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Another Challenge to Obamacare; Storm Snarls Holiday Travel; U.S. Planes Defy China; The NFL And Concussions

Aired November 27, 2013 - 06:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And playing to the key pieces of the Democratic constituency, talking to lower income people saying, 'This helps you a great deal. You had no health insurance at all. This is going to give you access. This is going to be great for your family.'

Playing to women -- most women make the economic decisions, including the health care decisions in family households. The president saying, OK, be mad at me now, this is going to be better. You're going to like this, don't listen to the Republicans, this will be better for your family and eventually, he's making the case for your finances.

For the Supreme Court question, Kate, it adds some unpredictability. There's no question about that. This question is whether the government can tell religious based institutions you must put in your policies whether contraception or some kind of family planning, it's a mandate. The question is does the Supreme Court take it narrowly and address the question of religious institutions or does it take the question and get more broadly into the powers of the federal government to tell people what to do?

Anytime something comes before the Supreme Court, if it's yours and you like it, you get a little nervous they might change it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's a very good point. And we know from history that Democrats won on the issue at least temporarily on the issue of war on women message and that will be definitely playing into this the end, when this is decided in the end of next June.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The new wrinkle on it, that corporations are saying should they be considered persons, which is a legalese term, when it comes to First Amendment rights. That's a really provocative question because the politics of the court will shift on that and we'll explain that a little bit more later on in the show.

But, John, appreciate it. Happy early Thanksgiving to you.

KING: Same to you, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

KING: We're both thankful to have John king in our lives.

BOLDUAN: We are, #thankfulforJohnKing.

KING: High on the list.

BOLDUAN: Also #thankfulformichaela.

CUOMO: Very thankful, my hashtag is verythankful.

PEREIRA: It's a big hashtag.

Our top story today is this weather and we don't want to put a damper on your holiday plans, but the fact is it could mean slow torture for Thanksgiving travelers. A massive nor'easter disrupting flights and icing over highways all along the East Coast. Heavy snow in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Upstate New York forcing families to rethink some of their thanksgiving plans.

Fierce winds are in the forecast for today and for tomorrow. That means it could threaten the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. We'll keep you updated.

Parts of storm ravaged Illinois, meanwhile, have been declared a major disaster. President Obama has ordered federal funds be made available to state and local recovery efforts. Two dozen tornadoes ripped through the region last week, killing six people there and injuring over 100 more. FEMA officials have been on the ground surveying the damage, and additional areas could be designated for assistance after assessments are complete.

In an about face, an army officer's dropped a planned "evil twin" defense and pleaded guilty to a series of sex assaults. Thirty-two- year-old Aaron Lucas had intended to blame his identical twin brother for then alleged sex crimes, but Lucas' attorney says his client wanted to do the right thing. Colorado prosecutors say there is no evidence against his brother. Lucas now faces 20 years to life in prison. He will be sentenced in February.

A Connecticut judge has ordered the release of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, 20 first graders and six school staffers were shot to death there last December. The judge called the tapes, quote, "a searing reminder of the more or and pain of that day." But he said they must go public. The state attorney is appealing. If the higher court does not step in, the calls will go public on December 4th.

Residents, though, of Newtown do have a little something to cheer for this morning. The Newtown High School football team wrapped up their season with a perfect 12-0 record Tuesday. Earlier this year, the team wore green uniforms, the school color of Sandy Hook Elementary, and on their helmets Tuesday, the number 26 worn in honor of those who were killed.

Perfect tribute.

CUOMO: Yes, it's important. It's going to be important to that community to remember this in a number of ways going forward.

PEREIRA: And important to celebrate those moments, too, and not let that define them. And we support them in that. BOLDUAN: Since it's done that enough, right?

CUOMO: Well said, well said.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", dozens of flights already canceled or delayed on this very busy holiday getaway day. We're monitoring the massive nor'easter and its impact on travel across the country. Look at that flight map.

Stay with us as we all try to avoid getting stranded at the airport.

CUOMO: And provocative question. Is the NFL doing enough to protect its players from concussions? No, because they keep getting they will.

But what do you think? We polled the people and wait until you see the results in this CNN poll. They're going to shock you.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Forty-three million people are on the move, trying to get home to their families. But the miserable nor'easter weather, heavy snow, rain, dangerous ice up and down the East Coast is obviously making it a challenge to get anywhere on this one of the busiest travel days of the year.

So, we're going to cover the situation for you as best we can.

We have our Pamela Brown out on I-95, one of the major routes, eyeing the latest weather track.

We have meteorologist Indra Peterson. So let's begin with Indra. She's in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, where a winter storm warning is certainly in effect.

