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NEW DAY

Poor Weather May Affect Travel in U.S.; International Community May Reach Deal with Iran on Nuclear Program; Interview with Tony Blinken; Report to be Released on Sandy Hook School Shooting; Vatican Displays Bones Believed to be Relic of St. Peter; Deadly Knockout Game

Aired November 25, 2013 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Airlines and airports are experienced with wild weather and they're ready for this round.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can call this the nerve center airline.

MARSH: United watches the weather and directs every flight from around the world from their headquarters in Chicago. The decision to cancel flights happens here.

JIM DEYOUNG: These individuals are actually measuring the impact of weather, of the air traffic control system and coordinating not only internally with united airlines but with the FAA.

MARSH: They're talking to this FAA command center near Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go to Jacksonville and get their concerns first.

MARSH: Conference calls keep airlines and FAA controllers up to date with changing conditions. And a warning for travelers -- think before you book.

GEORGE HOBICA, AIRFAREWATCHDOG.COM: Probably the worst mistake is to take a connecting flight, or if do connect, to connect through a known bad weather airport like Chicago or Denver or Detroit or Minneapolis, airports that are prone to snowstorms.

MARSH: But a storm as big as this one will be hard to avoid. It certainly will be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: It certainly will because. And you know, areas like Dallas and Oklahoma where they're already getting whipped by this winter weather, they're seeing some cancellations. Nationwide, we just took a look. No major delays as I speak to you right now. But that will likely change as this massive storm continues to move. So the best advice for people who are traveling, mentally prepare plan a may not go as planned. Back to you, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A good point, Rene, thank you very much. So what exactly is in store with the weather? We told you about the canceled flights, planes being deiced in the hopes they can take off eventually. But will they have anywhere to land? Indra Petersons is in the weather center. How bad is it going to get and when?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's really a matter of where the concern will shift. Today we are still talking about concerns from Arkansas back through Texas as we deal with plenty of conditions of icing and sleet. Let's just take a look at what we have already seen. Look at all of these snow reports from New Mexico into Oklahoma where we see already a foot of snow. And in this in particular, this is a freezing rain report, that is the concern for plane and power lines. Once you get a half an inch of freezing rain, you talk about it weighing 500 pounds, and that takes down those power lines.

Here's a situation moving forward, we are talking about that low movement across here in the Gulf. That is moving a lot of moisture. And it combines now with a system that's coming down from Canada and shooting across the lakes. So you have a lot of moisture and cold air coming together. It's all about the speed of these things, how much moisture they pull in, and the timing of them that really affects their travel moving forward. And things can constantly change.

Here's the best estimate we currently have. The next two days, heavy rain around the Gulf really kind of spreading tomorrow into the Carolinas and eventually tomorrow into the northeast and even some snow behind it. Right now it looks like a majority will be rain. As we go into the mid-Atlantic tomorrow we'll start to see some icing and some snow.

Tuesday night into Wednesday, this is a really big concern, winds start to pick up. We see the heaviest rain and snow. That's going to be the biggest concern. The later you go Wednesday notice into Thursday, conditions will improve. We will still be talking about rain into the northeast and snow down into the Ohio valley where Thanksgiving actually looks like snow left into the northeast. Chris?

CUOMO: Indra, thank you very much.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: After days of intense negotiations, six world powers and Iran have reached a temporary agreement. If Iran limits nuclear activities, the deal offers lighter sanctions in exchange. The Obama administration is calling it a historic breakthrough, but not everyone is convinced.

Joining us now is Tony Blinken, deputy national security adviser to President Obama. Mr. Blinken, an early happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I will take it that this deal is one of the things you are thankful for. But the question is, is it a deal, or is it a deal to make a deal in the future?

TONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: First of all, Chris, what this does is for the first time in a decade, it halts Iran's nuclear program, indeed, it rolls it back in some key respects. And it gives the international inspectors access and monitoring ability they've never had before. So in that sense, it's a very, very good deal. And it also gives us an opportunity over the next six months to see if we can help negotiate a comprehensive resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear program.

