Return to Transcripts main page


Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Holding; Palestinians Celebrate in Gaza; Hamas Claims Victory Over Israel; Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; Emotional Homecomings For Troops; "Macho" Camacho Declared Brain Dead; Pileup Shuts Down Texas Interstate

Aired November 22, 2012 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's happening.

People in Gaza celebrate what they call victory over the enemy. It's now almost 24 hours since the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was announced so far so good.

The truce seems to be holding. This rally today in Gaza city drew thousands of people. Instead of rockets flying through the air, Palestinians were flying flags.

CNN's Arwa Damon joining us live from Gaza City right now. Arwa, it's not just Hamas supporters who are celebrating, we're seeing a rare show of unity with yellow Fatah flags alongside with green Hamas flags and Palestinian flags flying at this rally as well.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. Nothing really brings the Palestinians together like Israeli aggression does. We have been hearing throughout this conflict from authorities on all sides that it's not about whether or not you're affiliated or support Hamas or Fatah or Islamic Jihad or any of them.

It is about being Palestinian. We not only saw people out because they were supporting this victory, as it is being called on this side, but also because they were able to do so after having spent so many days cooped up -- that their children were begging them.

The minute the ceasefire was announced to let them just go out. These people have been living in complete and total fear since this all began last Wednesday.

Many of them saying that they could never really entirely be sure where the Israelis would be striking next, we've been seeing targets ranging from empty lots between buildings, that the Israelis where Hamas was launching its rockets from, all the way through government installations, police stations, even media.

Journalists who are working with television stations, radio stations that are affiliated with Hamas and with Islamic jihad so there's been a big sigh of relief from the population here that at least now for the time being that fear no longer exists.

WHITFIELD: And so Arwa, in the eyes of the Palestinian people, how is this ceasefire different than previous ones?

DAMON: Well, this conflict that lasted for around eight days is different in the sense that four years ago, it was much bloodier and there was more wide spread destruction and even though it was being called a victory, it was still very much the Israelis coming in reinvading Gaza and then withdrawing when they thought as if they had gotten most of the job done.

This time around, the sentiment is that the Palestinians, Hamas was able to force the Israelis to the negotiating table. Although, of course, it was an intermediary and Egypt, as we know, very well.

Right now the sense, though, is that this is not a long-term solution, so in that perspective, it is not that much different from other ceasefires.

This is a temporary solution, and everyone here realizes the road ahead as it has always been is very long, very challenging, and that solution that everyone says they want, that still remains elusive

WHITFIELD: Arwa Damon, thanks so much.

Let's cross the border now to the Israeli side, the city of Ashkelon sits just a few miles from Gaza and has been hit numerous times by Hamas rockets. Our Fred Pleitgen reports on the mood there.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 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. There are no alarms and no fire. You live your life.

PLEITGEN: But you won't see people celebrating the ceasefire here. Many saying the air campaign Israel waged against Hamas didn't achieve the main objective of stopping rocket attacked on towns like Ashkelon. Many fear the fire from Gaza will start begin as it has in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the government of Israel must go on with this war to stop for good the war.

PLEITGEN (on camera): You think Hamas is the winner then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe -- OK, yes. I think that Hamas won.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): 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.

MAYOR BENNY VAKNIN, ASHKELON, ISRAEL: Maybe the ceasefire will be a few days, a few months. I don't think that it will be more than a few months.

PLEITGEN (on camera): 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.

(voice-over): 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 ceasefire 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: Fred Pleitgen joining us live now from Ashkelon. So Fred, you know, were you surprised to hear people there say that Israel should have continued those deadly air strikes on Gaza?

PLEITGEN: I was pretty surprised to hear people call for a ground war, at least some of them. I wasn't surprised hear people call for the air campaign to go on longer. One of the things we need to know about the area is that the people here get hit by rockets even in the best of times.

Not just during the military campaign, but on any given week you could have a rocket fall here and there, and people have been telling us they simply don't want to go on in this way anymore. They call the kind of operation that the Israelis conducted now mowing the lawn.

