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Snow Storms and Cold Front Hits Part of U.S.; Some U.S. Air Travel Cancelled Due to Weather; Plane Crash in Colorado Under Investigation; Security Concerns Surround Sochi Olympics; Russian Terror Fears; Interview with Kenneth Bae's Mother and Sister

Aired January 22, 2014 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Within five minutes, it became so icy. I actually got up early because of the roads.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, snow shutdown. More than a foot of snow in areas. Thousands of flights cancelled, schools closed across the northeast. And the snow may turn to cement as chunks of the country won't get above freezing this month.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly shootout in Russia as security forces there try to take out a militant leader amid new details of possible suicide bombers inside Sochi, and what the U.S. is doing to help stop them.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Growing pressure, Chris Christie taking fire from inside his own party. Which prominent Republican is now telling CNN the governor should step down from party leadership?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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

Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, January 22nd, 7:00 in the east. And we are digging out from heavy snow and preparing for days of frigid temperatures. Take a look at these snowfall numbers please. More than a foot in Philadelphia, almost a foot in New York City. Some parts of New Jersey, 16 inches.

BOLDUAN: And look at what the driving conditions were like in the Washington D.C. area. You can see the car there spinning out and skidding across lanes of traffic. Now with the snow behind us, some bitter cold is surrounding us. Wind-chills below zero from the Midwest all the way to the northeast. And they are going to stay there until, sorry to say, February. We have the story covered from all angles. Let's start with Indra Petersons in Boston this morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I keep thinking to myself, it's not that bad once the wind kind of dies down. And then I smile and my teeth literally sting. It's nine below right now. I changed my mind pretty quickly. Then you get a strong gust of wind, I turn around and I'm completely miserable. We're talking about these temperatures well below.

And just south of me, we're actually talking about snow drifts as high as 18 inches. A lot of heavy snow fell across the northeast last night.


PETERSONS: Throughout the night, blinding snow and bitter cold temps impacting millions from the Carolinas to New England.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, boom, snow everywhere.

PETERSONS: More than a foot of snow piling up along parts of the heavily populated I-95 corridor making it challenging for plows to keep up. The white stuff fall at a rate of up to two inches an hour, New Jersey hit the hardest with almost 15 inches.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK: If you have any option not to go out, stay home. The safest thing to do tonight is stay home.

PETERSONS: In Massachusetts, blizzard-like conditions blanketing eastern Massachusetts with up to 12 inches of snow, governors in several states declaring states of emergency. This morning school districts in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Boston closing their doors, while New York City opting to remain open. Some kids using their snow day to turn it into a sledding frenzy. But the dangerously cold temperatures continue to fall fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got double layers on today.

PETERSONS: Much of the east coast 25 degrees below normal much of this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wind-chill factors will be dragging temperatures into the negative teens. These are extremely dangerous conditions

PETERSONS: In Chicago, officials are using tugboats to break up the ice covering 60 percent of the great lakes. And the frigid cold isn't going away any time soon. At least five states are forecast to stay below freezing through the end of the month.


PETERSONS: So we're still talking about snow here in Boston. We just saw a ferry pull up behind me, people got off. Boston strong once again because definitely this chill is here. Let's talk about the low right now. So Massachusetts, still looking for snow, blizzard warnings right just south of us still until about 1:00 p.m. or so. Then it's going to be about the winds picking up. It's still expected to blow around and stay on the ground thanks to the cool arctic air that's not going anywhere. Another clipper will reinforce the cold air that's here. CUOMO: We can watch it gusting behind you. Thank you for being out there, Indra, giving us the science part of it. So now we're going to see the ripple effect of all of this snow. Of course we're talking air travel, delayed or canceled flights. A total of about 5,700 flights delayed or scrapped today. Let's get to Rene Marsh at Reagan National Airport with that part of the story. Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, Chris, well, you know what, let's get this out of the way. Fingers crossed. We apologize for the people if you are sitting and stuck and watching this, we're sorry. This continues today. We're going to see more cancellations because airlines have thinned out their operations last night and into this morning.