CUOMO: Now, you are getting push back here, some of it politics, some of it policy oriented. For example in 2003, 2005, you froze the entire nuclear program there. Why not go that way again? Why be more gentle with Iran than you have been in the past?

BLINKEN: If we could have gotten an entire freeze of their program right away in one fell swoop, of course, we would have done it. But the Iranians were not prepared to go there. It would take a long time to negotiate that. Indeed, that's what we're trying to get to. In the interim, what we didn't want to happen was for the Iranians to be talking to us and the rest of the international community and using the cover of talks to keep advancing their program. This shuts down the program for making progress. It rolls it back. It gives us inspections in monitoring that will give us an opportunity if they try to cheat or if they try to break out to detect it almost instantaneously.

CUOMO: And Israel doesn't like it, no surprise there. The White House is calling it an historic breakthrough. They're calling it a historic mistake. One of the provisions in the agreement, three months they have to give you the information about where things are or what you want to search. Is that giving them time to hide and use this as leverage to do what they want?

BLINKEN: You know, Chris, we already have significant inspections, the inspectors are on the ground. The deal gives them daily access, which they haven't had before. So I don't think they'll be able to do any of that.

Look, in terms of Israel, we understand, Israel is right to be skeptical. An Iranian bomb would present an existential threat to Israel. And we have exactly the same goal, which is to prevent Iran from getting a bomb. There may be tactical differences in how we get there. I think Israel would have preferred not to do this first step. If we could have negotiated a comprehensive deal right away in a matter of days, we would have done that. But because it's complicated and because it takes time, we wanted to make sure that Iran couldn't use that time to advance its program. This stops the program in its tracks, rolls it back, gives us time to see if we can negotiate a comprehensive deal.

CUOMO: That's if they do it. Then what happens if they don't do it? Another criticism towards the deal is that, well, if it doesn't work, if it breaks, it's going to take time to redo the pain of the sanctions. But, you know, they could just reestablish their economics very quickly. They can do things very quickly. It will take the other side time to re-establish any type of sanctions. What do you make of that?

BLINKEN: You know, what's interesting is, what people need to focus on is the fact that the sanctions continue during these six months. Indeed the pressure will continue to grow. The sanctions will not build. We are not taking the sanctions away. The existing sanctions will continue to be implemented. And indeed, the amount of relief that Iran gets during the six month period will be dwarfed by the sanctions that accumulate during this period. So the pressure on Iran is not going away. To the contrary, it's going to grow during the six months.

CUOMO: So you are saying there isn't an extraordinary amount of trust being placed, that there are provisions. So to what do you attribute the pushback? A lot of people are criticizing this, saying it's not a real deal. What do you think it is, just politics?

BLINKEN: I think there are a couple things going on. One is that some of our Arab friends, for example are concerned that if we get a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, a comprehensive deal, then we'll be satisfied and forget about all the other things Iran does they don't like and we don't like. And the fact is we won't. We will continue to confront what Iran is doing around the world that is a problem for us and a problem for some of our partners. But that's our concern. We've reassured them that's not the case.

The president and Prime Minister Netanyahu had a very good phone conversation yesterday. We are going to work closely together with the Israelis over the next six months to make sure that we agree on the terms of what a final comprehensive deal would look like.

CUOMO: How comfortable are you to know what's going on inside Iran? Because we have been mistaken many times in the past.

BLINKEN: Again, one of the best features of this deal is that it gives inspectors the kind of access they haven't had before, daily access to the most important facilities, information that we haven't had, access to the places where they actually make and assemble centrifuges, where they mine the uranium, none of which we've had before.

So actually one of the biggest benefits of doing this interim deal is to have the kind of information we haven't had, which will make it a lot easier to detect whether they're cheating, whether they're trying to break out, whether they've got a covert program.

CUOMO: Something that might be helpful to people is for you to explain why does Iran need nuclear capabilities. People say they have tons of oil. Can't they power their commerce that way, their homes that way? Why do they need nuclear power?

