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Putin Pardons Jailed Oil Tycoon; Critical Spacewalk This Weekend; Last Minute Holiday Shopping; Kobe Bryant's Knee Injury; Mike Tyson Back in the Spotlight

Aired December 20, 2013 - 06:30   ET




Let's go around the world now, starting in Russia, where President Putin has pardoned the former richest man in that country, after a decade behind bars. We get more from Diana Magnay.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, Russia's most famous prisoner, the one time oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky could soon walk free. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has just signed a decree granting him clemency. He was once Russia's richest man until he was convicted of fraud and tax evasion and thrown in jail. Many say it was because he crossed Vladimir Putin, crossing the line drawn in the sand that the nation's oligarch should not meddle in politics.

No coincidence perhaps, Kate, that it's less than 50 days now before the Sochi Olympics begin, a chance perhaps for Russia to brush off its image before the game starts -- Kate.


BOLDUAN: Diana, thank you so much.

A violent standoff outside a parliament building in Australia is caught on camera.

Pauline Chiou has that.


PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Sydney, there's been a dramatic end to a standoff outside the city's parliament house building. The area in central Sydney went into lockdown today.

It started with a man driving a car on the sidewalk in front of the building after refusing to negotiate with riot police. Officers smashed in the car windows and dragged the suspect into the street. It's believed there was flammable liquid inside that vehicle. Some reports say the man threatened to set himself on fire. Police statement says investigations are continuing and the 58-year-old suspect has been arrested.

Kate, back to you.


BOLDUAN: Pauline, thank you.

The international dispute continues over the arrest of an Indian diplomat here in New York. So, is there a solution in sight this morning?

Mallika Kapur has the latest from New Delhi.


MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Both the United States and India wants to find a solution to end the diplomatic standoff between them. Problem is they can't agree on what the solution should be. The U.S. called India to express its regret over the incident, but India says that's not good enough and it wants the U.S. to drop all charges against its diplomat, Devyani Khobragade in New York. The U.S. says it won't do that.

Both sides are continuing to talk and hope they will be able to find a face-saving agreement so that they can put this incident behind them.

Kate, back to you.


BOLDUAN: Mallika, thank you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to talk about a critical maneuver for a pair of astronauts tomorrow when they perform a space walk to fix the International Space Station. They may have to do another one on Christmas Day.

Just five months ago, another astronaut attempted a space walk but nearly drown in his helmet as water leaked in.

Mike Massimino is with NASA and he has performed four space walks of his own as an astronaut. He's currently here on earth as a visiting professor at Columbia University Engineering School, and here with us to explain what happened here.

Good morning. Thanks so much for joining us bright and early.

MICHAEL MASSIMINO, ASTRONAUT, NASA: My pleasure. Great to see you.

PEREIRA: Here on terra firma.

So let's talk about this. This is a faulty cooling pump that essentially is the issue. Explain how this led to a problem with the spacewalk and the astronaut almost drowning.

MASSIMINO: Well, the cooling pump is a problem on the space station. That's why they are doing this space walk. So, they have two cooling loops.


MASSIMINO: One of the loops, the pump is not working. They have to bring it back up before they have more problems.

PEREIRA: Gotcha.

MASSIMINO: So, to do that, they've got to go and replace the whole unit. They tried to do some workarounds, but very creative, but nothing seemed to get them happy with what's going on. So, they're going to replace the whole thing. So, that's where we are the space walk.


MASSIMINO: The last time we did a space walk a few months ago, our friend Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut, had a problem with his space suit.

BOLDUAN: Had a problem.

MASSIMINO: There was water coming in around his head. There was a leak. We never had this happen before. So, NASA of course is very concerned about this. And they replaced this fan pump assembly that they think created the problem. That's where the problem -- they're not sure what caused the problem with the pump but that's where the problem ended up.


MASSIMINO: So, they replace that. The suit is working fine.


MASSIMINO: That's one measure. So, the suit has been checked out. It should be OK.

