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Suspected Toothpaste Bomb on Olympic Flights; A Million Customers Lose Power; Police Shoot-out Video Released; Is Sochi Ready For The Games?; "Affluenza" Teen Ordered To Enter Rehab

Aired February 6, 2014 - 08:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dark and cold, one million Americans waking up without electricity this morning after that ice and snowstorm took out power lines. Will power be restored before the next storm comes through?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Getting off easy? He made national headlines as a case of affluenza. Now he's gotten his official sentence. No jail time despite taking the lives of four people. His lawyer joins us live speaking out for the first time.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Thursday. February 6th, 8:00 in the East.

U.S. officials are warning of a brand new threat tied to the Olympic Games just as preliminary competitions have begun. And the opening ceremony is set for tomorrow.

Homeland Security officials are firing off a bulletin to every airline with direct flights to Russia to be on the lookout for toothpaste bombs. They say terrorists may be packing explosives in the tubes or in other cosmetic tubes.

Our coverage begins this hour with Nick Paton Walsh live from Sochi, Russia.

Nick, what do we know?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that the Russians may have had an inkling of this beforehand. It's hard to get carry-on liquids on to flights from Moscow to Sochi. But a universal ban was very unpopular but still, they were absolutely clear, not even 100 milliliter size bottles could be taken on board.

So, clearly, issues here. The Russians may have been aware of, deep concerns in the U.S. is really adding to the background chatter of anxiety ahead of tomorrow's opening ceremony.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: 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 (R), 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: Well, 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: The Russians have sent a senior official out to say, look. The fact they are talking about this threat means our system is working and the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee Scott Blackman said we've done a lot of exercises before this. Everything is being done to protect U.S. athletes and exude a sense of confidence.

That was mirrored by about 80 American athletes who've just flown in to Sochi, in fact, where the Olympic venue is. They're reportedly pretty calm, pretty relaxed, and a lot of smiles, in fact. Maybe a hope that the talk of anxiety, of security fears might possibly ebb and the games can begin. But still, each time this happens, we see another threat emerge.

CUOMO: All right. Nick, thank you very much. Two obvious questions, how real is the threat. How ready are they for it?

Let's get to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- Barbara.


How real is the threat is now the key question. U.S. intelligence agencies are going to be looking at everything -- telephone intercepts, online chatter, jihadist forums, postings that known jihadists may be making, any chatter throughout about all of this.

The key question is, who is out there in the bomb-making jihad world that would have the capability to actually do this? Not just fill a toothpaste tube with explosives but make a device that would be undetectable to airport security or very difficult to detect, low or no metal content? Who can do it? Who has that capability? That's the key question now -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Barbara, thank you so much.

Let's get back to the weather, the other big story we're watching this morning.

More than a million customers lost power across the Northeast at the height of the latest winter storm. And hundreds of thousands in Pennsylvania are still without electricity this morning. Heavy snow brought down trees and power lines sending people running for flashlights and whatever they could find before the sun went down, of course. Utility companies say restoration could take days. And making matters worse, another blast of winter weather is headed our way.

Let's start first with Margaret Conley in Pennsylvania with more on this angle of the story -- Margaret.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. This town of Abington Township has no power. But a lot of people are happy the sun has come up. We went into people's homes down this street last night. Inside, they were just surviving by candlelight.

There are about 22,000 households in this area, 19,000 of them now are without power. This is one of the hardest hit areas in Pennsylvania.


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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still don't have any power.

CONLEY: 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 been here at the county, I can never remember a time that we had that many power outages.


CONLEY: Now, emergency workers, they are working around the -- emergency workers there working around the clock to resolve this issue. There are warming centers that opened up across the county. But officials are saying that some areas may not have power through the weekend -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Margaret, thank you for being out there monitoring it for us. I mean to be clear, there has been no motherly love from Mother Nature this winter. The question is, will we finally catch a break?

Chad Myers is here with what's developing this weekend. What do we see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's still cold. I don't see it warming up above freezing for the next five days in a lot of these places that saw so much ice. This is the area through here where all those power outages are. A million people aren't going to get above freezing today and they have no power. So, you can't warm the house.

