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Black Friday Frenzy; Wal-Mart Targeted By Protesters; Two Explosions Near U.S. Air Base

Aired November 29, 2013 - 05:30   ET


JASON CARROLL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Jason Carroll.

ROSA FLORES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rosa Flores. Thank you so much for joining us. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

CARROLL: It is now time to break out the bargain hunting shoes. Black Friday is in full swing. The National Retail Federation says 33 million Americans will grab their checkbooks, dust off their credit cards, that might be a mistake, and head to the stores Friday. In fact, the spending frenzy has already begun. Zain Asher live for Macy's in Herald Square. Zain, are out there shopping or you're just reporting?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just reporting and talking to a lot of shoppers, Jason. I'm actually in the ground floor of Macy's right now. Not too much in the terms of deals, but lot of designers are here, but the deals are mainly upstairs. Women's clothing, kids clothing is what I'm told. Macy's actually opened for the first time ever on Thanksgiving yesterday.

I spoke to Macy's executive. He told me that was a pretty easy decision to make, because last year, they opened at midnight. They had 11,000 people waiting outside. This year, they opened at eight o'clock on Thanksgiving. They had 15,000 people waiting outside. I'm joined by a shopper now. His name is Sacha. Sasca, you shop regularly on Black Fridays. Tell me, how do you know a good deal when you see one?

SACHA BRYANT, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: I know a good deal when I see one. When I see something going for more than 50 percent off, that's a great deal. You can't beat that.

ASHER: And you tell me that you do a lot of research. So, what advice can you give to other shoppers in terms of doing research?

BRYANT: Go online, compare, compare, and compare. When you get in the store, you're going to know whether you got a good deal or not.

ASHER: And you came at 2:00 in the morning, right? OK. So, why not earlier? Why didn't you start a little bit earlier?

BRYANT: I was a little stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner.

(LAUGHTER) BRYANT: Got here at two o'clock, though. Got at 2:00. I got great deals.

ASHER: Great deals?

BRYANT: Great deals.

ASHER: OK. Thank you so much.

So, in terms of other advice, by the way, just quickly, Jason, we're told that, you know, there are several websites out there like Pricegrabber where you can type in your item before you leave your house and use it to compare against what other retailers are selling the item for. And also by the way, one tip I'm getting, Jason, from other shoppers is that you should keep your receipts because, obviously, when the adrenaline rush is over, you want to be able to change the item if you change your mind.

CARROLL: You know, what's incredible to me, Zain, you say 15,000 shoppers outside there and no problems?

ASHER: Yes. Absolutely. No problem that we've heard of at all. 15,000 people outside Macy's yesterday, eight o'clock for Thanksgiving. They opened for the very first time on Thanksgiving yesterday. They said it was a good decision. No regrets -- Jason.

CARROLL: All right. Zain Asher, Zain, thanks very much.

FLORES: Now, some shoppers could have some issues. Nationwide protests are planned at more than 1,500 Wal-Mart stores today. Wal- Mart workers are hoping to use Black Friday to draw attention to what they describe as low wages and retaliation against employees who criticize the company. Protesters expect an even better turnout than last Black Friday when hundreds walked off the job in 46 states.

Groups advocating for Wal-Mart workers say the company made $17 billion in profits and they want more full-time jobs and a minimum of $25,000 a year salaries for those who seek it. Meanwhile, some store owners and customers are unhappy about Thanksgiving becoming commercialized.

In New Hampshire, the owner of a Sears hometown store refused to open on the holiday. Holly Cassiano (ph) says the deals are the same on Friday, so there's really no reason to rush.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just bypass this and say that the dollar figure is more important than us being with our families, it's unacceptable.


FLORES: And customers at the store like that she refused to open. Some even sent flowers and cards to show their support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of people that have young kids. They don't need to be working. Even though they need the money, they need to be home with their family.


FLORES: Cassiano (ph) is following corporate rules today open at 6:00 a.m. And coming up in the seven o'clock hour, Wal-Mart CEO, Bill Simon, will join us. We'll ask him about Black Friday shopping and the worker protests as well.

CARROLL: And despite protests from workers, the shopping mayhem started early on Thursday and, in some cases, turned a little ugly.



CARROLL (voice-over): The spirit of the holiday disappeared for these shoppers in West Palm Beach, Florida. The doors barely opened and they were at each other's throats.

But at a different story -- a different story in New York City. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was barely a memory when the doors at the flagship store were opened. Ecstatic shoppers charging in hungry for all of those bargains.

