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Gaza Ceasefire Holding; Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns House Seat; A Tour Of Paris; Hostess Shutdown Okayed By Judge; Black Friday Shopping Starts Today; Hospital Targeted In Syria; Hector "Macho" Camacho Is Brain Dead; Boy Rescued From Icy Mud; After The Ceasefire In Gaza
Aired November 22, 2012 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you so much, Carol. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Hello everyone at home, I'm Fredricka Whitefield, in for Ashleigh Banfield. It is 11:00 on the East Coast, 8:00 on the West. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Quiet, calm and a day of celebration, Israel and Gaza, a cease-fire still holding between Israel and Hamas. One side, claiming victory.
Here in the States, the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade kicks off in New York City. This year, special attention to those who lost so much in Superstorm Sandy. We'll take you there.
And they risked their lives defending our freedom. Today, our troops celebrate Thanksgiving, overseas. Their messages to their loved ones here at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Paula. I love you. I miss you. I can't wait to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shout out to my mom and my family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for your support for me and all the other service members and veterans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shout out to my wife and my two sons and the rest of my family back home. Happy Thanksgiving and go, Falcons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much for joining us.
As you get that turkey and all the trimmings ready for your holiday feast, a lot of people in the Middle East are also celebrating right now, but for a different reason.
Guns fired in celebration, the cease-fire's ending eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza.
The truce is now nearly 24 hours old and appears to be holding. Hamas has declared today a public holiday to mark what its leaders are calling a victory over Israel.
Shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped seal the deal, but the man being praised around the world for making it happen is Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
CNN's Arwa Damon is monitoring developments in Gaza City. And Frederik Pletigen is just across the border in the Israeli town of Ashkelon.
So, Arwa, let's begin with you. What is happening or not happening now?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's such a difference to what we were going through here just 24 hours ago when the streets were completely deserted, most people staying well indoors and we were seeing outgoing rockets.
We were also hearing, feeling many, many more incoming rounds from the Israeli side by air strikes, missiles, as well.
Right now, the streets are bustling with activity, car horns, you name it. People out and about.
As you were mentioning there, we did see those celebrations beginning very shortly after the cease-fire was announced. There was another gathering at mid-day today following mid-day prayers.
People calling this a victory, on the one hand, for Hamas, but others really out just for the pure simple fact that now they can go out without fear of being caught up in the violence.
But many here also are under no illusion that this is a long-lasting solution, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, so, Arwa, do people in Gaza feel like Israel will honor the agreement, that that this truce will hold?
DAMON: Look, there's absolutely no trust between these two populations, given their history.
That being said, people are viewing this as being a short-term solution.
Now, this 24-hour period that we're experiencing right now is something of a test period to see if, in fact, the cease-fire does hold.
Afterwards, there is supposed to be -- and that is currently being negotiated in Egypt right now with Egypt continuing in its pivotal role as being a mediator -- but the next phase is going to be whether or not Israel does, in fact, ease those various restrictions on movements across the border, if it does, in fact, ease the blockade and allow for a greater access of movement for people, for goods.
And, when it comes to the Palestinians, they also want to see the naval blockade lifted. Now, the Israelis have alluded to the fact that they would perhaps be willing to consider that, not entirely, but perhaps instead of imposing an entire blockade, they would be willing to allow some ships through after they have been inspected.
So, this is very much a first step at this point in time.
WHITFIELD: Arwa Damon in Gaza, thanks so much.
All right, Fred Pletigen, joining us now, just across the Gaza border with Israel. So, Fred, what's the situation there right now?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, of course, the people here are also quite happy that there's no more rockets raining down on them. There were some pretty heavy barrages yesterday, shortly before the cease-fire went into effect.
What you're not going to be seeing here on the Israeli side is celebration. That's because people here believe that Hamas will regroup and then fire rockets at Israel again.
Here is what some people told me when I went into Ashkelon today.
