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Watching The Wind; Three Sisters Held Captive; World Cup Stadium Badly Damaged; Syria Commits To Geneva Peace Talks

Aired November 28, 2013 - 05:30   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And, have you seen this? A man in a burning pickup truck. Well, he has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. He is alive this morning. Thanks to a hero cop.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Amazing pictures there.



BERMAN (on-camera): Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

BROWN (on-camera): And Happy Thanksgiving, of course. I'm Pamela Brown on this Thursday, November 28th. We appreciate you joining us this morning, 5:30 in the east.

Well, the worse appears to be over. We seemed to have dodged a bullet from the pre-Thanksgiving storm that barreled across the country this week. It was enough to slow travel but not stop it on one of the busiest get-away days of the year.

BERMAN: Maybe not as bad as people thought. There were some airport delays reported along the east coast. Hubs in Philadelphia and New York reported slowdowns, but most people made it to their destinations with little or no delays.

BROWN: The final remnants of the weather system are moving through the northeast and over the Atlantic today. And some spots did get some rough weather, including parts of Michigan. Cold air moved in producing snow around the Great Lakes. Take a look. Some rough driving conditions up there.

BERMAN: Up to a foot of snow fell in parts of Pennsylvania. Crews there keeping busy with the snow plows and salt spreaders. Forecasters also worry even with the snow and rain almost gone, the cold temperatures could keep roads icy over the next few days.

BROWN: Drivers should be very careful there.

In Western New York also hit with lots of snow. Take a look at the roadways in Buffalo and Rochester. Sleek conditions making for a tough drive there with power outages complicating matters. Talk to people from the area, though. They say they are used to it. No big deal, just take it slow.

BERMAN: And there were some people who did not get where they were going for the Thanksgiving holiday. 308 flights into or out of the U.S. were canceled yesterday. That's according to Not as bad as many experts feared. Many of those were trips that were supposed to arrive or depart from Philadelphia and in New York area.

BROWN: Well, with the worst of the severe weather behind us now, one big question remains unanswered. Will Snoopy and Woodstock fly? Three and a half million expected guests, many of them tourists, are crossing their fingers and praying to the weather gods right now. That's because the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is set to begin in 3-1/2 hours.

And with high winds whipping through Manhattan, Spongebob, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the big balloon game could be grounded. We're going to get more now from Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the crowds are certainly out here in the upper west side, excited about seeing the balloons in the parade. Yes?


CARROLL: A lot of excitement. They're looking at Sonic, the Hedgehog here down the way there. You also have Hello Kitty and some of the other 16 giant balloons. Sixteen giant balloons in all in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Still a question in terms of whether or not they will end up flying.

We spoke to the man who is ultimately going to be the one making that decision. He is the instant commander for the New York City Police Department. He says he's obviously going to be checking the weather reports. They're going to be checking the wind gauges along the parade route as well. The final decision won't come until right before the parade is expected to start. Obviously, a lot of fingers are crossed out here hoping that the balloons will end up flying.


BERMAN: You know, I was talking to Gary Tuchman and Jason about this last night. There are balloons that are actually on top of vehicles. They're called balloonicles. And they will be part of the parade no matter what. So --

BROWN: OK. So, we'll still have some balloons regardless.

BERMAN: Something will be going on in this parade even if the big ones aren't flying.

BROWN: It's comforting to know. Thanks.

BERMAN: Thirty-three minutes after the hour. It has been a real adventure for millions of Americans who are flying or driving on a Thanksgiving holiday, thanks to that monster nor'easter. Meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, is here. And the question a lot of people are asking is, is the worse over?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Simple answer is yes.

BERMAN: oh, good. We'll take it.

GRAY: There still could be some snow on the ground, of course, for portions of the northeast including places like upstate New York still dealing with some lake-effect snow there. In fact, had impressive snow totals during the past 48 hours or so. Pennsylvania had about a foot of snow in some portions and then Kent, Ohio about five inches of snow.

And so, we had quite a bit, but the big story with this storm was the rain. We had a lot of rain all up and down the east coast and Danbury, Connecticut, three inches of rain and then we had almost three inches of rain in Charlotte, North Carolina, D.C. more than two inches of rain and then here in New York City, Central Park, almost two inches of rain.

All the rain has pushed out, and so, now we are just left with those very chilly temperatures, in the 30s in the northeast this morning. Most of the middle portions of the country in the 20s, but it's feeling even cooler. The wind chill for today in New York City is not going to get out of the 20s despite the high temperature forecasted to be in the mid-30s. The reason? The wind.

We are going to have winds anywhere from 10 to 20 miles per hour gusting even higher, but most of your Thanksgiving across the country, not so bad. We're going to be cold in the east. Mostly sunny in the south, and so, of course, the big question on everyone's mind, will the balloons fly?

