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Cease-fire Between Israel, Gaza; Protests in Egypt; Black Friday Sales Begin in U.S.

Aired November 23, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

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


JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann at the CNN Center, standing in for Kristie Lu Stout. Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

Hamas says a Palestinian man has been killed after a clash with Israeli forces, the first casualty since the cease-fire took effect almost two days ago. We're watching the situation in Egypt, with protests under way after President Mohammed Morsi banned all legal challenges to his authority. And people in the U.S. run, push, shove and shop their way to bargains, as the frenzied, furious, infamous Black Friday sales begin.

Thanks for joining us. A fragile cease-fire is holding for a second straight day between Israel and Hamas. That despite the reported death of a Palestinian man in Gaza, near the patrolled border with Israel. Hamas officials say he was killed Friday, when Israeli troops fired on protesters and farmers who were approaching the security buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. They say at least 19 people were wounded. The Israel Defense Forces tell CNN that they are looking into the report.

Israel agreed on Wednesday, you'll recall, to halt air strikes in Gaza, and Hamas agreed to stop rocket attacks on Israel, following eight days of fighting, but tensions remain high. Let's go to Sara Sidner for more on the reported shooting and the latest on the reported truce. Sara, how much do we know about the deadly incident?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing two different stories. As you know, you often hear that from both sides of the border. On the Gaza side, the health ministry saying that there were 25 people now who were injured in gunfire. One of them killed, that they were farmers that were out in the area. However, the military on the Israeli side saying that actually, there were several groups of men trying to cross over the border, trying to cross over the fence, damaging the fence, and that the military shot in the air first, soldiers shot in the air as a warning. When that warning was not heeded, they began shooting at the legs of those trying to cross over. The Israeli military not yet commenting and not confirming that there is a death and injuries there. Still investigating that incident, Jonathan.

MANN: All of this takes place obviously in the aftermath of eight days of cross-border violence. That's over apparently. The cease-fire but for this incident seems to be holding, but I imagine it's still very fresh in people's minds.

SIDNER: It very much is, and you know, it hasn't been 48 hours yet since that cease-fire was put into place. So it is very fragile. It was fragile at the very beginning, and the warning from both sides was there cannot be any aggression from either side. This is clearly an incident where they are going to be looking at it very closely. The good news so far is that there has not been any escalation. We haven't seen the new rockets coming over or any reaction from Israel onto Gaza, but it is an uneasy truce, an uneasy cease-fire, if you will. Egypt is the keeper of this cease-fire, so we'll have to wait and see what this might mean, but so far, nothing further. We haven't heard from either government that this has changed anything, but I'm certain that both are watching and waiting to see how this develops a bit more.

Jonathan, want to also tell you about an update when it comes to that bus crash that was in Tel Aviv. There is an update now. The police from Israel saying that thy have arrested someone, that person was arrested and detonated the bomb apparently on orders from Hamas in the West Bank. Someone in the West Bank ordering that bomb to be blown up. It was not a suicide bomber, but a package that was put on the bus. So that's the latest on that incident.

And lastly, a message of hope. You know, we've seen a lot, a lot of conflict and we've seen a lot of children caught in that conflict on both sides, and here is a story now of one hospital that's trying to really calm things down and really be a peaceful place for children of conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Four-year-old Joseph (ph) is listening to an age-old bedtime story, but he's not at home, safe in his bed. He's in the hospital, a victim of an age-old conflict that has shattered his family life.

He and his parents were staying inside this apartment building in southern Israel when a rocket from Gaza slammed into it. The blast sheered off several of Joseph's tiny fingers, badly injured his father, and took his mother's life. She was among the first to die on the Israel side of the border.

"He was saying, my mother is not here, she's with God. He knows it will be a hard time," his grandmother says.

Hard is putting it mildly. He has just been through a second surgery. Doctors at the Sheba (ph) Medical Center at Tel Hashimir (ph) Hospital reattached four of his fingers, but in the end, they had to re-amputate two of them.

"He lives in the south, and there are rockets all the time in that area. Hamas doesn't think about where the rockets are going," she says.

While Joseph is being treated in this hospital room, just one room away, there is another child with the same kind of war injuries, except she is from the other side of the conflict. She's from Gaza.

Eight-year-old Bisan Al-Agram (ph) lost three fingers when the war came to her home. "I heard the sound of a missile that hit. I didn't even have time to ask what happened, and then the second one hit," she says. When the dust cleared, she could see the bones of her child's fingers in small pieces on the floor. She was taken to Al-Asheba (ph) hospital in Gaza, but it was too crowded and they couldn't give her the best care, so the family asked Israel for permission to cross the border. Initially, her mother was terrified, terrified at the prospect of people considered an enemy in their country putting their hands on her wounded daughter.

