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Mexican National Executed in Texas Against Wishes of Mexican and U.S. Government; Cold Front Hits Parts of U.S.; Russia Prepares for Terrorist Threats Ahead of Winter Olympics; Iranian Foreign Minister Speaks about Recent U.S.-Iran Nuclear Agreement; De Blasio Accused of Snowplowing "Class Warfare"

Aired January 23, 2014 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult for both families. And it's a very private matter, and it's unfortunate this has become a political event.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, diplomatic uproar, Texas defying both the U.S. and Mexican governments executing a Mexican citizen. John Kerry warning it could have grave consequences for Americans overseas.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Terror uptick, U.S. intelligence now reveals an uptick in terror threats ahead of the Olympic Games. We're live in Sochi with the very latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The impostor, a young boy vanishes then returns years later to his family. But is he really who he says he is? The dramatic case you have to see to believe, and the private investigator who cracked it join us live.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, January 23rd, 7:00 in the east. And we have news breaking overnight. International outrage, a Mexican national dead this morning, executed in Texas over the demands of Mexico and our own State Department. Edgar Tamayo, he is a convicted cop killer, but both the Mexican and U.S. government's argued against his execution. Texas says break our laws, face our consequences, period. And by the way, the Supreme Court appeared to agree with that position. But now Secretary of State Kerry fears there may be repercussions of Americans abroad. CNN's Pamela Brown is joining us. Please set up the table for us in terms of what the intrigue is.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I want to first start with what you just pointed out, how this could have consequences for Americans abroad. So basically, Secretary of State John Kerry saying that this could impact the way that Americans are treated if they're arrested overseas, and it could have some major diplomatic implications as well. So it's pretty significant in that regard from the State Department perspective.

Now, to give you the background here, Tamayo was convicted of the 1994 murder of Houston police officer Guy Gaddis and sentenced to the death penalty. Now, the Mexican government has been appealing that decision, arguing Tamayo's right to consular assistance was violated and as a result of that he wasn't given the best defense possible during his trial, which they contend might have kept him off death row.

Now in a statement, the Mexican foreign ministry says the execution would be a clear violation by the United States of its international obligations under the Vienna Convention in guaranteeing the right of every person to a due process.

Now, on the other side of this, you have the U.S. government. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been urging Texas to give Tamayo a new hearing. The secretary of state, as we were just pointing out, is saying that he has no sympathy for Tamayo, but that this is really a process issue that could impact Americans and that the U.S. needs to uphold its international obligation. So despite all the pressure from both the federal government and Mexican government, Texas moving forward with that lethal injection last night after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a motion to stay the execution late last night, because this really unfolded last night.

CUOMO: Just to give a little bit of context to how quickly this happened. This is 20 years in the making. There's a lot of backstory there, and obviously the family of the victim caught in the middle.

BROWN: Absolutely. I just want to quickly point out, Texas also released in a statement about this, Texas saying that the state is committed to enforcing its laws. It doesn't matter where you're from. If you commit a despicable crime like this in Texas, you are subject to our state laws.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Pam.

Let's turn now to the bone-chilling cold, a brutal snap of polar air encasing the Midwest and northeast. That means all of the ice and snow from the last two days is sticking around. People everywhere are slipping and sliding on unsalted streets. And more snow could be coming in the next few days. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is out in these brutal conditions for us this morning to give us a heads-up of what to expect.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Teeth aren't chattering just yet. Once again, we are talking about this unbelievably cold air. First of all, we have this huge snow system that just left the area yesterday. You would like to think fine, we're good now. We should warm up. Hardly the case. This huge area of arctic high pressure is going to be moving in, meaning this cold air is here to stay. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETERSONS: Another frigid night for millions as bitter cold arctic air grips a large part of the country. For much of the east coast, the dangerously cold temperatures plummeting 20 degrees below normal through the weekend and wind-chill from the northern plains could be a low as 50 degrees below zero today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind keeps coming at you right in your face. You clear a spot, and it blows right over.

