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Four Arrested in Deadly Mall Shooting; Emergency Space Repair; Winter Storms Snarling Holiday Travelers; President Obama Hold End-of- the-Year News Conference;

Aired December 21, 2013 - 09:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Today's spacewalk is the first of three to take place over the next several days, including Christmas Day.

So how dangerous is a spacewalk?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that is the big question. Of course this is a risky mission. Astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield joins us live via Skype from Toronto.

Great to have you here with us, Chris, and we'll look forward to hearing your perspective. Tell us first. What is it like when you step outside that space station? What do you think is going through those astronauts' minds right now?

CHRIS HADFIELD, ASTRONAUT: You know, you're -- good morning to you. It's of two minds, really. One is you are so focused on the job that they have to do. And they're doing a very critical repair of the space station. So part of you, one half of your brain, is all engaged with the minutia, of the necessity of what you're doing. But the other half of your brain, the little boy or little girl brain is just overwhelmed with the beauty of where you are.

In that clip you just showed they were coming across Africa. You cross the entire continent of Africa in just a few minutes and it's laid out before you like you've never seen it before. It's the difference of being inside your house and hanging on a face off a cliff. It is just magnificently beautiful. Really distracting place to work.

BROWN: I imagine. But they have to have laser-like focus considering all that could go wrong in this mission.

BLACKWELL: Now so in movies like "Gravity," and I've spoken with a few people who know space and space exploration, and they've had some concerns about the accuracy of things in that movie. There were concerns about space junk or space debris causing problems. Is that a real concern out there?

HADFIELD: Of course. There are a lot of concerns. But one of them is to have a puncture of the spaceship or even a puncture of the spacewalking suit while you're outside. And there is a sort of perpetual sand blasting of tiny, tiny particles from the universe. They kind of pepper the space station all the time. And naturally some of them will hit the suit so you are worried about it.

But the station has a layer of armor. The suit is many, many layers of cloth and even protective other hard materials, thick also. So it's a concern. But it's not foremost in your mind. And, you know, gravity, the visuals of gravity are spectacular. If you want to see what it's like to be out at a spacewalk, they did a wonderful job at the visuals.

The technical details are not supposed to be, you know, super accurate, but the visuals, I think, if you ever want to see what it looks like to be on a spacewalk, there is never been a movie that shows it as clearly as "Gravity" does.

BLACKWELL: Hey, there's one more thing. I'm getting the rap from my producer, but you've become a bit of a space superstar after singing and performing there from the ISS. What do you hope you and your unique approach will do to bring people closer to studying this field? What do you think your affect has been here back on earth, I guess?

HADFIELD: Well, I think for people to know whether what we're doing on the space station is worthwhile or not. First they have to realize that it's there and that it's active and that we've been living there for the last 13 years. And it's not just an incredible laboratory with hundreds of experiments, but it's a real extension of human perspective of ourselves.

And by showing the humanity of it, by showing what it's like to live there and how that changes our view of the world and some of the stuff we can learn, I think it just enriches everybody's perspective and lets people make a more informed decision, as well as you know, all of the science and adventure and exploration that's going on.

BLACKWELL: All right. We've got video of you up on the screen.


BLACKWELL: Quick, any interest in public office?


HADFIELD: No, no. I'm busy doing what I like to do. There's lots of ways, I think, to lead an effective and productive and useful life. I have been working at it so far and I'm really pleased and I'm going to plan to continue to do that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Astronaut Chris Hadfield, I appreciate you taking time to talk with us.

BROWN: Thanks, Chris.

HADFIELD: Nice to talk with you both. Thank you.


Hey, it's the first day of winter, if you didn't know. And while you might be dreaming of a white Christmas with the family, this is going to be a problem for a lot of people, the weather. They're going to get a lot of the white stuff and a whole lot more. If you're heading to your grandmother's house, a family member's house by road, by car, you might see plenty of scenes like this with the icy roads and all those pretty slick conditions.

BROWN: Yes, those icy roads have been causing problems in Kansas and Missouri. Several crashes and overturned trucks there. And Missouri officials are saying that emergency crews have been all -- out all night working very hard on those roads.

BLACKWELL: More than 85 million people are expected to drive to their holiday destination. Another five million are going by air.

