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NEW DAY SATURDAY

American Suicide Bomber Identified; Steve Ballmer Bids $2 Billion to Buy Clippers; VA Chief Eric Shinseki Resigns; Glass Floor Cracks 103 Stories Above Chicago; Donald Sterling Sues the NBA for $1 Billion; Half of American Adults Victims of Hacking; Root from Peru Helps Lose Weight

Aired May 31, 2014 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, P.J.s look good on you, right? You're allowed to say - it's Saturdays. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And if you are not wearing P.J.s, that's good too. I'm Victor Blackwell. 7:00 now. On the East Coast. It's "NEW DAY Saturday."

PAUL: Yes. Oh, my gosh. Full slate of things to talk to you about. First, we want to get to some developing news here. An American who blew himself up in a suicide bombing in Syria has been identified this morning.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the State Department believes that young man is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha. He grew up in Florida and apparently went to Syria several months ago to join this hard core extremist groups in the fighting there to fight the Syrian government. A week ago he filled a truck with explosives and detonated it.

PAUL: CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom joins us now from Washington.

Mohammed, thank you so much for being here. What are you hearing from the State Department about this American suicide bomber? What else are we learning?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, as more details are beginning to emerge about Moner Mohammad Abu Salha who the State Department believes was this American suicide bomber, we have been told by officials in the past couple of days that this was indeed the first American suicide bomber in Syria who blew himself up in that truck loaded with 17 tons of explosives at a government checkpoint in Syria this past Sunday.

This is a very worrying development. But U.S. officials aren't just worried about Americans who are going to Syria and fighting there currently. They're also extremely worried about Americans who are fighting there and would then come back to the U.S. once they're done in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMJOOM (voice-over): This deadly explosion thousands of miles away is now being blamed on this man -- an American citizen. CNN has learned the man known was born in Florida. Officials won't say when he went to Syria or why, but they believe he is responsible for packing 17 tons of explosives into a vehicle and blowing it up. Becoming the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Experts say he may not be the only American training for such a deadly attack.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You go over there, you -- you know you meet a lot of very hardcore al Qaeda types, if you're associated with these groups, and they indoctrinate you further. And based on previous historic examples, particularly the Afghan war against the Soviet rebels, people trying to maintain and bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, and other veterans planned the 9/11 attacks. You know, people are very concerned. And they have reason to be.

JAMJOOM: Analysts say at least 100 Americans have flooded into Syria since the start of the civil war. And U.S. officials fear many more may already be joining a bloody battle, getting expert training on how to plot attacks once back in the U.S.

ANDREW MCCARE, FBI: Syria remains a significant destination for our homegrown violent extremist population.

JAMJOOM: Even more frightening sources say it's a group that's becoming increasingly difficult to track.

MCCARE: There isn't a single easily identifiable community from which our Syria travelers all spring from. They are a very diverse group. They are of both genders. When you put them all together, they look like America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JAMJOOM: But another reason why there is so much concern about this development is because there's actually more than one war that's going on in Syria. You have the actual physical war on the ground, and then you have the propaganda war, and jihadist groups that are fighting in Syria will use the fact that there are Americans fighting there and that now there's been the first American suicide bomber in Syria to try to get a lot more recruits to their cause -- Christi.

BLACKWELL: The propaganda war just as valuable sometimes as that bullet and ground war there.

Mohammed Jamjoom for us in Washington, thank you so much.

PAUL: So Donald Sterling is suing the NBA for $1 billion. With a B. The embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner said he's taken the league to court because of its decision to ban him from life and forced him to give up his franchise.

BLACKWELL: Now this latest twist comes just after wife Shelly agreed to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It's the most ever paid for an NBA franchise. But did Ballmer pay too much?

Alexandra Field is here with more for us. That's the question, $2 billion and the rest of that sentence is, for the L.A. Clippers -- Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Christi and Victor, you got it. What's $2 billion worth to you? Well, in this case, if this sale goes through at $2 billion, Steve Ballmer would be paying about three and a half times what the Clippers have been valued at by Forbes. Also paying about $400 million more than the next closest bidder.

So clearly, it's worth it to Steve Ballmer and already some analysts are speculating that this bid will make a lot of other teams in the league worth a lot more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD (voice-over): A $2 billion bid for a basketball team smashes records. Well, what's Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft mogul, getting for all that money?