PLEITGEN: After a week-long military operation and rocket barrages fired from Gaza, Ashkelon, just 15 kilometers from the border with Gaza, is trying to get back to normal.
In the town that's suffered through so many air raid alarms, Igor Trainis says this is the first time he can take his kids shopping without fear.
IGOR TRAINIS, ASHKELON RESIDENT: You feel like you're back to life because there are no alarms. There are no fire. There -- nothing, you live your life.
PLEITGEN: But you won't see people celebrating the cease-fire here. Many saying the air campaign Israel waged against Hamas didn't achieve the main objective of stopping rocket attacks on towns like Ashkelon.
Many fear the fire from Gaza will start again as it has in the past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the government of Israel must go on with this war to stop it for good, the war.
PLEITGEN: You think Hamas is the winner then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe. Ah, OK. Yeah. Yeah, I think that Hamas wins.
PLEITGEN: Life was put on hold for most Ashkelon residents during the conflict. Schools were closed and most businesses, as well. Many stayed indoors if they didn't have to go outside
Now, Mayor Benny Vaknin is busy getting the town up and running again. He says he, too, believes rockets will be raining on his town again in the not-too-distant future.
BENNY VAKNIN, MAYOR, ASHKELON, ISRAEL: Maybe the cease-fire will be a few days, a few months. I don't think that it will be more than a few months.
PLEITGEN: It's not just the people who live here who are trying to get back to normal. Remember that there was a large standing army stationed here, ready to invade Gaza, if ordered to do so.
Now, many of the soldiers are packing up their gear and getting ready to leave this area.
Tanks, armored personnel carriers and a lot of other heavy equipment will return to their barracks. Tens of thousands of reservists will return home.
As a cease-fire that very few believe in takes hold, some feel the need to pray, if not for peace then at least for a period of quiet.
WHITFIELD: And, Fred, you know, despite the cease-fire, a lot of skepticism among Israelis and soldiers over whether it will, indeed, last. What more are you hearing?
PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, most people here actually believe that it's not going to last.
They believe that Hamas is, first of all, still there, still in power, that they're going to regroup, that they're going to try to smuggle weapons into Gaza again.
That's, of course, one of the big sticking points in the past is that Gaza -- Hamas was able to smuggle so many, especially long-range, rockets into Gaza that then fired at towns like Tel Aviv. Also, towns like Jerusalem.
People here have seen all of this in the past, Fredricka. They've seen agreements before. They've seen Israel's defense forces go into Gaza. Before, they've seen the air (AUDIO BREAK) and it's always been the same that, several months later, they have found rockets raining down on their heads again.
So, people here are quite skeptical and certainly don't believe this is a long-term solution. They hope that it's a long-term solutions, but it's really not something where I can see a lot of optimism.
But that doesn't mean that, in the short-term, people aren't happy. I mean, people here told me on the street that at least now there's a period of calm. And remember the people here have kept their children inside for the better part of last week simply because they were afraid to take them out because there were rockets that were coming down so often, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much, in Ashkelon, Israel.
Here in the States, some people are giving up their traditional Thanksgiving holiday this year to help others in New York and New Jersey. They're heading to areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, places where so many homes were destroyed, so many lives left in tatters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ready to do this thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: These volunteers are spending the day lending a hand on Staten Island.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is on Staten Island where volunteers are treating storm victims to a special Thanksgiving Day meal.
So, give me an idea of what kind of turn-out they are expected and how grateful I'm sure people there are.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are expecting a very big turn-out. They've got 20 vans that went out early this morning. You saw the rallying of the troops just a little bit before.
When you look at Staten Island, there's a sense of emptiness here because a lot of people still are not in their homes. A number of the homes over here still have the stickers on them.
But here's a little bit of hope, right here. This is one of the Thanksgiving Day meals that was prepared within two weeks. This church group, the Liquid Church group got together, they decided they wanted to help the folks in Staten Island.
So, within a two-week period, they got money, they got supplies and not only are they making these meals, but they're also helping people gut their homes.
