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Polar Temperature Hitting Millions; Ukraine Poses A Problem for Putin; Spike in Gas, Milk Prices; Interview With Sen. John McCain; Polio-Like Illness Paralyzing Children

Aired February 25, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, February 25th, 8:00 in the East, where unfortunately the bitter cold is making bitter comeback.

Barely anyone is spared in the eastern half of the country. Parts of the North feeling back below zero this morning. The cold even sending mercury plunging in the South. And here in the east, gripping for freezing temperatures and even some snow.

Indra Petersons, our meteorologist, 23 days until spring, count them out.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Who's counting, though, right?

I mean, when you see something like feels like zero on the map, that is not a good day. Detroit right now, you're waking up with what feels like zero with a wind chill. But you're not even in the worst spot. Chicago right now you feel almost 10 below. You're actually cooler than Minneapolis where they feel like a whopping one degrees.

So, yes, this is the new story, where even as we go towards the afternoon, the highs are going to be 20 below average. Temperatures below freezing. Minneapolis your high will be seven. OK, it's Minnesota. But Chicago at 20, New York City, only a high of 34. Notice even when you go down to the Southeast, look at t the difference by tomorrow, about 30 below average for Chicago.

Tomorrow is worse than today. Atlanta your high 48 degrees. Yes, the pain is here. Why? This guy's fault, not mine.

High pressure coming spreading down to the Southeast. Look how big it is. It is taking over a huge chunk of the country. This is the problem. It's that the sinking air keeping cold air in place.

Keep in mind, we do have a couple of ways out there. So, a little bit of snow showers in the Ohio Valley and Northeast today. And if you're down in the Southeast, also some slight chances of rain.

But we are talking about here, less than an inch for the most part. So, not a big deal as far as snow. It's cold, so snow can happen.

BOLDUAN: It's just a little an insult to injury.

PETERSONS: Totally, or a big a big one.

BOLDUAN: Right, exactly. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: New this morning for you out of Russia. President Vladimir Putin is going from glory of hosting the Sochi Games to his next big challenge, what to do about the turmoil in neighboring Ukraine? The acting president in Ukraine now delaying formation of unity government until Thursday, a sign of instability there.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh joins us from Kiev -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, all about the opposition politicians now trying to get the country together. We've just heard from heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko, one of the key figures in the crowd behind me that he does want to run for the presidency.

We're also hearing that actually the former chief of staff of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych has been wounded in Kiev by gunshot, according to his press secretary. No further details here.

But the focus really now on trying to get the government together. Officials and Europeans officials coming here, trying to offer aid. They got to offer it in terms of where the government doesn't really like, but billions are needed immediately. This country's crisis is still continuing.


WALSH (voice-over): A manhunt underway this morning for Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who remains on the run. Ukraine's most wanted man now charged with ordering the mass murder of protesters on the streets of Kiev last week.

Independent Square now transferred into a memorial.

Ukraine's opposition putting on a diplomatic show of force forming the beginnings of their interim government, a regime change Russia a scuffed at.

Russia's prime minister prodding the opposition's already shaky foundation and country's fragile economy is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, declaring the new government is not legitimate, saying it's a threat to Russia's citizens.

Russia says Western countries are wrong to view the upheaval as a true changing of the guard. The crime they perceive to be the west political motivations.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: That imagery 18th century balance of politics doesn't work in the 21st century. It's not the proper frame work for any country that wants to make their citizens prosperous and more secure.

WALSH: Russia's foreign ministry calls protesters against the police militant thugs and saying the West is encouraging extremist actions and methods of dictatorship.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is not a competition between East and West. This is not a restoration of the Cold War. This is about the Ukrainian people and their future.


WALSH: Ukraine has been here before. Ten years ago there was similar after the departure of (INAUDIBLE) and Viktor Yanukovych the first time he was ousted for power. But the old, corrupt political Ukraine got their fingers in the pie again. Many concerned in the crowds out here that the same thing is happening. People were booing parliament yesterday because of speed of the decisions they were taking.

Now, there's a pause until Thursday, before the prime minister is announced or voted on. That's key to getting the country back on its feet. But the people here really want change, and they want to change in characters at the top not just in the Viktor Yanukovych.

That's the big challenge ahead, how to keep the country running and get those new faces in place.

Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Big stuff has been, but there's a lot still murky, uncertain future ahead.

We'll stay on top of it. Nick, you'll be there. Thank you so much.

New developments also this morning that could be bad for your wallet unfortunately. The price of two very important household staples are on the rise right now. And this could also go on for months.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to break it down.

