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Stuck On A Train; Dangerous Deep Freeze; Crops Left In The Cold; Unemployment Battle Races; Rodman Loses Cool in One-on-One

Aired January 7, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is extremely cold.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deadly freeze. Dangerously low temperatures hit the east coast. Half the country waking up to record lows. Crops down south in danger. The toll mounting. This Amtrak train frozen in its tracks. We talk to a passenger live.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "New Day" exclusive, Dennis Rodman live from North Korea one-on-one in facing tough question as he prepares for an exhibition game there. Why is he supporting the dangerous dictator?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What a game? An amazing finish overnight. Florida State's stunning come from behind victory to give them the college championship. Just how they do it?

CUOMO: Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Good morning. What a morning we're having here. Welcome to "New Day."

BOLDUAN: Good morning.

CUOMO: It is Tuesday, January 7th. Happening right now, 180 million Americans waking up on the cold side of history literally. The most dangerous deep freeze in decades already being blamed for 15 deaths. So, it's not just about the numbers of the temperature itself. Take a look at the scene. This is Buffalo. A state of emergency there, vaporizing from snow covered roads as they brace for three to five feet of snow tomorrow. Not inches. Wind chill 40 below.

Take a look at the map. These are the numbers that tell the story of what people must live through. Chilly temperatures understatement of the year. Feels like 50 below in Duluth, Minnesota, 28 below, Binghamton, New York bone-chilling negative nine. Here in the Apple, that's what we're dealing with relative, pretty good. You're going to fly today or you're in the airport watching right now, a cold reality. The 1,700 flights already canceled. That number most likely will climb.

We are trying to cover this situation in every way possible because there are, again, 180 million Americans being affected here. We have our meteorologist, Indra Petersons. She is out there standing in a bitter cold right off the water. Indra, I'm sorry to have you out there, but there is a story to tell. What are you dealing with?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, it is unbelievable the difference here. One of the things I keep putting in perspective, I was just in Boston a few days ago. It was 20 below. Here this morning it is 6 degrees right now Battery Park with the windchill 10 below, but it feels so much worse.

We know the windchill already accounts for the arctic air mass and the winds combined. They are how longing to about 50 miles per hour. That arctic air mass is moving into the northeast right now. It is miserable for millions of Americans right now.


PETERSONS (voice-over): The coldest air in decades gripping more than half of the country. Temperatures are falling fast as thousands are waking up again without power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is extremely cold.

PETERSONS: From the Midwest to the north east schools and government offices are closed this morning as bitter cold arctic air plunges to dangerous sub-zero levels.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Usually it's snow if anything. Not cold.

PETERSONS: In Minneapolis, feels like temperatures were 40 below on Monday closing schools across the entire state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 10 to 15 minutes we're looking at frostbite. That's extremely dangerous.

PETERSONS: The governor of Illinois issued a disaster declaration as major interstates froze over with black ice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very hazardous combination, very cold weather that we have and the black ice. If you really don't -- you start slipping and sliding.

PETERSONS: About 80 miles north of Chicago, densely drifting snow stopped Amtrak trains in their tracks leaving over 500 passengers stranded overnight. One passenger tweeted I would cry about being stuck on this Amtrak, but my tears would probably just freeze. Indiana's governor declaring a state of emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't remember a storm like this for a while.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PETERSONS: So once again, we're really talking about the winds howling in New York City this morning. We are talking about 40 mile per hour winds with the windchill 10 below zero. It is not expected to warm up throughout the day. It's something we call polar vortex. It had spread into the northeast that cold air still spreading into the northeast and even into the southeast.

So with that, we are not expected to warm up. So the temperature difference only expected to be about 2 or 3 degrees today. I have so many layers on. At this point, it is not protecting me from this cold. Remind yourself, you really do need those extra layers or stay home if you can. It's not the day to be outdoors.

BOLDUAN: Dangerously cold this morning, Indra. Thank you so much. We'll check back in with you throughout the show, of course.