RICK HORROW, HORROW SPORTS VENTURES: The team that's better on the court today than the Los Angeles Lakers with a great lease at the Staples Center and a new upside television deal that he is about to negotiate in Los Angeles.

FIELD: Future TV deals both local and national could bring in close to an extra $100 million a year by some estimates, which is a lot, but not the big picture.

MIKE OZANIAN, "FORBES" MAGAZINE: In the first few years, profits are going to be very minimal. This isn't something he's buying principally because he wants to make money. This is someone who is going to take 10 percent of their net worth and they're going to buy a sports team in L.A., which is going to give them a lot of prestige.

FIELD: For $2 billion there is plenty of prestige, a way for the wealthy to diversify investments and, with a salary cap in place, NBA owners can be protected from dipping into their own pockets.

OZANIAN: Steve Ballmer knows that if he runs this team somewhat prudently, he is not going to have to put any capital into the team.

FIELD (on camera): If you have $20 billion.

OZANIAN: Not a bad thing.

FIELD (voice-over): In January "Forbes" list of NBA team values ranked the Clippers 13th with an estimated worth of $575 million. Their potential sale price was estimated at around $1 billion once Donald Sterling's racist rant was revealed.

HORROW: The NBA should trip over itself, get the documents done, approve this transaction, and move on to other business just as fast as humanly possible.

FIELD: The $2 billion price tag could help send the values of some of the league's most valuable franchises soaring. OZANIAN: I don't think you'll be able to buy a big market NBA team for less than $3 billion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: And it is worth pointing out here that Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12 million back in 1981. Now given this sale agreement to Steve Ballmer, the NBA has said that it has cancelled the June 3rd meeting during which the other NBA owners would have voted to try and force Donald Sterling to sell the team, but there will still have to be a vote. The other owners will still have to approve this sale.

And Christi and Victor, analysts say this $2 billion price tag should certainly be just added incentive for them to try and rush this sale through.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: All righty. Alexandra Field. Thank you so much, Alexandra.

BLACKWELL: So after weeks of criticisms and the growing call, this drumbeat for him to resign, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, he's done just that. Shinseki resigned yesterday after the allegations of a massive cover-up by VA hospitals across the country.

PAUL: Now the VA acknowledges 23 veterans died because of delayed care. And up to 40 other deaths are under investigation right now. Some facilities, like the one in Phoenix, for instance, are accused of keeping secret waiting lists to cover up long wait times for sick veterans.

BLACKWELL: On Friday President Obama said that he agrees with Shinseki that a shift in leadership is necessary. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But as he told me this morning, that the VA needs new leadership to address it. He does not want to be a distraction because his priority is to fix the problem and make sure our vets are getting the care that they need. That was Rick's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Shinseki's departure, of course, comes just days after the VA released an audit of its health systems and the findings reveal VA hospitals across the country were flagged for, quote, "questionable scheduling practices."

BLACKWELL: And Shinseki's deputy Sloan Gibson has been named as the temporary replacement as they look for a permanent VA secretary.

PAUL: But you know, we've got an important conversation about the VA scandal coming up here, an official of an influential veterans group tells us what he thinks needs to happen from this point forward. BLACKWELL: Plus almost half of all adults -- listen to this. Almost half of all adults in the U.S. were hacked in the last 12 months. So how do you protect yourself?

PAUL: And root from South America is apparently helping divers lose a whole lot of weight. Does it really work? Is it safe? We're going to break it down for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Well, President Obama starts today to search for a new VA chief. Of course retired four-star General Eric Shinseki resigned Friday amid stunning revelations of bureaucratic lapses at his agency.

PAUL: Before stepping down Shinseki describes the problems as systemic. The question is, will installing a new chief at the top of a massive and apparently very troubled bureaucracy really change anything?

Let's talk now with -- in Washington Alex Nicholson, he's the legislative director for the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

So, Alex, thank you so much for being with us. We just heard from a vet last hour, another veteran, who said veteran do not abandon other veterans and there is some sort of a backlash to some degree for the firing. Well, the resignation of Shinseki.

As a veteran yourself, and thank you for your service, how do you feel? What is your reaction to his resignation?

