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American Charged with Cyber Crimes in the UAE

Aired December 16, 2013 - 05:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Florida escaping the snow but still picking up the pieces. Check this out. A brutal storm down there. At least seven homes along Florida's Palm Coast destroyed by an -- EF-1 tornado Saturday night. Over 160 more were damaged. There's nothing left of 77-year-old Johnny Coberly's house. The twister tore off his roof and deposited it on a neighbor's lawn, leaving him beneath the pile of rubble.


JOHNNY COBERLY, HOME DESTROYED BY TORNADO: My house blew up and I'm probably dead. I think I prayed a little bit but that's about all. And I said, I think it's over and I got to try to get out of here. And it was pitch dark, of course. I felt my way to the front door.


BERMAN: Miracle he survived.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I know. Extreme weather this weekend for really millions of Americans.

So we're in the clear now, right? Oh, no. Indra Petersons is tracking all the weather from the CNN Weather Center.


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi. I even got (INAUDIBLE), which is good. It's already been a little bit better out here this morning. We definitely are seeing some changes. Today it's kind of that transition zone. The day in between.

Looking at the radar pretty much all we have right now is just a little bit of lake-effect snow. What we're really looking at is just a trough. You want to look at, it's just all that cool air that's really kind of taking over the eastern half of the country.

So temperatures today, definitely on the mild side if not below normal. This is where we're looking for highs today below freezing. New York City only looking for 18, Boston, the same thing, about 26. Over in Maine 20. So you get the idea. It's going to be cold. It's going to stay cold for some time and now let's talk about more snow. Why not? Right?

We have a couple of systems. Here's one that's kind of making its way out but notice a little tiny little piece of energy is kind of -- kind of clip on through and that is going to bring more snow today already in places like Chicago. Overnight tonight in through tomorrow the mid-Atlantic and northeast. You're going to start to see some of that snow. But until then yes, still some lake-effect out there for you today. About three to five inches around Erie, maybe Syracuse, kind of back toward Michigan maybe about two to three inches there.

But here comes that next system and with that we're going to be talking about a threat. We're going to be talking about the timing of this, really notice by Tuesday, you'll start to get a really mid- Atlantic kind of going here and in through New England. And then the -- well, yes, it's a minor, it's nothing like what you saw last time.

We're still talking about only just several inches, maybe two to four, not really New York City. They're only about one to three farther north around Portland, Maine, maybe three to five inches. So --

BERMAN: Minor. Someone has got to get the four inches of snow off my driveway.

PETERSONS: Yes. Yes. At least it's not a foot, right?


PETERSONS: It's all comparisons. It's relative.


ROMANS: My husband got a snow blower. He had a smile on his face all weekend. I'm telling you.

PETERSONS: Worked out, right?

ROMANS: No. He had a ball.

BERMAN: You guys know how to party. That's all I could say.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly.


BERMAN: Those are great maps, too, Indra.

PETERSONS: You like those?

BERMAN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. The head of a task force looking into the Edward Snowden leaks warned America's enemies could benefit greatly from these disclosures. Rick Ledgett tells "60 Minutes" the information that Snowden took reveals weak spots in American intelligence capabilities that could easily be exploited.


RICK LEDGETT, HEAD OF NSA TASK FORCE ON SNOWDEN LEAKS: It would give them a road map of what we know, what we don't know and give them implicitly a way to protect their information from the U.S. intelligence community's view.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: For an adversary in the intelligence game, it is a gold mine.

LEDGETT: It is the keys to the kingdom.


ROMANS: Ledgett also says the NSA had to spend tens of millions of dollars to protect technology after Snowden fled to make sure he couldn't hack into the system or damage it from a distance.

BERMAN: In the meantime, Senator John McCain is addressing another intelligence issue. He says the CIA lied to Congress about Bob Levinson who went missing in Iran seven years ago. Officials claimed Levinson was conducting private business at the time but his link to the CIA was formally reported last week.

McCain suggested it's time to re-examine the oversight role that Congress has over America's intelligence agencies.

ROMANS: Is the common ground over the budget deal a sign of a return to compromise on Capitol Hill? No, don't count on it.

House Budget Committee chairman Republican Paul Ryan and his Senate counterpart, Democrats Patty Murray, making nice lately but Murray cautions it is not a sign of things to come. Even though Ryan calls the deal a good start.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), BUDGET CHAIRMAN: This isn't a large agreement but this is a symbolic large agreement. I would love to throw a few more zeros at the end of these numbers but the fact that we're doing this, preventing shutdowns, passing bipartisan legislation, it passed the House 332-94. Majority of both parties. That's a good step in the right direction.


ROMANS: The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow to end debate on the budget deal. A vote on final passage could take place Wednesday before lawmakers break for the holidays.

