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Nor'Easter Slams Northeast; The Nor'Easter Ripple Effect; Two Americans Detained In Libya; Chinese Tycoon Wants The "New York Times"; No Motive In Priest Murder; Nigella Lawson Speaks Out

Aired January 3, 2014 - 07:30   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I can tell you, yes, it does. We're definitely talking about some heavy snow, but that's not the thing I want to talk about. I want to talk about what makes this particular storm so unique. I think you already nailed it. It is the cold temperatures. In fact it is so cold with the wind chill it feels like negative 20 degrees. That is so cold, they're not even bother salting the roads anymore. Once the ground is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, it doesn't help anymore.

I want to show you what it looks like on some of the cars here. Pan back around. You can see, this is the upside of this kind of system, it is so cold. The snow is very dry. As far as clearing the snow, that is not going to be an issue. The downside of it, we're talking about strong winds in addition. When you have the strong winds blowing around fine snow like this, the visibility is down below of a quarter mile. That is the reason we have those blizzard warnings in Massachusetts and also out towards Long Island.

You have prolonged periods of steady winds that bring that visibility less than a quarter of a mile. That's the difference between a blizzard warning and the winter storm warning. So many people have been asking me that question. Let's talk about what's expected. This low is still kind of making its way off the coastline. It's going to move or clear out from the west to the east.

As it does, it will continue to dump snow through these morning hours. If you're closer to the coastline, especially, just north of us here, in Massachusetts, you're going to be talking about heavy amounts of snow, even as much as 2 feet of snow. The reason for that is you have the low over the water. Just imagine all that moisture coming off of the ocean really enhancing the amount of snow you can get. That makes its way offshore by late morning.

But in places like the cape, just south of me here in Boston, you're going to be having that concern of ocean effect snow, kind of a new concept for a lot of people. The ocean is warmer than this ridiculously cold air. With that, even when the storm moves out of here, you will be talking about snow falling in that region.

The bigger concern is the cold temperatures and another blast of colder, hard to believe, colder arctic air is moving in from the beginning of next week right here into this region. I need to prepare myself. I don't think I can do it, guys. JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: It's not easy. Indra is in Boston dealing with the snow, the wind and the cold, that city dealing with major transportation issues. It really is the biggest metropolitan area being hit by this storm.

I'm joined now on the phone by Rene Fielding. She is Boston's director of Emergency Management. Rene, thank you so much for being with us. Give us a sense of how the city is going right now this morning. What's your area of greatest concern?

RENE FIELDING, BOSTON DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (via telephone): So we're doing pretty good right now. Our public works teams were out all night, hit the main arteries. Unfortunately, the wind is going against us right now. They no more than plow, the wind blows the fluffy snow back in their path. We're staying focused on keeping the --

BERMAN: Schools are closed, most government workers told to stay home and the governor urged private workers to probably stay at home today if they can manage. Are you finding that the roads are clear enough for your utility clues to do the work they need to do?

FIELDING: Yes. We are. Again, the crews have been out all night. They're passable, there's some areas drifting. Again, some things are getting in the way but we are hoping the people heed the warning of the governor, the mayor and stay home. It's cold outside. They've got to be prepared for the cold that they're going to experience if they do go out, and dress properly.

BERMAN: The cold does get in the way of treating the roads. It's too cold for the salt to make any kind of difference. Also cold can be a major concern for people who might be on the streets, including the homeless. What kind of provisions are being made for them?

FIELDING: So we have our emergency shelters that have been open and we've had our EMS and our police crews out all night. If they come across someone who's homeless, they've picked them up and taken them to a shelter and gotten them services if they needed it.

BERMAN: Taking care of the people in need up there. That's good. One other thing that Boston is facing is a transition. You're moving from one mayor to the next mayor, Tom Menino retiring after a long, long time in office. The new mayor, Martin Walsh heading in, this must be a complicated time to make a mayoral transition, right, in the middle of a major storm.

FIELDING: It is. You know, we're excited to get this one done and hopefully we won't have a new storm for Mayor-elect Walsh to have to deal with for a couple of weeks.

BERMAN: Quite a going away present for Mayor Menino.


BERMAN: Rene Fielding, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it. Stay warm. FIELDING: OK, thank you.

