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Deadly Deep Freeze; Airport Cancellations; Weather Causing Travel Headaches; Helping after Haiyan; Changing M&M's Color

Aired January 7, 2014 - 08:30   ET



A lot of you are online talking about the Dennis Rodman interview, saying you missed parts of it. Well, we're going to be showing you more. Just to restate the situation, Dennis Rodman is in North Korea. He has a group of ex-NBA guys who do a lot of cultural exchange basketball games to expose people, like those people in North Korea they're hoping to influence.

However, there's a lot more going on, right, because the nation's leader, Kim Jong-un, has been given this basketball game as a gift for his birthday, despite human rights abuses and holding at least one American, Kenneth Bae, hostage for almost a year.

So, Dennis Rodman calls this man a friend, got upset with me for asking questions about the situation, and then makes a stunning accusation about Kenneth Bae himself. But first, former great Charles Smith, the ex-Knick, he played for other teams as well, does a lot of good word with cultural exchange. He lays out why he joined Rodman on the trop. Take a listen.


CHARLES SMITH, FORMER NBA PLAYER: You say it's more complicated than basketball. Basketball is not complicated to us. And that's what we do. We're not in here for complications. And again, we apologize for what has - kind of the storm that has been created from our presence.

CUOMO: The game has been presented as a birthday present to the ruler. I'm not here to fight with you guys. I respect what you're doing.

SMITH: Right.

CUOMO: I'm just concerned for the family of this man who is held there.

SMITH: Right.

CUOMO: And I am concerned, as many Americans are, about giving a birthday present to a man who is seen as a despite (ph) who just had his uncle executed.


CUOMO: Dennis, you understand the issue. It's not about hating on American basketball players.

RODMAN: I'll do it.

SMITH: You know, you can continue - yes, but you can - you can - you can continue to talk about the different activities that take place here. We have activities that take place - there's activities that take place all over the world. We are using basketball as a bridge for cultural exchange. And that's all about communication. We're not -- again, we're not here to deal with the politics. The date of the game is the date of the game.

CUOMO: Dennis, let me end on this. You do have a relationship with this man. You've said it many times. We've seen it demonstrated -


CUOMO: For whatever reason.

RODMAN: Yes. Right. Right.

CUOMO: Are you going to take the opportunity, if you get it -

RODMAN: Right.

CUOMO: To speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae and to say, let us know why this man is being held?


CUOMO: That this is wrong. That he is sick. If you can help, Dennis, will you take the opportunity?

RODMAN: (INAUDIBLE) watch this. (INAUDIBLE) the one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand. I got this (ph) guys. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did -


RODMAN: You understand what he did in this country -

CUOMO: What did he do? You tell me. You tell me, what did he do?

RODMAN: In - no, no, no, no, you tell me. You tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country? Why?

CUOMO: They haven't released any charges. They haven't released - they haven't released any reason.

RODMAN: I would - I would -

SMITH: But, listen -

RODMAN: (INAUDIBLE), let me do this. I would love to speak on this.

CUOMO: Go ahead. RODMAN: You know. You've got - you've got 10 guys here - 10 guys here that have left their families, left their damn families to help this country as -- in the sports venture (ph). You've got 10 guys -- all these guys here. Do anyone understand that?

CUOMO: We do. And we appreciate that and we wish them well with cultural exchange.

RODMAN: (INAUDIBLE). No, no, no, no, I'm just saying, no, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what the - I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you're thinking. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here. Look at them.

CUOMO: Yes, but, Dennis, don't put it on them. Don't use them as an excuse for the behavior that you're - that you're putting on yourself.

RODMAN: (INAUDIBLE). They came here on - they came - came here. They came here.

CUOMO: You just - you just basically were saying that Kenneth Bae did something wrong. We don't even know what the charges are.

SMITH: But - but, listen, you can't - but, listen, listen, you can -

CUOMO: Don't use these guys as a shield for you, Dennis.

