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Brain Injuries In Baseball?; Snow Slows Holiday Shopping; Sign Of A Return To Order?; Kiev Protests Ramp Up; Nelson Mandela Laid To Rest; Mega Millions Jackpot Soars; Peter O'Toole Dies; Colorado Shooting Investigation Continues; Merger Monday

Aired December 16, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But let's start with senior 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 are not immune.


COHEN (voice-over): Ryan Freel played baseball without fear, diving after balls and crashing into walls. In his eight-year Major League Baseball career, Freel estimated that he had suffered ten concussions, but his family says the real number may be even higher. After Freel took his own life last year, his family gave permission for a team of researchers at Boston University to examine his brain for signs of CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

A form of brain damage found in football players like Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and dozens of other. On Sunday, Freel's family announced that Ryan did suffer from CTE, making him the first Major League Baseball player to receive that diagnosis and possibly explaining the years of depression and erratic behavior leading up to his death.

ROBERT STERN, CTE EXPERT: 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.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Kansas City Chiefs pull off a win the day after one of their own commit suicide.

COHEN: And another high profile suicide, one year ago this month, Kansas City Chiefs player, Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend before driving to the team's practice facility and turning the gun on himself. Now the Belcher family tells the Kansas City "Star," that they too suspects CTE. On Friday, Belcher's body was exhumed so his brain could be examined. CTE can only be diagnosed after death by analyzing brain tissue, but experts say examining a brain one year after interment may or may not work.

STERN: Our brains are really important to us and we can't keep hitting them the way that we have been. So that doesn't mean stop playing these great sports. It means trying to reduce the amount of head trauma at an early age all through every level of play.


COHEN: Now, MLB has released a statement t. The league said that they've met with Freel's family personally and expressed to them, quote, our feelings about Ryan and discussed MLB's continued efforts to provide a safe environment for our players. They also pledged to remain proactive on concussions and head injuries -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Elizabeth, thank you so much. Let talk more about the effect that all of this could have on the world of sports. Let's turn to "Bleacher Report's" Joe Carter. So Joe, are the MLB and NFL at this point gearing up for some major changes now in how their athletes play?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, we've seen a lot of changes, Kate, in the National Football League. They've obviously changed the way kick-offs were handled. They've improved helmet technology. They've eliminated or at least tried their best to eliminate to the head like leading with the head hits to the helmet. You know, they've also really done a big improvement on how to handle signs of concussion.

Obviously, if a player shows any signs of concussion, he is pulled from the game or pulled from practice. But as far as baseball is concerned, I think this last week during the winter meetings, the proposal of eliminating collisions at home plate is a big step towards player safety. There is a lot of talk of that rule not being implemented sometimes until the 2015 season.

But obviously with this case of Brian Freel, collisions are a part of the game and concussions are a part of the game. I think Ryan Freel could be a catalyst for a quicker change, obviously eliminating the collisions at home plate are for the owners and teams to protect their million dollar investments.

But obviously the player's association may get on board quicker. We may see those changes happen a lot quicker as soon as maybe the next season because of what is happening with Ryan Freel in this situation -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, making both of the sports injury proofs probably impossible, but making it safe enough is what they're going for. We have lots to talk about with this. Joe, we'll talk to you a little bit later. Thanks.

CUOMO: All right, important question, did you get your Christmas shopping done this weekend if you live in the northeast? Good for you. Most of us had to really want to take on the conditions to do that. But you know what? Retailers may be more upset than shoppers. There are nine shopping days left until the holidays. So store owners are hoping for a late push to make up for what Mother Nature took away.

Let's go to Alexandra Field. She is in Massachusetts this morning where many are just digging out in the storm. Alexandra, what is the situation?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Chris, it is a cold morning to be digging out here in Massachusetts. Low temperatures have kept the snow banks in place. Salt trucks and sand trucks are still trying to treat troubled spots along slippery roads. All this as people here in the northeast prepare for even more snow in tomorrow's forecast.


FIELD (voice-over): An arctic chill is blasting the northeast. This is on the heels of the thousand mile storm that sought states from Kansas to Maine where temperatures have been stuck below freezing. Icy conditions outside of Boston sent a car careening off the road. In Missouri, one person was killed when a car slipped off an interstate. The weekend-long storm started in the mid-west, blanketing Chicago and burying parts of Pennsylvania in 10 inches of snow.

LARC NELSON, PATTERTOWN, PA, RESIDENT: We have plenty of salt. The back roads are sticking quite a bit. It looks like it's coming down pretty good, now.

FIELD: It left its biggest mark in Maine where more than 16 inches fell. But the consequences of this storm may have a wider impact in the middle of the holiday shipping season. FedEx says winter weather and high winds have caused major disruptions at the company's Memphis, Tennessee hub. That could delay shipments across the country.

