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Investigators Examine YouTube Videos of Missing Medical School Student; Weather Outlook; Colorado's New Growth Industry; Taking on the Hate -- Interview with Amanda Levitt; Top Viral Videos of 2013

Aired December 30, 2013 - 08:30   ET


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators are examining new YouTube videos of Teleka Patrick serenading an unidentified love interest in their search for clues in her disappearance.


FIELD: In the videos she apparently shot herself, Teleka repeatedly refers to someone as "love" and "baby."

PATRICK: Hi, love.

FIELD: Investigators wonder if this person may have information about what happened on December 5th, the night Teleka vanished.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The search has been intensified, but to date no leads.

FIELD: Surveillance footage from that night shows her trying to check in at the Radisson Hotel. Authorities say this is the place where she was last seen boarding the hotel's shuttle bus that took her to her car parked at the Borgess Medical Center where she worked in Kalamazoo. The 30-year-old had just graduated from medical school and was only months into her residency at the hospital.

Just hours after she was captured on this surveillance camera, authorities found her car abandoned with a flat tire off Interstate 94 in Porter, Indiana, about 100 miles from where she worked. Inside, a credit card, some cash, and her driver's license. Her bizarre disappearance has investigators in two states stumped after their all- out searches have turned up nothing. These new videos are raising more questions than answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are desperate to hear something.


FIELD: And you can just feel that family's desperation. In fact, the family's so desperate, they have put together a reward. They are offering $15,000 for anyone who has information that leads to this woman's safe return.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You can hear the anguish in that mother's voice just not knowing.

FIELD: Absolutely. And investigators are saying that they have no evidence of foul play here, but they also say they have no evidence that she left voluntarily. So truly something that is stumping them.

PEREIRA: All right.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: A lot of questions.


PEREIRA: We'll keep watching this. Thank you so much.

Next up on NEW DAY, they're starting to stock their shelves, but even though legal recreational pot sales will start on January 1st, in Colorado, there are still some hurdles.

BERMAN: And a grad student takes on what she calls "fat bashing" and she has to deal with the backlash. Blogger Amanda Levitt joins us to talk about her crusade.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

Jennifer Gray is in for Indra Petersons with your forecast. And, folks, it's a cold one.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, brace yourselves. It is very cold up north. We have windchill advisories, warnings in effect. When you factor in the windchill, it feels like 20 to 30 degrees below zero. And so frost bite could set in, in a matter of minutes. That's why those advisories are out.

Current temperatures out there, 11 below zero in Minneapolis. We're seeing temperatures in the single digits. Chicago, one degree there right there right now. Washington, D.C., up 43 and Kansas City at 10. When you factor in the windchill, look at this, it feels like 23 below zero Minneapolis. Feels like 12 below zero in Chicago.

Now, this cold air is going to stay in place over the next couple of days across much of the north. It will finally start to work its way to the northeast as we get into the second half of the week. But look at this, Thursday's high for New York City, 34 and then drops to 17 for a high on Friday. So we're going to see very, very cold temperatures for the first week of the new year.

We have a couple little clippers that are pushing across the north. We could see some lake-effect snow Tuesday. That's going to push out by Wednesday. And then we have our next one. And this is the one with the really powerful punch that's going to be here by the second half of the week. So we're going to see possible three to six inches of snow for folks in the northern plains waking up on New Year's Day. So just downright cold. Stay cozy this weekend.

PEREIRA: The people that will be happy are the people that got snow blowers for Christmas.

GRAY: Yes.

BERMAN: And Christine Romans got a (INAUDIBLE) for Christmas.

PEREIRA: Just saying. She got half a snow blower for Christmas.

BERMAN: Well, she and her husband gave each other the snow - because they know romance, folks.

PEREIRA: They do.

BERMAN: Jennifer Gray, thanks so much.

PEREIRA: Romans knows romance.

All right, we're going to go to Colorado now. A new industry is about to take root. Recreational marijuana will be available to those over 21 starting this Wednesday, January 1st. But there is already controversy after Denver said no to a private smoking event at a club and extensive regulation is weeding out many prospective retailers, which means those who have nabbed licenses could soon be scrambling to meet demand. CNN's Casey Wian is covering it all for us in Denver.

Hi, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Michaela.

You know, it has been such a scramble for marijuana retailers here in Denver that the businesses didn't even get their licenses to operate until Friday. Those that did say they will be ready to open their doors to the public at 8:00 in the morning New Year's Day.


WIAN (voice-over): Two days to go until Colorado becomes the country's first state to sell marijuana for recreational use. At Evergreen Apothecary, employees scramble to get ready. Pot retailers must navigate so many regulations, only 14 of about 250 medical marijuana businesses in Denver have received one of these, a license to sell to anyone over 21. There are multiple inspections, packaging requirements and, in some cases, new construction.

