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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Temps To Hit Zero Degrees For 140 Million In U.S.; Obama Administration Defends Spy Program; Majority Of Female Marines Fail Pull-Up Test; Suspect In Custody Hours Before Priest Murder; Did SeaWorld Rig "Blackfish" Poll?; Putin Visits Sochi And Security Concerns; Will More Guns Keep You Safe?
Aired January 3, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, tonight, heavy snow and subzero temperatures affecting much of the country tonight. And the worst is yet to come.
Plus, new details about the crash that killed "Fast and Furious" actor Paul Walker. His autopsy just released.
And the police chief of one of the country's most violent cities says he has a solution to reduce crime. More guns.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
LEMON: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm Don Lemon, in for Erin Burnett.
Tonight, dangerously cold temperatures are affecting much of the country in the wake of yesterday's massive snowstorm. But the worst is yet to come with temperatures plummeting to negative 20 degrees in some areas and another storm on its way. Over the next five days, nearly half the nation will experience temperatures around zero degrees.
In the Midwest, windchills will be close to negative 50. Chicago will experience one of the coldest stretches in recorded weather history. Right outside here in New York City, temperature are expected to hit zero degrees for the first time in 20 years, the coldest sure to make the snow clean-up pretty difficult. Especially in the hardest hit areas including parts of Massachusetts, which saw nearly 2 feet of snow.
And for some coastal communities including neighborhoods in New Jersey and Massachusetts, flooding is just adding to the pain. The storm also caused a whole lot of problems for a whole lot of travellers. More than 2,400 flights were cancelled today on top of more than 2,600 flights cancelled yesterday. Frederik Pleitgen in Boston braving the cold for us. How are people there dealing with the cold and snow -- Frederik?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is the cold that is making it more difficult to deal with, Don. I can tell you that over the last couple hours, what's happening is that the sky has pretty much totally cleared up. With that the temperatures have started plummeting. I would say about four or five degrees above zero right now, but we're expecting it to go down to minus 7 degrees below zero later tonight.
And as I said many people were sort of busy clearing the roads. As you can see, some people will have a lot to do to get their cars out of the snow. You see people shovelling pretty much for the better part of the day. As you can see, some people have not gotten to it just yet. The freezing temperature are it all the more difficult.
Another thing that is also a big part of those freezing temperatures is that the highways where a lot of the road crews have been spraying salt to get the roads clear. That salt will become pretty much ineffective once the temperatures reach the really, really low parts. That will make it even more difficult. The temperature that we're expecting around Massachusetts is up to about 24 degrees below zero in the hardest hit areas.
With these windchills going on, Don, that will get even worse. It is going to be a very, very chilly night here in Boston and in other places as well. I can tell you people are bracing. There are not many people out on the streets. A couple cars here and there but there are not many people who are venturing out because it is getting more chilly by the minute -- Don.
LEMON: Stay inside. The advice is layers, layers, layers. Thank you, Fred Pleitgen. Appreciate that. Alexandra Steele on the CNN Severe Weather Center, do we really want to know what's ahead?
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: How about one of the coldest arctic outbreaks in the past two decades. We've got it coming. Where Fred is, at 11:00 tonight, it will feel like 20 below. That is the windchill so some incredibly cold air. This is not the cold air I'm talking about. The heart of this cold outbreak will be Monday and Tuesday. So this is what happens.
We're going to watch this cold. Look at this time frame. This is not tonight's forecast. This is a little bit down the pike. So let me show you. Boston. Look at this massive temperature drop. On Monday in Boston, it will be almost 50 degrees. Tuesday it drops to 15 degrees. We're going on see 30-degree temperature drop. In New York, 47 to 11 so some incredibly cold temperatures so those are the high temperatures.
Minneapolis, the high temperature on Monday, 14 below, straight air temperature, overnight, 21 below. Chicago as well, dropping early Tuesday morning to 20 below, air temperature, mind you. So Nashville, where temperatures should be in the 40s, we're going on get to 10 on Monday. So unlike what we've just seen with the arctic break, it will make its way into the south, into Atlanta and also of course, into Nashville where temperature are certainly going to be well below average.
But Don, before that, we've got another storm coming. This is weekend, but watch what this is going to be though, this is the northeast and we're going to see rain making it to the northeast. That will be ahead of the front. Then the snow comes in after that with the cold temperatures. So we've got a wild ride in the next seven days.
LEMON: Yes, a whole lot of slipping and sliding. Thank you very much, Alexandra Steele. Appreciate that. Bundle up, everyone.
