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Power Outages Expected in Southern Storm; FBI Offers Reward in Effort to Stop Laser Pointing at Pilots; Amazon To Hire 2,500 Full- Time With Benefits; Catch Me If You

Aired February 12, 2014 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You see it in those pictures. Back now to the breaking news, the deep freeze that is hitting the south right now. Potentially the worst ice storm to hit that area in more than a decade. Ice is coating roads. It's covering tree branches and power lines. It's making the roads just dangerous, impassable, and potentially knocking out power to thousands and thousands of people in this storm's path.

Our Nick Valencia has the latest from Decatur in Georgia. That's an Atlanta suburb where it is really starting to get icy right now, .

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good morning John. It really is starting to get icy. That freezing rain picking up. And just to give you a sense of how cold it was last night, this is not a trash bag. It's a child's coat left here on the playground overnight. So cold, you can almost snap this thing in half.

And I mention that freezing rain really -- you know, it's really picking up over the last couple of minutes. And that's creating major problems for those on the roads.


VALENCIA (voice-over): As the storm bears down, bringing that dangerous mix of snow and ice and wind, officials across Georgia are scrambling to get in place, preparing for a day's long battle to keep the power on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a challenge for all of us.

VALENCIA: Officials say once you get past a quarter inch of ice, power lines are in big trouble. The forecast this time, three- quarters to over an inch of ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not kidding. We're not just crying wolf. It is serious business.

VALENCIA: Inside this storm command center, Georgia power officials are making plans, marshaling the troops and even asking for help from other states calling in trucks from as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania.

Atlanta's big challenge, the bulk of its power lines are above ground and easily taken down by ice and wind, a problem that wasn't rectified after the ice storm of 2000 when a half-inch of ice left more than 300,000 people without electricity. Some couldn't restore power for weeks. Wind gusts today up to 30 miles per hour combined with thick ice, adding to the danger of falling trees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do all we can to get our folks to the outages and the power back on for you as quickly as possible.


VALENCIA (on-camera): And those power outages a very big problem today. We just checked in with Georgia power, over 9,000 customers already without power. And that's doubled since we first got here about an hour ago. Why is it such a big deal? Well, this stuff is starting to accumulate. Freezing rain turned to ice. It's going to be the big issue all day long. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Valencia, bundle up, my friend. Thank you so much for that report. We're going to be watching that weather.

Let's take a look at your other headlines right now. A startling admission from the director of national intelligence. James Clapper telling a Senate committee that the technology is still not in place to prevent someone from stealing classified documents. That nearly a year after Edward Snowden took thousands of pages from NSA servers. Clapper saying not all NSA offices have installed security upgrades.

Two cross-country skiers dead after being caught in an avalanche in Oregon. That bringing the total killed in recent days to six, including two others, each in Utah and Colorado. Amazingly, a man in Colorado did survive after he was swept up in an avalanche over the weekend. You can see the whole thing -- how frightening -- was captured on his helmet cam.

New developments this morning out of West Virginia where a coal slurry spill is blackening a six-mile stretch of a creek. This is happening not that far from where a toxic chemical spill tainted drinking water for 300,000 people near Charleston last month. Environmental officials say the spill is significant, but they say public water has not been contaminated.

Stunning video to show you of a brazen smash and grab in Los Angeles. Look at that. Right at one of the busiest intersections there in Hollywood along the Walk of Fame, yeah, the guy breaks the window of an LAPD cruiser, grabs a laptop from inside it then he shouts, "I love Jesus Christ." You can see Darth Vader was on hand as was Superman. Police quickly apprehended the suspect. Interesting Darth Vader didn't really do much, though.

"Over the moon, that I'm over the dune," so said the tweet from Curiosity -- NASA's Mars rover. It successfully crossed that treacherous Dingo Gap. Remember I told you about that? Well, these time lapse images taken from the rear of the rover shows its tracks in the sand. Peace out, it's saying. Next, Curiosity is headed to an area called KMS-9. I hear it's lovely this time of year. It is surrounded by terrain that is quite different from all other sites rovers have visited. That was a big ordeal. Remember I was telling you it was like a (inaudible).

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm deeming you -- you've now got another title. You are now officially our -- no, not -- you are our chief space correspondent, at least for the Mars Rover.