"It's a strange situation, and it's my first time entering Israel. I was afraid, but they treated me and my daughter in a very nice way and I understand that medicine has nothing to do with politics," she says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the tension is blocked outside the hospital. Here, there is an island of sanity. In this stormy water of the Middle East, here we treat people. We don't actually look from where they are and what they do and what they did before coming here and what they are going to do after leaving us.

SIDNER: Dr. Batia Yaffe is treating both children.

DR. BATIA YAFFE, DIRECTOR OF HAND SURGERY: It will never be normal. It will affect her life from now on, and his life from now on in choice of profession, in choice of hobbies, in choice of a future partner for life. Everything.

SIDNER: She has worked at this Tel Aviv hospital her entire career, treating everyone from soldiers to suicide bombers, and the civilians in between.

YAFFE: What is it in this piece of land that everybody is fighting about it all the time? This is what comes to my mind, and whether this is our lot for eternity from now on. To have injured on both sides, always fighting. What's the point?

SIDNER: If there is a point, it is lost on the four-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl from either side of the Israel-Gaza border, who just want to be children, but now share a similar fate, their innocence interrupted by a war they had nothing to do with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And both children are still recovering in the hospital, but you saw there, both of them like to draw, so they like to sit at the table and just enjoy themselves, and they really are trying to just be children, but they realize that they are learning more now about what the world is like when you grow up.

MANN: It's a terrible thing. Sara Sidner, live for us in Jerusalem, thanks very much.

Well, on Thursday morning, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was being hailed for brokering the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. By Thursday evening, his domestic leadership was being called into question. Mr. Morsi issued a controversial decree banning all legal challenges to his authority. It effectively gives him free reign over the country until a new constitution is drafted, and that's some time away.

Have a look at Cairo's Tahrir Square. You'll remember it from the protests we saw a year ago. Protesters have been gathering there since the president issued that emergency decree, and we're just getting word from Nile TV (ph) that in Alexandria, protesters actually stormed the Freedom and Justice Party headquarters and set it on fire. Freedom and Justice is the political wing of Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

The election of Mohammed Morsi and the Brotherhood was supposed to usher in a new chapter in Egypt's history. The ouster of Hosni Mubarak was a defining moment of last year's Arab spring, and as recently as Wednesday, Egypt's new president was being praised by none other than U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: One decision by President Morsi has found favor with many Egyptians. Thursday, the president ordered retrials and new investigations into the deaths of protesters during last year's uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The former leader himself is already serving a life sentence, but he could be prosecuted yet again.

Coming up on NEWS STREAM, fighting rages in Syria, pushing the death toll from this week alone into the hundreds. Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. People flee towns that may be targeted by rebels as regional leaders try to resolve the sudden new conflict. And Ireland's abortion controversy. The husband of a woman who's died in a doomed pregnancy speaks to CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. Fighting across Syria claims dozens of lives every day, and yet there is no end in sight the bloody civil war. Opposition groups say another 151 people died in the fighting Thursday, most of them in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus. The description on this amateur video says it's the aftermath of what it calls indiscriminate shelling.

The violence is also threatening regional stability with neighboring Turkey, asking NATO to deploy Patriot missiles along its 800-kilometer border with Syria. Turkey is officially hosting more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, who fled their own government's brutal crackdown.

Joining us now with the latest on the situation in Syria is CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, let me start with an attack that we knew about I guess it was yesterday at this time, an attack that targeted and ultimately struck next door at a hospital. They're still at work on the scene, still searching for people?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It gives you an idea really of the scale of destruction there and casualties, and of the kind of a packed place they hit, this hospital, Dar al Shiffa (ph), one of the only real resources for medical help in rebel held areas, or in fact commercial hub Aleppo, besieged now for months.

This morning, pictures emerging of what seems to have been yesterday and this morning, more bodies being brought out, including a 13-year-old boy from the rubble inside there. Activists at the time saying they thought 40 people were trapped beneath that rubble. I mean, we were there two months ago. This is an intensely packed reception, often wounded children brought in, often wounded fighters as well, packing into that front lobby to receive medical treatment elsewhere in that cramped, underresourced building. The damage you can see to the building next door, absolute destroying all four to five stories of it, but also that blast rendering that vital hospital inoperable as well, Jonathan.