And a week before Christmas, the mix of snow, sleet and ice was fierce enough to stop most shoppers during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

HITHA PRABHAKAR, CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER, AITCHPE ADVISORY: When the last storm hit, retailers saw a 15 percent drop in store traffic and almost a half a billion dollars of lost revenue because no one was going into the stores and shopping.

FIELD: After this weekend's storm, holiday shoppers were back on snow covered roads trying to make up for lost time.

KRISTEN LEWIS, MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENT: Christmas shopping, yes, definitely. I figure they are really good about this parking lot.

FIELD: The parking lot at this Massachusetts mall was packed when the snow finally stopped falling. Although more snow is expected Tuesday, retailers are hoping shoppers won't be deterred.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drive slow, be careful.


FIELD: Now, despite the inconveniences here, this storm could actually work to shopper's benefit. Analysts tell us that because stores lost some business over the weekend, it is possible that going forward, they will to over promote now and drop prices a little more -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Alexandra, thanks so much for that.

So you could call it a breath of fresh air on Capitol Hill. The House easily approved a bipartisan deal meant to avoid a government shutdown in the coming weeks, but getting it through the Senate may not be as easy.

Senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us to explain why. Why, why, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's never easy in Washington, Kate, that's why, but over the weekend, there was a promising sign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he filed for a cloture vote on Sunday. That will get the process started in terms of voting. The early part of this week, maybe as early as Tuesday to get this deal through the Senate that passed the House by a wide margin as you said, Kate.

But that is not going to be the case in the Senate. The number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin said on one of the Sunday talk shows yesterday that they still need a handful of Republican votes to push this thing over the edge. Some of those GOP votes started to trickle in. Senator John McCain was on CNN's "STATE OF UNION" saying that he is going to vote for this agreement.

And then late yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Tea Party backed Republican indicated he will vote for this bill. That's an indication of where this is headed, but at the same time Democrats and Republicans are eager to get this to the president's desk by Friday.

That is when he is scheduled to leave for his two-week long vacation in Hawaii. One thing that we should also point out is that the Republicans see this deal as pretty good politics. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on one of the other Sunday talk shows. He is usually on CNN's "CROSSFIRE," over the weekend saying that this is bad policy but good politics because even though he didn't like this budget deal, it does take the focus off the prospect of a government shutdown and keeps it on Obamacare.

That's where Republicans want it heading into these mid-term elections. But the two architects of this deal, Senator Patty Murray, the Senate were distilling the virtues saying this is something we haven't seen a long time in Washington, a budget deal that passed the regular order, something they haven't done in a very long time -- Kate.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, I'm taking it from here. Senator John McCain is telling protesters in Kiev to keep up the fight, but the president of Ukraine is getting set to cement that relationship even further. Diana Magnay joins us live from Kiev with the very latest -- Diana. DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michaela, the president is flying to Moscow to talk trade with the Russian president. That's not what the people here want. They want closer ties with the European Union and John McCain stood on that stage behind me yesterday saying to the people, America stands with you. And the 200,000 to 300,000 people in that square yesterday chanting, thank you, USA, thank you, USA.

He also said that it would be possible that the U.S. going to consider sanctions if the government here uses brutal force against its people again, within I asked him whether he thought the government was capable of that. He said, they assure me they won't, but I have been surprised before -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: A situation we'll keep watching. Diana Magnay in Kiev, thank you again for that. The head of the task force looking into the fallout of the Edward Snowden leak says amnesty may be on the table. Rick Legend tell "60 Minutes" it's a road map of what we know and don't know and if amnesty is offered. They need assurances all the data he took can be secured.

Hundreds of South Africans attended the unveiling of a statue f Nelson Mandela in Pretoria today as part of a day of national reconciliation. Mandela was laid to rest Sunday in his childhood village of Qunu. He was buried next to the graves of his three children.

U.N. officials are urging Israel and Lebanon to show restraint this morning after a fatal shooting. Israeli officials say a sniper with Lebanon's armed forces shot and killed an Israeli soldier driving along the border. Commanders from both sides are trying to figure out why this happened. Cross border fire has been rare since the Israeli- Hezbollah war.

You still have a chance at the Mega Millions jackpot, which has now soared to a staggering $550 million. There is now winner on Friday's drawing. The pot could go higher. It has been growing steadily since October 1st and has rolled over 21 times without a winner. Right now it sits as the 4th largest jackpot in U.S. history. Where is our pool and who is in charge?

BOLDUAN: We have to start it over.

