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Did "Bridgegate" Put Lives in Danger?; Jailed American Freed in Dubai; Eight Teams Remain in the NFL Playoffs; The New Chris Christie?

Aired January 10, 2014 - 06:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY, at half past the hour.

Let's get you up to date on the latest news.

A New Jersey state assembly committee releasing 1,000 pages of documents from its Chris Christie bridge-gate probe. The governor is blaming the scandal on top staffers, while insisting that he was blindsided. Christie is now facing a class action lawsuit filed by six people, who became stuck in the traffic created by his staff.

Breaking overnight, people in nine West Virginia counties are being told not to no use tap water because a chemical spill has contaminated their water supply. Some 200,000 people are affected. West Virginia's governor declaring a state of emergency and the White House has approved his request for federal assistance. In the meantime, the state is warning residents: don't drink the water, don't cook with it, do not wash or even bathe in it.

The Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip search strained U.S.-India ties is on her way back home to India. A federal grand jury indicted Devyani Khobragade on one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements. Khobragade had to leave the U.S. once the Indian government refused the request to waive other diplomatic immunity. She is accused of lying on a visa application about how much she paid for housekeeper.

New developments in the police shooting of a schizophrenic North Carolina teen. A police group says the detective was justified. The detective's attorney says his client opened fire after the teen tried to stab another officer multiple times with a screwdriver. Meanwhile, Vidal's family fort their part say they called 911 because he was having an episode and they needed help. They believe the shooting was not justified.

Really kind of an amazing -- look at this. Captured in the heavens. A NASA space telescope captured what is now being nicknamed hand of God. The cosmic photo was produced when a star exploding created an enormous cloud of material.

NASA's X-ray telescope called New Star captured the picture of this. It looks like an outstretched hand. Scientists say it is 17,000 light years away from earth. I want like, you know, how you say with Indra's science. I want one of those --


PEREIRA: Thank you.

KATE BOLDUAN: And we need that echo effect.

CUOMO: You got hand of God. You got the Ark of the Covenant.

PEREIRA: I know. Thanks. Strong -- that was really good. It really looked, you know --


CUOMO: I thought it was a jelly fish at first. I thought we were going down --

BOLDUAN: I was thinking was it like the "Abyss". You know that movie?


CUOMO: You were both wrong. That's why I'm here. Hello, my name is Michaela Pereira.

Back to our top story. The scandal erupting around Governor Chris Christie. No one is disputing traffic was snarled in the George Washington Bridge last September. However, the governor, Chris Christie, says he knew nothing about the power play.

The question, will his story hold up.

Let's bring in Alexandra Field. She's in Fort Lee, New Jersey, this morning -- Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the governor has said repeatedly that he had no role and no knowledge. Now, it's up to people of Fort Lee to either take him at his word or not. But their concern continues to be over what we know happened, the gridlock itself. And they're still asking the question, exactly how dangerous was it.

Florence Genova, a 91-year-old Fort Lee woman died back in September following a heart attack. Her daughter is speaking out now saying she does not believe traffic or a delayed emergency response contributed to her mother's death.

Here's how she put it.


VILMA OLERI: I think she was 91 and I really believe in my heart that she was already gone when the ambulance got there.


FIELD: That's the statement from -- that's the statement from Genova's daughter. But back in September, Paul Favia, the EMS coordinator here in Fort Lee sent out a letter saying there was evidence that the traffic delays had slowed down responders who are trying to reach 91-year-old woman. He says there's evidence also that those delays slowed down who are responders trying to reach three other scenes.

From a medical statement, no one has been able to confirm whether or not those delays could have contributed to the kind of care that was given to the patients who are in need. But it is in that continual and nagging question that has people continuing to call for further investigation, Chris and Kate, and continued legal analysis.

BOLDUAN: And understandable, especially when you consider the risk of that, even though it could have been worst. We heard from one family at least.

Alexandra, thank you very much for that.

We're going to take a break. But coming up next on NEW DAY, a Minnesota man back in the U.S. after nine months in a United Arab Emirates jail. And what until you hear what he has to say about the court that convicted him.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Let's go around the world now.

Tributes are pouring in for a Pakistan teen who gave his life to save his friends. He was on his way to school when he stopped a suicide bomber.