Indra, how is it out there?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've definitely been seeing some pretty good snow, especially since we landed yesterday. If you pan down, you can see my feet here, a couple inches of snow already since just overnight.

And I want to show what you is behind me, because this is what so many travelers are going to be having to deal with today. I mean, just take a look at the highways. The slick roads are out there. And we mentioned this is only going to be the toughest time of this entire storm period this morning.

So all those travelers that are trying to get out ahead of the storm, they're now going to be dealing with the heaviest rain and the heaviest snow. Just take a look at the radar right now. You can see how many millions of people are going to be impacted by this. We're still looking at the storm from the Northeast, all the way down, even in through the Carolinas. If you're closer to the coastline, you're still seeing the heavy rain. If you are on the back side of it, like we are here in Pennsylvania, we're seeing the snow. At times it's coming down pretty good out there.

And we've seen some good amounts of snow. I mean, in Ohio, they got 6 to 8 inches of snow. Just north of us here Pennsylvania, already 10 inches of snow. And more of it is on the way. This low is actually still creeping up to the north. So slowly making its way up to the north meaning only more problems will be out there.

Let's talk about what we're expecting. I mean, even two to four inches of heavy rain is still possible. Remember, it's not just the rain or snow, it's the visibility issues that come along with it. Just flying to Pittsburgh yesterday, we didn't see the run way owing until literally the wheels touched down. That's what's going to be dealing with today.

So two to four inches of rain even farther down to the South tapering off about an inch or so. And again on the back side, around the lakes, we could still see a good foot of snow. And even through Kentucky and Tennessee, still kind of tapering down to several inches of snow still in the forecast today.

Now, remember, as we go through the morning hours, it's the toughest time, the heaviest rain, the heaviest snow and the strongest winds.

Now, this will start to taper off as far as precipitation goes during the day, but those winds, look at this, high wind warnings still currently already in through New England. We're talking about winds as high as 60 miles per hour. We know what that means. Travel delays -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Indra, keep an eye on it. Thank you so much.

Let's talk about road conditions. Most travelers will be slogging through a wintry mess, as Indra was pointing out. On the road, snow, sleet and rain leading to dangerous and icy conditions. The storm system already causing many accidents in the Midwest, some fatal.

Now, drivers up and down the East Coast are facing the very same dangers.

CNN's Pamela Brown is on the road 287 South with much more.

What are you seeing?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Kate, we've been on the road for just about an hour now. It's pretty quiet. The volume hasn't picked up so far, but we have seen the conditions intermittent, the rain intermittent, and we've seen a lot of pooling and puddles on the roads. And, of course, you can imagine that will slow traffic down as 39 million Americans hit the roads on this busiest travel day of the year.

Let's take a look here at 87 South, you can see it's not too bad right now. But as the morning goes on and we expect the traffic to pick up and also the rain to pick up, so that, of course, could cause some issues. It could be a recipe for disaster. And the further west you go, you could see some snow, as this temperatures drop, you could see black ice on the roads.

So you have to think. The roads are going to be clogged with cars. Conditions are expected to pick up. It is still early and just the beginning here. Of course, we'll keep you updated on the situation out here as the morning goes on.

BOLDUAN: All right. Pamela, thank you so much. We'd be definitely be checking back in with you. She's got the minute to minute update on how the road conditions are.

CUOMO: Pamela Brown's job is let early to find bad traffic. Can you imagine that? Talk about dedication.

BOLDUAN: If you see her car, avoid it.

CUOMO: Talk about it, lucky she's not driving.

All right. So, what is that big risk in the wintry mix because it will affect the roads and certainly flights all up and down the coast and probably beyond.

So we have Christine live at the magic wall keeping an eye on where the air is hurting us the most. Christine, what are we seeing so far?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's right here is where it's hurting the most. But that's going to have a ripple effect across the country. This is a live map, you guys, from

This is right now what we're seeing in the country. You can see how crowded it is. The orange planes -- those are your commercial flights. Red, that's cargo planes and everything else. There are more than 1,000 flights, 1,463 flights right now in the air over the United States.

It's only 6:40 a.m., so it's going to get worse. I want to show you something else. This is the misery map. Have you guys seen this? It's from

It just shows you how miserable it is depending on where you are and the focus right now, New York City as we're waking up, these airports across the nation, this is based on delays and cancellations. You could see here, JFK is the worst. Newark, coming in there, it's got eight delays already, with one cancellations, gone on down the list.

