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Politicians Under Fire for Atlanta Snow Storm Disaster; Senate Hearing Reveals Ongoing Threat from Al Qaeda; Childhood Weight Problems Linked to Adulthood Obesity; Predicting Super Bowl Weather; Bieber Turns Himself In

Aired January 30, 2014 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, there were errors. It's like somebody blew a whistle and everybody decided to leave at the same time.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Iced out, but the anger in Atlanta is red hot. Highways still closed, much of the city is still shut down, and politicians pointing fingers the other way. So what really caused this epic failure?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Threat level, the nation's intelligence chief offers a stunning admission -- the United States is no safer from Al Qaeda than before 9/11. And new details on where the latest threat is coming from.

CUOMO: Two countries, two arrests. Justin Bieber turns himself into police, but this time in Canada. So what did he do in his native homeland? The wild scene over might.

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 30, 7:00 in the east now. Outrage in Atlanta for reasons that are obvious to everyone, except the politicians it seems. Only now are hundreds of abandoned cars being cleared from the roads after snow and ice on highways into parking lots. People are being allowed to retrieve their cars today, if they can find them. Why? Many may have been towed and now the drivers have to figure out where they are, which is going to be terrible, of course.

Amazingly, officials are defending their responses here, mostly blaming the weather even though forecasts did give ample warning. CNN's Carol Costello is back with us this morning from outside the CNN center in Atlanta. Great to have you with us, Carol, even under these circumstances. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a little better today. The city is shut down as you said, and people are going to go look for their abandoned cars. The National Guard and other county and state agencies are going to help people find their cars on the highway if they're still there, and either they're going to have to be towed back or hopefully they'll start up and people can drive them away. We'll just have to see.

Politicians, there's a little bit of tiny bit of soul searching going on, but not much. After my rather contentious interview with Atlanta's mayor yesterday, he appeared later that night on Erin Burnett's show and again stood up for himself.


MAYOR KASSIM REED, ATLANTA: And I think rather than playing the blame game, we have shared responsibility. But I want to state clearly -- I don't have jurisdiction to clear interstate highways in the city of Atlanta. I'm responsible for the streets that are in the city of Atlanta. We got our streets cleaned, we kept our hospitals open, we kept our people safe and the city of Atlanta is running again.


COSTELLO: And later this morning, the mayor's media tour will continue. He'll appear on "Morning Joe" and later he'll appear on the "Today Show." As you well know, if a politician messes up in a storm event, it could cost them their political career. He may be trying to clear things, who knows, or maybe he's sincere in believing he did all the right things.

BOLDUAN: He's definitely trying to repair things. All right, Carol, thanks very much for that.

So amidst all the chaos, stories are surfacing of the people who came to the rescue of the thousands trapped by the snow. It started with stores opening their doors. Others brought food and water to drivers. But none of that compares to one woman's story. CNN's Nick Valencia has more.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. The ninth largest metro area looked more like a parking lot yesterday with thousands of motorists stranded, desperate for food, shelter, and water. But thankfully for them, they live in a city with a little southern hospitality.


VALENCIA: Hours seeming like eternity for thousands of Atlanta motorists trapped in their cars. Major stores like Home Depot and Kroger staying open to shelter stranded passengers, the National Guard handing out meals and blankets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got the meals ready to eat, just basic nutrition. It's what your soldiers are eating out in Afghanistan. VALENCIA: But it was the everyday people who immediately banded together to help those in need. Robin and Greg Jacobs housed 22 kids stranded at the local elementary school.

GREG JACOBS, HOUSED SCHOOL CHILDREN: There was just a lot of kindness outside. Just everywhere on the streets people were trying to help everybody.

VALENCIA: Social media exploded with stories of other Atlantans springing into action, pulling out stuck motorists and clearing ice.

LEONARD JOHNSON: Me and my wife wanted to come out and see if we could help push people up.

VALENCIA: This man throwing chains under tires to help cars gain traction, and these good Samaritans handing out food and water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just trying to help out. My wife was stuck five hours. We thought that was bad. Woke up this morning, here it is people are 24 hours.

VALENCIA: The never-ending gridlock led hundreds to abandon their cars. For Nick Anderson and his pregnant wife Amy, walking wasn't an option when she suddenly went into labor. An officer on his way to a traffic accident saw the couple on the side of the road.

TIM SHEFFIELD, OFFICER: I walked over to them and I said, are y'all broke down? I saw he was on the phone. He said, no, we are actually having a baby.

VALENCIA: Equipped with a first aid kit while Nick was on the phone with a 911 operator, the three delivered a beautiful baby girl named Grace in the midst of massive chaos and frustration.


