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Powerful Typhoon Strikes Japan; Outrage After Violent Weekend in Chicago; Town Becomes Flashpoint in Border Crisis; Dueling Rocket Fire in Mid-East Conflict; Cops Investigating Health Records in Hot Car Death

Aired July 8, 2014 - 06:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news this morning including a powerful typhoon. Just look at the video. It says it all. Slamming into Japan this morning. Typhoon Neoguri is being called the region's most powerful storm in decades. It's packing equivalent strength of a Category 3 hurricane. More than 600,000 people have been told to evacuate as 40-foot and 125-mile-an-hour winds are expected on the island of Okinawa.

The U.S. on that island has a very large military presence in that area. That's why there is a lot of concern as we are watching from here. Let's get over to Will Ripley in Tokyo for us with the very latest on the typhoon. It looks like this is changing minute by minute. What do you know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN TOKYO CORRESPONDENT: Details are coming in. We know there's more people injured, ten at least including one serious. We know of at least one building collapse on Okinawa, and keep in mind this is an island with buildings built to withstand typhoon-force wind. If you hear about significant damage, that's very unusual for Okinawa and a sign of the intensity of this storm, which is battering an area where more this a million people live including as you mentioned the U.S. military personnel.

The commander of Kadina Air Base over the weekend put out an alert calling this the worst storm to hit Okinawa in 15 years telling everybody to take it very seriously, hunker down and to make sure to tie down loose object so they don't become deadly projectiles. Take a look at storm by the numbers, mentioned 125-mile-per-hour winds, 600,000 people now under voluntary evacuation advisories, 100,000 people now without power. More than 100 flights have been cancelled leaving more than 14,000 passengers grounded.

And, John, the worst for Japan may be yet to come because right now this storm is forecast to make landfall on the mainland later this week in the southern island of Kyushu where 13 million people live. It's rainy season here in Japan and they have been getting drenched with heavy rain since last week. So when you are talking about a major typhoon hitting this area that can't take any more rain, the results could be catastrophic -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, our thanks to Will Ripley. As Will mentioned the threat from the storm will go on for several days on several fronts. Let's get to Indra now for the latest on the storm's track -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Wanted to show you a three-day radar so you can really see how well defined the eye is. You can see Category 2 strength, as you know, it wind impacting Okinawa today, a very massive storm. Want to explain why we are calling this a super typhoon. At one point near a Category 5 strength because look at all the winds coming out of the south where all that tropical moisture is.

Noticed no winds coming from the north where the water is cooler. So all that system allowed it to strengthen so high. Right now the equivalent of what have we call a Category 3 storm, 125-mile-per-hour steady winds are out there. The outer bands hitting Okinawa right now at Category 2 strength, and all the system is expected to weaken as it makes its way north to the main island of Japan.

You're still going to be talking about huge impacts in the region because one of the things we're talking about are those strong winds, the amount of rain they have seen, seen 11 to 15 inches of rain and another 5 inches of rain is still expected in that region so devastating results are expected.

BERMAN: All right, we'll keep an eye on that over the next several days, really in the next week.

Outrage and anger fuelled by more violence on the streets of Chicago. Now the city's top police officer is lashing out blaming weak gun laws for the bloodbath over the holiday weekend, the worst of the year by far. At least nine people are dead and more than 60 were wounded. CNN's George Howell is live for us in Chicago with the latest on really where some pretty grim numbers and a pretty grim weekend -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, absolutely. There were some in Chicago who celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks. In other neighborhoods though some people took cover amid the crack of gun fire. Mainly on the city's south side. Even though police admitted they had a plan in place, problem is, especially on Sunday, it just didn't work.


HOWELL (voice-over): The shock remains. One day after a bloody weekend the mayor, the police superintendent and community members stand together.

RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO MAYOR: The gun violence that was part of this weekend is totally unacceptable to anybody from the city of Chicago.

HOWELL: More than 60 people were shot, 14 killed over the long holiday weekend, including Marlon Williams' niece, Tanya Gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was like my own daughter. I feel hurt. I'll never be able to see my niece again.

