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Bae's Family Apologizes to North Korea; Snowstorm Targets Northeast; Weed Sometimes A Gateway Drug; Surviving an Avalanche

Aired January 21, 2014 - 08:30   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Blizzard warnings already in effect. And that's (INAUDIBLE). As much as 10 inches are places like Philly, D.C. and New York City just in the next few hours we're going to start seeing some of this heavy snow. The farther inland you are, even though the storm is going west to east, you're actually going to have lower totals. Why? Because that low is taking that moisture off of the ocean and dumping it near the coastal sections.

So with that here comes the timing. We're already seeing it in New York City. By tonight, we're still going to be talking about it hanging around, making its way maybe late afternoon in through Boston. Still snowing all night tonight but kind of making its way out of D.C. Snowing all night in New York City and Boston. Exiting out of New York City tomorrow 6:00 in the morning.

Not gone yet. In fact, this guy is still strengthening. So as it makes its way up the coastline, the winds are going to start to intensify. Still hanging around in New England on Wednesday. Finally makings its way offshore. Keep in mind, this is that cold type of snow, very airy, blowing around. Visibility near zero, not to mention your temperatures are going to feel like single digits because you've got to add in that wind. So with that wind chill, cold air and snow expected to last through pretty much the end of the week.




BOLDUAN: This thing needs to move a lot faster.

PETERSONS: No one likes me now. I'm just going to like do this.


CUOMO: I know.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Mickey (ph), please, save us. Is there anything better to know?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you've got five things you need to know for your new day. CUOMO: All right.

PEREIRA: But, unfortunately, we start with number one, it's so important it needs reiterating. More than 2,000 flights now canceled because of that storm that Indra is talking about. So if you're traveling, take care to call your airline ahead of time.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused that explosion and partial collapse at a feed plant in Omaha, Nebraska. Police say they recovered the body of Keith Everett. The body of at least one other victim is still in the building.

She's being called a black widow. Officials in Russia on the hunt for a woman they say poses a very real security threat to the Sochi Olympics. There is concern that she may have already breached a ring of security surrounding the games.

Breaking news from the White House. President Obama will visit Italy in March and meet with Pope Francis for the first time. The two will talk poverty and inequality.

And no more extra points. The NFL is considering eliminating the kick after a touchdown. Commissioner Roger Goodell says so few of those kicks are missed, it's just not exciting enough for fans. What do you think? Tweet us.

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


CUOMO: And what will they do instead?


CUOMO: Right? Alternatives. That what we have to figure out.

Also new this morning, developments in the desperate effort by Kenneth Bae's family to get him out of a North Korea prison. The saga took a twist Monday. That's when Bae was trotted out by North Korean authorities and, in quotes, "admitted" that he committed a serious crime against the regime. He also warned his family to stop spreading vicious rumors about his case. Now his family is respectfully asking for leniency. In a NEW DAY exclusive, we've been talking with Kenneth Bae's sister. Pamela Brown is here to explain what his family's side of this is.

What are we hearing?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did speak to Terri Chung, his sister, Chris and Kate, and she says seeing her brother in that videotaped statement was upsetting and she says her family is scared about what's going to happen next. The American Christian missionary, Kenneth Bae, has been imprisoned in North Korea for 15 months. His sister saying he is now the longest American detained there in recent history. And she is pleading with the U.S. government to bring him home now.


BROWN (voice-over): Overnight, Kenneth Bae's family, heartbroken, after watching his first appearance in months.

TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: It still is very difficult for the family to watch him having to plead for help from the U.S. government.

BROWN: The American missionary, held in North Korea for more than a year, read a statement before cameras in the Pyongyang hospital. Bae pledged with the U.S. government, press, and his family to stop worsening his situation by, quote, "making vile rumors" about North Korea.

CHUNG: That was probably the most frightening moment for us in that press conference, which is why we're imploring our leaders, now is the time to bring this man home.

BROWN: Bae went on to say that he committed a, quote, "serious crime" against the country's government, adding that he did not experience any human rights abuse. Bae said he wants to be pardoned by the North Koreans and returned to his loving family, asking the press, U.S. government and his family to, quote, "make a more active effort" and "pay more attention."

Experts say these new images of Bae could be a positive sign given North Korea's history of cohering confessions before releasing their captives.

DR. JEFFREY LEWIS (ph): The fact that they've paraded him out and gone through this farce suggests that they have some kind of demand in mind.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NFL PLAYER (singing): Happy birthday to you.