PETERSONS: Millions along the east coast continue to dig out of Tuesday's massive snowstorm, strong wind gusts creating 18-inch snow drifts. For road crews, that's a tall order to keep up with the significant snowfall. Bitter cold temperatures turning slush into dangerous ice, make driving downright treacherous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lot of ice. Lot of ice.

PETERSONS: This car collided with a snowplow removing snow in southern Massachusetts, sending the driver to the hospital. In New York City, one of the glass panels of the flagship Apple store shattered after being hit by a snow blower. Further south, I-95 shutdown for hours in North Carolina after an 18-wheeler slid into oncoming traffic. The temps could make the nation's propane shortage worse as demand for gas grows.

LISA SMITH, SENIOR PLANNER, MAINE EMERGENCY OFFICE: It's been delayed. This has gotten severe in some cases.

PETERSONS: And snow removal at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is in high gear ahead of the Super Bowl. NFL officials do have a contingency plan. They can move the championship game to an alternate date if another massive snowstorm is forecast for the area that weekend.


PETERSONS: A lot of bad things to be thinking about. We already know the gold air is here. We also know it's not going to be going anywhere. Unfortunately, this chill is here to stay. Let's talk about what it feels like already this morning. Now you actually get cooler out there. So we're talking about temperatures into the single digits into the northeast. Now we factor in the wind-chill. We're talking about subzero this morning into the northeast. Even in the upper Midwest, about 40, 50 degrees below normal. Look at this dome of high pressure. This guy is only going to be sagging down to the south meaning that cold air will be filling in instead of exiting. That's the concern we're going to be talking about. We'll talk a little bit more about whether or not we'll see more snow coming up later in the hour.

BOLDUAN: Indra, thank you so much.

Let's talk now about huge concerns this morning ahead of the Sochi games now just about two weeks away. Investigators are still on the hunt for black widow bombers and now a new threat, security warning sent by e-mail to the U.S. Olympic team and several other countries. Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has the very latest from Sochi this morning. Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, those e- mails to the Hungarian, Italian, German, and Slovenian International Olympic Committees suggests the passenger train you see might be blown up. That threat was played down by the broader international Olympic committee, said it was a random message from a member of the public perhaps. But the real threat here is not going to arrive in your inbox. We're talking about a region here that's been restive, volatile, where insurgencies across this region for well over a decade now.

There is a police effort to arrest a ring of steel around Sochi in southern Russia, but that dragnet isn't going to stop potentially attacks elsewhere across this restive region. I've been around the city today. We are see ago beautiful early erected spectacle of the Olympic buildings in the middle. That's what Vladimir Putin wants. He wants that sense of Russian pride, but the real problem we're facing is people aren't talking about sports. They're not talking about games. They're talking about the sheer safety, particularly in the minds of American officials offering help even to the Russians if they want it, for the safety of the athletes and the tourists coming to these winter games. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nick, thank you very much for the reporting on the ground. The obvious question is whether or not all the talk is justified by the attendant risk. So let's bring in to help break us down.

So let's bring in to help break this down Fran Townsend. She's a former CNN national security analyst and currently sits on the homeland security and CIA external advisory boards. Fran, thank you for joining us. Need the analysis here. You heard what I was just saying finishing up with Nick there. They say, look at the numbers. They have a hundred thousand of these, and 40,000 of those, the Russians have it covered. But don't those numbers in themselves suggest what risk they're dealing with here?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Chris. And as Nick points out, this is a decades-long terrorism problem that Russia has been dealing with. And they haven't been able to sort of put it to bed. And so now what you do by having the games in Sochi is you provide them a really sort of tempting target.