In vans like this, they've got vans that are filled with food, but they've also got vans that are filled with wheelbarrows and brushes and rakes and all those kinds of things that people need in order to basically get their lives a little back on track because a lot of the folks in this area, Fredricka, they weren't even thinking about Thanksgiving.
But I want to speak to Todd Millson (ph) right now. You are one of those volunteers who came out to participate today. Why was it important to you to give this day to the folks in Staten Island?
TODD MILLSON (PH), THANKSGIVING VOLUNTEER: I think that Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks. And, you know, we can basically have our Thanksgiving any day.
These people really need us right now, so I think that's the main reason that I came out here. My wife is here running this block party here.
So, that's why we came out here was to just really be able to help the people. And we're actually thankful for the opportunity to come out here and do this.
FEYERICK: What has surprised you most about the things you've seeing in terms of the homes? You did a little bit of clearing up, a little bit of cleaning out. What surprised you the most, either about the homes or the people?
MILLSON (ph): Number one, the people are very receptive. They're very thankful. Their spirits are higher than I thought they would be. As far as the homes, we just went into a home a couple blocks down and the water level was up to the second floor. I don't think I expected to see that.
FEYERICK: All right, well, Todd Millson (ph), thanks so much.
And Todd referenced this little block party that's going on. You've got two little girls right here and they're working on some art projects.
One of the reasons that's important is because, remember, a lot of the kids in this area, they lost all their toys in the flood. And, so, they really are having to start over.
This family, their home is actually right now being inspected by somebody from FEMA, so things are still moving here. It's not an ordinary Thanksgiving in this part of Staten Island by a long stretch, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Deborah Feyerick, thanks so much for bringing that to us. Appreciate it. All the best to the folks there in Staten Island.
All right, some normalcy and tradition in New York today across the water for families affected by Superstorm Sandy. About 5,000 of them are getting front-row seats to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg who set aside the special bleachers along the route..
And our Jason Carroll is there as he is every year. You are, you know, as traditional as the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Traditionally, you're always there at the parade. So, this year, it's a little different, however.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little different and a really welcome surprise to so many of those families, as you can imagine, Fredricka.
The parade was especially crowded this year. I mean, you can tell just from where I'm standing. The weather was spectacular.
Parade organizers expecting some 3.5 million people to line the parade route. We don't have final numbers yet, but I'm sure when the final count is in, you're going to hear that it was a record number of people who showed up. So, you can imagine those 5,000 seats were valuable seats.
Had an opportunity to speak a family, the Album (ph) family from Brooklyn. They lost everything during Hurricane Sandy. When I talked to them about the parade, they said they were happy to see the large balloons, happy to see the smiling faces.
Just I want you to listen to a bit more of what they had to say when I know I caught up with them just a little earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Very special family joining me right now, the Album (ph). They're from Brooklyn. Lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy. You decided to come out here today. This is really a chance for you just to really escape, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, to get a change of a frame of mind. It's a different frame of mind. We've been staying at our friend's house for the last 21 days. We can't live in our house.
So, this really puts us in a good mode and a good -- it's something that we would never have be able to do beforehand, so we're really grateful to be out here and to get something different for our kids and for my family right now.
Because we can't go into our house. We have no kitchen, no living room, no dining room, nothing, nothing at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're so grateful for everyone in the community --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The community has really pulled together --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the school and friends and family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the friend where we're staying at, two friends we're going between, back and forth, so we don't drive them nuts, we don't drive ourselves nuts. It's been really great and helpful.
CARROLL: You know what's so amazing to me is your attitude.
I mean, given all that has happened, you just seem to be so positive about everything. You're out here. You're smiling today. You've got the kids here as well.
I mean, this has really got to be an opportunity for you guys just to be together as a family and enjoy these moments being here at this parade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's nice to forget.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a little while.
CARROLL: For a little while.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a little while until we have to go back.