Guys, right now, just below criteria. So, hopefully, it will stay that way. The winds should be gradually dying down throughout the day, though.

BROWN: All right. We hope that it stays that way. And as Jason said, we're going to find out just before the parade starts whether or not they're going to fly. Thank you so much, Jennifer.

And we are learning more this morning about a house of horrors in Arizona where three young sisters say they were held captive for two years. The outside world is getting a first glimpse inside the Tucson home where investigators say the girls ages 12, 13, and 17 were held separately. The malnourished sisters told detectives they lived in squalor, their doors locked and alarmed, and tortured by a barrage of loud music or white noise day and night.

They described how their mother and step-father monitored their every move. They hadn't showered in months, they say. The two younger girls told police they escaped after their step-father kicked in their door and tried to attack them. They ran to a neighbor's home. That neighbor didn't want to appear on camera but spoke to a CNN affiliate reporter. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we came to the door and heard these children, young people and didn't know who they were because we thought maybe they were our other neighbors, but when we had had the door halfway open and they were in, I didn't recognize them. And I said, where do you live? And they motioned to the house over here.

I said, we never see you guys. And she said something to the effect, well, they don't want us to be seen or something to that effect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there was kids, they never came out and played. You know what I mean? We have kids all over this neighborhood and they had to try extra hard to keep themselves secluded, you know, because obviously, somebody would have noticed something, you know?


BROWN: The girls' own mother, 32-year-old Sophia Richter, and step- father, 34-year-old, Fernando Richer, are charged with child abuse and kidnapping. The step-father is also charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child under 15. More charges are expected.

BERMAN: It's an awful story. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour.


BERMAN (voice-over): No time for turkey or the trimmings (ph) for the White House technology team just (ph) trying to fix the Obamacare website. Crews are scrambling to get up and running by the weekend. And they're building a website work around. It's called "Easy App." This is according to the "Washington Post."

It will allow people who are eligible for financial assistance to enroll for coverage without calculating the exact subsidy amount. Now, this is not expected to go over well with the insurance companies. They don't like working with estimates. They think it could put them in a bad way if the real subsidies don't equal what they do estimate.

BROWN (voice-over): Well, Verizon is out, Hewlett-Packard is in as the new network host of the federal health insurance marketplace site. Administration officials say the change in providers is not related to the problems with website. They insist HP was contracted this past summer well before the rollout.

BERMAN: A nine-hour standoff between a barricaded gunman and police in Inglewood, California has ended peacefully. Two officers were wounded, one of them by a bullet. It all began when the unidentified gunman took his girlfriend and her 14-year-old daughter hostage. When police arrived, he opened fire, hitting one of the officers.

Another officer got hurt in a fall. The suspect is in custody this morning after finally agreeing to come out of the house with his hands up. The two hostages are safe. No word yet about a possible motive. BROWN: An incredible story here. A New Jersey cop is getting credit for saving a man's life. Look at this video. Officer Scott Krizinger (ph) pulled a 61-year-old man from a burning pickup truck in Cape May on Monday and then dragged him to safety. The victim identified as Gerald Ferrell (ph) was air-lifted to a local hospital. He's in critical but stable condition right now and is expected to recover.

Witnesses tell police Ferrell was riding on a flat tire and his pickup truck was making a loud noise before it burst into flames.

BERMAN: Amazing! What a hero there.


BERMAN: Right now, the Black Friday has morphed into Black Thursday. Angry shoppers are threatening to both boycott stores that are opening early on this Thanksgiving Day. They claim Black Friday has swallowed Thanksgiving, robbing workers of the chance to spend time with their families. There's even a badge circulating on Facebook where people can pledge not to shop today.

They're targeting stores like Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart and K-Mart. K- Mart is opening its doors at about 20 minutes with plans remain open for 41 straight hours.

BROWN: And in Afghanistan, a taste of home for U.S. troops. More than 50,000 service members are spending the holiday there again. It's the military's 12th Thanksgiving in Afghanistan. It isn't easy giving them a proper holiday meal. That means turkey, more than 70,000 pounds of it. The defense department says it's more than worth it, though of course, to support the men and women sacrificing so much for all of us.

BERMAN: And this is the least we can do. I know it's very, very appreciated over there.


BERMAN (on-camera): Coming up, a deadly crane collapse in Brazil. A stadium under construction for next summer's World Cup sustaining huge damage. The question is, did contractors cut corners to beat a tight deadline?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Staff Sergeant Siget Ray (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my name is Staff Sgt. Andrei Hall (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Andrei (ph), Julian, and Sonny.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in Clarkesville, Tennessee.

(CHANTING) I love you!