Because they say what happens is they conduct an air campaign, and what happens is after that Hamas is still there, Hamas regroups and Abbas gets new rockets, and Hamas starts firing at towns again.

WHITFIELD: And you talked to the mayor. We heard the mayor kind of reveal some skepticism that the ceasefire can last more than a few months. So do get a feeling from people who say that they would want to move away from Ashkelon or do they feel they have any other options for places to live?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, some people are doing just that. I mean, one of the things that's been going on is that people have been leaving this place or at least trying to stay with relatives in northern Israel for the time that this conflict is going on.

But how many times are people going to do want to do that if these things are recurring, if rockets keep falling on towns like Ashkelon. There are other people who have sent their children to the north of Israel to make sure they're out of rocket's reach.

But how often do you want to send your kids to live somewhere else, evacuate your children from their home? Certainly there are people who are thinking of leaving the area, but by and large, the people that we've been speaking to say this is their home.

This is where they want to stay, and they certainly aren't going to let people who shoot rockets at them determine where they want to live, but nevertheless, of course, it's a very difficult situation for the people here.

It was something that they hoped would be solved this time around. Even in the short-term, there are some people who say at least for the time being we might have a period of calm where we can go outside where our kids can go outside without having to worry about rockets raining down on our heads.

WHITFIELD: Fred, thanks so much in Ashkelon.

So whether this ceasefire holds or not, a man who advised six U.S. secretaries of state on the Middle East says there is only one winner in this conflict, and that is Hamas.

Aaron David Miller, author and long-time diplomatic policymaker joining me now from Cleveland, Ohio. Aaron, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So why is this, the feeling that Hamas comes out in better shape than Israel? Even Hamas feels that way.

MILLER: Well, I think it's a toss-up here. There are two clear winners, Hamas for sure. I mean, after all, look at it, very simply. It was Hamas' rockets not Abbas' diplomacy that has once again put the Palestinian issue on center stage.

Number two, you've witnessed over the last two weeks of parade of Arab officials literally visiting Gaza, showering the political recognition and money.

The Amir of Qatar came. The foreign minister of Egypt and foreign minister of Turkey, and the Arab league was there. Hamas's stock on this one is rising, and finally, Hamas, again, driving their own narratives have withstood the military power of the Middle East most preeminent military force, Israel.

Hamas on this one stands to win. If you add to that the possibility that the Israelis may well begin to open up and ease some of the economic restrictions, Hamas's legitimacy for the 1.5 million Palestinians who currently live in Gaza without much hope of an economic future, that legitimacy is going to deepen.

If I had to rank this in terms of one, two, three, I think Hamas has come out on top. Now, the Israelis also, though, I think have won. Netanyahu has deepened his relationship with President Obama. He has demonstrated he can actually involve the president of Egypt.

Egypt's first civilian president, but a member of the Muslim brotherhood and to essentially enlist him on his side. The Israelis avoided a ground incursion to Gaza, which clearly they didn't want, and they've tested iron dome, which frankly, works very well, and they have used it essentially as a test.

They know now how it works well and where it needs to be improved. So Hamas and Israel, I think, on this one really came out pretty well.

WHITFIELD: So for Netanyahu, given he is up for re-election soon, does this kind of cement his positioning, as you just said? It shows that he has a better cooperation with President Obama, and perhaps puts him in the situation or in a position where maybe he wins a few extra points with the Israeli people and maybe even on the world stage?

MILLER: I think there's no question that unless there is some development that we can define right now. When elections are held on January 2nd, Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected. He is now the fourth Israeli prime minister to serve in two non-consecutive terms.

He is the only political leader that could create the kind of coalition that can govern and he has demonstrated again that he can effectively protect Israel's interests, improve his relationship with President Obama. Still, I might add, pretty dysfunctional. And also deal with the Egyptians. Yes, he should be a pretty happy guy now.

WHITFIELD: Now what does this do to help better set the stage or better secure two states a Palestinian state and an Israeli win?