We know that the group is capable from the Volgograd bombings. We know that they have individuals deployed, the three black widows that we know they're looking for who are part of a larger network. They are inside the borders of Russia. They may be, we don't know, inside Sochi itself. But once you're inside the borders of the country, it's a target rich environment, whether you're looking at airports or transportation modes or the games themselves. The Russian services are very capable, but we've heard American officials complain that they're not sharing information in the ways that they'd like them to. CUOMO: Two more point, one is a step backwards, one is a step forwards. First let's go back. Why are the games in Sochi? Why did they put them somewhere that is such a vulnerable zone?

TOWNSEND: Well, look, it's the right question, Chris. It's -- these are very competitive. As Nick points out, Putin viewed this as an opportunity to sort of showcase Russian pride and Russian capability. Looking back now, it's the right question to ask. Why would you have picked this spot where terrorists are nearby and have access and capability?

CUOMO: All right, and then the step forward, which is the U.S. people's introduction to the Caucasus. The Boston bombing, when we hear about where the guy went there to get training abroad, it was in these areas, it was with these groups. So this isn't some remote situation we're talking about. This is part of our new reality as well. Explain.

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right, Chris. It's interesting because I think Americans were not familiar with the Caucasus and the extremists, the Chechen and Dagestan problems that the Russians have been contending with there. In the context of the Boston bombings, we started talking about the concerns for the Sochi Olympics then. The was perfectly predictable.

What wasn't predictable was their ability to pull off the Volgograd bombings on the eve of the Olympic Games. And so this has been coming in terms of a problem. The international community has seen it. American officials have offered security assistance to the Russians, much of which they've not agreed to take. But that's why sort of plans for extraction in a crisis that is getting your teams and dignitaries out quickly is so important. All that planning has been going on with American officials.

CUOMO: What is our best intelligence on whether or not this is about extending the beef between the caucuses and the Russian government, or is the opportunity to hit Americans as well part of the offing here for the terrorists?

TOWNSEND: As you talk to counterterrorism analysts and experts here in the United States, everyone believes this is really the beef between the Russian government and the extremists inside Russian. Everybody else is leveraged in this battle between them. What the extremists are looking to do is to embarrass Vladimir Putin and the Russian government and prove that they can do that at this critical moment of international attention.

CUOMO: You worked in the 96 Olympics, the security threats. We had to deal with it after 9/11, but, you know, we have to be frank and honest here. You don't usually hear about extraction plans and contingencies like we are here. We don't hear about a developed threat like we have with this Olympics. I don't think in is hype. I think this is a situation we need to pay attention to because we don't know what's going to happen over there. Fair statement?

TOWNSEND: Absolutely fair. Post 9/11, Chris, we always have those sort of extraction plans and the capability in place to be able to do that working with the host government. I think this is the most serious, real, and credible threat we've seen against Olympic Games certainly in the last decade and probably longer than that.

CUOMO: Fran Townsend, thank you very much for the perspective.


CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Now to a CNN exclusive, discord over the deal on Iran's nuclear program. Iran's foreign minister spoke with our own Jim Sciutto, saying the White House has been mischaracterizing the terms of the deal. This is what White House press secretary Jay Carney said about the agreement just last month.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The agreement marks the first time in a decade that Iran has agreed to specific actions that halt progress on its nuclear program and roll back key aspects of the program.


BOLDUAN: "Dismantling" the key term here. So is there disagreement on that deal? CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has much more.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Dr. Zarif is a different kind of leader for Iran. He's relaxed. He's easy going. He's quick with a smile. But he's also very unbending in Iran's positions, particularly when we were speaking about the nuclear deal, saying in effect that the White House is exaggerating how much Iran gave up. Here's how he described it to me.


MOHAMMAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The White House version both underplays their concessions and overplays Iranian commitment, and I'm not interested in that. I'm simply saying why don't we all stick to what we agreed? Why do we need to produce different texts?

SCIUTTO: Explain then to our viewers what's different in terms of Iran's commitment to what you agreed to and what the White House says you agreed to?

ZARIF: Well, the terminology is different. The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word that they use time and again. And I urge you to read the entire text. If you find a single, a single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I will take back my comment.