And at Toys "R" Us, it was good cheer. The spirit of Thanksgiving energized the (INAUDIBLE) when the doors were opened there, but patience certainly was a virtue on Black Thursday. Long lines, the order of the day. Scenes like this one in South Florida played out over and over again across the country.

So, if you're not one for all of those crowds, a convenient alternative may be Cyber Monday when retailers are set up to offer even steeper discounts online.

FLORES (voice-over): 3.5 million people got what they came for on Thanksgiving Day. They got to see the big balloons fly at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The balloons flew a little lower, we should say this year than usual, because of the gusting winds, but they did fly. And no one seemed to care. Aside from a couple of minor collisions with three branches and a few scrapes on the pavement, all of the balloons made it to the finish line in one piece and so did Jason Carroll because Jason was out there!


CARROLL: Yes. There were some thoughts that those balloons were not going to be able to fly because the wind was going to be too strong, but the wind cooperated. It was cold out there.

FLORES: We had our fingers crossed.

CARROLL: It was chilly.


CARROLL (on-camera): But it was great. We had a really good time. So a lot of balloons. It was fun. It was a lot of fun.

Lots of Black Friday, that's what we're talking about today. Black Friday is the order of the day. Lots of shoppers out there head out the door, wondering --



CARROLL: Yes, being very great. And wondering if the weather is going to be just as good today as it was tomorrow. But, of course, we've got Jennifer here with the answers to that.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And they really are lucking out. It is cold. It's very cold. But at least, we're not dealing with the rain or a lot of snow. Yes. Just bundle up. We are seeing a very, very quiet setup for the next couple of days. That storm system well offshore. High pressure in control in the northeast, also in the southeast, southwest. Barely a drop of rain, snow, anything on the national map.

We are seeing a little bit of rain pulling into the Pacific Northwest, but other than that, it is very, very quiet across the entire nation. The big story is still the chill. We are cold. Boston, your high today 32 degrees. Fifteen degrees below normal and Philly about 14 degrees below normal at 40 degrees for today. Your high temperature in Pittsburgh, 34. And that's 16 degrees below normal.

Still going to be cold on Saturday with those temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below normal, but then by Sunday, things start to get a little bit closer to normal. We'll be back in the 40s in the northeast and we'll be looking a little bit better. For the rest of the country, here is your outlook for today. A lot of sunshine dominating most of the country with temperatures in the 50s across the south. A little bit cooler up in the north, and then, the entire country just gradually warms up by Sunday.

FLORES (on-camera): Yay!

CARROLL: Yes. It's nice to have a quiet day after all those storms on Wednesday -- the travel day. So nice to see it quiet.

GRAY: Yes, it's nice.

CARROLL: All right. Thanks very much, Jennifer.

The Obama administration's own deadline to fix the website is tomorrow.


CARROLL (voice-over): The White House is promising smoother sailing on the site for most people as opposed to the hair pulling experience from the October 1st launch. Earlier this week, there was another setback. Small businesses won't be able to enroll online for another year.

FLORES (voice-over): The million dollar question is, can the website hack it? White House officials are afraid a big spike in traffic could cause problems and sources in the insurance industry tell CNN, there's no way the site can be completely fixed by tomorrow. One government official has already tried to temper expectations saying that November 30th, well, isn't some magical date and that the site will still have issues.

CARROLL: Well, it's not all Obamacare all the time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this weekend. There's some fun and festive stuff going on there, too. The White House Christmas tree arrives today. It's an 18-foot Douglas fir from Pennsylvania that's headed for the blue room. Last year, it was a 19-foot Frazier fir from North Carolina.

FLORES: More secrets exposed by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden. CBC News in Canada reporting the American spy agency conducted widespread surveillance during the G-8 and G-20 summits three years ago in Toronto and that the Canadian government was aware of it and even helped coordinate it. The documents don't say if the NSA was targeting any specific world leaders. U.S. state department officials are not commenting about these new revelations.


CARROLL (on-camera): And as we told you the last half hour, officials in Japan are investigating two small explosions last night outside an American air base in Tokyo. Authorities believe they were caused by an improvised device. Investigators found two metal tubes and a timing mechanism at the scene.

Karl Penhaul is live for us in Tokyo with the very latest. Carl, I'm sure that the bomb squad is out there. Investigators are probably trying to find out any evidence at all they can to try to find out what happened here.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jason and Rosa, absolutely. The Japanese police are taking this very seriously. We saw bomb squads 40 or 50 members, in fact, the bomb squad combing that area just a few hundred yards from the perimeter of the Yokota U.S. Air Force Base. And the police have now confirmed that they found two steel pipes connected to wires, connected to a battery, and connected to a crew (ph) timing device.

