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Balloons Will Fly; Storm Leaves Icy Chill Behind; New Obamacare Setbacks; New Obamacare Setbacks; Shopping Frenzy Begins Early

Aired November 28, 2013 - 08:00   ET


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But a tweet went out basically saying that the balloons are a go. So it's looking good.


CARROLL: That's certainly good news to the people here.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: He's providing a service not only to the viewers at home and at airports around the globe. But also right there on the streets of Manhattan. I love it. It's power to the people.

CARROLL: Absolutely.

PEREIRA: All right. Jason, and the thing they're concerned about there is if the winds are too strong, they can't control them. One will break free and somebody would get hurt. We've seen that happened before. That's not what we want to have happened on this Thanksgiving. So, they'll take the precautions.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Carroll delivering the news person to person if he has to.

PEREIRA: One at a time.

BERMAN: He will speak to every one of you to tell you the news if he has to. That was wonderful to see.

All right. The rain and snow have mostly passed, but the wind and ice, they will stick around for the holiday. The storm that rolled through a big part of the country Wednesday left a mess on its part, with icy roads, making for a tough day to get around, especially in the Northeast.

But despite the travel troubles, millions of Americans got the break they needed. They are waking up with friends and family this Thanksgiving.

Our Margaret Conley here in New York City with more.

Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it did take some people a lot longer to get home than they had hoped for. I was at LaGuardia Airport yesterday. They were dealing with crowds and with rain. But overall things went better than expected.


CONLEY (voice-over): You could call it the collective sigh of relief, heard up and down the East Coast, as millions of Americans race through crowds, rain and snow to get to their loved ones in time for the holidays, there were some inconveniences, but no major delays across the country.

Airports like LaGuardia in New York City pulled out the stops to keep traveler's spirits high and relieve stress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just missed my connection to Albany, and I'm hyperventilating.

CONLEY: Some people who traveled by plane were held up by the winter storm.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Weather caused delays and cancellations at airports along the East Coast.

CONLEY: While others were more lucky.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, the busiest airport in the world the holiday commute has been going well.

CONLEY: For those who made the journey by car there was heavy snow in states like Michigan and Ohio and train travelers on the east coast were momentarily stalled right at rush hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A disabled train in a tunnel had every train running late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave as orderly as you can.

CONLEY: Yet as the busiest travel day of the year drew to a close many families may have been delayed but they were reunited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expected to be delayed so we weren't too disappointed. We made it here on time, ready to go home and eat.


CONLEY: You see that at the beginning of the piece, LaGuardia Airport, they were so prepared. They had Christmas carolers out the day before Thanksgiving.

Well, Michaela, we made it through.

PEREIRA: So far so good. Of course, Sunday is the big, big travel day when folks are heading home, hopefully that will go smoothly as well. Margaret, thank you so much and happy Thanksgiving to you, darling.

CONLEY: You, too. PEREIRA: All right. Time for other headlines, let's turn to Pamela for those.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you all. Good morning to you at home.

Another accusation against the NSA about spying on world leaders. ABC News reports Canada allowed the NSA to spy on the G-8 and G-20 Summits in Ontario back in 2010, citing documents shared by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. They don't mention exact targets for the spying but say the operation was closely coordinated with Canada.

And Pope Francis will be making a trip to Israel. A source tells CNN the pope will be making his first trip to the Jewish state in May. The source says he'll be there the 25th and 26th though the Vatican has yet to confirm. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is headed to the Vatican next week for meetings with the Pope.

A political official in Pakistan publicly naming two CIA officials in a murder investigation. It stems from a drone strike that killed several people. CIA Director John Brennan was singled out and the other could be a high-ranking agent based in Pakistan whose identity was supposed to be secret. The Pakistani political official wants him to be on a list to prevent him from leaving the country. The U.S. authorities have not confirmed the accuracy of her claims.

And you're going to want to look at this -- incredible pictures the moment a powerful tornado strikes, tearing apart an Indiana school. Watch this, an EF2 twister struck last Sunday, motion sensitive security cameras were activated. You see the gymnasium suddenly flooded with outside light as pieces of its outer walls are torn away and in a hallway the lights flicker right before a load of ceiling tiles and dry wall crash through the ceiling, leaving an overhead light dangling there.

