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Arctic Blast Returns; U.S. Readies Full Afghan Withdrawal; Will Arizona Governor Sign Bill?; Big Drop In Childhood Obesity; Obama Weighs NSA Options; Ukraine Asks Court To Try Ousted Leader; Aaron Hernandez Involved In Prison Fight; Is Polio-Like Illness Paralyzing Kids?; Top NBA Jersey

Aired February 26, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too low, too cold. I'm tired of all these layers of clothes.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Winter of discontent. Two-thirds of the country going back into the freezer. An arctic blast sending temperatures to new lows, roads crumbling in the cold. Heating cost skyrocketing by double digits. We're going to tell you what to expect and where.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New details and possibly new hope in that mystery illness causing paralysis in children in California. One of the children is getting better. He and his parents speak out to us.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Was the fix in? One of the most epic fights of all time, (INAUDIBLE) and Muhammad Ali, now newly released FBI documents suggesting it may have been rigged.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, February 26th, 6:00 in the East.

And it turns out the balmy weekend, just a big tease. The eastern two-thirds of the country now in the grips of a dangerous arctic blast. Temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below normal. And for good measure, there's snow in the forecast from the Appalachians all the way to New England.

Indra Petersons, our meteorologist will tell us what's happening where, and why. But let's get the feel from where the extreme weather will be hitting hardest beginning with Ted Rowlands, he is in frigid Chicago. Ted, how you holding up? TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frigid is an understatement, Chris. Good morning. It's about 15 degrees below zero right now with the windchill here in Chicago. Much worse in many areas of the Midwest and at this point in the season for a lot of people. It is just getting to be too much to bear.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): The latest arctic blast is a harsh reminder that the winter that just won't quit isn't over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disgusting, too long, too cold.

ROWLANDS: Cities across the country are nearing record levels for snow and low temperatures. Rochester, Minnesota is on track to break its record of 52 days below zero. Chicago which many people are calling "Siberia" has been below zero for 23 days this winter and it's 68 inches of snow is the fifth highest of all time.

In the south, Dallas and Atlanta are experiencing top ten coldest winters on record. It's the same for snow fall in Philadelphia and New York City. There's so much ice on the Great Lakes, there's concern the shipping season may be delayed. In Illinois, the river has massive ice chunks stacking up dangerously high, closing bridges and creating the potential for severe flooding.

SGT. DAVID ZINANHI, EMA DIRECTOR: We don't want it all to break at once. That won't be good.

ROWLANDS: Local governments are spending millions on snow removal and un-patching pot holes. Millions of us are expected to be hit with massive heating bills heating oil, natural gas and propane are all in demand. Tom Edison says customers in New York should expect a 16 percent increase on their February heating bill from the same time last year. While customers in Michigan will see a 13 percent increase. In Illinois, it could be as high as 30 percent.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that's our Ted Rowlands for us in Chicago. We'll get back to him a little later in the show. Let's get over to meteorologist, Indra Petersons though who's tracking all the weather for us. So Chicago is getting it hard. What else are we looking at, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's one thing to have cold and there is another thing to have dangerous cold. This morning, we have windchill advisories again in the northern plains in the Upper Midwest where temperatures are even cooler than they were yesterday morning.

What are we talking about? Afternoon highs 20 to 30 below normal. Even for them, but keep in mind, when you look at the windchill, you're talking about 10 below out towards Indianapolis. Notice Duluth, 35 basically below zero. Unfortunately, once you factor in the windchill, really doesn't feel much better out there. Chicago, their high today, 7 below zero. That is dangerous. Boston looking for 11. This cold air is expected to stay. Why? Because we have a couple systems making their way through. Light flurries unless you're off the lakes. Everyone else, most likely seeing under an inch.

There are two cold fronts making their way through. So this is a reinforcing batch of cold air to keep it cold through the end of the week. Not a good thing when you're talking about temperatures this cold.