MILLER: Here I think you really have a paradox and it's a cruel paradox. The loser in all this is Mahmoud Abbas.

WHITFIELD: In what way?

MILLER: The Palestinian national movement looks like Noah's ark right now. There are two of everything, two constitutions, two presidents, two security services, too many states, one in the West Bank over which Abbas doesn't exercise full control, and one in Gaza, and it is Hamas's stock that is rising. Abbas is somehow marginalized by this. Hamas emerges as the preeminent representative of a sort of militant Palestinian nationalism.

WHITFIELD: But you wrote that Abbas maybe and I'm quoting from your article. You write that, quote, "Abbas may be the best Palestinian partner Israel has ever had."

MILLER: Absolutely. There's no question, but that's the cruel paradox of all of this. He may be the best and he is clearly a centrist moderate man who probably would like to negotiate a two-state solution.

But if he can't deliver, Fredricka, if he can't preside over a unified Palestinian national movement, if he can't end the Israeli occupation or address the fiscal crisis that the PA now confronts, well, you know, Houston, we have a problem here. That I think is the real dilemma, and Arwa Damon said one other interesting thing. There's no instinct here. This is not about Israeli-Palestinian peace now. This is about a longer range truce or a cessation of hostilities, and we'll have to see as the months go on where the chips fall on this one.

WHITFIELD: Aaron David Miller, thanks so much, always a pleasure.

MILLER: Pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving.

WHITFIELD: Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

Here's more of what we're working on this hour in the NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. It's a major diplomatic win for Hillary Clinton as well, but will it be her last as U.S. Secretary of State? We'll get a live report from the White House.

And while the rest of us are celebrating the holiday, we're remembering our service men and women who are on the job and away from their families this Thanksgiving.


PETTY OFC. 2ND CLASS ALEXANDRIA LEWIS, U.S. NAVY: Hi. I'm Master of Arms Second Class Alexandra Lewis in Bagram, Afghanistan. I want to say happy Thanksgiving to my son, Tristan, and all my friends and family in Lubbock, Texas. Thank you to my brother for the support. I couldn't have done it without you guys. I love you, and I'll see you soon.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A real mess taking place here in the States in South Texas near Beaumont, Texas, specifically.

A pretty sizable vehicle pile-up taking place on I-10, which means now that I-10 is shut down in both directions. This is just east -- about 70 miles east of Houston. A pretty sizable wreck taking place there involving up to 50 vehicles. We understand there are first responders from every direction there trying to get to this.

It's unclear exactly what caused this pileup, but initial reports are it could have been fog that has caused this 50-car -- or 50-vehicle pile-up there on Interstate 10, closing both directions there.

Of course, when we get more information on it, we'll be able to bring that to you. But we understand there are no reports of fatalities at this time.

All right, meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State is getting lots of credit for the progress made in brokering a cease-fire involving Israel and Gaza.

Hillary Clinton chalked up plenty of miles on her shuttle diplomacy mission and CNN's foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty has more on that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Close to the end of a grueling trip to Asia, her last international sojourn with President Barack Obama, he dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on another mission -- halt the fighting between Israel and Hamas before it spins out of control.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no substitute for security and for a just and lasting peace.

DOUGHERTY: Twenty-four hours later after intense shuttle diplomacy with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, she did it, a cease- fire, but there was no victory lap.

CLINTON: This is a critical moment for the region.

DOUGHERTY: Clinton's diplomatic feat helps restore a record tarnished by questions over how the Obama administration handled the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Will the Gaza cease-fire hold? Hillary Clinton, whose husband, President Bill Clinton, tried but failed to broker a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians knows only to well how tenuous true peace can be.


DOUGHERTY: And after that will trip which turned out, by the way, to be 11 days on the road, all the way over to Australia, then back through Asia and then to the Middle East and then home, Secretary Clinton is back here in Washington.

She's here for Thanksgiving, and so far, as we've been reporting, that cease-fire appears to be holding.