And right now, hundreds of passengers are trapped on an Amtrak train in Illinois just west of Chicago. They've been stuck on board since about 4:00 in the afternoon. I'm talking about 4:00 in the afternoon yesterday after snow closed the tracks. It's believed that one of them may now be on the move. Joining us by phone is one of the passengers. Charles Harding. Mr. Harding, can you hear me?

CHARLES HARDING (via telephone): Yes, I can.

BOLDUAN: Good morning. I guess we can say good morning. How long have you been on the train now?

HARDING: Well, I got on the train since yesterday morning in Kansas early at 2:00 in the morning. The train stalled out at about 3:30 in the afternoon and it never budged from that point.

BOLDUAN: And what has Amtrak or the how have they been keeping you updated on what went wrong? We understand it was snow that stalled the train, by what have they been telling you why they can't move any further.

HARDING: Well, they tried a few things. It seems to take a few hours and that kind of gotten us to where we are because everything they tried failed up until now. Initial they tried to push it with other trains and a whole bunch of different strategies and then we wait for two or three hours without any update.

BOLDUAN: Earlier we were showing video from one of the snow plows that was trying to move some of the snow out of the way. What has it been like on the train? I assume they have doing every effort they can to keep you warm and fed.

HARDING: They have kept us safe. The only place that's safe is inside the train. Yes, they gave us a kind of makeshift meal even yesterday evening and that didn't help. But, yes, and for the most part, I think the passengers have been pretty tolerant of the situation. I mean, what are we going to do? We're stuck.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. You're at least keeping a good perspective on this situation as you can. Have they given you any indication of what you think you're finally going to make it into Chicago?

HARDING: Yes. Actually the real indication we have is they spent the last few hours with a front end loader trying to get the snow off of the alternate track. We're hopeful that we're going to get on that train and continue.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, Mr. Harding, good luck. Thank you so much for getting on the phone with us. Good luck to you and all the passengers on that train as you hopefully make it to Chicago at some point this morning. Thank you so much.

HARDING: Thank you too. Goodbye.

BOLDUAN: Of course, trying to keep some good perspective and what can you do, but laugh at that situation.

CUOMO: Certainly got nowhere to go. Hopefully the situation changes soon. Unlikely though because the temperatures not going away. It's been decades since we've seen this kind of sustained life-threatening cold. Being outside for 5 minutes can be dangerous. What about the men and women who have to be outdoors for hours to get their jobs done? In Chicago the overnight low was 16 below. Now it's warmed up, minus 9 now. The windchill is 28 below.

Let's bring in George Howell. He's turning to a resident ice man out there in Chicago braving the conditions for us. How is it now, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning, feels like maybe negative 30 and more. Very cold out here in Downtown Chicago and for anyone who has to go out today to work in this cold weather, two words, bundle up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bundle up, put my boots on, two or three pair of socks.

HOWELL (voice-over): With temperatures plunging below zero in most of the country, the safest place to be is without question, indoors. But for those whose office is outside, frostbite becomes an occupational hazard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just got to do your job. That's what we're here for.

HOWELL: Firefighters in Ohio battling both the blaze and the cold use the exhaust from their truck to heat up their gloves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any water on our gear is going to freeze up in a matter of minutes.

HOWELL (on camera): This is completely ice.

(voice-over): In Wisconsin where one death has been attributed to the brutal cold, city of Milwaukee workers piled on the layers to help keep the streets lit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're out here every day, no matter if it's raining snowing or bitter cold like today.


HOWELL: Again, we're watching today as people do the work here on Chicago streets to make sure that they are clear and for another day, guys, the school system, Chicago's schools are closed. Kids get another day off as this cold weather continues.

BOLDUAN: Families trying to keep warm. George Howell, for us, thank you so much, George. We'll check back in with you. Thank you.

Workers aren't the only ones who have to stay outside during the cold spell. The cold weather can be brutal on outdoor crops and the farmers. In the south they're seeing temperatures in the 20s and 30s this morning. That includes Florida where Tory Dunnan is standing by with much more on this angle of this frozen snap. Good morning, Tory.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Kate. Well, Floridians do not like the cold so they especially don't like this morning. The next hour is going to be critical for farmers. We're here at strawberry fields in Plant City Florida. The farmers are out and about checking some of these leaves making sure there's no frost on them. The main thing they're going to be looking at is this thermometer here.

