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Severe Weather Threat; Ukraine Reaches Possible Deal; U.S. Prepared To Sanction Ukraine; Shoe Bomb Threat Tied To Al Qaeda; Six Dead In Venezuela Protests; Woman Kills Four, Injures Two At Meeting; Obama: No Cuts To Social Security; McCain: Clinton Would Be President; Tough Loss For U.S. Women's Hockey; Juror: Dunn Verdict Not About Race

Aired February 21, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm 46 years old. And I have never had a winter like this.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, extreme weather is back across the east. Tornado is touching down. Blizzards whipping up. Traffic and air travel snarled. And guess what? The misery, not over yet. Who and what is next? We're tracking it all.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, word of a deal in Ukraine, but neither side is standing down just yet as the violence spills over into the parliament. We're live in Kiev.

CUOMO: Heartbreaking loss. The U.S. women's hockey team falls to Canada in overtime, but the men get their chance to exact revenge today and what is with U.S. figure skating having its worst Olympics since World War II.

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, February 21st, 6:00 in the east. Right now, dangerous, potentially deadly storms threatening more than 30 million people. Take a look at the map. Severe weather alerts in effect this morning from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to New England.

And runs the full range, snow, rain, damaging winds, that's what I'm letting you hear, though. Those are winds that are being tornado whipped. Take a look at that. It's a twister in Illinois doing serious damage Thursday, knocking out power to thousands. There is more of the same in the forecast today. The biggest threat is the big question.

Meteorologist, Indra Petersons is tracking it for us. What do we see out there, my friend?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, very easy, take a look at the storm reports in the last 24 hours. Notice 13 reports of tornadoes in Illinois overnight. Look at all the damaging winds, 235 reports of winds as this storm system made its way across. Unfortunately that risk is still out there today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hunker down Nashville.

PETERSONS (voice-over): Overnight, severe storms wreaked havoc across the Midwest and southeast. Multiple tornadoes reported touching down in Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very loud. Just couldn't hear anything.

PETERSONS: Thunderstorms, damaging winds, and funnel clouds threatening millions of people from New Orleans to Detroit. In Illinois, Thursday night, the severe storm knocking out power to tens of thousands bringing torrential down pour 60 mile per hour winds and fog. Dense fog causing this 20-car pileup near Chicago, one car pinned underneath a semi as rows of emergency responders lined the highway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

PETERSONS: And in Mississippi a day care caught on fire after an apparent lightning strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked back and a bolt of lightning went straight down.

PETERSONS: A very different picture in Des Moines and Minneapolis, near blizzard conditions. Police closing some highways as treacherous ice blankets the road. This mega bus went carrying four passengers in Iowa went careening into embankment after hitting a patch of ice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm 46 years old and I have never had a winter like this.


PETERSONS: We're continuing to still watch some of these thunderstorms popping up at this hour. It's very easy (inaudible) and continue to make its way across the east. In the southeast, still watching a severe thunderstorm watch this morning up until about 9:00 Eastern Time.

We're talking about just south of D.C. stretching down through Jacksonville, that's the biggest threat for strong thunderstorms even isolated tornadoes still in the forecast and then still thunderstorm is lining the entire eastern seaboard so a tough day still to go. Definitely a lot of concern as the system continues to push further to the east.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Indra. All right, breaking news now, in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, where the president there says they've reached a deal with the opposition to resolve the ongoing political crisis, but French and German officials participating in the negotiations urged caution saying nothing is definitive yet.

This comes as violence continues between protesters and police in Kiev in Independent Square where we've been watching it closely now. Thursday was the deadliest day so far in the three-month-long struggle. Senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is there in Kiev as you have been. Nick, how is it looking right now?

NICK PATON WALSH: Well, we are waiting to see if this supposed deal the president said would be signed now an hour ago means anything at all. European diplomats urging caution. I should give you some more breaking news. We have just heard from the presidential website a statement from the president saying that they will return to the 2004 constitution.

Now in short terms that basically weakens his power. That's something the protesters would like. We're hearing blasts away from the crowd. That probably is fireworks more than anything else given how calm the crowd is. But a recent statement from police said that they have been fired upon nearby here.

We saw no evidence in the crowd suggest panic or a return of fire. Tension very high here. The next few hours really will decide whether all the negotiations can actually be sold to the crowd and calm everyone down.

BOLDUAN: Nick, the truce that was reached earlier this week sure didn't do much and didn't last very long. But you do get a sense that the truce and the negotiations this time are different, more serious.

