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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Brutally Cold Weather to Freeze Much of U.S.; Congress Returns to Full Plate; Governor To Loosen Marijuana Laws; Crews Work to Thaw Lambeau Field; Debating the Definition of "Dead"; Executive Producer Talks "Downton Abbey"; First Full Trading Week of 2014; Deep Freeze Rips Through the Midwest

Aired January 5, 2014 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: After a week of food journaling, I realized that I was doing something that a lot us do, mindlessly eating. And oftentimes it was sweets and foods that weren't that good for me, and doing it at the office.

Now, the truth is, what you're going to find is that most of us grossly underestimate just how much food we consume in any given day. Write everything down. That's going to help keep you more accountable. So good luck.

That's going to wrap things up for SGMD.

But stay connected with me at CNN.com/sanjay and send me a Tweet every now and then @drsanjaygupta. Let me know how it's going, how your weight loss efforts are, how your general health is overall.

"NEW DAY SUNDAY" continues right now with Alison Kosik and Victor Blackwell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I checked out of a different grocery store earlier and that's what they asked me, if I was stocking up for the end of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON KOSIK, CO-HOST: As half of America braces for a deep freeze, the cold is already blamed for road accidents and more than a dozen deaths. In some places, wind chills may drop to 50 below.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: What is the definition of death?

The case of Jahi McMath, deemed by doctors to be brain dead, has ignited a debate on who gets to say someone is or is not alive and what determines that judgment?

Our debate is ahead.

KOSIK: Plus, imagine driving down a major highway only to see this fall out of the sky. The plane that made an emergency landing in New York and the miraculous outcome. Your NEW DAY starts now.

KOSIK: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

A pleasure to be with you this morning and every morning.

It's 8:00 here on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

And let us help you right off the start.

KOSIK: Let's help you plan your day.

BLACKWELL: Yes. If you don't have to go outside, do not go outside, because temperatures the likes of which we have not seen in decades are about to grip much of the United States. Already, winter is responsible. The winter weather, though, is responsible for 13 deaths in the past week.

KOSIK: It's causing havoc at airports nationwide, too. More than 1,500 flights are canceled today. That's according to flightaware.com.

BLACKWELL: Parts of North Dakota, already buried in snow and slick conditions. We could see temperatures drop to 30 below zero.

However, with the wind chill, it's going to feel like minus 50.

KOSIK: OK, so to give you an idea of just how dangerous this weather is, with wind chills down to negative 35 degrees, your flesh can freeze in 10 minutes. If it gets down to negative 50 degrees, it would take only five minutes.

Cold weather warnings are popping up everywhere.

BLACKWELL: Across the Midwest states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: Get ready for bone-chilling cold. Behind the snowstorm that hit large portions of the Midwest and Northeast, an Arctic air mass will deliver some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty bad, you know. So makes it a little bit inconvenient to get around.

KOSIK: By Wednesday, nearly half the nation, 140 million people, will shiver in temperatures of zero or below, which is why the Red Cross is warning people to be prepared.

JOSH LOCKWOOD, RED CROSS: You should have an emergency kit at home and an emergency kit in your car. That's really important if you should find yourself having to either leave your home or to hunker down for a couple days, or get stuck on a highway.

KOSIK: And people across the nation are already heeding that advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I checked out of a different grocery store earlier and that's what they asked me, if I was stocking up for end of the world.

KOSIK: Bitter cold will greet players at Lambeau Field. Some say the political office game against the San Francisco 49ers will go down in the record books as the coldest football game ever played.

Former Green Bay Packer Mark Tauscher says the weather will be a big factor.

MARK TAUSCHER, FORMER GREEN BAY PACKER: It makes it very tough. There are some things that you can't do from, you know, an offensive execution standpoint. But both teams have to deal with it and, you know, you just have to figure out a way around it.

KOSIK: And the Arctic blast threatens to plunge must of the Deep South into single digits. Forecasters say Anchorage, Alaska will be warmer Monday than Nashville and Atlanta. And while a lot of people will struggle with the coldest week, for others, it's time to make some money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The broken pipes keep me in business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to have a lot of them, probably, in the next few days when the cold sets in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most certainly. The temperature is going to drop and there's going to be a lot of work for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right, let's head to the Midwest, where people there are really gearing up for dangerously cold temperatures.

We've got pictures here from St. Louis, live pictures. You see the snow coming down. Just a few cars on the road. Now, it is 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday, so maybe that's why.

KOSIK: Visibility doesn't look good there.

BLACKWELL: It doesn't look good at all.

KOSIK: No.

BLACKWELL: It feels like 17 degrees right now.

At least five states are already under a winter storm warning. Chicago could get up to a foot of snow before the day is over.

Let's bring in meteorologist Alexander Steele in the CNN Severe Weather Center to unpack all this.