Unbelievable to see that proper spec perspective.

And quite a sight in the Cheyenne River in North Dakota, a large floating ice disc about 55 feet around that's spinning in the river.

PEREIRA: It's perfecting circular.

BERMAN: This is the X-Files here.

BROWN: Kind of like a record on a turntable, you could say. It was first spotted by a retired engineer who captured it on camera. It's apparently a natural phenomenon.

BERMAN: Yes, sure it is.


BROWN: Exactly, but most say not the work of aliens or something else you might want to come up with. Forecasters say similar discs have been discovered in Canada, Britain.


PEREIRA: Blame the Swedes and the Canadians.


BROWN: The conspiracy theorists are having a heyday.

PEREIRA: It's so perfectly round.

BROWN: It really is.

BERMAN: Calling, you know, the X-Files guys right now. What are there names, Sculley and Molder.

PEREIRA: We just dated ourselves.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

What is the weather going to be for the rest of this Thanksgiving weekend?

Let's go to Jennifer Gray, in for Indra Petersons.


Yes, most of the country enjoying amazing weather especially if you're in the South, mostly sunny, a cold start to the day but by this afternoon, your temperatures should rebound pretty seasonable in that part of the country. We're going to stay warm in the west and cold for the northeast. Of course, wind has been the big question, looks like they're cooperating this morning. New York City wins, about 9 miles per hour, seeing occasional gusts of around 25. But that's well below that criteria of when the balloons will or will not fly.

So we are good to go as of right now and throughout the day those winds are going to steadily diminish, and so by about 10:00 this morning, wind gusts should peak out around 30 miles per hour for New York City. And then look at this, by the end of the day, 6:00 this afternoon, only 10-mile-per-hour gusts so those winds will be dying down quickly as we go through the afternoon.

Here's your parade forecast, temperatures are going to be cold, with wind chills in the 20s with wind gusts in right around 29 miles, wind gusts of 29 miles per hour, sustained winds of about 18 miles per hour.

Still seeing a little bit of lake-effect snow in the north, places like Syracuse could pick up an additional four to six inches of snow and places like Erie could pick up an additional three to five inches.

So we are seeing a little bit more snow in the North, and as we go through the overnight hours, temperatures are going to be cold once again, seeing temperatures dip down right around that freezing mark in places like the Deep South, so for those shoppers who are going to head out and brave the elements, maybe getting some early deals, no thank you. I'll wait for Sunday and Monday.

PEREIRA: You know the hot shots, you got to be wearing in your gloves, snap them and keep your hands warm and maybe your feet, your hiney, sitting on the ground?

All right. Jennifer, thank you so much.


PEREIRA: Next up on "NEW DAY" a Thanksgiving day gut check that has nothing to do with your stomach. The White House would be thankful if the website made its rapidly approaching deadline, but the latest snag makes you wonder if it will happen.

BERMAN: Plus, why are we even calling it Black Friday anymore? The frenzy starting today before the gravy hits the mashed potatoes. Is it worth your while to join the madness?

We will find out when NEW DAY continues.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

There are new questions about the Obamacare rollout as tech teams race to find a work around for its troubled Web site.

CNN's Jill Dougherty is at the White House with the latest for us -- Jill.


You know, fixing this Web site is like trying to fix your car when it's barreling down the road at 90 miles an hour. They didn't shut it down and they're doing it even as this Web site is up.

So there's a team of experts that are working round the clock to try to make it happen, try to make it ready by their deadline, but there are still some problems.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): With just two days to go before a self- imposed deadline to get the Obamacare Web site working right, another delay, the Obama administration now says that won't be able to enroll small businesses for another year, after promising this, too, would be ready.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Will the shop Web site for small businesses that was delayed be fully functional during November?

MARILYN TAVENNER, ADMINISTRATOR, CMS: Yes, we will institute the shop component at the end of November.

DOUGHERTY: Republicans quick to pounce on the administration for announcing another delay just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor charging, "Once again, President Obama has unilaterally delayed another major portion of Obamacare and once again he's tried to bury bad news around a holiday, hoping nobody will notice."

Small businesses shopping for health care will be able to use direct enrollment with an insurer, agent or broker, but during a conference call with reporters, the administration was downplaying overall expectations.