Take a look at the scene right here Reagan National. Good morning, people are waking up in the airport here. I'm sure it looks a lot like that at other hard-hit northeast airports. And speaking of the hard hit airports, this is what it looks like right now this morning, LaGuardia, Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, JFK, and right here in the Washington D.C. area. So the big question is, when do these airlines finally catch up to each other? After the storm moves off, on average about two days. At least we still don't have that high holiday volume to deal with. You get your rebooking done a lot quicker this time.

BOLDUAN: Rene, thank you. We see people trying to get on those planes. Thank you very much.

Let's take you to another part of the country. It's an absolute nightmare for commuters this morning. Drivers in New York spending hours virtually stranded, barely moving at a crawl. People in Long Island are being advised to stay home and off the roads. CNN's Pamela Brown is live in Long Island with this side of the story.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, I think nightmare really is the best way to sum it up. We left New York City at around 6:00 p.m. last night and didn't get here to Long Island until 11:00 p.m. It usually takes a little more than an hour to get out here, so that really tells you just how miserable it was last night. The snow started falling early Tuesday morning and peaked in the afternoon, creating a recipe for disaster for the evening commute.


BROWN: It's just after 7:00 p.m. we've been trying to get out of the city for an hour and a half now and it has been a nightmare. Traffic is moving incredibly snow. We're taking the midtown tunnel because all the bridges are gridlocked.

While New York City is no stranger to snowstorms, two back to back storms are unusual, snow and ice making streets slippery, causing gridlock at every turn. Commutes that normally take 30 minutes taking hours, and backups for miles as far as the eye can see. Officials say an unexpected surge of car travel delays cleanup effort in and around the city, triggering a chain effect, angering motorists with standstill traffic. We finally made it to the midtown tunnel. It took us about two hours to get here. You can see it is a bottle neck, many of these drivers presumably trying to get home from work. This is one of several arteries in the city experiencing delays. But officials are urging drivers to stay off the roads because of how dangerous it is.

But there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Main thoroughfares turned into parking lots as heavy snow continued to fall. Here we are Long Island Expressway. More like the Long Island parkway. There have been fender benders, spinouts and it's surprising it's still open, because the last major snowstorm we had here a few weeks ago, it was closed.

The wintery conditions exacted a heavy price for some unlucky drivers. After sitting more than four hours we have finally made it to our destination. It took us five times longer than normal to make it from New York City here to Long Island.


BROWN: And back live here. So, as you can see, the storm has pretty much come and gone. We've seen up to 15 inches here in Long Island. Roads looking a lot better, pretty much smooth sailing. The National Weather Service is saying that the cold really is the issue and the drifting snow as well, only 9 degrees here. It feels more like negative 15. The concern is that we're going to see the drifting snow on frozen roadways, especially on the back roads that perhaps haven't been plowed today. So drivers still urged to exercise caution as they hit the roads today. Back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Pam, it's not spelled the same way, but ice-landia is the right name for where you are.

We have some shocking new video for you of a fatal plane crash in Aspen, Colorado. A warning, the images are disturbing, not appropriate for all viewers. You got kids at home, be careful about this one. The fiery accident happened earlier this month killing a co-pilot, seriously injuring two others. The disturbing new images are taken from five different infrared surveillance cameras. Why so much attention to detail if it's so hard to watch? Because they're trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong. CNN's Ana Cabrera is in Denver. Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. Why the plane crash is still under investigation, but this new surveillance video does give us a detailed look into what happened and provides a better understanding of how this tragedy unfolded.


CABRERA: Chilling new video shows the terrifying moment this private jet crashes into the runway of the Aspen, Colorado, airport earlier this month, bursting into flames, sending a plume of smoke rising into the air. Surveillance cameras around the runway capture each harrowing moment of the planes failed landing. The small plane first approaches the runway then aborts the landing because of difficult conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 33 knots of tail wind.

CABRERA: Minutes later in the eerie black and white video, the pilot appears to attempt to abort the second landing as well. But tragically, he's too late. The plane nose dives, flipping upside down on impact and skids down the runway.