HOWELL: Sadly it's something many in Chicago neighborhoods have come to fear and expect when the weather warms up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, it's Groundhog Day here in Chicago.

HOWELL: Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says part of the problem is that it's too easy to get guns, like these that were seized by police, but it's the guns police couldn't get that led to so many deaths.

GARY F. MCCARTHY, CHICAGO SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE: We obviously had a plan. The plan included putting hundreds more officers on the streets at the times that we need them in the places where we needed them and what were the results in the results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately.

HOWELL: Even though police say the murder rate is down from last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me it's just talk. It's just -- I don't believe they are really doing their jobs.

HOWELL: There's a feeling of frustration lingering on this street, a feeling that tragedies like this shouldn't be accepted as normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I do next? It's hard to say what I'm going to do next. I'm just going to prepare for her burial.


BOLDUAN: That was our George Howell reporting in Chicago. George, thanks so much. Let's continue this and bring in the homicide watch Chicago editor for "The Chicago Sun Times." So Michael, the short way of saying this you know this better than most. You watch this closer than most. With that in mind, George really laid out a little bit of what happened this weekend, but in a broader sense what happened this weekend?

MICHAEL LANSU, HOMICIDE WATCH CHICAGO EDITOR, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": For a little perspective, we had 77 people shot in a matter of 70 hours at one point, 13 of those people have now died. For some comparison that's about the same as last 4th of July weekend, which was a four-day weekend, and it's double what we see on an average weekend here. I mean, it's not uncommon for three, four, five people to be killed and 30 or 40 other people to be wounded in a weekend, but this was just exceptionally high.

BOLDUAN: Well, and the police superintendent, he said a lot of things. We heard him say it's Groundhog Day in George Howell's piece right there, but he also said this. He said we had a plan. The plan included putting hundreds more officers on the streets at times they needed it, in the places they thought they need them. He goes on to say, what were the results, the results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately. Did the plan just not work, or is there something else that's a problem?

LANSU: Well, Chicago police have in the past, they have put extra officers in areas that they think are going to be high crime areas. There were so many people out on the 4th of July weekend, and police sources told "The Sun Times" that a lot of these were not gang- related, a lot of this was just people drinking and going out and shooting. Fights were breaking out. Alcohol, drug use, led to a lot more shootings than normal.

BOLDUAN: I mean, then that real makes you wonder. I was going to ask you lots of cities have problems with gangs and violence in the cities, but why is Chicago becoming so notorious for this? You say it's not necessarily even gang-related.

LANSU: Some of it is not gang-related, some of it is. Part of the problem is the south side and the west side especially have been notoriously violent, and that's not changing. Chicago police came out last week and said murders are down throughout the city compared to last year, and they are down significantly from 2012, but when I look at the murders in certain communities while they are down, they are still especially high. In the Austin neighborhood on the west side, going into this weekend that neighborhood alone already had 20 murders.

BOLDUAN: Why? It's the toughest question. It's such a simple question but so difficult. Why is it still happening? I know that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he has made it his top priority, he has said, in reducing gun violence. Is his strategy flawed? Has he failed?

LANSU: Well, the murders are trending downwards. Shootings have generally been trending downward though they are up slightly this year compared to last year. In a lot of these areas there are -- there's a lot of poverty. There's not a lot of jobs. There's not a lot of community programs going on, you know, options for some of these kids, and it does lead to a lot more gangs.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately it was supposed to be a very fun weekend for so many and so many families were destroyed in tragedy on a weekend that should have been fun. Michael Lansu, thank you so much. Thanks for your help.

LANSU: Thank you.


BERMAN: We are going to move now to the growing fight in the debate over immigration. Today President Obama plans to ask for more than $2 billion to help stem the flow of undocumented immigrants arriving from Central America, but he is facing repeated criticism for not planning to visit the border when he arrives in Texas tomorrow.

