible knack of doing that. What was key is he did it with ordinary people and celebrities and famous people. So he was very goods a understanding human nature.

CUOMO: There was a feeling, you were saying the flowers here. They didn't boy them in the store, you have Martin Luther King, Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Barack Obama, and in the middle Mandela.

CURNOW: South Africans really feel the deep sense of pride about him. I think Mandela was like a mirror reflected back to South Africans. South Africans want to see themselves in his image. I think that is very powerful now, 20 years after the beginning of democracy. It is key politically. Is this the South Africa of Mandela's visions, his dreams?

South Africans are using this time not to say goodbye to the man. It's also a rain check of where this country is, are we doing enough in South Africa? There is a real intimacy and a sense of we don't want to betray his vision. And things are going a little bit off, maybe this is the time to not forget he sacrificed so much.

CUOMO: It seems like there is a balance of loss, reference, and, as you say, responsibility.

CURNOW: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Robyn Curnow, thank you so much. We're going to be spending a lot of time together. Robyn is not just South African but spoke with Mandela, understands the politics here so much. So we will deep painting the picture of what is happening now, but really teeing up what's going to be just an epic memorial tomorrow. The world hasn't seen anything like it in quite some time. So back to you in New York.

BOLDUAN: So much to see, so much to celebrate. With will be watching it right alongside with you, thanks, guys.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The nation's leading technology giants, they are taking aim at the NSA, firms like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, they are all joining forces to put a stop to the snooping. They're hoping to better protect your privacy, and of course their brands. Alison Kosik joining us with this developing story.

BOLDUAN: And the authors of this letter, it reads like the big companies that you see on Wall Street, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, they all got together, wrote this letter. They sent it to President Obama and to Congress. And what they essentially want the government to do is limit the way it snoops on us online. They also want the NSA to be more accountable and they want oversight for the NSA as well.

They're not doing this out of the kindness of their own hearts, because they're worried that if people don't trust these sites that they're going to, they're not going to want to visit these sites, not go to Google or Facebook. This all, of course, came out of NSA contractor Edward Snowden, him leaking those NSA documents. And of course, these companies are taking the opportunity to say when the government came to us and tried to get information out of us, we did push back little bit. All of this not sitting well with these companies the reason they put this letter out.

PEREIRA: But doesn't that smack of hypocrisy just a little, because the fact is they've worked with the NSA. They've had their own controversies regarding privacy.

KOSIK: Exactly, you said it. Think about Google and Yahoo! They're the runs who collect user information because they want to get it for ad dollars. That's their revenue bread and butter, right? And then you got the proof that these companies do, Google agreeing actually last month, settling a $17 million lawsuit. It placed cookies on computers using Apple's Safari web browser without getting authorization. This happened over a two-year period. Google was able to actually circumvent Safari privacy settings without users consenting to it or knowing about it.

And then let's talk about Facebook. Facebook is a huge offender at every time -- did you know every time you visit a site that is liked on Facebook, you don't have to click "like," you don't have to be a Facebook user, but Facebook prints out a report or has a report on you if you visit this site. So I think those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

PEREIRA: It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out because it strikes me, like we said, a little hypocritical. All right, Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

Let's take a look at your headlines at this hour. For the very first time in nearly four years a U.S. defense secretary is visiting Pakistan. Chuck Hagel arriving earlier this morning for talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They are expected to discuss complex security issues unfolding along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, including the use of U.S. drone strikes. A sitting American defense secretary has not visited Pakistan since January of 2010.

Well, it's not just the NSA collecting data from people's cellphones. Local police departments are as well. "USA Today" reporting about one in four departments using what's called a power dump that gives police data about the identity, activity, and location of phones that connects to a cell tower. At least 25 departments own a device that acts as a fake cell tower tricking nearby phones into connecting to it.

In Florida, officials say 11 more whales have been found dead. They are believed to be a part of a pod of 51 pilot whales stranded in the Everglades last week. Rescuers had hoped to herd the surviving whales to deeper waters but now they say the outlook is bleak. This brings the total to 22 dead pilot whales. Scientists arriving Monday will determine cause of death and whether disease played a factor.

After a rare outbreak of meningitis, these Princeton students will be begin getting the first dose of the vaccine today. Since March, eight people on campus contracted the disease, which can be deadly. The vaccine has not been approved in the U.S. but was cleared for limited use on campus. Undergraduates and graduate students who live in dorms are being urged to get treated.