MANN: Let me ask you about the conventional fighting, I guess you could call it that, elsewhere. Dar Asor (ph) has changed hands. Tell us about that.

WALSH: This is a substantial swath of the country in the east. Now, rebels claim they have a good grip over all of it, and that's basically because they've managed to take out a military base there. They surrounded for about three weeks in an area called Ma ad-din (ph), closer to the Iraqi border. The regime often in parts of the north and east seems now to be reduced to having military bases from which it can project air power and artillery rather than actually controlling the whole population centers and parts of the deserted desert, certainly in the east themselves.

Rebels say now they have that base. They have that resource rich east of the country better in their grip. Of course, they are still vulnerable to air strikes, but it's almost part of a broader pattern really of the north and east. The regime, it seems, pushed back into these bases. These bases sometimes falling, and a sense, I think, of many observers that we are seeing larger parts of that north and east now being more predominantly under the very chaotic grip of rebels, Jonathan.

MANN: Well, in the east, the border with Turkey, there has been cross-border shelling. Now, as we've been reporting, Turkey is asking for protection from NATO, and still more repercussions from that request.

WALSH: Absolutely. To recap here, Turkey, after months, weeks of cross-border shelling, a major refugee problem of their own, has asked NATO, of which it is a member, for Patriot missiles, which will provide them the ability to shoot down hostile aircraft and perhaps also take out missiles maybe that entered their territory. Key, Turkey saying it's not a hostile move, but Russia very anxious about this, a key backer of Damascus, and having over the past few days repeated their concerns that NATO's military presence there may inflame tensions in the region. Let's see what their foreign minister had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I understand that no one intends to drag NATO members into the Syrian crisis. We've been told that many times. But as one prominent military and political leader used to say, in the military field, what's important is not the intentions, but the potential. And when potential grows, the risks also grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: He's got a point there, to a certain degree. Yes, the more hardware from NATO you bring into that region, the greater the risk it may be involved, but many observers think perhaps that maybe what Turkey wants, to have some level of assistance, when trying to assist the rebels themselves, Turkey being a key rebel backer. And also, Russia playing from a difficult corner here. It's been so obstructive at the Security Council and getting resolutions to assist the western point of view on this particular conflict. Now, of course, it would like to see NATO back off. That's going to be tough.

MANN: Nick Paton Walsh, live for us at CNN, Beirut. Thanks very much.

Rebel ambitions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being stoked by their success in taking several towns in the last few days. M23 fighters beat back government forces to win control of Goma Tuesday. Then the strategic (inaudible) town of Sake Thursday. The M23 movement's aim is to conquer the country. Now, regional leaders are scrambling to do what they can to prevent the conflict from getting even worse. CNN's David McKenzie joins us now live from Nairobi with the latest.

David, the rebels are still on the move?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are still on the move, Jonathan, on two fronts. What they know is that they're moving from Sake, that town west of the key city of Goma, and they are moving north and they're moving south. In a way, south is more significant, because they could be pushing towards Bukavu. Now, that's the capital of South Kivu, which is on the border of Rwanda, as well as Goma being on the border of Rwanda. But what it means is it could be a gateway into the interior of the Congo if the rebels do decide to push towards Kinshasa. They say they want to quote, "liberate the country." Kinshasa is about 1,000 miles west of this part of the Congo in the east, so it might seem quite incredible that they could do that, but it has happened before. This group is well armed, it seems well motivated, and somewhat disciplined.

In the meantime, in Goma, the (AUDIO GAP). The rebels have consolidated their (inaudible) the police to come in, sign up and be quote, "re-educated" under their rule. A lot of this is troubling very many people. In Kampala, there are moves to try and find some kind of negotiation. The rebel leader has been -- the rebel political leader has been summoned to talk to Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, and perhaps that will find some push forward. But the military side of the rebels say they want to take as much as they can of the Congo.

Jonathan.

MANN: I guess it bears repeating that all of this is going on in the eastern part of Congo, the seat of one of the largest U.N. peacekeeping operations in the world. What are the peacekeepers doing about all of this?

MCKENZIE: Well, it's not one of the largest; actually it is the largest. This is the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping operation globally. They have soldiers all over the region, particularly in the eastern part of the Congo. And what they did when the rebels pushed into the city of Goma is after pushing back the rebels when they were near, they effectively let them take the city. Their mandate is to protect civilians, and the U.N. peacekeeping officers have said that their mandate gets murky when a group enters town. Because if they actively get involved between the government forces and the rebel group, that could in fact hurt civilians further. But there has been a lot of criticism towards the U.N. that it didn't do enough to stop M23 from progressing towards Goma, and that this large, expensive force has in fact been made to look impotent. There have been protests in the Congo, particularly in Kinshasa, and north of Goma, against the U.N. A lot of ill feeling toward that group. The U.N. for its part says that it's not its job to fight wars for the Congo, but to protect civilians, and it's ultimately down to the Congolese army, which is demotivated often, and unpaid and frequently flees from the fight, Jonathan.