BOLDUAN: Yes, seven is not -- thanks, Indra. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Those numbers are going to mean a lot of dead car batteries this morning, a lot of tough commutes for sure.

All right, how about this headline? No Afghan security deal, no troops. That's the message from President Obama to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai has refused to sign a deal to keep several thousand U.S. troops in place after 2014.

Now the U.S. says there could be a full force withdrawal by year's end. But this morning, a senior Pakistani official warns of a, quote, "holocaust" if that happens. CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. Barbara, an ugly word, but that is the one that was used. What's the concern?

STARR: Well, that Pakistani official expressing the same concern a lot of people have. He says Afghanistan may fall into a civil war. He predicts 30 percent of Afghan forces would defect all of this, if the U.S. is forced into a fall withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

The question, of course, is how soon would Afghanistan again some 13 years later become a safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban and what could the U.S. even do about it if all U.S. troops are gone. Karzai not signing that security agreement that would be required for any U.S. troops to stay beyond the end of the year.

After President Obama spoke to Karzai yesterday, the White House putting out that official statement for the entire world to see that President Obama now for the first time telling the Pentagon, plan for a full withdrawal. It's just what you said, Chris. No agreement, no troops -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That is quite a message. Barbara, thank you very much for that.

Turn to Arizona now, will Arizona Governor Jan Brewer veto the controversial right to refuse service bill. Some Arizona Republicans say they're confident the governor will turn down the measure that would allow businesses to deny service to gay customers because of religion.

This comes as companies like Apple, big companies like Apple and American airlines have threatened pulling business from the state if that measure goes forward. Ana Cabrera is following all the developments for us live in Phoenix this morning. Ana, what is the very latest?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, all eyes on the governor's office today as the nation really is waiting to see what the governor will do with this bill that opponents say allows businesses to discriminate. Now the governor has said she will only make a decision after hearing from all sides of this controversial legislation, and she does have meetings set today with state lawmakers, as well as business groups, many of whom are urging her to veto this bill.


CABRERA (voice-over): The voices are growing louder against a bill that would allow businesses in Arizona to refuse service to gays based on religious beliefs. The bill's faith now in the hands of Governor Jan Brewer.

GOVERNOR JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I don't rely on whole lot on my gut because I have to look at what it says and what the law says and take that information and do the right thing.

BREWER: Brewer is staying out of the spotlight since her interview with CNN on Monday. But other high profile politicians are weighing in as pressure mounts on the governor. Mitt Romney tweeting veto of SB-1062 is right. Big businesses including Apple, American Airlines, AT&T, and Intel, vocally opposing the bill, and next year's Super Bowl also on the line.

(on camera): Do you think that the governor's getting the message?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She hasn't said a whole lot.

CABRERA: Conservative lawmakers who helped pass the bill remain largely quiet. But one representative defended his vote by offering an example of what the bill is designed to prevent.

REPRESENTATIVE SONNY BORRELLI (R), ARIZONA: You have a gay person that owns a printing shop, OK. Somebody from the Westboro Baptist Church comes in there and demands that they print and sign that, obviously the printer is not going to agree with. Should that religious group demand that print shop print that thing?

CABRERA: Conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh igniting the rhetoric by saying Brewer is being attacked.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: She's being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere.

CABRERA: Protesters vowing to continue the fight. We want the Super Bowl. We want Apple and we're really asking our governor please do the right thing and veto this SB 1062.


CABRERA: And while no one knows just yet what the governor will do, we do know she vetoed similar legislation last year. We also know that she really prides herself as being a pro-business governor. There's a lot of concern about what this bill could do to business from its potential impact on the tourism industry to its impact on attracting new businesses and new talent to the state.

So we'll have to wait and see, Chris, but lawmakers that are close to the governor tell us that she's likely to take some time before making her decision.