If it hits 32 degrees, that means it's going to be freezing and it's danger for these crops so they might have to turn on the sprinkler to create an igloo effect for some of these berries here. In other parts of the state, temperatures are already below freezing. So there is suddenly concern for damage among some crops like tomatoes, sweet corn, as well as some of the citrus grove. All eyes in Florida basically on the next few hours to make sure those temperatures don't drop too much below freezing here in Florida. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thanks for watching that for us. We're also following another big story this morning. The Senate is set to vote on unemployment insurance, extending benefits. A planned vote was postponed last light with backers reportedly coming up short of the votes they need. President Obama has been pressing for this extension of long term benefits. And this morning he's going to take his message to the podium.

Senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta is live with more. Jim, what's the status?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, as you mentioned later this morning, President Obama will be here at the White House standing with Americans whose unemployment insurance expired. He's going to be making that pitch to extend unemployment benefits for the long term jobless. They were poised to cast a vote on this. Because of this, they decided to go ahead and postpone that vote until later on this morning, 10:30 this morning. That's when they were making the case that this extension is only for another three months. The Republicans are saying, wait a minute this is going to cost $6.5 billion. The president saying he's only going to take a part of these benefits. Late yesterday, our vote counters over in the CNN unit over on Capitol Hill said that Senate Democrats may be one vote shy of the 60 votes that they need to clear the threshold in this test vote later this morning.

We're going to have to wait and see what happens. The president has been calling senators, twisting arms, making his appeal. If this does not get passed, you're going to see the makings of a big political issue for the Democrats heading into the coming weeks. -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Jim, thanks so much. Also breaking overnight if you had to go to bed earlier last night, the BCS going out in style with a title game to remember. Florida State defeated Auburn, 34-31 in the championship thriller. The Seminoles battled led by Jameis Winston. Joe Carter is live in Pasadena. What a game, Joe.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: My goodness, what a game. That was an incredible comeback. It was a historic comeback. We've never seen a team come back from that large of a deficit. Florida State last night was down 18 points and then they mounted an incredible comeback in the second half.

Let me show you the highlights, 24 points were exchanged between the two teams in the final 5 minutes. I can tell you the smallest player in all college football made one of the biggest play last night. Whitfield, 5'7", 100 yard return for a final touchdown, which finally gave Florida State the lead, but then Auburn responded with their star player Troy Mason 37 yard run. Too much time for Jameis Winston as he led his team 80 yards down the field and completed an amazing comeback to the 6'6" receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. They complete the perfect 14-0 season.

FCC hasn't won a national championship in 13 years. They finally beat sec. The sec has dominated this game over the last 7 years, an epic incredible comeback fashion. Jameis Winston just a red shirt freshman, which means he'll be back. As far as Auburn goes, you got to give them a lot of credit. They frustrated Florida all night long. They were delivering early knockout punches. For the first time last night they were reeling. What an incredible comeback.

BOLDUAN: Epic, incredible historic fashion. That's a good way of summing up that game, Joe. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Auburn showed who they were. They kept coming back. They had the lead. That last play, it is reminiscent to an old man, of Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. So -- floated that ball over apparent lines of defense and that kid, he maybe 6'6", we're going up with his hands, with the ball --

PEREIRA: Can we also make a note of the fact that Joe Carter was in his, essentially, a blazer. Southern California, one of the few places that's not experiencing this deep freeze right now.

CUOMO: True. True. Good text.

PEREIRA: Those folks in southern California very lucky.

Should we take a look at some of the other headlines right now?

CUOMO: Please.

PEREIRA: A lot of news going on besides the weather, beginning with developments, new ones in fact, out of Iraq. Vice President Joe Biden calling Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to support voice his support for Iraq's fight against al Qaeda linked militants. The White House saying it's speeding back its deliveries of military equipment to Iraq to help the effort.