MANN: David McKenzie live for us. Thanks very much.

Next, it was a death that may have been prevented if doctors had allowed one woman to end her pregnancy. That's the word from her husband, anyway. Coming up, we'll look at the case that's put Ireland's abortion ban under the microscope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. Abortion has always been a polarizing issue in Ireland, but the death of one woman is now forcing it in front of the country's top health officials again. 17 weeks into her pregnancy, Savita Halappanavar miscarried and suffered a blood infection. A termination could have saved her life, potentially, but her husband said doctors refused, because Ireland is, as he reminds us, a Catholic country. Nic Robertson reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's lost his wife, and now fears the truth behind her tragic death may be lost too.

PRAVEEN HALAPPANAVAR, SAVITA'S HUSBAND: We've seen some tampering of, you know, her medical records, so basically some key information in the medical records is missing.

ROBERTSON: Praveen and Savita Halappanavar met in India, married, and set up home in Ireland four years ago. He is an engineer. She was a dentist. They were happy here.

HALAPPANAVAR: She loved dancing. So she called me to dance with her a couple of times on the stage, and we gave a performance, and that will be the fondest memory, I suppose, you know. Never having gone on the stage, you know, I never had -- I will always had the stage fear, you know, to go, trying to speak out, all the (inaudible), the belief she gave me. It was unbelievable.

ROBERTSON: Together, they had dreams of a beautiful future, of children, their children, of having a family.

HALAPPANAVAR: She was looking forward, basically, you know. In a way, she formed that, you know, she's in the right place, you know, it would be like so, so that's the reason why. She knew and she was very well organized as well. She knew what she wanted in life, so that's the reason why she had decided to settle here long-term.

ROBERTSON: When Savita became pregnant, they were overjoyed. Then their ordeal began. Savita got back pain. Here at Galway University Hospital, doctors told her she was miscarrying, her baby would likely die. Savita's husband says they asked for a termination, and were told this is a Catholic country, not while the fetus is alive.

HALAPPANAVAR: So we requested for a termination. We wanted to go back, you know, go home and you know, think about the next pregnancy, because it was a planned pregnancy. We were so happy. We wanted to have babies.

ROBERTSON: Three days after the request, the fetus died, was removed. Four days later, Savita was dead, from a blood infection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bodies, our lives.

ROBERTSON: Ireland has been outraged. Protests in support of Savita, not just here but across the world, have urged the country's politicians to update abortion laws, prevent similar tragedies.

There has been political fallout, too. Abortion is a hot-button issue in Ireland. The prime minister is under pressure to get Halappanavar to help a health service inquiry.

Government steps so far have done little to inspire Halappanavar, not just, he says, because they took weeks before announcing an inquiry, but when they did, three of the seven medical professionals on the investigation team were from the same hospital here, where his wife died. Although they have now been replaced, other issues remain.

Not the least of which, the missing medical records. The records the hospital declined our request to comment on.

HALAPPANAVAR: Basically made a request for termination, and there is no notes of the request at all in any of her medical notes. And also, there is -- the response from the doctor is not in the medical records either.

ROBERTSON: What do you think has happened to it?

HALAPPANAVAR: We don't know, and it's just strange that all other information is there, you know, (inaudible) requests for a cup of tea and toast, you know, and things like an overnight blanket was given, all that is in the medical notes.

ROBERTSON: He says he will settle for nothing less than a full public inquiry, where the health service, not just his wife's death, is investigated.

HALAPPANAVAR: Every single family person asked me how could this happen in a country like Ireland, in the 21st century? Because it was just so simple. When they knew that the baby was not going to survive, why wait? Think about the bigger life, which was the mother, my wife, Savita. And they didn't.

ROBERTSON: All he wants, he says, is the truth. Nic Robertson, CNN, Galway, Ireland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann at CNN Center, sitting in for Kristie Lu Stout. And you're watching NEWS STREAM. These are your world headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANN (voice-over): Demonstrators are protecting in Cairo's Tahrir Square and other Egyptian cities expressing anger over a decree by President Mohammed Morsi effectively demanding his power go unchallenged until a new constitution is drafted.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm told CNN that protesters have set fire to his headquarters in the city of Alexandria, though it was empty at the time and nobody was hurt. Critics say Mr. Morsi's order threatens the progress made during last year's Egyptian revolution.