BROWN: Earlier this month, former NBA star Dennis Rodman traveled to North Korea for an exhibition game for Leader Kim Jong-un's birthday. In an interview with NEW DAY, Rodman appeared to point blame at Bae for his detention.

RODMAN: Do you understand what he did in this country?

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

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

BROWN: Rodman has since apologized and checked into rehab, but his controversial visit has U.S. officials questioning whether it played a role in Kim Jong-un's decision to show Bae.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: This Rodman intervention was a disaster for him and maybe now he wants to initiate a possible dialogue with Kenneth Bae as a bargaining chip.


BROWN: And experts say Bae's videotaped statement follows North Korea's pattern of exacting false confessions. Most recently, 85-year- old Merrill Newman, a Korean War veteran, was freed from the country after he says he was forced to give a false confession. So perhaps giving hope to Bae's family.

BOLDUAN: Though they will have to take hope whenever they can get it, right?

BROWN: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right, coming up next on NEW DAY, President Obama raised some eyebrows when he said marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol. Do you agree? Well, a recovering addict, who now tries to help others get clean, is going to weigh in.

CUOMO: And how about this one. A skier's helmet has a camera on it, keeps rolling after he triggers an avalanche. How did he survive? It's a NEW DAY exclusive. We've got the interview straight ahead.


CUOMO: Reaction coming fast and furious after President Obama's controversial remarks about marijuana. The president saying it's no more dangerous than alcohol. Now, that hit close to home for our next guest who says pot actually opened the doors to his addiction, ultimately landing him in a crack house.

But with that being true, why does he actually agree with the president? William Moyers is here to tell us himself. He's vice president of public affairs at Hazelden, one of the world's largest private not-for-profit alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers, and a great one at that.

Great to have you, Bill. Great to have you with us.


CUOMO: So, what is your general take about this?

MOYERS: Well, Chris, the president was right. And I laud his willingness to speak out and speak forcefully and honestly and speak out not just as the president, but also as somebody who experimented with marijuana as a younger person, and also, most importantly, to speak out as a parent to children who are exposed to the same temptations as many children are across this country today.

So the president was good to speak out, but I think it's very important that we focus not just on what he said, but what he didn't say. The president didn't say that marijuana is safer than alcohol. The president didn't say that using marijuana doesn't come with risks or consequences. In fact, he was really emphasizing the fact that alcohol is like marijuana and is like any other drug.

And at Hazel, we know that a drug is a drug is a drug and that for some people who use substances, be they legal or illegal substances or those that are under -- in the process of perhaps being decriminalized or encouraged, that some people are going to develop a problem.

And so, we won't think that the president's comments are steering people off the course of their appreciation for the fact that marijuana is a dangerous drug. What we do think is that it's important that we listen to what the president didn't say as much as we focus on what he did say.

CUOMO: Right. All right, let me take the other side on this because, you know what, it doesn't often work that way in terms of delivering a message, where people have to think about what you didn't say. They focus on what you did say.

And we've already made a terrible mistake in terms of national sobriety in allowing alcohol to be readily available, but we're probably not going to undo that. I mean alcohol, as we both know, is incredibly destructive to many people and more people abuse it than use it in a safe way. So why encourage another drug that can be equally abused, that's stronger than it ever was before, and we now believe can have addictive properties? Why in any way encourage it?

MOYERS: Well, I don't think the president was really encouraging it. I think he was just speaking a simple fact, which is that a lot of people who choose to use marijuana develop no consequences, in the same way that a lot of people who choose to use alcohol develop no consequences either.

But I think what the most important message is, is that alcohol is like marijuana and that marijuana is like alcohol and any other drug. And that for some people who are under the influence of it, you can develop all kinds of problems, legal consequence, social consequences, financial.

CUOMO: Sure.

MOYERS: And for people like me, you can develop the propensity to become an addict and an alcoholic. And marijuana was my gateway drug when I was a teenager. That doesn't mean that everybody who uses it is going to end up like me. But as you noted in your interdiction, I went from using marijuana and alcohol into a crack house. And, in fact, at Hazelden, 55 to 60 percent of our young people who present at our treatment center today talk about marijuana being their first drug of choice.

CUOMO: Well, I mean, so isn't that kind of our answer right now, especially when you couple it with the fact that weed is supposedly stronger than ever and that the old data that suggested it wasn't addictive is now counteracted by the higher THC content? I mean do you believe that as it becomes more legal, we're going to see more addiction problems? MOYERS: Well, I do. And that's why I think what's an important message of the president's comments the other day is that we all embrace the reality that the war on drugs in this country has failed. We know that at Hazelden.

