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Life Support Removed from Brain-Dead Pregnancy Woman; Gunman in Mall Shooting Identified; Temperatures Drop Across Country; Corruption Trial Starts Tomorrow for Ray Nagin; Will President Rely More on Executive Privilege in 2014?; Republicans Start of 2014 Fumbling; The Business of Bruno Mars; Big Stars Snubbed by Grammys; Report Calls NSA Program Illegal; Russian Ambassador: Games Will Be Safe; Super Bowl Monday? Weather Could Make It So
Aired January 26, 2014 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We have so much more straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM, and it all gets a restart right now.
Hello again, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. These are the stories that are topping our news this hour.
We now know the identity of a man who opened fire inside a Maryland mall, what was his motive and what investigators are learning today.
A Texas hospital isn't fighting a judge's order to remove ventilators and respirators from the brain-dead pregnant woman. We'll tell you about the decision her family made today.
And you might remember them as one of the hottest hip-hop duos out of late '80s and early '90s. I'll talk to Kid 'N' Play about their career, Justin Bieber and how they dealt with being young stars. There they are.
All right. We begin with breaking news. A brain-dead pregnant woman has been taken off a respirator and ventilator after an emotional legal battle. That's after a Texas hospital said today it would not fight the judge's ruling to turn off Marlise Munoz's machines.
Nick Valencia is live for us now in Ft. Worth, Texas, outside the hospital.
So Nick, what next for the family?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what next for the family is finding a place to bury Marlise Munoz. We haven't heard from them publicly. Erick Munoz, her husband, has not spoken, and neither have the Machados, the parents of Marlise Munoz.
But we did get a statement from the attorney of the family, and I want to read that now. It says, "Our client, Erick Munoz, has authorized us to give notice that today at approximately 11:30 a.m. Central Time, Marlise Munoz's body was disconnected from life support and released to Mr. Munoz. The Munoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz's body to rest and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered." The statement went on to say, Fredricka, that "May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey."
That journey has been eight and a half weeks since Marlise Munoz was legally pronounced brain dead, on November 28.
Now, about an hour before we got this statement from the attorney, of Munoz's family, we heard from the hospital. Now JPS, John Peter Smith Hospital behind me, this is what they sent to CNN. It said, "From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it. On Friday a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order."
Now all along, JPS Hospital has maintained that they were simply following state law, and they did nothing -- nothing wrong. That state law requiring that a pregnant woman receive life-sustaining treatment.
Now, all along the Munoz family has said there was no pregnancy -- she wasn't alive, so there was no patient to give treatment to. And that was really a big contentious battle lasting, like I said, at least eight and a half weeks -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And so Nick, given this case and even the outcome, is there any indication that this law will be challenged now?
VALENCIA: That is a very interesting question. I did go back to the hospital and ask them. Although they decided to abide by the judge's ruling on Friday, which required them to remove Marlise Munoz from a ventilator by Monday at 5 p.m., I asked them, "Are you planning on appealing?" They still had that opportunity and chance to appeal.
They just simply said to me, Fred, "Nick, we will follow the court's mandate" -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Nick, thanks so much, in Ft. Worth, Texas.
And new details now in that deadly mall shooting that happened in Maryland yesterday. Police have identified the gunman as 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar.
And officials gave chilling details about what happened yesterday morning.
Erin McPike is live for us now in Columbia, Maryland.
So Erin, what more have we learned about what happened leading up to the shooting?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, investigators have pieced together how the shooter got here to the mall and what he did when he got here, but they still haven't figured out why.
MCPIKE (voice-over): The gunman now identified in Saturday's terrifying shooting at this mall in Columbia, Maryland.
BILL MCMAHON, POLICE CHIEF: Darion Marcus Aguilar is the shooter.
MCPIKE: But police still aren't talking about a possible motive, although they say the 19-year-old Aguilar lived in the same College Park, Maryland, neighborhood as one of the victims, 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo.
MCMAHON: We haven't been able to verify any type of relationship at this point between him and either of our victims. We can't establish that there is one. We have not been able to establish there is not one. That is an open question.
MCPIKE: Surveillance videos, police say, revealed that Aguilar arrived by taxi at this upper level mall entrance around 10:15 Saturday morning, walking by a children's carousel and carrying a backpack with two homemade explosive devices.
Over the next hour, they say, he went downstairs and then back up into skateboard shop Zumiez, where Benlolo worked alongside the other victim, 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Mount Airy, Maryland.