JULIE BATAILLE, CMS SPOKESWOMAN: To be clear, November 30th does not represent a relaunch of It is not a magical date.

DOUGHERTY: The spokeswoman admits there will be times after November 30th when the Web site does not function properly. Programmers still have a lot of work to do.

The goal? Make sure it can handle 50,000 users at one time, yet there might be times when demand exceeds that and consumers will be directed to a virtual waiting line.


DOUGHERTY: In a technical change, HHS is switching their web hosting provider from a subsidiary of Verizon over to Hewlett-Packard because of, again, technical problems -- Michaela.

BERMAN: All right. It's actually, John, Jill, thank you so much. Stay warm. We can already see it's getting cold there.

Joining us to talk about all this right now is CNN political commentator and the host of "HuffPost Live", Marc Lamont Hill and from Washington, D.C., CNN political commentator and "New York Times" op-ed columnist Ross Douthat.

Marc, let me start with you here. First of all, happy Thanksgiving to you both.


BERMAN: And let me start with that, Marc. Do you think it's a happy Thanksgiving at the White House, with just two days to go before the self-imposed deadline?

HILL: If it is, it has nothing to do with Obamacare. They are in a bad situation.

Now, the issue with the shop market isn't as bad as people are saying. Obviously, small businesses having to wait is bad for public relations and bad because it compounds the narrative that Obamacare is broken, that government projects don't work.

But in the long-term, it will be fine. But nevertheless, Republicans are pouncing, as they should, because this is something that should be working and isn't. BERMAN: Ross, where is the line between public relations and reality here?

ROSS DOUTHAT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, we're sort of entering it over the next month to month and a half and I think marc is right that the small business was almost certain to be delayed, once it became clear over the last few weeks that December 1st wasn't going to be any kind of magical date, because that's a case where you aren't dealing with people buying on the individual market who are supposed to be getting subsidies.

You have a market that can function sort of normally by just going to brokers so they can sort of sweep that off the deck and just focus on what is the real potential crisis, which is if you can't get enough people on the website over the next month or so, then you're going to have a large population not only of the previously uninsured, the people that the website is supposed to be helping to begin with, but also all of these people whose plans have been canceled on the theory that they could go on the exchange and buy new plans there.

So, that's where the potential crisis -- the sort of immediate crisis lies. The longer term crisis is about the composition of the pool of people who sign up and there we won't have answers for months to come.

BERMAN: Now, that will take some time. Ross, you know, if you watch TV including CNN, you see Obamacare referred to as a debacle, the messy rollout, the rough rollout, the glitches, the this, the thats. If you ask Americans, they say 53 percent, a majority say, it's still too early to judge the success of this. Are you surprised, Ross, in how patient people seem to be?

DOUTHAT: No. I mean, I think, look, this has always been the issue for Republicans and conservatives, myself included, who are critical of the law, that there is a real underlying problem here. You know, America has a large number of uninsured people who are essentially unfairly discriminated against because they don't get the kind of tax breaks on insurance that people who get it through their employers get.

You have people with pre-existing conditions and so on. And, so, no, I don't think it's surprising that the American people do want -- they still want some form of health care reform. And so, the challenge for Republicans amid this debacle is to figure out a way to propose constructive solutions improvements and constructive replacements.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I want to meet the eight percent who think this thing is a success already. Like, who are the eight percent 8% of Americans who say this is awesome as it is right now. But the 53 percent who say this is too early to tell, I think they're absolutely right. I think it's a problematic idea to say that a month into a rollout, six weeks into a rollout, something's not working and cannot work.

That's the problem. And the bulk of Americans, I mean, we're split almost 41 percent to 40 percent of Americans who think ultimately that this is still a good project and many of the people, another 14 percent say it is not liberal enough. So, most Americans are not railing against Obamacare the way the public narrative is suggesting from Republicans.

BERMAN: Go ahead, Ross.

DOUTHAT: But I will say that the potential downside here for the administration is that if this continues not to go well, the number of people directly affected by it is only going to go up, because right now, it's disruptive for people who bought insurance on the individual market. Increasingly over the next year or two, it's going to be disruptive for people in the employer market as well because the Obamacare regulations apply there.

