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GM CEO Back on Hot Seat; Movie Made About Roger Ebert's life; Lowe's Employees Fix Veteran's Wheel Chair

Aired July 17, 2014 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Number one, breaking news in just the last few minutes, rockets fired into Israel by militants from Gaza. Hamas broke a humanitarian cease- fire hours ago by firing mortars. The pause was to let aid in to Gaza.

Russia reacting to new, tougher sanctions with a warning. They say their response will be painful for the U.S. The new round of sanctions targets Russian banks, energy companies and the defense industry.

Breaking just moments ago, Microsoft will be cutting up to 18,000 jobs in the next year. This is the largest round of cuts since 2009 when 5,800 people were let go by that company in the recession.

New concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the cholesterol drug niacin. Some experts now say (ph) a serious side effect and it's too risky for routine use.

And a violent bank robbery ends in a hail of gunfire, killing a hostage and two robbery suspects. This wild scene playing out during a high speed pursuit in northern California.


BERMAN (voice-over): Chaos in northern California as a violent bank robbery ends in a barrage of gunfire leaving one bank customer and who suspects dead. The events unfolded as three heavily armed men entered a bank, tied up a security guard and took three women hostage before taking off in a stolen SUV with the police in hot pursuit.

POLICE: Ram him in you need to, to stop him or hit (Ph) him or something. If you can stop him, stop him.

BERMAN: The suspects had huge amounts of ammunition on them according to police who said the men had firearm magazines strapped to their bodies and fired on the officers relentlessly.

POLICE: There's a guy, number two male, sitting out the back window with a rifle. He's shooting at us with a rifle. Taking fire. We are taking fire.

BERMAN: Under the hail of gunfire, two of the hostages either jumped or were pushed from the suspect's vehicle. The witness managed to capture one of the moments on tape.

AUTUMN ALEASI (ph), WITNESS: She was on the ground. My brother saw her roll over and her leg was all tore up and bleeding.

BERMAN: After more than an hour, the suspect's SUV was disabled, but that didn't stop the men who continued the gun battle with officers. Even, police say, using the last hostage as a human shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were trying to kill our police officers.

BERMAN: In the end, all four people in the vehicle were shot. The hostage died of her wounds, though it's unclear when and by whom she was shot. The incident is under investigation according to police, who maintain they acted appropriately given the circumstances. Two of the suspects also died of their wounds and one was taken into custody.


BERMAN: Now, no other police officers were injured in this. The other two hostages, we know, are expected to survive.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

BERMAN: Quite a scene and heavily armed men.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Outgunned. The police were outgunned. And it's one of the reasons that you hear from law enforcement all over the country about the concerns about what weapons people are able to get because they often see them used against them. Thanks for bringing us the story. Appreciate it.

We'll take a break on NEW DAY. Fourth time not the charm for GM CEO Mary Barra. New allegations that not only did GM know about deadly ignition switches, but now a question of whether they covered up that knowledge. We're going to give you a preview.

BOLDUAN: And tonight, CNN's Emmy nominated series "The Sixties" resumes with a look at the space race, from the mercury rockers, to the Apollo landing, meet the pioneers who became heroes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, zero. We have liftoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): There's something happening here, but what it is ain't exactly clear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The space race was about our own sense of security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't really know whether a human could survive in space. And the Soviets send this guy up to space and he survived.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR/PRODUCER: We were in a race and the Russians were the bad guys, and they were winning this race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say for most of the '60s we had a sense of being behind.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I believe that this nation should commit itself to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): What's that sound -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eagle has landed.

ANDREW CHAIKIN (ph): It was a moment when the whole world kind of stopped in their tracks.

HANKS: All of human experience will be divided into two eras, before man walked on the moon and after man walked on the moon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Sixties" tonight at 9:00 on CNN.



CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

General Motors' CEO Mary Barra is headed to Capitol Hill for the fourth time today to answer even tougher questions. Lawmakers want to know why GM waited a decade before recalling millions of vehicles with defective ignition switches. And they may have some new evidence that could lead to a criminal investigation down the road. Let's get to Poppy Harlow. She has more from Washington.

Poppy, what's the new information? What direction do you think they go today?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Chris.

Wow, "The New York Times" report yesterday saying that GM may have withheld information on deadly crashes and the Reuters report this morning about maybe GM not recalling enough cars, both of those are going to be really key things. You know, as you said, at least 13 people have died, many more have been injured because GM failed to tell the public about a deadly defect in millions of its cars for more than a decade. An internal investigation to find out why found a pattern of incompetence and neglect, but it said there was no cover up.