Aguilar fired six to eight shots, investigators said, killing Johnson and Benlolo. And the gunfire injuring another woman in the foot on the floor below.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People started running, and they said somebody is down there, and he's got a gun. And I heard at least eight to ten gunshots.
MCPIKE: As witnesses ran away in the chaos, authorities say he then killed himself with the Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun he bought last month in neighboring Montgomery County. Police finished searching the mall early Sunday morning, but it remains closed.
MCPIKE: Now, the Howard County executives say -- says that the mall could open Tuesday. It may be earlier than that. But when it does reopen, they say there will be an increased security presence -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Erin McPike, thanks so much in Columbia, Maryland.
So people scrambled, as you can imagine, for their lives. They took shelter inside the mall, crawling on their hands and knees to find a safe spot. And once they were able to get out, they described what they heard and what they saw in those minutes of terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard somebody say "Shots fired," so I grabbed a kid, and I looked. Three people fell to the ground. Grabbed the kid and ran, had the mother follow me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody just started ran -- running. Kids were running, we -- you just ran. And just run to the nearest place you could find.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in the back of the store fitting room area, I mean, literally just -- you know, and where do you go when you're in a fitting room area? You know, someone's going to come in, you're still just as vulnerable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone was scared. It was -- it was pretty chaotic at the time: you know, people running by the store, people ducking down on the floor in the Candy store. But we just kind of took control and said, "Come on, guys" and got everybody in the back room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): It was just crazy. It was one of those things that you see on TV but you never expect that you'll go through it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And this story, a 19-year-old Russian man in Pennsylvania has been arrested and charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
Police in Altoona say they found a homemade bomb and bomb-making materials while investigating an alleged marijuana growing operation. They say this man told them that he wanted to blow things up but later said he planned to detonate devices in a field and was not going to blow up anything. He is being held on a half million dollars bail.
Health investigators are trying to find out what's making hundreds of people sick on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. A crew from the Centers for Disease Control is boarding the Explorer of the Seas in St. Thomas within the hour to investigate the gastrointestinal illnesses. A resident of St. Thomas caught up with a frustrated passenger and then sent CNN this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; People just would like to know what's it been like being on the ship with the virus and everything...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... if they're really -- terrible? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll never come back again, not on this cruise line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were with them two years ago. The same thing. The ship was overrun with this sickness.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, any sicknesses can evolve, but it's the most disorganized trip I've ever been on in my life. I'm almost 80 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The ship left New Jersey on Tuesday. It skipped a stop in Haiti and went straight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to be sanitized yesterday.
This is the second Royal Caribbean ship to get hit with sickness this month. Dozens of people suffered similar symptoms on the Majesty of the Seas a few days ago. Coming up, how you can protect yourself from getting sick if you are going on a cruise.
All right. This week you'll find very few cities that aren't shivering in frigid temperatures. It's so bad that Chicago public schools will actually be closed tomorrow.
Here's CNN's Karen Maginnis on why things could get worse for just about every part of the country.
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Fred, this isn't just cold weather. This is dangerously cold. Blizzard conditions in the Midwest where winds were gusting around 60 miles an hour in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Well, that clipper system is going to sweep across the Midwest, the central Mississippi River Valley.
But here's what's interesting. We'll see that cold air make its way much further to the south, also penetrate the interior west. So it encompasses a broader area across the United States. And just to give you some idea of what this clipper system is going to do, all you have to do is look at New York.
Monday, readings in the 30s, a little bit below average but only in the teens and around 20 coming up for Tuesday and Wednesday. Washington, D.C., the same thing. Highs in the teens and the 20s.
Chicago and Detroit, well, look at this. Chicago coming up. As we go into Monday we're looking at the high at minus 4.
Fifties for Atlanta until we go into Tuesday. And then we're only looking at 34 degrees. So that doesn't sound so devastating, but that cold air definitely is making its way all the way down into northern Florida. And we'll start to see some interesting events take place. Not so much going into Monday but Tuesday, developing storm system along the Gulf Coast from Mobile to Charleston, South Carolina, we might see a rain-snow mix, maybe icy conditions, maybe some snow. We'll keep you updated on that -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Big brrr. Thanks so much, Karen Maginnis.
All right. It's been 50 years since Beatles invaded America and changed the pop-music landscape forever. Well, tonight the two surviving members will be honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys. The recording academy has not said if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will actually perform together tonight but if they do, it will be the first time since 2010.
A Russian official says the Sochi games will be safe from terror attack. He U.S. is not taking any chances, however. The warning it's given to American athletes.
