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Storm Causes Problems for Busiest Travel Day; Rape Case Involving Officer; Democrats Hit By Obamacare Rollout; Guards Charged in Jailhouse Crime Ring.

Aired November 26, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Love it. That was Toothless and SpongeBob. If you plan to be on hand to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- 50 million of you watch it on the TV. Another 3.5 line the streets to watch it -- you're all going to have to be prepared for the bad weather. That ugly nor'ester is threatening the New York region and could cause trouble for the balloons. The heavy winds and rain could play havoc with them.

Macy's is stating that, "No giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained winds exceeding 23 miles per hour and wind gusts over 34 miles per hour." As for the security issue -- yes, it's a big deal -- Macy's says it's going to be very extensive, involving visible presence of armed law enforcement officers and plenty more behind the scenes. I bring that up because it was obviously a very big crowd for the Boston Marathon. And we're still all reeling in the wake of that as the parade route begins to line up.

We're just one day, one day away from the busiest travel day of the year. And a big storm could create a major headache for probably a lot of you watching right now. And I'm sorry to be the barrier of the bad news. This is a big swath of the country. Snow coating the roads in Columbus, Ohio, early this morning. And the roads looking pretty wet as well in central Pennsylvania. That is an ice concern. Wow, look at that. It's pretty. But not if you're driving.

Chad Myers is live in the Weather Center.

I keep saying the models change. It's just an ugly slow monster creep, isn't it, that we can't avoid?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. And the cold air just creeps and pulled down from Canada and the moisture gets pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico, and that clash is happening right over Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. The rain is I-95. If you're traveling there or the Jersey Turnpike or parkway, you're good. It's going to be wet, and slow, but you're good. If you're going across, east to west on your travels, that's what's going to be the problem. We're seeing ice across the Shenandoah Valley into Roanoke and north into Stanton. Here's the snow. It's coming down right across to State College and not going to stop. Tonight around 8:00 when the sun is gone and things get colder, that's when things will freeze up. The problem for tomorrow, Pittsburgh right across to State College and then better when you get to Philadelphia. But here is where we see the snow change over. The rain is to the south. Rain moves up to the north. Buffalo, you could pick up a foot of snow. And eventually, for the end of the weekend, we'll see a lot of lake-effect snow coming down. The lakes aren't frozen. And this is the wind that could affect those balloons.

I don't know about you, Ashleigh, but my favorite when I was growing up as Underdog. I just loved Underdog.


BANFIELD: How old are you?

MYERS: I'm 50. Paws coming out. I just love -- and now we have SpongeBob.


BANFIELD: And Toothless. I like Toothless. That's my fave. My kids love that movie. That's great. (INAUDIBLE). Never mind.


Thank you, Chad.

I have to say thank you even though it's awful news. But it's better for people to know than not know.

All right, Chad.

Give me a moment, if you will. Because tomorrow the major metro airports -- you've been hearing Chad talk about it -- the delays for hours because of this bad weather.

I want you to take a look at this, flight tracking site. It put together what it calls the misery map of the 20 biggest airports across the country -- the misery map. The green parts of the circles represent on-time flights. And the red, of course, the cancellations and delays. Hovering your mouse over the airports shows how the specific routes are doing, which is awesome if you're planning to fly or you've got family flying in. But what if you hit a red one and your flight's going to get canceled or your loved one's flight?

Christine Romans is on it for you with very important tips.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, number one, know your rights. When you buy a ticket, you agree to a lot of fine print that will tell you just what your airline will do if your flight is canceled due to weather. Sometimes airlines are not obligated to get you on another airline which could keep you waiting for days. Check the fine print to see. Second, call your airline. Even if you are waiting in like at the airport, call the airline. A call could move you ahead. Next, try social media. Most have their own Twitter lines set up dedicated to trouble-shooting issues. Also, consider nearby destinations. If you're flying to New York, JFK, and you're canceled, maybe you can go to Newark. Or you can see Philadelphia as an alternative. And you have 24 hours after a flight is book to cancel without penalty.

And finally, be nice.


You're going to get along much better if you are nice than yelling at someone. Delta, U.S. Airways, American Airlines are waiving some flight change fees right now because of the storm. Check online about which airports you will not have to pay fees to rebook to change a flight or to cancel it -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Christine Romans.

And she's the nicest person who works here. So that whole "be nice thing" works beautifully.

Thank you, Christine.