ALEX NICHOLSON, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Well, General Shinseki is definitely a well-decorated, honorable, widely respected man who did a lot of good things at the VA. The issue became that he had been lied to by many of his subordinates within the VA and that he had been a bit detached from a lot of the problems deep down in that bureaucracy and ultimately the president and Shinseki decided that it was best in trying to fix some of those the problems, that he step aside and new leadership come in.

But there's no do doubt that everyone, you know, pretty much agrees that General Shinseki has a long celebrated, decorated career, and is a very honorable man who honestly wanted to help veterans.

BLACKWELL: So the leader of the organization, at least the chief of staff, had a closed door meeting with Shinseki on the 29th. I've got the press release here from the IAVA Web site. You write here that you still have concerns, serious concerns, about whether the secretary has the tools, resources and the confidence of the VA staff and veterans to create real reform.

So Secretary Shinseki is gone. The question is, what are the resources, the tools needed to move forward?

NICHOLSON: Well, one of the things that needs to happen is, you know, Congress has given the VA every dime its asked for and more. There's definitely concern that the VA is not asking for enough resources. That the administration has not been forthright about exactly the amount of money the VA needs. So Congress needs to, you know, step up and increase funding for the VA even if the VA doesn't ask for it now.

It also needs to pass the VA Management Accountability Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly. It's bogged down in the Senate now. But that would give the new secretary the tools to more easily fire non-performing bureaucrats. There's definitely a bureaucratic problem deep down in the VA and the VA itself, as a new secretary, is going to have to deal with three over arching issues. He's going to have to deal with management, technology and metrics.

He's got to make sure that best management practices are mandated throughout the agency. They've got to get on the technology train and really revamp the technology tools the VA has and then they've got to make sure that metrics are focused on the quality of care and services to the veterans, and not so much the quantity. And that's one of the reasons that many people believe we saw the secret waiting list coming out of Phoenix and so many other places, is that directors of these centers were so focused on the quantitative metrics that they were forced -- that they were going to be judged on that they ended up cooking the books to try to make themselves look good and not get behind on those metrics and still get bonuses.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: So speaking of quality of care, what do you believe is the biggest problem, when we think about, you know, we have to take care of our veterans? What is the biggest problem, in your opinion, for veterans coming home now from Iraq and Afghanistan?

NICHOLSON: You know, the biggest problem that our members at IAVA are telling us they're facing, especially this year, is honestly suicide. And there's definitely a mental health crisis that needs to be addressed, and we need an expansion of mental health services and resources. That's another thing Congress can help do with passing the suicide prevention for America's Veterans Acts. But suicide has been the number one issue raised and flagged to us by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning home.

BLACKWELL: So the question now after Sloan Gibson, who should take over the VA? And there are some media outlets that have lists, "Washington Post" has one out. I want to read a few of the names that have been discussed. Senator Jack Reid, Admiral Mike Mullen, General Peter Chiarelli, former senator Jim Webb, of course, there's been some talk also about chief of staff Ray Odierno.

Who would you add to this list or is there one name you want to endorse?

NICHOLSON: We're certainly not endorsing anyone in particular, but I've heard some of the same names floated. General Chiarelli has been, you know, really good on attacking mental health issues and trying to find solution to those. Senator Jack Reid has been a great advocate on the Senate Arms Services Committee. Another name that's not on that list that we've heard floated is Congressman Tim Waltz, who's the highest ranking enlisted service member to serve in Congress. An amazing advocate for veterans on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

So there's a number of people I think that are -- that are perfectly qualified and capable. But we want to see someone who served in the post-9/11 era who's had experience either in Iraq and Afghanistan or with the post-9/11 military be involved because we really feel that we need a transformational new generation leader in the VA to help bring the VA into a 21st century VA.

PAUL: All righty. Alex Nicholson of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Thank you, sir so much for your service.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Thank you so much.

NICHOLSON: Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, imagine you're standing on this glass. We have the glass? Picture of it here?

PAUL: My gosh. Let me tell you something. I have stood there.

BLACKWELL: You have?

PAUL: I -- well, kind of.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: What was it? So it's 103 stories high. And then it cracks.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: OK. It happened to four cousins, and now they're talking to CNN about those moments. 103 stories.

PAUL: It's not pretty. I'm telling you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Incredible story here. Four guys -- cousins are feeling lucky to be alive today, as they should be.