And the legal fight over a brain-dead, pregnant woman in Texas is now over. Did the judge make the right decision?
WHITFIELD: A very difficult battle over life and death has now ended. Marlise Munoz, who was pregnant and brain dead, was taken off a ventilator and respirator this morning in Texas. That came after the hospital said it would not appeal a judge's ruling that the machines should be turned off.
The root of the battle was in a state law, saying life-sustaining treatment should not be withdrawn from a pregnant patient. Munoz's family argued that she was brain dead and, therefore, not a patient.
Here to help us break down this case, Mo Ivory, host of "The Mo Ivory Show" and criminal defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant.
Good to see both of you.
This was a tough situation. Tough for the hospital, tough for the family. But in the end the judge says, "Wait a minute. She's brain dead. It turns out the fetus is not viable, so go ahead and remove her." The family did so today. But I wonder now, Mo, if this means that there's going to be a real challenge for this state law?
MO IVORY, HOST, "THE MO IVORY SHOW": I absolutely think so. I think not only this case not but the case that we saw a couple of weeks ago, Jahi's case. It was absolutely the opposite, where the parents fighting for her to stay alive, and the hospital was saying no.
I think that it's just a gray area in this whole idea of the role that the hospital and the parents play in the definition of what is exactly dead. And I just think that they will have to address this issue in Texas, but in other states, as well. And nationally, what's going to happen in the case of people who are brain dead.
WHITFIELD: So I wonder, Ashleigh, now what? Was it an issue of maybe the law was not applied properly? Does it go back to the whole definition of what does brain dead mean? I mean, all these to be re- evaluated or doesn't even matter at this juncture?
ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, the issue was that the hospital was worried about the child and was worried about whether or not this mom was still pregnant. And the issue was that she was no longer living. Everybody -- it didn't seem it was disputed at all, whether or not she was alive or not. She was brain dead and therefore dead for the legal purposes. So the hospital was hanging onto this hope of protecting the child, which was misguided, because the child wasn't even viable at that point, and it really should not have been a legal dispute.
WHITFIELD: Could they have known that earlier? Because it appears as though they only made that determination last week.
MERCHANT: Right. Right. You know, it doesn't seem like they could have known it earlier. They said that there were significant problems with the fetus early on in the case. And you can just imagine that. I mean, is the child being -- getting nourishment if the mom is not living? But the issue, really, was whether or not this should be a family decision.
IVORY: And like all things turn political, it became an abortion debate. And I think, of course, that probably had a lot to do with the way the decisions were being made and the way people around the situation felt about abortion.
WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Let's shift gear to another case. This is involving the federal corruption trial for former New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin. That begins tomorrow with jury selection. He's facing up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted of accepting money and lavish gifts in the form of vacations, in exchange for a city contract. Nagin has denied all of these charges.
OK, so Mo, you first. Boy, where are we going? Talk about a fall from grace. A, you know, potentially really difficult legal road ahead.
IVORY: I was really sad about that, because I don't -- I was living in New Orleans. And I don't even really know that many New Orleanians. But we believed in him, right? We believed that he was going to change things around, and he came across so well when the crisis happened in 2005.
But I do think that he will be convicted. I was reading over all of his -- all the people that were around him have already pled guilty. They're going to be used as witnesses in this case. And there seems to be a lot of evidence against him to say that he was -- he was taking -- exchanging, you know, money for city contracts.
WHITFIELD: And unfortunately, Ashleigh, you know, for the higher ranking person involved in a case, whenever you have plea deals of his or her inner circle, that never bodes well.
MERCHANT: No, that is hard. That is very difficult. And that's pretty typical. You want the people on the bottom to plea up, because they are more likely to get a better deal. And so they can be offered something like probation, where they walk. And the motivation for them to testify against someone higher up in the -- in the scheme, so to say, is much more likely. Now, corruption is still very hard to prove, because it's a very fine line between whether or not he was just operating as a business would, which you know, it's still a political business.
WHITFIELD: Will there be a great reliance on a paper trail...
MERCHANT: Oh, sure.
WHITFIELD: ... or documentation...
WHITFIELD: ... in the form of even texts or voicemails?
IVORY: Not only that. There will be rules of bidding. They will rely on the rules of New Orleans for bidding and how the...
WHITFIELD: What's his best defense, then?
IVORY: His best defense that this was in the normal course of business, that these were not -- these were people -- Listen, we were having a conversation that said most times you do business with people that you know. It doesn't automatically mean you're corrupt.