WHITFIELD: All right. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton has made it very clear that she would likely leave this position at the end of her term.

Topping the list of those that might be nominated would be Susan Rice. She's been speaking for the first time in response to so much criticism that she has received on how she handled that attack in Benghazi, Libya.

What more can you tell us about what she is saying and how that is resonating, Jill?

DOUGHERTY: I wouldn't say, Fredricka, that she really, you know, broke new ground or changed what this administration has been saying, but Ambassador Rice did say it herself and she, after all, is the center of this controversy with a lot of criticism coming from Republicans and, specifically, John McCain has made some comments about her, essentially saying that lied and Senator McCain has asked that she come out publicly, do a kind of mea culpa and then explains and retract what she has said or at least set it right.

So, this controversy isn't going away, but let's listen to what Ambassador Rice did say.


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.


DOUGHERTY: It doesn't appear that this will go away. That probably won't end it.

As we know, there have been congressional hearings and also we have the FBI investigation and then the State Department investigation, as well.

Until those conclude, it may be very difficult to really put an end to this debate.

WHITFIELD: Jill Dougherty at the White House, thanks so much.

Meantime, President Barack Obama delivered his annual Thanksgiving address, giving thanks for the blessings we all share as Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 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 that there are brave men and women defending our freedom around the globe and to look our children in the eye and to tell that here in America no dream is too big if they're willing to work for it.


WHITFIELD: The president also expressed his gratitude to FEMA, first responders and volunteers who have come to the aid of Superstorm Sandy victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETTY OFFICER THIRD CLASS MATTHEW MCCLENDON, U.S. NAVY: I'm Jason V. (ph) McClendon from (INAUDIBLE) Alabama. I just want to give a shout out to my wife and my two sons and the rest of my family back home while I'm deployed overseas and tell them happy Thanksgiving and go, Falcons.



WHITFIELD: The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas could be derailed if Hamas cannot keep its radical factions in check.

Brian Todd takes a closer look at the recent death of Hamas military leader, Ahmed al-Jabari. He was known as a tough enforcer who kept radical elements in line. Without him, Hamas may face a power vacuum making it harder to keep the peace with Israel.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hamas's ability to hold up its end of the cease-fire depends on how much control it has over its most dangerous militants.

That control might have diminished in the flash of an air strike when Israeli forces killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the leader of Hamas's military wing last week.

You believe it was actually a mistake for Israel to take him out, right?

ELIZABETH O'BAGY, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: I do believe it was a mistake for Israel to take him out.

I think that the core objectives that were stated by Israel for taking him out will not be met by his death.

I think, in fact, it will lead to the proliferation of extremist groups and less control, actually, over rocket attacks and increased violence against Israel.

TODD: Elizabeth O'Bagy and other analysts admit Jabari was a formidable enemy for the Israelis, but they say he also was able to keep Hamas's most radical allies from attacking Israel on their own.

JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: People are constantly surprised. There were people in Hamas jails for firing rockets at Israelis. Not for the after-firing rockets, but for firing rockets at the wrong time, and Ahmed Jabari was one of the guys who put them in jail.

TODD: He was a leader unlike any Hamas had seen before, analysts say, a key figure in Hamas driving the Palestinian Fatah faction out of Gaza. Then ...

MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: And he completely changed the Hamas military structure, not only in terms of defeating Fatah in Gaza, but after the Hamas takeover, turning this ragtag force into, at a minimum, an organized militia if not an actual army.

TODD: Organizing them into companies, battalions, brigades, and according to analysts and one Israeli official, he worked closely with Iran to coordinate training and the shipment of weapons to Hamas, including longer-range missiles that can strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The Israelis say he was instrumental in the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He also negotiated the release of Shalit five years later in exchange for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.

Now ...

ALTERMAN: Not having somebody like that, somebody who can be an enforcer of peace as well as an enforcer of war, can make it not only hard to reach a peace agreement.

It can make it hard to avoid war because, whenever somebody decides to take a pot shot, they take a pot shot.