This morning, a setback for some of the toughest gun laws in the country. A federal judge ruling that Chicago's ban on sales and transfers of firearms is unconstitutional. The judge says the ordinance goes too far. His decision didn't rule out other kinds of gun regulations short of a complete ban. The judge stayed his ruling to give the city time to appeal.

Janet Yellen approved by the Senate to take over the reigns of the Federal Reserve. She will become the first female banking chief on the Fed's 100 year history at the end of the month. Yellen was confirmed by 56-26 margin. The vote was held despite the fact that more than a dozen lawmakers could not get there, because of weather and travel problem.

Also new this morning, Trey Radel, the Republican congressman from Florida who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last year is now out of rehab. He is back to work in Washington. You'll recall he took a leave of absence last October and completed a 28-day treatment program. Radel, who's facing investigation by the House ethics committee into his drug use, also hired a top Washington ethics attorney.

PEREIRA: New video this morning of one of the newest residence of the Washington National Zoo in Washington. That is Bao Bao, the panda cub. She's four months old, almost 17 pounds, slowly being introduced to people to get her ready for her public debut to visitors. That will happen in January 18th. Bao Bao is expected to stay at a debut until she's about four, and then she'll head to China and be part of a breeding program.

Nothing cuter than a baby panda, Chris.

BOLDUAN: That debate will continue forever.

CUOMO: The strongest jay strength of any bear.

BOLDUAN: Pencil strength. You'll never hear that more than on you guys.

CUOMO: They're saying, why do they have such strong jaws? Just for bamboo.


PEREIRA: Just chewing.

CUOMO: It's an inside joke. We enjoy it.

Kate is panda colored today, so we're just going with it.

BOLDUAN: Just call me panda, Bao Bao.

CUOMO: Much cuter than a panda.

Coming up on NEW DAY: we have an exclusive. Dennis Rodman one on one this morning entertaining one of America's biggest enemies. You've heard this story before. He's been there before. This time, he has a group of very good men around him. American basketball heroes. You'll want to hear this if only for one reason. Dennis Rodman may not be upset about what's going on inside North Korea, but he sure as heck is upset at me for the questions he got in this interview. You'll want to see his performance straight ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We have an exclusive for you. Dennis Rodman finally lost his cool about the situation in North Korea. The problem is he's not angry with the country's ruler who's holding an American hostage. But he was angry with us for asking him about it.

He and several former NBA all stars are in North Korea for a basketball game Rodman organized to celebrate leader Kim Jong-un's birthday. This is the leader on f a country that is infamous for human rights abuses. You know this. This is also a leader who just executed his uncle to consolidate his power, you know this as well.

And, of course, Kenneth Bae, you're looking at him there -- 46-year- old American in ill health held by North Korea for unknown crimes. For more than a year he has now been held.

For Rodman, the Charles Smith, the New York Knick, and all the rest of these very well-known basketball players, they say this isn't about politics. They say these issues don't matter. It's just about basketball and cultural exchange.

We spoke to them. You can hear for yourself.


CUOMO: All right. First question to you, Dennis. I see you got the team assembled there behind you. You got the basketball game coming up. Tell me -- given the situation in the country in the country where you are right now, why do you believe this is a good idea?

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It's not a good idea the one thing that we're doing. It's a great idea for the world. For the world. And this -- and people always put down the things I do and it's weird. They say wow. He -- you got Michael Jordan, you got LeBron and stuff like this, this, this. They can do all the cool things in the world. But me, why North Korea? Why?

I love my friend. I love my friend. This is my friend. I brought Charles, I brought Vin Baker, Doug Christie, all these guys, Cliff -- I mean, Cliff Robertson, all these guys here, and they are the last social virus that actually say hey, yes, we'll go.

I've had a lot of guys pull out -- I've had a lot of guys pull out on me that said, hey --

CHARLES SMITH, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Let me -- let me add to this. People have asked why we've come here. We've been doing this -- these games for three and a half years.

And, Dennis, you know, sometimes -- we've gotten to know each other over the last three and a half years. Outside of what you know of Dennis, you don't know Dennis.