There's a lot happening across much of the country.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, ATS METEOROLOGIST:

That's right. So I think we have a great question to Tweet out to viewers this morning.

BLACKWELL: OK.

STEELE: So you've got great seats, 50 yard line seats at Lambeau today. And the wind chill will be in the 20s, 30s, 40s below.

Do you go?

BLACKWELL: No, I wouldn't go.

Would you go?

KOSIK: (INAUDIBLE) I'm going.

STEELE: Alison, are you going?

KOSIK: Oh, I'm not going. No way.

STEELE: All right.

KOSIK: (INAUDIBLE).

STEELE: And Victor isn't going.

BLACKWELL: No.

STEELE: I'm not surprised.

BLACKWELL: No, I'm not going.

STEELE: OK.

BLACKWELL: No.

STEELE: All right. I'm just curious, hey, if you're out there, what do you think?

The best seats in the house, you got them free, are you going or are you not going?

All right, you can probably take them and sell them, but let's just say are you going?

All right, well, why are we seeing this, right?

Why is there a decision to be made at Lambeau?

That's because a piece of this polar vortex, the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures and air we have not seen in over 20 years, so some rarified air is coming.

All right, so let's show you how low it will go and how it will kind of move across the country, dropping south and dropping east. This is today. Highs today in Duluth, 32 degrees below average, 15 below; Minneapolis -- so you get the perspective, right?

We're 20 to 40 degrees below where we should be for many.

Indianapolis on Monday, almost 50 degrees below average, or negative 13. St. Louis, single digits. These are high temperatures, mind you.

And then by the time we head toward Tuesday, that's when kind of the meat of this Arctic air gets to the Southeast. Atlanta, the high of 25, lows in the single digits. And Atlanta hasn't been in the single digits, the recorded single digits, since 2003, so certainly it will be historic on numerous fronts. Anchorage, Alaska on Monday will be a temperature high of 34. It will be colder in Chicago.

OK, you could say that, right?

Colder in St. Louis, with a high of only 1. Colder in Atlanta, Georgia than Anchorage, Alaska, and even Nashville, to boot.

So you kind of get the sense of it.

So we're going to have an incredibly cold air, but also for the Northeast, it has a kind of a different element to it. We're going to see such a dramatic temperature drop.

On Monday, it's rain. But look at the drop, from 50 to 19 for a high in Boston. New York, a similar drop, from 50 to 13, guys.

In addition to the cold, we do have snow to tell you about, for places like Chicago and St. Louis. And I'll tell you how much they're going to get and when.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alexandra.

Thank you.

KOSIK: In temperatures this low, you can really have all kinds of problems with your home and your car and...

BLACKWELL: You can feel that draft coming in. And when your pipes freeze, of course, that's bad news.

KOSIK: Let's go to Alexandra Field in New York this morning with some things you can do now to avoid the problems later -- good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison. You certainly are going to want to do those things now. We know that hypothermia and frostbite are big concerns when we're talking about temperatures this low. So of course, you want to -- are going to want to stay inside. But before you sort of hunker down, there are a few steps that you should take to make your home safer, more secure and certainly more comfortable while we sit this out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: We're not just talking about cold, we're talking about very cold.

What are issues that people might start to see in the next couple of days?

ROBERT LEOPOLDI, LEOPOLDI HARDWARE: Well, we've been dealing with frozen pipes. That's always an issue. This morning, a lady called saying her pipe was frozen.

FIELD (voice-over): Below freezing temperatures can lead you to big problems.

LEOPOLDI: So this is insulation you can put around the pipe just to keep the cold out.

FIELD: So do a little planning. Robert Leopoldi at Leopoldi Hardware in Brooklyn suggests running your water frequently as temperatures fall and protecting pipes beforehand.

LEOPOLDI: We have this, these electric cables that you plug in. And you run it along the pipe. And then you can insulate the pipe. And what it does is it keeps the heat right on the pipe.

FIELD: Electric heaters are being scooped up at hardware stores in New York City. They can add some warmth to your house without overworking your furnace.

(on camera): Give me your best insider tip.

What's the thing that we're not thinking to do that could really help?

LEOPOLDI: Well, the best thing to do is insulation. Insulation is the best thing. That will save energy and you'll save money.

FIELD (voice-over): Spray foams get the job done quickly.

LEOPOLDI: This is just to fill up any gap. It could go in doorways, around molding, around pipes just to fill up any little space.

FIELD: And plastic sheets for drafty windows come in all sizes.

(on camera): We're looking at 140 million people...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FIELD: ...who will be in subzero temperatures.

How big of a concern is this?

LOCKWOOD: Well, the Red Cross has activated our tens of thousands of volunteers across the country to be ready for this event. And we're working really hard to get out messaging about people can stay safe during this cold spell.