Following another developing story for you, the Justice Department filed an appeal to keep the NSA's controversial spy program up and running after a federal judge called it its constitutionally in question, constitutionality in question. The program which collects daily phone records from millions of Americans has been renewed until March. But the legality will be debated for quite some time and could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
Joined now by our senior legal analyst here on CNN, Mr. Jeffrey Toobin, you said this is a really significant move on the part of the administration. Why is that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, ever since the revelations of Edward Snowden, there has been a huge national debate about this program that collects the numbers called and the duration of calls for basically every call within the United States. We've had a political debate about it. Now the legal debate is really joined in earnest because a couple of weeks ago, a judge in Washington said it was probably unconstitutional. Last week a judge said it was constitutional. When you have conflicting viewpoints like that, it is almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court because they got the last one.
LEMON: We've been right in the middle of reporting that. This could move in a number of different ways, right. So what are you watching for?
TOOBIN: Well, there are a lot of moving parts here. You have the courts moving forward and somewhat contradictory ways as we've seen. We also have President Obama getting a report from his own handpicked commission saying the program should change. At the moment, the NSA collects all this data. The commission said the phone company should keep it. And the government should only ask the phone company for information if they really need it.
The president is going to have to decide. Is he going to cut back on the program in the way that his commission suggested which might make the whole court case moot so all these parts are moving at the same time, but somehow it will have to be resolved.
LEMON: President Bush would always say I'm the decider. So then we've been going back and forth, who is the decider, who is the actual decider here on whether this is constitutional or not?
TOOBIN: Well, the president is going to decide whether the program goes forward. But ultimately, it is the Supreme Court that is going to give thumbs up or thumbs down. A famous line about the Supreme Court, which says, we are not final because we are infallible. We are infallible because we are final. That's it. They always have the last word.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. Stay warm. Have a great weekend.
TOOBIN: Indeed. You too as well.
LEMON: Still to come on CNN, the autopsy report for Paul Walker just released. We have new details about the actor's death.
Plus the latest about the murder of a beloved Catholic priest. The man accused of the crime was in jail just hours before the killing. And less than half of all female recruits can't pass the basic military requirements. Is it time to rethink women in combat?
LEMON: The U.S. Marine Corps has delayed its female physical fitness plan after less than half could do the required minimum of three pull- ups. The announcement is raising new questions about whether women should even be serving in combat. Chris Lawrence has the story.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military training can be excruciating at its highest levels, but at the bare minimum, a Marine has got to be able to do three pull-ups.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to ensure that every Marine is successful at maxing out their pull-ups on their PFDs.
LAWRENCE: But more than half the female recruits couldn't do it. So the marines are pushing back the day when it becomes mandatory.
ELAINE DONNELLY, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR MILITARY READINESS: If you have a failure rate of 55 percent and 99 percent of the men are successes succeeding, obviously this is not going to work.
LAWRENCE: Men have to do three pull-ups minimum to pass the Marine's fitness test. It takes 20 to earn a perfect score. Women had to meet the same minimum, but only need eight pull ups to score perfect. Because so few passed, the Marines will let them choose to hang on the bar for 15 seconds and pass without doing any pull-ups. Marine Corps officials admit pull-ups are better and the flex arm hang elicits little muscular strength adaptations necessary for common military task such as pulling oneself over obstacles or carrying equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Generally I'm not in favour of lowering any standards.
LAWRENCE: Zoe Bedell is a former Marine Corp officer who commanded troops in Afghanistan.
(on camera): Could you do three pull-ups?
ZOE BEDELL, FORMER MARINE CORPS OFFICER: I was at one point able to do five pull-ups, but it was that first one that probably took me the longest to get to. LAWRENCE (voice-over): Bedell says women have to learn how to do pull-ups. Something many have never done.
BEDELL: Experiment with different techniques. You figure out what other exercises to do.
LAWRENCE: Critics say the big push over pull-ups is part of a bigger problem, pressure from the White House to make the military gender neutral.
DONNELLY: Something is wrong here and it is not the women's fault. It is the policy that the Marines are pursuing.
LEMON: Obviously this is a big deal, Chris Lawrence. What do the Marines do next so they're not in this same spot a year from now?
LAWRENCE: Yes, Don. It is clearly a setback for the big plan to put thousands of women into combat roles by 2016. Look, there are women who are clearly ready, 13 female Marines just finished the infantry course, a gruelling 60-day course that they successfully completed. I think what the Marines, an official told me, what they'll do now is something that Zoe talked about, which is looking at better ways to train women to do these push ups.