BERMAN: Americans with health insurance are blaming President Obama and the health care overhaul for rising premiums and deductibles. In a new Associated Press poll, 69 percent of Americans say their premiums are going up next year, and then 59 percent say their co-pays and deductibles will also be rising. 75 percent of those people blamed the hikes on Obamacare. That's according to the AP poll.

ROMANS: John Kerry making a return to the waterways of Vietnam 44 years after patrolling them as a young Naval officer. The secretary of state in Southeast Asia to deliver a message about the growing threat of climate change. Water levels along the Mekong Delta are dropping, threatening millions with water shortages downstream in Cambodia and Vietnam.

BERMAN: The Obama administration working hard to sell the Israelis on the West nuclear deal with Iran.

National Security adviser Susan Rice is hosting a series of meetings with Israeli officials last week. She and the president are urging Jerusalem to use the next six months to test whether Iran is really serious about dismantling its nuclear programs.

ROMANS: Mounting unrest in the Ukraine this morning. Thousands of pro-Western demonstrators, many of them waving European Union flags, taking to the streets of Kiev again on Sunday. They are furious with their pro-Russian president. And right in the middle of the mayhem is that gentleman, U.S. Senator John McCain.

Listen to what he told demonstrators in the heart of Kiev.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am a Republican. Senator Murphy is a Democrat. We are here together speaking for the American people in solidarity with you.


ROMANS: Ukrainians want stronger ties with the West. While the president tries to take the country in the opposite direction closer to the Russians. Senator McCain says the U.S. will not stand by and allow the Ukraine government to brutalize its own people.


MCCAIN: These people love the United States of America. They love freedom. And I don't think you could view this as anything but our traditional support for people who want free and democratic society.

We're not talking about military action. We're not talking about blockades. We are talking about the possibility of sanctions if they continue to brutally repress their people.


ROMANS: McCain calls the uprising in the Ukraine an incredible display of patriotism.

BERMAN: A bloody Sunday in the rebel held city of Aleppo in Syria. Government forces and helicopters dropping barrels filled with explosives on residential neighborhoods killing dozens of people, including 16 children. This is the heaviest bombing attack in the city in six months.

ROMANS: All right. It appears contact sports like football and hockey aren't the only ones causing chronic brain injuries. Nearly one year after he committed suicide at the age of 36, researchers say former big league baseball player Ryan Freel had CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. He's the first Major League Baseball player ever diagnosed with the disorder.

Freel was a fearless player with the Cincinnati Reds often diving head first into bases, crashing into outfield walls.


ROBERT STERN, CTE EXPERT, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Important cases like Ryan Freel make a difference because it is showing us that you don't need to have the kind of hits that we see in football or in hockey or in other real collision sports. You just need a lot of brain trauma it seems.


ROMANS: Freel died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound last December leaving behind three daughters.

BERMAN: We're talking about this. This is a big deal.


BERMAN: Because football has been going through this, hockey has been going through this. People didn't think baseball was necessarily as vulnerable here but clearly it's a sport that needs to make changes as well.

ROMANS: They are.

BERMAN: They are making changes. They are going to do away with the home plate collisions with runners and the catchers there, and maybe that will make a difference.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, an American held prisoner in Dubai getting his day in court. Detained for months after posting a parody online. We're live with the latest developments in that story.

BERMAN: Plus newly released recordings revealing the final moments 19 Arizona firefighters who died while battling a wildfire last June.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

A Minnesota man who spent the past eight months behind bars in the United Arab Emirates is scheduled to have his day in court today. Twenty-nine-year-old Shezanne Cassim is charged with violating the UAE's new cybercrime laws for posting a parody video on YouTube.

Sara Sidner has been covering this story and joins us now live from Abu Dhabi.

What's the latest, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We actually went into court today and we watched the proceedings which lasted about three hours because there were a lot of other cases that came up. But we did see these five -- actually five men who are all charged under this same cybercrime law that was updated, by the way, after the Arab spring and some analysts say there is a reason for that, that the government became pretty concerned after seeing what happened in the Arab spring and they started to clamp down on certain things that went out online.

This case has baffled a lot of people. The American and his friends, the family of Shezanne Cassim has said, look, it was just supposed to be funny. A lot of people have watched this video online. We ourselves, of course, have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb and there really is very little in there that would suggest any kind of threat to the nation.

However, it is being looked at very differently by UAE authorities and if you sort of get some idea of what they were trying to say, they were joking about a neighborhood being dangerous, a suburb of Dubai being dangerous, which everyone here knows it's one of the safest places you can be.

So it was meant -- the parody, however, they did stand up in court, all five of them, in front of a judge. It took about five minutes. They sat back down and a little bit later on in the couple of hours later, the judge said, OK, well, come back December 23rd. So that's all that happened in court today.

