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How Much Snow Will Fall?; Long Awaited Rescue Complete; Earthquake Hits Southern Iran; New Technology Helps Man Walk; Redemption For Snowden?; Clintons Cozy With De Blasio; "Dead" Banker Arrested; West Nile Virus Killing Bald Eagles

Aired January 2, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just snuggle up with some hot chocolate. It is going to be very snowy. Definitely stay off the roads. It's not safe here in the northeast.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We have time to prepare. That's the key. We know it is coming. So prepare, make a game plan. Jennifer Gray, great words of advice for us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Prepare to snuggle.

PEREIRA: Don't look at me.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Jennifer. Want to get to Ana Cabrera right now who is here with the day's other top stories.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys hug and make up while I do the news here. The rescue at the very bottom of the world is finally complete. A helicopter air lifting 52 passengers from a ship that's been stranded in the ice in Antarctica. They were taken to an Australian ice breaking ship. That ice breaker will carry them to Tasmania, expected to arrive there by mid-January.

An earthquake hit Southern Iran overnight. It was measured at 5.5 magnitude. It struck near the town of Lar where more than 50,000 live. Right now, it's not clear if anyone was hurt or died or just how bad the damage might be.

The former president of Pakistan was supposed to be in court today, but his lawyer tells CNN Perez Musharraf is in the hospital on doctor's orders. His trial will resume Monday. He's accused of treason for suspending Pakistan's constitution and imposing emergency rule. That was back in 2007. He says he was trying to stabilize the country. Musharraf could face the death penalty.

Here's some heart warming news, an innovative new tool helping a paralyzed man in North Carolina walk again. Last December, a plane crash left Brett Hanford paralyzed from the waist down. He was told he would never walk again until recently he was given an opportunity to test this exoskeleton device known as "Rewalk." Now Carolina's rehabilitation center is just one of the few hospitals across the country now testing this technology, but certainly --

PEREIRA: What a breakthrough, remarkable. CABRERA: It's so positive for him and his family, and for the many other people who are paralyzed --

PEREIRA: My goodness.

CABRERA: -- who have dreams of, you know, being able to walk again, something a lot of us take for granted.

PEREIRA: Yes, certainly do.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Ana.

All right, it's time now for our political gut check, a big one today. The Edward Snowden saga continues. A shocking editorial, I think, from "The New York Times" arguing that Edward Snowden is a whistle- blower. The editorial says he's done a great service for the country and this editorial says it is time for the White House to offer him a plea bargain that would allow him to return here to the United States.

We're joined by CNN political analyst and executive editor of "The Daily Beast," John Avlon. John, in your predictions for the year, you said one of the biggest issues for the president would be to come to terms with the surveillance state.


BERMAN: Those were your words. It seems to be a bigger question, would it be something he'd ever consider? Do you think this president would consider granting Edward Snowden some kind of clemency?

AVLON: Some kind of clemency, there's a lot of room in that statement. And what the "New York Times" editorial says is maybe there's could be some sort of a plea deal, a reduced sentence. But some kind of absolution for what is objectively an act of treason, betrayal of oath, very unlikely any commander in chief will ever do that for Edward Snowden. Given that he joined the NSA as a contractor, it appears with the intention of releasing these documents and did so on the heels of the summit with China who is a known massive proponent of undermining cybersecurity and now asylum in Russia.

However, Edward Snowden has been vindicated by two federal judges who call the current system of the NSA Orwellian and likely unconstitutional. The real question will be what President Obama decides to do with this NSA reform document given to him that he's been reviewing over the holidays. If he accepts the majority of those recommendations, that will be a de facto endorsement of some of what Edward Snowden expressed concern about.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see public opinion also. I mean, "The New York Times" may not be what it used to be 50 years ago, 30 years ago in terms of its weight or force, but there are some pretty glaring language here. When it says Edward Snowden has done a great service for the country, calls him a whistle-blower and there's this statement. It says, "When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government." The "Times" is taking sides here and the side they are taking is Edward Snowden.

AVLON: No question about it. I mean, this is a strong statement by "The New York Times" that puts them squarely in the Snowden camp, puts them in the Greenwald camp. But I mean, there are different responsibilities that "The New York Times" has and the commander in chief has, of course. I think it's a little bit too early to say he's a latter day Daniel Ellsburg because of the way he chose to release this information.