There is a feeling that, you know, from the time they're girls, girls don't do push ups. Even women who work out religiously and are very physically fit are not working those muscles and trying to build up that bigger upper body by doing pull ups. So what they want to do is go in and really teach women better ways to train to do this particular exercise.
LEMON: Yes, working the upper body. That's a guy thing, right? Skinny legs, beach upper muscles --
LAWRENCE: It's the beach workout.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Chris Lawrence. Have a great weekend.
The suspected killer of a beloved Catholic priest was in custody hours before the murder. Police let him go. Gary Lee Bullock was arrested on New Year's Eve for public intoxication and held for eight hours before being released. Yesterday he was charged with murdering Pastor Erik Freed who was found beaten to death in the rectory of St. Bernard Church on New Year's Day. Police are calling it a crime of opportunity, but could have been prevented? David Mattingly OUTFRONT with the story tonight.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gary Bullock had already confronted law enforcement twice. Got arrested, spent eight hours in jail. All in less than a day before he became the suspect in the murder of the beloved Eureka priest, Father Erik Freed. Arrested by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies for public intoxication during the day New Year's Eve, Bullock had to be taken away from the county jail for a high heart rate. He acted up at the hospital and had to be physically restrained by deputies before being taken back to jail.
Court records show Bullock was already on probation for misdemeanor cocaine possession. A spokesman for the sheriff says the department was not required to hold him until a judge reviewed his case so he was let go. Bullock only had to walk three blocks to the St. Bernard Church where he was described as making strange noises. A security guard called Eureka City Police who did not know the details or the problems Bullock just had at the county jail.
ANDREW MILLS, EUREKA POLICE CHIEF: They saw the paperwork that was released on a public intoxication charge after being held for I think eight hours.
MATTINGLY: Eureka officers decided Bullock was not doing anything illegal and did not qualify for an emergency psychological hold.
MILLS: They asked him specific questions about himself. He asked for housing. He asked for a place to stay for the night.
MATTINGLY: So they didn't arrest him. Instead, officers directed Bullock to a nearby she will and watched him walk away. Police now say Bullock never went to the shelter and was spotted shortly thereafter back at the church. This time police aren't called.
MATTINGLY: The sequence of events from that point on is still being examined. Investigators relying on surveillance video from cameras at the church. They hope to also learn something from the autopsy, which will be conducted tomorrow -- Don.
LEMON: It looks like the system failed here, David. What are police saying?
MATTINGLY: Police in both jurisdictions, both the county and the local police there say that at the time the decisions were made, one to let him out of jail and two to let him out of custody when the Eureka police were talking to him, they say those were proper decisions. They had to reason to keep him in jail or keep him in custody. So they say they were acting properly. Looking back, there were so many opportunities here missed though that could have prevented this murder.
LEMON: So do they have any idea why the suspect went to the church when he got out of jail and then returned a second time?
MATTINGLY: Well, they believe the suspect had no connection to the priest, but this could come down to something very simple. They say it is possible that he came back to this location simply because he might have had access to a restroom there. It could be something that simple and it may turn out to be just that case when this investigation is done.
LEMON: David Mattingly will be on top of the story. Thank you very much for that, David.
Still to come tonight here on OUTFRONT, a man in Germany killed by an explosive device, authorities suspect the bomb dates back to World War II.
Plus a new controversy involving SeaWorld, is the theme park trying to taint the pool of popular opinion?
And the NFL, is it anti-gay? A former player who is gay joins us later in the show.
LEMON: More controversy surrounding SeaWorld tonight. This time it involves manipulating public opinion. A recent online poll conducted by the "Orlando Business Journal" asked if the documentary "Blackfish," which aired on CNN change your opinion of SeaWorld. More than 90 percent of the respondents said no, which seemed a bit fishy to the paper. They checked into it and found that more than half the votes came from a SeaWorld IP address.
Martin Savidge joins us now with the money and power of SeaWorld. Martin, this is an interesting story. Not a scientific poll but SeaWorld, were they stacking the vote?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has put a lot of people especially those who are opposed to the operations of SeaWorld would say that it is very much like the company culture down there to hear about this poll and to make sure that the numbers were going to go in their favor. This was the "Orlando Business Journal" that put out this three-day poll that was a simple one question, had this film on CNN changed people's opinions, 99 percent of the respondees said no, it hadn't change their opinion at all against SeaWorld.
That's when the paper decided to do some digging and found that 54 percent of the votes came from the IP address of seaworld.com. The company by the way fights back and says, no, here's our response. And their statement is essentially that it was their employees, that they did it on their own.
They said, "Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company and we encourage them to make their opinions known." And one other thing I should point out, Don, is that if you take away the votes that were listed back to the IP address of SeaWorld, SeaWorld was still winning any way.