MICHAEL PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You have to give credit to the people that are doing those services of clearing our roads. That's a lot of heavy work, terribly cold work. So definitely send your best wishes to them.

BERMAN: And the wind.

PEREIRA: It gets right through you.

BERMAN: Blowing the snow right back on the road.

PEREIRA: So you might be sitting here and watching us on NEW DAY from an area that isn't being bit by this extreme weather, but you may find that your travel plans are going to be impacted. There's a ripple effect on a storm like this. It's huge. Christine Romans, you're taking a look at that because it really will affect everybody.

ROMANS: Yes, it doesn't matter where you are. Let's take a look at the flights that are in the air this morning. Look at there at the northeast, that should be covered with orange and red airplanes on this map and it is not, actually having a ripple effect, affecting air travel all over the country big time here. Let's take a look at that. Major hubs like Chicago, New York and Boston, they're all experiencing these widespread cancellations.

By Thursday night, 29 percent of Chicago's outbound traffic had already been canceled, 29 percent, that's more than 650 cancellations. When major hubs come screeching to a halt, the smaller airports like Cleveland do as well. Let me show you Florida. Sunny Florida, for example, parts of the state are experiencing near-record heat, but travelers from Fort Lauderdale and Miami were grounded with a combined 37 cancellations and 89 delays because they couldn't get to their destinations.

Another reason why travel is affected, through flights that stop in a city before continuing on to their final destination, let me tell now what I'm talking about. This is a united flight from LAX to Boston via Denver. If you're planning to take the plane to Denver, think again. You're not going to be able to land there. That flight has been canceled. Multiply that by all of those flights and all the airlines. The widespread impact, that's the ripple effect that you see.

It's so rare to see this part of the country with any green showing. And just so that you can -- wouldn't you like to be going down here? I think Indra would like to be on one of these planes.

PEREIRA: We'd have to figure out how to travel without going in the air.

ROMANS: This is true.

PEREIRA: The travel will be a problem. We'd have to jet ourselves there. Teleportation. ROMANS: Perfect.

PEREIRA: Thanks, Christine.

BERMAN: Let's get a check with Ana Cabrera for the day's other headlines -- Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lots going on, happening right now in Benghazi, two Americans detained by the Libyan army, a source telling Reuters both were basketball players. They were arrested on the campus of Benghazi University. The State Department is looking into this matter. While a Britain and a New Zealander we also have learned, were found dead with gunshot wounds. That was in Western Libya.

New this morning, a tanker hauling flammable gas crashed and exploded on a snowy highway in Michigan. Residents in this area, near that explosion on I-69 were briefly evacuated as a precaution. The driver got away. He got out OK, suffering minor injuries and no other vehicles were involved in that accident.

Also this morning, a collapsing pile of rock salt has now killed a man in Pennsylvania. He was working in an excavator ahead of the snowfall when that pile 100 feet tall came crashing down. This is in Falls Township. Rescuers were overwhelmed with the volume of the salt. By the time they got to that man, it was too late.

A Chinese tycoon who made millions in the recycling business says he is serious about buying "The New York Times". He's planning to fly in today to meet with a representative from the paper although it's unclear if he'll actually be able to get there, given the weather. "New York Times" publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. says the paper is not for sale.

OK, if you could charge a goat with attempted burglary well, this Billy, he'd be in jail right now. It got loose in an Oklahoma City neighborhood and tried to head butt his way into a man's home and then when the cops came, look at what happened. The goat turned his horns on them. He tried to ram their cruiser. Everybody's OK. That goat is back with its owner, a little ornery.

PEREIRA: A little?

BERMAN: So for the time that goat was on the loose. You could say it was a goat on the lam, just saying.

PEREIRA: Hashtag.

BERMAN: Next up on NEW DAY, police say they have the man who killed a priest inside his church. The question is, why? And that question has police stumped. We'll explain.

PEREIRA: And did this NFL kicker lose his job for speaking out about gay rights? He thinks it's possible. Why he's speaking out now, coming up next on NEW DAY.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Now to the mystery surrounding the killing of a beloved California priest, police say they now have the man who brutally murdered him. Gary Lee Bullock was arrested Thursday afternoon. His alleged victim, Father Erik Freed, was found dead following what police are calling a violent struggle. But why it happened remains a mystery. CNN's Dan Simon reports.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Father Erik Freed being formally installed as the pastor at St. Bernard church in Eureka, California. He'd been leading the congregation for three years.