I can tell you, though, in sitting there, as you know, there is certainly some nervous smiles. People waving at their family, some of the five who are all arrested have been in jail for eight months, have been looking over at their family members as the proceeding was going on -- John.

BERMAN: And, you know, the American Shezanne Cassim, he's been in prison for eight months, as you said, and now he's got to wait another week before he find anything else out.

How did he look? Did he appear any worse for the wear?

SIDNER: I have to tell you, I didn't even recognize him. I had to ask someone in the court if that was him. He looked a lot thinner than you see on the video and his pictures. He looked -- he was one of the only ones of the five people there, he was one of the only ones that didn't actually look over to family members sitting. He looked gaunt, he looked, he was looking down. He wasn't smiling. He had grown out his hair.

He looked different. He definitely looked different. And we did hear from someone who had been in prison with him who told us that it seemed that he was a bit depressed, he was a bit low that this was very hard for him, and none of them really understood what exactly they were in jail for after explaining that this was just something funny and it was a joke and it was innocuous, a mockumentary, if you will.

So there's a lot of frustration but we do know that there is a lot of people pulling for him. We know that the Minnesota governor, for example, has contacted the State Department, and, as you know, A-list Hollywood Will Farrell, the comedian and some of his buddies from "Funny or Die" have come out asking the UAE to release Shezanne Cassim and his friends for simply doing what comedians do all the time which is trying to make people laugh -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Sidner, an eight-month ordeal which is still continuing there in the UAE. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Eight months after the Boston marathon bombing, new details emerging about the suspect who was killed. Tamerlan Tsarnaev might have been hearing another voice in his head starting years ago. Told his mother it felt like two people were inside him. As he got older the other voice grew more demanding. A doctor was worried Tamerlan Tsarnaev might be schizophrenic but the family apparently never sought treatment for him. These revelations all based on a five-month investigation by the "Boston Globe."

BERMAN: Colorado's governor praising the efforts of local law enforcement in Friday's school shooting in Centennial. Governor John Hickenlooper is praising the quick response of the school deputy who prevented 18-year-old Karl Pierson from taking more lives.


GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, COLORADO: This kid, by all accounts, wasn't -- you know, didn't exhibit the warning signs of mental illness. Obviously it's hard to fathom why he would have done this without being somewhat crazy.


BERMAN: The governor says the security officer followed newly established active shooter protocols. Pierson died in apparent gunshot wound after shooting another student who remains in critical condition.

ROMANS: We're getting to hear the chilling final words of 19 Hotshot fire fighters who died in an Arizona wildfire last June. Experts say the Elite Granite Mountain Hotshots from the Prescott, Arizona, Fire Department likely knew they were going to die.

These final radio transmissions recorded from the helmet cam of a firefighter in the seconds before flames overcame the group.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the Hotshot. Been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush and I will give you a call when we are under the shelters.


ROMANS: The 19 lives lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire made it the deadliest for firefighters since 1933.

BERMAN: Actress Joan Fontaine has died. She rose to fame starring in Alfred Hitchcock classic like "Rebecca" and "Suspicion." That in the '40s. She was just 24 years old when she won her first Oscar in 1942. She beat out her older sister, Olivia de Havilland.

ROMANS: I did not know they were sisters.

BERMAN: Not only that, you know, they were estranged for much of their lives. And Fontaine said -- I read this in the "New York Times", said that she thought one of the reasons they were estranged is because she won an Oscar and got married first before her sister. She passed away at her home in Carmel, California.


BERMAN: She was 96 years old.

ROMANS: And a very talented woman.

Let's take a look to what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan join us this Monday morning.

Hi, guys.


CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S NEW DAY: Big twist in head injuries in sports. We've been talking about hockey. Obviously football. But how about baseball players with what they call CTE, traumatic brain injuries?

For the first time a baseball player, or specifically Ryan Freel, now you'll remember him, he was known for his hard charging style on the field, but has he been also diagnosed? We are going to dig into this, what it could mean, the implications for sports in general.

BOLDUAN: And also we have a big decision from Utah over polygamy involving the stars of that TV show that really a lot of people watch. "Sister Wives." A judge says parts of the law banning polygamy are unconstitutional. We're going to talk this morning with the lawyer for Cody Brown about what this means and what comes next.

BERMAN: Guys, we'll see you in a little bit.


ROMANS: All right. Coming up, why a lot of retailers could be licking their wounds by this time next week. We have "Money Time" for you next.


BERMAN: Hi. Welcome back to "Money Time," everyone.

Christine Romans, can you promise me that the markets will be better this week than last week?

ROMANS: Look, Indra cannot promise you the weather and I cannot promise you that.