Uh-oh, milk and gas.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's true. If drive to work or you're trying to put some milk in your cereal, you're going to have some problems here.

Let's start with milk. A gallon of milk is up by about 30 cents over the last year. Experts telling us prices could rise another 40 cents to 60 cents over the next few months. Why? Well, the rough weather has made it more expensive to feed and keep dairy cattle, and to produce milk. That's one reason it will be passed on to you.

At the same time, production is strain. Demand for milk and cheese is rising worldwide. Particularly in China, that's driving up prices.

So, you could cut back on dairy maybe. But can you cut back on the morning commute?

The next problem, gas prices on the rise since February 4th and headed higher. Most of the increase is due to refinery maintenance which means lower output. We see that every year. We're also importing less.

What's ahead? Well, the experts at Gas Buddy tell us the average price could hit $3.60 by mid-April. Now, the good news here, though, is when we look at how far we've come, we're below highs from this time last year, but you will feel it. You can expect gas prices and milk prices to continue to rise.

Brace yourself when you fill up or go to the grocery store, guys.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Things Americans need, gas and milk.


PEREIRA: All right. Christine, thanks so much.

Let's look at more headlines this hour.

A rescue operation is underway in waters off Antarctica. A South Korean fishing boat is stranded there with 90 people on board. The Chilean navy is said to be sending ships to try and rescue them. We're told, however, everyone on board is safe.

A judge today is expected to announce drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will go on trial to face trafficking charges. That means attempts to put him on trial here in the U.S. court, well, those plans are on hold. Guzman's lawyers have already filed a petition asking the Mexican courts to block the extradition request from the United States.

President Obama will meet with House Speaker John Boehner this morning. No official on just what will be discussed. But the president is likely to push for his proposed minimum wage hike and extending unemployment benefits. Obama has said he's hopeful Congress can get something done despite it being an election year and has threatened to take executive action.

Major League Baseball taken steps to limit home plate collisions. They are still allowed if the catcher has the ball and he's blocking the plate. But catchers can no longer block the plate before they have the ball.

Maybe the biggest change, a runner who goes out of his way to force a collision will be ruled out even if the catcher drops the ball. Umpires will be able to use replays as a guide. For now, this move is a one year experiment. Interesting.

Take a look at this. What is it? Well, it's a piece of the crystal zircon which we know is the oldest known thing on our planet. Scientists have dated this piece of the gem found in Australia to 4.4 billion years old, roughly when the earth's crust was formed. The crystal's biggest dimension, get this, just a tad bigger than a dust mite or about four human hairs.

So, you can barely spot it. But there it is. The oldest thing on earth. Isn't that amazing?

CUOMO: That is really cool.

PEREIRA: I love that stuff. Really cool.

CUOMO: Right?

All right. So something else cool. We've got a checklist with our next guest.

Big points, here they are. What do we do about the situation in Ukraine? Are the big Pentagon cuts going to be big for the country? And that Arizona law that could allow discriminating against gays and lesbians, do they need it here?

The man here to answer these questions, Arizona senator, Mr. John McCain.

Senator, great to see you. You look better every time I see you.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I thought I was the oldest thing on Earth.

CUOMO: Oh, no, no, no, please? You're the best thing on Earth, the best thing on earth.

So, let me ask you, Senator, let's start with this first big point. What should the U.S. do with Ukraine? Can we contain Putin?

MCCAIN: I believe we can if they move forward as quick as possible with the formation of new government, but an economic plan to help restore immediately Ukraine economy. It's really on the verge of collapse. I would not underestimate Putin's belief Ukraine is part of Russia. He's said it many times.

I'm not afraid troops are going to come in. I'm concerned there could be an undermining particularly in the east, and especially in the Crimea, where the major Russian naval base is. There could be some kind of separatist movement. I'm concerned about that.

And I think we ought to look at Putin with more clear eyes. He does believe this is a cold war game even if the president doesn't.

CUOMO: And then we have to get to why are we not meeting the challenge as you seem to see it where Putin is involved? You've been on the ground in Kiev. You understand the situation very well. How do we avoid another Syria?

MCCAIN: I don't think it would be a Syria. I can't imagine that kind of catastrophe. But I do believe you see a strong separatist movement in the east fostered by Russians as you know there's large Russian population in eastern Ukraine. They could declare some kind of separatist movement. . I'm not saying that's going to happen. But the quicker we get the economy moving again, the less likely that scenario is. But do not underestimate Vladimir Putin in my opinion.