CUOMO: You know, that's the problem. When you don't win, it gets bigger, but you have to re-buy tickets. I sense animosity from you. I'm saying this is going to work. This is how it works. Everybody buys new tickets every time. All right, I didn't get a cut.

PEREIRA: You didn't get a cut?

CUOMO: I'm happy to do it again. This is what happens.

PEREIRA: I just want to know --

BOLDUAN: We have to use the dumb and dumber line again.

CUOMO: You got to pony up five more bucks for our tickets. INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Or the winnings we have already won. I just want to know. Who was in charge? That's the question. Guys, we are talking about some places that got a lot over the weekend places like Vermont, a foot-and-a-half out there down towards Boston about four inches. That was just at the airport. Massachusetts got higher amounts out there.

Today, a little bit of a transition zone unless you are off the lake. A little lake effect snow out there, a little bit meaning a little more than a little bit. Erie, Syracuse, looking for a good three to five inches, generally speaking again, a transition day. Diving down, meaning cold air still in place for like a day. These are your highs today even as we go to the afternoon.

Buffalo only looking for 17, Philly, your high of 30, New York 28. Notice the trend, so many of you saying below freezing. It is cold. I think we heard by now other system is on the way. You can see the old one make its way, kind of a bulls eye making its way over the area.

Tonight maybe around Chicago, we are seeing an inch overnight into tomorrow. We still are going to be talking about the timing of it in through Tuesday. It looks like it. Either way, we are looking at a good two to four inches in New York City. Still more snow.

BOLDUAN: Quite a weekend, Indra. Thank you so much.

So Hollywood is mourning a movie legend this morning. Actor, Peter O'Toole died at the age of 81. His career spanned over 50 years, his most notable role in 1962 is Lawrence of Arabia, the film that of course made him a household name. Nischelle Turner is here with more on the late actor's more than impressive resume.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Five decades, wow, you don't hear that anymore. You know, right after leaving school, Peter O'Toole started his career as a journalist and a photographer at the York Shire Evening Post where after five years, his editor told him try something else. You'll never make it as a reporter so he did acting and a screen legend was born.


TURNER (voice-over): He is considered one of the great. Peter O'Toole, an extraordinary talent who captivated audiences with his screen presence.

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, BRITISH FILM CRITIC: If their function is to reflect the human condition that O'Toole did it absolutely brilliantly with his highs and lows and his remarkable ability to convey emotion.

TURNER: Born in Ireland and raised in England, O'Toole made his professional debut on the London stage in 1955 before moving to the silver screen. His biggest triumph was 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia" catapulting him to worldwide stardom and earning him his first Oscar nomination. "Lawrence" sparked a spectacular string of successful films for O'Toole during the 1960 including two Oscar-nominated performances as "King Henry II," one in "Beckett" and the other in the "Lion in Winter."

O'Toole's battle with alcohol addiction during the 1970's nearly ended his career. After giving it up, he made a comeback as a crazed director in "The Stuntman," his sixth Oscar nomination. In "My Favorite Year," O'Toole mocked his own image as an alcoholic, over the hill, matinee idol, a performance that earned him his 7th Oscar nom.

His pattern of nominations, but no statuettes, is unmatched; at the 2003 Academy Awards, the 71-year-old actor finally received an Oscar for lifetime achievement.

PETER O'TOOLE, LATE ACTOR: I suppose fighting for love makes more sense.

TURNER: O'Toole returned to the desert sand where his career began with 2004's "Troy." And in 2006's "Venus," his portrayal of an out of work actor who has become obsessed with a much younger woman earned him his eighth best actor nomination, and cemented his status as a legendary performer.

O'TOOLE: In terms of people who have gone, I've lost a few. I miss them dreadfully, but they're not here. On we go.


TURNER: He said in an interview in 2007 the actor he most enjoyed working with in Hollywood is Katherine Hepburn and they became good friends.

BOLDUAN: Good tribute, Nischelle. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, 80 seconds of terror will scar kids and families for a lifetime from a Colorado high school. We are learning more about what happened inside the school from audio recordings and the condition from the young woman shot inside and about why this happened, specifically what turned a teen into a killer.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, we're now hearing what a Montana newlywed told police just after her husband fell from a cliff. The tale she spun to cover her crime.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We're learning more this morning about the heroes of Friday's school shooting in Colorado, and what made a teen into a deranged killer. One student was critically wounded after the gunman shot her in the head. She continues to struggle.

We now know the gunman was armed to the hilt and could have done a lot more harm. Certain people and processes helped prevent Arapahoe from becoming another Columbine.