While this is happening a small California town is becoming a flashpoint for this debate. Dozens of protesters faced off in Murrieta again on Monday. That's over the transfer of migrants to a detention center in that town. Our Kyung Lah has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's some things we know. The bus is not coming today. KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what victory looks like, say protesters in Murrieta, California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in Murrieta, not in Murrieta.

LAH: They are jubilant because this chartered plane from Texas filled with undocumented immigrants from Central America, most of them women and children, went to Chula Vista, California, instead of Murrieta. The federal government is moving the migrants to southern California to cope with the crisis in Texas. An influx of undocumented immigrants has crammed facilities along the Texas border. A total of 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents are expected to cross illegally this year. The government's solution, fly and bus them elsewhere for processing.

That didn't work last week in Murrieta. Protesters forced them to turn away from the Murrieta Border Patrol Center. It's turned this normally quiet town into a battleground for the nation's immigration policy. Buses may not have arrived this time, but immigration and customs enforcement says the migrants will keep on coming to Southern California. Protesters promise the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as it takes is what it comes down to. We don't want to see any confrontations between us and the government agencies or anything like that, but a lot of us here are willing to make a stand.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Murrieta, California.


BERMAN: This just into CNN, a letter from the White House saying the president would welcome a meeting with Governor Rick Perry while he's in Texas. Now why is the White House writing this letter? Well, Governor Rick Perry overnight released a statement saying he would not be meeting the president when he lands on Air Force One in Texas tomorrow.

Governor Rick Perry said a handshake won't do justice to the issue at hand. Governor Rick Perry said he would prefer a longer meeting with the president. So in a letter just released by Valerie Jarrett, of course, a key aide to President Obama, the White House says they would welcome such a meeting.

And also invited Rick Perry to discuss the issue at greater length, still not clear to me whether a meeting will actually happen. Right now there's a political dance there, but we'll keep you abreast of the situation as it develops.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Let's turn to the Middle East meantime where violence is spiralling out of control, duelling operations now exchanging rocket fire with no end in sight. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad saying it has fired 60 rockets at Israel in response to what it calls unjust aggression, while overnight Israel hammered the militant group, Hamas with air strikes. Israel's defense minister saying the offensive may go on for days and may even expand. Aggression intensifying on both sides after the kidnapping and killings of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. It's a story we've been following very closely. Diana Magnay is near the Gaza strip with the very latest. What is the latest, Diana?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing overlooking the Gaza strip, the northern tip of it right in the distance behind me is Gaza City. We've been here for a few hours now, and there have been numerous Israeli air strikes on the cities along the Gaza Strip. Huge columns of smoke rising up from targets in the strip, and in return we have seen outgoing fire.

One rocket landing literally the other side of this main road about 200 meters away. This is why the Israeli defense forces have launched what they call "Operation Protective Edge" to protect Israeli citizens from the barrage of rockets coming out of the Gaza strip.


MAGNAY (voice-over): Israel is now at the ready even sending troops to positions alongside the Gaza border. This as rocket attacks between the Jewish state and Hamas continue to escalate. Overnight, Israeli defense forces say they struck 50 targets and air strikes across the Gaza strip. At least ten injured. Israel now launching a clear offensive.

Their operation even given an official name, "Protective Edge," using increased targeted air strikes and calling out several hundred reservists to build up troops for possible ground maneuvers. Israel's change in tactic comes in response to an uptick in rocket attacks from Gaza with some 80 on Monday alone, those strikes forcing hundreds from neighboring summer camps to be sent back home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will do whatever is necessary to stop the attacks. The Hamas spokesman issuing a battle cry on Facebook. The enemy has crossed the red lines and will be made to pay the price for its crimes. Hamas even showing off its weaponry in a propaganda video on their military web site.

These explosive scenes of violence just painting a backdrop to mounting anger in Jerusalem. Tensions in the city, their worst in a decade. After the murders and beating of both Jewish and Palestinian teenagers.


MAGNAY: Now, Kate, when people here in the town of Sderot, where I am, here the air raid sirens they have 15 seconds to get to air raid shelters. Hamas has said that if Israel does not stop this offensive, they will widen the radius they are targeting. Already, they can already reach 50 kilometers, which is just this side of Tel Aviv and they are threatening to expand that if the barrage does not continue.