CARROLL: Now that we've got you here, any plans when you'll be able to go home? What are you going to do? You can't stay with friends for ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) repair program that seems to be working out really well. We'll see on Monday whether they're going to come in and get us fixed up. Their plan is to get us into our houses, into our shelter before the cold weather comes about and we're looking forward to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: So, once again, just a little listen to what the Album (ph) family had to say about their experience here at the parade.
The parade, by the way, has passed us by here at Central Park West. It's way down now on Central Park South heading down on Sixth Avenue.
But as you could heard -- as you heard from that one particular family there, Fredricka, families like the Album (ph) family and some of the others that came out here today are at least leaving with some good memories, some happy memories even if it was just for a few hours today.
WHITFIELD: So nice it was a mild, sunny day there in New York City. Jason Carroll, thank you so much. I know you're much relieved, too. Quite the contrast from last year.
If you want to help storm victims in the Northeast, just log onto CNN.com/impact. You'll find all kinds of information on how to choose a relief effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARRYSE ELLIS, CAPTAIN, U.S. ARMY: Hi, I'm Captain Charryse Ellis. I want to send a special greetings to my beautiful children in the hometown of Pembroke Pines, Florida. I love you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is fighting back. For weeks, she's been the target harsh criticism over her initial comments about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador to that country, Chris Stevens and three American colleagues.
Senator John McCain and other Republican lawmakers have slammed Rice for attributing the attack to a mob enraged over an anti-Islam video and not to terrorism.
Now, Rice is mincing no words in defending herself. Jill Dougherty is at the White House with the very latest on this.
Jill, what is Rice saying?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I wouldn't say she is bringing in new information. It's really what this administration has been saying from multiple sources right now, but the fact that she's saying it is significant.
And, essentially, John McCain and some of the other Republicans are accusing her of lying and misleading the American public and the Congress. And she says she was given talking points that were prepared by the intelligence community, that she is not or was not trying to misrepresent the story.
So, now on the personal comments by John McCain, she is politely diplomatically firing back at him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: When discussing the attacks at our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community.
I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.
Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: And, again, on Senator McCain, she said she respect, but she hopes when they're able to talk or clarify the situation that she would explain exactly what she says right there.
Now, don't forget that there are three investigations, ongoing. Congress has been looking into multiple committees, having hearings on that, but more importantly, there's an FBI investigation and also a State Department investigation.
And we're expecting that that could wrap-up in December. It's not clear, but they are looking very definitively into all aspects of this and that report should be coming out in December. Could slip but that's it.
WHITFIELD: Jill, Rice also said she looks forward to being able to have further dialogue with Senator John McCain and others.
Does that indicate or set the ground work that she believes that the White House will be nominating her for that U.S. secretary of state job?
DOUGHERTY: That is a good question. Obviously, the president has been praising quite a lot.
Remember, he defended her saying if you want to go after somebody, talking to the Republicans, go after me.
And she is somebody who knows him very well. He considers her a good candidate, that she has a lot of experience.
So, she is definitely in the running. Nobody will know, but as we all know, Secretary Clinton says that she will be leaving regardless at the end of this administration, the beginning of next.
WHITFIELD: Jill Dougherty at the White House today. Thanks so much. Appreciate that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA LEWIS, PETTY OFFICER SECOND CLASS, U.S. NAVY: Hi, I'm master-at-arms, second class, Alexandria Lewis with (INAUDIBLE) in Bagram, Afghanistan.
I want to say happy Thanksgiving to my son, Tristan, and all my family and friends in Lubbock, Texas.
Thank you to my brother (INAUDIBLE) for the support.
I couldn't have done it without you guys. I love you and I'll see you soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR ROGER CABINESS, U.S. ARMY: Happy Thanksgiving, Eltice (ph), Noel (ph), and Miss Amia (ph).
Daddy loves you. Daddy misses you. He hopes you have a wonderful, great turkey day. Gobble, gobble for me and have a great day.