BERMAN: The latest now on that deadly crane accident at a soccer stadium under construction in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Two people were killed and there is now an enormous amount of damage to a critical venue for the 2014 World Cup. Let's get more now from Shasta Darlington.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least two workers were killed at the construction site of the stadium set to host the opening match of the World Cup here in Brazil. The accident happened when a crane at the Sao Paulo venue fell over and a huge chunk of roofing came crashing down on the site. It's a tragedy for workers but also a blow to Brazil as it gears up for this huge sporting event next June.

A total of 12 arenas are building built or refurbished for the World Cup, and this obviously races questions about the quality of the work. In fact, the Sao Paulo Stadium was being built by Brazil's biggest and best known construction company, Odebrecht, for Sao Paulo's most popular football club, Corinthians.

We visited the construction site earlier this week, and it was actually pretty impressive. Most of the seats were in, all but one piece of the roofing had been installed. The grass was down. They told us the stadium was 95 percent done. They also said there'd be an inaugural game in January between Corinthians and the workers. The accident will obviously delay works. Initially, stadium official say they'll resume construction on Monday.

Either way, it's looking very unlikely that the stadium will meet the end of December deadline set by FIFA and even more important it just won't be the happy event that so many Brazilian fans had wanted.

BERMAN: A lot of p unhappy people about this. CNN reached out to the construction company, Odebrecht. They said the accident is under investigation. There will not be any comment until the investigation has been completed.

BROWN: Well, CNN shares your holiday travel pain. We sent three correspondents on a mission to see who could get from New York to Washington the fastest. Nic Robertson took a plane, Lisa Dejardins took the train, and Brian Todd took the car. Well, Nic the flier, arriving first. It took him three hours. I guess, no big surprise there.

Lisa, the train passenger coming in second and took her four and a half hours. And Brian Todd, the driver, was last but still sprinting to the finish line as you see here. It took him five hours and 15 minutes.

BERMAN: And one of the really cruel thing, I think Brian's producer, Julian Cummings (ph), I think he drove back last night after -- so, he drove down with Brian and drove back last night.

BROWN: And not only that. I was with Julian at 5:30 in the morning driving around. So, he was my producer at 5:30 in the morning.


BERMAN: Wow! OSHA is calling right now. Someone has got some explaining to do.

BROWN: It was a fair tradeoff, though, along the way. That's how that works out.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-six minutes after the hour. Let's take a look what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Michaela Pereira joins us now.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, what, we should have also done the test on who was the most frazzled? I'm going to go with Brian Todd, sitting in traffic and having to sweat that out is probably the most frazzling, don't you think?

BERMAN: Although, Nic Robertson was having to, you know, weather accusations (ph) of malfeasance that he cheated, somehow.

PEREIRA: -- a first class seat to me. What do you think?


PEREIRA: What do you think?

Guys, the three of us are together on Thanksgiving, and I kind of love that. We're going to have a sort of a Thanksgiving themed show today. Obviously, the big story is the parade, the Macy's Parade here in New York City. We know millions will be lining the streets of Manhattan to watch this in person. Even millions more of you will be enjoying the parade from the comfort of your warm and cozy home.

Now, here's the big question, though. Will those legendary balloons that tower over the city, will they fly or not? This is the issue, wind. We don't know if the wind is going to tolerate -- is going to stand up to the levels that we need them to stay under for these balloons to fly. So, we're going to be along the parade route taking a look at this and seeing what officials are saying and let you know if those parade balloons will be floating or not.

Also, we've been showing you see this amazing dash cam video. You saw it already this morning. We showed it to you yesterday on "NEW DAY." A hero cop risking his own safety to save a man in that burning pickup truck. The hero, himself, Officer Scott Krizinger (ph) will be here today to talk about why he did it and what he was thinking. Sometimes, you find though is that people just react, they don't think, they react.

And I'm wondering if that's the case with this officer. He's joining us live today on "NEW DAY." I can't wait to see him in person.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much, Michaela.

PEREIRA: You're welcome.

BROWN: See you soon.

BERMAN: It is time now for our "Morning Rhyme." This is the best tweets of the day. And today, this is appropriate. It comes from Jason Flores who writes, "As you eat turkey and pass the gravy, let's give thanks to those serving in the marines, army, air force and navy." Very, very --

BROWN: Love that.

BERMAN: And we do give thanks to all of them. You can come up with your own morning rhyme anytime. Tweet us. The hash tags are morning rhyme and EARLY START.

BROWN: And coming up right here on EARLY START on this Thanksgiving, we're going to take you inside Syria where official say they will participate in peace talks in Geneva in January but only one condition. That story after this Thanksgiving wish.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I'm Cathy Maria Quinn (ph) at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Happy Thanksgiving to my sweet family. My husband who's also in the Air Force and currently deployed to (INAUDIBLE) and also to my family in Seattle, Jim, Denise, Jamie, Christopher, and Lauren. Thanks for my little goody! And finally, to my family in Philadelphia, John, Patty, Steve, Mary Kate, Merry Christmas. I love everybody and I cannot wait to see you at Christmas.



