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Cold Weather Continues in Parts of U.S.; New Terror Threats Emerge at Sochi Olympics; Stock Market Stops Plunge; Jay Leno Hosting His Last "Tonight Show"; Justin Bieber Flies High; Trial Compared To Trayvon Martin's Case

Aired February 6, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening today, Senate Democrats set for a test vote later in the morning to extend the long term unemployment benefits for more than 1 million Americans. You know this has been a heated political battle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moving forward with the vote with or without Republicans who are trying to amend the bill. It's not clear yet if Reid has the 60 votes that he needs to move this measure forward.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And 1 million customers across the northeast lost power after the latest winter storm. It could be days before hundreds of thousands of people in Pennsylvania get the lights back on. The latest winter storm encases power lines and trees in heavy ice, pulling them down, knocking out electricity to three-quarters of a million people. Now another powerful storm could be headed their way. So let's go to Margaret Conley. She is just north of Philadelphia. Margaret, what's the status?

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, nearly a million people are without power across the country. In Pennsylvania hundreds of thousands of people have no power. This is Abbington County. This town is completely dark. And you can see why by just looking up at the trees here. There's heavy ice and snow that layering the branches. Some of those branches have fallen, knocking down power lines.

And right now as we stand here, we can hear crackling as the snow is melting and some of that ice is coming down. And it's also creating dangerous situations for people on the ground. Emergency workers are working around the clock to try to get power up and running. There are warning centers set up all around the county.

Now, we also know that the big power company here, they're bringing in 200 people from Chicago to try to resolve this. Kate, we are also hearing that power outages could last for some people here into the weekend.

BOLDUAN: Margaret, thank you so much. So by all the time the lights come back on in Pennsylvania, more extreme winter weather could be moving in. Let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers for the very latest. You've been tracking it closely, Chad. How's it looking now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Especially some wind we could get on Sunday. I think the two to three feet of snow that was predicted and has threatened really has moved on up toward Nova Scotia. We know it's going to be somewhere, but it's not going to be in North American or at least in the U.S. It will be in the Atlantic-Canada area.

It's 23 in Boston right now, 23 in Providence, 23 in New York City, and it's not going to warm up today. We're going to be below freezing everywhere. There's black ice ever where you walk, everywhere you drive across the northeast. Philadelphia, 20, 23, somewhere in that ballpark for the next couple days, and highs don't get above freezing. It's 31 on Saturday in New York City.

Finally when the sun comes out, some of those branches may melt. When that ice falls out of the branches, the branches go back up and knock power lines down from the other way. This is our Sunday storm. There is an inch or couple of inches storm. The feet go to Nova Scotia. Sorry about that Canada.

BOLDUAN: At least you apologized. We appreciate that, Chad.

President Obama keeping a tradition of his presidency alive. He will speak at this morning's national prayer breakfast set to begin in less than an hour. He has spoken at the event every year of his presidency. His remarks traditionally have been among his most personal. He'll be joined by the first lady and Vice President Joe Biden.

CUOMO: Returning now to our top story, the terror threat tied to the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Officials say President Obama has been briefed on the latest intel suggesting explosives could be concealed in toothpaste tubes on planes heading for the games. CNN's Jim Acosta is live at the White House. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This morning, a senior official says the president has been made aware of the threat and that he is meeting regularly with his national security team about Olympic security. This threat which is about essentially terrorists using toothpaste tubes to smuggle explosives into Russia is deemed to be credible and serious according to U.S. officials. The threat assessment according to White House officials has really been on the rise, something they've been looking at for weeks. They've been seeing an uptake in threat reporting.

But having said that, a senior administration official says they do not see anything at this point that would warrant a travel advisory to Americans traveling to the games. They say if that does arise that they will issue a travel alert to Americans. But they have not done that at this point yet. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN's Jake Tapper just yesterday that if American do want to go to the games, they should go.

BOLDUAN: Jim, thank you so much.

So let's talk more about this, more insight on these new Sochi terror threats. Let's bring in Fran Townsend, CNN's national security analyst and a former President Bush homeland security advisor. Fran, it's great to see. So we've talked about this all along. We know from U.S. officials that there have been a number of specific threats that the U.S. was tracking. Now what do you make of it that they've gone this far to really alert the public of potential toothpaste bombs?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's interesting. We heard the testimony yesterday of the National Counterterrorism Center alluding to credible and specific threats. Now we understand this had to have been one of them.