Daddy loves you and he'll see you soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, after stuffing yourself with turkey, maybe you'll work it off by getting caught up in the Black Friday frenzy.
The big shopping day is set to get under way even earlier this year, tonight in some stores, and that's stirring up a lot of controversy.
Employees at stores like Target and Walmart say they want their holiday.
And then there are those picking the red tag sales over family. Some have been camping out in front of stores all week long to be the first in line.
Experts say about 147 million people will shop this weekend. That's down from last year's 220 million.
But even with fewer shoppers, experts predict more than $21 billion in sales. That's up by almost two billion from last year.
But the most astonishing part of Black Friday is the chaos. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah with some of the most shocking moments in time.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The stampedes, the gate- crashing. the pushing --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not push me! It's a TV for God's sake!
LAH: Even tasing.
Shoppers consumed with a deal turning on one another.
At this Walmart last year, one used pepper spray to fight suffocation in the crowd.
This is Black Friday in America and Connecticut shopper John Daggett --
JOHN DAGGETT, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: I've been standing in line for 36 hours.
LAH: -- loves it.
This father of an 18-month-old has been camping out for years. One year, he snapped photos as this crowd fought over $5 headphones.
DAGGETT: The shoppers just went berserk. I've never seen anything like it. People start lunging and grabbing. And you just see the arms just go at once just forward like a team of superheroes.
AIMEE DROLET, CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGIST, UCLA: What is relatively new are shoppers turning on other shoppers.
LAH: Aimee Drolet is a consumer psychologist. She says competitive shopping has gotten worse, so accepted on Black Friday that it's here to stay.
DROLET: This piling on, stores being desperate for consumers to come and shop so they're going to be offering a lot of deals and making the promotional environment something that predisposes people to not behave.
LAH: Bad behavior has led to serious injuries, even death, from crushed workers and shoppers to shootings at stores.
That's why Best Buy has been running drills this year on crowd control. They're so serious at this store, check out the plan on the Black Friday "war board."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We prep a lot for this. We make sure the line is being monitored. We let in little groups so our employees aren't getting overwhelmed and neither are the customers.
LAH: The tents, the lines, the mayhem, some shoppers say the only way to handle black Friday is by declaring a shopping blackout.
JENNIFER BAGHDADLIAN, BOYCOTTS BLACK FRIDAY: People go crazy for a good deal, but it's not worth it to me or my family. LAH: The crowds are just part of obtaining rare Black Friday deals, says Daggett.
DAGGETT: I love it when they try to swing at you or anything. It's funny to me because everybody always gets mad when you're the one with the items that they want.
LAH: Consumer driven by competition, no matter the cost.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: So far so good. The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is holding. It went into effect almost 24 hours ago ending eight days of violence. They killed 163 Palestinians and six Israelis.
Palestinians took to the streets in wild celebration when the truce was announced. Hamas declared today a public holiday to mark what its leaders are calling a victory over Israel.
A spokesman for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas remains, quote, "the enemy of peace," end quote. Shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped seal the deal.
But the man being praised around the world for making it happen is Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. Despite skepticism on both sides that the truce will last, some Israeli troops have begun pulling back from the border with Gaza.
A once promising career, one that had people talking about a U.S. Senate seat, is over for Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. He resigned yesterday saying he needs to spend time restoring his health.
Jackson who was 47 years old was recently treated for what was described as several serious health issues including bipolar disorder. Just two weeks ago, he was re-elected to a 10th term from his Chicago Congressional District.
But Jackson's troubles are far from over. He's the subject now of a federal criminal investigation. Ted Rowlands is joining us from Chicago. So Ted, you know, did Jackson's move come as a surprise to most?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, here in Chicago, people were expecting this over the last month or so. There have been rumors that he would be resigning his seat. Obviously though it is a shock.
