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Cruise Ship Mystery Illness; The Presidential Authority; Comparing Progressives To Nazis

Aired January 27, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The air hitting the Eastern half of the country today. Temps dropping 50 degrees in the South. What it will mean for school, commutes and the Super Bowl ahead.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mystery at sea. A fast spreading illness rips through a cruise ship. Hundreds sick. The trip ending early. The CDC now investigating and no one knows what's really behind it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: True survivor. It was a parasailing trip that nearly turned deadly. Now one of those teenage girls in this terrifying video is speaking out about that moment and her amazing recovery. She joins us live this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's 8 o'clock in the east and this morning you know it if you're experiencing it. Millions of Americans are going for another ride on the polar express; the severe cold has a firm grip on the Midwest and it's extending across the country in the coming days.

Dangerous conditions in Minneapolis and Chicago are closing schools in both cities. So far more than 700 flights have been canceled nationwide.

Let's get straight over to meteorologist Indra Petersons with the very latest on what to expect.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I feel like the danger has returned again today, Kate. We're talking about temperatures this morning that feel like they are almost 40 below. Of course that's Minnesota, once again seeing Minneapolis now almost 38 below, Fargo 36 below but it's not just in the Upper Midwest.

We're talking about this cold air really spreading into the Ohio Valley. Today down to the Southeast, even the Deep South and by tomorrow into the Northeast.


PETERSONS (voice-over): Another round of frigid arctic air is already gripping the Midwest. Today it moves down the East Coast and by Tuesday it flows into the Deep South. The bitter cold system will bring another round of subzero temperatures.

This morning schools in Chicago, Milwaukee and parts of Minnesota and Iowa closing their doors and asking parents to keep their kids home. Wind chills of 30 below in Chicago are forcing officials to action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's too much of a danger of them getting frostbite or hypothermia.

PETERSONS (voice-over): In northern Texas Mother Nature is leaving many with weather whiplash. It was in the 70s on Sunday and just 24 hours later temperatures expected to plummet around 30 degrees. These cities saw subzero temperatures way below average this month, and the worst has yet to come, a mounting concern for families in the Midwest who rely on propane to heat their homes. Shortages and price increases making it hard for 12 million Americans to stay warm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people that are down to 5 percent, 10 percent and with this cold weather coming up, they are going to be out.

PETERSONS (voice-over): In New Jersey, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are arriving in the area for Sunday's Super Bowl game. The menacing winter weather has officials anxiously monitoring the forecast. They need to decide by the end of the week whether to move up the date of the game or change its time.

As of today, the forecast says a chance of snow for the weekend, but just cloudy conditions during game time.


PETERSONS: So a lot of people have been asking, is this the coldest it has ever been? So I'll actually put up a comparison here for you. Minneapolis, yes, 15 below, but the record for today 23 below. So no, it's not the coldest it has ever been, but still there's a lot of perspective here. We keep talking about what does it feel like.

In Alaska a comparison to the Midwest, I mean, Alaska's high today, 40. How unusual is this? And then we talk about Chicago today, their high being just 1. So definitely huge drastic comparisons when we talk about the temperatures across the country.

What are we looking at? Again, today we're talking about these temperatures, the highs in Chicago expected to be 1 below and we know this cold air is spreading all the way down even into the Deep South where tomorrow morning we could be waking up with even snow in places like New Orleans. Definitely unusual winter for many of us.

CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy, it's just getting worse and worse. I don't know what's going on with it. But everybody has got to prepare so we'll keep you informed.

This morning we have new information for you. That deadly shooting at a Maryland mall over the weekend is raising familiar and terrible questions.

Police say they have identified the shooter, but not what drove him to become a killer. The shooting left three dead, including the gunman. He's been identified now as 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar. This morning police are digging into his background, investigating whether he even knew the people he gunned down. CNN's Erin McPike is in Columbia, Maryland with more.


ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, police said last night they found a journal in Aguilar's home that showed he was generally unhappy with his life, but they stress that they still have a lot of investigating to do to determine what led him to go this far.


MCPIKE (voice-over): Howard County police identified 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar as the shooter in the latest outbreak of gun violence to shock the country.

Armed with a shotgun and what police say was a lot of ammunition, he terrorized Maryland's Columbia Mall, taking two other young lives before his own. Twenty-seven-year-old Chris came face to face with the gunman and described the scene but did not want to be identified.