We know that different Al Qaeda and extremists groups have used liquid explosives. Remember, that's why we're limited to three ounces going on U.S. airplanes. And so this is really an extension. We know they share bomb-making training and information across the extremist spectrum. And so toothpaste containers not so different. The worry there is a plastic explosives, very little metal kind of components that would detect for the detonation.

CUOMO: So they're coordinated on their side. Are we coordinated on our side? What's the latest understanding as to how Russia and the U.S. are working together?

TOWNSEND: Just yesterday during this testimony for the director of the Counterterrorism Center, said they are sharing information. And it appears as though this information may have actually come from U.S. officials and passed to the Russians. So that's a good sign. But look, you've got to be concerned. The closer we get, this is a dangerous region. Clearly officials are hearing more threat information and it's concerning.

BOLDUAN: Do you see any indication -- there's the one bomb-maker that a lot of people link these creative bombs to. Is there any link to him on this?

TOWNSEND: We haven't heard any of that from U.S. counterterrorism officials. But as I say, often times, even if there's not a direct link, that sort of expertise gets shared throughout the jihadi community. And so it's entirely possible.

CUOMO: Is it fair for me to look at what's going on with the hotels and those types of preparations and see it as a correlation to the level of preparedness in general? Do the two things go together at all?

TOWNSEND: Probably not. It's funny, I can remember in the run up to the Athens Olympics, it was the last minute, we were worried about getting things done. And somehow these things tend to come together. This I will tell you based on my own experience is a good deal worse than anything I've seen before at the hotels. But I think the honest answer is they've spent so much time and attention to the security issue, it may be that these infrastructure issues didn't get the attention they needed.

BOLDUAN: Back to the toothpaste at hand, what do they do about it? Flights are coming in. People are arriving. Do they -- do they take the tithe paste out of everybody's bag? How do they address this in the short term? TOWNSEND: It's interesting. We've heard the concern is flights from Europe into Russia. Of course, the problem that the Russians are facing, the domestic problem, is the one that we're so concerned about, right? These are separatists and extremists inside of Russia. So you've got to wonder what scrutiny they're giving to internal flights first.

And secondly, they've got to be working with their European allies, because let's remember, the screening is happening not at Russia. It's happening in these European cities before you enter Russia. You can expect that those flight, any flights now from Europe and around the world going into Russia are getting additional screening and security measures.

BOLDUAN: All right, Fran, thank you.

CUOMO: Toothpaste prices are going to skyrocket over there. Hopefully that's the worst that happens. That would be great.

Meanwhile Secretary of State John Kerry will send off a group of Olympic athletes before tonight's Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets game. Players from various Olympic hockey teams will join Kerry in a ceremony puck drop. Why Kerry? Kerry is a major hockey fan.

BOLDUAN: Immigration reform could be off the table until 2015 with top conservative House Republicans ruling out a vote this year. They're insisting they wait until next year to take action, hoping the GOP might have control of the Senate after midterm elections. Last June, the Senate passed a pretty comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform bill, but it has been stalled in the House ever since.

CUOMO: New developments in the disappearance of a police captain in Virginia. Three siblings, two women and a man, arrested in connection with the search for 45 year old Kevin Quick. Their arrests are linked to the theft of his truck. Investigators say the truck is connected to an armed robbery that happened Sunday night in which one person was shot. Quick has been missing since Friday.

BOLDUAN: Three drug suspects pleading not guilty last night in connection in the investigation into Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. Police have stopped short of linking anyone to Hoffman's death but say one of the suspects, a 57-year-old jazz musician, was found with large amounts of suspected heroin and had Hoffman's number saved in his phone. Hoffman was thought to have died of a drug overdose. Autopsy results at as of Wednesday have been deemed inconclusive.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a gander at what is in the papers. From "USA Today" the former head of the federal energy regulatory committee is calling a cyber-attack in San Jose, California, substation the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred. He says he fears the incident might have been a rehearsal for a large scale attack that could black out the entire country. That happened last April, by the FBI maintains there's no indication of terrorism.

In "The New York Times," experts on the region say Egypt is once again an open front for jihad. Militants returning to the country to fight Egypt's military-backed government. Egypt had been largely isolated from Islamist violence until last summer when the military removed President Morsi from power and began a bloody crackdown on his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.

And in the "Washington Post," get ready for a far more powerful generation of surveillance cameras. They can actually track ever person and vehicle across on area the size of a small city in real- time, for several hours at a time. That technology has the potential to revive data at police, businesses, even private individuals can use to identify people and track their movements. There are limitations of course. These cameras can't read license plates or see faces.