So I think that he can make an argument "I've done business with these people before. They went through the process. It doesn't mean I showed any favorites." It's a very fine line.
WHITFIELD: Can you argue successfully that, you know, this is the way it's done here.
MERCHANT: Yes, definitely. And that is how it is done in most businesses. You're going to give the work to who you know, who you trust, who you perhaps took a family vacation with.
The issue is going to be the testimony of those people, as to whether or not they expected to get something back in return for taking the family on vacation or giving them the business. It's what they expected.
And if Nagin made any statements to them that, "Yes, you know, if you take my family to, you know, Mexico or Jamaica or wherever they're going, then I'll give you this bid." If that promise was made, then he's done.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ashleigh Merchant, Mo Ivory, good to see you, ladies.
IVORY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
All right. President Obama says he's tried working with Congress, and it's gotten him nowhere. So what's the new plan for 2014?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday, laying out his vision for the next year. Today's "Washington Post" reports an internal White House assessment concludes the president use more executive privilege and rely less on congressional approval.
Let's bring in Candy Crowley, anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" and our chief political correspondent.
So Candy, this isn't likely to be part of the president's address. But is this the only way that he might be able to accomplish his goals?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, the White House has come to that conclusion. And I think you will hear the president do it, perhaps not in those terms, like bypassing Congress. But he has already said, "Look, I've got a pen and I've got a phone. And I've got some executive powers that I can use here if I can't get Congress to go along," which he has not been able to much in the first five years of his presidency.
So the question is what will -- what will that do, if anything, to spur Congress? It may not. But I can tell you already that it will be controversial.
I spoke with Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It sounds vaguely like a threat. And I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance, in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country, where the checks and balances, that it wasn't supposed to be easy to pass legislation. You had to debate and convince people.
He says, "Oh, well, it's hard to get Congress to do anything." Well, yes, welcome to the real world. It's hard to convince people to get legislation through. It takes consensus. But that's what he needs to be doing, is building consensus, and not taking his pen and creating law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And now it's election year for House and Senate. Wasn't 2014 supposed to be new GOP, new tone, going after women, minority voters? Is it working?
CROWLEY: Well, I guess we'll see when we see how women voters react.
Listen, Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate, now a talk show host, said some things about women, said that Democrats are thinking that women should be dependent on what he called "Uncle Sugar," because they're unable to control their libidos.
Now this is not the most artful phrase. He was saying that Democrats actually think that, not saying that he thought that. But the problem for Republicans is they're playing to a pre-existing condition. And that is the perception that women and minorities think that they're mean and that they don't -- they have a war on women. Democrats have played that really hard, with great success at the presidential level and at the senatorial level. So they are going to seize on nearly anything that catches your ear.
So the Republicans are aware of that. And they have been told to watch what they -- watch how they say things and watch their tone. But obviously, you're always going to have somebody that feeds into that, and it's going to make big news one way or the other.
WHITFIELD: And that kind of ammunition coming from Reince Priebus, who is saying watch your words.
CROWLEY: Right, right. And it's, you know, when you think you're being very clear, the Republicans say, first of all, this is the liberal media's fault, because they take us out of context. But it is also, you know, the sound bite era where it can just go absolutely wild on the Internet before you have a chance to say, "Wait a second. What I said was Democrats think this."
So you just have to be -- when you're a politician, you've got the to weigh every word, regardless of whether you think your point is clear. You just have to weigh those words, and it takes practice.
WHITFIELD: Candy Crowley in Washington, thanks so much. We know you have a very big week ahead.
CROWLEY: Yes. Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And as a reminder, you can catch State of the Union, that address by the president Tuesday night. The best political team in the business is ready to go. Our coverage begins 7 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN Tuesday night.
All right. Tonight's Grammy Awards, some of music's biggest stars are among the biggest snubs. We'll tell you who won't be thanking the academy.
WHITFIELD: A special mass is planned today for the families of those killed in a fire at a nursing home in Quebec, Canada. Also expected to attend are residents and survivors of the blaze. Ten people were killed and 22 people are still missing. And authorities fear many may be dead.
The search is being complicated by thick ice formed from the water firefighters used to battle the blaze. Officials are looking into a cigarette as one of the potential causes.
WHITFIELD: Officials are looking into a cigarette as one of the potential causes.
And a Massachusetts teen is facing an additional count of aggravated rape in the death of his teacher last month. Police say 15-year-old Philip Chism killed Colleen Ritzer with a box cutter in the high school girls' bathroom in October.
