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New Year's Freeze; Evacuations After Fiery Train Crash; Walmart Manager's Wild Ride; California Too Big?; Colorado Teens And Legal Weed; Beyonce Backlash

Aired December 31, 2013 - 07:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It is the bottom of the hour. Thank you so much for the champagne and for coming to join us on NEW DAY. Ana has a look at some of our top stories.

ANA CABRERA, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Making news this morning, Mother Nature once again. We're ending 2013 with another deep freeze. People in the eastern half of the country expected to feel the coldest jolt that they've had so far this season. Parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, not expected to climb above zero. Forecasts show subzero temperatures in New England and upstate New York as we head into the New Year.

Some late developments from North Dakota this morning after two trains collided just west of Fargo. This powerful explosion followed a couple of trains that collided, leading to mass evacuations. Thousands have been forced from their homes and crews this morning are testing the air for toxins. Sheriff Paul Laney tells NEW DAY there have still been no reports of any injuries.

The Russians insist they have solid security in place for the Sochi Olympics after two terror attacks in the country just this week. Authorities say they will not change security measures and the U.S. is offering up support if needed. The death toll has risen to 34 from those attacks on a bus and the train station. New video has surfaced of the moment that first attack took place.

A wild ride for a Wal-Mart manager in Florida, Mike Dawson tells police two people shoplifted a cart filled with beer. He jumped into action literally into the back of their getaway truck. The suspects then sped down I-95. All the while Dawson was throwing beer out of the back of the truck. He was hoping someone would see him, call police. Eventually someone did see him, they came with a gun, stopped the truck, Dawson jumped out and the suspects took off.

An investor in North California is pushing a voter initiative to split the state into six separate states. Tim Draper says California has been rendered nearly ungovernable by social and economic changes. Draper's ballot initiative says citizens would be better served with a more localized government. So he's going to need to collect thousands of signatures for this measure to be brought before the voters in November. BERMAN: All right, that's California. Let's talk now about Colorado because tomorrow Coloradans wake up to legal recreational marijuana. Of course, with it there are serious fears about teenagers using smoking pot. The drug will still be illegal for those under 21. But of course, the fact that he's been illegal for years has not stopped kids from getting their hands on it. Federal officials warned that legalization could actually change attitudes among teenagers in a pretty dangerous way. Ana is based in Denver and has much more on this story.

CABRERA: Well, we had a chance to go to the high schools there in Denver and talk to some of the teenagers and their attitude about pot really was surprising to me. They tell me marijuana just doesn't seem harmful. They say it's easy to get even though it's illegal for them. The question really is now, what's going to happen when this drug becomes even more accessible in the New Year?


CABRERA (voice-over): Colorado schools have a pot problem.

(on camera): How many people around your age do you know who have smoked marijuana?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost I want to say nine out of ten students.

CABRERA: Really? It's that prevalent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that it's legal everybody is getting it.

CABRERA: While still illegal for anyone under the age of 21, younger people are finding ways to get their hands on marijuana and we found they don't shy away from talking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see people selling it and I think it's easy for people to get now.

CABRERA: Even for somebody who's under age?


CABRERA: Do you know of anybody who comes to school high or gets high during lunch break for example?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely.

CABRERA: Not that uncommon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not uncommon at all. There's a bunch of people that come to this school high.

CABRERA (voice-over): While some teens seem to think using marijuana is OK, schools are trying to send a message that it's not. Pot is now the number one reason students are kicked out of Colorado public schools, 230 expelled last year because of marijuana according to the Colorado Department of Education. Pot proving to be a bigger problem than alcohol, disobedience or weapons violations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The message we'd like to get out from the School Safety Resource Center is we really need parents to be talking to their children about the risks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The evidence is very clear that it's addictive.

CABRERA: Adolescence and addiction specialist, Dr. Paula Riggs says one out of six kids that tries marijuana as a teenager will become addictive. The marijuana sold today has a higher concentration of THC, a chemical that impacts memory and learning, reaction time and motor skills. Riggs says a developing brain is most vulnerable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daily or near daily use can be associated with six to eight-point reduction in their adult IQ. It looks like you don't get that back.


CABRERA: Now that doctor tells me what she is seeing is so concerning, she really believes marijuana prevention and treatment programs need to be in the schools because she says that education is so important, especially when it comes to this issue, letting the kids know what the risks are.

BERMAN: The real question you raise in this piece is will the attitude change with it being legal for adults there? Will it become more acceptable and more common among the teens? I think that's what a lot of people have to watch there.