LEMON: The poll numbers, haven't the numbers split in the last day or so? What's going on now?
SAVIDGE: Yes. They've changed dramatically in part because there's so much publicity that has been brought out. The fact that SeaWorld would do well in an Orlando publication is no surprise. It is a home grown home town business. But once word got out nationwide about this poll, all those who were opposed to SeaWorld and its treatment specifically of killer whales, they've gotten involved and now the voting is 2-1 against SeaWorld saying yes, opinions have changed as a result of CNN's airing of "Blackfish."
LEMON: So Marty, here's the question, you got this unscientific poll and you got this documentary about SeaWorld. It is not really flattering. How has it affected their business if anything?
SAVIDGE: Right. You have a lot of these animal rights activists that say, look, this is the tide turning against SeaWorld. If you look at the financial numbers, and of course that's really whatever really matters to a business like SeaWorld. The company says no. There is no turning whatsoever. In fact they're having their best year ever. They say that they have not seen a decline in the number of people coming to their parks and best of all, they say the revenue has only been increasing.
LEMON: Martin Savidge. Thank you, Marty.
Still to come tonight, the autopsy report for actor, Paul Walker just released. We have new details about that crash that killed him.
Plus the police chief of one of America's most violent cities said what we need is more guns, really?
Also, Ryan Seacrest slapped with a lawsuit. We'll tell you why next.
LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. Security during upcoming Winter Olympics at Sochi is a major concern after two suicide bombings killed 34 people. That's why Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the site today. He visited various Olympic venues, but he had some fun, too, hitting the slopes with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and enjoying a glass of mulled wine afterwards.
And Blackberry's beef with celebrities, the company is suing Ryan Seacrest "Typo," which types keyboards, which make keyboards that snap on to iPhones. Blackberry alleges it looks too much like their own and say they will not, quote, "Tolerate such activity without fair compensation." The "Typo" keyboard has been available for pre-order since December and is slated for release later this month. The suit comes a day after Blackberry said it would part ways with Alicia Keyes who served as the company's creative director.
Michael Jordan motivated to sell his house. The former NBA champion has put his art Decco mansion on the market again, this time for $16 million. Nearly half of what he initially wanted for it. This come after a previous price cut and an auction where it failed to sell for the minimum $13 million bid. The problem, it may be a hard sell if you're not a Jordan fan. The 56,000 square foot home was made for him. The front gate is adorned with his Chicago Bull number, 23.
If you don't play ball, that regulation size basketball court, well, it makes for a pretty fancy and gigantic walk-in closet. Perhaps he should just rent it out. Make it into a hotel, a tourist destination.
"Fast and Furious" actor, Paul Walker's autopsy has been released revealing that the car was traveling at over 100 miles an hour when it crashed in November. Walker's death was determined to have been cause by traumatic and thermal injuries, but the full report reveals gruesome new details about exactly what killed the actor. Casey Wian has more.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of fans Paul Walker's "Fast and Furious" movies were shocked in November when a real life car crash killed the 40-year-old actor. The Los Angeles County coroner's report shows the death was gruesome and swift. Walker was a passenger in an ultra-high performance car driven by his friend, Roger Rotas, on November 30th. The autopsy states the driver was driving a red Porsche Carera GT at an unsafe speed, approximately 100-plus miles per hour.
JIM TORP, FRIEND OF PAUL WALKER AND ROGER RODAS: When they passed, there are no other cars around at all.
WIAN: The driver lost control, spun, struck a sidewalk, tree and a light post. Exclusive video obtained by CNN shows the moment of impact, and a full minute later this car bursting into flames.
ANTONIO HOLMES, WITNESS TO CRASH: There is nothing. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers.
WIAN: Concerned that Walker and Rodas may have been alive that entire time not supported by the autopsy. It says both bodies were found in a pugilistic stance, like a boxer, perhaps bracing for impact. Walker's was burned so badly, only his lower back, buttocks and feet were uncharred. He had multiple bone fractures. Only a scant amount of soot was found in Walker's throat, indicating he wasn't breathing for long.
The body of Rodas was in an even more gruesome condition. He died instantly.
JUAN BANUELOS, FAN OF PAUL WALKER: In Hollywood, they never get hurt. They always drive as fast.
In reality, we do have to be concerned. We have to be concerned that this could happen to any of us. We've got to follow the rules. Follow the speed. We can't be too fast, too furious.
WIAN: The final autopsy confirms the coroner's initial ruling on the cause of death, an accident. Walker lives on on film. Seventh installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise partially shot at the time of the his death is scheduled for release next year.
