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Kicking Off 2014 With a Snow Storm; Rescue Mission Underway; NYT: Snowden Did U.S. A Great Service; Putin Vows To Annihilate Terrorists; Colorado's "Green Rush"

Aired January 2, 2014 - 08:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: 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.


This storm has been hammering Chicago. It started snowing New Year's Day and it just keeps coming.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Throughout the night, snow continuing to pile up in Chicago. Millions from the Midwest to New England will be impacted by the New Year's first major snowstorm, bringing with it blizzard-like conditions and dangerously cold temperatures. Some parts could see more than a foot of snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like it's been snowing since winter got here.

ROWLANDS: Boston already declaring a snow emergency and planning to close public schools on Friday. More than a thousand flights canceled on New Year's Day, the massive winter storm already wreaking havoc.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay off the road.

ROWLANDS: More than 200 spinouts reported in Minneapolis alone as ice blankets the roads. Frigid temps complicating rescue efforts in the twin cities as firefighters had to be rotated in and out of the front lines of this raging apartment fire.

CHIEF JOHN FRUETE, MINNEAPOLIS FIRE DEPARTMENT: Our nozzles have a tendency to freeze up.

ROWLANDS: In upstate New York, lake-effect snow is the story, more than two feet of the white stuff on the ground already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was hard on the businesses last night because people had reservations to go out to New Year's Eve and they couldn't get out.

ROWLANDS: The deep freeze will have parts of the country feeling temps that are well below zero.


ROWLANDS: If you think that's cold, take a trip up north to Winnipeg, Canada, where the temps hovered around 40 below zero, colder than the surface of Mars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This storm is something else.


ROWLANDS: And the big problem in Chicago has been keeping the roads clear. You see the plows out this morning. They've been out 24/7 since this started on New Year's Eve Day and they'll be out all day long, in all we're expected to get a foot of snow in some areas of Chicagoland, the big problem not only the roads but also as you mentioned earlier the airports, O'Hare, lots of cancellations, we're expecting more today -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We can see the snow collecting on your hair, Ted. Stay warm.

BERMAN: Frosted tips.

CABRERA: Frosted tips.

PEREIRA: The literal frosted tips, fantastic.

All right. Ted, thanks so much.

So let's talk about the amounts we're going to see fall onto the ground, Boston is expected as we mentioned to get hammered, more than a foot of the white stuff.

Jennifer Gray is there bracing for the worst of the snow.

And I know you're bundled up but you can feel it, can't you?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I can feel every degree. There aren't very many. That's for sure. Temperatures feel like the single digits here in Boston.

The snow is coming down. It's a little heavier now, the flakes are a little thicker than they were earlier this morning and it is very, very fine. This snow is just very powdery.

You can see, that wind starts to blow this evening about 35 to 45 miles per hour, we're going to see possible whiteout conditions and so that's why it's going to be so dangerous as we go through the overnight hours, not only that, but we're going to add about a foot more of snow, this is only the beginning, snow has been stretched anywhere from the Midwest all the way across. So we're going to call this phase one, because this isn't even the big show yet. We're going to have that area of low pressure continue to crawl up the coast, converge with that one that was in the Midwest, rain down to the South, snow to the North, and lots of it. It's really going to get nasty, guys, in had the Northeast as we get into the late evening hours, as we go into the morning hours tomorrow, that's when we're really going to have to watch this thing.

We could see anywhere from a foot or more of snow here in Boston, six to 10 inches in New York City, and then one to three around D.C., even seeing pretty high snow accumulations in Philly, Pittsburgh, places like that, so blizzard warnings in effect for Long Island and also the Cape, we're going to see very, very strong winds with this, and we're also going to see very, very cold temperatures as we go through the overnight.

Boston has urged residents to get their cars off the roads starting at noon. They told people if they have to come into the city, take public transportation because they are going to be plowing like crazy as they go through the over night hours into tomorrow, guys. So, just stay indoors and as we all have been saying, travel is going to be a nightmare over the next 36 hours.

PEREIRA: Yes, you're going to have a lot of your co-workers saying, I can't make it home because they're stuck at an airport.