BOLDUAN: Crews in North Carolina are working to plug a hole in a pipe spewing tons of ash into a river. More than 80,000 tons of ash have escaped into the Dan River running between North Carolina and Virginia. The leak was discovered Sunday by a guard at a power plant for Duke Energy, the nation's largest electricity provider. Still no timetable, though, for when the leak will be fully contained.

CUOMO: Also new this morning, three time World Series champ Curt Schilling is battling cancer. He didn't say what type of cancer he has or what his prognosis might be. ESPN says it will welcome Schilling back "whenever he's ready."

BOLDUAN: The stock market seems to be settling down a bit. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here once again. So is the rocky road behind us?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm saying that investors seem to have hit the pause button on this big, ugly selloff. I'm not saying we're going to reverse. The S&P 500 down five percent this year. That's only about half of that 10 percent correction so many fear. What happens next in stocks probably depends on what the government tells us tomorrow about the jobs market. That's 24 hours from now. For now, stocks are steady, unless you're Twitter. Twitter warning that sales are expected to slow, its user growth slowing. Twitter gets talked about a lot, but it is a small, little enterprise, and it still has a lot to prove. Twitter sales, if you look at them, really tiny compared to all their competitors. Most of those sales are in Twitter's bright spot mobile. So Twitter is going to be the big mover here today. A lot of what happens in the stock market is going to depend on what happens with the jobs report tomorrow.

PEREIRA: We'll be watching. Thanks, Christine. Let's take a look at what is trending. Subfreezing temperatures could not stop 700,000 Seahawks fans from celebrating the Seahawks Super Bowl win. Well over 13,000 students were absent from school so they could attend Wednesday's parade. That's more than quadruple the usual amount. There he is. That's Marshawn Lynch. There he is showered by fans with his favorite candy Skittles. He was actually seen speaking to them as well. Nischelle, you're not the only lucky one anymore.

NISCELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Apparently. Michaela, poor health has landed a former castaway back in the hospital. Doctors say Jose Salvador Alvarenga who claims he survived for 13 months adrift in the Pacific Ocean is suffering from dehydration and malnutrition. Alvarenga washed ashore on the Marshall Islands eight days ago. Officials say they have no reason to doubt his story so far.

PEREIRA: Nischelle, check this guy out. It looks like he's sleepwalking in the snow in his underwear. It's a sculpture, and it's turning heads at Wellesley college. The exhibit caused a whole lot of buzz on the school's museum's Facebook page. Some folks seem to get a kick out of it. Others have started a petition to have it removed from the all women college campus. The president of the school says it's supposed to provoke talk and new ideas. Creepy or thought- provoking, Nischelle?

TURNER: I'd be thinking, I'd be talking, and it would fool me.

Now, Jay Leno is hosting his final edition of "The Tonight Show" tonight. We said this before, remember, back in 2009?


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": You were the only choice. You were the perfect choice. You have been an absolute gentleman in private, in the press. I agree, Conan rocks. Good luck next week my friend.


TURNER: Yes, we all remember the Conan debacle a few years ago. But Leno is promising this time he's not coming back. His guest tonight includes Billy Crystal, who was his first guest in 1992. Leno will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon and the show will be transplanted back to New York starting February 17th. It is the end of an era this evening.

CUOMO: The beginning of a new one.

BOLDUAN: I never got to see a show live while I was in L.A.

TURNER: Me neither.


TURNER: No. There's been so much talk. He's been up and down. He is going out number one.

CUOMO: Yep. Well done. And I just read a book about Johnny Carson written by his former lawyer. It was really interesting how he really created the genre of being funny and affable at night. And now they're all just walking in his footsteps.

TURNER: And Jay Leno says that Jimmy Fallon is the person closest to Johnny Carson.


CUOMO: High praise. All right, so what do you make of this one? A bizarre incident involving Justin Bieber and his father, again, both allegedly smoking pot on a chartered flight to the Super Bowl. Doesn't qualify as bizarre, you say? Well, how about this detail: so much pot was being smoked, pilots felt forced to put on oxygen masks to avoid getting a contact high.

CNN's Susan Candiotti reports.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Justin Bieber in the headlines once again for all the wrong reasons, this time for allegedly refusing a pilot's warning to stop smoking pot on board a private flight from Toronto to the Super Bowl last Friday. The smell of weed so overwhelming, it permeated the cockpit.

A law enforcement force tells CNN the pilots claim they put on oxygen masks to keep their lungs clear, apparently afraid they might otherwise fail a possible drug test. The flight crew allegedly warned Bieber and his entourage repeatedly to put the pot away.