WALSH: This time, we have a host of European diplomats, Polish, French, German, neighbors of this country, here also getting international pressure. Yanukovych too has lost his army chief. He's lost (inaudible). He is under much greater pressure. He's not getting big signals from Moscow support. So, yes, clearly, he is feeling the heat now, I think it's fair to say.

The question though is after violence on the streets, if a deal comes through signed by everybody agreed by the opposition leaders that still leaves Yanukovych in power until some elections later on this year, as is being suggested now, are the crowds here, are they simply going to pack up and go home and calm everything down?

That's a difficult question to answer. If they don't, what then will security forces do? It's still very tense here. Despite the negotiations and the positive signals we're hearing, there are still barricades here, armed police, angry demonstrators. Some of whom have pretty light firearms too, lot of concerns here. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: A lot of concerns and will the protesters accept the deal that is reached. Of course, that's a question you're asking. We'll be watching closely, critical hours ahead today in Ukraine. Nick, thank you so much -- Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, very important there, Kate. You know, the headline this morning is there's a deal in Ukraine. But you listen to Nick Paton Walsh who is on the ground, that's really not a 100 percent true is it? What does the deal mean? What does it not mean? The violence may very well continue, which is why you have to think about the situation in the Ukraine like Syria.

You remember it started as fighting factions. The U.S. asking for less force from the government then innocence started to become slaughtered. Then it became a question of the U.S. taking harsher action leading to the brink of military action. Well, that's happening again in Ukraine. That's why it matters to you.

First, the White House was asking for a quick resolution. Now, Vice President Joe Biden calling the Ukrainian president with a warning that America is prepared to sanction those behind the violent crackdown. But there is a push for harder action on the table.

That's why we're going to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House. Jim, tell us what the rationale coming out of the White House for why this is the US's fight.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I can tell you the White House is watching these developments in Ukraine very closely. As you saw earlier this week, the White House was cautiously optimistic that announced truce on Wednesday would hold. That of course went up in smoke and then the president told the Ukrainians not to cross a line. That apparently did take place in Kiev on Thursday.

Now as you mentioned Vice President Joe Biden, he did place a phone call to the president of Ukraine, Yanukovych to warn the Ukrainian leader to pull back his security forces. That sanctions were prepared for those individuals who are responsible for this violence. That is an indications that these sanctions are ready to go.

While the White House has said he has not engaged in some sort of global chess match with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. The White House has been ramping up pressure on the Russians, on Putin to do something. I talked to a senior administration official earlier this week that said this looks very bad for Putin, looks very bad for Russia as that country is now trying to wrap up the Olympics in Sochi.

But clearly, Chris, they view what happens in Ukraine as very important to the west, very important to Europe. And they don't want to see this thing go down and descend into more and more violence as we've seen in the last 24 to 48 hours -- Chris.

BOLDUAN: More instability is the last thing they need over there right now. Jim Acosta, great to see you. Jim, thank you very much.

We also have new information this morning on the warnings issued this week alerting airlines of potential shoe bombs. U.S. officials say recent intelligence points to al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and their master bomb maker.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us as always. Barbara, this bomb maker, we talk about him quite a lot. The U.S. always has eyes on his work and the people that he's training. He seems to be the focus this time around again.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Kate. Good morning, you know, the U.S. has thought for some time, Asiri and the al Qaeda group he represents in Yemen. He has been the most direct threat to the United States and it now looks like that group may be on the move again.


STARR (voice-over): A U.S. official says it's credible threat tied to al Qaeda, which has never given up its intent to attack the U.S. again. There's no specific target, but the concern is al Qaeda will try to place a shoe bomb on an airplane bound for the U.S. A second U.S. official says the TSA warning stems from intelligence tied to the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM ANALYST: Al Qaeda in Yemen have a master bomb maker, Ibrahim Al-Asiri in their ranks who is still at large. This is the guy responsible for several attempts on U.S. aviation in the last few years. He's ingenious at making bombs. He's constantly trying to come up with new ways to get past airport security.

STARR: Several officials in the administration described the threat as aspirational, a desire to attack. But the first U.S. official tells CNN, the TSA would not take steps to warn the airlines unless the threat was real. That official telling CNN this threat may represent a renewed effort by al Qaeda. This is not just some flip comment on the part of a bad guy. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, sought to calm fears about the TSA warning.

JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The advisory we issued is the type that we routinely issue in response to the latest intelligence. As you know, concerns about shoe bombs have been out there for years, every once in a while, we update our advisories. We modify our procedures so that we remain vigilant.