He did not avail himself of whistle blower laws. He did not try to actually, you know -- he sought asylum in countries that are not great allies of the United States and are not known for freedom of the press or much civil liberties at all. There are still questions surrounding how Ed Snowden did what he did. But this shows, I think, a change of sentiment that you could see throughout '14 as the president may himself decide it is important to reign in the excesses of a surveillance state. That's a big deal.

PEREIRA: Wednesday, let's talk about a changing of the guard. On Wednesday, we saw former President Bill Clinton swearing in -- formally swearing in Bill De Blasio as the newest mayor of New York City, much more liberal than Bill Clinton.


PEREIRA: Talk about this connection and his embrace of De Blasio's progressive stance. What does that mean -- the optics of it?

AVLON: Well, the optics are fascinating because Bill De Blasio is a Bill Clinton protege. He was picked to manage Hillary Clinton's campaign in New York State. Remember that was such a high stakes thing for the White House. He worked for Andrew Cuomo when he was Bill Clinton's HUD secretary. Philosophically it could not be more different. Bill De Blasio is largely repudiating the centrism of Bill Clinton.

Even when Bill Clinton yesterday talked about the urgent issue of inequality, it was in dramatically different tones than Bill De Blasio who set out goals as mayor of the city of New York to end in economic and social inequality. That is a kind of Utopian language and a very strident of liberalism we haven't seen in decades. That in some ways is a repudiation of Bill Clinton legacy.

BERMAN: This is the way left in some cases.

AVLON: Yesterday's speeches were not only ignoring the gains of the past 20 years and dissing Michael Bloomberg, but very much about an ideological vision for leading the city of New York, a job of mayor which is not traditionally very ideological. There's no Democrat or Republican way to clean up the streets. Bill De Blasio would seem to have a different opinion.

PEREIRA: Well and then, also, I mean, we could have a whole discussion of what it could mean for Hillary in 2016. Let's save that for another day.

AVLON: I think there will be time for that conversation.

PEREIRA: I think there will be. John Avlon, good to see you. Happy New Year. Thanks for being here.

AVLON: Happy New Year. Absolutely.

PEREIRA: Up next on NEW DAY, back from the dead. This sounds bizarre, because it is, an allegedly swindling banker was thought to be dead, but has turned up alive, the surprising way that he was located.

BERMAN: A mystery solved. Wildlife officials in Utah have finally discovered what caused the soaring number of deaths of bald eagles in that state. Stay with us.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We'll tell you a bizarre story out of Georgia. Police have arrested a former banker who was declared legally dead a year ago. This is the man, Aubrey Lee Price. He vanished in 2012 in what was believed to be an apparent suicide. He was wanted at that same time in a $20 million wire fraud case. Wednesday Price was pulled over for having a vehicle with tinted windows. You can actually see a before picture of him, before and after right there on your screen.


PEREIRA: Police knew right away he had a lot more to hide. Ana Cabrera has this story.

CABRERA: I love this story. It is so interesting.

PEREIRA: Intrigue.

CABRERA: This guy was the director of the bank by the way. So he was smart enough to fake his own death. He almost got away with it if it weren't for one simple mistake.


CABRERA (voice-over): Hiding in plain sight. Aubrey Lee Price, a man wanted by the FBI for wire fraud vanished more than a year ago in an apparent suicide. Nearly a year after he was presumed dead, the fugitive was apprehended by police in a traffic stop on New Years Eve.

TRACY MORRIS, FRIEND OF FRAUD VICTIM: I cannot believe he had the nerve to hide out so close to home, number one.

CABRERA: He's alleged to have embezzled $21 million from more than 100 investors between 2010 and 2012. Prosecutors say instead of investing money held at Montgomery Bank and Trust where he worked, he created a dummy company in New York to funnel the funds through fraudulent wire transfers and phony investments.

Before going on the run, Price wrote a 22-page confession letter to his family saying he planned to kill himself off the Coast of Florida by jumping off a ferry boat. The letter was the beginning of an elaborate plan to stage his own suicide. These photos show Price dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, arriving at the Key West Airport, carrying a suitcase. This is the day of his disappearance of that year.

JOHN CHAPMAN, ATTORNEY FOR INVESTORS: He has a bag he's towing behind him. Might be packed with investor money for all I know.

CABRERA: Surveillance video from that day shows him at the ferry terminal in Key West where he led investigators and his family to believe he took his own life. But without evidence of a body, the FBI continued to look for him. That search ended on Tuesday, thanks to a Glynn County, Georgia sheriff who stopped Price's vehicle for having darkly tinted windows. The bold fugitive will now be brought to justice. He faces up to 30 years in prison.