Well, you know what? Congress wants to know for itself. They're doing their own investigation. They are demanding answers from the CEO. But also interestingly today, Chris, for the first time from a lot of other important folks. Here's our story.


HARLOW (voice-over): For the fourth time, the woman at the helm of General Motors is facing Congress. Lawmakers pressing Mary Barra about why the company delayed recalling 2.6 million cars with a faulty ignition switch for more than a decade. The defect proved deadly and an internal investigation uncovered what Barra called a "pattern of incompetence and neglect." When Barra faced a Senate committee in April, it got heated.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: They and the American public were failed by a corporate culture that chose to conceal rather than disclose and by a safety regulator that failed to act.

HARLOW: GM admits at least 13 people died as a result of the faulty ignition switch, but says that number could rise. On Wednesday, "The New York Times" reported GM had more information about some of the deadly crashes than it shared with safety regulators, citing internal GM documents to regulators that it obtained. Also in "The New York Times" Wednesday, this ad taken out by GM to remind drivers how to safely drive their recalled cars until they're fixed.

MARY BARRA, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: This is a tragic problem that should never have happened and must never happen again.

HARLOW: This time around, lawmakers are grilling more than just Barra. Michael Milikin, GM's lead lawyer, is testifying, as well as the CEO of Delphi, the switch manufacturer. So is Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney who led GM's internal investigation, and Ken Feinberg, the man tasked with deciding compensation for victims and their families.

KEN FEINBERG, ADMINISTRATOR, GM VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND: GM has agreed and has delegated to me full authority. Once I make a final determination as to eligibility and dollar amount, GM, under the protocol, has to accept it. There are no appeals. GM can't question it. They've got to pay it.

HARLOW: Barra has apologized for the company's failure and says it stands by its pledge to compensate victims.

BARRA: I'm incredibly proud of what we're doing. It's the right thing to do and it shows our focus for the customer.

HARLOW: But for the families left behind, no amount of money brings their loved ones back.

LAURA CHRISTIAN, DAUGHTER DIED IN 2005 CHEVY COBALT CRASH: I still dream of my beautiful daughter as if she's alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took the lives of a lot of people needlessly and I don't - I don't want them to forget.


HARLOW: And as we said, for the first time, GMs top lawyer is testifying today. Expect really tough questions for him, Kate and Chris, including why GM's legal department settled with families for up to $5 million for ignition switch related deaths and never told the highest levels of the company apparently. Also this morning, as I mentioned, this Reuters report claiming that GM hasn't recalled 2 million vehicles with the same ignition switch as millions of cars that it recalled for that defect just last month. GM says they believe that there is not a, quote, "unreasonable risk to safety" in the vehicles that it didn't recall. They're going to press them on that as well you can bet.


BOLDUAN: You can bet that unreasonable risk is something folks are going to be talk quite a bit about.

HARLOW: Right, what does that mean?

BOLDUAN: Exactly right. Poppy, thanks so much.


BOLDUAN: We'll be watching along with you today. Thank you. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a new CNN documentary looks back on the life of Roger Ebert. We knew what the long time critic thought of films, but what was he like behind the pen and the pad? We're going to ask his wife. Chaz Ebert will be joining us.



UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (voice-over): I think Gene was so happy that Roger found his mate.

CHAZ EBERT, WIDOW OF ROGER EBERT (voice-over): He was 50 years old when we got married. He used to tell me, "I waited just about all my life to find you, and I'm glad I did, and I'm never going to let you go." I mean --


BOLDUAN: Exactly. That was a clip from "LIFE ITSELF," a CNN film documentary about the life of Roger Ebert. The documentary follows the life, career and health troubles of the legendary film critic. Joining us now is Roger Ebert's widow, Chaz Ebert. Thank you so much for joining us, Chaz

EBERT: Good morning. I'm really happy to be here with you.

BOLDUAN: Oh my gosh, we are, it's an honor of ours. I was kind of telling someone that this story, it's a lot about a love story is what I ended up finding it in watching this film. What did you think of it? Why did you guys want to do it?

EBERT: Well, we were, you know. They read Roger's memoir "Life Itself." Steve Zaillian, who wrote "Schindler's List", read it and thought it would make a good movie. And Roger said, 'Why would someone want to make a film about a film critic?" And so he asked Steve James, the director of "Hoop Dreams," to come and sort of give him a pitch as to why to make it. And the pitch was very good and Roger said, "okay."