And so, if we're going to introduce a new substance of use or misuse into the public continuum, if you will, of experimentation, then we better change the drug policies in this country to reflect more the reality of an addiction is a health care problem and one that can be prevented, treated and encouraged to abstain through recovery.

So that if we're going to change the public's perceptions about marijuana in this country, be it the president talking about it or anybody else talking about it, if we're going to change public perception, then we better be prepared to embrace a change in public policies that encourage people to get help, to get sober and to talk about this problem with their own children and their grandchildren.

CUOMO: I think that we're going to be having continuing discussions, my friend, because as it becomes more available, some people will use it responsibly and many people will not, especially as we get younger on the scale. So, great challenges for you, great challenges for us in the media in terms of covering it. Always a pleasure to have you, Mr. Moyers. Thank you. And continue the good work.

MOYERS: Thank you, Chris, for having us on.

CUOMO: A pleasure.


BOLDUAN: All right, Coming up next on NEW DAY, he got out alive after starting an avalanche. And the whole thing was caught on tape. We're going to talk to one very lucky guy in a NEW DAY exclusive, next.


PEREIRA: I get chills just looking at that. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, one skier is lucky to be alive after his day on the slopes turned dangerous; 23-year-old Lance Light was back country skiing with a friend near Denver over the weekend when he triggered an avalanche. The whole thing caught on his helmet cam. He joins us this morning from Denver.

Lance Light, we're so glad to see you here. We know that you escaped unscathed. First of all, first question for you, how are you feeling?

LANCE LIGHT, SKIER: I'm feeling fine honestly. I'm a lot more nervous to be on TV than I was in the avalanche.

PEREIRA: This is easy. We're talking about something that you love to do which is skiing. That's a question for, do you take yourself a bit of a risk taker?

LIGHT: Yes. Definitely, I mean as a lot of my friends can attest, I have been kind of pushing my limits skiing and just with other sports. But you know, it's just kind of part of the game with backcountry skiing. And it's just one of those risks that everyone that partakes in the sport knows lots about.

PEREIRA: But we've got to talk to you. It's been well reported that this year is a particularly bad year and dangerous year for avalanches. You knowingly took a risk heading out there. Was there a specific risk in that area of avalanches?

LIGHT: Yes, definitely. So the CAIC kind of rate the avalanche danger across the state and I went out on a considerable day. But kind of the main thing that sets it apart is just the slope type and the terrain. So I kind of made a mistake of choosing a bad slope that was very wind loaded after a bunch of wind had swept over the Rocky Mountains in the last week and it just -- it made for a very unstable snow pack.

PEREIRA: OK. So you make this decision. Tell me, how did you know you were in trouble? When did you first realize it? Did you hear it first before you saw it?

LIGHT: Yes. I did hear it. And then I saw it immediately after. But my friend was already down; Nick Ryan skied a little bit mellower of a slope. He got in a good vantage point so could see me on the roller. And we had full visibility and audio contact. But as soon as I drop, I took about two turns, I heard a popping sound under me, I looked over, I saw the entire slab break to the left. And then I realized that I was skiing on the slab.

So I just kind of went for it based on instinct, just tried to straight line over the cliff instead of getting swept over it and then just immediately looked to deploy my air bag.

PEREIRA: OK. So you have some avalanche training? You had an air bag with you. Did you have any other equipment with you?

LIGHT: Yes. Kind of the standard avalanche equipment most people take, a beacon, shovel and probe. Those are all kind of devices to take care of you after someone gets buried but kind of a new device that was developed by Backcountry Access in Boulder, Colorado. It uses just a theory, so it tries to keep you very light and large. It lowers your density just so that you can float on top and not get buried by those heavy snow particles.

PEREIRA: You know you're lucky though?

LIGHT: Of course.

PEREIRA: So are you going to change your skiing habits, your routine. Or you're going stick to maybe the trails, the groomed tracks now or are you going to still be a backcountry guy?

LIGHT: You know, I'm going to going to get out there and just try and charge hard in the backcountry. But at the same time it just really goes to show that -- reiterate the fact that you know, it's really dangerous out there. You've got to really make conservative terrain choices and then just be always aware because it's very easy to get yourself in avalanche terrain even short distances off the road.