PAUL: Because they were on an observation deck. It's 103 stories off the ground. And what you're supposed to do is walk out to this glass and look down. 103 stories. Look what happens. The coating shattered beneath them.

CNN's George Howell has more now from Chicago's tallest building, the Willis Tower.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One hundred three stories above the ground.

ALEJANDRO GARIBAY, VISITED SKYDECK: All I see is just glass that's breaking underneath me. I hear it. I feel it.

HOWELL: Four cousins pose together for a picture on a glass observation deck overlooking Chicago and the second they stood up.

GARIBAY: I can feel the glass just shattering completely around my hand.

HOWELL: They look back to see the surface they had been sitting on shattered.

ANTONIO SALDANA, VISITED SKYDECK: I was thinking I'm going down with it. You know, I'm thinking this thing is breaking all around it. My first instinct was get the hell out of there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can hear it cracking.

HOWELL: They also got video of the glass literally cracking in front of their eyes. They feared the ledge was about to fall to the ground.

MICHAEL SWANBERG, MTH INDUSTRIES: Because you can see through it obviously you have the psychological effect that, you know, oh, my gosh, something broke. Nobody was ever in danger.

HOWELL: Engineer Michael Swanberg says there's a thick panel of glass that didn't break, designed to withstand 10,000 pounds or five tons of weight. We watched as crews replaced the thin layer above it that caused such a scare.

(On camera): So this is the new sheet of glass that will go on the Skydeck and if you look here you can see exactly how thin that is. But crews tell me that this is meant to be scratched and scraped up. In fact, it's replaced every six to nine months depending upon wear and tear.

(Voice-over): From outside, at a helicopter's vantage point, you can see how the observation ledge extends just beyond the Willis Tower. With the new glass panel finally in place, we put it to the test.

(On camera): So we are stepping on to that thin sheet of glass now.

SWANBERG: That's correct. The quarter inch top piece of glass is designed to protect the 1 1/2 inch thick structural glass. Its sole purpose is to keep the structural glass free of scratches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, take the picture.

HOWELL (voice-over): The ledge on the Skydeck now back in business. And even these guys admit after the scare of their lives --

GARIBAY: For the record, it's an awesome view, awesome building.

HOWELL: It's the view from up top that made such an impression on them that they may just come back for more.

George Howell, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Boy, just don't step out there together.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I mean, what -- I'm a man of girth. It's OK. But there's no way I'm going out there with three other hefties to stand on some glass sheet.

PAUL: I wouldn't even go out there. I stood at the delineation line between the floor and the glass and I did this --

BLACKWELL: Looked over?

PAUL: OK. That's as far as I got.

BLACKWELL: That's enough. I know they say that this is what's supposed to happen. It's not supposed to shatter. That is not supposed to.

PAUL: He's not buying it, people.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, George.

PAUL: All righty. A new chapter in the Donald Sterling saga. It's not over, folks. If you thought he was just going to give up and walk off into the sunset, huh-uh. He's gearing up for a billion dollar fight now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Well, mortgage rates dipped this week. Have a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Twenty-eight minutes past 7:00. You got time. You got time. Relax. On a Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

PAUL: Day one to find the remedy for the VA starts today. After weeks of criticism from both sides of the aisle, embattled Veterans Affairs chief Eric Shinseki resigned, as you know. The announcement comes after allegations that hospitals were cooking the books and trying to hide long wait times for sick veterans. And the VA acknowledges 23 veterans died because of delayed care. In the meantime, Shinseki's deputy, Sloan Gibson, is going to lead the VA until a permanent replacement is named.

BLACKWELL: Number two, intelligence officials are now trying to find out more about the American who blew himself up in a massive suicide bombing in Syria. They believe they know his name, Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, and that he grew up in Florida. Well, they've been questioning some family members and friends as well and he apparently went to Syria to join extremist fighters there.

PAUL: Number three, a Marine has been in a Mexican prison for more than two months now for accidently crossing the border with guns in his car. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi tells CNN that he was punched, left naked in this cell and shackled to his bed for almost a month. He said things have gotten better since his story went public but it's not clear when he's going to go free.