STEVE COWELL, PILOT AND SAFETY AVIATION COUNCIL: These pilots were attempting to land at a high altitude mountainous terrain airport with a tailwind, which is very, very challenging.

CABRERA: Ground workers race to the scene, watching in horror as the plane burns in the distance. One kicks a box, perhaps in frustration. Three people were on board. One injured co-pilot was just released from the hospital last week while one remains hospitalized. The third man was killed at the scene of this horrific crash.


CABRERA: It's still going to be a while before we have an exact official cause of this crash. But a preliminary NTSB report does confirm that the plane was dealing with tail Wednesday gusting -- winds gusting up to 25 knots. A final report is due out in the next 12 to 18 months. Michaela?

PEREIRA: All right, Ana, thank you for that.

Let's take a look another some of your other headlines. At this hour Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian leader Bashar al Assad will have no place in the transitional government. His strong words opened the Geneva conference on Syria this morning. But a Syrian counterpart shot back, saying only the Syrian people can decide that. Dozens of world leaders are at the conference looking for ways to end the fighting in Syria. The Syrian regime and opposition will come to the negotiating table for the first time Friday.

New this morning, 10,000 troops or none at all, according to the "New York Times" that's what the Pentagon is proposing to President Obama concerning the U.S. presence in Afghanistan once their combat mission ends after 2014. Some 37,000 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan. Afghan resident Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a security agreement that would allow an American force in the country until 2024.

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife have officially been indicted on federal corruption charges. The couple is accused of accepting thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from the head of a dietary supplement company who wanted help promoting its product. At a news conference McDonnell said he did nothing illegal and says that he will be vindicated at trial.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford once again under fire, this latest incident all caught on camera. Ford talking incoherently at a fast food restaurant and speaking in what sounds at an attempt at a Jamaican accent.


ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: Money, money, money. I said, you know what -- I swear to god --


PEREIRA: Ford admitted that he had been drinking even after promises that he was now sober. Despite calls for his resignation, Ford is running for reelection in October.

An 11-year-old boy recovering this morning after he was rescued from a well in South Carolina. Officials say the two boys were jumping on boards covering the well when one of them fell through. He dropped more than 150 feet and was up to his shoulders in water. The little boy was taken to an area hospital, told he's recovering from a broken arm and hypothermia.

Those are your headlines at this hour. Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

New developments this morning in the massive effort to secure the Sochi Olympics. President Obama offering the full assistance of the United States in a phone call with Vladimir Putin Tuesday. This as a search for black widow terrorists intensifies. Just 16 days remaining now until the opening ceremonies. Joining us to talk more about this is "Boston Globe" reporter David Filipov. He's the "Globe's" former Moscow bureau chief and will also be covering the Olympics in Sochi. David, thank you so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Of course. I want to speak with you because you have particular insight into the region where these threats are emanating from. We've been talking a lot about Dagestan and that region. You spent time there for a particular purpose, looking into the Boston bombing suspects. They're from the region, one of them traveled back there. What did you find when you were there, and why this area is of such concern?

FILIPOV: Well, I was looking for any connection between Tamerlan Tsurnaev, the older brother who traveled there, and the Muslim, Islamic terror groups that are located in Dagestan.

And the thing that I found that's the most striking is how disparate, how separate these groups are, how individualized. You have small groups operating in forested areas in the mountains, and it's really hard to keep track of which one is which. It's also really hard to infiltrate them, which is one of the reasons why the security concerns are so high. Because when you're talking about small groups that are hard to keep track of, they can do little quiet things like sending somebody off with a suicide belt, and it's really hard to track that.

BOLDUAN: And David, it does the beg the question, I think you're getting right to the point of it. I mean, this region, Dagestan specifically, is just about a 12-hour drive from Sochi. The unrest in this region is not new, which is why I wonder why is it so difficult for Russia to lock this down in time for the games?

FILIPOV: Well, you know, they did lockdown Chechnya, which is where the Islamic insurgency started. It took them 15 years to do it. But the problem is, we're talking about really remote places. I traveled to some of them. It's hard to get up there. The insurgents are living in the woods. They have some assistance from villagers. It's really hard to get up there and to crack down on this.