And more one thing, Kate, you can be sure that the sophisticated reinforced concrete shelters on this side of the border with Gaza Strip are very, very different to what people have on the other side in Gaza itself -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: It seems the only thing we know right now is both sides are threatening to expand their offensive.

Diana Magnay in the Gaza Strip, thank you so much.

And in a just released opinion piece for the Israeli newspapers "Haaretz", which was written as the violence started to erupt last week, President Obama, he encourages restraint and he's calling for a two-state solution, saying this in part. Here's what he said in part of the opinion piece, "The only solution is a Democratic Jewish state living side by side in peace and security with a viable independent Palestinian state."

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 6:15. Let's take a look at more of your headlines.

Breaking overnight: a frightening scene for 22 people on a roller coaster that jumped the tracks in California, was on the Ninja Coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. You can see the front car partially dislodging hanging only by the back wheels. Riders were left dangling and four people suffered minor injuries. A spokesman for the park says the incident was caused by a fallen tree branch. Frightening.

More than 500 Memphis police officers, almost a quarter of their force, called out sick Monday, spreading rumors of a work stoppage known as the blue flu. Hundreds of officers have been calling out sick since June 30th. The president of the Memphis Police Association says officers are upset about changes to their health care coverage and proposed changes to pension plans that they believe violate their existing contract, but he says the association has neither sanctioned nor orchestrated a so-called blue flu.

To Iraq, the new parliament has once again postponed its session, this time citing politicians' failure to reach an agreement on the top three posts in government. Iraqi lawmakers will have to wait another month to work towards forming a new government, amid a Sunni Islamist insurgency that has overtaken large swaths of the country and claimed thousands of lives, including that of a senior Iraqi general killed near Baghdad on Monday.

The mobile wallet service ISIS is in a middle of a rebranding strategy to avoid confusion with the militant group ISIS, which is wreaking havoc across Iraq and Syria. The company CEO says they do not want to share a name with the violent Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, but they have not yet chosen a new moniker. The mobile wallet app lets you pay with your phone is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

BERMAN: Expensive bad luck there for them.

PEREIRA: It is -- yes, expensive bad luck, because they have a name, doing their own thing, making a little mobile wallet.

BOLDUAN: Can you imagine?


PEREIRA: We need to have a talk.

BOLDUAN: This didn't work out so well.

All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, new developments in the death of a toddler left in a hot car in Georgia. What the new series of warrants reveal about the boy's parents and also what investigators are looking into now. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

We're digging into a new series of warrants released in the case of the father accused of leaving his toddler to die in a hot car. They show the warrants that investigators are looking at the medical records for both the father and the son, and they also reveal the detectives are looking at the electronic devices found in Justin Ross Harris' car.

Nick Valencia is live at the CNN Center with the very latest. Good morning, Nick.


Yes. Investigators are casting an ever widening net as they pore over physical evidence and electronic data that they have obtained from search and seizure warrants, things like an SD card belonging to Justin Ross Harris, external hard drive and medical records belonging to the 22-month-old Cooper Harris and his father, as well as Justin Ross Harris.

Also, part of their investigation is Leanna Harris. Since her husband owes arrest and the baby's death, her actions have been drawn into question, though she's not formally charged or named a suspect, I called the Cobb County magistrate this morning to see if there was any search or arrest warrants on file for Leanna Harris. There are not. Her husband has pleaded not guilty, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Nick, thanks so much.


BERMAN: All right. Let's dig in a little bit more right now. Joining us is Mel Robbins, CNN commentator and legal analyst.

Mel, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Of course, John. Good morning.

BERMAN: What I want to do now is look at the where, how and why of what police are doing as they investigate this case, what the subpoenas tell us. It seems to me they are trying to build a case of sort of inconsistencies by the father, potentially catch us in a lie. Let's start with the medical records here. They're going after his

medical records and Cooper, the baby. Why?