BROWN: Nick Valencia joins us live from Kansas City, Missouri, with more on this brutal winter storm -- Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Pamela and Victor. It has gotten progressively colder in Kansas City. About 21 degrees right now. The weather said, it feels more like 14 degrees. And just in the last couple of minutes we've seen some light snow flurries all throughout the country's midsection. That's where we're going to see the brunt of the storm.


VALENCIA (voice-over): From cars skidding on frozen roads and some flipping over, to flight delays at the nation's airports, and expected power outages, it's beginning to look a lot like a travel nightmare.

Here's the wild forecast. Ice storm warnings in Oklahoma, severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes across the south. Heavy snow and flooding in the nation's midsection.

Who's going to be impacted? More than 94 million Americans traveling this week. Already dangerous driving condition this morning in Kansas and Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tried to stop. It's -- I mean, the safest but I couldn't. My car just went out like this.

VALENCIA: And if you're flying, watch out for possible flight cancellations in the Midwest and up to two-hour delays in Kansas City, Chicago and Dallas. With more delays expected up the East Coast on Sunday. Travel experts say it's best to check ahead before leaving home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really recommend that travelers be smart. They plan ahead. They take advantage of smartphone technology, by keeping up-to-date on travel conditions and road conditions.

VALENCIA: And while the weather can be a pain for millions around the nation, for some football fans in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it's provided a $10 an hour job to sweep Lambeau Field for Sunday's game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you get the chance to get out and meet people, and get some good exercise and enjoy the cold. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: And back here at the Kansas City International Airport, things are relatively calm behind me. As you can see, people bracing for the worst of the storm. We'll see freezing rain and snow later this afternoon -- Pamela and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nick Valencia, thank you.

BROWN: We want to bring in now meteorologist Jennifer Gray to talk more about this forecast.

So, Jennifer, the storm where Nick is, is about to hit there, it's going to be moving out of there and going elsewhere, is that right?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's basically just going to make a track right across the country starting in the west and then just migrating over to the east. So where you see the purple, that's where we're seeing the ice. And we've already seen reports of about .25 of ice. We've even had reports of power outages as well. So it is going to be a slow go across Interstate 40, 44 and 35. Also you can expect some airport delays as well.

As we go up to the north, still seeing that same pattern, but mainly rain across Indianapolis, Cincinnati, even Cleveland. Detroit, you're even getting rain where -- with a lot of these last winter storms that we've seen, it's been a huge snow even. So this one is much different.

This one has a severe component to it and we could see isolated tornadoes, damaging winds, as we go through the afternoon and overnight hours tonight. Including places like Shreveport, Jackson and Memphis, even Little Rock and then a slight risk of severe weather all the way to Louisville and including portions of Indiana and Ohio included in that.

So this stretches across a large portion of the country. We're talking about ice accumulation. Could see anywhere from .25 of an inch to .50 additional ice on some of those locations. We'll be looking for the skies today and tomorrow. Things do improve late tomorrow night which is a good news.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you.

GRAY: All right.

BROWN: I like to hear that. All right, Jennifer, thanks so much.

Still to come right here on NEW DAY, President Obama's difficult year. We're going to take a look back at 2013 when I speak live with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


BLACKWELL: Twelve minutes after the hour now. President Obama and his family, they're arriving in Hawaii early this morning for 16 days. He'll take a breather from what most agree has been a lousy year for him in Washington. A notion he shrugs off.

But a brand new CNN/ORC poll bears out his tough poll. The president's approval rating remains at 41 percent. At all-time low reached last month. And that's down from 55 percent approval last January.

And before he left town, the president met with reporters for an end- of-the-year news conference. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has this been the worst year of your presidency?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got to tell you, Julie, that's not how I think about it. I have now been in office five years. Close to five years. Was running for president for two years before that and for those of you who've covered me during that time, we have had ups and we have had downs. I think this room has probably recorded at least 15 near-death experiences.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley in Austin, Texas, this morning.

Good to have you with us.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk first about the numbers. I want to get to specifics in a moment. But when a president dips below 50 percent in job performance and there's been some evidence that numbers on credibility and other factors have eroded over time, how tough is it to get back above 50 percent?