LEMON: Casey Wian joins us now.
Casey, what about toxicology reports?
WIAN: They tested. The coroner tested both men's bodies for evidence of every kind of drug imaginable. Nothing was found, Don. LEMON: All right. Casey Wian in Los Angeles -- Casey, thank you for reporting.
WIAN: I want to tell you about a surprising statement on gun violence, from the police chief of one America's most violent cities.
Detroit's top cop James Greg says he thinks more people need guns to be safe.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHIEF JAMES CRAIG, DETROIT POLICE: I think it's acting as a deterrent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think you're right.
CRAIG: You know, good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction, too.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. CPLs, concealed pistol licenses.
So, would Detroit and other violence-plagued cities, even your city, really benefit from more guns? Joining me now is Mike Brooks, an HLN law enforcement analyst, and John Lott, who is the author of "More Guns, Less Crime".
To you, Mike, first, how unusual is it for a police chief, especially in a city like Detroit, to be pushing for more guns on the streets. Not less.
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you know, chiefs usually steer clear talking about guns at all. You know, whether it'd be assault weapon, handguns, carry permit, they usually don't. You know, but here's a chief who had 28 years with the LAPD, Don, and then he was in Portland, Maine, before he came, you know, to where he is now in Detroit.
And so, you know, he has seen a lot of it. It's impossible, next to impossible to get a carry permit in L.A., in California. I tell you, I got mine, Don. I got mine for Georgia. I was a cop for 26 years.
And do you know something? If I was a thug and I'm going on break into someone's house and I thought, hmm, there is a guy on the other side of that door or a woman on the other side of that door have a gun, and may blow me out of my sneakers, do I want to kick in that door?
LEMON: Yes. Before we get John here, I want to ask you -- let's talk about Detroit's violent crime rate here per capita. It's among the highest in the U.S. Detroit is 700,000 residents and had 333 homicides. That's in 2013.
New York City has 8.4 million people and reported the same number of homicide as Detroit. Chicago, 2.7 million residents, reported 415 homicides in 2013.
Would more guns add to more problems?
BROOKS: Well, you know, Don, if you look at the homicide rate in Detroit, it was down 17 percent this year even though they had 333 homicides.
Look at Washington, D.C., that's where I was a cop for 26 years. You look at that city. It has one of the most stringent gun laws anywhere in the country, and their homicides were up this year by 17 percent.
So, you know, there is a lot of cops, 22 different law enforcement agencies in Washington. But the homicide rate was still up.
You know, would someone carry a gun with a concealed weapons permit possibly be a deterrent? You know what? When it comes to gun control, as far as I'm concerned, Don, gun control is being able to hit your target.
LEMON: OK, all right. All right.
John, it's time for to you get in. You're enjoying some of this, I see. This is one of those things that you can't undo. Once you give more people guns, it's harder really to take them back.
JOHN LOTT, AUTHOR, "MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME": Well, the problem is that when you pass a law to try to ban guns, who obeys it? It's the law- abiding good citizens. Not the criminals.
So, when Washington, D.C. banned guns for about 30 years for handguns, you unfortunately had huge increases of murder rates and violent crimes. The same thing happened in Chicago. In fact, the same thing has happened every place in the world, that when you ban guns, you end up disarming the good law-abiding citizens relative to the criminals and make it easier for those crimes to occur.
But just -- on Mike's point, who would put up a sign in front of their home that said their home was a gun-free zone. I don't know anybody that would do that, in all the debates that I've had on it. And that tells me that even most gun control proponents realize that deterrence occurs when criminals think you might be able to protect yourself.
LEMON: Well, Mike just said that, you know, you're going to think twice about entering someone's home if you think they have a gun on the other side.
LEMON: John, you know, Chief Craig's suggestion isn't new. We heard it from some lawmakers following the Newtown massacre as well. "The Washington Post", though, did a fact-check on that idea, that more guns keep you safer, and fact check your research as well. Part of "The Post" conclusion here. It says, "It appears such laws have not increased the crime rate but it is equally a stretch to say such laws are a slam-dunk reason for why crimes have decreased. Even those sympathetic to the research suggest that any decline in the crime rate from right to carry laws is more sporadic".
What do you say to that?
LOTT: Well, I'd say go and look at the overall research. You've had several dozen studies, national studies by criminologists and economists. About 70 percent of those go and find that crime rates fall when citizens are able to go on and defend themselves.
You have about a third that say that there is no effect, but basically the debate is between those who say that it produces a benefits and those who say, as you were just saying, that there is no effect. But nobody is really going, arguing there's a bad effect from it.