FIELD (voice-over): With historic lows setting in in the Midwest and subzero temperatures forecast for the South and Northeast, the Red Cross is focused on the dangers of driving. A few tips. Pack a shovel to dig yourself out. Also, have sand on hand. Bring a blanket and avoid driving without a fully charged cell phone. Don't forget extra anti-freeze. And to get your driveway fit for record lows, Leopoldi says skip the rock salt. Calcium chloride is worth paying more for.

LEOPOLDI: It melts at lower temperatures and it doesn't crack the sidewalk. It doesn't leave white marks all over it.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FIELD: Since the temperatures have started to fall, the Red Cross says it has already seen an increase in fires. So, of course, you know, there's common sense here that needs to be in place there, reminding people that if do you have one of those space heaters or candles out, you need to keep an eye on these things -- Alison.

KOSIK: Some great tips.

Alexandra Field, thanks.

BLACKWELL: The U.S. Coast Guard is on its way to Antarctica to now help a pair of ships trapped in ice. Fifty-two tourists and scientists were airlifted from the Russian and Chinese ships earlier this week, but the crew stayed behind. The Polar Star, the Coast Guard's only ice break, has left Australia. It will take about a week to get to Antarctica. The Guard says it's ready and duty bound to help the troubled crews.

KOSIK: The founder of Amazon.com was evacuated off the Galapagos Islands after he developed kidney stones. Jeff Bezos was on a tourist expedition and had to be flown out on an Ecuadorian Navy helicopter. An Amazon spokesman said Bezos did not need surgery and is now feeling well.

This happened on New Year's Day, but Ecuadorian officials, they're just now talking about it.

Asked about the ordeal, Bezos, in a comment relayed by MS Amazon, responded, "Galapagos, five stars, kidney stones, zero stars."

BLACKWELL: Well, three people are fortunate to be alive this morning after crash landing on a busy New York City highway. Somehow, the pilot of this small plane, a single engine, remained calm and avoided motorists, but crashed down safely near the snowy edges of the expressway. Authorities are still investigating why exactly the plane's engine failed.

A question, could New York become the latest state to legalize pot?

Well, next, the bold move Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning that could make all that happen.

KOSIK: And ahead, deep freeze in Green Bay -- a preview of the Packers/49ers playoff game being played today in subzero temps.

Yee-haw. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(singing)

KOSIK: Good song, pretty pictures. You're looking at live pictures of the White House, where the Obama family is on its way home after almost two weeks in Hawaii. But Mrs. Obama isn't with them. Sasha and Malia, they had to go back to DC for school tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: But Michelle Obama will stay behind in the warm weather with friends. It's to celebrate a birthday a little early. According to the White House, it's part of a birthday present from the president. The first lady turns 50 January 30th.

Congress is coming back to a new year with a lot to do.

Are they ready to get down to business or will 2014 look a lot like 2013?

Sunlen Serfaty joins us now live -- Sunlen, it's a long list and we have a short show.

But how much will Congress be able to get done?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, I wouldn't bet on a breakout year, because it an election year, after all. But last year, it did end on a high note with a compromise over the budget deal. And the White House hopes that will give Congress some momentum.

But there is a lot to do. And many of these issues are ones that have started fights in the past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): The president's vacation is over. He faces a colder reality now, Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE," COURTESY ABC/YOUTUBE)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST: If you're a glass half full kind of person, like I am, they're the number one most unproductive Congress in modern history.

SERFATY: Get ready for possible deja vu.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I wish I had a magic wand to say I know things will be better.

SERFATY: This year Congress has a full plate. Right off the bat, a potentially easy one for the Senate -- confirming Janet Yellen as the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.

But next, a real battle over long-term unemployment benefits.

Even before vacation was over, President Obama pressed this weekend to extend the payments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress comes back to work this week, their first order of business should be making this right.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We would clearly consider it, as long as it's paid for.

SERFATY: On January 15th, a major deadline to fund the government. A deal was reached last year, but it needs to be finalized.

As early as February, a deadline to raise the debt ceiling again, with both sides already dug in.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I can't imagine it being done clean.

OBAMA: No, we're not going to negotiate for Congress to pay bills that it has accrued.

SERFATY: And an even heavier lift for a deal on immigration reform, which has escaped Congress for years.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: It can't be my way or the highway on such a big issue.

SERFATY: Not to mention continued attempts by Republicans to change ObamaCare.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: This has been a failed launch, a flawed law and it needs real change.

SERFATY: Don't hold your breath for all of this to be crossed off the list. According to a CNN/orc poll released last year, two-thirds of Americans called Congress the worst ever. And the midterm elections will suck up much desire this year to compromise.