CABRERA: You've got to wonder, did his family know he was still out there? They did fill out a missing persons report in 2012. Police have a lot more investigating to do to get to the bottom of all this.

BERMAN: Yes, they do. We want to bring in HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson here.


BERMAN: Joey, is that what police and law officials are going to after right now? Are they going to be searching for any potential conversations, e-mails, texts, anything that ties him to family members or business associates?

JACKSON: You better believe it. They're going to be searching for everything. The interesting thing about a federal investigation, generally by the time they catch up to you, particularly with a crime like this, there is a paper trail that's long and deep, that paper trail, particularly when we're talking about money and invest funds.

There's a larger question here. Did family members or anybody else know? Ana, you brought it up, right? And so the reality is that the federal government will be going after everything with an eye on bringing him, as you mentioned, to justice.

PEREIRA: Well, you know, we were kind of laughing about this and saying it's such an intriguing and fascinating story. It sounds like it's from a TV movie or something. Why are they so aggressively going after this guy? Is it the amount of money that was involved?

JACKSON: I think there are a number of things, Michaela. I think the first thing is it's an accountability question. Whenever you're in the trust of investor funds, you're a fiduciary. The message needs to be sent that funds are safe.

PEREIRA: Sure. JACKSON: Because you want to encourage investment. You want people to be secure and know that we have a government that's regulatory and they have an eye on what you do. And so if you allow this person to get away because he's faking his death, what message does that send, Michaela, to anyone else who would engage in fraud.

BERMAN: He must know he allegedly did something seriously wrong because he went on to allegedly fake his death to get out of it. He's found not far from home and if you're going to fake your death, disappear.

JACKSON: It's very true. Not only do we know he's guilty for the reasons you mentioned, but the 22-page confession letter speaks of culpability.

PEREIRA: How many years could he face?

JACKSON: We're talking about 30 years. There are federal guidelines that really dictate how long you should spend in jail. A lot of that has to do with the amount of money you engaged in the fraud. I think they're not going to be too sympathetic given the deception in this case.

CABRERA: Thirty years for fraud. He could have additional penalties or problems?

JACKSON: A lot of times they'll run time concurrently. Although there's a wire fraud charge and mail fraud charge, they'll run the time together. Whatever time it is, we can reasonably believe it will be hefty.

BERMAN: You can't fake the hefty jail time either.

JACKSON: No, you can't.

PEREIRA: Joey Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: Pleasure.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, finally an answer. Wildlife officials say they have identified the mysterious illness that's killed dozens of bald eagles in Utah. See what officials are now up against there, coming up next.


PEREIRA: Mystery solved, wildlife officials in Utah now know what is causing bald eagles in this state to fall ill and die, it was West Nile virus. It's suspected the eagles contracted the disease by consuming other birds who had it. So far 27 have died, five others are being treated in rehabilitation centers.

Ron Magill is a zoologist and wildlife expert at Zoo Miami and he joins us live this morning. Good morning, Mr. Magill. Tell us first of all, how concerning is this? RON MAGILL, ZOOLOGIST AND WILDLIFE EXPERT, ZOO MIAMI: Well it's concerning in a sense that we've lost over 27 birds now, but the bottom line is West Nile is nothing new here. Something introduced into North America in 1999 and you know, birds were affected every year. The strange thing is this is winter time. This is cyclical processes. It's passed by mosquitoes.

So this is something that usually occurs during the summer. To see it occur during the wintertime throws a little bit of a red flag up there and the fact that it's affecting bald eagles is not commonly seen. It affects hundreds of species of birds. Most of the birds recover from it. Birds are overcome by crows and you'll see sometimes 300, 400 birds, a mass death, at a time.

PEREIRA: So what do you make of that red flag then?

MAGILL: Well, you know, my concern is this, we keep going back to the cliche about climate change and global warming and things like that, but the fact of the matter is it's changing cycles in everything in wildlife, migration patterns, mosquitoes really are, if you look at it, one of the deadliest animals in the world. They are more active in the summertime but now we have global warming their cycles are changing, becoming more active at a time that's not normal for them.

And in the wintertime realize that birds have less of a resistance for things, they have less food, struggling more to survive so they can become more susceptible to things like this and these types of changes in the normal cycles of nature could be catastrophic really.

PEREIRA: It's so shocking when you look at these majestic animals you can hardly believe that something could take them down like that. How big of an impact, the numbers are at 27 dying so far. How big of an impact is that on the bald eagle population in Utah and the number in the states?