Just say one thing quick about police chiefs, the National Association of Chiefs of police has done surveys regularly. In 2010, 95 percent of their members that they served said they supported concealed handguns. And you had police --
LEMON: I see where you're going. I see where you're going. We get where you're going.
I want to get this question in here to Mike and maybe you can respond as well. It seems like many Americans are actually shifting toward less gun control from April to November alone. There was a four-point drop in those who favor stricter gun control laws. Here it is, 49 percent November. April was 53 percent. January is 55 percent.
So what does this tell us? Is there something, Mike, to it that if you don't have a gun, if you're not allowed to carry, are you setting yourself up to be a sitting duck for those who are, who have weapons and may not be allowed to carry? They have them illegally.
BROOKS: Well, that's it. Most of the thugs that have the guns, Don, you know, they don't own them legally. They're usually stolen.
And that's one of the other things about gun owners. You have to be a responsible gun owner.
Here in Atlanta in my neighborhood, there have been about 12 burglaries and cars broken into and the gun owners have left the guns unsecured. And now they're in the hands of the thug illegally. But still, you have to be responsible.
But I'll tell you, you know, if I'm a thug and I'm walking down the street, I'm getting ready to punch somebody in the face and I think that person might be carrying a gun because there are more gun permits given out in that county, I might think twice.
LEMON: Yes, all right. A good conversation, a good topic to ponder. Thank you, gentlemen. Have a great weekend.
BROOKS: Thank you.
LOTT: You, too.
LEMO: Still to come, a man killed by an explosive device in Germany. Authorities believe the bomb had been sitting there for more than 60 years.
Plus, an NFL player claims he was cut from his team because he supported gay rights. This comes as one of the biggest names in football addresses rumors that he is gay. Is the NFL homophobic?
LEMON: Back now with tonight's "Outer Circle".
We're going to start in Antarctica, where a ship is help rescue -- sent to help rescue a ship stuck in the ice is now stuck itself. The ship dubbed the Snow Dragon was the one that helped rescue 52 passengers off the stranded Russian ship.
I asked CNN's Matthew Chance how the ship might be freed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this complex Antarctic rescue operation just got even more complicated because the Chinese ship that helped rescue the 52 passengers stranded on that research ship. You remember, it sent its helicopter to airlift them to safety, well, it has itself now become trapped in the thick packed ice. The Chinese ship, an ice breaker known as the Snow Dragon has requested assistance and is now being helped by the Australian ship which was supposed to be taking the 52 rescued passengers to dry land. Crew members onboard that Australian vessel, say it will take no longer for their Chinese counterparts to be on their way.
In the meantime, there is plenty of food and water and none of the ships are in any immediate danger, Don.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Matthew Chance.
And now, we go to Germany where one person is dead after a bulldozer struck what authorities believed was a World War II era bomb.
I asked Erin McLaughlin about the explosion.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, almost 70 years later, World War II bombs are still claiming lives. In fact, this explosion was so big, it created a 0.6 magnitude earthquake in the area. It happened in western Germany at a rubble recycling site, a bulldozer struck what officials suspect was a World War II era bomb. It detonated, killing the bulldozer driver as well as critically injuring two other people in the area.
People were tweeting pictures of broken glass and damaged cars. It could be heard and felt in nearby towns. Now, these kinds of bombs are not all that uncommon in Germany, though they're generally safely detonated. As we saw today, they can go off to deadly effect -- Don.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Thank you, Erin. Appreciate that.
Now let's check in with Ashleigh Banfield, who's in for Anderson Cooper.
A.B. in for A.C. tonight, and they let you come inside and warm up finally today.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's been a long day. We started at 4:00 a.m. and I'm really glad to be in the studio, finally.
Hey, Don. We've got a really big show coming up. In fact, ahead, we're keeping an eye on that weather still and how all those travelers are doing, because they're digging their way out of their mess as well.
And we're continue to follow that emotionally charged battle over Jahi McMath, the California 13-year-old declared legally dead. Her family not convinced, however, and doing everything they can on get her the care that they say she needs.
The family in the hospital, where she is on a ventilator have now reached an agreement and we'll tell what you that agreement is.
And then a world record holder at the age of 9. Feast your eyes. Tyler Armstrong spent Christmas Eve becoming the youngest person to ever climb a 23,000 foot mountain. And he's doing it for a great cause.
My interview with Tyler and his father Kevin all coming up at the top of the hour from the warm confines of the studio, Don.
LEMON: Stories like that make you say what I am a doing with my life?
