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Olympic Toothpaste Bomb Threat; Could Sochi Be Targeted?; A Million Customers Lose Power; FAA To Inspect Control Towers; Key Unemployment Vote; Obama At National Prayer Breakfast; Castaway Back In Hospital; Hoffman Investigation Deepens; "Affluenza" Teen Escapes Jail Again; Seahawks Parade Draws 700,000 Fans

Aired February 6, 2014 - 06:00   ET



JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe that anybody who wants to go to the Olympics should go.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The games have begun. The first contest of the Olympic Games happening right now, but is it also a race against time to head off an attack. A new warning from the U.S. that terrorists may be using toothpaste tubes as bombs. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Blackout. A million people waking up without power this morning. The Midwest and northeast digging out from a brutal snow and ice storm with yet another storm not far behind.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Tearful testimony. The former cop accused of gunning down a man for texting at the movies shedding tears at his bond hearing as his alleged victim's widow breaks down describing what he took from her.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, February 6th, six o'clock in the east. I got all that right so far. And ready or not, let the games begin.

New this morning, a threat is tied to the opening of the Olympic Games, which is just a few hours away. Homeland security tells airlines flying to Russia beware of toothpaste bombs. It's believed terrorists may attempt to pack toothpaste or cosmetic tubes with explosives.

CNN is of course, covering all the angles at home and abroad. Let's begin with Nick Paton Walsh live from Sochi, Russia -- Nick. NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, obviously the background chatter now continues to be about security, particularly with this new threat, very specific about flights coming from Europe into Russia, inside Russia. We found actually to fly from Moscow down to Sochi where the games are with liquids in your carry on, they're trying to prohibit that, but still this seems to be getting people stateside certainly very worried.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any type of explosive can be extremely damaging. It could be enough to bring a plane down.

WALSH (voice-over): Airlines with direct flights to Russia on alert this morning. The Department of Homeland Security is issuing another terror bulletin warning about the possibility that explosive materials could be concealed in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes on flights headed to the Olympic Games in Sochi. The possible devices intended either to be detonated on the flights themselves or smuggled into the Olympic village.

Former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who organized the 2002 Winter Olympics discussed this threat with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A real grave concern to hear a report of this nature. And you basically want to know more. Are we going to put in place immediately restrictions on any kind of tubes or any kind of cosmetics going in flights towards Russia? But as individuals, as airlines people are concerned given the specificity of the nature of the threat and the fact that there's almost nothing they can do to prevent something of this nature from perhaps being put on an aircraft.

WALSH: Despite security concerns, the Obama administration has not advised Americans to avoid the games. Secretary of State John Kerry telling CNN's Jake Tapper before the toothpaste alert was issued --

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe that anybody who wants to go to the Olympics, which is just a great event, should go. We feel that everything has been done that can be done to try to guarantee people safety and security.

WALSH: This latest threat coming as athletes continue to arrive in Sochi. One German snowboarder at his first Olympics just landed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm real surprised because we just touched down and just saw all the soldiers next to the runway. That was -- wow.

WALSH: Athletes now head into the Ring of Steel behind dogs, cameras on balloons, warships and anti-aircraft batteries. Cautions taken to protect participants in what experts say may be the most dangerous Olympic games in history.


WALSH: There is reason to have some confidence in Russian security services. They first experienced liquids on airplanes back in 2004 when two planes burnt out the skies simultaneously by female suicide bombers perhaps carrying explosives in their makeup. The long history of putting measures in to try and stop that, as we said, they banned liquids in the carryon baggage.

But hopefully this noise we are hearing in a moment about the lack of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia maybe ebbs. And in fact they focus on the job of trying to stop anything from happening in the 24 hours ahead when the ceremony starts here that's when the games begin in earnest and then for the two weeks in which they last. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, within that ring of steel and beyond. That's where the big threat is. Nick, thank you so very much. Let's talk more about this terror threat and what more we are learning about it. Let's bring in Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr for more. Barbara, what more are we learning about where this threat is coming from and what are we going to do about it?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key question now, of course, is just that and how credible, how legitimate is this threat. Sources we're talking to say that now the U.S. intelligence community and the Russians are going to have to do a number of things. They are going to be looking at phone intercepts, online Jihadi forums, chat rooms, who's talking to who, where is the chatter, how credible is it.

This is going to be a key issue. They're also going to be looking at the locations and capabilities of known bomb makers. Who is out there that would have the capability to do this. If this is strictly a Chechen threat, Chechen fighters have been fighting with al Qaeda for years in many different countries. Has there been some transfer of technology or capability? Are there Chechens that know how to pull this off?