Chism pleaded not guilty in December to charges of murder, aggravated rape and robbery. He's being held without bail and is set to appear in court on Thursday.
A dramatic end to the Australian Open. In a four-set stunner, Stanislas Wawrinka beat tennis star Rafael Nadal to win his first Grand Slam title. Wawrinka has turned out to be the surprise package of this tournament. Nadal, who had severe back pain during the game, apologized to fans after being defeated.
And we're just a few hours away from music's biggest night at the Grammy Awards. One of the night's highlights will be the Beatles. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr receiving a lifetime achievement award. Grammy producers are hoping for a water-cooler moment with a mass wedding of gay and straight couples on air. And Queen Latifah will officiate the marriages during Macklemore's performance of "Same Love." And the maid of honor? Who else, Madonna.
All right. Bruno Mars is nominated for some major awards at the Grammys tonight, and he is one of music's brightest stars. But he's not just an entertainer. He's also a businessman. Here's chief business correspondent Christine Romans looking at the business of Bruno Mars.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka.
Bruno Mars is up for four Grammy awards, including record of the year and song of the year. He also has a Super Bowl halftime performance right around the corner. It's why we wanted to take a look at the business of being one of pop's biggest stars.
ROMANS (VOICE-OVER): Bruno Mars is going from superstar to the Super Bowl. Born Peter Hernandez to a musical family in Hawaii, he started out as the world's youngest Elvis impersonator.
He struggled as a performer. He was dropped from Motown records, then changed his business plan and began writing and producing songs for other artists.
His big break came in 2010 doing vocals for two songs he helped write, "Nothing on You" and "Billionaire." His debut album, a success.
And landed Mars two No. 1 hits.
Album No. 2 reached No. 1. And the accompanying tour brought in more than $46 million so far. Altogether, Mars has sold 115 million singles worldwide and landed five No. 1 singles faster than any male singer since Elvis.
BRUNO MARS, SINGER: You're a beautiful audience.
ROMANS: The 28-year-old was Billboard's Artist of the Year last year.
MARS: Expect to have some fun with us.
ROMANS: He has 14 past Grammy nominations but only one trophy so far. He could soon add to his collection with four more nominations this year.
Outside the studio, he has invested in Chromatic, a startup that makes digital sheet music and electronic cigarette maker NJOY, which he uses to kick the habit.
Up next, the biggest stage in music. Mars will play the Super Bowl halftime show for more than 100 million viewers. He joins legendary peers, the first artist under 30 to headline in a decade. The business of being Bruno Mars is far from over.
MARS: I feel like I haven't even started yet.
ROMANS: Fredricka, he's got two albums so far. Both have sold about 2 million copies in the U.S. Some of those sales are thanks to steep temporary discounts. Not a bad business move -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Not bad at all. It's hard not to be a fan of his.
All right. The Grammys honor the best in the music world. But some of the most popular artists aren't even among the nominees. HLN's Robin Meade explains why.
ROBIN MEADE, HLN ANCHOR: You know, for some people it's a mystery as to who gets on these ballots. The very songs that you could not get away from on radio do not always guarantee that somebody is going to get a big nomination.
ALICIA QUARLES, E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty surprising that Justin Timberlake wasn't nominated for Album of the Year. He's usually a Grammy darling.
MEADE: J.T. was nominated, but he was shut out of the top four categories.
TED STRYKER, KROQ DJ: When it comes to Kanye West, he got snubbed. He should have been nominated for Album of the Year.
QUARLES: It doesn't surprise me that Kanye that did not get more nominations, because the Grammys like people who are humble, and Kanye is anything but.
KANYE WEST, HIP-HOP STAR: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) those nominations!
STRYKER: He's such a lunatic when it comes to doing interviews. Kanye, you've got to stop telling us how great you are, how creative you are, how you're Walt Disney. QUARLES: He's cocky, and Grammy voters don't like that and they don't appreciate it.
MEADE: Also, stunning the critics, English singer-songwriter James Blake, who was nominated for Best New Artist. The other newcomer nominees, Kendrick Lamar, Kasey Musgraves, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, they all hit top five on the Billboard 200 chart, but Blake peaked at No. 42.
So what's up with this snub of Florida Georgia Line for the Best New Artist category? With four top five country singles and a No. 1 album, their smash summer hit "Cruise" was just named the best-selling country digital single of all time. But the country pop duo didn't even get any Grammy nominations. Same goes for mega stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Miley Cyrus. They were all shut out of this year's awards.