CHRIS, EYEWITNESS: He shot her. Then 10, 15, maybe not even 10 seconds later I heard the second gunshot. I basically just like scrambled out of the store on my hands and knees right by the male employee, who was down on the ground, still alive.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Those two victims are 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. Aguilar fired six to eight shots, investigators said, killing them both. Police still haven't pinned down a possible motive, though they say Aguilar lived in the same College Park, Maryland, neighborhood as Benlolo.

Investigators raided Aguilar's home, taking away more ammunition, computers, documents and a journal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does express some general unhappiness with his life.

We have no known relationship between the victims and our shooter.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Adding to the mystery, Aguilar was carrying a backpack with two homemade explosive devices which required extra cautionary measures to exam the crime scene including a robot.

Surveillance videos, police say, revealed that Aguilar arrived by taxi at this upper level mall entrance around 10:15 Saturday morning, walking by a children's carousel. Over the next hour, they say he went downstairs and then back up into skateboard shop Zumiez, where the two victims worked.

Before the rampage ended, the gunman injured another woman in the foot on the floor below.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kids were running. We -- you just ran. And you just run to the nearest place you could find.

MCPIKE (voice-over): As witnesses tried to escape in the chaos, authorities say he then killed himself with the Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a shotgun the police say he bought legally.


MCPIKE: Now, the mall re-opens at 1:00 today. And officials here have been encouraging people to come and show their support, but they say they realize this community may never be quite back to normal -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: I guess we can all understand that.

Erin, thank you very much for that.

Let's go to Washington now, though, following all of the new developments on the State of the Union address. The focus of the president's speech tomorrow is expected to move past his rocky 2013 and instead introduce a new plan to work around Congress and make use of his presidential authority.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is at the White House with the very latest to give us a little preview.

So what more are we learning about tomorrow's address?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we do expect a lot of this speech to be about reducing income inequality and this is an address that has been months in the making.

CNN has learned that it was actually before Thanksgiving when aides first started working on this speech, and this is a monumental task for President Obama trying to salvage his second term.


KEILAR (voice-over): It's crunch time for President Obama. Making final edits on a speech he hopes will be the start of a turnaround.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the public ended 2013 very frustrated.

KEILAR (voice-over): Obama's approval rating is slowly recovering. But he's still more unpopular than in any of his past State of the Union addresses, due in part to the botched rollout of his health care law.

On Tuesday he'll tout a new plan to narrow the gap between rich and poor, even if he has to go it alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not going to tell the American people that he's going to wait for Congress. He's going to move forward in areas like job training, education, manufacturing on his own to try to restore opportunity for American families.

KEILAR (voice-over): That means executive actions and public-private partnerships trying to get something done in a key midterm election year facing an uncooperative Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is supposed to be a year of action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds vaguely like a threat.

KEILAR (voice-over): The go-around Congress plan already rejected by Republicans, who say Obama is abusing his executive power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country were the checks and balances.

KEILAR: The one major legislative item Obama has his eye on is immigration reform.

Despite House Republican opposition to a comprehensive plan. It was one of Obama's big agenda items in last year's State of the Union but it stalled along with expanding background checks on gun sales and increasing the minimum wage, which he'll push for again Tuesday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presidential power is something that's fought out every day and one speech isn't going to fundamentally change his position. But what he can do potentially is begin to lay out some themes to define the 2014 legislative and electoral battle.


KEILAR: And that push will continue after the State of the Union, Kate, on a road trip that will take President Obama to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

BOLDUAN: Taking the show on the road, Brianna. Thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon.

And also, of course, be sure to tune into CNN's coverage of the State of the Union address beginning tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

CUOMO: Six hundred people on a Royal Caribbean cruise are sick. That much is known. But exactly what is it and why it's spreading so fast is not known and that is scary. CDC inspectors are on board, trying to figure out the malady as the ship heads home two days early. New this morning, there are clues about what might have caused the outbreak and why it's spreading so quickly.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is at the CNN Center.

Elizabeth, we do hear about people getting sick on cruise ships, so many people, such a small space for so long.

But what makes this different? ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What seems to make this one different is just the volume of people and how quickly it spread. As you said, these illnesses happened, but it's pretty unusual for a cruise to be cut short.