And then the other thing, you have to consider that this is Russia. It's a massive space. A lot of these areas are rural. A lot of the communications are very primitive. It's not like you can just go in there and impose, you know, an iron curtain.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent point. You're going over there to cover the games. You've been there before. You've spent a lot of time there. What is your greatest fear heading over to the games now?

FILIPOV: Well, you know, obviously, any time you're at a mass sporting event -- I mean, I was at just at the Boston marathon finish line for the Red Sox world series celebration. Any time you're at a mass event, there's lots of people, and there's the notoriety of that Boston marathon finish line after the bombings there, you're concerned about somebody dropping something that could blow up.

And that, of course, is for the security in Sochi, the biggest concern. These rebel groups are not large enough or powerful enough to mount armed raids like we've seen elsewhere in Russia. And the security presence is gonna be so great, you know, 40,000 troops and police, that that isn't likely.

But what's possible and what we're seeing now is that an individual with explosives could have been there in Sochi four years ago waiting for this moment or could sneak in there. It's much harder to keep track of that. And when I'm on the ground there, the thing I'm always going to be looking for is, does that package belong to somebody or is it just left there? You're going to have to always have your eyes open if you're in mass events.

And I just want to add, the area where you're concerned is not inside the heavily guarded, you know, luge track. The place you're worried about is hotels, train stations, soft targets outside the Olympic perimeter.

BOLDUAN: I mean, with all of -- in that context, and all that you know, what level of confidence do you have that the games will go off without any kind of attack, even within that ring of steel or outside of it?

FILIPOV: Yeah, and you know, the thing is with terror is that we're already thinking about it. The terrorists, in that sense, have already achieved their goal. They're saying, "Hey, we exist." You have to think about Dagestan.

You know, they're not going establish an Islamic caliphate in Sochi in February. What they're trying to do is to make us ask that question, could something go off? And the answer is unfortunately also a question. Could we have imagined, you know, when people got on AA11 in 2001, could we have imagined at the Boston marathon finish line, London, Atlanta? These are all places where we had heightened security concerns. Does somebody get away with blowing something up in Sochi isn't so much, unfortunately, the question.

The question is, is somebody going to try to blow something up in Russia proper, outside of Sochi, near Sochi? I think that will definitely happen. Whether they get to the actual Olympics is -- is -- you know, it's a possibility. It's not a 100 percent likely. But will somebody try something in Russia in the region? Definitely.

BOLDUAN: And just 16 days away, that's scary enough. David Filipov, thank you so much for coming in, and good luck heading over there to cover the games.

FILIPOV: Thanks a lot.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, Kate, coming up on NEW DAY, a NEW DAY exclusive. Kenneth Bae. You all know he's apologized to North Korea. His family has apologized, as well, but still no word on if he'll ever come home. So what's the next move? What can our government do? Has it done enough? We're going to speak exclusively with his mother and sister in just a minute.

And from little white lies to federal charges, politicians can't seem to stop straying from the truth. What does the future hold for these politicians in trouble? Our political gut check is coming up. You may be surprised.


CUOMO: Turning now to a NEW DAY exclusive. American Kenneth Bae has been imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year. This is the most recent development. He apologized during a, in quotes, "press conference". Why do I say that? Because we don't know exactly how it was arranged. But we do know that it was done by the regime, and he apologized for committing what he calls a serious crime against North Korea. His family then apologized on his behalf as well.

So what else does North Korea want and what can be done to secure his release?

Here now is Terri Chung, the sister of Kenneth Bae, and Myunghee Bae, Kenneth Bae's mother, joining us exclusively this morning.

Thank you to both of you. I'm sorry once again to see you with the situation being static. Let me ask you, Terri, your immediate reaction to your brother's admissions, what you think it means, why do you think we're hearing from him now? TERRI CHUNG, SISTER OF KENNETH BAE: We're hoping that we're getting closer to the end. I'm glad that he had a platform to speak. But it is also, you know, flooded back with a lot of mixed emotions watching him in that prison uniform, number 103. And, you know, it's a reminder that there he is. He's imprisoned and not free to come home to us after 15 months.