PEREIRA: OK. First of all, I think people might be surprised about how much water is circulating in an astronaut's space suit to begin with.

MASSIMINO: Right. So, the reason you have water inside of your space suit is you're contained in your own little space suit, almost.


MASSIMINO: So, your heat, your body heat is contained within that space suit. You need a way to cool yourself. And the way we do that is wear this fancy wear of underwear. It's a cooling garment and it has tubes running through it.

BOLDUAN: Christmas gift!

MASSIMINO: That's -- I don't know if you want -- this is a little expensive, probably for a Christmas gift. The water circulates through that and takes the heat away from your body. That's why there's water inside of your space suit. You don't want to get a leak, which was actually inside the backpack that was entering the helmet. That's not a good thing, but the water is a good thing when it helps keep you cool.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the space walk. I think so many of us are fascinated with the idea of being able to do it.

MASSIMINO: It's fantastic.

BOLDUAN: You've done four space walks. Talk to me about -- every space walk is different, you've logged 30 hours in the four space walks?


BOLDUAN: What is it like? What are they going to experience when they go out to fix this cooling problem?

MASSIMINO: They probably given the choice, because they're going after to fix the problem. They'd rather not have the problem to begin with.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

MASSIMINO: OK. But now that you have to go out anyway, this is probably for an astronaut, for anyone, I think this is the most incredible thing a person can do. Because you're out there in your own space ship right there in the vacuum, spaceship meaning your suit, you can look anywhere you want. You have a great view of the universe, a beautiful view of the earth. You're doing interesting work with tools in your space suit and it's an incredible experience.

You have to keep yourself focused and get the job done but at the same time, you're right over the shoulder --

CUOMO: Stick with that focus part for a second, because I feel like you're romanticizing this, as any Italian want to do. I read the article that you wrote about walking out there. You talk about knowing that you're stepping over the precipice of a cliff from which you could never come back if anything comes wrong. It's not designed for you to move easily around.


CUOMO: How do you deal with all these things?

MASSIMINO: We said focus. I think it's one of the first words I said.

BOLDUAN: Do astronauts lack the fear gene?

CUOMO: Focus is panic back here on earth.

MASSIMINO: Panic is not going to help you. What you do is you really have to concentrate -- you do one thing at a time. Focus in, the most important thing right now in the world for me is to turn this bolt or to move this piece of equipment over here. I'm not going to think about what's going on at home or my kids' geometry test next week. I'm focusing in on what I'm going to do.

So you really have -- the most important thing is what you're doing now. It's not so much fear but you know that it's risky. What these guys are going to do tomorrow and the next couple days, is very risky business. It's dangerous.

So they take the precautions to make sure their equipment works well. They're going to work together as a team. You have your ground support team to support you. It will be a great experience but at the same time you have to keep your focus.

PEREIRA: And you can't rush it. It's all deliberate, some of it's small, time consuming, requires a great deal of patience.

MASSIMINO: You go really slow.


MASSIMINO: The model we have is to go slow, to speed up. You don't speed up. I have an uncle, Joe, I still have him, Joe Lopiccalo (ph), he also worked slow but he could fix anything. One of my themes was go slow like Joe Lopiccalo, like my uncle Joe.


BOLDUAN: Did we talk about snorkel yet?

PEREIRA: No, well, I was going to talk to you about the snorkel. But basically, this was supposed to be part of a fix. They were going to use --

MASSIMINO: Not that. No.

PEREIRA: This is our producer's snorkel that he had.

MASSIMINO: We're not using that thing.

PEREIRA: They came up with a fix to make sure the water was not effectively drown the astronaut inside the space suit. It was a fix they modified a space snorkel?

MASSIMINO: What -- Michaela, you know what's interesting is that NASA also fixes the problem, like I said, they replaced this fan pump, so that the suit is fine, it's all checked out.

But just in case -- they've done two other things. They put an absorbing pad in the back of the helmet in case water gets around the helmet.

PEREIRA: That makes sense.

MASSIMINO: And the snorkel doesn't look anything like that.

PEREIRA: It doesn't look like this?