Jennifer Gray, thank you so much for that.

BERMAN: Some breaking news to tell you about this morning -- they are finally out, 52 passengers who were on board a stranded ship in Antarctica -- they have been rescued. A helicopter air lifting them out this morning, taking them safely to an Australian ice breaking ship. They're out of the Antarctic ship they were stuck in, but they're a long, long way from home.

Poppy Harlow joins us now with that.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, still a long journey home but at least they're off that stuck ship. Mission is complete. As you said, John, 52 passengers making it to the rescue ship but the stranded passenger saga is far from over. Estimates it could take until mid-January before they touch land.


HARLOW (voice-over): Rescue efforts complete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The helicopter to take us home. Thanks, everyone!

HARLOW: By air and sea, teams have now successfully ended a complex operation to airlift the 52 researchers and journalists who were stranded aboard a research ship off the coast of Antarctica.

The Academic Shokalskiy stuck since Christmas Eve in 10 feet of ice.

CHRIS TURNEY, EXPEDITION LEADER: If all goes well we'll be off in about an hour's time.

HARLOW: Stranded passengers seen here stomping on the snow and ice, arm in arm, preparing a landing zone for the Chinese rescue chopper.

The helicopter transported 12 passengers at a time, flying them to the Australian ice breaker Aurora Australis.

The mission started around 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and it took five helicopter flights to transport all 52 passengers, along with their luggage and equipment.

The stranded research ship's 22 crew members will stay aboard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was real sign of relief and joy when I saw the helicopter coming in to land. But I have to say, the morale has been surprisingly high the whole way through. I've been impressed actually.

HARLOW: In the last week, three ice breaking ships failed to reach the stranded research ship, those missions unsuccessful because of bad weather and ice.

TURNEY: The wind is quite intense, not ideal for helicopter operations, unfortunately.

HARLOW: But being trapped at sea for more than a week didn't put a damper in ringing in the New Year.

CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one!

HARLOW: Breaking out in song.

They shared their cheer all the way across the globe with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin in Times Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a little bit of champagne, I think, actually. Just a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to tell tales, but there has been alcohol on the ship.


HARLOW: Good for them, they are back.

But, you know, 22 of the staff on the ship, the crew, are going to stay there and wait until they can get it out. The master of the ship says they have plenty of supplies to carry them through as long as needed. So, good for them for sticking on board. But the reason, guys, it's going to take until mid-January for the passengers to get back is the ship that's picking them up was on a scientific mission to deliver supplies, they've got to finish that mission.


HARLOW: So the passengers are going to go with them, finish the mission and head back to Tasmania about mid this month.

PEREIRA: They can work on their books now, right?

HARLOW: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: I hope the ship they're on stays away from the ice.

HARLOW: So do I.

PEREIRA: My goodness.

Well, in our last hour, we spoke with Alvin Stone. He's the press coordinator for the leader of the expedition to Antarctica and explained why this carefully crafted operation is only just the beginning for the 52 tourists and scientists.


ALVIN STONE, PRESS COORDINATOR: The initial plan was to fly them to the Chinese ice breaker there, and then transfer them by barge to the Aurora Australis. But the (IANUDIBLE) is now actually itself caught in ice. So there was no way that the barge could not transfer between them. So, they had to come up with a plan B and they managed to set up a helipad on the ice floe the Australis and another one besides the Shokalskiy and basically did it ice to ice and walked them out to the ship.

PEREIRA: Wow. The Australian Safety Authority is saying that their best guess is that these folks won't be on solid ground until mid- January, not getting home until then. Can you explain why it's going to take that long?

STONE: Yes, originally the Australis was down there to unload scientific supplies to a place called Casey Station. They only got half way there when they got the alert to come out and help. And so, once they load the passengers, they actually have to go back to Casey Station first, unload all the scientific goods and then go to Hobart. So, we're probably looking, as the report said, mid-January at best I would think.

PEREIRA: And we know 22 crew members are going to stay aboard the ship, chose not to abandon ship. They're going to hope that the ice will clear or they can get through. Were they given any more supplies? Are you concerned about them at all?