BLINKEN: So that's a very good question. It's one we've asked them repeatedly. First, I think it's a matter of national pride. An overwhelming majority of Iranians, including many who do not like the government, believe Iran should have a nuclear power program, and, indeed, every nation is entitled to a peaceful program.

Second, over time, they believe or at least they tell us they believe they will need to develop and want to develop nuclear power as an alternative to other forms of energy. But that's over the next 10, 15, 20 years. So that's what they tell us. We are very skeptical. That's exactly why any program they would have at the end of this process would have to be extremely limited, extremely carefully monitored and inspected. And we will see if we can get there. It will be difficult. CUOMO: Tony Blinken, thank you very much for the perspective. Appreciate it.

BLINKEN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Coming up in the show, we will talk more about this with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as well as CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. We will give you all sides of the discussion. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the long awaited report on last year's Connecticut school shooting is due out today. What will we learn about that fateful day at Sandy Hook elementary school? We're going to have much more coverage on that coming up.

But also, that so-called knockout game we've been telling you about, more incidents being reported. We're going to talk with a former New York City detective. Is this a growing trend or an urban myth?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Today we are learning about what happened today. A gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last December, leaving 20 children and six adults dead. The state attorney is expected to release his long awaited return, and CNN's Susan Candiotti is joining us with much more on this. We were together in Newtown for what seemed like a very long time. What are we expecting to learn from this report?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are not quite clear. Probably no appreciable new information. However, this afternoon, no news conference is planned around the release of this long-awaited report by Connecticut states attorney.

He made sure families knew ahead of time what's in it. But it is uncertain whether it will answer the question we all keep asking, why?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: It's been nearly one year since the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, not including the killer who took his own life, a chilling memory for this fragile community as they brace themselves for new information.

Later today the state attorney's office will release summary report shedding more light on the 11-month investigation. It's expected to include a timeline of shooter Adam Lanza's movements, beginning in the morning when he killed his mother Nancy at her home before driving to Sandy Hook elementary school when he blasted his way in through a glass window and fired over 150 shots from an assault rifle in about five minutes.

A much more detailed account of the massacre with photos and witness statements, reportedly thousands of pages long, won't be released in its entirety until sometime next year. Officials plan to edit out sensitive information before that full police report is finally issued.

Also today, a court is expected to decide on the release of the 911 calls. The Connecticut state Freedom of Information Commission ordered the release of the tapes back in September, overruling objections by Newtown officials. Local residents are at odds over whether the calls should be made public.

JIM MAHER, NEWTOWN RESIDENT: I initially didn't think that it was really public information, but I would agree with the selectman (ph), that, you know, get it over with, get it done.

GEN COBUZZI, NEWTOWN RESIDENT: I don't. I think the families should really be left alone.

CANDIOTTI: Many fear the release of new details will open fresh wounds for a community still trying to heal. This is what remains of Sandy Hook elementary school. Bulldozers began a demolition in late October, an attempt officials and residents alike hope it will help painful memories and rebuild for the future.

(on-camera) Having seen the report, the family of Victoria Soto issued a statement. She's one of the brave teachers who was killed trying to protect her students. The statement reads in part, "We have read the report. No, we cannot make sense of what why it happened. We don't know if anyone ever will. We don't know if we will ever be whole again."

And the toxicology report on shooter Adam Lanza shows he had no drugs in his system. But was he under psychiatric care? And if so, what was the diagnosis? That information has not yet been made public. And we don't know whether it ever will be.

PERERIA: Still so many questions, and those kids were just six and seven-years-old.

Thanks so much, Susan.

CUOMO: It makes thin, whether or not the victims deserve answers here, though, because the whole goal is to try to do better the next time, try and make it stop. That information's really important. You're gonna see pressure and push back.

CANDIOTTI: I think you are absolutely right. Because everyone deserves answers. And as you said, it's all about preventing something like this or trying to from happening again.

PERIERA: Thanks, Susan.