Our source also says the pilots claim the troubled teenage pop sensation and his father were verbally abusive to a flight attendant. And it got so bad the pilot suggested she hang out near the cockpit to avoid contact with the start.

Once the plane landed at a New Jersey airport, sources said the penetrating odor was so pungent it was obvious it was more than the plane that had been flying high. The charter company declined comment and so did Bieber's representative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The traditional person gets in an airplane and they have to worry about being on time, and they have to worry about going through the TSA. This kid has a private jet and he's yelling at the pilots and trying to get them high, probably not the best way to illicit sympathy for your cause.

CANDIOTTI: As for the pre-Super Bowl incident, no drugs were found, no charges filed.

Susan Candiotti, CNN New York.


BOLDUAN: I mean --

TURNER: Listen. We say a lot about Justin, but when your father's on the plane with you and part of that, I mean, what are you learning?

BOLDUAN: That's your example right there.

TURNER: Exactly. What do you do?

CUOMO: I blame the father.

He needs to sit down. He needs to do an interview and might talk about what he's doing here.

BOLDUAN: Who could he talk to?

CUOMO: Justin's just a kid. He needs to sit down. He needs to get in the chair and account for what's going on.

TURNER: I agree. I'm with you on that on.

BOLDUAN: He's facing multiple charges in more than one state.

CUOMO: Kids need parents.

BOLDUAN: And then this is what's happening.

CUOMO: Kids need parents. Kids are a function of --

PERIERA: I'm waiting (ph) for those pilots. What a situation to find yourself in and be professional.

TURNER: And also to be the only woman on that plane and to be -- being verbally abused to the point that you feel like you have to take refuge up with the pilot, it's just beyond to me. It's beyond.

All right. I'm with you on that one, though, Chris, as parent--

CUOMO: Thank you, Nischelle. Good to have support.

TURNER: -- that I'm not.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a murder trial some people are comparing now to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. Was a man justified when he shot at a group of black teens after asking them to turn down their music?

CUOMO: And here's a movie reference that you may get. There was a movie called, "So I Married an Ax Murderer" where the guy said that Kentucky Fried Chicken puts an addictive chemical in its chicken. It was a joke. But now, with Subway, is it the real deal? Is there a chemical being put in their bread to help the dough stretch? And it could be really dangerous. We're going to tell you about it.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. A blockbuster trial set to begin today in Florida and it's drawing parallels to the Trayvon Martin case. Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man, is facing murder charges after opening fire on a car full of black teenagers in a parking lot. Why? He claims he felt threatened after they refused his request to turn down their music. He claims they pulled a gun. But as Tory Dunnan reports, that didn't happen.


TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): November 2012, authorities say it began with a fight over loud music at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station and ended with 17-year-old Jordan Davis shot and killed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been the most difficult, challenging year of my life.

DUNNAN: Flash forward to February 2014, the trial now underway for 47-year-old software developer Michael Dunn charged with first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. Dunn pleaded not guilty, claiming self defense in the shooting death of the unarmed teen.

During the police interrogation, Dunn told investigators he asked Davis and the three other teens who were parked next to him at a Jacksonville gas station to turn down their music. Then he says he heard threats from the teens and saw a gun in their car.

MICHAEL DUNN, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: The guy that was in the back was getting really agitated. And my window's up. I can't hear anything he's saying. But, you know, there was a lot of [expletive deleted] like that [expletive deleted] and [expletive deleted]. And then the music comes back on.

DUNNAN: Saying he feared for his safety, Dunn retrieved his gun from inside his car. Then police say he fired four shots into the SUV Davis was in. As the SUV sped away, police say Dunn fired four more rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you began to shoot, can you honestly tell us you ever saw a gun inside the vehicle?

DUNN: I saw a barrel come up on the window, like a single shot shotgun where there's a barrel. I didn't see this part of the barrel. I saw that part of the barrel. And it was either a barrel or a stick. But, sir, there -- there -- they're like, we're going to kill you.

DUNNAN: Davis, sitting in the backseat, was killed. His three friends survived. Investigators say they found no guns inside their SUV and that Dunn left the scene, never calling police.

Tory Dunnan, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.


CUOMO: All right, let's break down the case with Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor.

Paul, great to have you as always.


CUOMO: Let's just get one thing out of the way. People may not like the outcome in the Zimmerman case, but compared to this case, Zimmerman was a no-brainer. The cases really don't line up in any way. And let's go through this.

You play the prosecution. I'll play the defense. The main allegation of course is what we just unpacked there for you in the story. My main defense is going to be I had to make a decision to save my life. It was an immediate situation. There was provocation. I saw something, I did what I had to do to protect myself. That's the end of the story.