This guy got a great heart. His passion is about children and families. That's why we're here. We're here because it's about doing great will around the world and we're experienced at this. We've been to Taiwan, to the (INAUDIBLE) village where we've met and talked to the aborigine group that lost 3,000 people due to a typhoon. We've done camps and clinics for refugee children, for refugee children, for orphanages, for children being misplaced for wars.

We've done so much around the world and we're apologetic to America because, one, you don't know this and we had no idea the type of negative press that we were going to get from this would extend this far. We're doing what we do. We play basketball and that's what we love to do and we love to impact children and families around the world.

CUOMO: Charles, I'm well aware of the good work that you've done, the man sitting to your right, Cliff Robertson, Vin Baker. But you have to understand, the criticism comes because you are not in Taiwan. You are in North Korea that is ruled by a man who just killed his uncle, who is holding an American, Kenneth Bae, hostage, for reasons we don't understand, and is known as one of the bad actors on the globe at this time, not someone to get a birthday present of NBA talent.

Do you understand that?

SMITH: Well, we -- we -- we do understand one thing. I mean you have to live under a rock not to know the press that was coming or the press that has been out there prior to our coming to North Korea. I think that in our minds, we came to do what we've been doing world worldwide, which has been the same schedule. That has been our intent.

And again, we -- we are apologetic. I have the same remorse and I think the guys have the same remorse that is similar to the same adulation I had being a 1988 Olympian and playing on the world stage for our country.

We're all Americans. We're here to do goodwill and again, we did not know that it was going to take this type of negative spin on what we were doing because we're not applications we're not politicians, we're not ambassadors. We've got to do what we've been doing most of our lives.

CUOMO: Charles, I get it, but it's about where you do it as well. And again, this is coming from somebody that is a fan and a supporter of a lot of the work that you've done.

But, Dennis, when you bring him in to this place, you call this ruler your friend, when he's executing his uncle and he's holding an American hostage, he is not a friend to the Bae family, he is not a friend to your country, and you have to understand that, Dennis. You can't pretend like you don't get why people are upset about your friend, Kim Jong-un.

Do you get why they're upset?

RODMAN: I must say (ph) one thing, I must say one thing, guys -- it's amazing that you're saying this right now. You're saying 10 guys here, nine guys here, they believe what I'm doing. Doug Christie, everyone knows Doug Christie. Everyone knows Vin Baker. Everyone knows Charles Smith. Everyone knows all -- everyone here.

And it's amazing how we strive on negativity. This guy, this guy, this leader -- do anyone notice -- anyone know that this guy is only 31 years old.

CUOMO: Hey, Dennis, he could be 31. He could be 51. He just killed his uncle and he's holding an American hostage. The family is desperate for his return. They don't even know why he's being held. It's been a year, Dennis. This is your friend -- the guy you call your friend.

RODMAN: Listen --

SMITH: Listen, we're playing semantics on the world "friend." We all know that, when you use the term friend, it's an endearing term. It's an associate, Dennis met the gentleman.

It's not scheduled on our itinerary to do that. We're here to play a game. But you're taking it obviously to a lot further stage when you use that, the term "friend." It's an associate, you met someone once --

CUOMO: Charles, I hope you're right.

SMITH: And it's your friend. Now, he came back and said that --

CUOMO: Charles, I hope you're right.

SMITH: But we understand --

CUOMO: I hope you're right. SMITH: Well, I am right. It's not -- it's not whether -- you can't meet someone once or twice and just take that endearing step.


CUOMO: The man to your left, Charles, says he's your friend, he says that they have affection. That says he's a good guy if you only knew him. Come on, Dennis. Let's be honest about this, because you put these guys in this situation.

RODMAN: No, no, no. Watch this. I'm going to tell you one thing around the world --


RODMAN: Around the world. You're saying -- you saying 10 great individuals sitting right in front of your face around the world and it's going global.

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

RODMAN: These guys have said certain things about their families, what they're saying about them, why they here, they're just not about me.

It's one thing, if could open the door a little bit -- just a little bit, just a little bit.