BLACKWELL: Number four now, authorities have arrested five people in connection with a shocking gang rape and public hanging in India. Two of the men are police officers, three are brothers of the victims. And they are facing rape and murder charges, among others. The mother of one of the victims said the attackers should be hanged in punishment, just like her daughter.

PAUL: And number five, Donald Sterling is suing the NBA for $1 billion. The L.A. Clippers owner said he's taking the league to court because of its decision to ban him for life and forced him to give up the franchise. The move has shocked a lot of people, though, because his wife Shelly just agreed to sell the team for $2 billion. That's not just a good deal, it is the most ever paid for an NBA franchise.

BLACKWELL: Let's dig into this, though, a little more with our legal experts here. Defense attorneys Danny Cevallos, Paul Callan, both with us.

Good morning, gentlemen.

PAUL: Good morning.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So Sterling's lawsuit states, and we have a portion of it, a quote here. "The forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers threatens not only to produce a lower price than a non-forced sale, but more importantly, it injures competition and forces antitrust injury by making the market unresponsive to the operation of the free markets."

PAUL: So we're wondering, can an argument really be made that he could have sold the team for more than this, you know, historic $2 billion? I mean, just last month the Milwaukee Bucks sold, I don't know, for $550 million?

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: I think, Danny?

CEVALLOS: Yes, well, think of it this way. If I said to you, you had to sell your car within the next 24 hours, do you honestly think you could get just as good a deal as if I gave you six months to do so? That's essentially this very creative antitrust argument, that the NBA is a market, and there is serious competition for these NBA teams and ownership of these NBA teams. So if you force someone to sell, you can't rely on the people who want to buy the NBA team to not try to minimize the price as much as they can.

Just like a potential buyer of your car that you put up on eBay or on Craigslist, if you had to sell within 24 hours because you had to get out of town, then you're not going to expect to get the real market value price for that product.

BLACKWELL: So there are these new reports that two neurologists have found Donald Sterling to be mentally incapacitated, sources tell CNN. So many questions here. The first question is, if he's mentally incapacitated, how can he also file this lawsuit? And at some point before that's dealt with, aren't they going to hire their own doctors who hired the initial doctors --Paul?

CALLAN: Well, you're absolutely right, Victor. And I agree completely with Danny. That's the theory on the antitrust suit. But I got a different theory and it's called the runaway train theory. And there are two runaway trains. Train number one is Donald Sterling, who's been found to be, at least by two neurologists reports, to be incompetent, to be mentally problematic, to have dementia.

He hires one of the flashiest, most successful antitrust lawyers in California who starts drafting this big antitrust suit. At the same time runaway train number two, wife Shelly, has hired her trust and estates lawyers so she can take over the team. She negotiates a brilliant sale of the highest price, a staggeringly high price, $2 billion, on a team they paid $12 million for. While runaway train number two is going down the antitrust track.

Now in the end what's going to happen with these trains? Well, they'll both be derailed and the sale will go through, and I assure you of one thing. The lawyers will be paid. That's how this is going to end.

PAUL: OK, Danny, let me ask you, there are people -- you know, I've heard a lot of people talking about this -- that suspect that maybe Donald and Shelly are -- they're playing each other.

BLACKWELL: In cahoots.

PAUL: Good cop-bad cop.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: That they're in cahoots. Yes. How possible is that, Danny?

CEVALLOS: Well, depending on which inconsistent action they've taken over the last week it's certainly possible. Because on one day Donald Sterling says in a letter from his attorney, Shelly Sterling has my authority to sell the team. Now they appear -- they appeared to be circling their wagons under a different theory. And so to jump on to Paul's runaway train theory, the idea --there are several different runaway trains and Sterling at different times has pursued different theories of liability against the NBA and different theories of why he should be able to keep his team.

So certainly if you look at this like the -- they are, Shelly Sterling, the Sterling trust, and Donald Sterling, are all named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, well, then yes, you can argue that these are all one plaintiff acting together, but at different times in the course of this very odd proceeding, they have seemed to be taking an adversarial relationship.

(CROSSTALK)

CEVALLOS: And we will see very much in the next few weeks how they circle their wagons.

PAUL: Paul, go ahead.

CALLAN: I just want to say, circling back for a second on Victor's point, too. You know, if, in fact, Donald Sterling is suffering from dementia, he doesn't even have the authority to have a lawyer file a lawsuit. So I don't know how a judge is going to resolve that. And who started it all? How about that V. Stiviano? She's left out in the cold while the Sterlings walk away with $2 billion.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: Well, you don't know. He could be handing her money. We don't know.