STARR: U.S. officials also confirm there are a small number of American citizens in Yemen with al Qaeda with American passports. They could readily re-enter the U.S.


STARR: Now look, Asiri, not only knows how to make these hard to detect bombs, but he's been training other people to do the very same thing according to U.S. officials. Perhaps an additional new worry, al Qaeda in Yemen, those operatives, other al Qaeda operatives in Syria have been training people with western passports in how to engage in terrorist attacks. The concern is with those western passports, maybe even U.S. passports. They could come to the United States readily and engage in terrorist activities here, a growing major concern -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Barbara, thank you very much. Later in the show, we're going to discuss with an expert why this threat has raised to this level, what shoe bombs can do and what it really means to you if you're getting ready to travel. A lot of other news as well so let's get to Don Lemon, in for Michaela with the headlines.

DON LEMON, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good morning. Violence seems to be the theme this morning with the weather and overseas. In Venezuela, paratroopers are now headed to an area that has been torn apart by protest. Six people have now died in that violence. The latest victim, a supporter of socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, was shot during an anti-government rally.

Maduro has denounced the protesters as fascists and blames opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez for inciting the violence. Lopez is being held in a military prison, but murder charges against him have been dropped.

Bringing overnight, four people are dead and two are recovering after a woman opened fire at a Native American tribal office in California. Police say Sheri Rhodes was attending a tribal eviction meeting when she started firing then grabbed the knife and attacked another person when she ran out of ammunition. Rhodes a former tribal leader facing eviction was taken into custody after that incident.

President Obama's 2015 budget proposal won't include cuts to cost of living increases and Social Security checks. The administration's budget plan will be released in the next two weeks and Republicans are already slamming the president for ignoring the debt crisis.

Meantime, the president is scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama today, but China wants the administration to scrap the meeting warning it would seriously damage relations between the two countries.

Republican Senator John McCain says Hillary Clinton would likely be president if the elections were held tomorrow, but he says she would not be his choice. McCain was responding to a question from our Piers Morgan about Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In a recent interview, Bachmann said many people aren't ready for a female commander-in-chief.

Fallon and the first lady, Michelle Obama appeared on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" last night and she talked about the first daughters saying that Malia will soon learn to drive.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: When we're out of here, in a few years, you know, they've got to be able to function as normal people. So driving is a part of that. So we're going to have to figure that out. Ladies and gentlemen in D.C., watch out.


LEMON: The first lady also -- look at this. This is hilarious. She took part of this sketch. She told them that exercise is not eeew, and she even joined the dance party. We are going to have much more on what eeew was about.

BOLDUAN: I think exercise is eeew too.

LEMON: My God, eeew.

CUOMO: I can't do it, but I was feeling it yesterday watching the U.S. hockey team. I had a big bet to be continued. I miss her on the show. I love her like a sister, but I'm happy she is not here today. I would have to make good on our wager in U.S. women's hockey versus Canada.

BOLDUAN: Here are involved, some of our favorite alcohol, right?

CUOMO: Yes, thank you for that giving that away. Silver never tasted so bittersweet for the U.S. women's hockey team. Silver is great. Any medal is amazing at the Olympics, but you know, we really expected the U.S. hockey team. This could have been their year for the women.

They had to settle for second place blowing a late two-goal lead, I mean, just minutes left in the game. Canada was just too strong. So today, it falls to the men's team looking for a revenge against the Canadian. They look to secure their place in Sunday's gold medal game.

Ivan Watson is live in Sochi with more. Hi, Ivan.


That's right, this all about North American ice hockey tonight. You know, the U.S. and Canada going head to head on the ice. And you got to remember that four years ago, the U.S. lost the gold medal to Canada at the Vancouver Games. They're going to get another shot here in the semifinals.

This, of course, as you mentioned coming after the U.S. women's team lost to Canada in overtime last night.


WATSON (voice-over): It was the ultimate North American showdown right here in Sochi and it lived up to its expectations. An Olympic rivalry as hockey titans Team USA and Canada entered overtime in the women's hockey final. The heated face-off ending with Canada's (INAUDIBLE) scoring on a four on three power play eight minutes into overtime -- a heart-pumping comeback feeding the U.S. 3-2 for the gold.

On the figure skating rink, a meltdown for Team USA. America shutout. The first time the Americans didn't top the singles figure skating podium since 1936. Even the winner left surprised.