BRINKLEY: Well, it's very tough. You know they've been showing some stories, poll numbers recently of, you know, Ronald Reagan at this point in his presidency, at 60 percent approval rating. Bill Clinton, even though he was going through impeachment woes at about 52, I would say the president wouldn't be in trouble if he was around 48 or 49 percent. But when you drop all the way to 41 percent, you've got a -- you're in the basement.

You definitely don't want to go into the 30s. You don't want to say two-thirds of the American people think you're failing. So I think the president has to do a big readjustment over this holiday season and come back and make '14 much better than '13.

BLACKWELL: Let's go into some of the specifics that could actually be the reason why the numbers are eroding. First the embarrassing technical problems with I mean, initially maybe they were an annoyance, but the president really needed people to sign up and log on to this Web site and was down day after day.

How much damage did the Web site alone and that fumble do to the president?

BRINKLEY: Well, I think as the original damage started after Newtown where the president gave this very moving speech and then pushed for gun control reform and we didn't get any, and then if you circle around towards the end of the year, this is just the meltdown of the introduction of Obamacare.

And it after all carries his name with it. It's known as his signature achievement. So the fact that that rollout was just so awful by anybody's standards is the reason the president is struggling in the polls right now. And more problematic, he's a very honest man in my opinion, but a lot of people are distrusting him. And he's having sound bites held up to him and they're being called lies by media monitoring outlets.

BLACKWELL: You know, it plays into that narrative of mistrusting the president as what Edward Snowden uncovered when he unveiled this NSA spying program.

How much damage did Snowden and what he revealed -- how much did that do to the president?

BRINKLEY: It did a lot. There is just a feeling that the president wasn't in charge suddenly and that somebody working for you. Any company, any small business, you have somebody who flees with all of your papers and goods. You have to find out how did this happen? How did a guy like that, why was he working in the system?

So it wasn't good news. And I think, you know, we have a big libertarian movement in this country and it kind of fed into that fire that the Obama administration is reading your cell phones and, you know, looking into your computers.

Well, it might be highly exaggerated. The Snowden case gave up -- coughed up enough evidence to make a lot of people worry, including federal judges now who are saying that this is -- it's not OK that the Obama administration and the NSA is oversnooping in people's lives.

BLACKWELL: But there are some bright spots. I mean, you look at the Dow, it was about 7000 when the president took office in 2009. It closed at a record high of more than 16,000 on Friday. Home prices are up. Gas prices are dipping a bit. More two million jobs in 2013.

Why aren't those economic numbers lifting the president's approval ratings? Why are these other items we've already discussed kind of trumping those?

BRINKLEY: Great question. And I think that's where the president has to start selling his administration better. I mean, we're really coming off in a pretty good year economically as you just said. Unemployment numbers are as good as can be expected right now. There's a feeling of robustness, a comeback in our economy, but the president seems a little dower.

I mean I watched all of that press conference yesterday on CNN. And he seemed beyond rope-a-doping or, you know, trying not to get punched. He just didn't seem like he's having fun as president. And when you look at greats of modern time, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, even Bill Clinton, they seem to enjoy being president.

So Barack Obama has to get out of acting like Woodrow Wilson. He's got to get out there and make it seem like he's having fun and talk about all of his accomplishments. In some ways he's self deprecating. He doesn't know how to put his best foot forward sometimes, and hence, the media will run with the dark news, not the uplifting news.

BLACKWELL: All right. Professor and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, thank you for your time as always.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We'll continue to have that conversation throughout the morning. And we'll be right back. You're watching NEW DAY SATURDAY.


BLACKWELL: Twenty-one after the hour now. And new this morning, four people under arrest in last weekend's fatal carjacking of a young New Jersey lawyer.

BROWN: Yes. This was really sad story. He was gunned down in front of his wife after they had gone Christmas shopping. At this hour we're awaiting a news conference by prosecutors really any moment now.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's go to CNN's Alexandra -- Alexandra Field, rather. She joins us on the phone from Newark with more on the arrests.

Tell us about these four people that were -- that were arrested and how police got to them.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, well, Victor, we are just waiting for the office of the Essex County prosecutor to come out and hold this press conference that we've been standing by for this morning. But we have just received word from the prosecutor's office that four men have been arrested. They were all between the ages of 29 and 33. They were arrested in connection to the death of Dustin Friedland.