The fragile truce between Israel and Hamas seems to be holding despite reports that Israeli troops opened fire earlier Friday. Hamas officials say Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man and wounded 19 others who were approaching a security buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. They say six other Palestinians were wounded in the same area Thursday. The Israel Defense Forces say they are looking into the reports.

With no end in sight in the civil war in Syria, neighboring Turkey is asking its NATO allies for the Patriot missile defense system. Ankara says it wants to strength its air defense operations but Russia, one of Syria's strongest allies, opposes the request. Opposition activists say at least 151 people were killed across Syria on Thursday.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rebels are continuing to advance after taking control of a strategically important town in the east. The M23 group says it will not stop until the government has been toppled. Oxfam warns that there's a risk that the humanitarian crisis could reach new depths as the result of the rebellion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving has come and gone, and that can only mean one thing: big sales, big, crazy bargains and often big crowds of even crazier shoppers.

It's called Black Friday, and it marks the start of the busiest retail weekend of the year. CNN's George Howell is checking out the scene outside Best Buy. That's here in Atlanta, Georgia; it looks a little quiet there, quiet before the storm?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, you know, when you look at what happened earlier this morning here in the United States, at midnight here in Atlanta, Georgia, we saw some 600 people wrapped around this store here, at this Best Buy, all waiting to get inside.

And let me show you why. Here inside the store, when you look around, you see that there are a lot of deals. Here you save $40, $40, $30. One of the big items here, the laptops here in this store, a lot of those laptops are gone.

The flatscreen TVs, another big item, many of them marked down anywhere from $200, very important, Jonathan, for this particular store brand, Best Buy. We're talking about a company that had disappointing 3rd quarter earnings, much more disappointing than anyone expected, really.

And now you see this company taking every step it can to let customers know about those deals so they get the best bang for their buck on a Black Friday. Again, you saw so many people show up earlier, a few hours ago, Best Buy hoping that that will help them get through the rest of the year, Jonathan.

MANN: Well, it's fun and it's a bit crazy, but it is crucial for a lot of retailers. We call it Black Friday because retailers say they essentially operate in the red until the holiday shopping season, which begins today, Black Friday literally is the time of year they start operating in the black.

Are there any signals for the larger U.S. economy? Are retailers thinking they're going to do well this season? Or is it going to be another sad Christmas for U.S. retail sales?

HOWELL: You know, and to answer that, I want to go back to one thing you mentioned as far as being in the red. There was one customer, who called this Red Friday, and he called it Red Friday because he said there were fewer people in the store this year than he saw last year, and that goes right along with what we've learned from the National Retail Federation.

They projected that fewer people will be shopping this year compared to last, 147 million this year compared to 152 million last year here in the United States. But these customers, according to this survey, will be spending more.

And then we talked to a few people who said, look, they're more optimistic about the U.S. economy. They are more comfortable spending money, spending money on those big purchases. So if that is any indication as to what's to come, as of what's to come, I should say, people seem optimistic about the economy. And maybe things will get a little better, Jonathan.

MANN: Maybe it's a bittersweet Black Friday then. George Howell, thanks very much.

If you're watching this outside the United States and feeling a little left out, don't worry. Other countries have their own kind of shopping holiday, just like America's.

You'll have to wait until March, though, if you're in Japan or South Korea or Taiwan. That's when White Day is observed, when men give white gifts to their partners. It takes place a month after Valentine's Day, which, in Japan at least is traditionally aimed at female shoppers.

The first Sunday of August marks Friendship Day in India, trading friendship bands is popular for young people who observe that day. And don't let rumors that it was invented by the greeting card companies put you off. If you can't wait that long, Japan does have a pre-Christmas tradition, though some might find it a bit odd.

Forget the turkey. On December 20th, KFC is the only place to be. KFC, seriously; that tradition has become so popular there's even a special Christmas menu, featuring a variety of, of course, finger-lickin' goodies.

It's not just about shopping. The Thanksgiving Day holiday is a busy travel period in the United States. Let's get more on the conditions with Tom Sater at the World Weather Center.

Tom, you stayed close to home; I did, too, but, boy, everybody else is on the road.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Everybody's on the road. And they had blue skies in New York for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. In fact, absolutely fabulous. I have yet to ever experience a Black Friday. I am waiting till my 4-year-old twin girls get old enough to shop, and then I'll introduce them to the humanity. Maybe that will detour (sic) them just a little.