TODD: Now, all eyes will be on who among the surviving Hamas leaders can bring those more fanatical elements of the group in line and try to keep some measure of peace with Israel.

It's believed that Mohammed Deif who worked behind the scenes while Ahmed al-Jabari was the public face of Hamas's military leadership has, at least temporarily, taken Jabari's place.

But Deif himself is physically impaired from at least two assassination attempts by the Israelis, and it's not clear how much control he has.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right, here in the States, I told you earlier about a big pile-up in South Texas. Now, we're getting some aerial views of it. It is pretty phenomenal.

Fifty-vehicle pile-up there, you can see, near Beaumont, Texas, on I- 10, which is a major thoroughfare there.

We understand that traffic has been stopped in both directions there as it runs about 70 miles to the east of Houston, Texas. There you can see vehicles of all sorts that are involved in this very sizable pile-up.

We don't have any kind of confirmation about injuries or fatalities, but just looking at the debris field there, it's quite extraordinary. You've got first responders from all parts of Jefferson County that are there on the scene and, of course, we'll get you more information. We understand that a contributing factor may have been dense fog. The crash happened at about 8:45, local time, this morning there, Thanksgiving morning there in Beaumont or near Beaumont, Texas. We'll bring you more information as we get it.

Now, we've also been talking a lot about the cease-fire between the Israelis and Hamas, but another battle continues in the Middle East, that in Syria, in the besieged city of Aleppo, specifically.

A government air strike hit a building next to one of the city's last remaining hospitals. The rebels say at least 15 people died, including a doctor and two children.

Syrian war planes dropped bombs across Aleppo flattening buildings and killing a total of 40 people, but outside the city the rebels are gaining ground.

Their latest conquest is a flashpoint, border town between Syria and Iraq. It is used as an army base and filled with weapons, we understand.


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.



WHITFIELD: On this Thanksgiving, volunteers are foregoing their traditional holiday to help people hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

Today on Staten Island, they helped hand out holiday meals. Many homes and businesses were destroyed when Sandy struck last month in the New York and New Jersey areas.

Poppy Harlow brings us the story of an industrial gas and welding business in Brooklyn that took generations to build that took generations to build and is now downing with debt.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): Right before superstorm Sandy, the streets were quiet outside Liberty Industrial Gas and Welding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That's been less than ten minutes.

HARLOW: This is nightfall, as the waters begin to rise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So at this point, I think it's gone.

HARLOW: An industrial park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, sandwiched between two bodies of water.

ASHLEY MURRAY, PRESIDENT, INDUSTRIAL GAS AND WELDING: So, this is the Gowanis Canal coming into the harbor, which is going to meet up with the river, and liberty is right here. We really had quite a surge because of the Gowanis, you know, and the river essentially meeting in this area and flooding these streets.

HARLOW: Ashley Murray's family business devastated.

This is very hard for you personally?


HARLOW: I can see it in your eyes.

MURRAY: Yes. It's just -- we're devastated. It's just been a devastating process and there needs to be a little bit more help. HARLOW: Do you feel forgotten?

MURRAY: A little bit, yes. Yes. So, this was once a really nice showroom.

HARLOW: Eighty percent of her inventory, gone.

MURRAY: Essentially, we have moved everything into our stockroom so that we can work from the sidewalk. So, now, this is where we are functioning our store from. We have one functioning computer, one printer, and we have people coming in from the roll down door.

HARLOW: Before Sandy, you didn't have any debt.

MURRAY: Right.


MURRAY: Now, we're probably looking at $700,000 to $800,000 of debt.

HARLOW: Of debt. What kind of help have you gotten from the government?

MURRAY: Nothing from the government.

HARLOW: Ashley found government loans with six percent interest. Her bank did better with a line of credit at just over three percent.

MURRAY: We had shop saws and boxed items that -- there go the lights again.

HARLOW: The challenge of doing business these days even the generators fail.