Let's bring in CNN's Casey Wian. He's in Centennial, Colorado looking into this. Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. A 17-year-old student, Claire Davis, remains in a coma in a local hospital in critical condition this morning. She is the lone victim of Friday's shooting rampage. Authorities, after investigating all weekend long, say it could have been much worse.


WIAN: Dispatch recordings as police rushed towards Arapahoe High School following reports of gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMAKE: Be advised, at this time we do have one student down and they have found shotgun shells.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was terrifying because they heard gunshots.

WIAN: 18-year-old Karl Pierson entered the school, investigators say, bent on revenge.

GRAYSON ROBINSON, ARAPAHOE COUNTY SHERIFF: Everyone that saw him realized he was armed with a shotgun. The individual also had a bandolero of multiple rounds of shotgun ammunition strapped cross his body, and he was also armed with a machete.

WIAN: Pierson's target, his debate coach, Tracy Murphy.

KARL PIERSON, SHOOTER: Hi, I'm Karl Pierson, a freshman at Arapahoe High School in Littleton.

WIAN: Murphy suspended Pierson from the team in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was looking for one person in specific.

WIAN: Before he could reach his intended target, Pierson encountered 17-year-old senior, Claire Davis, shooting her apparently at random point blank in the head.

ROBINSON: She was an innocent victim of an evil act of violence.

WIAN: Now she remains in critical condition at a local hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This in no way defines us.

WIAN: At a vigil, students lit candles, sang their fight song, and prayed for their friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know how much she was all you guys and how much this would mean to her.

WIAN: The sheriff now praising the school's quick deployment its active shooter protocol and the fast action of an on-campus deputy, who was closing in on Pierson when he fatally shot himself. The whole ordeal over in 80 seconds. Authorities also hailing Coach Murphy as a hero for attempting to lure Pierson away from the school during his rampage. ROBINSON: It is my very strong opinion that this individual would not have come to this school armed with a shotgun and multiple rounds of ammunition had he not intended to use those rounds of ammunition to injure multiple people.

WIAN: The sheriff is now vowing never to speak the shooter's name again.

ROBINSON: In my opinion deserves no notoriety and certainly no celebrity.


WIAN: Now, Arapahoe High School will remain closed today and tomorrow. Teachers will be able to come back on Wednesday. Students will be allowed back on Thursday and Friday to begin retrieving the items left behind during the shooting. We don't know when actual classes will resume. It is obviously going to take this school a long time to recover from these tragic events.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, and the focus now can be on Claire Davis and her family, and giving them all the support they need to recover. Thank you so much, Casey.

Let's turn now to Money Time. The end of the year is usually pretty good for stocks, but December so far is looking more like a lump of coal. So, let's get to chief business correspondent, bah humbug, Christine Romans. What's going on?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Because you've been getting a present (ph) all year long you -

BOLDUAN: Oh, that's what it is!

ROMANS: We were having such a great year, you guys, that was the worst week for the stock market since August, and it's mostly these fears about what the Federal Reserve could do this week. The Dow Industrial is down 264 points for the week, that's about 1.7 percent. The NASDAQ and S&P also taken lumps.

Here's the presents you have been getting. All year the Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P 500, have been doing so well. Will Ben Bernanke start to taper? That is the big question. That's got investors a little bit nervous.

A big corporate story to tell you about. T-Mobile may be the next target in this big wave of consolidation in the wireless business. Sprint is said to be looking at T-Mobile in a deal that could be worth more than $20 billion. That's a huge deal, according to "The Wall Street Journal." T-Mobile stock up about 9 percent late Friday as details were emerging. A deal could come in the first half of 2014 according to "The Journal," so watch that space on the streets.

BOLDUAN: $20 billion?

ROMANS: Yeah, so merger Monday, maybe? We'll watch. BOLDUAN: I love it. You have a moniker for everything. Merger Monday!


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, she admitted now pushing her husband off a cliff, but back in July, a Montana newlywed was telling a very different story. We have the police interrogation tapes, and you can watch and see how her story got broken down.

BOLDUAN: We are also hearing for the first time, new reporting from a group of firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire, it's shedding light on what went wrong that day.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's bring you up to date on the latest news.

Brain injuries are evidently creeping into baseball. Ryan Freel played hard in eight Major League seasons but killed himself last year. His family now says tests show signs of brain damage found football players who met the same fate. This announcement came a year after the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher. Belcher's body has been exhumed to check for signs of brain injuries.

Torrential rain leading to serious flooding in Gaza. More than 6,000 people had to be evacuated from homes filled with water. In some cases 6-feet deep. Many homes can be only accessed by boat. Dozens more were said to be injured by the flood waters or debris. Nearly two million people live in Gaza.

Secretary of State John Kerry insisting the U.S. has not abandoned an American in Iran.