One thing to remember here, call the airline, check online in your flight status before you leave the house. These things are changing pretty frequently. Leave plenty of time for travel to the airport. Remember, there are going to be lines at the airport. Please be patient. Don't wait too long to get to the airport in case something changes and your flight might take off. And pack your patience and pack a snack because it's going to be a tough long day, you guys.

CUOMO: Pack your patience. Things that are impossible to do for 500 alecks.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Doesn't matter how big my bag is, not going to be part of that packing job.

ROMANS: How about stay home?

BOLDUAN: Or that. There you go.

Thanks, Christine.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", the concussion crisis is one of our country's most -- in one of our country's most beloved sports. Is the NFL doing all it can when it comes to players' safety. Results of a CNN poll on the subject may surprise you.

CUOMO: Plus, Prince William is living on a prayer with Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift. The musical performance you just can't miss.

Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, the prince, what else he wants?


BOLDUAN: Let's go around the world now starting above the East China Sea in defiance (ph) with Beijing's two unarmed U.S. warplanes on a training mission fly over a chain of islands. CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, tells us why.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: China announced it's sending an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea just as the U.S. sent two B-52 aircraft into a newly declared Chinese air exclusion zone. Beijing had demanded that all aircraft entering the zone declare flight plans and all of their flight data.

The U.S. declined to do that. THE b-52s returned to Guam from the training mission without incident, but U.S. officials are telling me, expect to see more of these U.S. flights in the coming days. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Barbara, thank you very much. And a star- studded gala in support of a charity that is close to Prince William's heart. CNN's Max Foster has more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the big stars here was Jon Bon Jovi. He received an inspiration award for his work at the homeless in America. Taylor Swift also flew in hot off the heels of her success at the American Music Awards. And then a moment nobody expected. (SINGING)

FOSTER: Taylor Swift, Jon Bon Jovi, and Prince William on stage singing "Living on a Prayer."


FOSTER (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) is a cause very close to Prince William's heart. It was also supported by his mother, Diana, who also lived here at Kensington Palace. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Beautiful event. You see that shop right behind Max Foster and what a memory to watch those three perform on stage together.

PEREIRA: Three you might not put together.



PEREIRA: All right. We want to talk about an issue that we talked about quite a lot here, the issue of football and concussions. A new CNN/ORC poll out this morning gives revealing insight into the way you feel about football, particularly, safety and the culture of the game.

Joining us from Atlanta, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and from CNN sports and bleacher report, Dr. Andy Scholes. I'm going to call you doctor for a minute --


PEREIRA: -- doesn't it? Good to see both of you. Sanjay, let's start with you and let's talk about the young kids. Coming up through Pop Warner leagues and into high school programs, we know that there is concern about our youth and playing football. Eighty percent, let's show one of the results. Eighty percent of those polled said concussions are a serious issue for high school football.

That is an extraordinary amount. Do you sense we're going to see a way -- see the way the game is played change at all?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think so. I mean, I think that the -- you know, a few years ago, hardly anyone was talking about this issue and now just about everybody knows something about this issue. Although, you know, some obviously know more than others. There are people who are legitimately concerned and have expressed those concerns.

What is interesting, you just showed those numbers 80 versus 17. When you look at the NFL versus middle school and high school, I think we have some numbers on that, as well, whether people view the NFL less favorably because of the handling of the concussion crisis. I think about a third of people, roughly. I think 36 percent of people, according to our CNN poll say yes, that they actually view the NFL less favorably. So, there've been some actions by the NFL certainly to address this. And I think people have heard that part of the news, as well. But again, when it comes to middle school and high school, there appears to be more concern. These are kids versus NFL; these are adults. They've made some decisions about, you know, this particular career. So that's why you see the difference there.

BOLDUAN: And also, Andy, I want to get your take on this and kind of what this says about the game and about fans of the game. When you look at another element of the poll that we had asking if there are problems of injuries in the NFL, people seem to kind of be OK with injuries. They say it's just part of the game. I mean, they're clearly split, that it's something that needs to be done, 49 percent.

And then, also, when you account for the fact that taking a look at another one of our polls, does -- the bullying incident that we've talked so much about make you less favorable toward the NFL. Seventy- five percent said no. So people think that injuries are part of the game and bullying doesn't change the way they feel about the game. What do you think that means?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: When it all comes down to, I think people just want their football and no matter what happens outside of the game, they realize it is a violent sport. These guys were trained to hit each other on the field. And no matter what happens on the field or even in bullying incidents in the locker room, they're not going to stop watching the game of football and that's definitely been evident this year.

You know, halfway through the NFL season, 19 out of the most watched -- 19 out of the 20 of the most watched programs on TV this year have all been NFL games. The only program that was in there that wasn't an NFL game was the season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory". That must be a good show because I don't watch it. It must be good, though, because it's up there right with all the NFL games.