There's a tax on high value insurance plans that kicks in and so on. And so, they do in fact need to get the system working and get it a little bit more popular, because otherwise, you're just going to have a sort of rolling series of Obamacare losers in the headlines.

BERMAN: And this date, this November 30th date, you're talking about Sunday here where the White House has said they want the website to be 80 percent functional, it's a big deal. The White House needs this to be up and working, but yet, they're telling supporters, they're telling allied groups, don't go out and tell your people to use the site just now. We don't want it to be overloaded. That's a weird message.

HILL: -- manage expectations. Right now, the website has the capacity for about 50,000 people at one time. Anyone over that 50,000 K number will likely put into a virtual waiting line. They don't want is 500,000 people going to the site, the site crashes, and it looks awful all over again. They'd like a structured delayed rollout so that 50,000 people at a time go. They don't need people to go in next month.

People can go in two months, three months and if that happens, you'll see a much more functional website.

DOUTHAT: But a lot of people do -- I mean, this is the issue again. A lot of people do have to go in the next month because you have large numbers of people who already had insurance on the individual market who need a place to buy it and that's why the deadline matters and then the underlying question that we just can't answer right now is what's happening on the back end of the website, right?

We can have a sense of how many people can access it and enroll at the front end at one time, but the administration has been very, I think, cagey is the word that people have used about how things are going actually then transmitting that information to insurers and making sure that people are actually enrolled in the plans they think they're enrolled in, which again, there are just a lot of potential looming mini debacles ahead still.

BERMAN: Let me put this to you quickly for an answer here. Six weeks from now, will we still be using the word debacle? Marc?

HILL: No. Absolutely not. We'll be saying rousing success. BERMAN: You're not being serious.


HILL: No, I'm not being serious. We will be saying is that this is much better. It's much improved. It's accessible and it's a work in progress. That's a lot better than what we're saying right now.


DOUTHAT: I think work in progress is the best case scenario and continued debacle is the worst. I think that it is very likely that six weeks from now, nobody will be talking about Obamacare as a political plus. I think it's very likely that this is going to be a problem for the administration and for Democrats all the way through 2014 even if things seem to be improving on the margins.

BERMAN: Ross Douthat, Marc Lamont Hill, great to see you this morning. Thanks for coming in. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and yours.

HILL: Happy Thanksgiving.

DOUTHAT: Happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks, John. Next up on NEW DAY, holiday sales already on at some stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving. But is it too early and could it actually cost you more? We'll have some answers.

And of course, being Thanksgiving, we have really good, good stuff today. It is a cop putting his life on the line to save a driver, pulling him from a burning car. That hero will be here in just a few minutes.


PEREIRA: Nothing like a Little Kool and the Gang to get our Thanksgiving Day started. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, November 28th. We wish all of you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. Chris and Kate have the day off. John Berman, Pamela Brown and I are here to hold the --

BERMAN: You're cool, where the gang?


PEREIRA: I'll go with that. I'll go with that. Listen, we've got this great video we want to show you. We talked about this on NEW DAY earlier this week. A dash cam catches a hero in action. This police officer risking his own life to save this man from a burning truck. New Jersey police officer, Scott Cressinger (ph), sprints towards a burning truck, dragging the driver to safety. He goes back to check for other passengers. That man, that hero will join us to tell us what was exactly going through his mind in that instant

BERMAN: Amazing. Plus, if you have a kitchen crisis this Thanksgiving, the butterball hotline could be your salvation. We will hear from the very first man to become part of the famous turkey talk line. He has some tips to get you through this very difficult day.

PEREIRA: But first, let's get to Pamela right now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. That's right. Time now for the five things to know for your NEW DAY.


BROWN (voice-over): Well, first up, they will fly. The news we've been waiting for this morning. The balloons are a go at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. That should begin in just about 30 minutes from now, but they will sail a little lower than normal because of the winds today.

And the remnants of the pre-holiday storm that slammed much of the country are moving out over the Atlantic. Icy roads were left behind in some areas, but most people managed to travel in time for Thanksgiving.

Three young sisters detailing more of what they went through in a Tucson home saying they were locked in their rooms, blasted with music 24 hours a day. Their mother and stepfather are charged with child abuse and kidnapping.