CABRERA: That's what we will be watching. Colorado really setting the stage for the rest of the nation as far as what's going to happen with marijuana and moving forward. Hopefully teenagers don't become a problem within we talk about drugs and kids using them.

PEREIRA: A great look at that story out of Colorado. Thanks so much for that, Ana.

BERMAN: All right, next up on NEW DAY, a controversy or a non- troversy? Questions being raised over this photo or shall we say, alleged photo from California, is that really a shark lurking in the water near those two kids?

PEREIRA: Beyonce is coming under fire for some audio from one of her new songs. What clip of audio did she use and what does she have to say about it? She's defending herself. Stay with us.


PEREIRA: Well, it's beautiful where the ball is going to drop at Times Square. It's also very chilly. We sent Jennifer Gray there to give us an idea of just how cold it is. But we'll get with her later to find out how cold --

BERMAN: It's so cold she ran inside, wise, wise move.

PEREIRA: There she is.


PEREIRA: How cold is it, Jennifer?

GRAY: It's some kind of cold out here, temperatures in the 20s, feeling like the teens. It's going to feel like that tonight as the ball drops. We will start seeing the people pack the streets in the next couple of hours. Temperatures will top out today in the 30s, barely above freezing and then dropping into the teens as the ball drops.

There is a bigger story setting up across the country. That is that area of low pressure we've been tracking. It will be marching across the country. The problem is we already have cold air in place as the low tracks to the east. We've been watching this. The one closer to shore could create quite a bit of snowfall across a large portion of the northeast.

We'll be continuing to track it Thursday night into Friday. That's the time frame we're looking at. If it does take that track, guys, closer to shore we could see anywhere from 6 inches to 8 inches of snow in New York and 8 inches to 10 inches in Boston, a very snowy scenario shaping up for the first week of 2014.

PEREIRA: Thank you. Did you know some kind of cold is an official weather term?

BERMAN: Florida's own Jennifer Gray shivering at times.

PEREIRA: Bless her heart.

BERMAN: We'll turn to questions circling around a photo that's gone viral. You've seen it, the shark in the water. This is a snapshot taken by a California mother named June Emerson. She was at the beach Friday with her twin boys when she says she saw this, a shark, what looks like a shark in the water there. Many are calling the shark a photo bomber.

Experts are debating whether there this was a shark. Could it have been a dolphin? Could this photo have been doctored? Let's talk about this with Brett Larson, the host of "Tech Bytes." Is this real?

BRETT LARSON, HOST, "TECH BYTES": Let's face facts, first of all, every photo on the internet is real. I am 6'4" and 165 pounds on the internet. I have a six pack of Coca-Cola in my desk. Here's the thing. I'm totally on the fence. I'm leaning towards it's real only because we've seen sharks and other animals that swim at that point in the water.

PEREIRA: Absolutely. We've had them on the show -- not on the show but we've seen video and evidence of that on the show.

LARSON: If you watched any of shark week, the part that was real, not the part that the discovery made up with Megalodon, they do tend to swim close to shores.

BERMAN: We reached out to the mother. She swears the photo was real. We sent the photo out to forensic experts. What they tell us is they preliminary can't tell. They need to see the original. No definitive word there.

LARSON: The problem here and why we would question whether it's a real photo.

PEREIRA: We question everything we see online.

LARSON: Because it's so easy. There's probably a stamp in Photoshop where you can stamp on the photo and make -- it could also be, if you look at the full photo, it could be a shadow that happens to look like a shark.

PEREIRA: Or a piece of drift wood.

CABRERA: There are people arguing it's a dolphin, not a shark even if the photo is real.

BERMAN: We've seen the hoaxes.

LARSON: We have. We've been fooled by so many.

PEREIRA: This is your favorite.

LARSON: The guy who's flying like a bird. That can totally happen.

CABRERA: Or the eagle that picks up the child.

LARSON: The eagle that picks up the baby is hands down my favorite fake. It's just so fake. This was done by students.

BERMAN: It was pretty impressive. This was a big elaborate film project done by Canadian students.

LARSON: Right.

BERMAN: Hats off to the Canadians again, Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: And the hero pig may have been my favorite one. The hero saves --

LARSON: The pig saves the goat.

PEREIRA: I bought this one. I'm like pigs are amazing, they could do it. We reached out to June Emerson. She insists it's real. We'll probably be hearing about this online. It went viral, of course.

LARSON: The only way to know truly whether it's real, ask the shark, jump the shark and get the original photo. It is -- it is also a sad state of affairs that anything we see online --

PEREIRA: We question.