WHITFIELD: And we will be live from the Grammys' red carpet in our next hour to give you a close-up view of the festivities.
But next, despite new assurances from the Russians, U.S. athletes are being told to be on high alert for the Sochi games. We'll look at why security concerns are mounting less than two weeks from the start of the winter games.
WHITFIELD: A new report by a privacy watchdog highly critical of the NSA's phone surveillance program. It calls it illegal and even unconstitutional. Here's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Khalid al-Mihdhar, a hijacker on board the plane that slammed into the Pentagon on September 11th. He'd been inside the U.S. well before 9/11, had been in contact with an al Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA didn't know at the time that Mihdhar was calling that location from San Diego. The NSA's chief says if they'd had their current program of collecting bulk phone call records in place then...
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: We would have known about the plot.
TODD: But a privacy watchdog board appointed by the government now rejects that.
DAVID MEDINE, PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OVERSIGHT BOARD: The information was available. The agencies just weren't sharing it.
TODD: And the board says that controversial NSA program, revealed by leaker Edward Snowden, should not exist.
MEDINE: It's unlawful, in the majority of the board's view, and should be shut down after a short transition period.
TODD: The board says the Patriot Act doesn't give legal authority to collect phone records in bulk, as the White House argues, and says the program is a huge invasion of Americans' privacy.
(on camera): The report is a harsh rebuke of President Obama's stance on intelligence gathering. In the wake of this report, the White House is again defending the phone-records-gathering program as legal and effective.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We simply disagree with the board's analysis on the legality of the program.
TODD (voice-over): President Obama has announced plans to take the phone data collection program away from the NSA and give it stricter oversight but not to end it.
In an online chat in response to the report, Snowden said, quote, "There is no justification for continuing an unconstitutional policy with a zero percent success rate."
The Obama team says the phone surveillance program did help disrupt one terror plot, the 2009 effort led by Najibullah Zazi to blow up part of the New York subway.
But this board says the NSA's phone record surveillance, which the board chair calls the 215 Program, played a minimal role in that case.
MEDINE: Two-fifteen only played a role after Mr. Zazi had given up on his plot, returned to Colorado, and it helped find one of his co- conspirators.
TODD: Peter King of the House Homeland Security Committee disagrees.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It's not just the actual threat that you stopped. What this does, it's part of a mosaic; it fills in blanks.
TODD: King says this board is, quote, "outside its lane," says he doesn't know what qualified these five people to decide what's legal and constitutional when almost all judges' rulings have said the phone surveillance program is legal.
Board chair David Medine responded by saying they were nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and they're all lawyers, including a former federal judge.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: The Russian ambassador to the U.S. said today he is absolutely certain the Sochi Olympic Games will be safe from terrorist attacks. This follows a warning for U.S. Olympic athletes.
The U.S. State Department says wearing red, white and blue could put Team USA in danger. It's urging American athletes to avoid wearing their Olympic uniforms when they are outside official venues for fear that it will make them easy targets.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has a look at the mounting security threat at the games.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than two weeks to go and the threats keep coming. A jihadist forum Friday quoted bin Laden, implying someone might fly planes into a city on edge.
And this militant video, first reported by CNN, Friday prominent in the media, added to the daily drip of worry.
It compares Putin to Hitler and says locals could only breathe on Moscow's orders.
Fear felt here, of all places in Ralph Lauren's striking new look for Team USA in Sochi's winter games. American athletes warned by the State Department they'd be safer not wearing these uniforms when they venture out of the ring of steel set up to protect them.
MARIE HARF, DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: The U.S. Olympic Committee, I think, had discussed with its athletes as part of how to sort of stay safe and things to look out for as part of the games. This issue about, you know, just being careful about where you wear U.S. logos or things like that, this isn't unique to Russia, to be clear.
WALSH: Remarkable that athletes should hide being American. Especially a State's tourist warning for Sochi says Americans are specifically targets.
The worries mount, but the countdown doesn't stop, even if the heavy snow up in the hills makes you feel like it might. Hurried workers and a lot left to do here.
(on camera): Here is Gorky Plaza, one of the many buildings being readied in a hurry, they hope, for the tourists who will start arriving here in their thousands shortly. But here inside one of the buildings, you see the scale of the job still ahead for people trying to work here. This building far from ready.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
I'm just asking when it will be ready.
Everything, he says, will be gone, and this will be ready by tomorrow lunchtime.
(voice-over): Now under two weeks to go and still a feeling of anxiety rather than anticipation.