CUOMO: Good reporting, Ana. Thank you for that. Big issues here. Sure, business, but you know, religious exercise and freedom, the trend of culture. A lot of things for the governor to balance. We're going to be talking about it a lot more this morning as well. That's a tough story.

How about some good news here? New data suggests significant progress in the last decade in the fight against childhood obesity. A study focused on younger kids. That's when eating habits can be established for better or worse. It's a promising sign as communities look to prevent trends that can lead to cancer and heart disease and a host of other problems.

CNN's Joe Johns has more on the numbers and changes that could be in store to keep us moving forward -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This is absolutely a promising sign this morning in the fight against obesity though experts say the general population still has a long way to go.


JOHNS (voice-over): This morning, a big step forward in the battle against childhood obesity. A new study using federal data says obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 5 has dramatically decreased, over 40 percent in a decade. While exact reasons are unclear, experts say it's a promising sign.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: There's increased attention to improving childhood nutrition. There is increasing breastfeeding rates. Child cares are doing more physical activity.

JOHNS: This report comes out just as the first lady's let's move program to improve kids' fitness levels and eating habits marks its fourth anniversary.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Some folks even warn me that taking on childhood obesity might be controversial. They thought kids and parents should deal with these issues privately. Others laughed it off as not a real issue at all. Well, four years later, that all seems like history.

JOHNS: Now there's a new push. The administration is proposing rules to stop marketing products in schools that the government says are not good for kids. Companies would no longer be allowed to use logos of high calorie products on cups, vending machines, or posters.

OBAMA: As part of this effort will be eliminating advertisements for unhealthy food and beverages in our schools because I think we can all agree that our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food.

JOHNS: Which could mean a change to the iconic soft drink-sponsored schools sports scoreboards that pop up almost everywhere. That's sure to fuel complaints of some "Let's Move" critics who say government needs to back off when it comes to what we eat and drink.

DAREN BAKST, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's no longer father knows best or mother knows best. It's what government knows best and that's really the problem here.


JOHNS: An answer to the nanny state question, the administration says it distinguishes between adults and children and that the Let's Move program defers to local controls and local officials, but the government has an obligation to try to assure that the foods and drinks served in schools are healthy -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: The fact is our kids are a little bit healthier. Those numbers don't lie. Joe Johns, thank you for that. Let's take a look at more of your headlines at this hour.

The White House is considering four options for revamping the NSA's phone surveillance operation. According to the "Wall Street Journal," three of the choices involved running all the data through outside entities like the phone companies or other government agencies, the fourth option, abolish the program all together.

Enrollments for Obamacare have now hit the 4 million mark, but the phase would still put the White House short of its revised goal of 6 million by the end of March, that is the deadline to sign up for coverage this year. The numbers show a low number of younger people signing up. Only about 27 percent of enrollees. Officials hoped more would take part to help finance health care of older participants.

Parliament in Ukraine has voted to ask the International Criminal Court to try ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in connection with the violence over the last week. Yanukovych is still on the run after being forced out in the rebellion. The ICC says for now it has no jurisdiction over Ukraine. The acting interior minister also says the force of riot police deployed against protesters is being disbanded.

New developments for former New England Patriots star, Aaron Hernandez, now in jail on murder charges. Police tell CNN affiliated WHDA that Hernandez was involved in a fight with a fellow inmate. They are not giving any details of what happened. Hernandez is supposed to be isolated from other inmates because of his high profile status. He could now face additional charges.

This story is crazy. A mother day -- a modern day mother load in California and possibly the biggest buried treasure find ever in the U.S. Couple out for a walk on their property, out in Sacramento, they stumble upon more than 1,400 gold coins dating back from the gold rush area, uncirculated and in mint condition.

They were buried in eight rusty cans in their backyard. Really, this is making me nuts. Although the face value adds up to $27,000, the coins themselves are worth an estimated $10 million.

CUOMO: I don't get the partially buried part. What does that mean? Like it was partially sticking up out of the ground or --

PEREIRA: They were walking along --

BOLDUAN: Look at that rock.