BANFIELD: I know. I'm just telling the news. Thanks for reminding me.
LEMON: Thank you, A.B. We'll be watching at the top of the hour. Appreciate it.
BANFIELD: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Cut for supporting gay rights. That's the claim being made by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. In an essay for Deadspin, Kluwe, an outspoken advocate for same sex marriage, writes, "It's my belief based on everything that happened over the course of 2012 that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for."
Priefer, the special team's coordinator of the Vikings, denies the allegations, saying he does not tolerate discrimination of any type. The Vikings are now conducting an independent investigation into the matter, but this is not the first time the NFL has faced tough questions about its tolerance towards gays.
Esera Tuaolo is a former football player who came out after retirement -- Tuaolo.
Esera, thanks for joining us. How are you doing?
ESERA TUAOLO, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Hey, aloha, Don. How are you? I'm doing well. Happy New Year.
LEMON: Yes, same to you.
Obviously, you weren't in the team's locker room. But who do you believe?
TUAOLO: No. You know, definitely, after I talked, after it happened I talked with Chris Kluwe. It is and one of those things, you connect the dots. I mean, you know, he comes out. He speaks on equality. He speaks for gay rights and then the Vikings draft use their fifth round of the draft kicker and get rid of him.
And, you know, to tell you the truth, I believe Chris. Thing like this happen all the time.
LEMON: Yes. Here's what Kluwe told ESPN today. He said that "in the ideal NFL world, you show up to play on Sundays and that's it. They take you out of your box and put you back in and that's some view, activism as a distraction." In other words, keep your opinions to yourself.
Did you feel that way when you were in the league, that the league didn't you expressing yourself?
TUAOLO: Most definitely. I mean, you know, something similar happened when I was with the Green Bay Packers. It was one of those things, here I am coming off a great rookie season. And it was one of those things where I got in trouble with Brett Favre down in his home town. Came back and the second season, I was, by the end of the middle of the season, I was cut.
TUAOLO: So it was one of those things, it was difficult to handle.
LEMON: All right. I want to play something for you because Chris Kluwe is on a local radio station and he said he never felt the need to confront his coach about his remarks regarding gays until this. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHRIS KLUWE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: It wasn't until he made the one comment, that, you know, hey, we should round up all the gays, put them on to the island and then nuke it until it glows. That to me the way he said it, the tune he said it then, it was deadly serious. He meant it.
How I am a going to go to the guy in charge of my job who has made it very clear that he does not approve of what I'm doing and tell him, you know, you think you can lay off? (END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: So Priefer said he vehemently denies the allegations made by Chris Kluwe. I want to read this. It is important to get in. Adding, as a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris.
So, was this just locker room talk? What do you think of what he said?
TUAOLO: You know, to tell you the truth, I don't know the coach. I don't definitely know him. But I do know Chris Kluwe and he is a man of integrity. He is a man of greatness.
And, you know, I really appreciate hit coming and stepping forward for the gay community and saying what he did and doing what he did for us, for equality.
What ticks me off is that he was released because of something like this. That's something that was for the good of mankind.
TUAOLO: Exactly. For being a straight ally.
LEMON: Can we talk about -- because this story has really been bubbling up, and he's having to respond to it. There's a Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers addressed rumors about his sexuality after a man who some believe is his former roommate posted a couple of cryptic tweets including this. "All that time spent on us is now spent on me, which means I have more time to exercise, read, write, dream and save. So I probably look better, smell better, speak better and have extra money in my pocket. Damn, I probably would fall back in love with me too."
Here's what Rodger said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AARON RODGERS, NFL QUARTERBACK: Yes, I'm just going to say I'm not gay. I really, really like women. That's all I can say about that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: So what's your reaction to this? Why did he even have to respond?
TUAOLO: Yes, exactly. To tell you the truth, I want to apologize for Aaron Rodgers for having to go through all of this, and, you know, too, you know, it's one of those things where for myself, one of the biggest fears for me that was very killing, was that someone would start a rumor about me or out me.
So I kind of get the sense or, you know, I'm not sure if he is or not. If he is, welcome home. If not, let's just leave him alone.
This is like -- for me, it's wasted energy and I want to apologize for a lot of the comments that the GLBT community has written towards him and so forth.
But, you know, any time you try to destroy a man's personal life, it's not right.
TUAOLO: Even if he is, with all the hate that we're doing right now and that we're saying right now, it's just pushing him further and further in the closet if he is. But, you know, I don't think that Aaron Rodgers is gay, and that's my opinion on the whole matter. And, you know, again, I want to apologize for the rumors or people writing about him or -- and, you know, for them taking it off, you know, what it's all about and football.
