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House Passes Budget; Metro North Under The Microscope; 5-Year- Old's Mouth Allegedly Taped Shut; Mega Anticipation; National Zoo Under Fire; Beyonce's "Visual" Surprise; American Jailed Overseas

Aired December 13, 2013 - 07:30   ET



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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY, Friday, December 13th. Coming up in the show, A-list comedians like Will Ferrell are getting serious, joining the crusade to free an American man jailed in the United Arab Emirates now for eight months after posting simply a parody video online. We are going to have new details on that coming up.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Plus a situation we have to tell you about at the National Zoo. Animals are dying. There's an investigation that find the people who run the zoo are not doing enough to keep them safe. Those are the conclusions. Are the budget cuts to blame? That's the push back. We'll investigate the situation.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: But first, let's give you the stories that are making news. Are you ready for more? Another big storm could dump more snow on the Midwest, Great Lakes and northeast. Other areas could see more rain. The storm could cover about 1,000 miles and affect millions people. It is the third round of wintry weather already this month.

Finally, an agreement in Congress, the House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a two-year bipartisan budget plan. The measure approved in equal numbers by Republicans and Democrats would eliminate the threat of a shutdown and fund the government through fiscal year 2015 while ending some unpopular spending cuts. It now moves to the Senate where it is expected to pass early next week.

In the wake of the deadly commuter train derailment in the Bronx an unprecedented investigation, federal transportation officials have ordered a 60-day exhaustive safety review of the Metro North commuter railroad. The Hudson line train took a turn at 82 miles an hour, well over the 30 mile-an-hour speed limit when it derailed December 1st. Four people were killed, dozens more were injured.

A security guard has been arrested and accused of stealing two Los Angeles Laker championship rings and $20,000 in gift cards. Eddie Monteroso worked at a Laker's training facility and is facing charges of burglary and grand theft. Police recovered both rings but only some of the gift cards. The team was planning to donate those gift cards to community groups for Christmas.

Outrage in Houston this morning after a substitute teacher allegedly duct taped a 5-year-old boy's mouth shut for talking too much. The boy's mother has filed a police report and is calling for the teacher to be fired. The school says an investigation did not turn out enough evidence to support the claim, but the teacher has since been reassigned. Never a good idea.



CUOMO: I don't know what that means. The investigation didn't turn up enough evidence?

PEREIRA: Duct tape on the child's face.

CUOMO: It happened or it didn't, very dicey situation.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Now to the much anticipated, should we call it mega anticipation?

PEREIRA: The crowd goes wild.

BOLDUAN: Over tonight's Megamillions drawing. At least $400 million up for grabs, but before you let your imagination run wild, all right, just let it run wild but still, Pamela Brown is here with us. A little bit of a reality check from Times Square.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, guys. Just to put this in perspective here, you have 1,000 times better chance of being killed by an asteroid or comet than winning the jackpot. Even if the odds aren't in your favor to win the fifth largest jackpot in history, you still have a 1 in 15 chance of winning something.


BROWN (voice-over): The frenzy for Megamillions tickets is reaching a fever pitch, $400 million at stake, the second largest jackpot in the game's history has players dreaming what they would do if they win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a millionaire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd be partying like a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early retirement.

BROWN: Recent changes to the Megamillions have inflated jackpots and are attracting more customers to play. The odds of winning are significantly lower after the revamp in October. That's because the five winning numbers increased to a total of 75 white balls instead of 56. And the number of gold mega balls decreased from 46 to only 15, making it that much harder to win the big prize. The chances of winning the jackpot went from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 259 million. KEVIN ALLEXON, MEGA MILLIONS HOPEFUL: There's a list of things that more likely to happen than winning the lottery, being struck by lightning was one of them. Hopefully I can beat the odds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody going to be lucky. I think it going to be me.

BROWN: So far the odds have been impossible. No one has won the big prize since the switch. The last jackpot winner, a Maryland man who chose to remain anonymous, bought a winning ticket at this store on October 1st. He matched all the numbers winning $186 million since then, 20 drawings and no winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you go. Good luck to you.


BROWN: Some good news, the minimum second prize won by hitting all numbers except the mega ball jumping from $250,000 to $1 million. Even more enticing, jackpots are growing larger and faster. The minimum jackpot rose to 15 million from 12 million, guaranteed to increase by at least 5 million after each drawing without a winner.

VICTOR MATHESON, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR AT COLLEGE OF THE HOLY CROSS: Could see maybe in the next several years, maybe an elusive billion dollar jackpot.