CUOMO: What do you think, because I haven't gotten to see it yet. So, what do you think somebody is going to take away who thinks they know him already? Because I feel like I grew up with him. I know him as a critic, I know what he's gone through in his life, but what surprises are there in there for us?

EBERT: Chris, people who have known Roger for 30 years and thought they knew everything come out of the movie saying that there's so much that they didn't know.

CUOMO: Really?

EBERT: You're going to learn a lot about Roger, you know, the good and the bad, yes. And the funny, the movie is also very funny, with he and Gene Siskel and all of their stuff. Even some of the things that you thought you knew. But it is also a love story, and that's the surprise that people didn't know going in.

BOLDUAN: And it's raw. It seems that it may have been -- it was difficult at times to experience it with you, because it really is following the end of his life and what he went through.


BOLDUAN: Was there ever a moment when you guys thought maybe we should stop filming?

EBERT: Guess what? We didn't know it was going to be the end of his life.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

EBERT: When we started, Steve James had planned to shoot for a whole year and follow Roger everywhere doing everything and then life itself had its own thing and Roger ended up passing away. We were stunned when he passed away. I really thought that he was going to be with us another two or three years.

BERMAN: If only. I think we all wished that.


BERMAN: You mentioned how the film talks about the relationship between Roger and Gene Siskel which is how so many of us, I think, first saw Roger. Tell us what we learn, what we come away with. What new will we see from that relationship?

EBERT: Well, they used to get a lot of letters asking, is their fighting just for TV? When you see this, you will not ask that question. It's real, and you'll see. There were times when they would shoot in the studio. I would stay away on filming days because sometimes they would get into these knock-down drag-out fights. I couldn't stand it.

BERMAN: Was it just about movies?

EBERT: About everything. They were, you know, especially I have to say Gene would criticize everything and so but they cared passionately about movies.

CUOMO: It was one of the first times I remember where I'd be watching TV and there's no question in my mind that oh, look at these two guys. Look they're pretending to be okay right now because they're not happy at all with what's being said right and the authenticity wound up making them as popular as the films.

EBERT: Right, you know what? They had chemistry that you can't buy. I think it was because they were just these two guys from the Midwest who just, they were both smart and they cared about movies. And they cared about each other, and they, you know, cared about life.

CUOMO: And he cared about you.


BOLDUAN: You are such a large part of that story and such a large part of his life. Thank you so much, Chaz. It's great to meet you. I was thinking we should probably leave it just the way Roger would and say we'll see you at the movies.

EBERT: Yea, two thumbs up.

BOLDUAN: Two thumbs up. Absolutely right. "Life Itself" is in theaters now. Its also available on demand and on iTunes and then coming to CNN later this year.

CUOMO: Alright, we'll take a little break here. When we come back, many veterans can use a lot of things, right? Especially wheelchairs. Now, one veteran had his wheelchair literally fall apart while he was sitting on it, but that's where it becomes the good stuff. Guess who came to his rescue. Guess what happens next. Watch the Good Stuff. start a team.


CUOMO: Time for the Good Stuff. It starts in a place where we should never allow an American veteran to be, helpless on the floor.


CUOMO (voice-over):His name is Michael Sisana and he lost his legs in Vietnam when he was only 20. He has been asking and waiting for a new wheelchair from the VA for years, and as we all know that's a whole big problem in and of itself, but this story gets worse. The other day he's at a Lowe's on Staten Island, which is right here in New York City. The wheelchair falls apart right under him. Michael and his wife stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Michael, what are we going to do? We don't have any tools. And he just went, "Are you crazy? We're in Lowe's. The tool capital of the world!"

CUOMO: That's true. Spoken like a true New Yorker. So the couple planned to take the wrecked wheelchair home and fix it themselves, but they didn't know these Lowe's employees were looking on, and they weren't having it.

MICHAEL SISANA: They tore the wheelchair apart. They tried all different bolts. I was thanking them and they say, "You're not leaving here until the wheelchair is like new."

CUOMO: 45 minutes, the guys went at it. They did exactly that. The good news doesn't end there. Thanks to all the attention, their actions received, guess who finally did the right thing? The VA and they sent Michael a new wheelchair. The one Lowe's fixed? That's going to be the backup. So that is why it's the Good Stuff.


CUOMO (on camera): Not so much for the VA, although they ultimately got it done for him but people stepping up doing the right thing by somebody who certainly deserves it.

BERMAN: Love our veterans. Love it.

BOLDUAN: Never should have happened, but if it did, the place to be.

CUOMO: The tool capital of the world!

A lot of news this morning. Let's get you to the "NEWSROOM" with Ms. Carol Costello.