THOMAS MANN, CONGRESSIONAL SCHOLAR: These are not likely to be times of large, fruitful legislative harvest.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SERFATY: The president will also lay out all of his priorities during the State of the Union Address, which will be later this month -- Alison and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Sunlen Serfaty for us in Washington.

Thank you.

KOSIK: In a surprise move, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to loosen his state's restrictions on marijuana. The Democratic governor has historically been against legalizing pot. But the "New York Times" reports he's had a change of heart, at least when it comes to medical marijuana. He is, however, expected to keep tight restrictions in place. The governor plans to make the announcement during his State of the State Address on Wednesday.

Joining me now on the phone is Sue Craig.

She's the Albany bureau chief for the "New York Times"

Good morning to you, Sue.

SUSANNE CRAIG, ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF, "NEW YORK TIMES":

Hey, good morning.

KOSIK: So tell me first, why do you think the governor changed his stance?

And how much does maybe the potential revenue of this have to do with that change of opinion?

CRAIG: I think the revenue is secondary. I don't think that's going to be a big generator for the State of New York.

I think, more importantly for Andrew Cuomo, who's the governor of New York, is that he had opposed it. He was the attorney general for years. And I think his concerns were rooted more in the possibility for abuse.

And I think he has just evolved, as time has gone on, and he's looked out at that maybe there is some good that can be done and also that it can be done in a controlled way.

New York's rolling this out in a very limited way. It's going to be 20 hospitals across the state. And it's going to be for very limited diseases, cancer and glaucoma being the two. And those are actually prescribed under the law.

KOSIK: OK. So the use of medical marijuana, it's passed the state assembly multiple times, but it's stalled in the senate. And the governor is, by passing the legislation...

CRAIG: Yes, this is very interesting. It's a very -- it's been a very political issue in New York. And it's always stalled in the senate. And so Governor Cuomo has opted, instead, to dust off a law that allows him to do it. And so he can go around the assembly on this. KOSIK: OK, so the governor's plans for distributing marijuana in the state, then, are still very restricted.

So, you know, who gets the benefit from the medical marijuana and who is still off limits?

CRAIG: Well, it's a -- you know, right now, the country is looking at Colorado and seeing people lining up for marijuana on the streets. And we're certainly not going to be seeing that here. I mean, it's going to be very -- the two diseases that are named in the law are glaucoma and cancer, patients that can use it. It will only distributed at these 20 hospitals. And anybody else who will be able to use it, any other individual who's got a disease, it's going to have to be approved by the Department of Health.

KOSIK: Let ask you this, how much do you think the governor bowed to pressure from the recent massage of a medical marijuana bill in neighboring New Jersey?

CRAIG: I mean, you can't say things are done in isolation. So I think I would view that as a piece of it. I also think that, you know, he's led -- there's been lobby groups who have been phoning and laying out their case. So I think it's sort of a combination of things. And, you know, not probably coincidentally, you know, we woke up this week to an election year in New York. He's up for election in 2014 and this is a very popular issue with the electorate.

So I think he can do something that sort of fits in his more liberal social bailiwick. He's come out in support of issues like gay marriage, which is now legal in New York, and, you know, it's a fairly popular issue in New York as he heads into this election.

KOSIK: Do you think that this is opening the door to loosening restrictions on marijuana use down the line in New York?

You know, I know that the restrictions are in place now, but you know once they open the door...

CRAIG: Well, I think people are wondering about that and I think we're a long way from that. I think he's willing to try this and to see how it goes. But I think this is -- well, you can't say it's not a step. It's a -- we have a lot of steps to go to get toward that.

KOSIK: OK, Sue Craig from the "New York Times."

Thanks so much for your time.

CRAIG: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, on NEW DAY, the game must go on. With temperatures in Green Bay dipping well below zero, we'll tell you how Lambeau Field crew views been rushing to prepare the frozen tundra, and, of course, save the beer. I'm sure there's a hashtag out there somewhere for that -- save the beer, ahead of today's big football game.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(singing)

KOSIK: Such an appropriate song, don't you think?

BLACKWELL: Very cold.

KOSIK: Good morning, Green Bay, Wisconsin. You're looking all a freezing high of 6 degrees as the Packers prepare for today's NFL playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. BLACKWELL: Cold as ice.

KOSIK: There you go. And crews at Lambeau Field, they've been working through the bone-chilling cold for days to get the stadium ready.

BLACKWELL: Jared Greenberg joins us now for more on this morning's Bleacher Report.

You can get the stadium ready, but are people ready for these temperatures?

We'll see -- we'll find out.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Well, they have experience. Four of the top 10 coldest games in NFL history were played at Lambeau Field. Now, we've learned from our weather department that this will not be one of the coldest games, because the real feel temperature will be a balmy six degrees.