(END VIDEOCLIP) SCIUTTO: In response to Doctor Zarif's (ph) comments to CNN, the White House said they expect this kind of comment from him, that he's speaking to a domestic audience. And the fact is, that both the U.S. and Iran have domestic audiences they have to sell this to. And there are many skeptics in both countries.

But it also shows what this deal is and what it is not. It presses the pause button on Iran's nuclear program, but not the delete button. This is just an interim agreement, and now they're going to be discussing a longer term agreement over the next several months. And that really, Chris, is going to be the real challenge going forward.

CUOMO: Challenge is a good way to put it.

Jim, what a critical time to have that interview, because obviously, we're seeing progress that may not actually exist.


CUOMO: A lot of other news this morning.

Mick, what have you got?

PEREIRA: Well, we actually begin with some breaking news out of Miami involving Justin Bieber. He's been arrested for DUI and drag racing after an incident in Miami Beach. The teen star was taken into custody less than three hours ago. Police are telling the TV station the young star failed a sobriety test. Now you know this is just the latest run-in with the law for the troubled pop star. Earlier last week, police raided his home after neighbors had accused him of egging their house.

Also breaking overnight, al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri released a new message urging opposition forces in Syria to stop the infighting and unite against the Syrian regime. His five-minute plea posted online on militant websites. Now this development comes as a sensitive time as members of the Syrian government and opposition get set to meet face to face tomorrow at those peace talks in Geneva.

Break overnight, a new report from a federal watchdog group, blasting the NSA's phone surveillance operation says the program has yielded only minimal counter-terrorism benefits, concluding the practice is illegal and should be shut down. Last week, President Obama said he wanted to find a way to end the government's collection of metadata while keeping the program's capabilities in tact.

Convicted Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff reportedly suffered a heart attack last month in prison. CNBC says Madoff told them in an e-mail that he was hospitalized, but has since returned to the federal lockup where he is serving a 150-year sentence. Madoff also revealed that he has stage four kidney disease but is not undergoing dialysis.

We're going to show you some amazing, probably some of the most amazing video you'll ever seen. And it is a little disturbing, but don't worry, it does end well. A young boy walking with his grandmother in Brazil when a car slams into a parked car, sending it onto the sidewalk. The boy appears trapped and gets run over by the car, but amazingly, he walks away with barely a scratch. Grandma's leg did get run over, but she too is said to be doing just fine. Imagine being there and witnessing it. You almost can't believe your eyes.

BOLDUAN: You can't believe it when you see the video.

PEREIRA: And the fact that the little boy just walked away.

BOLDUAN: Well, thank goodness.

CUOMO: Holy cow. I don't know how that happened. It wasn't even a big car.

PEREIRA: No, thank goodness. Thank goodness.

CUOMO: Boy, you were right. You sold that the right way.

PEREIRA: Thanks.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, here's something that's going to be very counterintuitive. It this plays against what we think the rules of society are. The wealthy neighborhood covered in snow, the not so wealthy neighborhood crystal clear. Did the New York City's new mayor steal snowplows from the rich and give them to the poor? Tempers are hot, hot enough to melt the ice? Maybe not; it's pretty cold around here. But it's worthy of debate surging around the city.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, does President Obama back legalizing marijuana? White House spokesman Jay Carney put on the spot after recent comments from the president on marijuana caused quite a stir. His response coming up in our political gut check.


CUOMO: All right. Give me a little window of opportunity here. We need you to put your head to the situation. It's weird. Here's the question, Robin Hood or just rob? New York's tony (ph) upper east side left covered in snow, while less wealthy neighborhoods in Brooklyn, of all places, plowed crystal clear. Residents say the new mayor did it on purpose.

After initially denying the allegations, New mayor Bill de Blasio says, quote, "More could have been done to plow out the perches of the 1 percent."