VALENCIA: Thankfully Nick and Amy eventually made it to the hospital with the help of that officer. Everyone is now home, happy, healthy, and safe. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Good news there. Nick, thank you very much for that.

So there is a lot of outrage this morning over how city and state officials responded to the storm. Let's bring in attorney and radio personality for V103 Atlanta, Mo Ivory, to talk more about this. Good morning, Mo.

MO IVORY, RADIO PERSONALITY, V103: Good morning, good morning.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. You look thawed if nothing else. So this is all still happening. We're really in the middle of it. The fallout is just beginning. What do you make of not just the gridlock but the aftermath and the finger pointing?

IVORY: Yes, I mean the finger pointing started immediately. I think it was not the greatest reaction from our leaders. It's just the tone, and it was just chaos. What people wanted to hear first off was I'm sorry, I take responsibility for this mess, and I'm out here trying to fix it. I think actually Mayor Reed did say that, but it was the words that he used, the defensive tone that people really latched onto, instead of really listening to what he was trying to do to make the situation better.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean you even wrote a tweet on Wednesday saying "Stop this awful press conference with Mayor Reed and Governor Deal. Time to just say sorry. We messed up and we're fixing it." We haven't really heard that. What do you think went wrong?

IVORY: I think what went wrong is that we're not prepared. And there's a reason we're not prepared. These snowstorms don't happen in Atlanta at all frequently, so we don't have the kind of equipment that places like New York City have. So we don't have a perspective of what it takes to deal with this.

But there were mistakes made. And so the ownership of those mistakes needs to happen at the top of the hour, not many press conference later. But to their defense, I did see Mayor Reed apologize and take very personal responsibility for what happened. But it was later on in the night. It was probably when people had turned the TV off and they were done with it. So I think if they would have come out in the very beginning and firmly said, we messed up, we're sorry, we don't want to keep talking about it, we want to move to action, I think there would have been a different reaction from the people.

BOLDUAN: You supported Mayor Reed's campaign. And you well know a poor response to a big snow event has claimed political careers in the past. Do you think this threatens Mayor Reed's career.

IVORY: I think there's a lot of explaining that has to be done after this situation and I think that he's getting ready to start going that. I don't know if it will ruin -- certainly Governor Deal has an election coming up, a primary in May and an election in November, and I think this will be fresh in people's minds.

The fortunate thing for Mayor Reed is that he just won reelection. So moving forward, I don't know if four years from now, if people will still have this on their mind. But certainly right now, today, people in Atlanta are angry with him, people are angry with the mayor, and so there is repair work to do in terms of the perception of the people.

BOLDUAN: I think also the frustration is this is -- it doesn't happen very often, that's for sure, in Atlanta. But this happened three years ago, there was a big snow event. Everyone is saying why have we not learned lessons? Do you think they're going to learn lessons now, or is third time not even close to a charm?

IVORY: Surely they're going to learn lessons. This is really much bigger than do we have enough trucks. We need a transportation plan in Georgia. We need an entire restructuring of dealing with the people, the amount of people that live in Atlanta, the amount of people that have moved here and not having a way to move them around. Very different from D.C. and from New York City, we don't have a commuter train system that can kick in when we have these kinds of weather emergencies. So I think this is going to put pressure on officials, especially the mayor, especially the governor, to do something more comprehensive about the problem that plagues this region, which is transportation.

BOLDUAN: And the snowstorm that could plague both of their careers if they don't get it right in the aftermath. Mo, thank you very much, great to see you.

IVORY: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, we have new information this morning, a startling admission from the nation's intelligence chief about your safety. In a Senate hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the threat of Al Qaeda is just as bad as it was a decade ago. He also revealed that a group connected to Al Qaeda has set up training camps in Syria to plan new attacks in the U.S. What does this mean? What are the legitimate concerns?

We want to stay away from the hype so let's bring in CNN national security analyst and former Bush Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend. We should also note that Fran is also a member of the CIA external advisory boards. Fran, how are you.


CUOMO: All right, let's set the stage for what this really is. He's not saying -- Clapper's not saying we're less safe. He's saying the threat is just as real. Distinguish the points for me.

TOWNSEND: It's incredibly real. When you look at the raw numbers that Clapper puts out there, he talks about there being 26,000 extremists inside Syria. We're not talking about rebels. We're talking about extremists. Of those, 7,000 are foreign fighters who have -- some of whom have returned to places like western Europe and the United States. This was a concern.