Saima Mohsin has the story from Islamabad.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than a thousand children were gathered for morning assembly at the school when the suicide bomber dressed in school uniform approached the main gates and raised suspicions. This 14 years old tried to tackle him and stop him from going inside. The bomber detonated his explosives, killing himself and this courageous young boy. He died saving the lives of his friends. Back to you, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Saima, thank you for that update. What courage.

Let's go to Cuba now where a rare Fidel Castro sighting happened there. It's the first time in nine months the former Cuban president has appeared in public.

Nick Parker has more.


NICK PARKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A rare glimpse of the 87-year-old Cuban icon. Fidel Castro attending the opening of an art studio. He ruled here for decades before handing over power to his brother Raul in 2006, amid health concerns. The outing was Castro's public appearance in nine months -- Kate.


BOLDUAN: Nick, thank you.

And to China where an Oscar-nominated film maker is facing a million dollar fine for violating China's one child policy.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, despite the softening of China's one-child policy, the government has decided to make an example of one of the country's most acclaimed film directors, fining him $1.2 million for breaking the law. Zhang Yimou and his wife have admitted to having three children, and since apologized, saying they accept their punishment.

Now, the one child policy was eased late last year allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. But this new law economy. The Oscar nominee and director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics has just one month to pay the fine.

Back to you, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Anna, thank you so much.

PERIERA: All right, talk a about a homecoming. An American is back home in Minnesota this morning after spending nine months in a United Arab Emirates jail.

We have been following Shezanne Cassim's story very, very closely right here on NEW DAY. He said he was tried in a Kangaroo court and convicted without evidence, all because he posted a parody online, a parody video online.

Ted Rowlands joins us live from Minneapolis with that story.

What a tremendous moment.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Michaela. He has a lot to say. He arrived back here in Minneapolis yesterday afternoon. Of course, as you can imagine, he is very happy to be back in the United States.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Back home, walking through the Minneapolis airport, 29-year-old Shezanne Cassim was finally free to say what he really felt about spending nine months in a Dubai prison.

SHEZANNE CASSIM: I feel angry, a lot of time wasted.

ROWLANDS: Cassim had been working in Dubai as a business consultant when he and four friends were arrested last April for making this video, an obvious parody, about a fictitious suburban Dubai fighting force, sort of wannabe gangsters.

CASSIM: I did nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal about the video. Even under UAE law. I was tried by a textbook kangaroo court and was convicted any evidence.

ROWLANDS: Cassim says for four months, he wasn't even told why he was in jail. And after four court appearances, he says he found out that the judge who ordered him to prison, hadn't even watched the video.

CASSIM: They were very callous in the way they approached our trial.

ROWLANDS: He does say he was treated well by prison guards.

CASSIM: Physically, yes, there was no abuse. But in terms of the prison facility, there is nothing. We were pretty much in a cage for nine months.

ROWLANDS: Last month, Cassim and two of his friends were sentenced to a year in prison for damaging the UAE's image under newly enacted cyber crime laws.

He was freed early for good behavior.

CASSIM: They wanted to send a message to the UAE public to say look what we do to people that do a silly YouTube video. This is what we'll do to people who do such a video. So, imagine if you do something that's actually critical of the government. So it's a warning message and we're scapegoats.

ROWLANDS: While Cassim was in prison, the effort to free him included support around the country, including comedians like Will Ferrell and lawmakers in Minnesota and Washington.

(on camera): Were you aware that everybody was pulling for you? And to what extent were you aware of it?

CASSIM: I was aware but I didn't know just how far because I didn't have any access to information.

ROWLANDS: And grateful I assume?

CASSIM: Very grateful. Very grateful.


ROWLANDS: And he spent the last night with his family in a Minneapolis suburb here. He says he has a lot more to say about this, Chris, and plans to talk about it over the next few days.

CUOMO: I'm sure he does. A lot going on there. Appreciate it, Ted. A good story, we've been following that from the beginning here.

All right. So, Michaela showed us the hand of God up there.

Not to be out-done. India Petersons says science can one-up it.


You remember yesterday, we talked about the solar flare and all the energy that was making its way towards Earth, today is your lucky day. So the closer you are to the poles, you have a chance to see the Aurora this morning. Very low on the horizon. We've got one of our pictures in just now -- Norway, but they're not the only places. I mean, the farther north you are, even the United States towards Canada --

BOLDUAN: That is amazing.