MASSIMINO: That would not look cool.

BOLDUAN: And it's all about looking good in a space suit.

MASSIMINO: For us, it's hard to look good. But the snorkel there, they call it a snorkel. Really what it is, it's a piece of tubing they use to normally inside of the space suit. It's prove to be inside. You can't just bring anything inside a space suit. It's 100 percent oxygen. There could be a problem inside the space suit.

So there's a piece of tubing, they snipped a piece of that tubing that they had that they normally use for the cooling loop inside of the suit. They just kind of snip the piece of that tube, and just case, the astronaut can lean over and get air. But that's --

PEREIRA: Redundancy.

MASSIMINO: They don't expect this problem to happen again but in case it does --

PEREIRA: Backup for a backup, exactly.

Mike Massimino, we love you come and visit.

MASSIMINO: It's such a pleasure to see you.

BOLDUAN: Last time he was here, we were talking about dying in space with gravity. Now, we're talking --


PEREIRA: -- about surviving space.

CUOMO: Merry Christmas, happy New Year.


BOLDUAN: That's all I know.

COUMO: That's all you need to know. Just say thank you.

BOLDUAN: See you, Mike.

MASSIMINO: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Let's get over to Indra with another check of our weather. We're heading into the holiday travel. How is it going to look?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like I jinxed it again. We already had problems for Thanksgiving. Here we go towards the next holiday. We're still talking about another storm that will be affecting a lot of hubs.

Let's talk about what we have first today. So much to get to, we're talking about icing, places like Wisconsin, going back in through Missouri, and this is the first system, much lighter, still going to be drying out. Maybe some light showers into the Northeast today.

It is the second system, we're really watching as we go through the weekend. First thing you need to know, look at the moisture going into the Southeast. This is the water vapor satellite.

Now, second low is making its way into that same region. So, heavy rain and flooding. Anywhere from three to five inches in the Ohio Valley, going back down to the Mississippi Valley. Backside of that, more icing, especially as it goes further north, intersects more cold air. Lot of heavy snow, especially in places like Wisconsin, back in through Iowa and the icing concerns into the Northeast.

We're potentially seeing as much as an inch of ice in upstate New York, through something morning, also places like Vermont, New Hampshire and even through Maine, we're looking for the icing concerns. That's one side of this.

The other side is for a lot of you in the major hubs northeast, light rain but warm temperatures. I mean, getting close to the 70s if not into the actual 70s.

So with that, same system now, tornado threats, even severe thunderstorms, really expected little rock back down through Waco, that's overnight tonight, in through tomorrow. This actually spreads. We're talking about a moderate risk in December from Memphis back down to pretty much Monroe and of course that's not the only story. After that, even potentially by Sunday, record-breaking heat. There's so many sides to this. Look at D.C., looking possibly to set the record at 71, Charlotte 72.

So it's really kind of confusing for a lot of people. Some people might see light rain and maybe warm just some temperatures. Other people icing, other people snow, other people tornado. You just have to focus and know where you are.

BOLDUAN: Look out your window, quickly, because it will change.

Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Kobe Bryant made an unprecedented comeback or did he? Kobe is down again. And we'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, we've shown you the Jean Claude Van Damme split between two trucks. Now, we're going to show you another attempt at this wild stunt. Who else, Chuck Norris. It's not what you might think. Much more ahead.


BOLDUAN: And welcome back to NEW DAY. With less than a week until Christmas, retailers are going into overdrive to lure in last-minute shoppers and deal hunters into their stores. Some strategies include extended shopping hours, free shipping and of course big discounts.

CNN's Pamela Brown is live in New York's Harold's Square with much more.

So what can we get, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the amount of discounts stores are offering this season up 13 percent. A big reason is because of the holiday shopping season was shortened by six days. So you're seeing stores like Macy's right behind me ramping up sales, staying open around the clock trying to lure in those, you know, customers, trying to beat the competition. As one retailer put it, we are in it to win it.

And if you're one of those last-minute shoppers like me, well, that may actually work in your favor.