Emerging from the pack of dazzling ice princesses, Russia's 17-year- old Adelina Sotnikova shooting to first place. Grabbing gold with her stunning and difficult performance, making her the first ever woman to do so for Russia. Sotnikova soared over defending ice queen Yu-na Kim from South Korea and fellow Russian and rising star Julia Lipnitskaya. The 15-year-old surprisingly fell into fifth after both performances were littered by mistakes.

But in the inaugural women's halfpipe, American favorite Maddie Bowman brought one home for the team, shredding some major powder and landing left and right, 900 spins with ease. The 20-year-old from California owned that pipe, earning herself some shiny new hardware. Bowman's gold along with American David Wise's painted the Olympic halfpipe red, white, and blue.


WATSON: So, Chris, let's do the medal count right now. Norway in the lead with 10 gold medals, Canada in second with eight gold medals. The U.S. technically in third though it is winning in the overall medal count and there are seven gold medals up for grabs today here in Sochi -- Chris and Kate.

CUOMO: All right. Ivan, thank you for the reporting. Important to note, it's not just about how many medals, they actually weight which ones they are, like gold --

BOLDUAN: It's about how many medals.

LEMON: What are you talking about? Eeew!

BOLDUAN: Right, Chris. You're so eeew.

CUOMO: I'm just saying, that's the rule. You can ignore it. And you're doing it.

BOLDUAN: And we do that.

Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to talk about more fallout from the loud music murder trial. A second juror is speaking out exclusively to CNN. And she has a message for anyone that says this case was about race.

CUOMO: Plus, disturbing new information about a deadly UPS plane crash that killed two pilots. Find out what one of them was complaining about right after takeoff. Could play a role in the crash.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Another juror in the Michael Dunn trial is speaking out, saying despite what many are talking about online and being picked up somewhat in the media, race played no part in the verdict. Speaking to CNN exclusively, juror number 8, her name Creshuna Miles, says she never considered the idea Michael Dunn fired into Jordan Davis' car because he was black.

CNN's Alina Machado is in Florida with more -- Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, Miles says race was not a part of the jury's decision-making process. In fact, she says they were told not to think about race when they were considering the case. She did feel Michael Dunn was guilty of murder, but because they could not reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge, they had no choice to come back with this partial verdict.


CRESHUNA MILES, JUROR NO. 8: I never once thought about, oh, this was a black kid, this was white guy, because that was -- that wasn't the case.

MACHADO: So, the people who say here's another white guy who got away with shooting and killing a black kid, what would you tell them?

MILES: I would tell them that they really should knowledge themself on the law.

MACHADO (voice-over): Creshuna Miles is setting the record straight.

MILES: I just wanted to bring justice to whoever it was.

MACHADO: The 21-year-old was juror number 8 in the Michael Dunn murder trial. She sat down exclusively with CNN to talk about the case and the heated deliberations.

(on camera): What was it like inside that deliberation room?

MILES: It was wild.

MACHADO: Wild as --

MILES: Like it was shouting. There was a lot of yelling.

MACHADO (voice-over): Miles even shared her impression about Michael Dunn and explain the partial verdict the jury returned.

(on camera): What did you think of Michael Dunn?

MILES: I honestly think he was a good guy. I think he's a good guy. I don't think he hates everybody. I don't think he walks around wanting to shoot everybody. I think that he made bad decisions.

MACHADO: You still think he's guilty of murder, though?

MILES: Yes. I really think he's guilty of murder, but not the guilty as charged.

MACHADO: First degree, you don't he's guilty --

MILES: I think he's guilty of second degree.

MACHADO: How difficult was it for you to come back into that courtroom knowing that Jordan Davis' parents were there and that you couldn't agree on a charge related to his death?

MILES: It was hard. We were confident and cool with it. But when he sent us back, we were just like, OK, this is the decision we had to make.

But when he sent us back we got nervous. We got really nervous. Because we didn't know, do this means this throws out the whole case or is she going to retry him or is the court satisfied with just what happened? Is she going to do more?

Is Jordan ever going to get justice? We did not know. And walking back into there I got so nervous because I'm just like, what do we -- what if we completely messed up?

MACHADO: Do you feel like you messed up? Do you feel like the jury messed up?

MILES: No. I feel like we did what we were supposed to.

MACHADO: What would you tell Jordan's family?

MILES: I would tell them that from my end, I tried. I really did try. I tried to fight for his son. I saw the look on his dad's face when we were on the stand. And I know it hurts.

And it's like, oh, you got this wound to heal and then somebody slices it open again. Because now they got to go through that whole process all over again.