STONE: Not particularly. They have enough for the entire season, fresh food supplies and dry supplies after that.

And it depends a lot on what happens next. If they happen to get a strong westerly, it could actually break the ice up, because this all has come from a southeasterly wind that's brought the ice across and if that doesn't occur, I understand there's a very large Russian ice breaker on its way that should be able to carve through that three- meter thick ice without too much trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PEREIRA: Again, that was Alvin Stone. He's the press coordinator for the expedition to Antarctica. He's probably fielding a whole lot of calls regarding that stranded crew.

BERMAN: Looking forward to some rest no doubt in the come days.

Other big story to tell you about:

A surprise editorial in the "New York Times" this morning is already stirring up controversy. Editors saying that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was justified in his actions. They say he did the country a great service, and that newspaper, "The New York Times" now calling on the government to give Snowden incentive to stop hiding, come home, a plea deal, some sort of clemency.

CNN's Athena Jones is in Honolulu where the president is taking his holiday break with the latest on this.

Good morning, Athena.


Well, there's been no White House response to this yet, but in a strongly worded editorial, "The New York Times" editorial board called Edward Snowden a whistle-blower for exposing the extensive surveillance the National Security Agency was carrying out and said, as you mentioned, it's time for the U.S. to offer Snowden some kind of plea bargain, some form of clemency.

Now, Snowden's revelations about the NSA's tracking of Americans' phone calls and even listening in on the calls of some world leaders, folks like German Chancellor Angela Merkel sparked an uproar here at home and abroad and launched a serious debate about privacy issues.

Now, "The New York Times" editorial board writes, "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. President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden's vilification and give him incentive to return home."

Now, the editorial also notes that two federal judges have said the NSA violated the Constitution and that special panel that was to review the NSA's operations, a panel that the president himself appointed, recommended major changes to the way the NSA operates -- John.

BERMAN: Athena Jones in Honolulu where the president is enjoying a few more days of vacation, although this editorial will wake him up with a bang this morning -- thanks, Athena.

PEREIRA: Barbara Bush remains hospitalized in Houston this morning. Doctors are treating the former first lady for a respiratory related issue. So far, her condition we're told is unchanged. No word yet on when the 88-year-old might be released.

Alina Machado is at the CNN Center with the very latest on our former first lady's condition -- Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michaela, we still don't know what is the diagnosis or what prompted Barbara Bush to go to the hospital in the first place. What we do is that she's been there since Monday and has received visits from her husband and her family.


MACHADO (voice-over): Barbara Bush, the matriarch of the Bush family is back in the hospital, recovering from a respiratory related issue. A family spokesperson is saying, quote, "She is in great spirits and is receiving fantastic care at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas."

It's the same hospital where her husband and former President George H.W. Bush spent almost two months battling a bronchitis-related illness in 2012.

PETER ROUSSEL, BUSH FAMILY FRIEND: I have known Barbara Bush since 1969. That is 44 years. Having known her as I have, I have total confidence in her, period, exclamation mark.

MACHADO: This is at least the fourth time the 88-year-old has been hospitalized in recent years. She had heart surgery in 2009 and was hospitalized for abdominal pain in 2008. She's also been dealing with Graves Disease, an auto immune disorder that affects the thyroid since 1988. Her husband suffers from a form of Parkinson's and has been seen using a wheelchair or scooter to get around.

Despite her ongoing health issues, the edgy former first lady hasn't slowed down. Here she is in July in the White House and just last week she spoke at a ceremony honoring a Houston philanthropist for his volunteer work.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: You deserve every bit of it and much, much more. All Houston, Texas, is grateful to you.

MACHADO: Well wishers are flooding social media. Former President Bill Clinton among them, tweeting, quote, "I'll be rooting for Barbara Bush's full recovery while she's rooting for Baylor," a reference to Wednesday's Fiesta Bowl game.

CHASE UNTERMEYER, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL, FAMILY FRIEND: Barbara Bush is a tough old gal who will outlive us all, but our love is with her because she's not just the former first lady of America. She's the first lady of our hearts. So, we know that she'll pull through.