It took only, there it goes, a matter of seconds for part of Houston's history to be demolished. Three exterior ramps towers outside the Astrodome were imploded Sunday evening, all part of an $8 million plan to turn the stadium into an event and exhibition center. The 10,000 tons of concrete that crumbled, they will be recycled. It's always a sight to see that.

BOLDUAN: It looks like it's happening at night.

PEREIRA: People not anticipating it are like, what was that? No earthquake, but we are talking serious weather. Yesterday, today, is it going to subside as the week progresses, the storm?

PETERSONS: I wish it was. Of course we have a couple of waves to deal with, and we have a lot of angry people, I can only imagine, still stuck in airports, especially in Dallas. People have been stuck there for days. Today more travel woes again, especially every time we talk about that wintry mix, including the freezing rain. That's exactly what we are dealing with this morning.

Let's talk about where the ice is. That's the biggest concern. In Roanoke, Virginia, we could still be seeing a quarter of an inch of ice out from. But even notice all the way in through New England, we still have lesser amounts, only about a tenth of an inch. But it doesn't take much at all to ground those planes.

As far as the snow we're seeing the northeast, yes, we're still expecting some today, but continue to taper off and kind of head offshore. But we are also looking across the lakes and maybe see about three to five inches or maybe lake effect snow out there. There's the tail end of the next system expected to make its way in through tomorrow.

So yes, more travel woes, more likely snow and rain instead of that freezing wintry mix out there. Regardless, though, when you add in the visibility there, we are talking potential delays here as we go into the next 48 hours. Of course, that's until a couple more systems make their way through.

BOLDUAN: We'll take eight day at a time.

PEREIRA: The snow is so pretty, except when you are commuting in.

BOLDUAN: I was so excited because I bought winter boots, and now the rain is washing it all away. PEREIRA: I felt something on top of the cars.

PETERSONS: It was gorgeous yesterday.

PEREIRA: Looking out my window, nothing like it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra. We will take a break. But coming up next on "NEW DAY", questions at a Texas college after an honor student is shot dead by a campus police officer. Why did this happen? We will have a leave report coming up.

PEREIRA: And the murder trial starts for a newlywed accused of pushing her husband off a cliff just eight days after they're married. We will tell you the explosive evidence prosecutors say they will introduce. We'll break it down with our team of legal experts.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to "NEW DAY". A San Antonio college campus is shattered by a student's killing. It apparently started as a routine traffic stop, a 23-year-old pulled over by a campus police officer. But within minutes, the student was dead. How and why did it happen? CNN's George Howell is live with the latest.

Good morning, George. What are you learning?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. So, you know, you have to keep in mind this officer fired his weapon not just once, but several times. So it comes down to this key question: what was it about that traffic stop that prompted the officer to use such deadly force?

For people who knew Cameron Redus, it's all very hard to make sense of.


HOWELL (voice-over): Friends came together to say good-bye to Robert Cameron Redus. A star student on the campus of the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Redus made the dean's list. He even performed in front of and behind the camera for the school student-run TV station.


HOWELL: That's why those close to him are in disbelief that a campus police officer found reason to shoot and kill him.

SARA DAVIS, FRIEND OF VICTIM: This story doesn't really make sense to any of us, and I think we're mostly just angry and want answers. He's not aggressive. He's not any of those things that would constitute him getting shot at.

HOWELL: The shooting happened just a few blocks off campus. Early Friday morning, investigators claim Redus was allegedly speeding and driving erratically when a campus police officer pulled him over around 2:00 a.m.

Police say Redus got out of his pickup and approached the officer. Then they say a struggle ensued and the officer fired multiple shots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you please describe and give anymore detail to that struggle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I can't. AT this time, the investigation is still ongoing.

HOWELL: As Alamo Heights police now investigate the shooting, a cloud of questions remains about those critical last few months of Redus's life. His family released this statement to CNN affiliate KENS TV. Quote, "We are understandably devastated by the death of our dear son Cameron. We ask for your prayers as we deal with our tragic loss."

On campus, an outpouring of emotion and grief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There wasn't a surprise to me that there's a lot of people turning out for Cameron. You know, it makes me feel a lot better that we got a lot of support for Cameron.

ALEC CONYE (ph), FRIEND OF VICTIM: It's hard to even think he was gone. Like, he was here three days ago. You know, we just saw him, and closure is one of those things that will take time.