CNN's Pamela Brown joins us now. Is this about, hey, welcome to reality, sometimes it doesn't get plowed the way you want? Or it's a snub.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is what some residents on the upper east side saying. They're saying it is a snub, Chris. Lots of black lash here, to say the least in the wake of this snowstorm on Tuesday. This was really only the second test for Mayor de Blasio since he took office. And residents are basically saying this is class warfare, snow class warfare, that is, accusing Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio of punishing them for opposing his mayoral bid.


BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it.

BROWN (voice-over): He's only been in office for a few weeks, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is already catching heat for his tale of two cities, or rather the tale of plowing two cities.

DE BLASIO: With all due respect, to anyone who wants to play out a theory here, it's just not accurate.

BROWN: Some New Yorkers who live in Manhattan's affluent upper east side say their neighborhood was among the last to be plowed during Tuesday's snowstorm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it to that de Blasio not plowing up here.

UNIDIENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen anything like this in 64 years living in the city.

BROWN: Many vented their frustration on social media, some even accusing de Blasio of purposefully giving them the cold shoulder. "Maybe it's a traffic study, de Blasio getting back at us by not plowing upper east side."

The city's plowed tracking app indicates the lack of snowplowing activity on the upper east side Tuesday. One city official says a plow in the neighborhood didn't have a working GPS, so its progress was not reflected on the website.

But angry residents aren't buying the excuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't make any sense to me. Just look outside and say there's something wrong. You don't need a GPS to tell you that.

BROWN: 1,700 plows out overnight, but this is still what it looked like Wednesday morning, vehicles stuck, pedestrians falling, messy streets everywhere, a stark contrast to this, crystal clear roads on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed like it was a little bit of a payback.

BROWN: We've heard the story of snowplow class warfare before. Mayor Bloomberg came under heavy fire during the blizzard of 2010 from residents in Brooklyn and Queens, livid that streets in some areas had gone unplowed for days.

Mayor de Blasio insists there was no preferential treatment.

DE BLASIO: No one was treated differently.

BROWN: But after visiting the neighborhood late Wednesday, he admitted that, "More could have been done to serve the upper east side."


BROWN (on-camera): And after that visit, de Blasio ordered the sanitation department to double down on clean-up efforts on the upper east side. And whether politically motivated or not, it is hard to say whether the backlash could adversely affect de Blasio's political career. You may remember, Mayor Bloomberg's debacle was dubbed by some to be political suicide. And, in fact, his approval rating tanked in the wake of that. So we'll see what happens.

What do you guys think?

CUOMO: De Blasio supporters will say the 1 percent didn't get him in office any way. But it fuels the intrigue. What do you feel? You're from Indiana. You're like, "Nobody ever plows."


BOLDUAN: That's kind of where I am on this. One street versus entire county road that you're like, "Well, I definitely need the SUV for this one." I mean -- but I think if people complained, the mayor responded. It's now plowed. So I guess that's your government at work.

CUOMO: Mick? Anything?

PEREIRA: I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the fact that they even get to all the plowing. So the fact is, they've got to prioritize, and it's going to take time to get it done. I don't know. I think this might be an overreaction.

BROWN: I'm biased because I sat in it for three hours trying to get out of the city on Tuesday so --

CUOMO: I'm all over this story. I am on the upper east side.


And we were snowed in. But I say, "You know what? That's life." You know what I mean? They got to plow places. Some places get plowed better than others. Just the reality of life. But it's funny that when it's them, they get all upset there now. I like the mayor's reaction --

BOLDUAN: That's what New Yorkers like to do.

CUOMO: -- taking it head-on. He's got a big fat mandate he's playing to.

BROWN: And he's only been in office a few weeks, second snow storm in just a few weeks. So he's definitely had his work cut out for him.

CUOMO: (inaudible)

BOLDUAN: Goes without saying. Thanks, Pamela.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, this president did inhale, but is the White House now backtracking on President Obama's comments about legalizing marijuana? The answer coming up in our political gutcheck.

CUOMO: Plus, breaking news, Justin Bieber arrested in Miami. DUI, drag racing, those are the allegations. Details on what's up with the young man coming up.