ANDY WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, MEDICINE MAN: We're building an absolutely impressive showcase for the world to see that this is an industry, this is not an underground business.

WIAN: At Medicine Man, all the pot sold is grown on site.

WILLIAMS: Customers don't want it really leafy. They like it nice, tight and dense.

WIAN: It's hiring 25 new employees and installing new equipment.

WILLIAMS: We have to tag all these plants with an RFID tag, a radio frequency identification, and so it's another inventory control that we have to implement here. This is a light tight, air tight container and -

WIAN (on camera): Wow.

WILLIAMS: This is our San Fernando Valley OG kush. And the smell will hit you probably from there.

WIAN (voice-over): Each of these containers holds about $7,500 worth of marijuana, so it's no wonder Medicine Man has an armed former Army Ranger guarding the front door.

Lines are expected outside pot stores January 1st.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Demand is going to be very high on day one. With a potential shortage of supply, price also go up.

WIAN: No one's expecting a marijuana Mardi Gras.

MICHAEL ELLIOTT, MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY GROUP: It's still illegal to drive impaired, to take the product out of state, to resell it to anybody, to give it to someone under 21 or to consume it publicly.

WIAN: Statewide, about $300 million worth of medical marijuana was sold in 2013. The industry expects sales to more than double next year. The city of Denver says it's prepared.

ASHLEY KILROY, DENVER MARIJUANA POLICY DIRECTOR: We haven't seen a negative impact from 10 years of medical marijuana, and we don't expect to see that with retail marijuana.


WIAN: Now, marijuana retailers say they expect about 30 percent of their new business to come from out of state visitors. But if you're planning on coming to Colorado to partake, remember, it's still illegal to take marijuana back home with you.

John. Michaela.

PEREIRA: Yes, it's a good point -- it's a very good point to be made. Casey, we appreciate that. Thank you so much.

Next up on NEW DAY, when activism meets reality, sometimes things get a little nasty as one blogger found out. We're going to talk to her about her mission and the reaction to it, next.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Scholar, writer, activist, unapologetic fat lady, that's how Wayne State University grad student Amanda Levitt describes herself. Levitt is the founder of a website called It's a blog where she writes about fat prejudice and defends the right everyone has to be comfortable and confident in his or her body.

But in a world where zero is the goal and the word "fat" often to many people equals unhealthier, Levitt's message is met with a very mixed response. Amid words of thanks, you'll find comments on her blog that are filled with hate, curse words, ugly names, even death threats. Joining us now from Detroit to talk about her messages and its response is Amanda Levitt herself.

Good morning to you, darlin'.


PEREIRA: All right. So let's get into it. You call yourself a "fat activist." What does that mean to you?

LEVITT: I mean, to me, when I say that I'm a "fat activist," I'm talking not just about the discrimination that fat people deal with, but I'm also really interested in how politics surrounding fat bodies and fat people affect fat people's daily lives.

PEREIRA: So talk about that, the prejudice. Give us an idea of what that looks like and what it feels like.

LEVITT: So I mean, you know, specifically fat people are more likely to live in poverty. We're more likely to deal with stigma in every facet of our lives from -- especially because it's incredibly gendered and targets women specifically, fat women are less likely to be hired, less likely to be promoted. Fat people in general are more likely to deal with stigma when we go to the doctors' office. So we're more likely to not only be misdiagnosed, not be treated at all which makes us less likely to go to the doctor.

So it's really not just specifically talking about the issues us and interactions that we have one on one with individuals but also how it's systemic and institutionalized.

PEREIRA: When did you first become aware of this?

LEVITT: I found fat positive spaces around 18 -- so that was about ten years ago. I read this amazing book; it's called "Unbearable Weight" by Susan Bordo. And it was really the first time that I had ever felt differently about body image in general and it wasn't really specifically about fat people.

But once I read that I started looking online and I found some amazing fat positive community that really made me feel like the issues that I had I dealt with when I was younger and I continue to deal with today gave me, you know, this community a space to learn about myself and learn about fat politics and it really just kind of grew like organically from there.

PEREIRA: You actually contend that the word "fat" -- that the negative connotations in the word "fat" should be removed. We should be able to use it as a descriptive word like "thin".

LEVITT: Yes, I mean we don't freak out when people use the word "thin", why do we freak out when people want to use the word "fat"? We're moving negative connotations from it because that is unpacking the fat stigma on fat discrimination and feelings that we have toward fat people and instead of just using the term "fat" to describe bodies in a neutral and oftentimes a very positive way.