JOHN CHIV, CHURCH MEMBER: He was a great teacher, a great mentor, and a loving person, a very, very loving man.

SIMON: On Wednesday morning, New Year's Day, he was found dead inside his rectory. Police say there was clear evidence of a forced entry and struggle. The priest died of blunt force trauma. Church members seen outside praying.

MAYOR FRANK JAGER, CITY OF EUREKA: Absolute loss for the St. Bernard Parish and our community in general.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was about the most charismatic man, pastor, that I've had.

SIMON: It didn't take long for authorities to name and later arrest a suspect, 43-year-old Gary Lee Bullock who in recent days had been no stranger to police. He had been arrested on New Year's Eve for public intoxication. Officers even had to take him to the hospital for an evaluation where he had to be physically restrained. He was later taken to jail, but released the following day.

CHIEF ANDREW MILLS, EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT: In California, if you're taken to jail for a misdemeanor such as public intoxication, you're normally kept four hours and after that four hours you're released.

SIMON: Later that evening, a security guard heard a noise in the area of the church. He reports seeing a person matching Bullock's description and says he told him to leave after a short conversation. It's now New Year's Day, 9:00 a.m. and Father Freed is supposed to lead a service but doesn't arrive.

CHIV: It was shock and, I think people knew that something wasn't quite right because a priest just doesn't not show up for mass and I just think we did what comes naturally to us, which is pray for our pastor.


SIMON: Authorities say they have no motive. They're calling this a crime of opportunity. They also tell us the suspect drove 45 minutes away to a family member's house in the pastor's car. It was one of Bullock's relatives who called police. Michaela and John, back to you.

PEREIRA: What a tragedy for that community.

BERMAN: So sad, so sad. It's 46 minutes after the hour.

New this morning, former NFL punter, Chris Kluwe is lashing out. He says his outspokenness cost him his job. He says the Minnesota Vikings cut him because of his advocacy for same-sex marriage. Andy Scholes is here with more on this now. Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, "BLEACHER REPORT": Good morning, John. Chris Kluwe wrote a letter to titled, "I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot." Now Kluwe who is not gay claims he was singled out and cut from the Vikings last year because of his advocacy for same-sex marriage in the state of Minnesota.

He said on multiple occasions special teams coordinator used homophobic language in his presence, once saying, quote, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island and nuke it until it glows." Kluwe says he was asked to tone down his advocacy for gay rights as well. Those allegations are strongly denied. The Vikings say they're going to take the accusations seriously and thoroughly review this matter.

BERMAN: As you said, he was cut last year. Any sense of why Kluwe decided to write the letter now?

SCHOLES: He said for a few reasons that now was the time. He didn't want to do it during the season because he has a few friends on the Vikings and didn't want them to have to answer questions about this every week about this situation. He also said he wanted to prove he could still punt in the NFL. He says his numbers were always right in the middle of all the punters, even in the top third of punters in the league. He had some try outs last season and eventually wasn't picked up, but he said the scouts still talked positively about his efforts and that he was still a punter worthy of playing in the NFL.

Finally, he says he wrote this letter now because he wants to make sure that Mike Priefer never coaches in the NFL again or even football at any level. That was one of the main reasons he decided to come out now, especially because of Mike Priefer, he doesn't want to see him coaching as a role model for football players.

BERMAN: All right, Andy Scholes on this story for us, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PEREIRA: Take a short break here on NEW DAY.

Ahead, Nigella Lawson is talking for the first time about the rough year behind her. She's hoping for better days ahead. We're hearing from her right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. New this morning, celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, speaking out for the first time since two of her assistants were acquitted of fraud. Lawson testified at trial, denying drug accusations, 2013 saw her personal life put through the ringer, really did, including a messy divorce and allegations of abuse, now Lawson says she's ready to put it all behind her. Ana Cabrera has more on this now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nigella Lawson is back, that's what she wants you to believe. Last night, her ABC reality show "The Taste" premiered its second season. She's now doing her first interview since her divorce in what turned out to be really a tabloid trial against two of her former assistants. It's clear she wants to start the New Year by putting the drama behind her and focusing on what she does best.