Morning low temperatures are going to be in the teens. Current windchill for Philadelphia is 12. That's what it feels like outside and inside the house, too, if the wind is blowing through without the heater on.

Baltimore, you don't get above freezing. Philadelphia, there you go, 28. New York City, still very cold. And New York City, even on Saturday, the warmest day of the week, you only get to 31.

So, all that ice that's on the roadway, on the sidewalk right now is going to stay there. This is going to be an icy black ice kind of couple of days. Make sure you take good steps as you walk to work today.

Snow showers here. We talked about this storm on Sunday. I don't think we'll get the cold air and the moisture together at the same time until it gets to Nova Scotia. Sorry, Nova Scotia. You'll get two, three feet of snow up there. Thank you for the salt you sent to Wisconsin. We have to give you the snow because we just don't need any more down here.

Look at the windchills in the Midwest. Good morning, Midwest. Sioux Falls, feels like 26 degrees below zero -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All I can say is brr. My goodness.

All right, Chad. Thanks so much.

Let's take a look at more headlines right now. Breaking overnight, the Federal Aviation Administration will inspect lightning protection systems at more than 400 air traffic control towers nationwide. That's according to "The Associated Press". This follows a lightning strike that injured an air traffic controller at Baltimore's main airport back in September. The FAA says that incident was the first of its kind.

Democrats in the state moving forward with plans to extend long-term unemployment benefits for more than a million Americans. A key procedural vote is scheduled for today. Majority Leader Harry Reid refusing to wait for Republicans who are trying to amend the measure. Not clear if he has the 60 votes needed to move that bill forward.

Now to developments in a story CNN has been following. The parents of Kendrick Johnson, the teen found dead inside a rolled up gym mat inside his school, they are suing the funeral home that handled his body. In their civil suit, they accuse the owner and workers of wrongfully disposing of their son's organs, replacing them instead with lots of newspaper. A private pathologist hired by Johnson's parents made that disturbing discovery.

Chris Christie headlines two GOP fund-raisers in Texas today and the state's top Republican Governor Rick Perry won't thereby to greet him. Democrats say it's a sign the party is nervous about the Bridgegate scandal.

New this morning, the position once held by Christie ally David Wildstein has been eliminated from the books by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Wildstein stepped down in December. He's the official who said "got it" in that notorious e-mail chain that read, quote, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

A New York woman is facing criminal charges because her 2-year-old daughter repeatedly dialed 911, some 15 times last month. Heaven Britton (ph) told officials she'd been trying to keep the phone away from her toddler but she kept getting her hands on it. The woman's boyfriend now also being charged since the little one used his phone as well. They both have been charged with obstructing governmental administration. All cute until they get their hands on it and figure out how to --

BOLDUAN: There's got to be a way to keep the child from dialing 911.

CUOMO: I don't like it. What a waste of police procedure time in charging them with this.

PEREIRA: Oh, interesting.

CUOMO: Charging them. Taking up all that time to be prosecuting other --

PEREIRA: You need to send a message.

CUOMO: They've got plenty of things to prosecute. Also I'm a little biased. I'm completely overrun by the tiny terrorists (ph) in my house.


BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, dramatic video of a deadly police chase and shoot-out in Albuquerque. We're going to show you. Wait until you hear how the chaos was reported by a police officer who found himself right in the middle of the mayhem.

CUOMO: Affluenza. It is a word and a defense that caused outrage as a wealthy Texas teen avoided jail after killing four people in a drunk driving accident. His lawyer says this is actually the right result, and he will tell us why exclusively, straight ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. So, you think you could cut it as a police officer in the heat of the moment? We have new video of a wild police chase and shoot out in Albuquerque that gives a real close-up look of a situation that left four officers wounded last fall.



CUOMO (voice-over): Chaotic images you're watching there. Recorded by a police officer's lapel camera that captured every terrifying moment. Alexandra Field is here with the story -- Alexandra.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Chris, he reportedly had the words cop killer tattooed on his body. Thirty-five-year-old Christopher Chase stole an Albuquerque police car and led officers on a violent ride back in October. The frightening video of the chase has just now been released.