Things are so bad here in Red Hook that this business right next door to Ashley's is literally drying invoices like this with a hair drier. What does this business mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything. It's my life.

HARLOW: Ashley's employees watched her grow up, working alongside her father. If this business went under?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would think I would go under, too, you know?

HARLOW: Now, it's up to her to save their jobs.

MURRAY: There's so much history here, the community, our customers. We really do have -- we have a great business here, and I think we can make it great again.

HARLOW: Despite all of this, Ashley is still optimistic that she will have her business back up and fully running by this spring, but I can tell you that her business has already taken quite a hit.

It's down about 30 percent since Superstorm Sandy and she expects that, all in, this is going to cost her somewhere between $700,000 and $800,000, money that she is getting in the form of a line of credit from her bank because, at this point, she hasn't been able to find any deposit loans that are affordable enough for her right now.

And she is representative of so many other small businesses out there, really, really struggling in the wake of seasoned.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And a massive drug bust in Australia, $246 million worth of illegal substances stashed in a surprising place. We'll get details.

And we'll also take you back to South Texas where a 50-car pile-up, you see the result there in South Texas on I-10, closing traffic in both directs. More on that when we come back.


WHITFIELD: All right, more on a massive Thanksgiving Day pile-up in South Texas. It has Interstate 10 shut down in both directions.

You can see the traffic there. My goodness, that stretches miles all because of about a 50-vehicle pile-up involving cars, 18-wheelers, you name it.

You see right there the debris field from this pile-up and, remarkably, we understand from authorities there on the ground, no reports of serious injuries or fatalities.

These images are coming from our affiliate, KPRC. This is near Beaumont, Texas, about 70-miles east of Houston. A quick police estimate saying that at least 50 cars, trucks, and 18- wheelers are involved and, of course, they are working the scene with all the first responders coming from that Jefferson County area.

All right, an American and a Canadian are under arrest in Sydney, Australia, accused of carrying out a huge drug-smuggling operation.

Police say the two smuggled $246 million worth of cocaine and methamphetamine into Australia.

Police found the drugs stuffed inside a steam roller. The construction equipment was shipped to Australia from China.

For some, shopping on Black Friday is becoming as much of a holiday tradition as turkey and cranberry sauce.

Well, shoppers have been camping out in front of stores all week long to be the first in line, like here in Idaho, but the most astonishing part of Black Friday is the chaos.

Here's Kyung Lah with some of the most shocking shopping moments.


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: Consumers driven by competition, no matter the cost.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


WHITFIELD: And in South Texas, a multi-vehicle pile-up leaves I-10 closed in both directions. We'll have more after this.


WHITFIELD: Millions of people lining Manhattan streets for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, giant balloons including Hello Kitty, Kermit the Frog, Spiderman and Papa Smurf, Kung Fu Panda there, marching bands, clowns and cheerleaders also dancing along for hours. The city reserved 5,000 special parade seats for people hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

Military families are doing huge thanks for returning troops today. The U.S. is hosting special holiday meals in airports across the nation for traveling troops and their families who might not have time to cook or the energy.

George Howell joining us live from Atlanta's Hartsfield, Jackson Airport where so many troops are returning today from their duties overseas. So George, always very emotional homecomings these reunions of families and troops.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, yes. You know, we've seen several so far. They started trickling in earlier this morning. Here the next couple of hours we know a flight with a lot of soldiers will be coming through Atlanta, and Fredricka, you know, some of these soldiers are coming home.

Some of them are heading back to Afghanistan, back to places where they have duty. You know, we spoke to one couple this morning. We spoke to Rod and Kelli McCormick. This is interesting because Rod has been gone for six months and they have two kids together.

His 2-year-old son, he was crawling just six months ago, now he is walking so there's a lot of time that's gone by, a lot of moments that Rod has missed, but it was interesting to talk to them because their focus now is about getting together for Thanksgiving, getting together with family and making new memories. Take a listen.