LARSON: We go is that real?

BERMAN: Thank you, Brett Larson.

PEREIRA: Some people connected to the space program are not the biggest fans of Beyonce right now. It's because of something she did on her new album, specific audio she included on the recording. We'll tell you about it, coming up.


PEREIRA: Beyonce is defending herself after it was revealed that her new song "XO," sampled audio from the space shuttle "Challenger" disaster. In this song, you can hear a NASA officer describing the very moment the shuttle exploded. NASA has already responded. The widow of the Challenger's commander said, in part, "We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song "XO."

The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. Let's bring Christopher Farley, senior editor of the "Wall Street Journal" blog "Speakeasy", and author, "Game World." Thank you so much for being here to talk about this. It's interesting. Beyonce generally doesn't find herself in this kind of controversial territory. What do you make of it?

CHRISTOPHER FARLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, "SPEAKEASY" BLOG, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": She released this new album with no hype, surprise album. No one knew it was going to happen. She wanted to put a focus on her art. We're focusing on what she has to say. That's a danger you run when you do that. NASA has a problem with what she's doing because it samples a bit of the audio from the Challenger disaster.

She's defending herself saying this is a tribute to people who have lost loved ones. You watch the video. The video is at Coney Island. They're having a time, in bumper cars, going down roller coasters. It's not exactly where you go if you're trying to pay tribute.

PEREIRA: NASA is concerned that this will trivialize this very tragic moment in American history. Beyonce for her part responded and said the songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with the hope that they will never be forgotten. My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. What do you make of that response?

FARLEY: Part of the problem when you use real audio, you kind of lose control of your art. You can hear some of the audio from the destruction of the Twin Towers and victims of the 9/11 tragedy had problem with his that. That's happening here, too. Beyonce can say whatever she wants, that her lyrics mean whatever they mean, but something real at the beginning of her song and that person has a family, colleagues that work with them.

And now they're taking issue with what she has to say. Part of the task interpretation has been pulled away from her and now is in the hands of NASA and astronauts and people who lost loved ones who have an issue with this clip.

BERMAN: It doesn't appear she was trying to be provocative here. But in a song writing process, as it works with news or the editorial process, shouldn't someone raise their hand and say, guys, this is a problem? This is going to upset some people.

FARLEY: Beyonce, again, trying to take control of her art, it seems, on this album, flexing her muscles. This album deals with her feelings about having children and family and some existential kind of issues. She's trying to show she is deeper than just a pop artist and it doesn't surprise me no one raised questions about this because she is trying to go into different areas here. She is trying to show she can be more than the femoral we hear on the radio and now here we are discussing her.

PEREIRA: That comes with its own issues as well. Christopher Farley, we wish you a happy New Year. Thank you very much.

FARLEY: You too, thanks.

BERMAN: All right, next up for us on NEW DAY, people down under about to ring in 2014. Men at work, Sydney Australia, a few minutes away from celebrating the New Year, we will bring it to you live.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got lots of layers and keep together and we're going to have a good time.


PEREIRA: Holiday on ice, freezing start to the New Year. Outdoor revellers preparing for dangerous cold below freezing in cities across the northeast and Midwest, and behind it, a possible nor'easter.

BERMAN: Danger in the air, look at this video, terrifying fireball as a freight train explodes, on board, toxic fuel. Now thousands being evacuated, fearing the air may be dangerous.

PEREIRA: Epic fail, check this video out, the local reporter who literally passes out while on camera and then her amazing recovery. She's owning it this morning. She joins us live. Your NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, December 31st, the very last day of 2013. It's 8:00 in the east. Kate and Chris are both off today. We have our friends, John Berman and Ana Cabrera. I looked at you in the wrong order. Sorry about that.

We start our day here. Our first or last day of the old year and the New Year begins. Australia is about to begin 2014. They are about to usher in the New Year. For the first time, fireworks will be set out from the top of the famous opera house. Should we countdown together?

BERMAN: Countdown to Australian New Year here.

CABRERA: Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. They're on a different countdown.

BERMAN: Let's do it with them.

PEREIRA: Three, two, one. Happy New Year!

BERMAN: All right, Sydney.

CABRERA: For those of you who can't stay up tonight, there you go. You already celebrated.

PEREIRA: More than 1.5 million people are gathered there right now. If you're hating on how cold it is here in America right now because we're having quite a cold snap, it is 70 degrees. That is warm champagne, people. It's summer in Australia which, of course, certainly helps. How much fun is that?

BERMAN: Fireworks, so, so nice -- Men at Work song.