PETERSONS: I've never seen this either. So the bucket list and you think I would have seen this by now. But, no. I mean, today is your last chance. If you're up early enough, I would say get up now, go outside, and check it out. It's beautiful out there. Not to mention, the temperatures, they're up. You can actually go outdoors. The temperatures today are starting to go above normal.

By tomorrow, good 20 degrees above normal into the northeast. A lot of good stuff today, huh. All right. We are talking about some rain, yes, the first system still making its way through. Maybe even in the northeast, a little bit of snow in the morning hours. It will transition over to rain as the warm front kind of kicks on through.

Look for rain in the Midwest today into the northeast down to the southeast for Saturday, and by Sunday, it exits offshore. But either way, I can't get enough of that. I need to see that.


BOLDUAN: If you are taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis, send them to us.


BOLDUAN: Send in an iReport. Go to cnniReport -- wait, what is it? Send it in. Instagram us. I really want to see more of that.

PEREIRA: There are other world -- to see.


PEREIRA: Painting in the sky.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think they exist.


(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, we all know nothing changes you more quickly than adversity and, boy, did Chris Christie's tone change after this scandal. Blaster so the backseat to a more somber approach as you address the Bridgegate. We're going to have a look at that change in attitude and see if it will help him politically.

PEREIRA: And we know that excitement on the price is right is nothing new, but one woman celebration, it's going to leave her famous -- wait for it. Famous on YouTube forever. We'll show you how this ends in our "Must-See Moment" coming up.


CUOMO: Plans for this weekend? Parties? Friends? Not me, I have none. But I'll tell you what I'll be doing. Watching football. Eight teams still in the NFL playoff, and all of them, all of them could make it to the Big Bowl. They do have it. Who says that? Andy Scholes joins us with a preview of the action in this morning's "Bleacher Report." What do you see this weekend, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, I see a lot of good games on tap, Chris. You know, hopefully, this weekend's games live up the last weekend, because the wild card round was absolutely awesome. Now, the first game on tap tomorrow is the New Orleans Saints at the Seattle Seahawks. Now, New Orleans was blown out earlier this season in Seattle. This time around, Saints' head coach, Sean Peyton, he's pulling out all the stops to get his team ready.

He's gone as far as for the paint the Seahawks logo on the Saints' practice fields. Now, it even blew out two giant speakers while trying to stimulate the noise his team is going to base. We'll see if his strategy works. Saints and Seahawks kickoff at 4:35 eastern tomorrow afternoon.

That game is followed by the Colts at the Patriots. Now, the Colts are still riding high after their amazing comeback against with the Chiefs. And this week, Rachel Nichols, she caught up with the team's star quarterback, Andrew Luck.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Your general manager compared you to Michael Jordan the other day. He said that you have the ability to rage your game in the fourth quarter, to meet the moment. Why do you think you're a guy who plays up when the stakes go up instead of shorting (ph) from them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'm not sure. I know I'm no Michael Jordan by any means. I'm not a tenth of what he's done.


SCHOLES: And you can watch that whole interview plus more on "Unguarded with Rachel Nichols." That's tonight at 10:30 eastern right here on CNN. And Kate, I know you'll be watching. What do you think, your colts, are they going to up stead (ph) John Berman's patriot --

CUOMO: Be careful, Scholes.


BOLDUAN: That's why I have my pen ready to stab him.



BOLDUAN: Are you trying to do a blue steel? I'll give you this.


BOLDUAN: Would you mess with these? I don't know. I'm just saying.


CUOMO: -- Feeling, patriots strong.


BOLDUAN: Ding, ding. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. It's -- good.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got Bill Belichick on my side. That means I have magic and more.

CUOMO: Oh! That's tough --

BOLDUAN: You have a cutoff sweatshirt that I don't understand.

CUOMO: Oh! That's mean. That's rough.

BERMAN: Going to the cut off, though. All right.

BOLDUAN: Let's move on now. Why is John Berman here? We're going to tell you why. It's all about damage control for Governor Chris Christie at the moment as he tries to get out from under a political retribution scandal. The New Jersey governor admits being both embarrassed and humiliated by the actions of a trusted top aide who he fired. And during a marathon news conference, we saw a side of Christie that many didn't recognize really.