If you look at his career, 17 years as a member of the House has now officially come to an end and as you mentioned the reason for it is his medical condition. He's been suffering from bipolar disorder and depression, two stints at the Mayo Clinic. And a family friend told us that he just doesn't think that he can go on. Now he did submit his resignation letter to John Boehner. And in that letter he talked about his health issues, talked about his accomplishments, but he also talked about for the first time the investigation that is ongoing with the federal government looking into the possible misuse of campaign funds.
And in that portion of the letter he said, I'm doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators and accept responsibility for my mistakes for they are my mistakes and mine alone.
That part of it is interesting, Fredricka, because Sandy Jackson, his wife, is an alder person here in Chicago and according to the "Wall Street Journal," she is also involved in this federal investigation.
That statement clearly from Jackson saying it was all me, it was all my fault, we'll see how that pans out. She's also been talked about as a possible replacement for Jackson. Now we haven't heard from Jesse Jackson Jr. or Sr. on this.
We did hear from Bobby Rush who is the congressman in the first district here in Illinois and a good friend of the Jacksons. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: I just find it's so painful at this point for me not only to know that he won't be in the Congress, but to know that he's still struggling with a serious, very serious mental health issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ted, is this an indicator this is the end of Jackson's political career?
ROWLANDS: Well, I would think so when you look at the totality of all that's happened to him in the last six, eight months. When you have the mental health issues, let's say he gets those under control and he does want to get back in, he still has this investigation over his head.
It is serious and he acknowledges it's a serious -- reportedly -- in the negotiations of a plea deal with the feds. He may end up doing some jail time. Part of that plea according to the "Sun Times" here in Chicago was that he relinquished his seat.
I would assume that that would probably carry on. So politically I would assume he's dead although you never know. He's definitely loved here in Chicago.
WHITFIELD: Yes, I know. He's got a lot of support. And as you heard from Bobby Rush there, a lot of surprise too and disappointment. All right, thanks so much. Ted Rowlands there in Chicago. Thanks so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
2ND LT. RACHER GRUBER, U.S. ARMY: I'm Second Lt. Rachel Gruber and I'm with Alpha Company 3STB. I'd like to say hi to my mom and my dad and my brother in Fairfax, Virginia. Happy Thanksgiving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I lived in Paris during college so going back always brings back memories. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside and sip espresso or a glass of wine at a cafe.
The French invented the concept. Cafe De Flore on the Left Bank is my pick and for dinner, Brasserie Lipp across the street from Flore is also great.
If you've never been to Paris pick an afternoon on a sunny day and ride the Batom Mosh. These large sightseeing boats are open air and allow you to see the entire city by sea.
For the arts, the (inaudible) museum, which houses spectacular murals by Monet. For shopping, head to Avenue Montiague, the Madison Avenue of Paris.
Then grab your walking shoes and head to the Shamze (inaudible) walking all the way up to (inaudible) and back down is a great way to work off a meal.
And speaking of food, don't forget to buy a real baguette sandwich at (inaudible) or a crepe on the street. Soon you'll feel like a native. Alina Cho, CNN, Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. KEITH FULLER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Lt. Col. Keith Fuller currently serving in Helman Province, Afghanistan. Just wanted to send a shout out to my family back in Massachusetts. My beautiful daughter who is in college in Southern California and certainly last but not least my beautiful wife, Susan. Wishing everybody a happy holidays. Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Lots of people are still heading out to join family for Thanksgiving dinner or to line up for early holiday shopping sales. Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider is here. It looks like it's pretty nice weather almost everywhere for either, visiting family or going shopping. BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Whether, shopping, family, these are all great topics that I love we're looking at strong winds. So if you're going to be driving across the northern plains, this may impact you. We're seeing some windy weather from Bismarck across Fargo and even as far east as Minneapolis.
The wind gust could get pretty strong. We've been tracking the gusts here at the CNN Weather Center. You can some of them are already at 30 miles per hour. So watch out for windy weather and even snowy conditions into parts of northern -- sections of North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan.
So here is where we're looking at expected delays. We have none right now. I'm so pleased to tell you, but we had a little fog out there earlier today and it may impact some of the airports in the south and also into Minneapolis and Seattle where we had low clouds.