SMITH: You can - listen - listen - listen - listen - listen - Dennis - Dennis - Dennis (INAUDIBLE).

RODMAN: Hold on, ain't no shield. I - I got it. Let me do this. Really - really - I'm' going to tell you one thing, people around the world are running (ph) the world. I'm going to do one thing. You're the guy behind the mike right now. We are the guys here doing one thing. We have to go back to America and take the abuse.

Do you have to take the abuse? Well, we're going to take it. To you, sir, let me know -- are you going to take it because we're going to get it? But guess what though, one day, one day, this door is going to open because these 10 guys here -- all of us, Christie, Vin, Dennis, Charles, all these - I mean, everybody here -- if we could just open the door just a little bit for people to come here and do one thing.



CUOMO: Look, the hope is that exactly what Dennis Rodman wants to happen, happens. This game happens. There's cultural exchange. People there become influenced and open to ideas and some change can come about.

BOLDUAN: Some change. Some opening of the doors he talks about.

CUOMO: Right. Of course. Of course. And applause to Charles Smith and the other NBA players for doing that in many places, not just what they're doing here that got them into some controversy. But here's the problem. The game --

BOLDUAN: Right. The human rights abuses of this country are not hard to find.

CUOMO: That's right. And the game has been gifted to the ruler for his birthday. So it's like a present to him. It takes on different meaning and context, especially if you're the family of Kenneth Bae, and many other people who have suffered human rights abuses there.

And that's why we have to have this discussion. And then the hope, with all the buzz that this interview is getting, hopefully it keeps an eye on what's going on with Kenneth Bae because his family is desperate for answers. So, thank you for watching it and talking about it.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And we'll be talking much more about it throughout the day on CNN. You can be sure of that.

CUOMO: Just one of the things you need to know, though. If you want all five of them, well, only Mich has them.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go.

At number one today, the Senate is going to hold a key procedural vote on extending long term unemployment benefits as the president heads to the podium this morning to press Congress to act quickly.

Breaking news for you. Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn says she will not compete - I repeat not compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics, saying her knee is not stable. The skier has injured it several times in the past.

Later this morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie holds a ceremonial signing of the state's Dream Act at a school in Union City. It lets children of undocumented immigrants in New Jersey pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

We could get a ruling on the Obamacare contraception mandate today. The White House wants to ask the Supreme Court to validate measures that requires some religious affiliated groups to cover birth control and reproductive services.

A pre-trial hearing expected today for troubled actress Amanda Bynes. She's charged with a misdemeanor DUI count stemming from her arrest in West Hollywood last year.

We always update those five things to know, so be sure to visit for the very latest.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

All right, we're going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, thousands of flights have been canceled in the last week alone. Weather is certainly to blame, but should airlines have been more prepared for this?

CUOMO: And calls for change when it comes to candy, specifically what you're looking at right there, M&Ms. Why some parents say the color coating is dangerous.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Old man winter still hitting hard. Millions of Americans are waking up to another day of a record breaking deep freeze, from the Midwest across the Northeast and far to the South. In fact, every state in the lower 48 has some place with a temperature below 0 at this point. Add in the wind and, of course, it feels a whole lot colder. Who knows that better than CNN's Indra Petersons, braving the elements here in New York for us this morning at Battery Park in lower Manhattan.

Good morning again, Indra.


Yes, it's becoming a thing for me it looks like I'm starting to get used to temperatures below zero. I wish I could say that. Keep in mind, right now, New York City, we are waking up to temperatures that feel like 14 below. Even worse in Minnesota again this morning, feeling temperatures that were 50 degrees below zero. Now that's something we haven't seen in over 20 years in places like Minnesota.

So let's talk about this. What is going on? Want to show you an animation here. It's what we've been saying is this polar vortex. What is that? Well, you're talking about this circulation. Picture like a tight rubber band around the North Pole trapping all that cold air where we want it, by the North Pole, but it has weakened.