BROWN (voice-over): The Christmas crush is on. And this year it seems the shoppers have the edge.

(On camera): So who's in a better position this holiday shopping season, the customer or the retailer?

HITHA PRABHAKAR, CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER, AITCHPE RETAIL ADVISORY: The customer is definitely in a better position this holiday season. And one of the reasons why is because of weather. Weather has really had an impact on shopping. People haven't been going out because the weather has been so bad. Therefore, retailers are doing everything they can to get those shoppers in to start spending some money. And that means even more discounts.

BROWN (voice-over): Big discounts as high as 80 percent, meaning some stores will be losing money just to get inventory off the shelves according to retail experts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But there were actually better deals after Black Friday, like the week after.

BROWN: Stores like JCPenney are dramatically dropping prices on certain items for Super Saturday, the second busiest shopping day of the year behind Black Friday. Wal-Mart is offering gift certificates with certain purchases and taking the price match guarantee program to a whole new level by paying back customers the difference if a competitor is advertising a lower price.

So this year if you're a procrastinator, you're in luck. Toys "R" Us and select Macy's locations are staying open around the clock through Christmas Eve, hoping to lure in those last-minute shoppers.

PRABHAKAR: If you are a procrastinator, this might work in your favor. You might actually come under budget because so many discounts are happening. And we're not just talking about discounts on apparel and shoes and accessories. We're talking about electronics, big TVs, stereos, headphones.

BROWN: And if you'd rather not face the crush of last-minute crowds, retailers are making online shopping more convenient than ever with free shipping and quicker delivery. EBay is offering same-day delivery service and Amazon is offering one-day shipping on orders placed as late as midnight on December 23rd, and offering express delivery in certain cities.


BROWN: Now according to the National Retail Federation, 32 million people haven't even begun their holiday shopping and the average holiday shopper has only completed half of their shopping.

So bottom line here, Chris and Kate, expect big crowds in stores tomorrow on Super Saturday. Again, the second busiest shopping day of the year. Back to you guys.

BOLDUAN: Also big crowds and big deals. So you might want to brave those crowds because that's a good thing.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Pamela.

CUOMO: All right. So Kobe Bryant, he went down again. Was it his Achilles? Is he done? There's so many questions swirling around the Lakers star. But lucky for you we have answers in the form of Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

What's the deal, my friend?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Chris, you know, this is devastating news for Kobe and the Lakers. You know, he worked so hard to come back from that torn Achilles injury. And he's starting to look like himself. And he's going to have to go back to the bench with a fracture in his left knee. Now it happened during Tuesday's win over the Grizzly's. Kobe and Tony Allen, they got tangled up on this play, and Kobe went to the ground holding his knee.

Now no one thought much of it at the time because Kobe actually played the rest of the game, even hit a big three-pointer to seal the victory. But the knee kept bothering him. So they had to have an MRI and it revealed the fracture.

Now no surgery is going to be needed for this injury. Kobe is just going to have to wait for it to heal. It's going to take about six weeks, they say, and -- but, you know, guys, Kobe, he's 35 years old and as they say, 35 ain't 25 so we'll have to see if he can come back from his injury and get to looking like his former self like he was almost starting to do after that torn Achilles. But guys, another tough, tough injury for a guy to come back from.

CUOMO: When you showed it that second time, Andy, you watch the knee buckle a little bit. You know it's never a good thing.

They say this isn't as big a deal, this injury, not just from a surgical standpoint but from the rehab. And let's be honest, if anybody can do it, he can. So what are we hearing in terms of the predictions of comeback?

SCHOLES: Yes, you know, some people are actually doubting him. But Kobe took to Twitter yesterday to -- you know to kind of put those to bed. He tweeted, "broken, not beaten."

And as you said, Chris, you know if anyone can come back from this, you know it's going to be Kobe. He came back from the torn Achilles in six months, which you rarely, rarely see. And he's got a little extra incentive, you know, because he just signed that a new shiny two-year $48 million extension. So you can guarantee you're going to see Kobe back in a Lakers uniform this season.