BROWN: And welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. The Syrian government says it will participate in peace talks in Geneva two months from now to try to negotiate an end to the country's bloody civil war there. And a top government official is warning anyone who thinks President Assad won't be involve in the talks is dreaming. Here is Fred Pleitgen in Damascus.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Syrian government says that once this Geneva cue (ph) talks to move forward as fast as possible, they don't want any more delays. And they also said that these talks need to happen without any sort of preconditions. I had an interview yesterday with the deputy foreign minister of this country and he shot down all the demands that the opposition was making before the talks take place.

One of the things that the opposition wants is they want guarantees that Bashar al-Assad will not even be part of any sort of transitional body that might be agreed upon in these talks. The deputy foreign minister said that he believes Bashar Assad is the legitimate president of this country and if, indeed, Bashar were to be ousted from office, it would have to be via the ballot box via some sort of referendum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our decision is to put all that we agree upon to a referendum by the Syrian people because the Syrian people is the owner of the final decision.


PLEITGEN: Another thing that the opposition is demanding is that they want humanitarian corridors to be set up here in this country for aid to reach some of the areas that are under siege by the government. The government told us that that's not going to happen before the conference takes place, but it is something that they are willing to talk to the international community about to try to make that happen within the next couple of weeks.

The big question still is which opposition is actually going to show up at these talks? The Syrian national coalition, which is the main opposition group that's backed by the United States and other western countries has said it will participate, however, the free Syrian army, which is one of the main fighting forces here on the ground has said it doesn't only not want to participate, but it's also not going to agree to any sort of ceasefire as long as these talks are going on.


BROWN: Coming up right here on EARLY START, he won $20,000 for this incredible half-court shot! But because he is so honest, he might have to give every penny back. That story straight ahead.


BROWN: On this Thanksgiving morning, Cameron Rodriguez (ph) is hoping he'll have something to be very thankful for and here's why.


BROWN (voice-over): Cameron collected a check for $20,000 earlier this month when he hit a half-court shot right here during a halftime contest at an NBA game, but he may have to give the money back. Cameron plays on the basketball team at Southwestern College in Kansas and it's against NAIA rules for him to get paid for playing. A ruling could come any day now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN (on-camera): So, we're going to hear from Cameron Rodriguez (ph) later this morning when he joins us live on "NEW DAY."

Well, that's it for early start. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, see the balloons live will be incredible. I'm hoping that the winds hold up and that we'll be able to see them go through the parade and be up in the air.

PEREIRA: Up in the air. The Thanksgiving morning, a tradition could be grounded. High winds may keep Macy's balloons from flying. We're live from the parade as officials make that call.

BERMAN: Delayed. We are just two days from the deadline the administration set. Will the Obamacare website be up and running as the White House pushes back another key part of the law?

PEREIRA: Dine and dash. Millions set to eat then shop this holiday. More stores open on Thanksgiving Day than ever before. Is it worth the mad rush?

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


PEREIRA: Good morning and welcome to "NEW DAY" this Thursday, November 28th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. And we want to say a very Happy Thanksgiving to you. Chris and Kate are off, but John Berman is here with me. We're here together on Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: It's like a Thanksgiving present.

PEREIRA: You brought the pie.


PEREIRA: I have the turkey handle.

BERMAN: You'll be happy I brought no food. We're all better off without my cooking, believe me.

PEREIRA: Well, today, of course, is the big parade, and we, along with millions of Americans, are waiting to see if the real stars in the Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will take flight this morning, those giant character balloons that everyone love that soar above the parade route. Here's the deal, gusty winds here in New York this morning are threatening to, perhaps, ground the likes of Snoopy, Spongebob and Spidey.

CNNs Jason Carroll is live along the parade route. Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving to you. When I came in this morning, it wasn't too windy. How are conditions out there?

CARROLL: Yes. Yes. Actually, it's feeling pretty good out here, Michaela, so far. We've had some mild gusts, but nothing major to speak of, at least, so far. If you take a look behind me, you can see, look, you've got Snoopy, you've got the Macy's stars, you've got sandbags holding them down for now.

In terms of what's happening with the parade and whether or not (INAUDIBLE) or not (INAUDIBLE) until the parade gets underway at 9:00 a.m.


CARROLL (voice-over): Sixteen giant balloons are filled and ready for liftoff. Thousands showing up Wednesday night to get a look at the helium-filled stars of the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade hoping they soar high above New York City later this morning.