CUOMO: Now I get it.

PEREIRA: I saw you in like a pilgrim outfit.

CUOMO: Was somebody holding a pitch fork?

BOLDUAN: I really hope they found all the coins before they let this be known. Then they're going to be like, there's somebody in our backyard.

PEREIRA: They're staying anonymous, which is very smart.

BOLDUAN: Good for them.

CUOMO: Cue all the people with those nice little --

BOLDUAN: I've always wanted to be that person on the beach.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a mystery illness paralyzing children still has doctors puzzled. It's being deemed likely untreatable. But this morning we're getting new details and hearing from one boy who may actually be getting better. Let's hope for some good news.

CUOMO: Also we're staying on the Arizona law controversy. Is the Arizona governor going to veto this controversial bill that allows business owners to discriminate against gays and others? We'll give you both sides.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Doctors in California say calls are flooding in now about a mystery illness that has already paralyzed five children. And health officials say there could be some 20 other cases. But so far, they haven't found a link. Well, doctors may be no closer to finding out what's behind this crippling polio-like disease. It's how it's being described. One boy has found hope and may actually be getting better.

Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam with the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He makes it look easy, but for 10-year-old Vikash, this takes some concentration.

YOGATHASAN MURUHATHASAN, FATHER: Thursday night, he went for karate, no problem. Saturday, he lost everything. And that's when he got -- we took him to the hospital.

So, it happened in 24 hours, quick.

ELAM: That was September 2012 when Vikash lost all ability to move his left arm. It started in his shoulder and spread all the way to his fingertips.

Doctors initially thought it was an auto immune illness.

NIRUPA MURUHATHASAN, MOTHER: They took an MRI. That's when they found out that it's inflammation of the spinal cord.

ELAM: Vikash is one of five children in California confirmed with this mystery illness likened to polio. In all of the cases, the children developed paralysis in one or more of their limbs. Vikash is fighting back with three to four hours of physical therapy a day.

VIKASH MURUHATHASAN, SON: A lot of fine motor skills. I go into the water every day. I work on the floor trying to lift up and down.

ELAM (on camera): Do you break into a sweat when you're doing it?

VIKASH MURUHATHASAN: It's not like a real exercise, running jogging. You just have to use your brain a lot.

ELAM: Because you're trying to focus and make the muscles work, right? You're putting your energy into them.


NIRUPA MURUHATHASAN: He's dominant hand used to be left arm. He started slowly trying to write. Slowly, he started -- it was originally in the wrist area. So, the fingers and then the grip got better. Four, five months back, that's when we started some progress around the shoulder area.

ELAM (voice-over): And that progress continues. Vikash can once again move his arm. He can cut with scissors. He can even type really fast.

YOGATHASAN MURUHATHASAN: Continue with physical therapy and don't give up because kids are resilient.

NIRUPA MURUHATHASAN: This is the crucial time period right after the onset of the illness. So this is when you can do whatever you can.

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, San Jose, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: If there's Vikash, then there's hope. They have to keep looking for what it is, find those common elements, use the science, use the medicine, hopefully, we'll get good news.

BOLDUAN: Doctors do thankfully say it is rare. But who cares if it's rare if you're one of the families dealing with this, right?

CUOMO: Absolutely.

So, perfection -- perfection in anything is usually unattainable. Except for Kate. But the Wichita State men's basketball team is getting close after another impressive win last year. The aptly named Shockers are now just one victory away from an undefeated regular season.

Andy Scholes joins us more with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Andy Scholes, there's only one question -- do you think they do it?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: I think they will. You know, they've just been on a roll since making it to the final four last season. You know, they beat Bradley pretty easily last night. And the second ranked shockers when they beat Bradley, they became just the first team to ever each a 30-0 mark in a regular season. They can complete that perfect regular season Saturday with a win over Missouri State. They've already beaten them once this season.