"Early Start" anchor, John Berman, is here taking a closer look at that. is this the new Chris Christie?

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, because there's a debate over the substance, perhaps, of the statement. A partisan debate, Democrats think one thing, Republicans think another. Everyone can agree that the style we saw from Chris Christie yesterday was a world apart from the things we've seen before. The words he used were different. His frequent targets vastly different and treated differently. And there was that word he used again and again, "sad."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Damn, man! I'm governor. Could you just shut up for a second?

Get the hell off the beach and Asbury Park and get out.

BERMAN (voice-over): This is Chris Christie as many people have come to know him, brash, unapologetic, and shall we say, not afraid to speak his mind.

CHRISTIE: Are you stupid? On topic.

BERMAN: Compare that to this.

CHRISTIE: I come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey.

BERMAN: The popular Republican governor was direct but also remorseful and a bit subdued, attempting to quash the unraveling of what appears to be a political game of revenge from top aides and officials responsible for tying up traffic on the George Washington Bridge last fall.

TONYA REIMAN, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT: Typically, when we're watching Chris Christie, he's very aggressive. He's very dominant. Today, we see somebody who's much more humbled.

CHRISTIE: I probably wouldn't know a traffic study if I trip over.

BERMAN: In some ways, he was still himself. He was animated, but contrite. But just weeks ago at the very same podium, his attitude markedly different when question about the still simmering scandal.

CHRISTIE: I actually was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question.

REIMAN: Usually, when somebody is feeling super powerful, their body language will show that. They'll be boisterous. They'll be big. They'll take up more space, because what they're trying to do is show you just how alpha they are. When we're feeling insecure, we tend to shrink a little bit more.

BERMAN: Now, his tone of voice, conciliatory.

CHRISTIE: Someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust.

BERMAN: Compared to this.

CHRISTIE: Come on, guys! At some point, you've got to be able to call BS.

REIMAN: When we're feeling strong about something, we tend to speak louder. We change our pitch. When we're feeling inferior, we tend to lower our voice.

BERMAN: Christie's style helped thrust him into the national spotlight. The question is, is that style now a damaged brand?


BERMAN (on-camera) So, one of the things that sometimes politicians run into trouble with is when they try to change that style on the fly. Change who they truly are. It will be very interesting with Chris Christie to see what he's able to do going forward.

BOLDUAN: And how people kind of receive this different type of Christie, and if it will stick.

BERMAN: If it really is a different type of Chris Christie.

BOLDUAN: There you go.

CUOMO: Just a little common sense. You're going to be one way when you are in control of the game. You're going to be another way when you are in a position of having to be defensive.

BERMAN: But will he start second guessing himself? That'll be interesting to see.

PEREIRA: You want to see the best contest ever done. Speaking of being in control of the game -- see where I'm going?

CUOMO: Please.

PEREIRA: You don't.

CUOMO: I do.

PEREIRA: "Price is Right." Let's talk about it. A contestant decided to mark the occasion of her big win in a memorable way, and it turns out to be probably everybody's nightmare.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Yes, an audition to the obligatory arm flailing, jumping around. This is what happened. Watch. And you'll totally feel chagrin.

CUOMO (voice-over): Oh!

PEREIRA: Yes. Trips on a rug and falls right into the --

CUOMO: Midsection.

PEREIRA: Midsection of announcer, George Gray, causing to fallback into a flat screen TV display. The celebrity model, (INAUDIBLE) jumps in to help. Oh, my. Meanwhile, Drew's getting a good laugh out of it.


PEREIRA: Hi, have we met?


BOLDUAN: What john?


CUOMO: Berman just may have just stolen the moment there.


CUOMO (on-camera): That was the three things I will not say sound.



PEREIRA (on-camera): You finally get to meet somebody of importance. Hi.

BOLDUAN: By the way --

CUOMO: He's going to remember her.

PEREIRA: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: Do you remember me? I'm the one who tripped on the --


BOLDUAN: In the -


BOLDUAN: In the --

CUOMO: Bits and pieces. There you go. That is a "Must-See Moment."

Coming up on NEW DAY --

BOLDUAN: -- talk about.

CUOMO: You don't have to --

The U.S. isn't leaving Olympic security up to the Russians. Why? They have big concerns. American personnel are now heading overseas to help. We'll give you details as to why.