PEREIRA: OK. Let's go to the flipside because we wanted you to tell us what you are about. You know that you have critics out there. I know you're ready. I can see you gearing up for a fight. There are critics out there that say you're defending an unhealthy body type. What do you say to them?

LEAVITT: You know, I think that that is really, really ignorant to say because what we know is that again fat people are more likely to live in poverty or more likely to deal with stigma in every facet of our lives and we know from research that people who live in poverty, people that deal with stigma have far worse health outcomes because of fat stigma, because of the socioeconomic status that they live in.

So if fat people are far more likely to deal with those things to say that I'm defending an unhealthy body type or an unhealthy lifestyle is really them assuming that fat people live a specific lifestyle that they live in a specific body and in a specific way that makes us unhealthy.

So, you know, I'm far more interested in talking about poverty and far more interested in talking about how we live in a society that has a lot of inequality and not really interested in trying to defend my right to be a fat person, to defend someone else's right to live in their bodies.

PEREIRA: So talk about some of the negatives that have come up. Unfortunately there have been some really hateful and really hurtful comments on your blog. How do you deal with that and what do you make of it?

LEVITT: Yes, I mean, you know, unfortunately trolls are really boring, they tend to say the same things over and over again so you know, that is really, you know, once you are -- it's hard when you first start out but for me because I've been doing activism or just being involved in the community for so long a lot of the things that people say are very, it's not original, it's a lot -- rarely am I surprised by what someone is saying to me.

So for me the things that people are saying, it's not new, but that doesn't mean that I don't need to take a break, turn my laptop off, take some time for myself, go get a coffee, just shut that out, and just walk away sometimes.

PEREIRA: Well, any time you put yourself out there, the haters will come. Amanda Levitt, activist and blogger, she hosts the website Thanks so much for joining us to share your story with us today.

LEVITT: Thank you for having me.

PEREIRA: All right. John -- over to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Great discussion Michaela. Next up for us on NEW DAY, what were the must see moments that we were all talking about this year? It is a long list, like this one, oh, man, Jean Claude Van Damme, what he's about to do here -- it should never be done by anyone. We will show you this and the other buzziest moments of 2013. That's coming up. Oh, there it is, there it is. Don't do it. Don't, stop, please.


PEREIRA: Another good one.

BERMAN: It's fantastic. "What's the Buzz" from "Jesus Christ Superstar" -- everyone. Welcome back to NEW DAY. 2013 brought us compelling viral moments, the videos that not only got millions of views but they also had people talking -- inspired some serious conversation. Everything from a Jimmy Kimmel prank, oh, man, I love this -- over 15 million views for the twerker gone wrong to a woman publicly quitting her job while dancing to Kanye West, fan-freaking- tastic.

These are the videos that made news in 2013. So let's bring Ryan Broderick, a reporter for Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has made more lists than I can even think of.


BERMAN: But you know, the list for the viral moments, one of our favorites here. One of the things that was remarkable in this clip and in these viral moments is a lot of them were actually newsy. They were actually about stuff that mattered, about stuff that was happening.


BERMAN: You talk about the Charles Ramsey video.

BRODERICK: Sure. Charles Ramsey is probably one of the best examples of that viral news peg just going everywhere and he gave this incredible, incredible interview after the Amanda Berry case and his candidness was just so explosive that everyone went wild with it. And they couldn't believe, you know, he was on camera saying these great things and people just ramming (ph) it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's such a likeable guy.

BRODERICK: I mean he had one one-liner after another. It was incredible.

PEREIRA: This isn't the last we hear from him, I feel.

BRODERICK: No, I was actually just reading -- he got a book deal and they're saying that his story is far from over. He's got more to say which, you know, can't complain about that.

PEREIRA: No. Not at all. Our next one is also a story that I think made people -- not only did it have a newsy peg but I think it made people ask themselves what would I do in this situation? Matthew Cordle -- you might remember -- the young man who did a compelling online confession to a DUI. BRODERICK: Yes. This is really unprecedented. People had always been using the Internet to confess things but usually anonymous. To have someone use his own name and his own face and confess to something this horrible a lot of people were really torn about it, you know. Is this right, is this wrong, are we sensationalizing this? And it sparked a whole controversy, a whole conversation.

BERMAN: He did end up with a jail sentence, you know. He ended up suffering serious consequences and he'll be in jail for a while.

We'll have to kind of make a turn here. Most of us, we talk about viral videos, we talk about the silly and the inane. And there is this one video I think we all have great respect for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you have great respect for it.

BERMAN: It received 15 million views -- this was the Jimmy Kimmel inspired fake twerking gone wrong video. Explain this stuff to me.