BROWN: So tonight at 11:00 p.m., that's when the drawing is in Atlanta. We'll see if any of these dreamers will become the big winners. For those of you who are superstitious by the fact that it is Friday 13th known as an unlucky day, don't let that hold you back. There have been winners on this day, someone won $27 million in the Mega Millions jackpot. Don't let that hold you back. It could still be a lucky day. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: In response to that, let's say it all together. So you're saying we've got a chance.

CUOMO: Just because you use the news voice and you smile doesn't make it OK.

BOLDUAN: I feel like she's toying with my emotions.

CUOMO: Pick me up two packs of lucky and a Gatorade while you're there.

BROWN: I'm having a field day.

BOLDUAN: I'll take Skittles.

BROWN: If I don't show up for work next week, you know why.

CUOMO: I'm not putting you in the lottery pool unless you apologize.

BOLDUAN: That's OK, Pamela.

CUOMO: We're going to win, start a charity that funds kids' sports teams.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

PEREIRA: I like this. I'm in high five. Pass it down.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the National Zoo is under investigation, if you can believe it, under allegations of neglect. How is the zoo explaining a string of deaths among the animals?

CUOMO: You know what they say the best publicity is no publicity. Nobody says that but Beyonce did and dropped an entire album. No one had a clue. How did she do it? Answers after the break.


BOLDUAN: Look at that. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's get back to Indra who is the bearer of cold news.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: At least you didn't say bad news.

BOLDUAN: I said cold.

PETERSONS: I'm with you on this. Temperatures are still in many places into the teens this morning, still seeing a huge chunk of the country with freezing temperatures out there. This will continue and then we'll throw in some snow and some wind. Let's talk about the system already dropped farther south today. By tonight, especially, in the evening hours, anywhere from Kansas and Missouri we'll start to see that wintry mix.

Farther to the south, they'll be talking about rain along the gulf. The overnight, the Ohio Valley, you start to get into the action. By the northeast, tomorrow afternoon, we start seeing the snow. There are two systems here. The second one does develop. The combination of the two will bring not only a lot of moisture and the cold air but winds out there.

Keep in mind gusting out there, even though you have the blowing snow. As you go through Sunday, starting to make its way off the coast in through New England. Yes, we're still talking about it in through Maine by Sunday night. That's the day by day of the system. As far as how much you're expecting? The totals look impressive.

New York City now could see as much as 4 inches to even 6 inches. Upstate New York, you can see about a foot. Same thing with Boston, could see as much as a foot of snow. Back towards the Ohio Valley, about 4 inches to 6 inches. Chill is going to be out there. Once there's snow in the area, it may stick around. Temperatures are going to be in the 20s, impressive, right?

PEREIRA: Already stretching out that arm.

BOLDUAN: No comment. CUOMO: The National Zoo in Washington is under fire this morning. This is not good. Several of the zoo's animals have died there recently. Now two internal reports suggest other animals could be at risk.

Let's bring in CNN's Chris Lawrence. He is at the National Zoo watching this situation. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. You know, this has gotten so bad that the congressional committee that oversees the National Zoo is now going to take a look into whether budget cuts have compromised the zoo's ability to care for these animals. And remember, this isn't just any zoo. This is your zoo. It's part of the Smithsonian, which means it's mostly funded by taxpayers.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): A blistering internal investigation is revealing big problems at the National Zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We never compromise safety and well being of animals.

LAWRENCE: And yet animals are dying. On Wednesday, it was an endangered horse, which rammed into a fence inside its barn. Both a gazelle and antelope-like animal broke their necks the same way and a hog died from possible malnutrition.

CATHY LIGS, PRESIDENT, ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE: You don't hear this happening at zoos across the country. It certainly shouldn't be happening here at our National Zoo.

LAWRENCE: Last month, a zebra severely injured an animal keeper, earlier this year, Rusty the red panda got out and a vulture escaped its enclosure. Both were recaptured. An internal investigation found animal care and overall organization, accountability, follow-up and communication are severely lacking. Zoo officials say the budget is partly to blame. It does not charge admission and Congress has cut $2 million over the past few years.

PAMELA BAKER MASSON, NATIONAL ZOO SPOKESPERSON: This is where we look at ourselves very carefully and we have to review what resources are available.

LAWRENCE: Some animal welfare advocates don't buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can tell how beloved the panda really is.

LAWRENCE: Pointing out, there have been no problems with the zoo's star attractions. The panda cubs get naming ceremonies. The newest tigers, around the clock attention.

LIGS: The lesser known species, the less charismatic species aren't getting the attention that they clearly need.

LAWRENCE: They're giving the National Zoo attention it clearly doesn't want.


LAWRENCE: Critics say the zoo simply has too many animals, but some zoo officials are pushing back on that, saying that basically they've already implemented a lot of the changes that those investigators recommended and they point to fact that not only were they re- accredited just a few months ago, they also passed an inspection by the Department of Agriculture -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: All right, Chris, but the past matters just as much as the present. That's why they have to keep looking into it. Thank you for the reporting. We'll take a quick break here.