So you see this little kind of part here kind of loosen and bringing down all that cold air right into the middle section of the country. And today we've seen that air, of course, spread to the Northeast. So that's why everyone's referring to this polar vortex.

That circulation has weakened and we were all dealing with these very chilly temperatures out there. Dangerous temperatures. We've been talking about frostbite in just five or 10 minutes of exposure to these kinds of temperatures. And, unfortunately, many people have to go outdoors today. Where in the Northeast, temperatures are a good 30 degrees below average, even for the wintertime.

And here's the problem. Even as the sun is up and we need to go through the afternoon, that cold air is still making its way in. It's actually leaving the Midwest, giving them a hint of relief - about 20 degrees relief still there. Thirty degrees below normal. But, unfortunately today, we're not looking at these temperatures to maybe go up more than about two degrees. Same thing for the Southeast (ph).

Chris and Kate.

CUOMO: All right. And if you are like Indra you're probably thinking of getting on a plane and getting as far away from the cold as you can. But here's the problem, another few thousand cancellations and delays at the nation's major airports today. Well over 17,000 flights scrubbed over the last week. It could be another week before things get back to normal because, obviously, of this arctic blast has a lot of people wondering if air travel in the U.S. is at its worst.

Let's bring in aviation correspondent Rene Marsh to get a little perspective on this. She's at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

Rene, what are you seeing there? And is it a fair indictment of this system, of the industry, or is this about the weather?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this morning, all of the carriers, they're seeing cancellations. They're also seeing delays. But the airline that we are talking about the most is JetBlue, because they've been the most drastic in all of this, halting their operations at four northeast airports. They blame weather and they're blaming new government rules. But some are saying, JetBlue, don't blame the government rules. You just weren't prepared.


MARSH (voice-over): Frigid temperatures, snow and ice. An awful mix for travelers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so ready to leave here.

MARSH: In the last seven days, more than 17,000 cancellations and more than 40,000 delays. Compare that to a normal week, about 1,400 cancellations. The numbers don't lie and neither do the long lines and unclaimed luggage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been at three different airports since yesterday at 10:00 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in our 23rd hour of travel.

MARSH: It's been a rough seven days for travelers and it could be another week before the system is back up to speed. One airline JetBlue has grounded nearly all flight operations at four busy airports -- JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Boston's Logan. The ripple effect widespread even being felt in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if anyone actually knows where any of the lines go or what they're for.

MARSH: Mother Nature takes part of the blame, but the airline says so does the government. JetBlue says FAA rules that went in effect Saturday requiring pilots to get time to rest is making delays worse. But a pilot's union says the airlines had plenty of time to prepare.

CAPT. SEAN CASSIDY, AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION: They had two years to anticipate this and to adjust accordingly. So I think it's overly simplistic to suggest that they could ascribe this disruption which happens to be associated with this major, major, winter snowstorm and just hang it on that rule making change.

MARSH: Other airlines are also monitoring the weather and scaling back. For passengers they're all just waiting for a boarding pass that will get them to their destination sooner rather than later.


MARSH: All right. And you can see it's hurry up and wait here in D.C. One quick note, Michaela, we just spoke with JetBlue. And they're actually switching things around a bit blaming the media saying that we're over-hyping the fact that they said it was this new government rule that's playing into a lot of these delays. They say it's more media hype.

However, they posted that in their blog post. It's worth noting they had two years to prepare. And no other airline so far has blamed those government rules -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: The finger pointing begins. Well, hopefully at least passengers can get to their destinations very soon. Rene Marsh with that -- thanks so much for it.

Time now for Impact Your World -- L.A. Laker Pau Gasol holds a slew of awards certainly. But some of those biggest wins have been off the court. The power forward shares how he uses his fame to make an impact for children in need.


CUOMO: Wind gusts 235 miles an hour.

PEREIRA: In 2013, one of the biggest typhoons in recorded history struck the Philippines killing thousands and displacing millions. That tragedy captured much of the world's attention including NBA superstar, Pau Gasol.