PEREIRA: Did you just call me a space cadet?

BOLDUAN: Yes, I did. But in a loving way.

BERMAN: I prefer space commander.

PEREIRA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, next up for us on NEW DAY, a plane crash leaves dozens dead, but one person did survive. This harrowing story and what we know about this coming up next.

BOLDUAN: Plus, there are nearly a dozen reported laser attacks on planes in flight every day. Now the FBI is offering a pretty big reward to track these folks down. But will thousands of dollars keep people from blinding pilots from the ground?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Let's go around the world now starting in Algeria where one man survived a military plane crash that killed 77 other passengers. Mohammed Jamjoom has the very latest.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hard to imagine a crash so bad could leave any survivors. But when a military plane went down in eastern Algeria, 77 people died; one man lived through it. According to Algeria's civil protection agency, that lone survivor had head injuries and was taken to a hospital. The Hercules c-130 plane that crashed was carrying members of the Algerian air force and their families. Local media reports blame bad weather for bringing it down. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Mohammed, thank you so much.

And England -- it's dealing with some of the worst flooding that it has seen in centuries. Jim Boulden has the very latest.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the idyllic village of Datchet, which is very close to the River Thames. And you can see water has been flooding this village for days. the problem is, we had an unprecedented amount of rain in January.

And so, as it continues to rain on and off each day, there just is nowhere for the water to go. So people in this village have been cut off using boats to go back and forth. You also see places like this hotel which would normally have weddings has been trying to pump the water out from inside. The last couple days, they just put another hose through the window to try to see if they can clear this out. Prime minister says it could get worse. We're expecting more rain this afternoon and more rain on Friday. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Just what they do not need. Jim, thank you.

In South Korea, thousands are tying the knot together in a mass wedding. Paula Hancocks is there.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty thousand couples around the world are being married today by the Unification Church; 2500 of them are here in South Korea. Now, these followers are very keen on these mass weddings. They're followers of the late Reverend Moon, known locally as the Moonies. And many of these couples are from different countries. Interracial unions are very important to this church. They believe that it fosters global peace. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: One way to help remember your anniversary date, have thousands of other people help remind you because they all have the same wedding day.

BERMAN: Mazel tov times 10,000.


BERMAN: All right, developing this morning, an FBI campaign to snuff out dangerous laser pointer attacks on pilots. There are nearly 11 reported attacks every day. The FBI is now offering a big reward for information leading to arrests here. CNN's Rene Marsh is in Washington with much more on this story. Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. You know that blinding light you just saw in the cockpit, it continues to haunt pilots nationwide. And now the FBI is hoping thousands of dollars in award money may lead to arrests.


MARSH (voice-over): Thousands of laser strikes nationwide are targeting pilots flying airplanes, temporarily blinding them mid- flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea what just happened. Your entire cockpit turns green.

MARSH: The FBI says because of a dramatic spike in incidents, they're offering reward money for tips that lead to the culprits behind the laser attacks. For the next two months, 11 cities in San Juan are offering up to $10,000 for information that leads to arrests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when a laser light flashes across the cockpit, it's about 25 percent brighter than a flashlight flashing in your face. So what that does is, that could cause temporary incapacitation.

MARSH: The FAA says there were nearly 300 laser strikes in 2005. That number spiked to nearly 4,000 last year, an average of almost 11 incidents per day. New York City and southern California are among the areas with the most incidents. Listen as a plane is coming in for landing at New York's JFK Airport in 2012.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: So we just got lasered up here. Two green flashes into the cockpit. It caught the first officer's eye.

MARSH: A dangerous mid-air distraction that in some cases caused injury. Pilots have been hospitalized because of burned corneas. Contributing to the spike, how easily available these lasers are and better incident reporting. Laser strikes have never caused a crash, but the FBI fears it eventually will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If an aircraft were to go down in a neighborhood, a school, a shopping center, it would be absolutely devastating.


MARSH (on-camera): Well, thousands of laser attacks go unreported every year. The FBI has made some arrests. Agents say the profile of the people arrested, teenage boys and men in their 30s. But it is very difficult to investigate this sort of thing because they have to track down exactly where that laser is coming from, so that can be very tough. If you do get caught, you could face up to five years in prison and also get a hefty fine, $250,000.