I want to turn to something that's raising a lot of questions, is seeing believing? This Sunday Pope Francis unveiled what he publicly declared, are Saint Peter's bones for the first time in public, sparking critics to question the authenticity of the remains. The relics were put on display as a special celebration to end the Vatican's year of faith.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA (voice-over): It's a rare sight, one that's almost hard to believe. For the first time ever on Sunday, Pope Frances unveiled a mysterious relic buried beneath the Vatican for centuries: Saint Peter's bones. Praying before the remains and blessing the casket with incense, Francis become the first pontiff to definitively declare that these bone fragments belong to Peter, the first pope of the Catholic church.

FATHER EDWARD BECK, HOST, "THE SUNDAY MASS": You want to rub up against what's holy. Because we believe that we become better when we mix with that which is holy.

PEREIRA: Saint Peter's bones, the shroud of Turin, the belt of Mary, these are the kinds of mysteries movies are made of.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Demons, omens, codes, monks, ranks, rocks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)

PEREIRA: The bones were first unearthed during an archeological dig more than seven decades ago, under Saint Peter's basilica, sparking the church to try to break the code behind their monumental find. The church cites circumstantial evidence, for example, that the bones were discovered in an underground crypt with an inscription that read, "Peter is within." Inside the tomb, the bones were wrapped in purple cloth belonging to a 5' 7 man, 60 to 70-years-old, similar stats to Saint Peter's profile. It's a theory that has drawn many skeptics.

BECK: It doesn't make or break Christianity or Catholicism, whether or not these are the bones of Saint Peter. It's what they signify that is important to the faithful. They say that this flawed fishermen, this disciple of Jesus, who winds up betraying the leader and founder of Christianity three times becomes the first pope, is revered. So it kind of gives hope that anybody can be holy.

PERERIA: Despite the controversy surrounding the authenticity of such relics, the church says it's not about seeing, but believing.

BECK: We don't know if it's true if they're the bones of Saint Peter. It really can't be proven. We don't have DNA evidence. So it is about belief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PERERIA: And that's exactly the question. It comes down to faith. Well, Pope Frances is the first pontiff to decisively declare that these handful of bones belonged to Peter. It was Pope Paul VI who announced in 1968 that the bones had been identified as Peter's, and quote, a manner which they believe convincing.

Because there is no DNA proof, you know? So it does come down to a question of faith, which makes a nice button for this finishing of the year of faith in the Catholic church this year.

BOLDUAN: Very interesting. CUOMO: (inaudible) You know, Augustine said belief without faith is mere superstition. And something like this really doesn't go to whether or not it's the bones. Father Beck put it very well, which is why he is one of the best thinkers on these things. You just need a reason to think there is something for you, there's something there for you.

And Peter, being so flawed, is something that's very ignored in the Catholic church. He's often revered as the rock, but the idea that he was kind of picked because of flaws in his character, how human he was, and this is just a reminder of that, bones aside.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY," the knock-out game. It's no game. It's a potentially deadly assault by a bunch of punks. But why does it seem to be happening more? Are cops figuring out what to do about it? We have answers.

BOLDUAN: And then it is like something from a holiday movie, DNA and identical twins. One is charged with sex crimes, but he blames his brother. So what is gonna happen next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Monday, November 25th. Coming up in the show, a story we've been following very closely, what appears to be a deadly game is sparking outrage across the country. It's called the "knockout game". And it's led to a number of arrests and deaths nationwide. You can see why people are on guard when you see that video. And we're gonna talk about it.

CUOMO: Plus something that really is a game, a football game, between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and their teams. Boy, the battle between the Broncos and the Patriots is just one for the books. How did the Pats come from 24 down? How did it go to O.T.? We got the answers coming up -- fumble!

PEREIRA: All right, let's bring you up to date on some of the stories making news right now. A deadly blast of wintry weather wreaking havoc across the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over) It has worked from California to the deep south. You can see the mess it made in Oklahoma, sending an SUV rolling right off the road. So far, 10 people have been killed in traffic accidents. The weather system is expected to head to the northeast. Hundreds of flights have already been canceled. It's gonna make for a rough Thanksgiving for millions of Americans. The

The International Atomic Agency is meeting today to discuss the historic agreement on Iran's nuclear program, the director of the AIEA calling it an important step forward. The U.S. and five other world powers announced the landmark deal in Geneva Sunday morning. It temporarily freezes Iran's nuclear plan for six months and lays the groundwork for a more sweeping agreements.