CALLAN: Well, and I think it's a very, very weak defense here for a couple reasons. I mean, if we can go political for one second --

CUOMO: Please.

CALLAN: -- who's trying this case? Angela Corey.

CUOMO: Same as the Zimmerman.

CALLAN: Yeah, but she's the prosecutor of this area. Remember, she sent some of her assistants to try the Zimmerman case. This looks to be a slam dunk for the prosecution. Because in order to use deadly physical force, you have to be in reasonable fear that that force is going to be used against you.

And on this fact pattern, you know, he fired four shots as the car was driving away. He was firing four more shots into a fleeing vehicle. It doesn't sound like he's defending himself.

CUOMO: But once I started firing -- I'm going to explain that by the repetitive stress event. Once I start firing, you can't judge by actions anymore. It's only what happened initially, and I heard violent threats coming at me, and I saw a gun coming at me.

CALLAN: You're not going to win with that. Because when you saw that video where he was describing what he saw, at first he says, "I thought it was the barrel of a shotgun." But later he says, "It could have been a stick."

And of course we really have some other evidence in the case that may come out, jailhouse letters that are kind of shocking in their expression of his racist attitude toward African-Americans.

CUOMO: And it becomes very relevant because it goes to what his motivations were in the moment. Let's take a look at some of these.

Here's the first one. "I'm not really prejudiced against race, but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster rap ghetto-talking thug culture that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable."

What will that mean in the course of the case?

CALLAN: Well, let's translate it into how it works in a courtroom. In a courtroom, you have to show that you, yourself, were in reasonable fear that you were going to get shot, but you also have to show that a reasonable person would feel this way. And this letter seems to suggest that he bears this animus toward African-American culture.

So that's not reasonable in America today to say that because you don't like the way African-Americans dress and act you have the right to shoot them because you have this fear.

CUOMO: And remember, as in the Zimmerman trial, if you provoke a situation, it raises the bar of analysis in terms of what you are allowed to do to defend yourself. And this goes to whether or not he would have provoked this situation, which is what the fact pattern suggests.

Here's the second, and this one may be more damning. "This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive deleted) idiots when they're threaten you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior."

CALLAN: Extremely damaging. And let me just add a couple of other things. No gun was found in the car that these kids were in. After he fires eight shots into the vehicle, does he go to the local police station and say, "Hey, I was attacked"? No, he goes to St. Augustine where he had reserved a bed and breakfast room with his girlfriend and orders pizza. Now does that sound like a guy who was in reasonable fear of his life and acted in a terrible situation and then goes to the police? No. Everything that he did seems to mitigate against self defense.

CUOMO: As you like to say, ab initio, from the beginning he has trouble because he's in a car. So he had immediate choice of egress to exit. He could have immediately driven away and saved himself, obviously didn't take that opportunity. What's the chance this case goes his way?

CALLAN: Well, I'll tell you something. It's a prosecutor's case, but you never know in a courtroom. And I'll tell you there are a couple of things that I think the defense could exploit in this case.

One, his girlfriend was inside the convenience store at the gas station. And he's going to say, "I couldn't drive away. I had to stay and protect her."

He's also going to say, you know, "These kids drove away. They drove around in a circle and came back. They ditched the shotgun. They threw it away. There was a gun in that car."

And if this jury believes, or even a couple of the jurors believe, there was a gun in the SUV that he fired into, he wins on self defense ground. So it's never over yet, and it's never over until the jury speaks in a criminal trial.

CUOMO: Why didn't I think of the girlfriend in the convenience store and that he got rid of the shotgun?

CALLAN: Because you're a TV anchor as opposed to a criminal defense lawyer like me, Chris.

CUOMO: That stings.

CALLAN: What can I tell you?

CUOMO: But it stings because it's true, Paul Callan. CALLAN: I know. I know.

CUOMO: But you copied my pocket square today.

CALLAN: Yes, but you're very well dressed.

CUOMO: So I feel OK about that. He copied the style of my pocket square. Take a look. He was a straight-line-across guy. Now he's a flare guy. That's all I'm going to say. I feel I win just on that.

CALLAN: Always a pleasure.

CUOMO: Thank you for the analysis. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN; Coming up next on NEW DAY, police caught in a wild gun battle with a man out to kill as many cops as possible. We're going to show you dramatic video that shows the officers as they came under fire and how they responded.

Also this, more than a thousand American athletes headed to Sochi, but thousands of containers of American yogurt may be held back. Why are Russians keeping Chobani from Sochi? Great story. We'll explain.