But it just goes to show really no matter what happens, people still want to sit and watch football like tomorrow on Thanksgiving. What happens on Thanksgiving, you eat turkey and you watch football.

CUOMO: Andy, look, even the title of the one show that wasn't football, "The Big Bang," why? Because it's a suggestion of violence. And doc, you know, this is one of the things we talked about with this. I know it makes me sound incorrect politically, but let's put harassment to the side. Let's put using the "N" word to the side.

Those are obvious wrongs that shouldn't be tolerated anywhere, but these discussions about how to change the game, you can't change the game in a way where you're not going to get your head hurt. You can't change the game in a way that it won't be violent. So, what do you see as the meaningful purpose of these discussions?

GUPTA: You're talking to this doctor or the other doctor?


CUOMO: You. You, Dr. Gupta. I'm coming at you, Sanjay, right before Thanksgiving.

GUPTA: You know, look, I think what's interesting is that a lot of people pay attention to the big hits as you're saying, Chris. And, you know, obviously, it draws a lot of fans and the viewership and all that. What is interesting and the science is really important here is that it's probably a lot of the combination of the smaller hits as well.

And these sub-concussive hits that seem to really play a role in developing this Alzheimer's-like disease that so many players including Brett Favre, Tony Dorsett recently talking about this, concerned about it. They haven't been diagnosed officially, but they're concerned about it. And I think that those sub-concussive hits play a real role here.

We also know at the middle school and high school level that so many of those sub-concussive hits take place during practices for example. They're banging their head over and over again as part of drills. So, while the game itself may not change, the idea of protecting the brain and not having as many kickoff returns which are the most dangerous part of the game, that part of it changes whether the viewers, the fans notice much of a difference.

Certainly, they notice what's taking place differently in practices. That could change the game. It could make people's brains more safer especially if you're playing essentially your whole life from a little kid onward.

PEREIRA: Let me ask you, I mean, forgive my ignorance. Fifty years ago, when we are playing football, were we seeing the extensive injuries that we're seeing in players? The game of the guys have gotten bigger, they're faster, they're hitting harder. Could we not go back to a time when it was not as vigorous of a game?

CUOMO: Smaller, slower people?

PEREIRA: It's unringing a bell. You can't do that, can you?

GUPTA: It's got to start, you know, at the lowest levels, because right now, the players in the NFL have been trained that, hey, no matter what, you go and make that hit, you tackle that player.

If you start at the lowest levels at Pop Warner in high school and in middle school as they say, hey, you don't lead with the head, you don't try to hit up high, you try to hit them in the shoulders or in the chest or down low, that's where it will start, but we wouldn't see that trickle down effect until those players eventually reach into the pros and that's, you know, five,10 years away.

PEREIRA: Well, thanks to both of our doctors today. OK. I now officially take your title away, doctor --


(CROSSTALK) PEREIRA: But it was a nice little segment -- Andy Scholes, we appreciate you joining us from "Bleacher Report." And of course, and you can catch Sanjay's show, "Sanjay Gupta MC." He is a real M.D. You don't need me to tell you that. It's on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 a.m. eastern. Andy Scholes will be joining Sanjay this weekend, so make sure to watch that duo. We appreciate both of you and Happy Thanksgiving, gentlemen.

SCHOLES: You got it. You as well.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CUOMO: Coming up on "NEW DAY", Mother Nature is bringing the hurt as well to all of us in the northeast on this Thanksgiving eve. Could the stronger winds spell disaster for that Thanksgiving Day parade? All the iconic balloons we supposed to go watch them blow them up with by kids today. What's going to happen? We'll tell you.

BOLDUAN: Plus, another test for Obamacare before the Supreme Court. The justices will be taking up a controversial provision of the health care law. We will break down the whole thing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just looking at that weather, that big green, pink, slop coming our direction, time to get out of the way.

CUOMO: D-day. Tens of millions hitting the roads and airports at this hour and that massive storm is hitting hard. Rain, snow, strong winds, snarling traffic on the ground and in the air.

BOLDUAN: Tough call. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade now at risk. High winds could ground its famous parade balloons. We're spread out across the storm zone this morning with everything you need to know.

PEREIRA: Major consequences for two big media figures. Alec Baldwin loses his cable talk show and Lara Logan now suspended from "60 Minutes". Did the punishments fit the crime?

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was painful. We could have gone to the Bahamas for a lot less, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day, no one can control Mother Nature.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the wind that could affect those balloons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have to fly. Somebody has got to make them fly.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.