And that goes to the very question of what is a toothpaste bomb. What is it? It's going have to be more than just packing with explosives. Who can actually make a bomb with little or no metal content and an initiator-detonator device that would work and be a true threat, that is going to be a big part of this look right now -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Barbara, thank you for the reporting.

Let's go now from terror threats to terrible weather. A million customers across the northeast lost power after the latest winter storm, many of them still in the dark. Hundreds of thousands of those dealing with this are in Pennsylvania. That's where power lines came crashing down under the weight leading to massive power failures. Utility companies say restoration could take days.

So let's get to Margaret Conley. She is in Abington Township, Pennsylvania. She has more. Margaret, what's the situation?

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this town, Abington Township is dark. Of the 22,000 households here, 19,000 of them have lost power. It's one of the hardest hit areas in Pennsylvania. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CONLEY (voice-over): Over 100 million people continue to dig out of Wednesday's massive snowstorm leaving close to a million people without power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't had a winter like this in almost three years.

CONLEY: Nearly a foot of snow fell in parts of the Boston area forcing schools and government offices to be close again. Roads blocked by downed trees, power lines and mounds of snow made driving nearly impossible from Kansas to New York. The Pennsylvania turnpike shut down for hours after this fatal crash near the state's capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This winter storm has had a direct impact all across the state of Pennsylvania.

CONLEY: Residents from Ohio to Maryland remain in the dark this morning. Hundreds of thousands of homes in Pennsylvania face more power outages from this powerful winter storm than from Superstorm Sandy. In this home in hard hit Abington Township, Bob and Debbie Burns has stocked up on candles, flashlights and extra layers of clothes.

BOB BURNS, ABINGTON, PA RESIDENT: There's no television. There's no radio. We're charging our phones in our car and brought the generator out.

CONLEY: Heavy snow and ice accumulation on trees caused branches to fall knocking down power lines.

KAREN BAXTER, NCT-CO ENERGY COMPANY: Repairs have been hampered somewhat by the road conditions especially the back roads and there are so many trees down.

CONLEY: Officials warn power may not be restored for days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially the entire county is out of power. As long as I've here at the county, I can never remember a time that we had that many power outages.


CONLEY: Now the one good thing about this is that people have more time to spend with their friends and families as there is no electricity in their homes. We've talked to emergency workers and officials. They say they are working around the clock to try to resolve this. One of the big power companies, PICO, they're also flying in 200 people from Chicago to help -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Without power can quickly go from inconvenience to dangerous. Margaret, thank you very much for that. So 1 million people without power and they're not only going to be in the dark, but they are also going to be dealing with very cold temperatures. Let's get straight to meteorologist, Chad Myers, with the latest on the forecast. How is it looking now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, you think you can deal with it. It's going to be 25, I can deal without power for one night and then all of a sudden, you turn the stove on, you get carbon monoxide in the house. You do other things that you shouldn't be doing. Please just go to a shelter, find some place warm and get out of this weather.

Scranton it's 13, 25 in Philadelphia, 24 in New York City, here are the morning low temperatures for the next three days, Baltimore, power out to your west especially, 24, 24, 24, Harrisburg, 13, Philadelphia, 23, not going to be warming up at all during the morning hours. We're going to stay well below freezing.

Even New York City doesn't get above freezing for the next three days. All the ice that's there is going to be there. There's a lot of black ice around the country. If it looks like it's shiny, it's ice. Be careful. The snow showers that we talked about, the big snow for Sunday, looks like a Nova Scotia storm. They're sending us salt. We're sending them snow. That's where that foot or more of snow is coming down. It won't be a snowstorm on Sunday into Monday, inches not feet. That's good.

PEREIRA: And then we have to look to next week. We'll talk more a little later. Thanks so much for that. Let's take a look at more of your headlines at this hour.

Breaking overnight, the Federal Aviation Administration will inspect lightning protection systems at more than 400 air traffic control towers nationwide. This comes after a lightning strike injured an air traffic controller at Baltimore's main airport in September. The FAA says that incident was the first of its kind. The FAA began issuing standards for lightning protection systems back in 1978.

Senate Democrats moving ahead without the Republicans in their attempt to extend long term unemployment benefits for more than a million Americans. An important procedural vote is set for today. Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissing Republican demands to amend the measure. It's unclear if he has the required 60 votes.

New developments for you in the search for a missing police captain and father in Virginia. Two women, and a man, all siblings have been arrested in connection with Kevin Quick's disappearance. Their arrest is linked to the theft of the police captain's truck. They've connected the truck with an armed robbery Sunday night. Quick has been missing since Friday.

President Obama will speak at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast set to begin in less than two hours' time. He has spoken at the event every year of his presidency and his remarks have traditionally been among his most personal. First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are also expected to attend.