To put it in context, we worried about this during the war in Iraq. There were foreign fighters coming from north Africa, and we went to the leaders across north Africa and said you've got to stop these guys from getting into the fight. Now what we find is they're not only in Syria, but they're now traveling back and tracking them in these numbers, is very difficult.

CUOMO: But how do you reconcile this with what we hear from the administration that Al Qaeda's on the run, that they're a shell of their former selves, that we beat up on them, how do you reconcile this with that?

TOWNSEND: Well it's pretty hard. The administration has back-peddled a little bit on that language. Remember during the reelection campaign, the president was quite proud of his record. I think you've seen the resurgence of Al Qaeda not only in Syria but in the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, Mali. President sort of bleakly referenced this in the state of the union. And now the way the administration talks about their success is against Al Qaeda's leadership, right? The president is rightly proud of the killing of bin Laden, but you still have Zawahiri out there. So he talks about his success against Al Qaeda core leadership.

CUOMO: So let's accept the real truth that it's politics not practicality that you chop off the head you kill the body. That didn't happen.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

CUOMO: The threat is still there. That's the truth from Clapper and you're confirming that now. So that goes to the next level of analysis, which is if our intel is so good and our understanding and reach is improving all the time, why is the threat outpacing, or is it outpacing our ability to detect it?

TOWNSEND: I'm not sure it's outpacing our ability to detect it. What I think Clapper is saying is the real difficult is as these guys move around, there are two things that come together. It's the Snowden leaks, right. They understand our capability better and how we track them.

And what that means is it becomes more difficult for us to identify them working even with our allies in western Europe as they move around. Remember, the big fear from Iraq had been if these guys get to western Europe, they're a six-hour plane ride from JFK. Now we know they're in western Europe and Clapper is telling us we have difficult tracking them. So Americans who have got to fight that "Jane's Defense Weekly" says it may be in the dozens, had actually fought and returned to the United States. So this had become suddenly a failure of the administration Syria policy becomes a direct threat to the home land.

CUOMO: It also makes you guilty, I'm now making you the entire U.S. government, of what you are accusing the north Africans of in Iraq, which is you're having Americans go and fight in these foreign wars. You're not even protecting your own border. So the ultimate question for Americans is, hold on, Fran is telling me and Clapper is saying, I've got people here who hate me going other places to fight, but they're returning fear. How am I not less safe?

TOWNSEND: That is the concern. Look, I do think that it is a legitimate fear. We have been worried rightly about home grown jihadists. So we've always been worried about the terrorist threat inside the United States.

CUOMO: We're supposed to be winning. Where's the winning part of this?

TOWNSEND: The winning part is our capabilities are better, our ability to detect and track is better. The problem is with all the leaks you've seen, and we hear this again and again from every senior intelligence official, really hurt us because the bad guys understand now better our capability to detect them. That's been our strategic advantage, and we're losing some of that because of the leaks. CUOMO: So that is the legitimate concern, because usually we feel in the media that whatever we know, the bad guys know already. You're saying that wasn't the case with some of the Snowden information.

TOWNSEND: That's not the case. And although they may suspect it, and when they confirm it and they get it in the level of detail they got in the Snowden leak documents, it really makes it an enormous challenge to the United States to be able to have a strategic advantage in terms of our technical capability.

CUOMO: Really is a new world in terms of defense.

Fran Townsend, thank you for the perspective.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

So new research released this morning suggests obesity may take hold early in life, very early. The study in today's "New England Journal of Medicine" found that kids who were obese around age five tended to stay that way later on in life.

Senior medical corespondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now.

Elizabeth, this is this is troubling for any parent to hear. But what else -- tell us more about what the study's saying.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, so the study said, "Look, if you take an overweight 5-year-old and a normal weight 5- year-old, that overweight 5-year-old is four times more likely to grow up to be obese when they're 14." So four times more likely to become obese by the time they're 14. That's a pretty stunning number. And that makes you think, wow, if my 5-year-old is kind of chubby, I need to be doing something. It's not cute. It's not something I can just say, "Oh, they'll grow out of it." We need to do something about it.

BOLDUAN: But also then, does the study -- I don't know if we call it elite -- but does it make the move to suggest that if a child is obese or overweight at five years old, that it's too late to reverse course?

COHEN: No, it's not too late at all. It's not too late at all.

BOLDUAN: That's the good news.

COHEN: Right, right. It's not too late at all. That is the good news. So then the next question becomes how. And what do you do? And the study is very clear. There's not a lot of good science here. We don't have all these great studies that say try this and it will work.

So I'm going to take off my sort of public health hat and put on my mom hat. Because I do have mom experience with this. And what I would say is it's really hard to control a 5-year-old's diet. I mean, you should do it, and you should try, and you want your 5-year-old to eat well. But you're going to be butting heads a lot.