BERMAN: You know, if you do get caught, you deserve it. It's got to be one of the dumbest, most malicious things you could do.

BOLDUAN: I'm really surprised how often it happens. I mean, and the fact that there hasn't been a serious incident because of it to this point. Rene, thank you very much. Something we should be talking more about.

BERMAN: All right, what everyone else is talking about these days, the Olympics. Some of the biggest and best moments. You may not have noticed every last one of them. That's why we have Michaela Pereira for some of the really great vial moments.

PEREIRA: Well said. Some really good viral moments from the winter games already in full swing. Let's take a look.

We know that, oh yes, broadcaster and analyst from NBC Sports Johnny Weir has been getting rave reviews for his coverage, also getting high marks for his fashion. Posted this photo of himself on Instagram. The red -- hot pink blazer was obviously a hit with viewers. But his style's not the only pink thing trending at the Olympics.

You know where I'm going with this. Yeah, broadcaster Bob Costas has a pretty raging case of pink eye. Poor Bob, the infection's so bad that he took Tuesday off. In fact, it's the first time since 1988 that someone besides Costas sat in the anchor chair for primetime Olympic coverage. And of course, the internet having a good time with it. Some people tweeting the Photoshop version of him with the terminator eye. We'll go by that this.

It's the Canadian awesomeness at its finest. No regular beer, my friend. No beer maker, Molson Canada, had this bad boy shipped to team Canada Olympic house. It just spent his Molson beer only after you or your Canadian cham (ph) -- Canadian passport. Kind of just a bit of awesomeness that I think we should end --

BOLDUAN: Yet another reason you have to come along when we travel to the winter Olympics.

PEREIRA: Oh. So now, you're going to invite --

BERMAN: -- Canada, what you lack in GDP you make up for in beer ingenuity.


BERMAN: So, hats off to you Canada.



BERMAN: I try.

BOLDUAN: Nicely done.

All right. Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, catch me if you can, the frightening taunt from a motorcyclist in Texas to police. Just look at this video. After this video showed up on Facebook, we're going to tell you what police are doing to try to track this guy down.

BERMAN: Plus, free fallen. Not just an awful Tom Petty song, a camera takes a long trip back to earth. You will never believe where it landed and what was on the other side of this lens. It is our "Must-See Moment." I mean must see coming up next.


BERMAN: That sound means it is "Money Time." Chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, in the Money Center.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good Wednesday morning, you guys. Stock markets rallying around the world right now. U.S. futures are strong. European and Asian markets all rallied. Why? Strong trade data from China. Congress or the House at least voted to raise the debt ceiling and investors liked what they heard from new fed chief.

This morning news, Amazon is hiring 2,500 new full-time jobs with benefits available at fulfillment centers across the country. Workers will pick, pack, and ship customer orders. Now, Amazon boasts this job pays 30 percent more than the typical retail job which is -- that puts it just under 30 grand a year. Chick-fil- A will stop selling meat from chickens raised with antibiotics within five years. That's its goal. Customers, they say, are demanding it. Chick-fil-A joins Chipotle and Panera Bread in serving this healthier chicken. Subway last week said it would remove a chemical in its bread that is also found in yoga mats and shoe soles -- guys.

BOLDUAN: Not what you want in your bread or anything that you're about to eat.

BERMAN: The power of the conscious consumer there. Really interesting.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Thanks, Christine.

So, a brazen challenge to Texas police officers. You got to take a look at this. Posted on their own website. This terrifying helmet cam footage appeared with the taunting caption, "catch me if you can." San Antonio officers say the motorcycle is going over a hundred miles an hour in the video, and now, they say they know who's driving. Here's Deborah Feyerick with more.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look at this disturbing video shot by a motorcyclist wearing a helmet camera. You can see the cyclist weaving in and out of rush hour traffic in San Antonio. Officials say at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

SGT. JAVIER SALAZAR, SAN ANTONIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Really, all of it would have taken was a split second for him to impact the lives of several people, possibly killing someone just by his very action.

FEYERICK: It caught the attention of the San Antonio Police Department when the video was posted on the police department's Facebook page with this daring caption, "catch me if you can." And now, the police department is acting on that dare.