(on camera): The Kremlin is doing all it can to try and lighten the atmosphere. And it emerged Friday that a man called Platon Lebedev left jail early. Now, he's a business partner of a key Putin critic, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a billionaire, who was also released early from jail, part of a spate of amnesties the Kremlin has been pushing through recently, trying to look soft against its political opponents.
But security is the main issue. There's ring of steel here. The real question: Can all of southern Russia, volatile for over a decade now, go through the next two weeks without some kind of instance?
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sochi.
WHITFIELD: And in this country, how does Super Bowl Monday sound to you? If the weather looks anything like this in New Jersey next week, we might be calling it just that.
WHITFIELD: How does Super Bowl Monday sound to you? What about Super Bowl Friday? This year we could see a schedule change for the big game if the weather plays too rough. The crews were busy removing snow from the stadium last week.
CNN's Pamela Brown takes a look at the contingency plans for the big game.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some people have questioned the decision to have the Super Bowl in the cold northeast. And with all the snow and freezing temperatures we've been experiencing just in the past few weeks, the NFL says it's preparing contingency plans just in case.
(voice-over): The Broncos and Seahawks are ready to go head to head. But a series of arctic blasts in the northeast have some asking what happens if Mother Nature rears her head on Super Bowl Sunday?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the Super Bowl be delayed because of the weather?
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: A little premature.
BROWN: Premature to change the game, but the NFL does have a plan in place that could move the game up to Friday or slide it back to Monday if foul weather makes Super Bowl Sunday unplayable.
ERIC GRUBMAN, NFL VP OF OPERATIONS: Now the basis on which we'd move it forward would be a massive storm with a massive cleanup.
BROWN: Crews at Met Life Stadium had some practice this week, cleaning up after major snowstorm on Tuesday. It reportedly took more than 1,000 workers to clear the stadium in about four hours.
GRUBMAN: The silver lining is we're running ourselves through a rigorous dress rehearsal. BROWN: Accuweather is even getting into the game, launching a "Will it Snow?" Web site. Currently, all predictions are no, which is music to the ears of the officials who made and stand by the decision to have the Super Bowl in New Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're an outdoor sport, so we came here knowing that it was going to be cold and that this would be some of our challenges.
BROWN: Others take a different view.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a total disaster to have it in an outdoor stadium in the north in February.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the end zone the pass...
BROWN: And it's not just about the game. A Super Bowl Friday or Super Bowl Monday would affect everyone, from the businesses preparing for Sunday's game to local residents who have leased out their homes to ticketholders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire industry of the Super Bowl is based upon a Sunday broadcast. They may say they have a contingency plan, but the truth is, unless a tornado comes down and rips the stadium open, they're going to play on Sunday. There's just too much money involved.
BROWN (on camera): NFL officials say it is all about safety, so in the event of a major storm or cold snap, they say they would consult with transportation officials, law enforcement, as well as the governor's office to determine if the game should go on as planned. But they add that this is an all-weather sport with all-weather fans, and they are confident the Super Bowl will be on Sunday.
Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: OK. And it's not only the big game that may be affected by this cold weather. Chicago public schools will be closed tomorrow due to the extreme cold temperatures and high winds in the forecast.
CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis is in the weather center. So what's the forecast look like heading into the big game?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Fred, as you can imagine the anticipation for this particular Super Bowl game, because it is in a cold climate, and we just don't know how the weather is going to react.
But right now, we can kind of break it down this way by looking at different computer models, this one being the global forecast model, and this has a Jet Stream kind of buckling a little bit farther towards the north. Area of low pressure offshore.
The European model, though, keeps some of that moisture, that tongue of moisture, right across the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. So are we expecting rain or snow or perhaps a mix? Well, let's break it down.
European model: normal temperatures, cold, maybe some light rainfall, light winds. The global model suggests temperatures below normal but dry with some light winds.
So what are we anticipating? Cool temperatures, maybe cooler than normal, and perhaps a light rain/snow mix is possible, maybe at the beginning of the game. And light winds certainly are possible, as well. But we've got a stretch of time before we can kind of nail down what we anticipate is going to take place there. But typically, what we could expect are temperatures hovering in the low or mid-30s, possibly. But we'll have to see how that precipitation forecast is going to play out.
Fred, back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much, Karen. Appreciate that.
All right, hip-hop duo Kid 'N Play, well, they were just a few years older than Justin Bieber was when they made it big. Now, they're going to be talking to us about life as young stars and a key aspect of Bieber's life that might be missing, in their view.