I want to talk temperatures because it's glorious across the northeast and much of the Great Lakes as well. New York City, everybody is enjoying the great weather for the parade and you can see that we have temperatures getting a little colder into the weekend, but overall really, really nice into the 40s and into the 50s.
But here is what's interesting. Temperatures across parts of the plains to the south and Midwest, they are above normal. This is not typical for this time of year on Thanksgiving. So we're seeing Omaha, Nebraska today enjoying a Thanksgiving of 60 degrees.
So enjoy it while it lasts. High temperatures in Kansas City near 70 degrees and even up in Minneapolis it will be in the mid-50s. This is an unusual day where we have a lot of warm weather.
You can see there is a cold front coming in. That is going to change things. That is going to bring about some rain. You can see from the northwest. And in advance a bit, we will see those temperatures start to gradually cool down.
But really the best news is, Fredricka, is that cool down doesn't occur until Sunday. So we get several days of great holiday and shopping weather altogether.
WHITFIELD: Very nice, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you. Bonnie Schneider.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thanksgiving is a chance to put it all in perspective, to remember that despite our differences we are and always will be Americans first and foremost.
Today, we give thanks for the blessings that are all too rare in this world. The ability to spend time with the ones we love, to say what we want, to worship as we please, to know that there are brave men and women defending around our freedom around the globe.
To look our children in the eye and to tell them that here in America no dream is too big if they're willing to work for it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Hostess is now free to sell-off its famous brand including Twinkies, Ho-hos and Wonder Bread. A bankruptcy judge has OK'd the company's plan to shut down, layoff thousands of workers and sell its assets.
Hostess asked permission to liquidate after a last ditch effort. A mediation with its striking bakery workers union failed. About 15,000 people will now lose their jobs. The remaining 3,200 will be let go after the sale. Hostess is hopeful someone will buy its iconic brands and maybe rehire some of those workers.
Hardcore bargain hunters will hardly have time to digest their Thanksgiving turkey before hitting the stores. The holiday shopping season starts a few hours from now, can you believe it? But some retailers are bucking the trend.
CNN's Tory Dunnan tells us who is opening today and who is not.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: The toy shopping conditions are perfect. For the first time ever doors open Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More and more Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday. Toys "R" us, Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart and Sears are opening their doors to deals on Thanksgiving night.
MATTHEW SHAY, CEO, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: Retailers are trying to anticipate and meet the expectations of their customers and so three years ago, we saw a number of retailers sort of test drive Thursday openings.
DUNNAN: According to the National Retail Federation in 2009, 3 percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers hit the stores on Thursday. In 2010, 9 percent and in 2011, 24 percent.
PAUL KELSEY, SHOPPER: It's great for us, but not great for the workers.
SARAH WILEY, TARGET EMPLOYEE: Some of them honestly do not mind working. However, there are many others who do mind. There are many who want to spend it with their families.
DUNNAN: Target employee, Sarah Wiley, is among the more than 360,000 people who signed an online petition on change.org asking Target to, quote, "take the high road and save Thanksgiving." Wiley was able to switch schedules so she doesn't have to work, but is pushing back against a larger trend.
WILEY: Thanksgiving is one of the few retail days of where many employees can just stay at home and enjoy the day with their family where they don't have to work, and that's one of the very few remaining holidays, and now that's being cut into even more and more. Last year it started at 12, now it's up to 9.
DUNNAN: A spokesman for Target says it 9 p.m. opening time nationwide was, quote, "carefully evaluated with our guest team and business in mind."
(on camera): Some stores are resisting this change, keeping the holiday shopping tradition to after turkey eating hours. In fact, JC Penney tweeted out, "Thanksgiving is for thanking, not shopping."
CAROL PERRINO, SHOPPER: It's just not worth my time to, you know, leave Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving and company and buy a purchase.
DUNNAN: Would you ever come out on Thanksgiving and shop?