And all four have been charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. So a slew of charges for all four suspects in this -- all four success in this case. Bail has been set for each of the suspects at $2 million.

We are hearing from investigators that the arrests were made in Irvington, New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, and Easton, Pennsylvania. They're also telling us that the arrests were made as a result of leads from the public and what they are calling for a good old fashioned police work.

We are again standing by for this press conference but we'll learn more details about how these arrests were made and what led police to these four suspects and what role each of the four suspects may have played in this fatal carjacking. But we cannot confirm that four men between the ages of 29 and 33 will face murder charges related to the death of Dustin Friedland.

He's a 30-year-old attorney from Hoboken, New Jersey. He was fatally shot when he was carjacked at a New Jersey mall. Police say that he had just opened the door to his car and helped his wife into the car. He was walking behind their Range Rover when investigators say he was confronted. There was a struggle. Shots were fired. His wife got out of the car and then police say at least two suspects took off in that car.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alexandra Field for us in Newark. Thank you.

BROWN: And much more news still ahead right here on NEW DAY.

The Green Bay Packers' field totally overwhelmed by snow and now the team is issuing a plea to their fans. We're going to have that story and your forecast up next. Stay with us.


BROWN: Welcome back, everyone.

The Green Bay Packers issuing a plea to their hometown fans. Help us dig out. Here's why. Green Bay has gotten so much snow in the last few days the Packers need help digging out their stadium. The team says anyone interested should show up at the Lambeau Field this morning and they'll be given a shovel plus 10 bucks an hour for their work. So it's not all just for charity here.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You've got to pay these people.

BROWN: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins us now with your forecast. Where else are we seeing snow?

GRAY: Well, we're basically going to see snow anywhere from portions of Michigan all the way through areas in Illinois and even down into portions of Kansas, Missouri could see snow. The big story right now, though, is the ice. And we've seen anywhere from .25 to even half an inch of accumulation. Power outages is being reported in Oklahoma. Luckily, though, it is starting to taper off just a little bit.

We're finally seeing the beginning stages of that. So, Oklahoma City, it looks like in the next couple of hours, it will be pushing to your east. There's also a severe component to this. We're going to see isolated tornadoes, damaging wind across the Mississippi River Valley for today. So we're going to be on the lookout for that.

And as the storm continues to set up this afternoon, you can see that line of showers and storms stretching from Memphis to Jackson. That's going to continue to push to the east, affecting areas on the East Coast by tomorrow. And, guys, that's not the only thing we're watching today. Temperatures could be setting records. Temperatures in New York City in the 70s today.

BLACKWELL: How about us here in Atlanta?

BROWN: I was going to say.

GRAY: Yes. It's the same thing. We're seeing temperatures in the mid-70s today. But after this passes tomorrow, temperatures should return a little bit closer to where we should be this time of year so then we'll start to feel like the holidays again.

BROWN: So I'm flying from Atlanta to New York tomorrow, Jennifer. Am I trouble?


BLACKWELL: Personal forecast, here we go.

GRAY: Yes.

BROWN: I need to know if I'm going to be able to fly out tomorrow.

GRAY: You may have a little bit of rain to deal with, but at least you won't have the snow. This past couple of systems has been a major snow event. It looks like to the East Coast, this is mainly going to be rain.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jennifer, thank you.

BROWN: All right. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Now that we have Pamela's personal forecast --

BROWN: Yes. Now that we know I'm going to be OK tomorrow.


GRAY: I got you.

BLACKWELL: That's it. All right. You know that --

BROWN: Hey, maybe others who are traveling wanted to know that, too.

BLACKWELL: Yes. That specific route --

BROWN: For everyone.

BLACKWELL: -- at those specific times. We wanted to make sure that all 61 people got exactly what they wanted.

BROWN: Exactly. All right. Well, thank you all for watching today. We're going to see you back here at the top of the hour.

BLACKWELL: Of course. But first on an all-new "YOUR MONEY," Christine Romans shows you how easy it is for hackers to get their hands on your credit card number. You of course want to see this especially with what happened at Target. And the shopping you're going to be doing this weekend and the next couple of days.

"YOUR MONEY" starts now.