MACHADO: Now, Miles says that she hopes if there is a retrial in this case, she hopes that the next jury will be able to agree on that murder charge -- Chris and Kate.

CUOMO: Alina, thank you. It's great interview. Helpful as people try to piece together the process in the jury room.

So, I open it to the floor. What's your reaction to what the juror says?

BOLDUAN: I just think it shows that there was a real struggle in the jury room. I think it's been informative and eye-opening to hear from two different jurors with two very different takes on the trial. And clearly, as she said, they could not reach agreement.

LEMON: I think -- I hate to second-guess a jury and they worked hard. But I think that she's a little bit naive that she doesn't think race played a part in it. It may not have played a part in the deliberations, but it certainly played a part in the case.

And also, she's a little bit naive in his actions, when you listen to his neighbors, the people who knew him, what kind of person he was. She got a completely different picture. That wasn't necessarily an accurate picture of who Michael Dunn was or is.

CUOMO: It does seem that she may have been one of the hold-outs. I didn't hear her say whether she were or not.

But a couple of things to remember: race wasn't a factor for us. What they are told by the judge not to consider race. So, if she were to say she did that she's basically asking for a mistrial. I'm not saying that she was gaming us. But you have to remember, they're told not to consider it.

LEMON: Yes, but that's saying don't think of the color red.

CUOMO: I know. There's no question, this is one of the hardest thinks in the -- things in the law. There's certain rules for the judge to weigh.

You also heard her say something else that isn't allowed. "I tried to fight for their son." That is not their job. I know that's where the sympathy goes when you feel something was wrong. But their job is not to advocate for this kid in the jury room, even though common sense may tell you that.

And then I still haven't heard what I need to hear, to understand this verdict -- it had to come down to the gun.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: For everything that you believe about Michael Dunn, for everything about what they were struggling with --

LEMON: Where's the gun.

CUOMO: -- it had to be the gun. They had to believe that Michael Dunn had a reasonable belief there was a gun, and I don't know where they get it from unless they project onto those kids in the car the ability to have had a gun and hidden it. Otherwise, where's the gun.

Now, a lawyer will say, no, no, no, it just has to be a reasonable belief there was a gun. That doesn't have to actually be a gun. I don't hear them saying that either.

So, I would like to hear the jury --

LEMON: There's a reasonable belief it could rain today. It doesn't mean it's going to happen or it's real.

CUOMO: Yes, except that you know, we got Petersons the meteorologists who gives us the facts of why it's going to rain. I don't know what the facts --

LEMON: I said this before. I think it's about race. I think it's about entitlement and I think it's about a lack of awareness, because if you and I were in a car chances are he wouldn't come over because we're a bit older. You know, I just think that there are a number of factors, and to say that race wasn't a factor I just think it's really --

CUOMO: And would that jury think for a second that Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo had a gun and got rid of it, and that's why --

LEMON: Probably not.

CUOMO: So, there's more to it but it's helpful and she's brave to come forward and talk about it. So, we've got to thank for that.

BOLDUAN: That's the point I think we need to (INAUDIBLE).

The top two players in the NBA went head to head last night. It was a bloodied LeBron James getting the better of Kevin Durant as the Heat beat the Thunder. What's going on here?

Andy Scholes is joining us with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Tell us more, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey. Good morning, guys.

You know, LeBron punished the Thunder all night, pouring in 33 points. But he paid for it on the fourth quarter. On the drive, Serge Ibaka whacked in the face.

Now, amazingly, LeBron still scores. But once on the ground, blood starts pouring off his nose. He would leave the game.

LeBron passed a concussion test and was set to have an x-ray on his injured nose. And he joked about the whole thing on Instagram after the game, posting this pic saying, "I mean, I just might have to Bane- James." Pretty cool picture there.

All right. Trending on right now, there's another huge upset in college basketball. Duke/UNC is one of, if not the best rivalry in the game. And the fifth ranked Blue Devil, they led this one nearly the entire way, but North Carolina went on a huge run in the final five minutes to get the win.

This is something you never really see. Tar Heel fans storming the court at Chapel Hill. Even Dick Vitale thought this was pretty weird.

All right. It's race weekend at Daytona Beach. And the first big crash goes to Clint Bowyer. Final lap of the Second Daytona 500 qualifying race, and Bowyer goes for the wild ride. He eventually walked away unharmed.

Daytona 500 is this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And, guys, I'll have my Danica Patrick beer koozie locked and loaded for this one.

BOLDUAN: You constantly surprise me, Andy. That's little about you.