When we come back, good story for you, A-list comedians like Will Ferrell are getting serious, using their influence to join the crusade to free an American man jailed in Dubai for eight months.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, Beyonce shocks with a secret brand new album. No one had a clue it was coming. Did she just pull off the best publicity stunt ever? Why the secrecy?


PEREIRA: Welcome back. Beyonce stunning music world and her fans overnight by announcing and dropping her new album at the same time. This is one of the new songs in a tease video for "Drunk In Love" featuring the work of her husband, Jay-Z. Her self-titled "Visual" album, which is a collection of 14 songs and 17 videos is only available on iTunes.

She announced the album's release on Instagram Thursday night with this video which included the simple caption "surprise!" thumbing her nose at the hype machine, snuck it in. Nobody knew it was coming.

BOLDUAN: Is that a trophy over her head? It doesn't matter. She looks good.

CUOMO: She does for best looking person ever. Who knew Beyonce was so attractive?

PEREIRA: Really. It has been decided.

BOLDUAN: Now to some funny, getting more serious. More voices joining the outcry demanding the release of an American jailed overseas. The 29-year-old was arrested eight months ago in the United Arab Emirates, arrested for posting a joke video online. Watch it yourself. Officials have been largely silent on his case, but this morning, they are finally weighing in. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Abu Dhabi.

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight to free an American from a United Arab Emirates prison is indeed intensifying. The UAE for the very first time has admitted that it has jailed Shezanne Cassim. The 29-year-old is now getting help from Washington and also from some big names in Hollywood. The web site "Funnier Guy" has released a video urging the UAE to free Shez for doing something they do all the time, try and be funny.


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: Hi. This is Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and we are submitting this in support of Shez.

SIDNER (voice-over): Will Ferrell and other well-known comedians are taking up a serious cause, banding together to fight for the release of American Citizen Shezanne Cassim known as Shez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locking people up for what they say or what they think is funny is brutal and beyond that it just doesn't work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if anyone deserves to go to jail, I do.

SIDNER: Cassim has been locked up for past eight months after posting this video online. He filmed it with several friends, all are now being held. They intended it to be a parody about would-be gangsters on the not so dangerous streets of Dubai streets. He was living and working in Dubai. Now his concerned family in Minnesota has desperately been seeking answers as to why he's still behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going stir crazy in that cell.

SIDNER: For weeks CNN has been searching for answers as well.

(on camera): This is Sarah with CNN. Can you tell me anything about the Shezanne Cassim case?

(voice-over): For the first time, the UAE responded with a written statement from the embassy confirming that Cassim is in fact incarcerated and charged, but would not give specifics on his case. It said in part, Mr. Cassim was charged under the UAE's penal code. Anyone charge with a crime under the laws of the UAE is entitled to the fair trial protections contained in the UAE's constitution.

His plight has also reached Washington. This letter first on CNN was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, says "the conditions surrounding his confinement are very serious and call for immediate attention. Please take any action possible to assist Mr. Cassim."


SIDNER: At the beginning of the video it clearly states it's fictional. CNN has reached out to the State Department to see if it has a response to the governor's letter and the United Arab Emirates embassy all hearings are open to observers and Shez's next hearing is on Monday.

BOLDUAN: We spoke to his brother and sister and hearings have been pushed back, pushed back, it took months before he knew what he was charged with. We'll follow the case closely and bring you updates.

CUOMO: Part of that can be diplomacy and the process, government needs a push and anything that keeps attention on something like this is worthwhile.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on "NEW DAY," a surprise twist in the trial of the newlywed accused of pushing her husband off a cliff to his death. She's now pleading guilty. So what exactly did she tell the judge that she did?

CUOMO: Don't cross Kim Jong-un, the north creep dictator put his own uncle and adviser to death. The accusations, the implications, more when NEW DAY continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been constant all day.


CUOMO: One week until winter but the storms are coming early. New blast of snow and ice hitting a huge stretch of the country. We will be where it is worst and we'll tell you where the storm's going next.

BOLDUAN: Deadly family feud. The leader of North Korea has his uncle killed. Was he trying to assume too much power? The latest bizarre twist from inside that isolated country.

PEREIRA: Guilty in the surprise twist the newlywed on trial for pushing her husband off a cliff to his death pleads guilty to second- degree murder what she finally admitted to the judge and how much time she could do.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you cannot trust your number one or number two man in the system that clearly means you don't trust anybody.


ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see. This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Friday, December 13th, 8:00 in the east, Chris is having his breakfast.