WILLIAM MCMANUS, SAN ANTONIO POLICE CHIEF: We've got all his personal information. And, we will have our detectives and our officers out actively looking for him.

FEYERICK: Police believe the motorcyclist is Alberto Rodriguez (ph), age, 27. He's also wanted for two outstanding felony warrants.

MCMANUS: If Mr. Rodriguez is watching, you might as well just turn yourself in because it's just a matter of time until we catch you.

FEYERICK: If caught, he would face a reckless driving charge, a possible fine of $200, and 30 days in jail. And in the cyber twist, the police department is using their same Facebook page to reach out to the public for any tips. This is not the first time that a reckless driving video has gone viral and caught the attention of authorities.

During the summer of 2013, a record was set for the fastest loop around Manhattan. The driver later posted it on YouTube. Police caught up with the driver and later charged him with reckless driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just goes to show that, you know, you call negative attention to yourself on your social media webpages and bad things can happen.

FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Not (INAUDIBLE) here, folks.

BOLDUAN: What an idiot. Sorry. Sorry. Editorial moment. I mean, really?

PEREIRA: I know. You think about how many people could have been hurt.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PEREIRA: Let's go to our "Must-See Moment." Look up in the sky.


PEREIRA (voice-over): There was a plane. No, no bird. Instead, a Go Pro Camera fine, right? According to person who posted the video on YouTube, the camera then drops out of the skydiving plane and plunged through the air landing smack dab in the middle of a pig pen. Check them out. Investigating the foreign object and of course tries to eat it. Two takeaways for you here, go pros are incredibly durable.


PEREIRA: Also, pigs will try to eat just about anything.

BERMAN (voice-over): We think this is real?


BERMAN: I think even as (ph) not as really cool. I like seeing the --


BOLDUAN: Yet again, further proof that Go Pro's best advertisements are amateur go pro videos.

PEREIRA (on-camera): Now, (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN (on-camera): It's still cool. It's cool no matter what. Real or not. Just like my hair.

All right. Next up on NEW DAY, ice, snow, dangerous weather pounding the southeast and heading north. We will have the very latest coming up next.

BOLDUAN: And one of the largest studies ever on mammograms debunking previous research on the screenings. This is really important findings. Why researchers say now they don't help and could actually be harmful. But others are not convinced. That's why we're going to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta to help us sort through it all, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It is almost seven o'clock in the east. We're starting this hour with our news blast, the most news you can get anywhere.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wherever you are, you need to plan on staying there for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of Mother Nature's worst kinds of storms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed without objection.

JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: This is a lost opportunity for Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had no choice but to defend myself. It was life or death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The halfpipe left Shaun White empty-handed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- biggest battle, Tom Brokaw revealing his struggle with cancer.


BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, another environmental problem in West Virginia, if you can believe it. A coal slurry spill has muddled six miles of water. More than a hundred thousand gallons is believed to have flowed into field's creek after vales and a slurry line malfunction (ph).

Officials say the public water supply isn't affected, but this comes just a month after that chemical spill we talk so much about left 300,000 people without tap water.

BERMAN: There's now moratorium on execution to the state of Washington. The governor there, Jay Inslee, says no one will be put to death while he is in office even though the death penalty is legal there. Inslee is a Democrat. He says his decision is based on problems with the capital punishment system, his words.

The move follows similar actions from other Democratic governors in Oregon and Colorado.

PEREIRA: Developing overnight, dangerous conditions out west are triggering avalanches with deadly results. So far, six have died since the weekend. Tuesday, two cross countries skiers in Oregon were killed when a snow slide hit in Baker County. And in Utah, snowmobiler and a snowshoer (ph) were killed in separate instances over the weekend. Two people were buried by separate events in Colorado.

BOLDUAN: Just scare to see that. And for the first time in seven years, North and South Korea are holding high-level talks. The meetings requested by the north as the south prepares to hold a new round of military drills with the United States. Observers expect North Korea to repeat demand to scrap those drills and unlikely confession from the south, but the talks are raising hopes of improving the neighbors' strained relationships.

BERMAN: Former NBC news, nightly news anchor, Tom Brokaw, revealing that he has cancer. He is battling multiple myeloma which is the cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He's been battling it since August. In a statement, he says doctors are encouraged by his progress and adds, quoting here, "I remain the luckiest guy I know."