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Plane's Emergency Slide Opens in Midair; Fight for Iraq; USA- Belgium World Cup Preview; Pistorius Murder Trial Resumes

Aired June 30, 2014 - 05:30   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Emergency in the skies. A United plane force to divert when the evacuation slide opens mid flight. How the heck did this happen?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And heavy rains, severe flooding engulfed the south. People forced from their homes to escape the rising waters and all eyes are now on the possible, possible tropical storm moving off the East Coast. We'll bring the details.

KOSIK: Violence raging in Iraq this morning as the military struggles to retake a major city. This, as extremist militants declared a new Islamic state. We're live on the ground with the latest on this dangerous situation.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. John and Christine, those lucky devils, are off. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Breaking news overnight. Frightening moments for passengers on board a United Airlines flight when the evacuation slide suddenly deployed midair. Yikes. The plane made an emergency landing in Wichita after the crew was able to get the door closed. No one was injured. The Boeing 737 was headed from Chicago to Orange County, California, with 96 passengers and five crew members on board.

The airline says it is investigating the incident -- I would hope so -- which could have been disastrous.

CNN's aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is live for us in Washington.

Rene, what are you hearing about this now second incident of a slide deploying?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miguel, you don't have to look much further than social media and you'll hear all about it. One passenger on social media calling this the scariest flight of all time.

Now Sunday night, the emergency slide accidentally opens in the rear of the cabin. You are looking at those pictures there. People on board say they heard a distinct popping sound. Take a listen to this one passenger who was on board at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DIANE MODINI, PASSENGER: All of a sudden, you saw their faces go like this. And you heard a big bang and a -- a hiss. And they just had a panicked look. And they quickly took the carts and ran backwards to the front of the plane. And then we all turned around. And the whole back cabinet part of the plane where they sat was full of the chute.


MARSH: All right. And remember, this all happened while this flight was in the air. Now United Airlines tells CNN that all passengers were seated at the time, which is a good thing. So no one was pinned under that chute when it deployed. We do know that there were no injuries -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes. There can be quite a lot of force that comes out with those slides when they deploy. There was one back in 2013 on a JetBlue plane. Was that a 737 as well? And do you know if there was an investigation to that and what they said about that particular incident?

MARSH: Well, this has happened before, to your point. Again, in November, JetBlue case where the slide deployed. In this -- also on board a campaign plane when then candidate President Barack Obama was on the trail. It happened there as well.

There were reports in this case that the door opened in flight that -- or that a passenger tried to open the door in flight. The airline says that that did not happen in this case.

We can tell you that the FAA is investigating what it's calling a door issue in this very case. So we're waiting to find out details, what exactly was wrong with this door that caused the slide to deploy midair.


MARSH: It did land and these folks are trying to get to their final destination.

MARQUEZ: Thankfully for that. You always want those doors to work when you're about 35,000 feet up. Always sensitive.

MARSH: You certainly do.

MARQUEZ: Thanks, Rene.

KOSIK: Scary stuff.

Storms rolling across the Midwest and south. It triggered flash floods in eastern Arkansas. Rising waters forced residents in several towns to evacuate. Flooding also causing problems in Tennessee. Some roads in Memphis were littered with cars that got stuck in as much as three feet of water.

And in Minnesota, storms and heavy rains have caused some of the worst flood damage in decades. Meantime, a tropical storm may be brewing along the East Coast just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

MARQUEZ: Oh dear.

KOSIK: Indra Petersons, say it ain't so.

MARQUEZ: Say it aint so.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You said it, not me. Let's just start with that.

It's going to be a week of severe weather. We're going to be talking about not only the typical almost springtime type of severe weather. You're talking about tornadoes across the midsection of the country. But also, yes, the threat of some tropical weather.

Let's start with the big set up here. We've got an upper level low. We have the jet stream. All this lining up with the surface low.

What does that mean to you? It means there is a threat for severe weather and it's a good one today. Definitely not good news when you're talking about enhanced threat especially including places like the quad cities even out towards Des Moines. Where you see the red, that's where you have enhanced threat. But notice, we're talking about almost 44 million of you really from Detroit the panhandle of Texas. That's how large the threat for severe weather is today.