MACHADO: President Obama is also sending good thoughts. He released a statement yesterday saying in part, "Michelle and I send our best wishes to Mrs. Bush for a speedy recovery. Barbara is blessed to have both a loving, supportive family by her side and a vibrant spirit that we hope will have her feel better soon" -- John.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Alina. And, of course, our thoughts are with her as well.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Let's get some of the other headlines right now. Ana Cabrera for the day's top stories.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, again, guys.

The family of Terry Schiavo joining in support of Jahi McMath and her family's fight over life support. Thirteen-year-old Jahi was declared brain dead after undergoing tonsil surgery. Now, hospital officials in Oakland want her taken off life support, but her family is still fighting it.

And now, Schiavo's family wants to help move the girl to another facility. Schiavo died in 2005 after a decade-long battle to remove her from life support.

Thousands people attended this memorial service for Claire Davis, the 17-year-old who was shot in the head by a fellow student at Arapahoe High School, outside of Denver. Her father tearfully told the audience he and his wife had forgiven the gunman who took their daughter's life, and he is asking others to do the same saying Karl Peirson didn't know what he was doing.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is vowing to intensify security across Russia ahead of the winter Olympics. This comes on the heels of the twin terror attacks earlier this week that killed more than 30 people on a bus and in a train station. Russian police have detained dozens of people now in anti-terror raids. Those blasts heighten concerns, of course, with the Olympics just 36 days away.

New York City has a Democratic mayor for the first time in 20 years. Bill de Blasio was sworn in on New Year's Day. You can see former president, Bill Clinton, doing those honors and he promised to even the economic playing field, which includes taxing those who make more than half a million a year to help pay for universal pre-K and after- school programs and he told the wealthy don't worry, the tax increase on average would amount to less than $3 a day.

And you know, it's New Year's when a whole bunch of people put, crazy or not, on their bathing suits and they go swimming in January. What's a little hypothermia between friends, right? Well, you're watching the annual polar bear plunge in Chico, California, about 500 people.

PEREIRA (voice-over): Chico.

CABRERA: Chico! About 500 people taking part here. And you're right, Michaela, because the high yesterday was about 62 degrees. So, I don't know if you can really call it the polar plunge.

PEREIRA: We want to see Maine. We want to see winter peg (ph). We want to see --

(LAUGHTER) CABRERA: But still, the water is pretty cold in California. That being said.


PEREIRA (on-camera): When you have to break the ice to go in.

CABRERA (on-camera): All right. Michaela, you lead the way.


PEREIRA: -- polar plunge. Absolutely. Ana, thanks so much for those headlines.

Taking a short break here on NEW DAY. Speaking out. The stars of "Duck "Dynasty" say they are looking forward to getting back to work in 2014. The family patriarch, Phil Robertson, is still raising eyebrows, another of his comments sparking controversy.

BERMAN: And long lines sneaking around the block as recreational marijuana becomes legal in the state of Colorado. The product does not come cheap. Still, will store owners be able to keep up with all the demand?


BERMAN: Yes, you guessed it. Welcome back to NEW DAY, folks. Colorado's marijuana retailers are open for business and business is booming. Smokers lining up before dawn Wednesday to score some of the first licensed legal recreational pot. This is anywhere in the United States, of course, but with a limited number of dispensaries opening in many spots, demand is far outstripping supply. Casey Wian is in Denver -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. All of these marijuana plants you see surrounding me are destined for Evergreen Apothecary and that's where we spent yesterday day, the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and business was better than even the owners could have expected.


WIAN (voice-over): This married couple rang in the New Year by waiting outside the Evergreen Apothecary at 2:00 in the morning, six hours before recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado.

(on-camera) Why was it important for you guys to be here so early and be first in line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we're pioneers.

WIAN (voice-over): Some 800 people took a number at this store on day one alone, some waiting in the snow to select their preferred strain of pot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is going to be a cross of ojicush (ph), vanilla kush, and sweet tooth.