HOWELL: So this morning, there are a lot of unanswered questions. We know that that officer is on administrative leave and the Alamo Heights Police Department, they've called on the Texas Rangers to help with that investigation. And I can say as a cop reporter in Texas that's standard when it comes to a police-involved shooting. But, you know, people have a lot of questions about this, Kate and Michaela.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, it sure doesn't seem to make sense, that's for sure. George, thank you so much for that. Thank you.

PEREIRA: We're gonna take a short break here on "NEW DAY". Up next, the trial begins for a newlywed accused of pushing her brand-new husband off a cliff, how prosecutors are building the case and what the defense is planning. Our team of legal experts will weigh in.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, could you be held accountable for letting someone else drive drunk? Two teens in Connecticut have been arrested for doing just that. We will tell you what they are facing.


ANNOUNCER: You are watching "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back once again to "NEW DAY". It's Monday, December 9th. Coming up still in the show, it drew national attention, a newlywed accused of pushing her husband off just a cliff eight days after they married. Lots of twists and turns in this case. And now the trial is finally starting today. Our team of legal experts are here to talk about the case ahead.

PEREIRA: Also, the fall-out continuing for SeaWorld. Music groups keep canceling their performances at the theme park. Is this part of the "Black Fish" effect? We'll explain.

Those stories ahead on "NEW DAY", but first, here are your headlines.


PEREIRA (voice-over): A severe winter storm is slamming the East coast this morning, snow and ice taking a toll on travel. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Dallas-Fort Worth , particularly hard hit, stranding passengers for days. Roads not much better. There were massive pile-ups on those roads across the county. Officials say there were at least 60 crashes near Racine Wisconsin. At least one person was killed.

President Obama just minutes away from leaving the White House for a trip to South Africa. He is one of four U.S. presidents expected to attend tomorrow's memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto. Nearly 90 world leaders are scheduled to attend. This morning, hundreds grieving South Africans are leaving flowers and letters at the home where Mandela has died last week.

President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff until this evening in honor of Nelson Mandela. but a South Carolina sheriff is refusing to do so. Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says flags should be lowered only for Americans who sacrificed for their country.

Some really stunning images out of Brazil for you where soccer fans rioted in the stands during a game on Sunday. It shut down play for more than an hour during a key contest for two rival Brazilian teams. This is raising even further questions ahead of the World Cup. The game had already been moved from one of the team's home stadiums because of concerns over fan violence. Amazingly only four people were injured in all that of that chaos.

You will probably recall the adventurer who cut off his own forearm, inspiring the Oscar-nominated film "127 Hours". Well, he is expected in court this afternoon on domestic violence charges. Aron Ralstun faces one count of assault and one count of wrongs to minors.

He was arrested in a woman's home. She has also been arrested on the very same charges. Denver police have not released the exact circumstances of the alleged abuse.

Some frightening moments in Virginia Beach when a float in a holiday parade burst into flames. Apparently a generator in the back of the truck pulling the float was what caught fire. A number of volunteer fire fighters were taking part in the parade. They quickly put out those flames using a fire extinguisher from a nearby pizza place.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Not the kind of thing you want to see during the holidays or ever. Those are your headlines. Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

So jury selection begins today in a bizarre murder trial in Montana. A 22-year-old woman is accused of killing her new husband just eight days after their wedding. Jordan Graham faces first-degree murder charges for allegedly pushing her husband off a cliff.

Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam with more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What started as a wedding is now ending in a courtroom trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you kill Cody? Did you mean to push your husband off a cliff, Jordan?

ELAM: This morning, Jordan Linn Graham accused of killing her new husband will go on trial for murder. Federal prosecutors say that 22- year-old Graham deliberately shoved her 25-year-old husband Cody Johnson to his death off a cliff in Montana's Glacier National Park July 7th, just eight days after their wedding.

Friends of Cody Johnson say they noticed problems from the start.

UNIDENTIFIED AMLE: When they were exchanging vows, Jordan was looking down, and wasn't looking at Cody.

ELAM: Graham's attorneys are claiming it was an accident, saying the couple started arguing, and that when she tried to remove her husband's hand from her arm, he lost his balance. Investigators say she initially did not report the incident and was lying when she later told them that Johnson had driven away with friends.

She later admitted she was having second thoughts about the marriage, but she has pleaded not guilty to murder and to making a false statement.