Enjoy that.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

GREENBERG: Crews are attempting to now defrost iconic Lambeau Field for today's playoff game against the 49ers. Now, off the field, the biggest concern for most people -- and this is the priority, right, Allison?

KOSIK: It is.

GREENBERG: -- keeping the beer taps from freezing.

KOSIK: Got to get that beer.

GREENBERG: Now they had this issue back in December, so they've learned from their mistakes, which is always important. They're going to keep the concession doors closed until the very last minute. They've also brought in some heaters, which is important. You don't want the beer to be too warm, though.

The warmest spot might be in the bathroom.

KOSIK: Oh.

GREENBERG: Insulation has been added to the restrooms.

Imagine what those lines are going to be like now?

KOSIK: (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: I would stay right here.

KOSIK: I'm going to huddle right near the toilet, how about you?

(LAUGHTER) GREENBERG: You enjoy that.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right.

GREENBERG: The kickoff is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. Eastern. We're learning a lot about Alison today.

A balmy 25 degrees in Philly last night for the Eagles against the Saints. The fourth quarter, Eagles down six. Nick Foles, Zach Ertz and Philadelphia takes a one point advantage. But more than enough time on the clock for the Saints, three seconds to go, the Saints line up for a potential game winning field goal. Shayne Graham says you betcha, a 32-yard field goal wins it. And it is the very first time in team history the Saints win a road playoff game. New Orleans advances to play at Seattle next Saturday (INAUDIBLE).

Do you have a who-dad (ph) in you?

KOSIK: No.

GREENBERG: No?

(INAUDIBLE).

KOSIK: Sorry.

GREENBERG: Oh, well. 0 for 2 this morning. (INAUDIBLE).

Thirty-six degrees outdoors yesterday afternoon in Indianapolis. A good thing the Colts play in a dome inside. The warm fans got treated to an historic performance. Down by as many as the 28, Colts outscored the Chiefs 35-13 in the second half. Second year phenom, Andrew Luck, threw for 443 yards and five touchdowns. The Colts win in a shootout, 45-44, completing the second largest come from behind victory in NFL playoff history.

The Colts will now either play the Patriots or Broncos, depending on what happens, the outcome of today's Chargers/Bengals game. Two more games on tap today.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jared Greenberg.

Thank you very much.

GREENBERG: You've got it.

BLACKWELL: A teenager who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery could be removed from her ventilator as soon as Tuesday. Well, now the case has reignited a greater debate on what exactly defines death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Bottom of the hour now, welcome back, I'm Alison Kosik.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

KOSIK: Number one brutal winter weather causing headaches for people across the country. More than 1,600 flights have been canceled today. In the Midwest, temperatures are expected to plunge below zero and more cold means more snow. Places like Chicago could see up to a foot before the day is over.

BLACKWELL: Number two, police have charged a New York man with hate crimes in connection with seven knockout game assaults in Brooklyn, seven of them. This is a sketch of the suspect police were looking for. Now Barry Baldwin faces six counts of assault as a hate crime and there are some other charges.

The attacks were on women in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. The knockout game is, if you haven't seen it, this is video, when a person tries to knockout a stranger with a single punch.

KOSIK: Number three, 12 people are dead after at least three car bombs exploded at several locations in Baghdad. Dozens more were wounded.

Meantime in Washington, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are blaming the White House for recent violence between the Iraqi army and al Qaeda-linked militants. The Senators say the administration's decision to pull out U.S. troops has stoked violence.

BLACKWELL: Number four, Secretary of State John Kerry says all sides have very serious homework to do when it comes to a Middle East peace deal. Now, Kerry heads to Jordan and Saudi Arabia earlier this week, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This is Kerry's ninth trip to the region since taking office.

KOSIK: Number five MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry offers Mitt Romney a tearful apology after poking fun at a family photo. The host ignited a media firestorm after she and her on-air guests joked about Romney's adopted grandson, who is black. Yesterday, she apologized on air and said her comments weren't meant to be malicious.

BLACKWELL: A judge has ruled that in two days, a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead can be removed from her ventilator. Jahi McMath has been in this state since December 9th when she suffered complications from surgery to remove her tonsils at Children Hospital of Orlando -- of Oakland rather, that's California of course.

And now, the family is in a vicious legal battle with the hospital, which wants to remove her from the ventilator. At the core of the issue is the definition of death since Jahi's family insists their daughter is still alive as long as her heart is beating.

Joining us to talk about this, two professors of medical ethics with very different views. Robert Veatch is from Georgetown University and supports the definition of brain death as legally dead. And Dr. Robert Truog is from Harvard Medical School, he supports the opposing view that people who are brain dead but have beating hearts are still alive. So, let me start with just the basic question, we'll expound over the next five or six minutes with each of you. Doctor, professor, professor I'll start with you, is Jahi McMath dead?