CNN, by the way, has decided to make the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, our destination this week. Because on August 28th, more than three dozen journalists descended upon that airport and documented the journey, the belly of the beast. You get the inside look. Stuff you've never seen before. A fascinating inside look at

And we've got this just in to CNN. I want to bring you up to speed on something we're following. U.S. Coast Guard pictures of more than 100 Haitian immigrants clinging to the hull of a freighter. And this is just off the coast of the Bahamas. At least 10 people died after that ship grounded and then capsized on Monday night. A Coast Guard helicopter has pulled 13 from the water after deploying a rescue raft. Food and water and additional rafts have been dropped to the survivors. The Royal Bahamian Defense Force patrol boat is also helping in that rescue. We'll watch that for you and keep you updated. Harrowing pictures to see.

The Federation of State Public Interest Research has just released its annual Trouble in Toyland Report. Perfect timing. The report lists toy risks ranging from toxic chemicals to choking hazards. Among the toys that made the list, Disguise Ink's Captain American soft shield for the levels of lead above federal standards. And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pencil case for high cadmium. And Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop Candy Shop Dream. Listed for a chocking hazard as well. And make sure you take a close look at what you are buying for your little ones this holiday season.

When we come back, what happened at this intersection? You know something, it's not totally clear. But a woman says a police officer pulled her over and then raped her. The evidence shows the patrol car was indeed there for 18 minutes. But the officer said, I did nothing wrong. That's coming up next.


BANFIELD: At first glance it may have seemed to be an ordinary traffic stop. But to the 19-year-old driver who was pulled over at this intersection, she said there was nothing ordinary about it. She said the officer handcuffed her and raped her in the back of the patrol car. He is denying this allegation.

CNN Ed Lavandera has more on this case.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 19-year-old sexual assault victim has asked that her identity be hidden. She said moments after the police officer, Jackie Neil, in full uniform, raped her during a traffic stop early Friday morning. She says, told her not to say anything about it.

UNIDENTIFIED RAPE VICTIM: He warned me, he told me that if I did tell anybody, he would look for me because he has my address.

LAVANDERA: She then says, Friday night, a man named Jack came to her home looking for her. The victim says the ordeal is a nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED RAPE VICTIM: I have to deal with this every day.

LAVANDERA: San Antonio police arrested and charged one of its own with sexual assault, 40-year-old Jackie Neil an 11-year veteran. He told CNN the allegations are false. Neil was released from jail on a $20,000 bond.

(on camera): According to the arrest warrant affidavit she told him that he had been following her for several blocks until she pulled over here, in the middle of this residential neighborhood and underneath this street lamp. The affidavit says that the tracking system on the police officer's car shows that he had been parked here for 18 minutes.

(voice-over): San Antonio police say the on-board camera was not working. But according to the arrest warrant affidavit, the victim told police the officer handcuffed and pushed her against the back of the police car and that's where the sexual assault took place. The victim says she believed the attack lasted about 10 minutes.

WILLIAM MCMAUS, CHIEF, SAN ANTONIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's a punch in the eye to the police department.

LAVANDERA: San Antonio's police chief says if there are other victims, he wants them to speak out to investigators.

MCMAUS: Obviously, we don't tolerate it. And I'm outraged and stunned by it.

LAVANDERA: Officer Neil was recently disciplined for dating an 18- year-old woman participating in the San Antonio Police Department's Explorer's Program, a program designed to introduce young people to careers in law enforcement.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, San Antonio, Texas.


BANFIELD: Wow. What a difference a month can make. Do you remember how the Republicans totally took it on the chin for shutting down the government for Obamacare? That's just a month ago. Now the dismal rollout of Obamacare has flipped those numbers on their end. What does that mean for the Republicans in 2014? Or is that just eons away? We're going to talk about what this means and if we really have short memories. That's coming up next.


BANFIELD: Talk about some short memories when it comes to politics. It seemed like just yesterday that a lot of people were ready to write off the Republican Party because of that government shutdown over Obamacare. Well, guess what. The table has turned in dramatic fashion. When it comes to Congress, the latest CNN/ORC poll shows Republicans now hold a 49 percent to 47 percent advantage among registered voters. Last month, the Democrats held an eight-point edge. It's gone. This 10-point swing follows an uproar over all those problems with the rollout of Obamacare, including the glitch/disaster and the insurance policy cancellations. Remember if you like your policy, you can keep it?

Joining us with his keen insight and how it can all change on dime is our CNN political analyst, John Avlon.

It got me thinking, John, if this all happened in a month, what's lying ahead? I'm thinking maybe another continuing resolution and a debt fight, and immigration, et cetera.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST & EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yeah, it's going to ping-pong back. A week is a long time in politics. Month's an eternity. This is remarkable numbers. This shift in the generic ballot does speak to how dissatisfied the American people are with both parties and how much of the latest disaster is likely to flip swing voters in the other direction.