(MUSIC: KID 'N PLAY, "ROLLING WITH KID 'N PLAY")
WHITFIELD: Oh, isn't it fun looking back? That song, "Rolling with Kid 'N Play," was one of the most popular song in the U.S. 25 years ago. Where'd the time go?
Well, tonight the Grammys will honor the best of the most popular songs of 2013, and the legendary hip-hop duo Kid 'N Play are very familiar with life in the music world. They know what it is to grace that red carpet, as well, at the Grammys.
Christopher "Kid" Reid and Christopher "Play" Martin became household names in the late '80s and early '90s for hits like "Rolling with Kid 'N Play" and "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody." Well, then they expanded their reach with the "House Party" movie series.
So how could we forget their dance moves and, of course, Kid's six- inch hair?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, and they still have the moves. I can attest to that.
They've evolved since their early days in hip-hop. But right now, Kid tours as a stand-up comedian. He also wrote the theme song to HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." Play keeps busy with his production company, HP4 Digital Works and Solutions. He also produces BrandNewz.com, an online news network, and he teaches at Florida A&M University.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you, Kid and Professor Play. We did a little bit there. Great to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; I forgot I did those things.
WHITFIELD: Isn't it fun looking back?
CHRISTOPHER "KID" REID, MUSICIAN/STAND-UP: Yes.
CHRISTOPHER "PLAY" MARTIN, MUSICIAN/PROFESSOR: Yes, it always is. Especially when you're proud of it.
WHITFIELD: Yes. It's nice. And know, you guys really look the same except for the six-inch hair and the high top.
MARTIN: The grace of God -- the grace of God and Just for Men.
WHITFIELD: OK. Very good. Nice to know.
REID: In my -- in my family, we say even the half black don't crack.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Oh, good.
Well, you know, let's talk about the Grammys tonight.
WHITFIELD: And you know, you all are familiar with what it is to be, you know, on the red carpet. But you also kind of made a little news, helped make a little news and history with the Grammys way back when, with a protest of your own, with hip-hop and rap not necessarily being televised.
MARTIN: It wasn't being televised. We were with Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff. We were with Salt and Peppa, Public Enemy, and just took a stand. And we felt that it should be recognized. It was the voice of a generation, as global. And that was just a very proud thing to be a part of.
REID: It was like they were trying to get away with something. It was like they were honoring the category of hip-hop, but they weren't televising the award. So it's like, well, you know, if we're in, we're in.
REID: If we're not, we're not.
WHITFIELD: And now look at it. It seems as though that category really dominates every show.
MARTIN: It's the backbone, the backbone.
WHITFIELD: And it really is.
REID: I mean, as it should be. And I think, look, to their credit, you know, some -- I guess they were behind the curve at that point. They definitely embraced hip-hop. I mean, you know, some of the biggest stars, not just the hip-hop category, but Record of the Year, Album of the Year and stuff like that. So they definitely got with it. Hip-hop has -- it's kind of permeated everything.
WHITFIELD: You all did a great job, you know, surviving what it was to hit it big at a very early age. You were in your early 20s. And now when you look around and see a number of young people, the latest being, you know, Justin Bieber...
WHITFIELD: ... being a young teenager. Is there a role parallel to being able to manage fame, you know, being a young person, associating yourself with certain people? What happens -- what happened that you all seem to have been able to survive it and others don't?
MARTIN: Well, I mean, first and foremost, there but for the grace of God, go I. And second of all, it's about -- I mean, for us, I attribute it to upbringing. And not judging on his situation, home- wise, because his mother seems to be a very beautiful person, if you're talking about Justin Bieber.
But it's a very seductive industry, very seductive community, and it's like it's not as easy as people think, especially when you come from a place where you haven't had a lot. And here you are, and everything is given to you. It's -- you get kind of drunk off of it. Literally and spiritually.
REID: I mean, personally, I live in Los Angeles, so I'm worried about getting run over by Justin Bieber. You know what I mean? He's zipping and zapping.
No, but I think, to Play's point, it's about your team. You know, it's about who you got. You know, it's about, you know, where you came from. But then it's also about your team. I think we were always kind of lucky to keep some cool people about you. You know, we always say, you always got to have people around that can check you. You know, somebody who, when they hit you up, they're like hey, you know, fall back.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you guys. Kid 'N Play.
MARTIN: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Always great. Appreciate it.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: And if you were wondering, on Kid's cap there, 1973, that is paying homage to the birthday of hip-hop. It was fun to talk with them.