Also new for you this morning, the castaway who says he survived 13 months lost at sea in the Pacific back at the hospital after his improving health suddenly took a turn for the worst. Doctors say Jose Salvador Alvarenga is suffering from dehydration and malnutrition.

They're now feeding him intravenously and in fact they are having a hard time keeping him hydrated. He washed ashore some eight days ago. Despite the widespread skepticism, officials say they have no reason to doubt his story so far. And the fact that he's been re- hospitalized indicates that you know --

BOLDUAN: He was out in it.

PEREIRA: -- that he was out in it.

BOLDUAN: Right. It's an amazing story.

PEREIRA: It's really a head-scratcher.

Also new developments this morning in the suspected overdose of actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, three people arrested in the investigation are now formally charged with drug offenses. One reportedly had the actor's number stored in his cell phone, but officials have stopped short of linking anyone to Hoffman's death. They now say finding a cause of death could take weeks.

Let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field is following this for us. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. All three of those suspects have pled not guilty on those drug possession charges. The attorney for one of the suspects, Juliana Luchkiw, says that her client has no connection to Hoffman other than having seen some of his movies and he insists that she was just, quote, "in the wrong place at the wrong time."


FIELD (voice-over): Wednesday night in a Manhattan courtroom, three people believed to be connected to the heroin found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment was indicted on drug possession charges. Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, both 22 were charged with misdemeanors, while 57-year-old Robert Vineberg, a felony. Overnight, their attorney saying all three pled not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My client by all accounts I know of has nothing to do with Philip Seymour Hoffman. My client is not responsible for Philip Seymour Hoffman's death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These arrests and these charges have absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Hoffman's unfortunate death.

FIELD: A total of four suspects were arrested Tuesday night during this NYPD drug raid caught on camera not far from Hoffman's apartment. These photos show three of the arrests. The fourth person, 48-year- old Thomas Cushman will not be prosecuted. The Manhattan DA saying there was no evidence he had any control over the drugs.

Investigates found 350 small bags of what's believed to be heroin labeled red bull and blacklist. Different brands found in Hoffman's apartment call ace of spades and ace of hearts. One of the suspects, Robert Vineberg is a well-known jazz musician in a New York club scene. He had Hoffman's number saved in his cell phone. Vineberg's neighbors say they're surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the nicest people I've ever met. Smart, goes out of his way to be nice. Great guy.


FIELD: Still unknown is what led Hoffman to relapse after 23 years of being sober. Some insight may come from his journal that investigators found in his living room. New York's Broadway community is still reeling from his death celebrating his life in a vigil last night. And while this investigation still continues, the medical examiner's office says it could still take a couple weeks to determine the exact cause and manner of Hoffman's death. They are still awaiting the toxicology reports.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Let's take a break. Coming up next, the "affluenza" defense, triggering more outrage, a wealthy teen who killed four people in a drunk driving crash will not spend any time behind bars. We'll examine the judge's ruling and we'll speak exclusively to the young man's lawyer ahead.

CUOMO: Another case of outrage for a very different reason, remember the man shot and killed over a texting dispute at the movies? Both sides breaking down in tears in court. We have the details for you.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. A Texas teen who killed four people in a drunk driving crash last year will face no jail time. Instead, a judge ordered 16-year-old Ethan Couch to attend rehab rejecting requests from prosecution to put him behind bars. Couch was sentenced to probation last year, after a defense expert had said he suffered from affluenza. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more on the story we've been following closely.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The juvenile court judge sentenced Ethan couch to ten years probation. First he'll go to a Texas rehabilitation facility, but there's a catch. There is no minimum time the 16-year-old will have to spend in the treatment center. Couch was convicted in December for a horrific drunk driving crash that killed four people and severely injured two others. Victims' families call the punishment a travesty.

MARLA MITCHELL, VICTIM'S MOTHER: No matter what game he or his family think they've beaten, the world is not ever going to take their eyes off of him. They're going to be waiting for him to mess up again if he does.

LAVANDERA: The Ethan Couch saga made national headlines because of a bizarre defense strategy. A psychologist testified Couch was a product of something he called "affluenza," a lifestyle where wealth brought privileged and they were no consequences for bad behavior. Couch's attorney blasted news media coverage of the case for focusing on the affluenza testimony.

REAGAN WYNN, EHTAN COUCH'S ATTORNEY: I think that word might have got said once by a witness in passing and all of a sudden, that became a story. It is ridiculous to think we walked into court and said, this is a rich white kid and she decided to probate him. It's his expert that brought that before the courtroom.

LAVANDERA: Prosecutors say there's no question the affluenza theme affected Couch's punishment.