MAGILL: Well, you know, fortunately bald eagles have made a tremendous recovery thinks to the nature species act, the bald eagle protection act, 27 in all reality is not going to be a major impact on the population of bald eagles. We don't need to look at the number as much as we need to look at the problem itself because this could manifest into something larger if it is a change in cycles.

If these populations have become more susceptible due to global warming, mosquitoes becoming more active different times of the year, these are all things we have to check on. This might be a symptom of a much larger problem.

PEREIRA: That brings up an interesting point for folks like you at Zoo Miami and other zoos around the nation and other facilities that house animals from wildlife, what do you do to protect these animals and these from this illness or other illnesses?

MAGILL: Well, you know, it's something you have to always monitor. The bottom line, most birds, most people who contract West Nile virus never even have a symptom. This is something that is rare that causes this type of death in a species, most birds will recover from it, things like jays and crows are susceptible to dying. Most people will recover. Very rare that West Nile has a very bad effect on human beings.

But again as these viruses start to kind of manipulate themselves adjust and adapt to different environments they change and they adapt to things, these are the things we have to be concerned of. We had at our zoo in Miami birds die of West Nile, but again this is a normal thing during the summertime you have that happen, most of the population recovers. We just have to monitor those numbers and make sure they're not accelerating at an abnormal rate.

PEREIRA: What do you advise people who may live in areas where they're seeing the sick birds. What do you advise them to do?

MAGILL: Well, first of all don't touch the birds. You report it to your wildlife agency if you see dead birds, the other thing is mosquitoes are the biggest transmitter of these things. Always protect yourself from mosquitoes. You're saying geez, Utah and the snow.

PEREIRA: They're not going to survive the winter.

MAGILL: Exactly. This is the thing that's strange. This is I think the thing they have to study because this disease has been traced back to some grieves that died at the lake. Eagles are great birds of prey but also a vulture, because they'll feed on anything.

PEREIRA: We're looking at video of someone picking up a bird, tourists picking up the bird. We don't advise people to do that as Ron mentioned call your wildlife agency nearby. Ron Magill from Zoo Miami, thank you so much for joining us and giving us perspective on the situation with the bald eagles in Utah. Thanks so much.

MAGILL: My pleasure, Michaela, thank you.

PEREIRA: John, over to you.

BERMAN: All right, next up on NEW DAY, the holidays and the first huge snowstorm of the year begins! Millions of people hunkering down for a monster blast of winter, and later, the winter of Target's discontent, more like Target customers, information stolen, gift cards that don't work, what's going on here? We're taking a look when NEW DAY continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This storm is something else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too cold, too cold.


PEREIRA: Whiteout, a huge snowmaker moving toward the northeast bringing more than a foot of snow to major cities, thousands of flights canceled, traffic snarled and the temperatures plummet.

BERMAN: Finally free, passengers aboard that stranded ship in Antarctica finally rescued, air lifted out, but this is only the beginning of their journey to safety. We're live with the latest.

PEREIRA: The ultimate daily grind, she is a woman who ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Starbucks for a year, why'd she do it? How did she sleep after all that caffeine? She joins us live this morning. Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The helicopter is taking us home. Thanks, everyone.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see. This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


PEREIRA: Polar bear plunge, that is no joke.

CABRERA: Chilly.

PEREIRA: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. It is a new year. It is the 2nd day of January. It is almost 8:00 a.m. in the east. Chris and Kate are off. Happy to have our friends, John Berman and Ana Cabrera with us this morning.

The holiday is over, the new year has begun, but the weather is seriously frightful, 2014 is jumping off to a very cold and snowy start. There is a storm that is moving from the Midwest to the northeast, bringing the first significant snowfall of the year, just two days in, it's already happening.

Check out the snow this morning in Boston, the city has already declared a snow emergency and canceled school for tomorrow. Massachusetts is one of 18 states with some sort of winter weather advisory in effect, stretching from Illinois to Maine.

BERMAN: The impact is already being felt with about 2,300 flights canceled, leaving many with no way to get home from their holiday trips and if the snow is not enough, look at that, that is ugly, the temperatures left in the storm's wake will send a chill up and down your spine, all the way to your toes, a lot of minus signs there, the storm is heading east, it started, though, in the Midwest and that's where we begin with Ted Rowlands and a snowy Chicago. Good morning, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. This storm has been absolutely hammering Chicago.