PAU GASOL, NBA PLAYER: The damage that the typhoon caused was huge. And it's going to take a lot of time to rebuild. Do I thought I had to do something and utilize my position to attract others and also create awareness.

PEREIRA: Shortly after the typhoon hit, Gasol took to the court pledging $1,000 for every point he made. Turns out it was a great scoring night. He racked up 24 points making it a $24,000 donation to Unicef's efforts in the Philippines.

It's not the first time he has teamed up with Unicef. In act he has been an ambassador for the organization for over a decade, a job Gasol takes seriously.

GASOL: One thing that I told Unicef, I wanted to be a good ambassador. I needed to lead it.

PEREIRA: Gasol has taken several trips with the humanitarian organization to communities in need. His focus is always on the most vulnerable, the children. GASOL: Most of these kids have traumatic experiences. I always get reminded that children are children. They love having attention and having fun and playing and feeling cared for.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: That is using your celebrity for good. -- make sure you go and check it out.

Going to take a break here. Coming up next on NEW DAY, can the coloring of your favorite M&Ms really affect your health? Some argue yes and they want changes to the way you're bite size treats are made. We'll tell you about it.


CUOMO: Welcome back. This is a little tough story to tell.

BOLDUAN: I can't handle this one actually.

CUOMO: This is going to hit home with the Cuomo Littles. You know, it's America's favorite treat we're talking about here. So there's a push to change the way they make M&Ms. That's what I'm talking about. Why? Some parents say the coloring used makes their kids hyperactive.

Now, a petition has been launched to get the manufacturer to adjust not the candy but the candy's color, what they use to do that, which varies in different parts of the world. So that complicates the situation. But is there any merit to it in the first place?

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has the story for us -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, Kate -- first it was Kraft macaroni and cheese and now it's M&Ms. Parents are pushing major food companies to make their colors less bright. And here's why.


COHEN: The colors of M&Ms are so iconic they're the candy coated stars of their very own TV commercials.

So what gives the real M&Ms their colors? Well, that depends on what country you're in. Be bought this M&Ms locally -- Yellow 6, Yellow 5, red 40 -- all names for artificial food colorings derived from petroleum. But these M&Ms come from England and their colors come mostly from plants.

RENEE SHUTTERS, MOM: I just think it's just not fair our country is the one that's getting the artificial dyes while Europe is getting the natural dyes.

COHEN: Renee Shutters says her son Trenton used to suffer regular meltdowns, but then his behavior improved remarkable when she took artificial dyes out of his diet, including no more M&Ms. Now she's building support for her cause. More than 140,000 have signed her petition calling on the candy company Mars to remove artificial food coloring from M&Ms. And she might just have a chance.

In November, under similar pressure from parents, Kraft took out the iconic artificial yellow coloring contained in some of its mac and cheese products and swapped it for a natural coloring. And Mars tells CNN in a statement, they are exploring the use of natural colorings. They've already obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a natural blue and green dye.

But changing the natural colors won't happen overnight the company warns. And they say they have absolutely confidence in all their ingredients. It's debatable whether artificial colorings really do cause hyperactivity. The FDA says for some kids they may be an issue. But Renee Shutters is convinced.

SHUTTERS: I thank God every single day that we figured this out. What breaks my heart is thinking about all these families that will never put those pieces together.


COHEN: Plants and spices are the source for many natural food diets. For example saffron is used for yellow, beets is used for red or purple. But also beetles, yes crushed up beetles, are also used sometimes for red and purple colors -- Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: That can be tough to stomach. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for that.

NEW DAY will be back in a moment.


CUOMO: Well guys, the cold is bad and it's getting badder. There's a big vote coming up over extending unemployment benefits. And Carol Costello has all that news just for you. Take it away my friend.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I have that and more. Thanks so much. Happening now in the "NEWSROOM" shutdown -- JetBlue in an unheard of move shutters flights for 17 hours, four major airports and thousands of passengers stranded. Some people not seeing available seats for at least a week.