At number four, a hostage standoff near L.A. is now over with the suspected gunman in custody. Police officer was shot during the nine- hour drama but saved by his bullet proof vest. The hostages were a woman and her teenage daughter and they are said to be OK.

And at number five, a Louis Vuitton told to get the giant trunk out of Moscow's Red Square. The upscale French label put it there as a publicity stunt. Well, needless to say, many Russians and tourists were not amused.


BROWN (on-camera): Of course, we are always updating the five things to know, so go for the very latest -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Thanks so much, Pamela, appreciate it.

Can you not wait for Black Friday? Well, you don't have to. A growing number of big name retailers are opening this morning, some of them are already open. That means that people are already out in stores, but is joining them in line or at the stores a good move for your wallet? Marshal Cohen is chief industry analyst for NPD Group, the company analyzes trends in retail sales. Thank you for joining us on this Thanksgiving morning.


PEREIRA: And this is a trend to look at, and I'm sure you're paying close attention to. I was thinking about the fact that Thanksgiving used to be the one holiday that wasn't commercialized. That's changing now. And is it something that we should support?

COHEN: Well, supporting that's a personal choice, but really, what's happened is recognize this is almost something that's been waiting to happen. You know, retailers have commercialized almost all of the non-religious holiday, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, President's Day. They've turned it into a sale opportunity.

We're going to seeing now marketing with automobile makers, even print advertising, all kinds of people going out and using Black Friday as a marketing tool. Now, let's put it into perspective. It's really about the brick and mortar retailers who, the stores, who have said we can't let the online retailers have Thanksgiving all to themselves. So, they've had to find ways to kind of cross over the line and get into Thanksgiving Day shopping.

BERMAN: Are there actual deals to be had, though? A lot of talk the last few days that the sales maybe aren't everything people say they are.

COHEN: You know, we're kind of caught in a crux because we're spoiled a little bit. During the recession and shortly after the recession, we had unbelievable deals, 75 off. Well, those deals are gone for a little while, hopefully, gone for a long while, but it's really about recognizing a really good deal is an item that's a doorbuster item.

So, take advantage of the doorbuster deals, those are items that stores almost know that the prices are too good to resist and they build it in well ahead of time.

BERMAN: How do you know when a product is a doorbuster deal as opposed to a sale?

COHEN: It's advertised as such. When you see a toaster for $4.99, grab it.


COHEN: Why? Simply because that's the kind of item that they recognize. They're not looking to make money on that item. They're looking to use it as a lure to get you in. it's basically a loss leader (ph) item. What they do is they bank on the fact that you buy one or two doorbuster items and you buy six or seven of all the other items.

So, it's really about recognizing that what they're trying to do is generate extra business. Keep in mind, 25 percent of what's bought during Black Friday weekend is bought for themselves. People are buying self-gifts. They're buying things that they want for themselves. I don't know how many people you know go out and buy big screen TVs and give them away as a gift.

PEREIRA: Yes, that's a good point.

BERMAN: It's hard to fit in a stocking.

PEREIRA: You actually say that you've got the secret to holiday shopping. What exactly is your secret?

COHEN: basically, here's the secret.


COHEN: The secret is go in, if you see an item, then you like it, buy it. And if it's on sale, definitely buy it. Why? Because it's now -- now is the time when you're going to get the pick of the litter. You're going to be able to buy your size, your color, the model or the style that you want. If you wait another two weeks, the styles start to get beat up. They start to get worn out. They start to, you know, lose the ability to be able to get the right stock.

So, you're getting remnants. The key here is save your receipt. Stores, particularly now, are saying we'll give you up to 30 days and we'll credit you. You don't even have to bring the item back. Just bring the receipt in and they'll credit you the difference. They may give you a gift card or a store card, but they're going to give you the difference for the price. So even if you find something for less money later, you've already now had the perfect size and perfect color.

PEREIRA: Oh, OK. Act now --

BERMAN: Is there any proof that by opening on Thursday, these companies, these stores are making more money?

COHEN: Well, it's really not about making more money. It's about protecting their space. The stores can't afford to let someone else get their business just like they couldn't let online do it. They don't want the competition to do it.