Across the U.S., let's take a look at this. We've got a spin, an area of low pressure, classic comma shape, you should see here. And it is triggering some rainfall and some snows in the upper Great Lakes.

Temperatures, you know, New York City almost 14 degrees yesterday, absolutely lovely for the parade. We do have a series of storms that have been plowing into the Pacific Northwest. But we've got a big cooldown on the way. And this is just not it. The core of the cold air really still entrapped up in Canada.

That will soon be making its way across the U.S. Temperatures will be plummeting. Here's the cold front. Not a lot in the way of snowfall, but first lake effect snows for some areas. The good news is the cold front that we've seen, the tail end of it, anyway, that's producing some rainfall is also accompanying some winds.

And the wind's very important, if you recall, in Texas on Thanksgiving morning, roughly 8:45 am local time, east of Houston, southwest of Beaumont, this is Interstate 10, an abundance of moisture in the air, just an environment that is just conducive for the thick fog, all the elements were exactly needed to have this blanket of fog that reduced visibility well under a kilometer, and we have pictures such as this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SATER (voice-over): One hundred and 40 vehicles, unbelievable. Eighty to 90 that were taken, of course, to area hospitals; only two fatalities; but unfortunately, those two were a man and a woman. They were in a large vehicle, too, a Chevy Suburban that, unfortunately, was rear- ended by a tractor-trailer.

The fog is dispersing, of course, and has been; the winds are kicking it up. That is not a problem this morning. But local troopers there said they've never seen anything quite like that. In the Pacific Northwest, again, it's just more rainfall. We'll continue to watch the numbers as a series of storms move in. It's just unbelievable.

And it was accompanied by 150-180 kph winds. But Jonathan, not just one; another one on the way. So flying, this should be the only trouble spot in the U.S. for flights.

MANN: Tom Sater, thanks very much.

A story we're watching closely: unfolding in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where Egyptians are catching up with the apparent transformation of a still largely untested leader. It was just back in June that Mohammed Morsi took office as Egypt's president after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Now there are thousands in Tahrir Square, or hundreds at least, protecting against him.

Our Reza Sayah joins now live with the latest.

How many people are out there? And what are they saying?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thousands of demonstrators have filed into Tahrir Square, Jonathan. Of course, this place has become a symbol of the right to protest in the Arab world.

And today the protests are against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. I don't see any security forces here, but they are in nearby neighborhoods. And that always creates a potentially explosive situation. You probably hear the volume of the chants growing behind me. These protests can turn violent very quickly. They have in the past.

But right now things pretty calm, just a lot of speeches and chants against the president. These protests sparked following last night's announcement by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, announced they have a series of decrees that give him sweeping powers and his critics are describing this as an undemocratic power grab.

One decree says that all his decisions, all his declarations after June when he took office cannot be overturned by anyone, not even the judiciary. Another decree says that the assembly put together to draft the constitution cannot be dissolved. Of course, there's been a lot of controversy with that assembly. Liberal members of the assembly leaving in protest.

This particular decree saying that assembly will not fall apart. Again, these are decrees that his opponents here describing as undemocratic and that's why, Jonathan, they're out en masse today. And we expect this crowd to get bigger with this coming out.

MANN: He has always been a polarizing figure, ever since he took power. I'm curious about these latest decrees, following earlier decrees that already gave him enormous authority. How popular are they among other Egyptians, the Egyptians who are not in Tahrir Square today?

SAYAH: Well, what's emerged is a faceoff, is a faceoff between opposing factions that are here today in this particular demonstration. Those factions include liberal groups, Western-style liberal groups, socialists, women's rights groups, youth groups and then you have the Islamist factions, first and foremost, the Muslim Brotherhood.

And it's these two sides that have emerged in this faceoff. Right now, the political landscape looks to be in Mohammed Morsi's favor. The assembly we talked about that's charged with drafting the constitution is dominated by Islamists.

Of course, there is no parliament at this point. So there is really no political mechanism for these protesters out there, seemingly to do something. Even so, they say they want their voices heard and that's why they're here today, Jonathan.

MANN: Now what is striking for an Islamist leader is that he himself has spoken about these decrees. They were issued by his office. But he apparently appeared at a mosque today to talk further about them; once again, Egypt's political leader appearing at a place of worship to explain political decisions.

SAYAH: Yes. Jonathan, I'm having a terribly difficult time hearing you, but if I heard you correctly, you said that he didn't make the announcement himself, and you are correct. Last night the announcements of these controversial decrees were made by his spokesperson. He did not announce them.