And so, try your best, but really focus on physical activity. Get your kid out of the house. Get them off of gadgets and computers. Yes, 5-year-olds are on gadgets and computers. And sign them up for a sport and get them moving. Just in my experience, that's much more successful than trying to battle every minute of what they eat.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, where the focus is. You're not going to win the meal battle. We were actually talking about it onset earlier this morning just about that, how it's difficult to get the kid eating if they don't want to eat it.

COHEN: Right, but you can win the playground battle.

BOLDUAN: But you can win the playground battle.

COHEN: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: And reinforces the point that there needs to be more focus on childhood obesity --

COHEN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: -- with the study.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in John Berman, here for Michaela. He's got the news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Thanks so much, guys.

And we're going to start with some breaking news. We have brand new video of a fire. It's raging out of control in Elizabeth, New Jersey right now. It's an entire block of stores currently in flames there. It's believed that a Chinese restaurant there caught fire first. This spread quickly. And to make matters worse, the cold weather makes it very, very difficult for the firefighters to get out there and put these flames out. We will keep watching that throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, President Obama wraps up a two-day post State of the Union road trip, which -- with stops in Wisconsin and Tennessee today. The president is pushing his opportunity agenda, which he says will boost the middle class, one he plans to pursue, he says, with or without Congress. He will speak at a GE engine plant near Milwaukee and a high school today in Nashville.

New details this morning about a passenger's death in the crash of the Asiana Airline's jet last summer. A report by city officials in San Francisco say that 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan was already dead when she was run over by trucks on the tarmac at the airport. It says the firefighters determined the girl was dead, but failed to move her. This report contradicts a coroner's claim that she was alive before being struck twice by rescue vehicles racing toward the burning plane.

Happening today, sort of case of legal deja vu for Amanda Knox. For the fourth time in six years, an Italian court will decide her fate and the fate of her ex-boyfriend. They are waiting once again for a verdict. They're waiting literally right now. Both were convicted of murdering Knox's roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, then later acquitted, both, in 2011. Knox has been back in the U.S. since her acquittal.

You have to look at this. That's a polar bear, folks. The Toronto Zoo posted this unbearably cute photo of their new polar bear cub experiencing snow for the first time. It paws the snow, licks the air, growls adorably. This cub was born in November. It is the lone survivor of its litter. This cub actually almost didn't make it. The cub was sent to the ICU where it gained weight and became strong enough to walk.

Chris Cuomo, tell me. This bear cub looks very cute now --

BOLDUAN: It is cute. Stop! Put down the coffee and just enjoy.

BERMAN: But what happens later?

CUOMO: We all know what happens later, John. We all know what happens later. And you know better than most. John Berman has a history of doing stories with animals that are very dangerous. And you know very well that a polar bear is not your friend.

BOLDUAN: What's the male version of Debbie Downer?

CUOMO: It's not your friend. That's all I'm gonna say.

BERMAN: But very cute now. Let's saver this brief moment --

BOLDUAN: Yes, savor the moment.

BERMAN: -- before it rips your face off.

CUOMO: Just like my children.

All right, now, an under the category of potentially dangerous, quick note about tomorrow. Dennis Rodman made a lot of waves here on NEW DAY. And the situation begged for a follow-up, right? Well, Rodman agrees. But this time, he wants it to be live, face-to-face, and from the site of his real struggle, not North Korea, a rehabilitation center where he's trying to get control of his addiction. And I will be there to meet him. That is tomorrow, an interview you'll only see here on NEW DAY. All right?

BOLDUAN: It's been quite a week in the weather world with the ice storm in the South and freezing temperatures in the North. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is keeping track of it all. It's a lot to keep track of.

INDRA PETERSONS, METEOROLOGIST: A lot to keep track of. But there's a big change. Finally, the West Coast actually starting to get some showers.

Look at the map. What is all this? They are not used to this. We're going to get to that.

But first, I'm going to take you into the storm in the southeast, you can tell, finally exiting out of the area. Yes, Florida still seeing showers, but notice how dry it is right over the South. That's a problem. That means this morning it's very cold again. So any moisture left on the ground is refreezing.

The upside, by the afternoon, temperatures are going to be a good 10 degrees warmer than yesterday and expected to go above the freezing level, where yesterday they were below freezing. So finally seeing the 40s, and they're going to continue to climb up as they go through the end of the week.

Now take a look at what's going on in the Midwest. Once again, one, two, even three storms cruising through. So yes, upper Midwest, upper Ohio Valley, even into the northeast, look for some light flurries over the next several days.