A new CNN/ORC poll showing President Obama has taken a big hit, the biggest areas of concern, his honesty and his ability to manage the government. A majority of Americans answering, no to the question, 'is President Obama honest and trustworthy'. Only 40 percent of Americans now believe the president can manage the federal government effectively. That's down 12 percent since May.

Caroline Kennedy, hitting the ground running, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan taking a two-day tour of the areas hardest hit by the 2011 tsunami. She also spoke of her father, JFK, telling the Japanese people his spirit lives on, and his legacies like the Peace Corps and the Agency for International Development are still active today providing relief for the needy.

More than 50 balloons and nearly 40 floats will captivate kids of all ages of the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. Christmas Sponge Bob, Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon", and Finn and Jake from Adventure Time are sure to be high lights. "Despicable Me: and Cirque Du Soleil have new floats in this year's events, as does SeaWorld. Their inclusion in the parade has animal rights activists threatening protests. And since it's our first time for Kate and I in New York, I was hoping that maybe we could see the things a week beforehand.

CUOMO: Oh, I'll take you. It's so much fun to watch them filling those things up. It's great. One of the signature New York City events. Very nice. I know lots of nice places to stop for an adult beverage.

BOLDUAN: I like that as well.

CUOMO: Something that needs discussion. We seem to be hearing about new casings all too often, the so-called "knockout game".

A victim caught off guard by a coward, a single punch. The attack often videotaped by some other criminal for the entertainment of the coward. It's already led to a number of arrests and even deaths across our country.

CNN's Pamela Brown is here with more.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you both. A 12- year-old boy, a grandmother, a 24-year-old Jewish man, just a few of the victims recently punched in the face for no apparent reason. But are these violent stunts isolated or part of a larger phenomenon known as the so-called "knockout game"?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): New York City police arrested this 28-year-old man Friday and charged him with assault after he randomly punched a 24- year-old Jewish man according to authorities. An NYPD spokesperson says its hate crimes task force is investigating that case and looking into recent similar attacks against Jews in Brooklyn, New York. New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly stopped short of saying they're a part of the knockout game. RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: When you highlight an incident or a type of criminal activity, some people will simply try a copy. It's a phenomenon that we have seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God. Is that a game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (expletive deleted).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, that was, like, real people? That wasn't, like, CGI or something?

BROWN: No.

The people we showed video to could hardly believe that this is happening. These videos captured by surveillance cameras could just be random attacks or they could be what is considered the knockout game or the one-hitter quitter, where youths randomly punch strangers with the goal of knocking them unconscious with a single blow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a game. Because, I mean, the person probably was really injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea they attacked someone for no reason on the streets of New York City is something that's outrageous.

BROWN: One of the latest victims, a 78-year-old grandmother. Her daughter says she was walking home earlier this month when a young man ran up and punched her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's terrified. She now will not now leave the front of her building.

BROWN: The violent stunts have been reported in at least six states and Washington, D.C. At least four victims have died, including this Vietnamese man in St. Louis and a homeless man in Hoboken, New Jersey.

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYHOLOGIST: They're doing this to get a thrill to prove their manhood or womanhood, a part of peer pressure. And certainly, they are followers, and not leaders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (on-camera): And it's difficult for police to know exactly how widespread these cases are, because up until now, they'd all fall under assault. Some police departments I spoke with are reluctant to tie any these recent random assault cases to the knockouts game. They're all random attacks -- of random attacks on strangers is nothing new, and it's unclear whether they're tied to the knockout game unless a suspect confesses to it.

But, you know, one thing is clear here, that these suspects in these cases face very severe consequences. In fact, with the case of the St. Louis man who was killed -- was mentioned in my piece -- the suspect in that case was sentenced to life in prison.