BLACKWELL: That's true.

CALLAN: WELL, Who knows.

BLACKWELL: That's true. You know, I just wonder --

CEVALLOS: She's not exactly a sympathetic figure.

BLACKWELL: No, no. She is not.

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: Not too many sympathetic figures in this case. Yes.

BLACKWELL: Who ordered or requested that analysis to have him stand before these two neurologists? Would that be something that Shelly could request as part of a trust?

CALLAN: Well, I think she could. I mean, she's -- obviously she's one of the trustees and certainly -- in any sort of a family situation, if you think your spouse or one of your kids or your parent is suffering from dementia and can't manage their affairs, you can have this finding made. Normally then it's followed by going into court for a legal guardian to be appointed. But notice, no legal guardian appointed for Donald Sterling. So was it posturing or does she really think he's suffering from dementia? We're only going to find out when this is all over.

PAUL: All righty. Danny Cevallos and Paul Callan, love your insights, gentlemen, thanks for being with us.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you. BLACKWELL: And the chances are, you have been hacked. Hate to break it to you, but there's a new study saying that almost half of all U.S. adults were hacked in the last 12 months, and there's new information revealing the cyber attacks and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: All right. Here's an alarming figure. I shared it right before the break that nearly half of all adults in the U.S. were hacked within the last 12 months.

PAUL: Half of us. This is according to new research that includes the mind-boggling find that 432 million online accounts were also hacked in the last year. So not just, you know, the people but the accounts specifically.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And let's look at it this way. Basically, there's a 50 percent chance that a cyber criminal has or had access to your personal information. We're talking your name, your physical address, credit card numbers, passwords, anything.

PAUL: So let's talk about this with Robert Siciliano, McAfee online security expert, and Mark Rasch, cyber and privacy expert and a former Justice Department prosecutor, by the way, for cyber crimes.

Gentlemen, we're so glad that you're here. Thank you.

Robert, I want to start with you.

ROBERT SICILIANO, MCAFEE ONLINE SECURITY EXPERT: Good morning.

PAUL: A lot of people are sitting at home going, how is this happening?

SICILIANO: Yes. Yes. We're all asking that same question. The fact is, you have troves of data that's boon housed by corporations and government agencies that essentially is a big target. Data like credit card information, Social Security numbers, user names and passwords, could be used to access existing accounts and taking over those existing accounts or be used to open up new lines of credit.

So it's very attractive to thieves and corporate IT managers are under the gun every day to protect that information.

BLACKWELL: You know, Mark, some people might have, in their mind, this image of, you know, a 19-year-old sitting in his basement with a laptop and doing all this, but these are in some cases very sophisticated networks, sometimes governments. We saw what -- the indictment of the Chinese officials just a few days ago.

What should we be looking for and give us an idea of who these people are?

MARK RASCH, CYBER AND PRIVACY EXPERT: Well, the threats come from all over. They do come from these 19-year-old, 20-year-old young hackers. They come from organized groups of hackers. They come from organized crime, but the big threat here are what we call the advanced persistent threats come from state-sponsored attacks by countries like China, Russia, former Soviet Republics and things like that.

So, you know, it's the old Willy Sutton theory. Why are they going after my accounts, why are they going after my information? Why are they going after my computer? And the answer is, that's where the money is.

PAUL: OK. So let's talk about the list because it's long and it just keeps getting bigger. Target, Adobe, Snapchat, AOL, eBay. Those are some that have been hacked just in the last 12 months, but a lot of companies, I understand, aren't exactly transparent about their data breaches. Should companies be, you know, forced to be more transparent about what's happening?

RASCH: Well, you know, there are laws in almost every jurisdiction that require companies to report certain kinds of data breaches. So a data brief that involves personal information like name, address, account number, PIN number, those type of things, they required already under the law to report. But, you know, every company, every company that's doing business online is being attacked constantly. And in fact, even individuals.

Your mother, your grandmother sitting at home with a wireless router, they're being attacked constantly as well. And the problem isn't that it's not being reported it's that it's not being prevented. And it's a very difficult thing to do.