CUOMO: But this is a man with legacy on his mind. And boy, has he proven people how tough he is. The Achilles, I've never seen anything like it. Hopefully he'll repeat himself here.

BOLDUAN: Amazing.

CUOMO: Speaking of legacy, Mike Tyson, you know, how he will be remembered. He's trying to deal with that as well. What do we know about him? Some developments there.

SCHOLES: Yes, you know, we recently saw that commercial of Iron Mike making up with Evander Holyfield in that foot locker ad.

This week he sat down with Rachel Nichols to talk about a number of topics including his relationship with Holyfield.


RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, UNGUARDED: When you look back on it now, what do you think?

MIKE TYSON, FORMER BOXING CHAMPION: Well, I'm sorry I bit his ear. I really am sorry I bit it. I like Evan, he's a good guy. Really good guy.


SCHOLES: Yes, you can watch this entire interview on "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS." That's tonight at 10:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

As I said, guys, they cover a lot of topics, including how to keep a pet tiger. I'd love to hear the answer to that one.


BOLDUAN: Are you in the market?

SCHOLES: I would love to have a tiger for Christmas. A little cob.

PEREIRA: They grow up, Andy.

BOLDUAN: That's -- I don't -- yes.

CUOMO: Good luck with that.


BOLDUAN: This might be the last time we talk to you, Andy.

PEREIRA: Gosh, so funny. I'd get rid of it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Andy.

PEREIRA: It could end up being our must see moment. But it isn't. Who is stronger and meaner than Jean Claude Van Damme you ask? One name, that man, Chuck Norris, one-upping the muscle from Brussels with a split stunt of his own. A split between trucks, those are kid stuff. Here he splits between two -- wait for it -- airplanes with a squad of special forces on his cowboy hat.


BOLDUAN: And set up like a Christmas tree.

I don't need to tell you it's all CGI because you know that, of course created by a Hungarian Production House.

BOLDUAN: Are you sure?

PEREIRA: It is still, as my friend Stephanie Elam, would say, awesome sauce. I bet Chuck Norris could actually pull this off.

BOLDUAN: Because of his hat? Is that solid?

CUOMO: I don't like Chuck Norris and awesome sauce.

PEREIRA: : Well, that's too bad.


BOLDUAN: The only way to respond to Chuck Norris is with thumbs up, Chuck Norris.

CUOMO: You know how you can tell it's fake? The split is too even.


BOLDUAN: That -- you don't go to that?

PEREIRA: Me and his (INAUDIBLE) couldn't handle it?

CUOMO: That's the giveaway.


PEREIRA: It's kind of awesome and it's festive for the holidays, our gift to you.

BOLDUAN: Thumbs up, Chuck Norris.

CUOMO: A man who he says so much by not saying a damn word. He's amazing.

BOLDUAN: We should --

CUOMO: Yes, right?

BOLDUAN: Learn something from that.

CUOMO: We should all -- yes, starting with small women with blonde hair. Starting --

BOLDUAN: Or large men that have the last name Cuomo.

CUOMO: Continue.


Coming up next on NEW DAY, could the hit show "Duck Dynasty" be over? The show's starts are threatening to walk over the suspension of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family. The latest on this controversy that just won't go.

CUOMO: Dennis Rodman, what are his plans for a big basketball game between America and North Korea. May hit a roadblock, we'll tell you why. A live report, Rodman news.


CUOMO: Not so merry weekend. A storm stretching across the entire eastern half of the country. How bad will it be?

BOLDUAN: Panic at the theater. A roof collapses on the audience in the middle of a London performance. Dozens injured, some seriously. We hear from those who got out.

PEREIRA: End of a dynasty? The entire "Duck Dynasty" family now threatening to quit. Could the show be over or can conservatives rallying around the star change A&E's mind?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.


ANNOUNCER: What you need to know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of dust, chandelier, chandelier, wood, and all that sort of stuff. Landed on about five or six rows.

ANNOUNCER: So what you just have to see.