And it only shifts farther to the east by the time we get in through tomorrow. From Binghamton, all the way back down again, kind of through Paducah and Nashville. We're still going to be talking about that same cold front sliding farther to the east enhancing that severe weather threat as it pushes off to the east. Now something else is going on out there. This is what we're all talking about with the Fourth of July plans.

A 60 percent chance now over the next two days that we could see a depression develop. What are we talking about. Potentially Arthur here, watch one of these models. Notice it develops right along the coastline. And by the time you get to the Fourth of July, look where it is kind of bulls eye right around D.C. Watching that pretty carefully with some heavy rain especially starting off in Florida. Anyone heading off early and then sliding up the coast. Almost everyone --

KOSIK: And then the trick is just to head westward.

PETERSONS: It's definitely the trick. Pretty much everyone affected.

MARQUEZ: Oh my. Always go with the good news.

Thank you, Indra.

PETERSONS: Always. Any time.

MARQUEZ: Now to Iraq and the battleground of Tikrit. The Iraqi military trying to push ISIS fighters out of that city and as the insurgents dig in to defend their -- the gains that they have made in the region, ISIS has declared a new Islamic state in the territory now under its control.

CNN's Nima Elbagir joins us by phone from Baghdad.

Nima, how goes it today?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, as you said, the battle is still rages in Tikrit at this stage. The Iraqi government just cannot afford to cede any more major or strategic territory. Tikrit is both to the extremist. For ISIS this will be an opportunity to push ever closer on that road to Baghdad. Tikrit is also just south of that crucial (INAUDIBLE) there's so much at stake here, Miguel. And these of course, it's all happening just as ISIS has announced the name change and in a move seen as pretty bold, the announcement of an Islamic caliphate, an Islamic state.

What they're effectively saying, Miguel, is that that border between Iraq and Syria, no longer exists for them. That that territory cross (INAUDIBLE), the geography, made this latest propaganda hit by ISIS so effectively, Miguel, is of course there is truth to that. They do have a pretty substantial territorial footprint between those two countries and that's why the Iraqi government is holding so much hope out this new delivery of Russian fighter jets because it's really just in the sky at the moment that they have any hope of claiming the upper hand in this -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Let's hope they can get ahold of it or it just seems like it's going to take a lot of force over a long period of time to actually put this back in the box.

Nima Elbagir, in Baghdad for us, thank you very much.

A new State Department document suggesting Blackwater security contractors saw themselves as above the law in Iraq. A report in the "New York Times" says government inquiry was halted in 2007 -- get this -- after Blackwater's top manager threatened the State Department's chief investigator. Threatened to kill him. The manager said -- he reportedly said, quote, "He could kill the investigator and no one could or would do anything about it because they were in Iraq."

The report comes as four former Blackwater guards are on trial in connection with a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 civilians dead.

KOSIK: President Obama today expected to tap the former chief of Procter & Gamble to head the troubled Veterans Administration. The White House believes Robert McDonald is the man who can turn things around. McDonald also served as an Army officer.

The agency's former head Eric Shinseki resigned amid a scandal claiming VA hospitals nationwide were cooking the books to hide months' long waits for vets who needed care.

MARQUEZ: And the alleged ringleader of the Benghazi raid described as compliant but not cooperative. Likely did not provide useful intelligence during his voyage to the U.S. That coming from Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intel Committee. He and other top Republicans are questioning the decisions to prosecute Ahmed Abu Khattalah in U.S. courts. They say it could keep authorities from getting information they need about the deadly 2012 attack.

And a Marine corporal facing two charges of desertion is turning himself into the military authorities. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassounm has been missing since 2005 when he failed to report for duty in North Carolina. At that time, he was under investigation for desertion after he disappeared for a month from his unit in Iraq. Hassounm claimed he was kidnapped by Iraqi militants. He's expected to surrender at Camp Lejeune later today.

KOSIK: Let's get an EARLY START on your money, shall we? European stocks are higher this morning. You're seeing futures here in the U.S. mixed. For the Dow, the -- for the week, rather, the Dow and the S&P 500 ended lower. The Nasdaq jumped to a 14-year high.