BLACKWELL: So, Robert, you know, I find that companies nowadays kind of force you to become part of this. You've got to get an online sign-in, you've got to use a card in some places. Is there any person, any profile that is more vulnerable than another?

SICILIANO: Yes. That's a good question. The fact is, from birth you are given a Social Security number today. And that primary identifier can be used to open up new lines of credit under a baby's name. So even a child can be a potential victim all the way to somebody who has passed, the deceased, are also vulnerable to identity theft as well, which is crazy. But we're all potentially victims.

The path of least resistance to get into these big servers is now going through the RPC. So like it was previously said, that unsecured wireless connection that you have to the Internet may be the direct access to your bank's online account, whereas your bank might be spending, you know, millions yearly to protect their networks. Again, your unprotected local PC could then be that path.

So we all have to take responsibility to protect our devices, our mobiles, tablets, our laptops and desktops with anti-virus, anti- spyware, anti-fishing fire walls, making sure wireless is locked down with a VPN and then, you know, changing up your passwords, secure password management, application, lower case, using characters and not having the same password for all of your critical accounts. Changing up your passwords is essential.

BLACKWELL: But -- so much.

PAUL: I know, I know. We've already talked about I've got --

BLACKWELL: Passwords we already have so many.

PAUL: How I've got, like, 17 different passwords for things.

BLACKWELL: So many.

PAUL: The (INAUDIBLE) Institute said, and this is a quote here, if you're not a data breach victim, you're not paying attention. So it made me wonder, how much time, Mark, goes by where you had been hacked and you don't know it?

RASCH: Well, a lot. I mean, one of the things is -- one of the problems is, you don't even have to have a personal computer or even be online to be a data breach victim. As long as information about you is being held by somebody that data is at risk. And what the hackers want to do is they want to get that personal information, and either steal money from your credit cards, or become you.

So open a new identity or sell your data to somebody else. And there's a long lag time between the time they make a breach and the time that they may then exploit what they use for the breach, and the other thing is people will break into your computer and use that as what's called a robot network or botnet to try to go after other people's computers as well. So somebody may be being attacked in Montana and it's coming from your computer and you know nothing about it.

BLACKWELL: Robert, make me feel better. Are we going to go down the road where this is going to get worse, or potentially are we at the cusp of figuring this out and protecting our information?

SICILIANO: So what's happening right now is there are developing technologies. Technologies already in place that consumers are beginning to adopt that work towards securing them and the corporations which they do business with. Two-step authentication, two-factor authentication, where you might be provided an additional one-time password via a mobile text with companies like Google and Facebook and Twitter. PayPal offers it. Apple offers it.

And as consumers get more savvy to use this additional secretary factor forms of identification, it makes them and the corporations they're doing business with that much safer. They are also getting better in password management in general and understanding the fundamentals of information security. So as consumers become more aware, as they up their security intelligence, as banks and major corporations tighten up, we begin to be more secure.

Keeping in mind that the bad guys are also getting better at their jobs. So it is a race to the finish.

BLACKWELL: All right. I feel a little better. All right. Thank you, Robert Siciliano, Mark Rasch. It's good to have both of you this morning. PAUL: Thank you, gentlemen.

SICILIANO: Thank you.

RASCH: Thank you.

PAUL: All righty. So you know it looks like a sweet potato. See it here.

BLACKWELL: Ah, but it is not.

PAUL: Some dieters say this is helping them shed tons of weight. So what is the so-called miracle root? And is it really a miracle?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: All right. So let's see, is the beach on your agenda today? Maybe the pool if you are lucky. And if you -- if it is, listen. I know you want to look good in that swimsuit. I'm with you. Who doesn't?

BLACKWELL: You sure do. There is a new study that claims there may be an answer for all the potential dieters out there. And it's called yacon. It's a root found in South America. And a 2009 study says that it helps women who took yacon syrup lose an average of 33 pounds in four months. Just from the syrup apparently.

Let's bring in dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner now.

Dawn, it's good to have you. All right. So every couple of years, we hear something like this. It was green coffee been extract two years ago. Now we've got yacon syrup. Dr. Oz is talking about it. Why is this being called the magic root?