FIELD (voice-over): Newly released video showing a massive and deadly police chase. Thirty-five-year-old Christopher Chase leading officers for 16 miles through the streets of Southeast Albuquerque in a stolen police car.


FIELD: Chase reportedly wearing body armor and a tattoo of the word "cop killer" seems hell bent on carrying out that mission. He shoots at the officers with a semi-automatic weapon injuring three of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got an officer shot. Let's go.

FIELD: Watch as one officer checks on his wounded colleague.


FIELD: Police shoot back at Chase from their cars. Chasing him into a gas station. Chase slams the stolen cruiser into a gas pump. Cops leap from their vehicles and an all-out gun battle breaks out. Chase is hit eight times and dies at the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope everybody else is OK.

FIELD: All of the officers injured in the shooting survived.


FIELD (voice-over): According to reports from CNN affiliate, KOAT, Chase also fake booby trapped his apartment. Officers say they found his windows boarded up with fishing line visible and fake artillery shells. He reportedly had a long criminal history, including charges for embezzlement, fraud, and traffic violations -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Alexandra, thank you so much.

So, it's officially show time in Sochi. The Olympic opening ceremonies are less than 24 hours away, and several events have already begun. Amid the building excitement, big questions remain, though, about whether Sochi is prepared, still, to host the games.

Joining us now from Vancouver, someone who understands the conditions in Sochi, better than almost anyone, Roger McCarthy. He helped plan the layout of the Olympic resort from scratch, and he's also the former co-president of Vail Resorts. Roger, thank you so much for coming in this morning.


BOLDUAN: Good morning. So, there is -- we talk a lot about the concern surrounding the games in terms of terror threats and security. But now, as people are arriving on the ground, there's a lot of concern that the Olympic village, the town, is even going to be ready to accept visitors. There's lots of reports that suggest they're kind of in disarray. You were there back in 2007 in the very early planning stages. Did you have concerns back then?

MCCARTHY: Well, I think almost all of the facilities, including the hotels up in the mountain site, all of that is brand new. There was nothing there. All the lifts are -- went in really in 2008, 2007. And then, the buildings have been since then. So, there's been a massive amount of building, reclaiming of the riverbank and building a whole village down both sides of the river (ph).

And you don't just sort of pull those things out of the box and pump them up and here you go. So, I think there will be some challenges because much of that stuff is -- you know, the paint is drying as you're checking in type of thing. And then, you've got the whole issue of training and delivery of service and all those other things that people are accustomed to in major destination resorts around the world.

BOLDUAN: But, you know, there definitely was built from scratch. That's for sure. But, when you're looking at it from the outside in, this is going to be like the most expensive Olympics ever. They've thrown so much money at this. Vladimir Putin's reputation kind of rests on this going off without a hitch. Does this surprise you that they seem to be still painting and constructing while people are arriving to begin the games?

MCCARTHY: No, it doesn't surprise me at all because in reality, there was nothing there. You know, really nothing at all. So, I mean, when I started, there was no trails cut. You know, we were still trying to figure out, locate the tops and bottoms of lifts and those types of things. So, when you start to think about hotels and all of the infrastructure that goes with it, roads, sewer, water, electricity, and electricity is a significant issue in Russia anyway.

BOLDUAN: Roger, from your perspective, then, since you saw it from the kind of -- really from the beginning, even before the beginning, do you think Sochi was a good choice then for the winter Olympics because the conditions there, the weather conditions there are something to consider as well.

MCCARTHY: Well, I think that's another issue. And that maybe -- we can never figure out exactly what the weather will do, but Sochi is on the coast of the black sea. So, it's a lot warmer than, say, the pacific. And if you thought about it being a sort of mid-Oregon, it's quite a ways south. So, I think the two potential weather influences there, one is a very warm weather could be wet and rain at high levels or you could get the Siberian arctic high that comes in and really puts the deep freeze on the place or you can get something in between. So, it will be really interesting to see what happens there.