GM announced four new recalls Friday for 430,000 vehicles in the U.S. An additional 7,000 cars were called in for inspection.

GM has recalled more than 20 million cars since January. 2.6 million for the ignition switch defect related to at least 13 deaths. The company plans to announce today their compensation plan for both the victims and their families. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg will unveil the offer.

Feinberg is no stranger to such deals. He helped determined payouts to victims of 9/11, the BP oil spill and the Boston marathon massacre. The offer today is an alternative to lawsuits and that's because GM may not be liable for accidents before their 2009 bankruptcy.


MARQUEZ: Team USA. USA, USA. Making its final preps for Belgium. Belgium.

KOSIK: My god.

MARQUEZ: The knockout round match less than 36 little hours away. The winner marches on to the World Cup quarter finals. Four teams have already punched their ticket.

CNN's Amanda Davies has more from Brazil.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miguel, Alison, Jurgen Klinsmann has changed his tune, having started the tournament saying the USA has no chance of winning, it's now emerged that he's told his players to move back the flights of their friends and family until July 14th. That is the day after the finals.

Defender Omar Gonzalez let the advice slip to the media as the team left their base in Sao Paolo, to travel to Salvador, ahead of Tuesday's round of 16 clash against Belgium. The team will be based there for the next couple of days as striker Jozy Altidore continues his quest to recover from a hamstring strain he suffered against Ghana. Klinsmann says he's pretty optimistic. And on the whole, the team

seemed pretty relax about the challenge. They were pictured watching the Netherlands-Mexico game unfold over their lunch, before heading to training. Perhaps, though, it serves as a brutal reminder of what will be at stake on Tuesday as Mexico was sent home.

Having seen so many fantastic touchline celebrations from the Mexico, Miguel Herrera over the last few weeks, he was left frustrated and angry after the Dutch ended his World Cup campaign. A late controversial penalties saw the Netherlands take a 2-1 win and send Mexico packing at the second round stage for the sixth straight time in World Cup. The Netherlands will face Costa Rica next. And on Monday, the France, Nigeria, Germany and Algeria will join them in the quarterfinals.

Back to you, Miguel and Alison.

MARQUEZ: Thank you, Amanda.

KOSIK: And I love -- I love Miguel in his suit and tie just going nuts.

MARQUEZ: Yes, well, Miguel, you know, I go nuts. Well, and lots more World Cup coverage coming up straight ahead starting next hour on "NEW DAY."

Cristiano Ronaldo Cuomo, live in Rio. How cool.

KOSIK: You've really --

MARQUEZ: Great gig.

KOSIK: You're really --

MARQUEZ: I'm into it. I'm on it.

KOSIK: Yes, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: It's World Cup.

KOSIK: OK, OK. Moving on now. Coming up.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Let's settle down.

KOSIK: Coming up. Oscar Pistorius back in court this morning after undergoing a month long mental evaluation. We're going to go live to South Africa. How could new findings affect his murder trial?


KOSIK: Welcome back to EARLY START.

Oscar Pistorius back in court this morning after a month long delay in his murder trial for a psychiatric evaluation. Now a team of doctors has found the Olympic blade runner is mentally fit. He's accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The blade runner has admitted shooting her but claims he mistook her for an intruder.

Kelly Phelps, CNN legal analyst, is live in Pretoria.

Kelly, let me ask you. Is this a usual thing to happen in a trial like this and what does it mean for Pistorius in this trial?

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's very unusual in two respects. It's firstly unusual to happen so late into a trial. It's usually something that happens right at the beginning of a trial. And secondly, it's highly unusual for it to happen as a result of an application on behalf of the state, of the prosecutor. Because essentially, this is an inquiry into whether he has the defense of insanity or incapacity. So usually, it will come from the accused person.

In terms of what it means for Pistorius, it will downgrade the part of Merryll Vorster's testimony, his psychiatrist's testimony that referred to him suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. But it will not necessarily affect the earlier part of his -- of her testimony where she spoke about the early influences in his life and the impact that that's had on the way in which he engages with the world.