DAWN JACKSON BLATNER, DIETICIAN: Well, OK. So yacon is a sweet type of syrup. OK. It has half the calories of sugar, but it is not a miracle weight loss tool. It does have something in it called FOS, which is a soluble type of fiber, which may help regulate appetite. But the women in that study that lost a lot of weight, they were on a super balanced, super healthy diet and then they put the yacon syrup in that healthy balanced diet and it did help regulate their appetite.

Here's what I will tell you, though. The study was very small. Five years ago, 35 people in the study. So, you know, we can't really say slam dunk this is going to help everyone. And 20 people in the study had to drop out because of some nasty side effects like gas and bloating.

BLACKWELL: OK.

PAUL: That's --

BLACKWELL: Well, there it is.

PAUL: So that's what I was wondering. There's got to be something, I mean, if you're ingesting this stuff, there's got to be some people that it might affect. When you say 20 -- I mean, 20 people is a lot to drop out.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 35.

PAUL: What specifically --

(CROSSTALK)

BLATNER: Well, yes. Out of -- yes, out of the 55.

BLACKWELL: Fifty-five, OK.

BLATNER: Well, so the idea of -- yes, 55 people started, 20 had to drop out because of these nasty sort of gas and bloating side effects. They are not dangerous, but they're highly uncomfortable and gets you running to the bathroom. But this FOS in this yacon root, it really is a healthy thing. It helps the bacteria in your gut grow healthier. And it may regulate appetite. So it is a smart thing to do.

But in and of itself, it's not going to be a miracle weight loss. It really takes that healthy diet base with maybe a little yacon syrup on there to help you out.

BLACKWELL: OK. So if you can't get yacon at your local Kroger, and some people can't, I guess, what are you advising people to do this summer to slim down?

BLATNER: Well, you know what I like about this, it's promoting fiber. Right? So FOS, this magic ingredient in yacon, it helps people feel full. Well, fiber in a lot of foods make people feel full. So reaching for things like beans that have a lot of fiber, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains. All of those things really do work without having to go to South America to look for a sweet potato-like looking thing to keep you feeling full and of course drinking plenty of water.

BLACKWELL: That works.

PAUL: I can do that. Yes.

BLACKWELL: I can do that. Beans, water and pistachios.

Thanks, Dawn Jackson Blatner, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Dawn.

BLATNER: Thank you.

PAUL: Or you can take your dog for a walk.

BLACKWELL: Or I guess you can't take your cat for a walk.

PAUL: You could.

BLITZER: Although I saw someone once with a cat on a leash.

PAUL: Yes, there are cats on leashes. That is true. BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: The question is are you a dog person or are you a cat person?

BLACKWELL: Or both?

PAUL: Are you both.

BLACKWELL: We'll tell you what your answer could say about, of all things, your intelligence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: All right. All you animal lovers. Watch this dog. See what he does here. Where is he? There he goes.

BLACKWELL: Very slowly.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Slowly. Very nice. I would guess he was pretty smart. Right? The guy who managed to train him, probably pretty smart himself.

BLACKWELL: However, a new study at (INAUDIBLE) University in Wisconsin says that cat people are smarter than dog people.

PAUL: Really? Look at that thing. You are telling me that cat is smarter?

BLACKWELL: But they -- I mean, they kind of contemplate things. They're a bit aloof. And the difference in temperament might be because of the different needs of the two animals. Cats, they're suited to bookish people the study says and dogs are naturally more active and they get along with people who like the outdoors.

PAUL: Yes. I posted a picture of my Bruno last night, my dog, on Twitter and Facebook because we're getting ready to, you know, go to sleep. So there here is. How about that?

BLACKWELL: Bruno.

PAUL: This is my Bruno boy. Victor, I'll say I'm both a dog and cat. What about you?

BLACKWELL: I'm a dog person. I don't have a dog. My team thinks I'm adverse to animals. I like dogs. I had a cat trauma when I was a kid. So I'm not --

PAUL: This was a cat (INAUDIBLE) right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: No. It was not grumpy cat. My dad decided to take my cat Smokey for a ride, quote-unquote. And that was it. PAUL: You never saw him again.

BLACKWELL: Never saw him again. Brought home the stray --

PAUL: That's dad trauma more than cat trauma.

BLACKWELL: I knew it wasn't the same cat.

PAUL: Thank you for starting your morning with us, you and all your furry little friend.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.