WIAN: And the first legal deal was done. It's been a long time coming since the sale of alcohol resumed after the end of prohibition 80 years ago. Marijuana has been on the target list of authorities. "Refer Madness," a propaganda the film from 1930s, portrays the descent of high school pot smokers into crime and insanity, but attitudes and laws have since changed.

Colorado first allowed medical marijuana in 2000. It took 12 years before voters here approve amendment 64 legalizing recreational pot use and sales over the opposition of the state's governor.

MICHELE WOLD, CUSTOMER: I mean, this is the forefront. And to be a part of history and prohibition has ended.

WIAN: Colorado residents aged 21 and over can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, out of stators can buy a quarter ounce.

MIKE OWENS, CUSTOMER: I'm excited. I've been dreaming about this since I started smoking.

WIAN: There are other rules, no taking marijuana out of state, no consumption in public, and the main concern for law enforcement, no driving stoned.

JACK FINLAW, CHIEF COUNSEL, COLORADO GOVERNOR'S OFFICE: If someone is drinking and driving, they're driving too fast or aggressively, if you're under the influence of marijuana, you're likely to be slow. But frankly, we've had medical marijuana in Colorado for about 13 years. So we're used to dealing with people who are driving and consuming marijuana.

WIAN: For new recreational retailers, the biggest concern is demand exceeding supply and the possibility of shortages and higher prices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Candy-like taste to it.

WIAN: Here, it's already going for $50 per eight of an 8 ounce.


WIAN (on-camera): All the plants you see around me, the buds from these plants will be ready for sale at Evergreen Apothecary in about 60 days. The business' owner says he is not concerned about running out of product, but other recreational marijuana retailers say they are very worried about a shortage and even higher prices -- Michaela and John.

PEREIRA: All right. Casey Wian reporting, thanks so much for that.

Next up on NEW DAY, was it murder? The mysterious death of a beloved Roman Catholic priest has detectives this morning scouring the California coast for clues and perhaps even a suspect.

BERMAN: And the hits keep coming. Forty million target customers had their debit and credit card accounts hacked. Now, the retailer reveals there's a problem with their own gift cards.


BERMAN: All right. Here we go, more than 1,100 flights in the United States already canceled this morning, and this is just the beginning, folks. A major monster winter storm getting ready to bear down on millions of people. Boston could see about 15 inches of snow. Meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, is in Boston to see it all. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Yes, it's already coming down and you can see it really coming down in Boston now. We've had some really light snow earlier, but now, it's starting to pick up, so people, this morning already waking up to this, snow all over their windshield. You can't even pack it, it's so light and fluffy.

This is nothing compared to what they'll be doing tomorrow morning, though, as we get more than a foot of snow here in Boston. This city is pretty much going to be shut down. This is going to be a blockbuster storm. We're going to see a lot of snow through the city. Plows will be out. They're urging people not to bring your car in the city, use public transportation, and get your car off the road by noon today, because they are getting ready for sure.

Look at these snow totals in the Midwest, Chicago O'Hare more than five inches of snow, all of that is pushing to the east. We have these two areas of low pressure that are converging and it's going to be a mess. Look at all the winter storm watches and warnings across the area. We could see 12, even 15 inches of snow in Boston. That's more than they should receive the entire month of January, just with this one storm, and so this is going to be huge.

As we go through the overnight tonight into tomorrow, it is going to be cold, and it has been cold in the northern plains. Look at International Falls, 42 degrees below zero, definitely living up to their name as the nation's ice box, and they broke a record with that temperature this morning. Next three days, guys, it doesn't get much better. The northeast will even be waking up in the single digits over the next couple of days.

BERMAN: Completely uncalled for. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PEREIRA: That big storm that's bearing down on us is definitely one of the things you should know, but there are five others that you should know for your NEW DAY. Here's Ana.

CABRERA: Finally rescued. A helicopter air lifted 52 passengers from that ship that's been stranded since Christmas Eve in Antarctica.


CABRERA (voice-over): They will likely be taken to an Australian ice breaking ship and then off to Tasmania where they should arrive by mid-January.