PEREIRA: Well, you're certainly made of different stuff than I am my friend. I'm really glad to be speaking with you today. We hope that you will take caution and that you have many, many years of happy skiing and safe skiing out there ahead of you. OK?

LIGHT: Yes, definitely. And hopefully other people can learn from it too.

PEREIRA: We hope so.

LIGHT: You know, I'm only 300 yards off the highway. Just, yes, I hope other people can realize that with 15 minutes of hiking you can already be in a danger zone.

PEREIRA: Absolutely. That's a very good point to make. Lance Light, thanks so much for joining us today from Denver -- Chris.

LIGHT: Thank you.

CUOMO: Wow. What a story.

PEREIRA: All right. Now to another incredible story -- a young woman impacting her world. She's barely a teenager but has vision to spare. She's working to help those in need.


CUOMO: Meet 13-year-old McClain Hermes, lover of all things Justin Bieber and fierce competitive swimmer but behind that smile lies a deeper story. McClain is legally blind. Her vision began to fail when she was eight. Doctors say in a few years she won't be able to see at all.

This seventh grader from Georgia doesn't want your sympathy.

MCCLAIN HERMES, BLIND SEVENTH-GRADER: Can you hand me that black and white shoe?

CUOMO: She wants your old shoes. In 2009 her father showed her an article about footwear soles being recycled.

MATT HERMES: They were giving people, you know, a $5 discount or something on a new pair of shoes if they turned in shoes.

MCCLAIN HERMES: And so we decided instead of recycling them, we collect them and give them to people that needed them.

CUOMO: Shoes for Souls was born. The say around 10,000 pairs of shoes have been collected over the past four years. Today, McClain is making a special delivery to an Atlanta homeless shelter. McClain challenges all teens to make a difference.

MCCLAIN HERMES: If you have a dream and you think it's unrealistic, just keep on doing it. You'll get there.


CUOMO: Isn't that great? So young dealing with everything around her, doing the good work. Impacting her world. Let it be a message to all of us.

Coming up, police dash cam video you've just got to see. But listen to this -- No guns, no crime, no car wrecks. Just a kid, a football and a cop doing the right thing. It is "The Good Stuff".


CUOMO: We've got "The Good Stuff" going on here. But a quick break from it. How lucky am I? Look who I get to work with everyday. Can you believe they're paying me for this?


CUOMO: I'm doing well. This is good for me.

All right. Time to get more good stuff for everybody else out there. All right. Normally, when we show you police dash cam footage, it's certainly the bad stuff. Not this time.

Rosenberg, Texas sergeant, Ariel Soltura, she's on patrol over the weekend when he spots -- Ariel is a he -- he spots someone up to no good. What was that no good. He had no one to play with.


ARIEL SOLTURA, POLICE OFFICER: he was actually throwing up a football and you can tell that he was actually playing by himself. He wasn't waiting for more kids to arrive. Got out of the car. I did like this which is the universal sign of throw me the football. At that time you saw that his face lit up. He was ready to play.


CUOMO: Think about it. In so many communities where cops would stop and question the kid as to what he was doing. Not this one. They have a simple game of catch all caught on the officer's dash cam.

The police department says it's just an example of their new community policing initiative. But to Sergeant Soltura it's a lot simpler than that.


SOLTURA: We all live in this world together. We all make an impact in this world. And I think that it's important that we all put in our little bit and make it a better place.


PEREIRA: Humans first, right? First and foremost.

CUOMO: And I wonder what impact it makes. First of all nice toss -- BOLDUAN: Good arm.

CUOMO: (inaudible) kick out -- you see the catch. Appreciate it. The 10-year-old in the video, guess what the impact was on him? Nothing -- right? Wrong. He now wants to grow up to be a professional football player or a policeman.

PEREIRA: I love it. I love.

CUOMO: Why? Because that's the interchange he had, that's his experience. Now isn't that great?

BOLDUAN: So much easier for that officer to wave and move on. So much easier for him to stay in the car and he's still doing his job. But he did more.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Win-win for him. He had a good time.


CUOMO: Ariel you've got to work on that leg kick there.

BOLDUAN: Be nice.


CUOMO: Now, he'd probably beat me down right on my own couch.

All right. A lot of news for you this morning. Let's get you get to Carol Costello in the "NEWSROOM" -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: (inaudible) thinking a police will need to dive to get that ball.

CUOMO: Dedication to the catch.

COSTELLO: I know. Thanks all -- thanks so much.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.