We're still a long way from elections. But it is a sign that Democrats have no reason for overconfidence and that the disaster, as you just said, really is taking a toll and the shutdown seems like ancient history right now.

BANFIELD: I want to show a picture that so many people in the Republican Party were just roiling over prior to the re-election of President Obama. It's Chris Christie after the big superstorm walking with the president. At one point, I think he put his arm around the president. Some people said that's how the president ended up winning the election. Does it matter what happens all year long, or is it just what's in the news cycle one month before the election really?

AVLON: No, everything matters. Everything adds to a narrative. In the last -- (AUDIO PROBLEM). BANFIELD: You know what? John, I thought it was just me who couldn't hear you. I'm finding out our audience can't hear you, as well. Something just went kaput with your microphone.

We'll try and get John back. He's really smart. And I don't want to miss a thing he says.

In the meantime, a federal indictment is charging 44 people for peddling drugs and sex inside prison. These aren't people headed to prison for it, these are people already there and doing it. Guess what, 27 of them are on the other side of the law. They're the correctional officers. What? Seriously? How much higher can my voice get? We're going to talk about this next.


BANFIELD: Got a little bit of breaking news to bring to you. The Supreme Court has just made an agreement to hear a significant case about Obamacare. Remember when a whole bunch of corporations wanted to pull out of the idea of having to provide contraception because of a religious reason? Well, that's now going to go to the Supreme Court. That's something the justices have agreed to hear. Stay tuned to this space to find out how the case shakes out.

Before the break, I told you about that other case in Baltimore. Are you kidding me? Where it seems the prisoners are running the show, folks. 27 correctional officers are facing charges they've been taking it bribes. They've been smuggling in contraband, trading sex for money. I'm not kidding. One gang member in the prison -- OK, here's where it gets crazy -- allegedly, impregnated four guards, one of whom had his name tattooed on her wrist.

Joining me, the legal eagles again.

All I can say, Paul Callan and Joey Jackson, is, what? I knew it was bad. But 27 officers? Is it really this bad?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is a record breaker I think. You see isolated examples of this, New York, Pennsylvania, every state, Texas.


CALLAN: One or two get indicted. But this, the whole jail system.



BANFIELD: -- HBO, "The Wire."

JACKSON: It really does. When you have to this magnitude -- 44 indictments an, 27 involving correction officers. I'm sure the vast majority of correction officers are in many jurisdictions they keep the jails in order and everything else. But when you go to corruption levels like this, money laundering, mail fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, you're talking about an organized institutional gang inside a facility where the inmates are running the jail. That's a problem.

BANFIELD: I have a couple seconds left. Paul, is this an issue that may be somewhat tangential shall to overcrowding? It's so hard to run these places because they're such a mess?

CALLAN: It has to do with hiring. Who are they hiring? One of these guards was allegedly taking in $15,000 a week smuggling contraband into the prison. Yes, overcrowding contributes to it, but you know something, it's criminality.

BANFIELD: It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable.

JACKSON: Again, I say, you know, I know correction officers work very hard. They're in institutions. I'm sure it's not easy. I don't think this is an indictment on correction officers in general.

CALLAN: So many of Jackson's clients are in prison that this is how --


JACKSON: I have to be nice.



CALLAN: This is how he tries to be nice to the corrections guards.

JACKSON: See what you do to me, Paul?

BANFIELD: By the way, I said "The Wire." My favorite is the "Orange is the New Black," which this also reminds me of. Pretty remarkable.


All right, you guys, I don't know if I'm going to see you. If I don't for the rest of the Thanksgiving week, have a lovely holiday.


BANFIELD: Paul Callan, Joey Jackson.

I'm flat out of time. But I'll be back again tomorrow, the rest of the holiday. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

MICHEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. We are tracking a deadly storm that is threatening the plans and the safety of millions of you as you head out for your Thanksgiving holiday. Rain, wind, snow and ice all in the forecast whether you're traveling by plane or by car today or tomorrow, you are likely to be impacted.

HARA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: And this hour, we've got you covered with everything you need to know before you head out. I'm Hala Gorani. Suzanne Malveaux is off.

HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

It is already nasty out there for most of the 43 million holiday travelers. Slick roads in central Pennsylvania. Snow is starting to fall. And it is expected to keep getting heavier in the hours ahead.

GORANI: Looks like many people in many Ohio are set to have a white Thanksgiving. Snow is on the ground.