And remember the timing; it came 24 hours after his international decrees for his goal in establishing a cease-fire between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And many believed that that was a calculated decision, to make these decrees, to announce these decrees with the momentum that he had.

But the reaction that he's getting internationally certainly not what he's getting domestically; he has a lot of critics here today.

MANN: Reza Sayah, reporting live from Cairo.

And once again, just to repeat, Mohammed Morsi speaking on this day to worshipers at a mosque in a Cairo suburb, explaining the decree that gives him new and unchallengeable authority until the country gets a new constitution. "We are," he said, "God willing, moving forward. And no one stands in our way," Mohammed Morsi assuming new powers.

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MANN (voice-over): You're looking at live pictures at protesters in Tahrir Square, who toppled one dictator in that landmark Cairo area. And do not want to see the emergence of another. You're watching NEWS STREAM on CNN. We'll be back right after this.

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MANN: Welcome back. Another ugly incident in football. Tottenham wanted European's football's governing body to punish fans of Lazio after a tumultuous game Thursday. Pedro Pinto has more from London, Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jonathan, that's right. The Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas wants UEFA to take action against Lazio after their fans chanted anti-Semitic abuse during a Europa League game on Thursday night in Rome.

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PINTO (voice-over): The chants came from the same section of Estadio Olimpico, where a banner reading "Free Palestine" was unveiled. It appears a group of far right Lazio supporters were targeting Tottenham's traditionally large Jewish fan base, UEFA reportedly looking into the matter.

The abuse comes on the back of Wednesday's violence in the Italian capital in which two Tottenham supporters were stabbed. One of them is in critical condition in hospital; several others were injured after an attack by a group of masked thugs in Rome.

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Rafael Benitez faced the English press for the first time on Thursday since being named interim Chelsea manager. The Spanish coach replaced Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked on Tuesday.

Benitez' contract with the Blues only lasts until the end of the season, but he's still committed to making his presence felt at Stamford Bridge. Benitez, who led Liverpool to the Champions League title in 2005 says the Blues can still win five trophies this year, and he believes he is the right man to deliver them.

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RAFAEL BENITEZ. CHELSEA INTERIM COACH: When you analyze why you go to a top site (ph) like this for seven months, it's because you can win trophies. So for one year and a half, nearly two years, I was waiting for the right opportunity. I have this chance now. I have to take it and then try to do your best. And that is what I will do.

We have something in common. (Inaudible) and the fans who want to win every single game. So nobody has wanted to win more than the fans and the manager.

And I'm sure that they will be happy with a manager that has this winning mentality, a manager that has this passion for the game and a manager that will do everything that he can do for winning games. That is, as to say, my priority and I (inaudible).

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PINTO: Once again, Thanksgiving Day in the United States offered NFL fans plenty of drama and excitement. The game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions will be talked about for a long time and mostly because of one play.

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PINTO (voice-over): Houston's Justin Forsett with the ball in the 3rd quarter, and as you can see, he is downed by contact. However, the ref didn't see it. So the player got up and ran 81 yards for the touchdown.

As you can imagine, Lions coach Jim Schwartz was outraged. He was so fired up that he decided to challenge the play. The problem is that under new NFL rules, you can't do that. And as a result, the touchdown was not reviewed and it counted. Schwartz admitted to his mistake and it really cost his team.

You can tell what the Lions coaching staff thought about it. Now the Lions were especially unfortunate in this game when they missed a game- winning field goal in overtime, the kick from Jason Hanson bouncing off the post. The Texans would not miss their opportunity to seal the deal. Shayne Graham nailing his field goal attempt. And Houston improving to 10- 1 on the season.

All right. If you follow Formula 1, then I'm sure you're excited right now. The Drivers' Championship will be decided this weekend in Brazil. Sebastian Vettel is the favorite to come out on top. He holds a 13-point lead over Fernando Alonso at the top of the standings. The 25- year-old Red Bull star is looking to become the youngest triple champion in history. Both Vettel and Alonso are feeling confident heading into Sunday's finale in Sao Paulo.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL, F1 COMPETITOR: I think the circuit seemed to suit our car through these years. I think we need to confirm it this year. So all eyes on Friday, start the weekend to get into the groove. But I think we can be, you know, as confident as we could in this -- in this stage. Obviously, yes, we know there's a lot ahead. But I think we're on a -- in a great position.