COHEN (voice-over): Another cruise ship cutting short its planned Caribbean island hopping in a maritime version of the walk of shame.

This one, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas now heading back to home port after hundreds of passengers and crew members fell ill due to a fast-spreading virus whose origins remain a mystery. One passenger, Arnee Dodd, said her gastrointestinal symptoms came on suddenly.

ARNEE DODD, PASSENGER: It was vomiting and diarrhea. It almost had no warning, I know, it was like high fever, chills, aches, dehydration.

COHEN (voice-over): By the next morning she says the infirmary was packed with sick passengers.

DODD: As soon as I got down there the nurse walked out and looked at everyone and said, if you're not sick you have to leave right now, because this is spreading faster than we can contain it.

COHEN (voice-over): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still investigating why so many passengers got sick, but the typical cause is norovirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have all those people in a confined space over a long period of time and this is an easily transmissible virus person to person.

COHEN (voice-over): Unfortunately, this cruise ship scenario has happened before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were here with them two years ago, the same thing. The ship was overrun with this sickness.

COHEN (voice-over): Last year according to the CDC, nine cruise ships reported illnesses among passengers. The year before that, 16. Royal Caribbean said in a statement that once docked, the ship underwent an extensive and thorough sanitizing.

DODD: They were sanitizing the hallways. I mean they did ceiling to floor nonstop for about 24 hours.

COHEN (voice-over): And infected passengers and crew were advised to stay in their cabins until they were well for at least 24 hours.


COHEN: Now you can go the CDC website to look at how each ship does on its health inspections. It's interesting; Explorer of the Seas gets really high marks. So it goes to show you that when a sick person, whether it's a passenger or a crew member, gets on board a ship it doesn't necessarily matter how clean the ship was to start with -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: It's a sobering thought, especially if you have a cruise booked in the next little while. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for that, I think.


PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at the rest of your headlines.

This morning new details on a U.S. airstrike in southern Somalia. The target is suspected militant leader. Officials say the target was a senior leader, affiliated with Al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. The U.S. military has not confirmed if he was killed in the strike which they say involved missiles and no U.S. troops on the ground. This follows an aborted raid back in October when a Navy SEAL team tried to capture another Al-Shabaab leader in Somalia.

Slow progress in the Syrian peace talks. New this morning, the Assad regime agreeing to allow hundreds of women and children to flee the war-ravaged city of Homs immediately. Armed guards have been reportedly preventing them from escaping.

Talks between the government and opposition have been progressing slowly with today's session in Geneva focusing on a transitional government for Syria.

New safety checks on hundreds of Boeing 767s are now being ordered by the FAA. According to "The Wall Street Journal," there are concerns about a movable tail section jamming, an issue that could cause pilots to lose control of the aircraft. So far no planes have been grounded. The FAA is ordering new tests and the eventual replacement of the suspect parts over the next six years.

Republican Senator Rand Paul slamming former President Bill Clinton for what he called the former president's predatory sexual behavior. Paul made those comments in response to Democrats' claims that Republicans were waging a war on women.

The Kentucky senator says, quote, "If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, her husband's behavior should be investigated."

I've got to show you this. Check him out. This 10-year-old boy was born with no arms but it has not stopped him from realizing his dream to play the trumpet.

Jahmir Wallace from New Jersey says his older sister played the piano and he thought, I want to learn an instrument, too. His fifth grade music teacher worked with a local shop in order to build a stand for the horn so Wallace can use his toes in order to play.

How about that?

BOLDUAN: How about that? CUOMO: He's got some fancy feet.

PEREIRA: He sure does. He sure does. Nothing stopping him. I'm so impressed.

BOLDUAN: No obstacles getting in his way. I love that.

CUOMO: Makes the music a little bit sweeter.

BOLDUAN: Going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a billionaire's letter making some people's blood boil this morning. He compares criticism of the very wealthy to persecuting Jews in Nazi Germany. That debate ahead.

And also this, remember this horrifying video of a parasailing accident. Two teens miraculously survive and we'll talk with one of them live about the unbelievable ordeal and her road to recovery.


CUOMO: All right. Welcome back. This morning, a billionaire venture capitalist wrote a letter to the "Wall Street Journal" over the weekend. A big reason it got published is because in it, he says criticism of the rich is like the persecution and violence Jews faced in Nazi Germany.