LEMON: Thank you, Mr. Tuaolo, who is in Minneapolis.
LEMON: Aloha. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
I want to bring in now Mediaite's Joe Concha.
And, Joe, a lot of people are questioning the timing and motivation of Kluwe's article, right? He talked about it with ESPN earlier today. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KLUWE: I left it for a year because (a), I didn't want to bring my teammates, my former teammates in the mess and, (b), I wanted to try and prove that I can punt in the NFL and have further ammunition for those who said, oh, well, clearly, you can't play anymore, that's why you did it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: Do you buy it?
CONCHA: Look, I think, Don, if you take gay marriage advocacy out of this equation, OK? Chris Kluwe after 2012 season needed knee surgery. He's also one of the highest paid at that time, punters in the league, despite being a below average punter, never made a pro bowl for instance, all right?
So that summer, they drafted a punter, Kluwe was cut. This is what happens in the NFL. Ageing player coming off an injury, high paid in the NFL, where there's a salary cap, this is what happens.
I don't think it had to do with advocacy. I think this is what happens in the NFL all the time.
One more point, Don, Zygi Wilf, who is owner of the Vikings, attended a gay marriage in New York, said it was one of the most beautiful things he had seen. He told Chris Kluwe this. Zygi writes the paychecks for a person like a Chris Kluwe.
LEMON: That doesn't mean it plays in the organization that he owns, it doesn't mean that it's accepted there, just because he -- it maybe something that he does personally, but he may think it's not good for business.
CONCHA: OK. So, let's get to Mike Priefer, who's a special teams coordinator. All these comments he said were nasty, that Kluwe alleges that he says, anyway, were said during special teams meetings. Blair Walsh, who is the field goal kicker for the Vikings, was in those meetings, says he never witnessed anything like that, he supports Priefer and called Kluwe's comments reprehensible.
So, it was a he said/he said, take the situation. The only witness is Blair Walsh and he says, look, guys, it never happened.
LEMON: Do you think these are isolated incidents or there is a pattern? Obviously, in major league sports, especially in very high profile, there is a hyper masculinity and there's homosexuality probably in any aspect of life, but also there's discrimination as well anywhere in any profession.
CONCHA: True and we saw last year with Jason Collins in basketball, he came out as the first professional player in a major sports league like that to do so. Will we see that happen in the NFL? I think the NFL will be the last league that breaks that barrier because of the manliness aspect that we speak about.
LEMON: And Jason is still not working.
CONCHA: That's true. Well, he was getting old up there. He wasn't exactly performing either, Don.
LEMON: Yes. All right. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
Still to come, New York City's brand-new mayor says he can change America by changing New York.
LEMON: New Year's Day in New York City may have given us the strongest indication who and what will influence the 2016 decision. The city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and he's so-called tale of two cities.
The mayor says he hopes to make New York a place the rest of the country can learn from when it comes to ending economic and social inequality. This week, "U.S. News and World Report" even asked, "Is Bill de Blasio the future of the Democratic Party?" And if he is, what kind of future would that be?
The speeches at his inauguration give us an idea. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK PUBLIC ADVOCATE: We live in a gilded age of inequality, with decrepit homeless shelters and housing developments stand in the neglected shadow of gleaming multi-million dollar condos.
HARRY BELAFONTE, SINGER AND ACTIVIST: The change of a law is only the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system.
REV. FRED LUCAS, SANITATION DEPARTMENT CHAPLAIN: Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God, a city set upon the hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: One of Mayor De Blasio's favorite authors is Charles Dickens, who wrote the novel, "A Tale of Two Cities." And having been a struggling student and later a person of means here, I can personally tell you that New York City is truly that. It's always been that way, as most cities are.
But can these two cities lead or even eventually live together? Who does New York City or your city belong to? Does it belong to the group that is economically driven it and reduced crime for the past two decades, or does belong to the group that feels resentful and exploded and publicly bashing the past few administrations?
The writer Vincent J. Cannata poses a really good question in today's "New York Times." He says, "Do progressives really think the city is worse off today than it was 20, or 30 or 40 years ago? Or are they upset that they have been kept out of city hall for so long?"
The haves versus the have-not is not a new theme. But in a place like New York City, the capital of the world, it's going to be really tough to play Robin Hood, more so than any city in the country. People cling to their power and their money and Bill De Blasio risks alienating both sides when he tries to redistribute wealth.
Good luck, Mr. Mayor. America is watching.
Thanks for joining us. I'm Don Lemon. "AC360" starts right now.
BANFIELD: Don, thank you.