KOSIK: What other witnesses can we expect to come in the coming days and weeks, I assume, that are left in this trial?

PHELPS: Well, we do expect that it will only be the coming days. We know that the defense is very near the end of their case there. And they have a couple more witnesses. We're hearing today from Mr. Pistorius' orthopedic surgeon who presided over his amputation. And this is very important testimony because it has details the severity of the physical disability that he suffers from. And the defense are trying to use this to cause doubt on certain core aspect of the state's case and claims that they've made.

KOSIK: Very quickly, what seems to be the mood of Pretoria around this trial, I mean, even outside the courtroom?

PHELPS: Well, I think there's certainly anticipation holding now for the final, the end to this trial. We know that the defense's case is nearing its conclusion. And then we shouldn't wait too long before going into closing arguments and verdict. And considering how long the story has been running for, this case has been going for, I think there's a great sense of anticipation for that finality to this trial eventually.

KOSIK: OK. Kelly Phelps, live in Pretoria, thank you.

MARQUEZ: Coming up, a new twist in the investigation that a toddler who died in a sweltering SUV. What the police say the mother did that now has her under suspicion, coming right up.


KOSIK: Welcome back. New developments this morning in the death of Georgia toddler, Cooper Harris, who was locked in a hot car for more than seven hours. Police say the boy's mother, Liana, is now under investigation after telling them she also researched hot car deaths on the Internet. She's not been charged. Cooper's father Justin Ross Harris is being held without bond. He's charged with murder and child cruelty.

MARQUEZ: Awful, awful story.

Police in New Orleans are asking for the public's help in identifying two gunmen who opened fire in the French Quarter. Nine people were injured in the early Sunday morning shooting.

We're seeing new video of the gunfire on Bourbon Street. People can be seen running for cover. Police say two men got into an argument, and that's when they pulled out their guns and started shooting at one another. Crazy. Officials say two of the victims are in critical condition.

KOSIK: Today the Supreme Court takes up the latest fight over Obamacare. The court will rule on the requirement that for-profit businesses provide contraceptive coverage to employees. Two employers, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties say that -- say that rule is violating their religious beliefs. Obamacare already exempts some non-profit companies and religious organizations from providing contraceptive coverage.

MARQUEZ: And disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been declared mentally fit by new doctors. CNN has learned that over the weekend neurologists with the Cleveland Clinic found the 80-year-old showed no signs of dementia. It follows a previous diagnosis from two other doctors that found him mentally incapacitated. A hearing on Sterling's mental state is scheduled for next week. Sterling and his estranged wife Shelly are locked in a legal battle over the NBA franchise.

Huge, huge thing because it's billions at stake as to whether or not he's actually mentally fit.

KOSIK: And the story goes on.


KOSIK: Coming up, is this the end for Aereo? They suspected their TV streaming service. Details and an early check of your money next.


KOSIK: Welcome back. Aereo announced Saturday it's going to suspend service to customers. The decision is a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling against them last Wednesday. The court found that Aereo broke copyright laws by streaming TV signals to paid subscribers. The stop is only temporary. Aereo's CEO said in an e-mail to subscribers, "We want to emphasize that this is a pause and that the company is not shutting down."

MARQUEZ: A rough pause.

KOSIK: We shall see.

MARQUEZ: A rough pause.


MARQUEZ: "NEW DAY" starts right now.

Hello there, "NEW DAY."

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, scare in the air. An emergency slide deploys inside the cabin of a United flight. The plane forced to make an emergency landing. We're going to hear from those onboard.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Rio. We're in the middle of it all, as the World Cup kicks into high gear. A wild weekend of big goals and close calls. Now the U.S. heads into its first knockout game. Can they make it out?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Surprise choice to head the beleaguered Veterans Affair agency. Can the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company fix the system? The president announcing his appointment today.

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. I'm Chris Cuomo, live in Brazil where the temperature is high and the drama is higher. Team USA gearing up for its big World Cup match against Belgium.

As you know, the U.S. made it out of the group of death. But now they run into a hot Belgium side. They won all three games here in the World Cup. So the question is, can the Americans keep the dream alive?