ROB MCCORMICK, RETURNED FROM SIX-MONTH DEPLOYMENT: You got Skype and stuff like that so you get to see a little of him, but to see it in person it's just amazing. Are we walking?

HOWELL: And what's your role going to be? Just as far as helping to make sure he gets reacclimated to all these changes? What's it going to be like?

KELLY MCCORMICK, RETURNING TROOP'S WIFE: I already e-mailed him kind of asking things that I could do and, you know, there's not really anything. It's just going to take time, but I just -- so I think it will be harder for McKenzie and Connor to warm up to him because he has been gone, and is he kind of like a stranger to them.


HOWELL: You know, so we've seen a lot of that today, Fredricka. When you hang out there when the passengers come up to meet family members, these soldiers, they arrived to applause. You see the signs out there.

Family members, these kids that are holding signs, welcome home daddy, welcome home mom. That's really what you see here today and when it comes to the McCormicks, you know, their plan, Fredricka was to surprise the rest of their family here in Winder, Georgia.

But if they are watching this little global network called CNN, maybe it's not quite as much as a surprise right now, but they are definitely excited to be back.

WHITFIELD: Well, they're surprised by seeing them on television. There you go. So then what about these big meals, these Thanksgiving meals that are being arranged for a lot of these troops and their families? HOWELL: Look, we know and I mentioned earlier, you know, so a lot of troops coming in. We know that the USO here at Atlanta Jackson International Airport, they will be preparing for at least 5,000 troops that will be coming through this airport today.

So it's going to be a busy day for them and again, later in the evening, we expect that big flight. So we'll continue to see what we've seen earlier today -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: That's so great. Well, it's always so great to see the reunions of family members and these returning troops. Thanks so much, George. Appreciate that in Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport.

So there are more than a million active duty U.S. troops serving in the United States and around the world.


CAPTAIN CHARRYSE ELLIS, U.S. ARMY: Hi. I'm captain Charryse Ellis here in Kuwait. I want to spend -- send a special greeting for Thanksgiving to my beautiful children, Desiree and Jalynn in the hometown of Pembroke Pines, Florida. I miss you, and I can't wait to see you. Love you.



WHITFIELD: The news is not good for legendary boxing champion Hector Macho Camacho. He is brain dead according to his doctors in Puerto Rico. The boxer's family is deciding whether to keep him on life support. He was shot in the head Tuesday night in a car in his hometown. A man traveling with him was also shot. He died. Police don't yet know who shot the former champion or why.

A massive Thanksgiving Day pile-up in Texas has Interstate 10 shut down in both directions now. You're about to see pictures that are coming in from our affiliate KTRK. This is near Beaumont, Texas about 70 miles east of Houston.

A quick police estimate says about 50 cars, trucks, and 18-wheelers were involved. So far police say remarkably no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

This Thanksgiving as we get ready to feast with our friends and family, we are not forgetting our fighting men and women. They were spending their holiday far, far away from home.


SGT. 1ST CLASS JOALEEN TAYLOR, U.S. ARMY: I am Sergeant Joaleen Taylor from Georgia here in Afghanistan with Third ID. I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving to my family.



WHITFIELD: And now an out of this world discovery, a scientist have spotted what could be a gigantic planet outside our solar system. They say it looks to be almost 13 times the size of Jupiter and to get a sense of just how big that is consider this. Jupiter is 318 times bigger than earth. The object nicknamed "Super Jupiter" is about 170 light years away.

Sixty eight thousand American troops serve in Afghanistan, and today they celebrated Thanksgiving. Take a look at how they did it. In Kabul, troops lined up to get their Thanksgiving dinner there. They had turkey, ham, and pie, a rare taste of home just outside the base.

Other troops were playing ultimate football, a nice break from some of the stresses of the 11-year war. And then back here, in the U.S., yes, it looks exactly like something made of Twinkies.

One of our iReporters got a little creative. John Boone from North Carolina made this turkey out of Twinkies and so what do you suppose he calls it? A "Twurkey".

That's going to be it for me. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at CNN. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Here now is Gary Tuchman.