ROBBINS: Well, first of all what, they are looking for, John, is they're digging for anything that might give them a clue as to motive in this case. So, for example, if you're looking at the father's medical records, what I would be looking at if I were the prosecutor in the case and the police investigating is does he have a history of mental illness? Is there something going on with this guy? Did he say anything to a doctor which might give a hint as to how he could possibly do something like this, if in fact it was intentional?

Also, there are reports that he was deaf. So, they need to confirm this kind of stuff so they can start to build a profile.

In terms of the little boy Cooper's medical records, John, they might be looking for whether or not the child was actually ill. Did he have some sort of catastrophic illness that might have caused some undue stress on their marriage? So, they are just looking for any clue whatsoever to help paint a picture of what was actually going on.

BERMAN: We've heard a lot about the car seat, too, Mel, haven't we? It was a rear-facing car seat. People who know kids or have kids know that's what you use when you have really small kids, but they you grow out of it and then they have to change to a front facing car seat. This kid was really kind of too big for the rear facing car seat, wasn't he?

ROBBINS: Well, I think it depends on the seat that you buy. I remember having my son in a car seat that was rear facing until he was almost 20 months. So I think it depends on the size and weight.

But some of the other troubling stuff, John, is they had him on the smallest size of the car seat so the straps were really tight against him and wrenched down. And so, they are going to look at that as well to see if he put him in there too tightly trying to trap him in there.

BERMAN: And, of course, there's the speculation about, well, he would have seen his head popping out over the rear-facing car seat because it was so small, or had he'd been walking to the car, because the backed in, right? Had he walked away from the car, he would have looked his son right in the face as he was leaving.

ROBBINS: Yes. I mean , right now, they have charged him with a reckless, a negligent type of child abuse and so, if they can prove that anybody who's backing up and kind of looking in the rear view mirror saw the kid's head over the seat, it's less likely they can forget him.

So they are trying to right now take a look at all the tiny little pieces to add up a picture of what's reasonable and what's not reasonable.

And I'm going to tell you what's really important, John, and it's the subject of one of those subpoenas is the cell phone, because they are going to take a look at everything that was going on on his cell phone that day. Did he get a call from day care? Did he get a text from day care? Did his wife call him about how drop-off went?

He -- did he text friends about any plans? There were allegations, John, that he made calls at the scene, up to three phone calls. Who was he calling instead of calling 911, so these are all critical puzzle pieces, Lego blocks, if you will, that allow police to build a case to basically saying, hey, he may be telling us this but all the evidence we've amassed from the phone, from the DVDs, the hard drive, they tell us a totally different story.

BERMAN: Mel, putting these pieces together as they look at the father. Are they doing the same thing for the mother right now? It doesn't seem to be quite a similar focus.

ROBBINS: You know, they need to look at her for sure, but I think we've done a really good job here at CNN of cautioning people not to rush to judgment on the mom. Sure there are things that she's done and said that cause all of us to say, hey, wait a minute. One of them when she said I love you, Ross, I'm doing this for you -- and we were all kind of puzzled as to what this doing thing that she's doing actually is.

But she's also lost a 22-month-old. She's got a husband who's cheating on her. She's now got the world focused on her and there are a lot of people that grieve very differently. She could be in shock and could be super angry at him. She could be terrified.

So there are lots of ways to explain away her behavior, but you better believe they are taking a look at her, especially since there are allegations, John, that the -- that Ross was explaining to family members how to collect on two life insurance policies that they had taken out on baby Cooper.

BERMAN: But you make a great point there, what we have right now from the mother is perhaps strange statements, not this collection now of little threads of evidence that seem to be developing with the father.

Mel Robbins, great to have you with us this morning. Really appreciate it.

ROBBINS: Great to see you, John.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, tensions growing over the immigration crisis as President Obama is preparing to visit Texas. The White House has just announced that the president has said he's open to a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry on the issue, but will the president visit the border?

Plus, also ahead, could LeBron James be returning home? Many suitors are lining up trying to woo him to their team. Is Cleveland the front-runner?