BRODERICK: So this video is kind of incredible. Jimmy Kimmel's staff put it online a few months before it went viral, I mean-- or a few weeks, I'm sorry. And they didn't tell anybody. And all of a sudden like the Internet does it just bubbled up into this massive sensation and everyone couldn't believe that someone lit themselves on fire twerking and then he a reveals that he had done it himself. It was all a big hoax.

But then you could argue. Is it even a hoax or was that the entertainment value?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is the shtick.

BRODERICK: Yes, did he trick us and is that --

BERMAN: I think it's a lesson for everyone too which is don't necessarily believe everything you see online.

BRODERICK: You know, take the old adage, everyone is lying on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about that other video that we kind of showed at the top of the hour, not the top of the hour but the segment where we saw the girl doing the dance and it was kind of like her farewell after, you know, she was leaving her job.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously she's a pretty talented dancer when you look at the video. But I think that video was successful.

BRODERICK: It's great, yes. This video really struck a chord. I kept reading that it was such a millennial thing to do. To have, you know, this young person dancing and quitting their job and then having the video go viral. And it was great.

It started a bunch of responses and a bunch of parodies. There was one with a mom who went on strike and she used that method to tell her family no more. It was a really fun thing and really like it made people want to do the same thing.

PEREIRA: Well, if you remember the response the company did their own video in response to her being gone which was, made it a whole fantastic call of response.

BRODERICK: Yes. It was a great response.

BERMAN: You know, the subject of jobs, people who shouldn't have them -- there is something of an Internet viral star from Canada -- more about Canada -- you know, Rob Ford.

PEREIRA: I don't want to take this one.

BERMAN: Rob Ford has taken over the Internet.

BRODERICK: Rob Ford is a living viral video. Everything this man does is just rife for online fodder. The one that immediately comes to mind is him pushing that poor woman over. But everything, every interview he did, all of the really inappropriate things he would say on camera -- it was kind of breathtaking to watch.

PEREIRA: So exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They guy had no fear.



PEREIRA: But what it will guarantee is that -- you know, until he finishes his term or they kick him out every press conference he ever holds will always have cameras in front of it. Toronto politics will be covered forever now.

BERMAN: Let's leave people with an inspiring hit, shall we?

PEREIRA: Can we?

Is this your favorite?

BERMAN: This is Jean Claude Van Damme.


PEREIRA: I heard that John Berman tried this once.

BRODERICK: Really? With two big trucks or --

BERMAN: I haven't touched my toes since the Reagan administration. Like I can't get -- the split, there's nothing even close to that.

PEREIRA: Now we know why you were gone all week last week.

BRODERICK: My favorite take in this actually was Channing Tatum's parody with the trash cans. If you hadn't seen that -- that was (inaudible). But yes, only Jean Claude Van Damme.

PEREIRA: We should remind people that wasn't fake. They were going very, very, very slowly backwards.

BERMAN: That felt wrong but very real.


PEREIRA: Well, we appreciate you bringing all of this to us. It was an epic year for viral videos. Some of them with a serious bent and some of them like that with a lot of fun in them.

BERMAN: Ryan Broderick from Buzzfeed -- Buzzfeed's got a lot of other lists. I recommend checking them out.

BRODERICK: 2013 lists.

PEREIRA: You could make a list of lists.

BERMAN: They did, I think.

PEREIRA: Did they?

All right. Well, that's all for us here on NEW DAY. It is time for "NEWSROOM" Kyra Phillips -- my girl -- is in for Carol Costello. Take it away.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Great to see you guys. Happy Monday. "NEWSROOM" starts right now. .

And happening right now in the "NEWSROOM", a second terror attack in Russia in less than 24 hours. With the Olympic Games in Sochi just 39 days away, growing concern about the safety of athletes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if we don't see one -- an attempt on the Olympics I'd be very surprised.


PHILLIPS: Paralyzing cold gripping the Midwest, 45-mile-per-hour winds, sub-zero temps and it's only going to get worse.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The weather is a bit (inaudible) today. It's minus one and blowing snow.


PHILLIPS: Oh yes, another setback for the latest rescue mission in Antarctica. We just got word that some of the passengers and crew on board that research ship will be evacuated by helicopter as soon as the weather improves. Meanwhile, their spirits are high.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that on the horizon, Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the ice breaker coming to rescue us.



PHILLIPS: Brilliant.

17 weeks of football comes down to mere moments. Rodgers on the field for the first time since the Bears broke his collarbone. Well, and he broke the Bears' heart.

And what's your top story from 2013. The votes are in and we will unveil your choices.

You're live in the CNN "NEWSROOM".