CUOMO: Mrs. Bae, do you recognize your son? Does he sound like himself?

MYUNGHEE BAE, MOTHER OF KENNETH BAE: This is the second time I saw him in a prison uniform. Yeah, he's -- he's not my usual son, kind of different. My -- my heart aches when I saw him.

CUOMO: I see you looking at him now. What do you want the people holding him to know?

BAE: I don't think it's actually --

CUOMO: It's hard to say.

BAE: Yes.

CUOMO: Because also, let's be honest, you're frightened with what to say. Right, Terri? I mean, you're caught in a tough spot. You want the media to have the message out. You want the government to be active, and yet you don't want to offend. You don't want to insult and force a reaction on the other side. Is that a safe assessment?

CHUNG: Yes. You know, my brother is a prisoner in North Korea and has been, and the longest detained American in recent history. So of course, we are scared for him. And of course, you know, we want to do everything possible to bring him home. And we're trying to figure out how to make that happen and appealing to anybody who would listen to us to make that happen.

CUOMO: And obviously, you followed the whole Rodman situation. Obviously, our intentions -- you know what CNN has done here -- wasn't to inflame the situation with Rodman, but the hopelessness of not having any direct access, any assurances at all of progress from the American government here?

CHUNG: We understand that they are doing what they can. And we appreciate their ongoing efforts.

CUOMO: What does that mean, doing what they can? Do you know?

CHUNG: Often, we don't. You know, I think, partly because they're not able to share until something is solid. You know, and they were sending the envoy in August. We didn't find out until two days before, which is pretty much when everybody found out. So, you know, I think that there are things in the works. But, you know, it is heart breaking to have him still imprisoned after well over a year. Every day is just too long.

CUOMO: And you feel he's given them what he should want? He's making admissions of crime. He's asking for no insult of the regime there. He's asking not to have things inflamed at all. It seems as though he's saying what they would want him to say.

CHUNG: We just hope that -- we believe that Kenneth is being treated well, as he said. And we hope that North Korean authorities will have mercy and allow Kenneth to come home.

CUOMO: You look at the picture of your son. He is a grown man. But to you, he is still your baby boy, yes?

BAE: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: What is your greatest fear for your son when you look at him?

BAE: He looks very distressed, and I hope for his -- he has a strong, strong mind, but he's -- I don't know after 15 months. He has to maintain the same stable mind all the time. I'm kind of worry about that. And then the other worry was he mentioned in the press and in the conference they might send back to the labor camp. So I'm kind of really worried about that too.

CUOMO: Because of his health and just how hard it is.

BAE: Yes.

CUOMO: And of course, every day that your son is imprisoned, your heart is imprisoned as well.

BAE: Yes. Yes. yes, he needs to come home.

CUOMO: I know you're living this as well. I'm sorry for your pain. I wish we could do more. We cover this story because we're hoping it helps --

BAE: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- certainly not to upset the government there. We just want your son home just like you, or at least to understand the situation in a legal context in a more acceptable fashion.

Terri, is there anything else you want us to know in terms of an update at this time?

CHUNG: No, not at this time. We just continue -- we ask for continued advocacy and proactive measures by our United States government. I think that was what Kenneth was asking for. And this is the third plea that he has made publicly to our government. So I ask for continued advocacy by the United States government. I plead for mercy by the DPRK government.

CUOMO: As long as the exposure seems to generate the proper outcome, CNN will stay on the story.

CHUNG: Thank you for that.

CUOMO: Terri, Mrs. Bae, thank you very much for being here. CHUNG: Thank you.

CUOMO: I'm sorry it's this way. I look very forward to a day when we're having a different discussion about your son and he is sitting by your side.

BAE: Thank you very much.

CHUNG: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Chris.

Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the family of an American missing in Iran for years is speaking out in a NEW DAY exclusive, what they're demanding from the Obama administration.