ROBERT VEATCH, PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL ETHICS, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: She is certainly legally dead, according to the law of the state of California. In fact, she would be legally dead in every state in the union, with the special exception of some conditions in New Jersey, where possibly she would be classified as alive.

The issue is what do we do with the minority of people, maybe 10 percent of the American population's doctors as well as philosophers and ordinary people, who continue to believe that death should be measured by loss of heartbeat or circulation?

BLACKWELL: Dr. Truog, I'm going to ask you the same question is Jahi McMath dead? And I also want you to take into consideration that most of the medical community believe what Professor Veatch just said is that once that brain activity -- this full cessation, complete cessation that that person is legally dead.

DR. ROBERT TRUOG, PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL ETHICS, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Professor Veatch is absolutely correct that for decades in our country and indeed, most countries around the world, people who meet these criteria are considered legally dead. There's no doubt about that. And I think that the hospital is quite justified in the approach that they've taken to say that since she is legally dead, they have no obligation to continue to provide life support for her.

Where the debate is about is kind of the distinction between this legal definition of death and a more biological or medical understanding of death. And there are some of us who would argue that parents, like this young girl, are biologically alive, just as you or I are, with the caveat that she is permanently unconscious. She is never going to wake up and she is never going to be able to breathe without a ventilator.

Now, you know, for most people, the distinction here is kind of moot because they would say, well, if -- if I was permanently unconscious and never going to wake up, why would I want to be kept alive anyway? But for this family in Oakland, I think that distinction is an important one and that's -- and that's why we're having this debate.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you, Professor Veatch, you wrote this op-ed on CNN.com and it's entitled "Let parents decide if teen is dead." Why should the parents be allowed to make that decision, if there is a medical definition of brain death and most states accept that medical definition as the legal definition? Why then should in this case or any other case the parents be allowed to make the decision?

VEATCH: Well, there isn't exactly a medical definition. In fact, Dr. Truog has pointed out that on medical grounds, some physicians continue to support the notion of cardiac or circulatory death as the basis for pronouncing death. There is law that's pretty well accepted universally. The problem is that there is no scientific way of resolving this dispute. It's really a dispute about philosophy or religion if you will.

So even though I favor a version of the brain-based death pronouncement, I recognize that the dispute is one based on values and philosophy, so I would also support arrangements to respect the views of those who think death should only be pronounced when the heart irreversibly stops pumping blood.

BLACKWELL: There's a question here if this is a pro-life and pro- choice discussion. Dr. Truog if a family can make the decision about when a person dies or what the definition of death is, should that family also be allowed to make the decision on the other end of the spectrum, on the other end of life, when a person, a child should live and what the definition of life is as well?

TRUOG: Right, well, I'm not sure that it's helpful here to try to make a parallel to the abortion debates here.

BLACKWELL: Well, I'm not making -- I'm not using the word abortion. I'm going to read straight to you from the family statement. "We have a strong conviction and set of believes --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUOG: Ok.

BLACKWELL: -- and we believe that in this country a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child." That's from Jahi McMath's family.

So if they believe that they should be able to on religious grounds, be able to keep her alive or they don't believe she is dead, should those same religious beliefs be applied to a discussion about if they have the right to determine when a person is alive or when life begins as well?

TRUOG: Yes, well no I do I think that as Professor Veatch has said, I think that these are very personal views that relate to one's philosophy, one's religious background and I do believe that in our society, we ought to have as much latitude as possible for people to be able to make their own choices about these things.

BLACKWELL: Professor Veatch, last word from you, do you believe that there is a possibility, because that's what the family believes, at least that there's a possibility, there's some rehabilitation or some recovery in her future, from what you know about this case? Is it possible?

VEATCH: No, I don't think that there's any possibility of her brain function returning or her ever returning to consciousness or even being able to breathe off a ventilator. Nevertheless, I think the family should have the right to pick the cardiac-based definition of death.

Jahi would be alive in New Jersey probably, depending on what her parents' views are. I think that's a good law and the other 49 states, District of Columbia, ought to adopt it as well. BLACKWELL: All right, Professor Robert Veatch, Dr. Robert Truog. Thank you so much. Of course this conversation will continue.

TRUOG: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And we'll continue to follow this story. Thank you.

KOSIK: And the wait is almost over, "Downton Abbey" returns to U.S. TV screens tonight. After the break, you're going to hear from the show's executive producer about last season's heartbreaking cliffhanger, also some new additions to the star-studded cast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: And it's finally here. Tonight at 9:00 Eastern on PBS, the Earl of Grantham, his family and their servants downstairs return in the U.S. premiere of season four of the British blockbuster, "Downton Abbey." Viewers have been in mourning over the sudden death of Matthew Crawly in the closing moments of last season.