CUOMO: Do you have the confidence that the White House can do what it takes to beat Putin in this situation?

MCCAIN: Well, I do accept it, it kind of bothers me a little bit when the president doesn't realize or doesn't seem to realize that what Putin is about. He's put pressure on the Moldova, on the Baltic countries. They're still occupying Georgia.

Vladimir Putin still has visions of the Russian empire. And I think we ought to realize that and treat it accordingly. That does not mean another Cold War. It means we sure up our friends, we help economy, we move countries. Frankly, Ukraine, I have beginning of at least a process to move to NATO if they wanted to.

CUOMO: What do you think is motivating the lack of resolve from the White House? Do you think they're afraid of Putin? Is President Obama afraid of going toe to toe with Vladimir Putin?

MCCAIN: No, I don't. I think it's a different view of the world the president has. His comments about that this is not some Cold War game, our failure to help in Syria, black flags of al Qaeda flying over Fallujah.

Regional conflict expanding and expanding because of this horrible situation in Syria that we basically -- on "Meet the Press," the president's national security advisor said, "Well, there are some who want to put boots on the ground." I'd like to know who that is. It's certainly not me.

CUOMO: Right.

MCCAIN: But I certainly think there's a range of options that we could be doing a lot more and should have done a lot more over the last three years. Chris, it's horrendous what's going on there. Go on my website and see the pictures of the horrible things that have been done to innocent Syrian people.

CUOMO: I will, Senator. Thank you for that. Your quick take on two issues. One, the proposed budget cuts coming through the Pentagon that will affect the military, your concerns?

MCCAIN: Last week, the director of National Intelligence talked about the growing threats throughout the world. And I don't predict conflict, but I'm an old peace through strength guy. And I believe that when we are sending the signal we're cutting defense, I think in this very dangerous world we live is a serious mistake.

There are savings that can be made in defense, but making cuts this size it concerns me a great deal, especially since we're increasing domestic spending.

CUOMO: Last point. The law in Arizona that made it through the legislator. I think it was 33-27. LGBT, the gay community, in general, is not a protected class under Arizona law. It is not a protected class under federal law. Why do you need this law there?

MCCAIN: I don't think we do. And unfortunately, it hurts the image of our state just as a couple of yours ago our other law SB-1070 that you're familiar with, it's not an accident that our Arizona Chamber of Commerce and our business leaders came out with a very strong message yesterday that they don't want the governor to sign this.

This is going to hurt the state of Arizona's economy, and frankly, our image. So, I hope that the governor of Arizona will veto this and we move on. Arizona is the most beautiful states in America. And it's not helpful when we see this kind of controversy.

CUOMO: I love it there. Always happy to visit Arizona. The reason I'm bringing up not being protective class is because that community is not a protected class. A business can do what it wants right now without violating civil rights.

It seems that the only reason for this law is to use a bait and switch with religious freedom and actually discrimination which you could argue is the opposite of -- religious aims, anyway. But you know what's motivating it. Do you think the governor will stop the law?

MCCAIN: Well, I hope so. I have not had a direct conversation with her about it. And again, it's one of those things as you say, I've not -- I don't know of a necessity for it. I believe that Arizona is a wonderful state. We welcome all people of all persuasions. We're proud of our state. And so, this is not the message we want to send. I hope the governor will veto it and we will move on and advertise the great beauty of our state.

CUOMO: Senator McCain, thank you as always. As the situations with the budget talks about the Pentagon and Ukraine progress, I hope you let us call on you again. Thanks for joining us.

MCCAIN: My pleasure, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a mystery illness as California doctors simply stumped children becoming paralyzed with no explanation. What could possibly be behind this? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be joining us once again for a look at some possible answers.

And then also this ahead, a wild deck collapse in Indiana caught on tape. This family was getting ready to take a holiday photo when it gave way. We're going to have the story behind it and what went so horribly wrong.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. A mysterious illness that mimics polio is causing a whole lot concern in California. As many as 25 children have been stricken. All of them paralyzed in one or more limbs in one way or another, and the damage appears to be permanent. For children like this girl, her mother completely devastated when realizing what had happened.


JESSICA TOMEI, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Sophia went to the treasure box to grab her toy after seeing the doctor. And I saw her left hand mid grasp stop working. Over the course of three days, she wasn't using her left arm. And it started to get more worrisome. We did not realize what we were in store for, didn't realize that her arm she actually had a spinal cord inflammation and that her arm would be permanently paralyzed.