But quickly taking you all the way out West, that is a huge story. There's this huge dome of high pressure. This was stuck here for the last several months. Finally, it has broken down. They're actually seeing, what is it? Yeah. Rain? Yes. Rain in through southern California.

Why do you care? Because this is our Super Bowl forecast. That same system is the one that's going to cruise all the way into the northeast. Depending on where it goes tells us whether or not we have rain. This morning the forecast said rain and snow showers. Now it has adjusted again. Now looking for 38 degrees at kick-off time with just some clouds. But this is going to keep changing, guys. This is so on the border right here. But kind of weird what's bringing rain in so-California is going to be the storm that will bring us our Super Bowl weather.

BOLDUAN: And you said it was just two days, 24 hours out is when we can be really sure.

PETERSONS: More like 24 unless you know there's no system at all, but that's not the case.

BOLDUAN: We keep tracking, hoping and praying.

PETERSONS; A lot of gambling going on.

BERMAN: And it's important. There are those people who say that Peyton Manning, not so great in the cold weather.

BOLDUAN: I also told them -- my sources of that is overblown.

BERMNA: We will see.

BOLDUAN: We will see. CUOMO: Speaking of overblown, the biggest factor in that stadium, still the wind. Incredible winds on the field there at MetLife stadium.

BOLDUAN: That could be a problem.

PETERSONS: All affects the game.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, on outbreak of Bieber mania in Toronto as the pop star turns himself in for an assault charge. We'll have the latest on Bieber's growing legal troubles.

CUOMO: Plus, you know the cruise ship hit with a mystery illness. Well, it is now back home. And some of the hundreds sickened on board are talking, and they're talking to us live straight ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

What a mess. Two charges, two countries and one out of control star all in the middle of it. Justin Bieber has just turned himself in on an assault charge in his native Canada, this after he pleaded guilty to DUI charges in Florida. Is this a pattern? Is this ganging up on him? What are we to make of it? CNN's Jason Carroll is in Toronto with the latest.

Jason, what's the story from up there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so much to make of all of this. So many fans gathered out here last night, Chris, that police literally had to lock arms and carve a path to get through it all in order to get Bieber inside where he had to once again face the music.


CARROLL (voice-over): One week, two countries, two arrests. Justin Bieber in trouble with the law again. Turning himself into Toronto police Wednesday night amidst paparazzi and screaming fans. The pop star, facing an assault charge in connection with a hitting of a limousine driver several times in the back of the head last month.

Bieber's lawyer, telling CNN, "Our position is that Mr. Bieber is innocent." Bieber himself seemingly unfazed by the negative publicity.

JUSTIN BIEBER, POP STAR: What's up, guys? Justin here.

CARROLL: Posting this video to Instagram just minutes before his arrival at the police station Wednesday night. The super star now facing potential legal battles in three jurisdictions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bieber, you are charged with the following.

CARROLL: In Miami, Bieber's lawyer has filed a not guilty plea to charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license after he was arrested last week for alleged drag racing.

Meanwhile, detectives in Los Angeles say that are tightening up their case against Bieber in the alleged egging attack of his neighbor's home, with prosecutors expected to announce as early as next week if Bieber will face felony vandalism charges.

Is Bieber out of control? Some legal analysts say the outrage over his behavior has been blown out of proportion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that he's out of control. He's a 19- year-old kid with more money that he knows what to do with.

CARROLL: His detractors have had enough of his antics, with over 100,000 people signing an online petition calling for the Canadian teen to be deported from the United States.

How will Bieber behave going forward is unclear. His fans say they're confident he can handle whatever comes his way. Confident just happens to be the title from a song from his latest video released just yesterday.


CARROLL (on-camera): Also very interesting that his video ended up being released on the same day that he turned himself in. And some of his detractors are saying that perhaps some of this -- perhaps all of this is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Bieber was released just about after being two hours in custody. We're told that he's staying at a hotel nearby.

If convicted on this assault charge, it's basically a misdemeanor. He would face very little, if any jail time. His next court appearance here in Toronto is scheduled for March 10th. Kate, Chris?

BOLDUAN: And so, the saga continues. Jason, thank you very much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're hearing now for the first time from the family of a brain dead pregnant woman who was forced to stay on life support. Their heart-wrenching battle to finally honor her wishes, the emotional interview ahead.

CUOMO: And imagine going on vacation and your cruise ship turns into a floating sick bay, the worst outbreak on a cruise ship in 20 years. That's what happened to hundreds of travelers. And you're going to hear from some of them straight ahead. How bad did it get? You hear for yourself.