DAVE CENTINEO, SHOPPER: No, absolutely not. No reason for that. You can do it all on the internet now.
DUNNAN: In fact, Thanksgiving is becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. So some retailers say instead of letting shoppers do commerce on the couch, it makes sense to get them in the stores. Tory Dunnan, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: So for more on Black Friday shopping including which deals to skip, check out cnnmoney.com.
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CAPT. KAREN ROTKIS, U.S. ARMY: Hi. My name is Captain Rotkis, and I wanted to say happy Thanksgiving to my husband in beautiful Ohio and also to my parents, Charlie and Judy Rotkis. Happy Thanksgiving.
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WHITFIELD: A ceasefire takes hold between Israel and Hamas, but further to the north in Syria, more chaos and carnage. A hospital in Aleppo was apparently the target of a government air strike overnight.
Rebel forces say the blast killed at least 15 people. Earlier this year the maternity ward at the hospital was badly damaged by an artillery shell. A total of 45 people have been killed across Syria today alone.
Puerto Rican boxer Hector Macho Camacho has been declared clinically brain dead. At a news conference this morning, doctors said tests were ongoing, but that has brain activity was irregular and intermittent.
The 50-year-old was shot in the face while sitting in a car outside a bar Tuesday night in Puerto Rico. The friend he was with was shot and killed. Camacho fought professionally for more than 25 years. He took down legends including Sugar Ray Leonard and held several titles.
In China, a 10-year-old boy is rescued after falling into icy mud near a lake while on his way to school. Take a look at the video. The third grader was stuck up to his waist and unable to move shivering and crying when firefighters got to him.
It was just 37 degrees outside and you can see they put a life jacket on the boy and then tied a rope around his waist. They dug for two hours before eventually pulling him to safety.
And Egypt's handling of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has cast its President Mohamed Morsy in a few light. No matter how the truce plays out, his reputation has been enhanced. Paula Newton looks at the winners and losers in this conflict.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): However crude the calculation, especially amid the civilian casualties, there are winners and losers in this truce, and they are already reshaping political alliances in the region.
We begin in Egypt and its President Mohamed Morsy clearly underestimated his handling of what a mine field of competing interests has given him much need political capital in both the Arab world and the United States.
AARON DAVID MILLER, MIDDLE EAST SCHOLAR, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: First civilian president in Egypt perceived as a weak leader has much, to everyone's surprise, delivered.
NEWTON: Then there's Israel and its tenacious Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Israel targeted and killed Hamas' military leader, he launched air strikes hitting more than 1,500 targets in Gaza, dismantling some of Hamas' arsenal of weapons.
Israel had a successful combat debut of iron dome. U.S.-funded defense shield that kept dozens of rockets from hitting Israeli civilians. The counter point to that is ironic. Hamas emerges a big winner from this conflict and its truce.
MILLER: Hamas has emerged stronger. It's consolidated control over Gaza and has gained now more legitimacy.
NEWTON: In the eyes of the Palestinian people, the militant leaders of Gaza took on Israel more boldly than ever before firing rockets further than ever before and they may yet manage to get an easing of the Gaza blockade if a more comprehensive deal can be done.
MILLER: Look what they've accomplished. They, rather than Abbas, has put the Palestinian issue back on the international stage.
NEWTON: That brings us to those that have lost much in this conflict, Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction. The Palestinian leaders were supposed to be the moderate peace brokers. Now they can't even claim to speak for all Palestinians and proved they have no leverage with Hamas, their arch-rival.
MILLER: This is not a good outcome for Abbas and the two-state solution.
NEWTON: And always a player, Iran's hand is arguably weakened after this episode. Iron dome shot hundreds of missiles out of the sky. What if Israel attacks Iran? Can it still call on Hamas to retaliate?
In one week with one truce allies and enemies in the region have shifted again. This will have an impact on any peace negotiations going forward.
Paula Newton, CNN, Atlanta.