Let's break the real issue behind the hyperbole with CNN political commentator and associate professor at the Columbia University, Marc Lamont Hill, as well as Will Cain, CNN political commentator, columnist at "The Blaze." Yes, I know. I am breaking the rule of television to, you know, ride this horse until it dies.


CUOMO: But it is just too much B.S. for me, fellows, I'm sorry. The idea of comparing to it the holocaust is wrong and we should leave it alone. The issue, itself, very important. Plenty of urgency there, and that's where I want to begin. Will, I start with you. Income inequality, real as an issue, and if so why or why not?

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's real as an issue. The question is, it a good or bad thing? I mean, is it a sign of unhealth or health. No, I mean, I know that we accept it as a cliche that income inequality is a problem, and I reject that as premise.

CUOMO: -- premise --


MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's not the argument. Just to be clear. The argument, people don't say income inequality is a problem as such. People aren't saying that because there's a Warren Buffett and there's a Will Cain, that there's a problem, because both of you are fine. It's mass and vast inequality at the levels where people have millions and some people can't eat every day. Just to be clear. (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Why would that be wrong?

HILL: That people can't eat every day?

CUOMO: Yes. That's wrong, that people can't eat every day. That's wrong.

HILL: Right.

CUOMO: But what is the relationship between that and the people who have a ton of money? How are they responsible for that?

HILL: That's a great question. It comes down to structural inequality, one, in this case, a tax system that allows people who make billions to get off the hook and not heyday (ph) fair share. It also needs having an educational system where people get a quality of education directly related to how much their property tax is (INAUDIBLE). So, in a sense, we've conceded that poor people get bad stuff.

CUOMO: Do you believe that taxes are the reason for poverty in this country?

CAIN: No, absolutely not. And that's a good thing. Marc -- the concept and now you're solidifying it. We have to distinguish between inequality and poverty. They're not one and the same thing. Inequality is a relative concept. It never asks how am I doing. It asks, how am I doing compared to something else? You, a rich person.

It is only about that disparity that you described. That's so why Marc I've used this illustration often. But look, Chris Paul is six foot. Dwight Howard is seven foot. That's a disparity. That's an inequality. But it ignores the fact that both men are tall. You could have a society. In fact, we do to a large extent where most people in this country are rich, and yet, still unequal. The point is inequality is a worthless metric.

The only metric that matters is poverty. We should agree we fight poverty but not through measures that reduce inequality.

HILL: No, but the reason we use inequality is not because we want everybody to have the same thing, but because we want to point out the fact that part of why there is mass poverty is because we have mass wealth that goes uncheck. We have mass --


CAIN: -- core difference in our philosophies, Chris. He said the reason we have poverty is because we have mass wealth and other segments of society. That presumes economics. Economics is a zero sum game. There's a pile of money. Some people gotten most of it. other people got little of it. Wealth and economics does not work that way.

CUOMO: All right. But so let's --


CUOMO: So, unchecked. So, if you were to check it, what would happen. How do we change it for the better by checking the wealthy?

HILL: Responsible tax policy. Again --

CUOMO: They pay over half the taxes now, as you know.

HILL: They make 85 percent of the money.


CAIN: Again, it's not a fixed sum of money. Again, you go back to this concept that money is a fixed concept. There's not a fix concept that money they got 85 percent of them.

HILL: No, I agree, but the reason why you have to pay more taxes for those people is because of the things that we know that are engines to social prosperity, again, education, housing, health care can only be funded through taxation and through other forms of social investment. Again, if I live in a bad neighborhood, my school is going to be crap. Why?

Because we don't pay enough property tax. So, essentially again, poor people get a poor school just because they're poor. That becomes --


CUOMO: And yet, every time we look at the education numbers, we see that per student, even in poor places, we spend way more than seems to be necessary according to the experts for quality education. So, it doesn't come down to money. My bigger question is this, I spent a lot of time on this this weekend getting ready for the state of the union. I feel that tax is a red herring here.

I feel that it's making it easy for both of your parties to escape the hard discussion about how you make higher paying jobs in this country, that it's easy to say, hey, you know, if you lower taxes for the rich, everything will be OK because it trickled on. You can't find economist that -- put their arms around that anymore.