BOLDUAN: A nightmare scenario for any parent, for sure. Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, once again to discuss. I know that this remains a mystery, Sanjay. And doctors are trying to be careful to warn that this is extremely rare even though they're not sure what they're dealing with. From what you see, what do you think they are dealing with?

Dr. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's all sorts of different viruses in the same family as the polio virus. As you pointed out, they don't have any reason to believe that this is polio, actually caused by the virus that causes polio, but they think it's a similar sort of virus. That's what they think is going on.

A couple of things, in five of the children, they did test just trying to find out is there are a virus we can find or some evidence that the virus was here. In two of the children, they were able to find a particular virus known as enterovirus 68. You don't need to remember the name, but that's one of the viruses that's in the same family of polio.

Now, you know, as you point out Kate, the public health officials say, look, we don't think this is a risk of becoming some widespread thing. We do want to call on other doctors and other people around the country to say, have you seen something like this as well? We want to find out. Are there clusters of cases like this around the country that may better pinpoint what's happening here?

BOLDUAN: So, this enterovirus 68 that you're talking about, it clearly must be rare because we're talking of a very few -- relatively, I mean, this is horrible to happen at one child, but few children that are dealing with this right now. It appears that the paralysis that they're facing is permanent. Is there any good treatment that you can see for this?

GUPTA: Yes, and let me just speak about the rarity of this sort of thing. First of all, you know, most people who get these types of infections have no symptoms at all. That's true even with polio virus. Only a small percent, one percent maybe developed any of the weakness or paralysis. So, even if you get this infection, it's unlikely that you may even know it. So, it could be more common than we think but not causing symptoms.

As far as how permanent this is, you know, part of this is wait and see. You know, some of these cases have been over a year now and they have not gotten better. With polio, you'd have situations where people would not get better, but there were many people who did get improvement especially in the limbs that weren't as dramatically affected. So, I don't think we know yet enough to say just how permanent this is going to be.

There's not a treatment to the virus to your question. There's not some specific anti-viral for this as there are antibiotics for bacterial infections. So, a lot of times, what they do is they sort of treat the body's immune system to sort of teach it a little bit or tamp it down so it's not causing as much damage.

BOLDUAN: So, parents just have to watch and know their children and get to their doctors very quickly.

GUPTA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: I want to change topics. Just real quick, because I got to get your take. This new study out that is saying that there is some connection between pregnant women taking acetaminophen, Tylenol, and ADHD in their children. When it comes to pregnancy, Tylenol was the one thing you could take is what doctors said. Advil was out. Aspirin's out. And now, Tylenol is out. What's your big take away from this?

GUPTA: I think this is a pretty big deal, Kate. And you know me well enough to know that, you know, I use that sort of language carefully because of the reasons you said. First of all, more than half of women do take Tylenol during pregnancy. There aren't a lot of good options. Ibuprofen and aspirin are out. And fever is something that has to be addressed especially in pregnancy because that could have harmful effects on the baby.

This particular study, they looked at -- it was a good study. It was about 60,000 women and they look to see the relationship between Tylenol use and likely developing an ADHD-like problem later on. And what they found was that it nearly doubled the risk if women took Tylenol every day of the week for 20 weeks of their pregnancy.

It didn't mean they were taking it for 20 weeks straight, but if they took it one day in a particular week it counted as a week. They did that over 20 weeks, it increased the risk. So, we don't know specifically why that's happening, but I think there's a correlation here. It's not causing effects. I think it may change the way doctors counsel their patients about it.

BOLDUAN: At the very least, don't take it, unless, you have to is definitely the take away.

GUPTA: Yes. For fever, yes. But for muscle aches and pains, you may want to find some non-medication sort of options.

BOLDUAN: Bad news for a lot of women that are going through pregnancy and suffering from the aches and pains of pregnancy, for sure, but important the message. Sanjay, always great to see you. Thanks.

GUPTA: You've got it, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course. And reminder to all of you, "Sanjay Gupta MD" airs weekends right here on CNN Saturday, 4:30 p.m. eastern and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. eastern time -- Chris.

CUOMO: When I tell Sanjay I have muscle aches, he says stop complaining. We'll have some dirt on it (ph).


CUOMO: You're weak and worthless. And he's right about all of it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, they say their lives flashed before their eyes. Wait until you see this video. Just a nice family celebration ends in that, a deck collapse. They have a warning that they want you to hear. It applies to so many families. That will be coming up.

Also, a spelling bee that went on and on and on. These two kids, they slugged it out for five hours. The judges ran out of words. Look at this. They got a little smack down going on here. They're not even talking. We'll talk to them, though, coming up. Too confident. Spell parrot.