BERMAN: I expect from you, though.

ROMANS: Well, I'm going to try but I can't. All I can do is tell you what's happening. What's happening is the worst week for stocks since August mostly because the fear of what the Fed could do this week.

Make no mistake, the Fed will be the biggest story this week for your money so we're watching that every day.

The Dow Industrials last week down 264 points, 1.7 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P also lower.

BERMAN: That stinks.

ROMANS: You know, look, but after such a huge run this year, that doesn't stink, Berman. Frazzled nerves now on weather all this can last. Right? The Dow is up 20 percent this year, Nasdaq up 32 percent, the S&P 500 up 24 percent. It's been sunny weather all year bound to snow and rain sometimes, right?

The final Fed meeting of the year is this week. Ben Bernanke, that guy and his crew, are going to hold the keys to this rally. On Wednesday, Bernanke, he could, in theory, he could announce the Fed will begin tapering back this $85 billion a month it's been pumping into the bond market. A it's not just your 401(k) the Fed could affect. Interest rates, too.

That's a 10-year Treasury yield sales has been rising. That's what mortgages are tied to, mortgage rates, so watch that very carefully as well. The Fed could affect your 401(k). It also could mean higher mortgage rates if the Fed begins to taper.

Big corporate deal to tell you about. T-Mobile may be the next target in the wave of consolidation in the wireless business. Sprint said to be looking at T-Mobile and a deal that could be worth more than $20 billion.

BERMAN: That's with a B.

ROMANS: That's right. And this is all according to the "Wall Street Journal." T-Mobile stocked surged almost 9 percent late Friday as the details emerged. Verizon and AT&T are currently the industry leaders which might be the reason a Sprint and T-Mobile merger could make sense, creating a strong number three. A deal could come in the first half of 2014.

Again, that's according to the "Wall Street Journal."

Now, are you going to spend as much money this year? Do you feel confident enough to spend as much money this year for the holidays? Four in 10 Americans plan to spend less this holiday season. This is according to the folks over at Thirty-eight percent are going to shell out less than last year, nearly half the consumers plan to spend about the same.

It's been a slow recovery for wages and little to no savings for lots of consumers. That means many of them say they're going to be cutting their holiday shopping budget.

BERMAN: What --

ROMANS: Make a list, check it twice. Don't spend what you can't afford to pay off by January.

BERMAN: What are you getting me?

ROMANS: Look. My gift to you this year is no gift so you don't have to give me one.

BERMAN: She keeps on trying to convince me that it's better that she doesn't get me a gift. I'm not buying it.

ROMANS: No, no. This is a relief. My gift to you is we don't have to give each other gifts.


Is that perfect?

BERMAN: I think that stinks for me.

ROMANS: No. It's good for you.

BERMAN: Keep trying.

All right. 54 minutes after the hour. Coming up, could polygamy be making a comeback in Utah? A judge's surprising ruling when we come back.


ROMANS: Governor of Utah Gary Herbert expressing concern over a federal judge's ruling that strikes down a key provision of the state's polygamy laws. It's a legal victory for Cody Brown and his four wives. The stars of the reality show "Sister Wives" they challenge the law's position that prohibit cohabitation, claiming it violated the First Amendment and the judge agreed.

More on that coming up at 7:00 Eastern on "NEW DAY" when we'll be talking for the attorney for Brown and the wives, Jonathan Turley.

BERMAN: It's a big deal, folks.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


ROBERT STERN, CTE EXPERT: You don't need to have the kind of hits that we see in football. You just need a lot of brain trauma.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Major League bombshell. For the first time in baseball, a player's family says brain injuries drove him to suicide. This as an NFL player's body is exhumed looking for clues that hard hits drove him to murder.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fighting for her life. The sole victim of that Colorado school shooting is in critical condition this morning as we hear more about those frantic moments and learned new details about what motivated the shooter.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Move over drones. Amazon has nothing on Google's latest acquisition. These life-like robots. So what is Google doing with an army of robots?

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 is Monday, December 16th. 6:00 in the East. And we begin with what could be a game- changer for head injuries in sports. Now baseball is in focus as a medical exam found damage in the brain of Ryan Freel, consistent with CTE. That's head injury related to concussions.

Once known for wild catches and all-out style of play, Freel killed himself near the end of last year. So we are asking, this epidemic, is it not restricted to major contact sports anymore like football and hockey? Could there be more far-reaching implications for those involved in sports?

We're going to get to Joe Carter of the Bleacher Report in just a moment. But let's start with senior and medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen from the CNN center in Atlanta.

Good morning, Elizabeth. What do we make of this latest report?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. You know, it's so sad whenever we hear these stories. And we usually think of these head injuries as something that happens to football players and that is true. But you know what, other athletes, they're not immune.