Now, they are going to be thrust back into the life of his grieving family at the start of the roaring '20s with new characters and dramatic new storylines. I had a chance to talk with the show's executive producer, Liz Trubridge, about how it all unfolds following the departure of leading man, Dan Stevens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ TRUBRIDGE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "DOWNTON ABBEY": But well of course none of us wanted Dan to go but at the same time we did understand that he had committed to three seasons. And it was a great opportunity for him to go and work in the U.S. which is something he always wanted to do. So of course, we knew way ahead -- we knew about a year before that he was going because Julian had to write him out. And we wanted to give him a proper sendoff and of course for us in the U.K., that meant Christmas. So we were in big trouble when we did that at Christmastime. But we just felt that we had to -- it had to be a big story. And we couldn't do it any other time except for the end.

But, you know, the thing about these -- these stories is that when you lose a beloved character, it does give you an opportunity to take the stories further and develop it more with Mary, so that's what we're doing, is starting season four with, of course, Mary is still in mourning, but gradually you'll see she -- she finds herself again and that gives us up -- opens up a whole new world for her.

KOSIK: Ok season four introducing "Downton's" the first black character Gary Carr who plays jazz singer "Jack Ross." How does he, along with the new modern messages of the 1920s, change the show's dynamic?

TRUBRIDGE: Well I mean that's what's so lovely about being able to do this as it goes year after year because of course the 20's there were massive social changes -- massive social changes and fashion changes and music. So music and dance features heavily in season four and it was lovely.

KOSIK: And -- and "Downton" fans in America are finally going to get their fix again tonight. And we know a fifth season is in the works. But let me ask you this. Can you give viewers in the U.S. a little peace of mind -- will "Downton" last forever?

TRUBRIDGE: I think it would be very funny if we did. Because heaven knows how old some of those characters will be by the end of it. But it will carry on for a while. That's for sure.

KOSIK: What do you say to viewers who haven't yet watched "Downton"? Can they just get in to it after missing all of the seasons? I mean what suggestions do you have for people who haven't seen it yet?

TRUBRIDGE: I think -- I think one of the skills of Julian's writing is that -- you know there's lots of layers and if you just joined it now, I think you pick up quite quickly. You would miss some of the (AUDIO GAP) references obviously, but I don't think it would be impossible to -- to follow at all. (CROSSTALK)

KOSIK: I wanted to ask you very quickly. You know, you paid such great attention to historical detail, but so few of your viewers actually had the inclination much less the knowledge to know whether the china is set properly or the ladies' hemline is at a proper length. Why is it important to get all these little details right?

TRUBRIDGE: Well, to me I think -- it's like, you know, I don't have great knowledge of how a great, wonderful painting is done, but I do know and I don't know how I know but I know what's good and what isn't. I think that's what it is. I think that there is something that lends itself to an authenticity if it's right.

KOSIK: Ok. Liz Trubridge of "Downton Abbey" thanks so much for your time. We look forward to watching tonight.

TRUBRIDGE: I hope you enjoy. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY -- new year, same old fight. Congress is kicking off 2014 with a battle over extending jobless benefits. But will anything change for the country's 1.3 million long-term unemployed? We are going to look into it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Time to check out some big events coming in your week ahead. On Monday, Congress gets back to work. They've got a number of items on the agenda to say the list. But with the dubious distinction of being called the do-nothing Congress, no one's really sure what they're going to get done in the new year.

Tuesday night a deadline for -- a judge has ruled that a 13- year-old girl who was declared brain dead can be removed from life support. And the family believes Jahi McMath is still alive and is trying to move her to another hospital before it's too late.

Also, President Obama hosts an event at the White House to urge Congress to extend jobless benefits for America's 1.3 million long- term unemployed.

And on Thursday, set your DVRs to CNN at 9 p.m. Eastern, Thursday night, CNN premieres "Sole Survivor", a chilling documentary about the guilt of survivors who were the only ones to survive plane crashes.

And then on Sunday, January 12th, the 70th Annual Golden Globes -- Anne Poehler, Tina Fey return to host the film and TV awards show.

Also, we get a new jobs report this week as well as new mortgage rules. Zain Asher has a look ahead at the week on Wall Street.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Victor and Alison. It's the first full trading week of 2014. And superstitious investors will be watching stocks closely that could give us a clue on how the markets will do for the rest of the year.

The thinking is if the S&P 500 posts a gain in the first five days of January, it will be up for the entire year. But it's more than just a belief. According to the Stock Traders Almanac, it's correct nearly 85 percent of the time. Most analysts do expect the bulls to keep running this year just with a little bit less gusto than in 2013.

But a few things could move the market this week. The monthly jobs report is out on Friday. Analysts are expecting a gain of 190,000 jobs in December. A decent number certainly but not enough to bring down the unemployment rate -- that currently stands at 7 percent and it's expected to stay there.