Now, compared to last year, this is a complete role reversal for the Shockers. They've gone from a Cinderella story to one of the favorites to win the NCAA tournament.

One of the top stories in the lineup section of right now, Jason Collins. His new Brooklyn Nets jersey is flying off the shelves. The NBA said his jersey was the top seller on the first day it was available. Collins, who is the first openly athletes playing the NBA is going to start wearing the number 98 tomorrow night as a tribute to Matthew Shepard who was brutally murdered in a gay hate crime in 1998.

All right. Opening day for Major League Baseball just about a month away. Hall of fame shortstop Ozzie Smith is leading the charge to have the day made into a national holiday. Ozzie is teaming with Budweiser to try to get 100,000 signatures on to get the movement going.

And I don't know about you guys, but I think this is a splendid idea. I would love to have it off to sit back and watch baseball and throw back a few cold ones.

BOLDUAN: Right. This has nothing to do with any personal motivations for you at all. You're just thinking of the country.

SCHOLES: Everyone loves opening day. Nice weather. Baseball finally on your television. It should be a day off.

CUOMO: I think if Ozzie can still do the signature back flip, it should be a national holiday.

BOLDUAN: Wait, what do I'm missing? He can do back flips?

CUOMO: He played shortstop, phenomenal player. And he used to be able to do back flips like on demand. That would be something -- it was a routine. People loved to see it.

BOLDUAN: I think we have to (INAUDIBLE) on NEW DAY.

Andy --

SCHOLES: He's 50s now, probably could still make it happen.

BOLDUAN: Andy Scholes, you're not 50 years old, you need to work on your back flip.

SCHOLES: All right. That ain't happening.

CUOMO: He's a cross fitter, he can do it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a major recall and it's getting bigger. So, we've got to tell you about it. GM now nearly doubling the cars it will repair after a defect has been connected to 13 deaths. What's the defect? What do you need to know? We'll tell you.

BOLDUAN: And an iconic fight, rigged? New evidence the mob may be behind one of the most legendary boxing matches ever. The story coming up.


PEREIRA: Almost 6:30 in the East. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Let's take a look at your headlines. Temperatures are plunging across the country. It will be 20 to 30 degrees below normal all week. The massive arctic blast will make it feel as low as 30 below in parts of the Midwest and Northern Plains. Snow falling today along the I-95 corridor, from the Appalachians to New England.

A welcome surprise for researchers. A newly 43 percent drop in obesity rates for 2 to 5 year olds. This sharp decline is significant, because evidence shows a child's lifetime obesity risk is established by the time they're 5 years old. The study showed no significant changes in obesity rates for other age groups.

President Obama offers the strongest sign yet that the U.S. is preparing for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan. Speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama said if Karzai chooses not to sign a security agreement, U.S. troops will come home at the end of 2014. The president says any U.S. mission in Afghanistan gets more challenging to plan without a deal in place.

Well, the president hits the road today speaking in St. Paul Minnesota as he continues to focus on the economy. He'll talk job creation as part of his planned year of action, outlined in the State of the Union. The president is expected to announce a new competition to encourage investment, create jobs and repair America's crumbling infrastructure.

This is a story for you America. It's often said that bacon makes everything better. We say that often here.

One team, a minor league baseball team agrees with that. Look at their uniforms, all bacon-themed. The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Pennsylvania have bacon strip linings on the side of their pants along with other bacon striped items.

And guess what, fans? If you're in the stands, you can buy a scratch- sniff T-shirt that, yes, you guessed it, smells like bacon. And you're welcome.

CUOMO: The Iron Pigs, it doesn't get any better than that.

All right. This morning, all eyes on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Why? Well, she's still considering this controversial bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community and potentially others. Some call it a license to discriminate, others defend the bill as legally a protection of religious freedom.

Let's bring in CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish from Philadelphia.

Good morning, counselor.


CUOMO: Thank you for being on NEW DAY.