FERNANDO ALONSO, F1 COMPETITOR: The first player, the prize is to win in the podium, let's say, which give us the possibility to score more than (inaudible) 15 points and then we need to wait, obviously, for the result from Red Bull because we are not -- it's not in our hands. We have not much to lose. We are only possibility to win something and we will try to do our best.

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PINTO: And Fernando knows he's not the favorite. As a matter of fact, Sebastian Vettel only needs to finish in the top four to clinch his third straight Drivers' Championship, Jonathan. Back to you.

MANN: Pedro Pinto, thanks very much.

Hitting the goal post, how about that?

An amazing day of sport. Thanks very much.

Still ahead on this edition of NEWS STREAM, the Oscars are months away still, but the critics are already making predictions. Find out who's being (inaudible) for the big prizes when we come back.

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MANN: Welcome back. It is getting close to the end of the year. And in the entertainment world, that means awards season is heating up. The 85th Annual Academy Awards are still three months away. "Family Guy" funny man Seth MacFarlane has been chosen to host. But who are the top contenders? Nischelle Turner gives us an Oscar preview.

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DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, "ABRAHAM LINCOLN": I like our chances now.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The election isn't till February, but Lincoln's candidacy is already getting lots of support in the race for Best Picture.

PETE HAMMOND, MOVIE CRITIC, DEADLINE.COM: "Lincoln" is sensational, and Steven Spielberg's best in many, many years. And it looks like that's going to be a major contender.

TURNER (voice-over): Movie critic Pete Hammond of deadline.com is tracking all the early Oscar favorites.

HAMMOND: We're starting to look at one, two, three, four, five pecking orders already.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got Revolutionary Guards going door to door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ARGO")

TURNER (voice-over): "Argo," I think, is really, from the Academy voters I've talked to, loved that movie.

TURNER (voice-over): Also on Hammond's short list?

HAMMOND: "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's movie, which is extraordinary.

"Silver Linings Playbook" is just a wonderful comedy, drama, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, all of them will be nominated. Some of them could win.

TURNER (voice-over): Critic Ben Lyons thinks Oscar voters may double down on 007.

BEN LYONS, MOVIE CRITIC: Now with "Skyfall," people are talking about James Bond being in the Best Picture race which I think there's a good possibility of happening.

TURNER (voice-over): If "Skyfall" gets a Best Picture nod it would be a first for a Bond movie. But the recognition may not end there, Lyons says.

LYONS: Javier Bardem, he's absolutely incredible in "Skyfall".

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JAVIER BARDEM, "SILVA": Mommy was very bad.

JUDI DENCH, "M": Where the hell have you been?

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LYONS: Also Judi Dench in "Skyfall" was an Academy favorite and might get a Supporting Actress nomination for her turn as M.

TURNER (voice-over): But the Oscar race is far from set. Some possible contenders haven't even opened yet.

HAMMOND: "Les Miserables" from Universal is coming up. It's a Christmas Day.

TURNER: That's Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.

HAMMOND: And Russell Crowe and the big musical of the season.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a dream my life would be --

HAMMOND: Everybody is looking at that one, you know, I mean, the other rivals are looking at like I hope it's not good. I hope it's not good.

TURNER: Well, are there any individual performances that really jump out at you right about now?

HAMMOND: It's one of the tightest Best Actor races I've seen in years.

TURNER: Really?

HAMMOND: Already.

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ANTHONY HOPKINS, "ALFRED HITCHCOCK": Having you in the shower.

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HAMMOND: There's Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, in "Hitchcock" -- nails Hitchcock. You've got Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.

TURNER (voice-over): Day-Lewis could face competition from another ex- president, Bill Murray as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson".

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BILL MURRAY, "FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT": You two comfy back there?

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HAMMOND: Bill Murray is terrific and really nails this portrayal of Roosevelt. And so we've got the battle of the presidents all of a sudden.

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KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, "ANNA KARENINA": I love him. I am his mistress.

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TURNER (voice-over): The Best Actress picture is still kind of murky. But it could feature Keira Knightley in the legendary role of "Anna Karenina".

HELEN MIRREN, "ALMA HITCHCOCK": You'll kill her off after 30 minutes.

TURNER (voice-over): And there's Helen Mirren as Alfred Hitchcock's wife, Alma, in "Hitchcock".

Add it all up and what have you got? A really competitive award season.

TURNER: And isn't that why we love this time of year?

HAMMOND: We love it. We just wish it was a little shorter.

TURNER: Yes.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 007.

TURNER (voice-over): Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.

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MANN: A lot of great movies. That is NEWS STREAM for now. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

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