BOLDUAN: Guess so. Roger McCarthy, great to meet you. Thanks so much for coming in.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Kate. We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, a well-off teenager who killed four people in a drunk driving accident will not do a single day in jail. Affluenza. You know the word. It was a defense that outraged the nation. Well, now, his lawyer is here talking exclusively to NEW DAY about why this is the proper sentence.


PEREIRA: All right. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Time now for the five things you need to know.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Homeland security officials warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may be carrying explosives in tubes of toothpaste or cosmetics. Preliminary Olympic competition has already begun and the opening ceremony set for tomorrow.

Winter weather sparking more chaos. Look at this snowplow dangling off a retaining wall on an Ohio interstate this morning after crashed up an embankment. Meantime, hundreds of thousands of customers in Pennsylvania still without electricity after this latest snowstorm.

Three people arrested in the investigation into Philip Seymour Hoffman's apparent overdose pleading not guilty to various drug charges. In the meantime, autopsy results on the Oscar-winning actor have come back inconclusive.

The Democrat-controlled Senate takes up unemployment benefits. They're holding a procedural vote today to extend benefits for the long-time unemployed after rejecting Republican requests for proposed amendments to the bill.

And at number five, New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, headlines two GOP fundraisers in Texas today. The state's top Republican, Governor Rick Perry, will not be greeting him.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We always update those five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Mich.

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 denying pleas from prosecutors and family members of the victims that he served time. Couch was sentenced to probation last year after a defense expert said he suffered from so- called affluenza.

Joining us now in an exclusive interview is Mr. Reagan Wynn, one of Ethan Couch's attorneys. Sir, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.


CUOMO: Now, the idea that this situation is about affluenza you find to be a strict violation of what actually happened here, and I want to get to that. But first, just tell us, what is the sentence and what do you believe are the challenges ahead for your client?

WYNN: Judge Boyd has ordered that Ethan will be on probation for ten years. He will be likely transferred to the adult probation system at the age of 19. As a condition of his probation, she has ordered that he go to and complete the program at a lock-down drug treatment facility here in the state of Texas. There were several conditions placed on him as the condition is probation, including that he not drive any vehicle at any time under any circumstances.

His driver's license is suspended until further order of the court. He has been ordered not to be anywhere where alcohol is kept, can't have any alcohol in his house. Obviously, commit no law violations, not be around any persons who commit crimes. It's a pretty intensive probation. I think the big challenges ahead for him are going to be dealing with the severe psychological PTSD and substance abuse issues that he suffers from.

CUOMO: All right. And so, if he gets caught in a bar or something, even over the age of majority and legal age of drinking, it could trigger the sentence and that's something he's going to have to deal with and certainly people will be watching him. The bigger concern, of course, is the criticism that he only got this sentence because he's a rich White kid. Now, you find that offensive. You think the word "affluenza" is overplayed and that this is actually the right sentence. Tell me why.

WYNN: Let me kind of handle that in a couple of parts. First off with regard to affluenza, Judge Boyd heard three days of testimony. We had two extremely well-qualified experts who testified. One of whom was on the stand for about two hours and uttered the word "affluenza" one time. That term was not used by either lawyers that represented Mr. Couch, and it was not our defense, simply put.

Our defense, and what Judge Boyd heard evidence of, was that this 16- year-old child was the product of a profoundly dysfunctional family. That he suffered from very real and serious psychological issues which had manifested themselves in a very real and serious substance abuse problem. And I think she considered all of that in determining what the appropriate sentence was.

CUOMO: So, you don't think him being a rich white kid had anything to do with it?

WYNN: I think it is ridiculous for anyone who knows anything about the criminal justice system or the juvenile justice system to think that we walked into court and said, hey, judge, this is a rich White kid and she went, oh, OK, probation. I think the real issue was that she recognized the serious psychological issues that Ethan suffers.

CUOMO: Well, there's an easy way to test it. Have you ever heard of a poor kid or someone other than this kid getting this kind of sentence with this type of damage?

WYNN: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: Really?

WYNN: Yes.

CUOMO: Probation with having killed four people?

WYNN: I don't know of a case specifically like this, but I can tell you that the juvenile justice system is geared towards rehabilitation of the juvenile offender.