And then, on the other side, you guys are saying, you know, if we tax the hell out of the wealthy people, we'll have a bigger basis to spend on all these problems. But money never really seems to solve them. I feel like we're avoiding --

CAIN: You're absolutely right. It's an escape valve from having a conversation about real reform, and education is the perfect example. We tripled education spending over last 30 years of relatively flat test scores. If we keep asking ourselves, can we put more money in education? One guy says yes, one guy says no.

We're escaping the real conversation about how do you reform education. A conception that has very little to do with money. Education is one segment. We can use that same debate on most problems in our society. Money is rarely the issue.

HILL: (INAUDIBLE) is the only issue.

CUOMO: Let's go to tactics. The president is going to will come out we believe and say income inequality is a big deal. He said it before. It was a big part of him running for office. There've been promises that have been made. They haven't been kept for various reasons. He's going to say it again. We believe.

He's then going to say, and by the way, I got a pen and a phone and I'm going to take care of this myself. Is he basically saying I'm not cooperating with you tomorrow night to the Republicans?

HILL: Absolutely because --

CUOMO: And then, how is that good?

HILL: I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I'm saying right now he has to take the popular strand of his agenda, and the popular strand right now is economic inequality. So, we need to raise minimum wage and we need to raise taxes.

CUOMO: You don't think it's more so. You better learn how to work with these people down here because you guys are an embarrassment on both sides -- Will.

CAIN: I think your point is if he takes up the pen and says I'm not going to work with you, guys. It says a lot about this form of government, and particularly, how this administration views this form of government. Disagreement and having it stuck in the mud honestly is how it was designed. You're not supposed to just pick up the pen and push things.

CUOMO: Who's going to tell me tomorrow night, the president or in the rebuttal, here's how I'm bringing businesses back, here's how I'm going to fix the fact that the minimum wage, even if we raise it keeps you below the poverty line? Find another country where that's true. Where your minimum standard of living puts you below poverty.


CUOMO: No, but look, you got to fix it. You got to find ways to have jobs where people can make money. That what allowed us to have the gap between rich and poor come down up until the 1970s -- there were better paying jobs --


CUOMO: Who's going to say that tomorrow night?

HILL: Not the rebuttal --

CUOMO: What about -- am I going to hear it from the president?

HILL: I think you are going to hear that from the president. I don't think you're going to hear that from (INAUDIBLE) position on minimum wage, because I think, oftentimes, in the Republican Party --

CUOMO: He's going to say here's how I'm bringing business back.

HILL: Yes. Here's how I'm bringing business back and here's I'm going to support everyday workers right now and the business they --

CUOMO: By extending unemployment benefits? That's a job --

HILL: -- raising minimum wages.


HILL: Yes. But it's still -- you don't have a living wage but a minimum wage would still be concerned you better than where people are right now. That's a step forward. You have to move the federal minimum wage more forward to get any kind of progress on this.

CAIN: The bottom line is answer to your question is economic growth. We have a fundamental disagreement. Marc and I, for example, Bill gates and President Obama, Bill Gates we say addressed minimum wage on how you accomplish economic growth. Some believe again that wealth is a fixed concept.

You can restructure it. Others believe you have to make economic growth come from the bottom up like this, a rising tide lifts all boats. You heard the cliche. That's fundamentally our philosophical difference.

CUOMO: But we need a tide. We got to leave it here. But I'm telling you, it something to set up for this discussion tomorrow. The idea of, if we do this to the rich, it will be good or if we do this to the rich, it will be bad is missing the point. There's so much more to it. go and get away with it. Will, Marc Lamont Hill, very good to have you both. Will Cain, you deserve two names, he's got three.


CUOMO: Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris. We're going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, you're going to remember this terrifying video that's very tough to watch. Two teens who were critically injured in a parasailing accident. Now, one of them is speaking out and joining us live along with her family. How did they survive and how is her road to recovery? We're going to talk to her.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.


PEREIRA (voice-over): At number one, no relief apparent from the polar express wind chill. Temperatures are dangerously below zero in the Midwest. And the historic cold will extend east and even into the Deep South.

With 11 days to go before the Sochi games begin, the state department is warning Americans to take extra precautions if they go. Athletes, coaches, and staff are being told to not wear their uniforms outside Russian security's ring of steel at the games.