RICHARD ALPERT, PROSECUTOR: It was a stupid thing to say. It will follow that expert where ever he testifies. He was a dumb idea.

LAVANDERA: In court, Couch's family refused to comment, but the victim's family say Couch and his parents show no remorse. Eric Boil's wife and daughter were killed by Ethan Couch.

(on camera): How hard is this for you?

(voice-over): Ethan Couch will be on probation until he's 26 years old. His lawyer hopes intense therapy will turn his life around. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Fort Worth, Texas.


BOLDUAN: All right, Ed, thank you. Later on NEW DAY, we're going to talk exclusively with Couch's attorney about that ruling and his future.

CUOMO: All right, so let's turn back to the Super Bowl. It's still happening one way or another. An estimated 700,000 screaming fans packed the streets of Seattle celebrating the team's first Super Bowl victory, the city's first victory since 1978. The Seattle Supersonics were a good basketball. They don't even exist anymore.

Let's bring in Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report." I think that this team should be called the supersonics because of how fast that defense flies around the field.

ANDY SCHOLES, "BLEACHER REPORT": The Supersonic Seahawks, that would be pretty good. You know, the population of Seattle is about 635,000. There were more people at this parade than lived in the entire city. An estimated 25 percent of kids skipped school to go to the parade. If they were lucky they might have caught candy from Marshawn Lynch who was throwing out Skittles to the crowd. Lynch nearly falls off the float trying to get a bottle of whiskey, but mission accomplished. It was freezing during the parade. You got to stay warm somehow.

Turn turning on, more problems for the Jamaican bobsled team. They made it to Sochi for the games, but their luggage did not. The team missed its first practice session because its gear did not arrive on time, but there's a happy ending to the story. The team's equipment did finally show up just a day late.

All right, here's something you rarely see. In the NBA last night, Lakers forward, Robert Sacre fouled out, but he got to stay in the game because the Lakers ran out of players. That's right. L.A. only had eight players coming into the game, two players got hurt and two players fouled out.

But per NBA rules, you have to have five players on the court at all times, so Sacre got to stay in. And somehow, the short-handed Lakers ended up winning this game beating the Cavs.

BOLDUAN: I have never -- I think it more likely that you would have to like forfeit the rest of the game or something before you bring him back in.

CUOMO: They did get a technical foul.

SCHOLES: They got a technical foul so there's just one free throw, but you got to stay in the game. You can just keep getting all the fouls you want at that point.

CUOMO: And then is ever additional foul another technical, though?


CUOMO: And the guy's a hacker. No, I'm just getting --

BOLDUAN: And they won.

SCHOLES: They still won.

CUOMO: All these guys starving for a chance to get into the league.

BOLDUAN: Got to go back even though I fouled out. All right, Andy, thank you. It sounds crazy.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, remember that very deadly shooting at the movie theater in Florida. That was apparently all over texting of course. It's now gone to court and both sides breaking down inside the courtroom. We're going to have the very latest on that case coming up.

CUOMO: And a bitter family feud unfolding over Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize, why the civil rights leader's sons are suing their own sister?


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines at half past the hour. A credible security threat just hours from the official start of the Sochi Olympics. Homeland security officials sending a bulletin to airlines flying to Russia warning of possible toothpaste and cosmetic tube bombs. Opening ceremonies at the Winter Games are now just over 24 hours away, but some preliminary competition begins today. A million customers across the northeast lost power after the latest winter storm. Pennsylvania getting the worst of it. Hundreds of thousands of homes still in the dark this morning. Heavy snow collapsed and sent trees and power lines collapsing. Residents are being forced to use generators, flashlights and candles. Utility companies say restoration could still take days. All of this with another winter storm approaching for the weekend.

New developments for you in a story that CNN has been watching closely, the parents of Kendrick Johnson, the Georgia teen found dead inside a rolled up gym mat at his school last year, they have filed a civil suit against the funeral home that handled his body. They say the owners and workers wrongfully disposed of their son's organs. A private pathologist made the stunning discovery.

Chris Christie heads to the lone star state for GOP fundraisers in Dallas and Fort Worth today, but two of the state's top Republicans including Governor Rick Perry are staying away. Perhaps another sign the party is nervous about the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal.

Also developing this morning, the job once held by Christie ally, David Wildstein has been eliminated by the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey. Wildstein stepped down in December. You might recall he's the official that said, got it, in the e-mail chain that read time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.

A scientific breakthrough to share with you, a prosthetic hand with real-time sense of touch. European scientists fit an amputee with an experimental robotic hand then surgically integrated the device into the existing nerves in the remains of his upper arms.

The result, not only can he grasp things, but he actually could feel them and get sensory feedback. Like, he could tell how tightly he was holding the mug.