NIGELLA LAWSON, CELEBRITY CHEF: I think you and I would be a very good fit.

CABRERA (voice-over): Nigella Lawson is back in the spotlight, but this time on her own terms. Her reality show "The Taste" started its second season last night. The celebrity chef is likely hoping the public will remember her for her cooking career and forget about the drama surrounding her personal life through much of 2013.

BRIAN BALTHAZAR, EDITOR, POPGOESTHEWEEK.COM: I think she's using this as an opportunity to show everyone that she's doing great and no better way to do it than doing press and appearing on television.

CABRERA: Over the past few months, Lawson has more frequently been on the covers of tabloids and cookbooks, going through a very public divorce from her husband Charles Saatchi and equally public trial against her two former personal assistants. She spoke about the ordeals for the first time on "Good Morning America."

LAWSON: To have only your private life but distortions of your private life is mortifying.

CABRERA: Lawson's former personal assistants were acquitted of fraud charges in December. The trial itself was frequently overshadowed by the tawdry details of Lawson's own life on the witness stand she was forced into admitting she used cocaine several times. Now she says the whole experience was mortifying.

LAWSON: His eye was to protect my children but that's what I wanted to do and actually, you know, since then, you've eaten a lot of chocolate.

CABRERA: Lawson says she's ready to move forward, leaving those unappetizing details in the past.

BALTHAZAR: I think this is make or break time for Nigella. Now she's really got to show that she's got it put together and that her reputation is intact. If she blows this, it could be irreparable. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Lawson definitely wants to show audiences here in the U.S. that this personal drama is over. She wants people talking. Her cooking, not her problems, and she's ready to reclaim that reputation as domestic goddess.

Up next here on NEW DAY, how do you manage to fake your own death and live on the lam for a year? One man did it and he made his first court appearance since his capture.

And the latest on the nor'easter, the Long Island Expressway about to reopen, but it may not be a good idea to drive just yet. Michaela and John are heading back out into the elements right now as NEW DAY continues in just a moment.


PEREIRA: Breaking news, the nor'easters 2014, the New Year comes in hard. Blizzard-like conditions across the east, nearly two feet of snow already and the storm's not over yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please stay home tonight and stay off the roads.


PEREIRA: States of emergency across much of the east. The governor of Massachusetts asking all businesses to close today.

BERMAN: One hundred million Americans now dealing with the snow and cold.




BERMAN: As the holiday travel weekend is derailed, thousands of flights canceled, major highways closed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming down pretty heavily, actually.


BERMAN: We're tracking it all this morning.

PEREIRA: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira. PEREIRA: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. I was looking at that temperature gauge above Columbus Circle in New York City hoping that it would move a little bit, it's still at 11 degrees even though the sun has come up.

BERMAN: It's been a cold, cold day in New York and across the northeast our friend the snow plow driving right behind us, has been at work all morning, a tough morning for a lot of people in the northeast.

PEREIRA: We should give you some breaking news right now. If you're planning to travel, we should let you know that operations have been suspended at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. JFK is shut down, the reason zero visibility and wind-blowing snow. You can tell if it's like this here you can imagine how it is at the airport. That will have a ripple effect on flights all across the nation and even around the globe.

Already almost 1,700 flights have been impacted. Logan Airport in Boston is open, but there are a lot of delays there. Call ahead if you're supposed to be flying. We're told Boston has already about 2 feet of snow on the ground in areas nearby. Look at the map. You can see that storm moving. It's moving on, that's the good news, but the problem is the frigid temperatures are here to stay for at least a few days so all this snow is going to stick around, we're not going to get any melting.

BERMAN: Take a look at these temperatures, this is what it will feel like with the windchill this afternoon, that is very, very cold, minus 12, minus 10, look at that, and it's going to stay that cold through tomorrow morning and really the rest of the weekend, there goes the snow plow one more time for another trip behind us.

PEREIRA: We have our teams spread throughout the country covering the breaking news. The fact is a third of the nation is being affected by this storm. We start with Indra Petersons in hard hit Boston -- Indra.