Finally, new mortgage rules kick in on Friday. Banks have to make sure monthly mortgage payments are affordable and low documentation loans won't be allowed anymore. The change in requirements is due to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform passed in 2010.

Victor and Alison, that's what's coming up this week on Wall Street.

BLACKWELL: All right, Zain Asher, thank you.

KOSIK: It's time for our political gut check with Candy Crowley. Candy, again this weekend, President Obama called on Congress to extend unemployment insurance for the long-term out of work -- New Year, same old fight. What are the chances of this happening in 2014?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: My guess is it will happen probably at first a short-term extension, maybe three months, there's one being proposed on the senate side, it has a Republican and a Democratic sponsor. Republicans are kind of split on why they object to extending benefits for the long-term unemployed -- six months or over being without a job.

Some Republicans say that's fine with me to extend these long-term benefits, but not unless they're paid for. Let's find some place else in the budget to cut or new revenue to bring in. That's unlikely to come from a Republican but nonetheless some way to pay for these.

Other Republicans say, look, long-term unemployment just keeps people on unemployment until they run out and then they go look for a job so it kind of encourages things. Others say, wait, if the economy is better, why are we still doing emergency, long-term unemployment benefits?

So there are a variety of reasons. My guess is that -- within that group, Democrats could find enough Republicans to go ahead and pass it. It is also an election year. Democrats think that they are very much onto a winning election year issue even if it didn't pass because they want to paint Republicans as they don't care. They won't even give benefits to people who have been out of a job for a year -- that kind of thing.

So it has both policy to it but will there's also some election year politics as well that Democrats believe they can play. So, I think for a couple of reasons, you'll probably see it, but not without some fighting.

KOSIK: Ok, Candy Crowley, thank you, we will be watching.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

KOSIK: Stay here for the "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. It starts at the top of the hour -- 9:00a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Hey, if you're waking up with moderate or warmer temperatures, good for you, the rest of us are freezing.

Still to come on NEW DAY the temperatures that are gripping much of the nation. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Snowflakes, free falling. Good morning, St. Louis, sunny skies but I guess they are behind the clouds somewhere there? It's about four minutes to eight there in St. Louis -- high of 24, a low of minus 9.

KOSIK: Balmy.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And St. Louis is not the only city getting ready to battle record temperatures. In the state of North Dakota, folks there expected to feel 50 below -- that's thanks to the brutal wind chill.

KOSIK: At least five states are already under a winter storm warning. Let's go ahead and bring in meteorologist Alexandra Steele in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Give us the frigid details, will you?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, well St. Louis, look at those pictures again. That's snow. We have got a winter storm warning for you, St. Louis. You've got five to eight inches at least coming. So this is the quadrant of concern. We've got a couple of weather stories happening. One, the new snow that we've got setting up, up to 12 inches, perhaps. And then of course this polar, arctic blast that we've got coming on scene here in about 20 years.

So let's talk of the snow story, first. Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, again through the day today and into tonight, will see the snow. Here's the forecast again through today Detroit, Indy, Cincinnati, Chicago as well, south side of Chicago gets the heaviest snow, north and west won't see as much. It's kind of a south and east scenario.

As we head toward tomorrow morning, the snow is done, all that moisture moves east, but Boston, New York, it will be a rainmaker for, won't be a snowmaker. So here is look at the totals, you can see pretty substantial for some of us here in the Midwest, coupled with the cold coming in. It's going to be a rough couple of days.

BLACKWELL: Alexandra Steele, thank you.

STEELE: Sure.

KOSIK: Ok, here is a must see and it is pretty timely. A man built his own remote controlled snow blower.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is the invention of Aaron Macon. He, says he built it so he could clear his driveway without leaving the comfort of his home. But here's what I want to know, is he outside? Because if I can do it, like, watching it through a window, I'm good; but if I still have to go outside then --

KOSIK: Come on, there's the real, just, feeling of accomplishment by making your own. Come on.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I get it. I get it.

KOSIK: And especially the timing of if is really good. He was lucky to have it this week. Fort Wayne, Indiana got more than seven inches of snow. You are right. To be inside would be a --

BLACKWELL: Much easier.

And look at this, huge sinkhole in Hawaii. It triggered -- triggered by rain. You see the hole now. We are going to kind of pan over and when the camera moves in again, look into that hole. White pickup truck collapsed inside. Amazingly, the driver climbed out, sent to a hospital with just a few injuries, minor injuries. She says the road just swallowed her up. She is very fortunate to get out of that hole.

KOSIK: You know, those sinkholes are huge but it's amazing how they seem to just pop up.

BLACKWELL: Again, the advice is, do not drive through standing water because you think you know the road. However, the road may not be there beneath you.

KOSIK: All right. Well, thanks for watching today. BLACKWELL: "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts now.