This was a homemade mortar system. Now, residents say that just before midnight last night, they heard two loud explosions. One resident said that they were so loud and so forceful, in fact, that it shook his apartment building. So far, there has been no claim of responsibility. The good news is that a spokesman for the U.S. air force said that there were no explosions inside the base itself and no reports of injuries or damage.

As I say, no claim of responsibility here, but look at the timing. These explosions came a week after the new U.S. ambassador, Caroline Kennedy, visited that same base. It comes just days ahead of the visit by U.S. vice president, Joe Biden, to Japan. And so, what political observers and the police are suggesting right now is that this could have been carried out by an ultra-leftist Japanese guerrilla group who is opposed to the U.S.-Japanese military alliance.

CARROLL: All right, Karl. And I know that there've been protests there in the past to try to have that air base closed. Thank you very much for bringing us the very latest. Karl Penhaul.

FLORES (on-camera): Iran is taking the first step towards abiding by the nuclear agreement it reached with the west last weekend. They're inviting inspects from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit a heavy water production plant on December 8th. A reactor under construction is on the same site. Heavy water is used in some reactors to control that nuclear activity.

And coming up, a disturbing trend sweeping the nation. Teenagers trying to knock out total strangers with a single sucker punch. Now, it looks like it happened again. The details straight ahead.


FLORES: Welcome back to EARLY START. Grab your coffee. We are glad that you're with us this morning.

New York City police investigating another possible knockout case. A 23-year-old man in the Bronx sucker-punched in the head as he walked down a street on Wednesday. Two other men then beat him while he was on the ground and all three took off running without taking a dime. The victim is expected to recover.

Police confirming they're looking to see if this is part of a nationwide trend where teens attempt to render strangers unconscious with a single punch.

CARROLL: these cases are so disturbing --

FLORES: Just sick. Absolutely.

CARROLL: All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up next on "NEW DAY." Michaela Pereira and Don Lemon in for Chris and Kate. How are you guys doing this morning?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How is the turkey going, guys? Are you all right?


FLORES: I'm pretty good with coffee.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys are really bright and rosy.

PEREIRA: They kind of are on Black Friday!

(LAUGHTER) CARROLL: What's wrong with that?

FLORES: I know.

PEREIRA: We're going to continue the Black Friday discussion. The frenzy of shoppers out with some of the busiest stores. We're going to take a look. Look at this crowd! A new CNN poll, though, shows Americans aren't feeling too great about the economy. So, what exactly does this mean for the shopping season?

We'll speak live with the CEOs of Macy's and Wal-Mart about whether or not they feel that they're getting people to the stores and people are willing to part with their money.

LEMON: Are you going shopping after this?


LEMON: That's a mighty --

PEREIRA: I'm going to go nap.


PEREIRA: I try to keep up with you here today, sir.

LEMON: This was Black Wednesday purchase.


PEREIRA: -- Wednesday. Isn't something called?

LEMON: I have no idea.

PEREIRA: I don't know. What else are we talking about today on the show?

LEMON: There are people behind us.

Then, the court case surrounding celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson. Have you heard about this? It is unbelievable. She is in -- it's really getting ugly. She's in some trouble here. Two of her former personal assistants accused of fraud and with her ex-husband expected to take the stand, the dirt pouring out could get worse even though loss in herself (ph) is on trial. What could this do to her reputation and her career?

PEREIRA: It's kind of crazy when you think about the fact that she's not even the one that's on trial. All of this dirt is coming up.


PEREIRA: So, we've got a busy "NEW DAY." Rosa, you're going to come join us. Jason is going to go make a turkey sandwich.


PEREIRA: Make us some shop and done.


LEMON: Jason, you got my e-mail yesterday, right, when I said stop scaring people! The balloons are going to go off in time!

FLORES: They were beautiful.

PEREIRA: In that turn, right around Columbus Circle, it got a little shaky with --


PEREIRA: And Spongebob was trying to take a nosedive there.


LEMON: You really were watching.

PEREIRA: No, I was on it.

FLORES: The turtles were there to save the day. Did you see that?

CARROLL: I think it will be an interesting show coming up watching --

PEREIRA: You think?




CARROLL: We'll see you in a few minutes. Bye, guys.

All right. Coming up, a record run on Wall Street. Can the bulls keep the momentum going on this last trading day of November? "Money Time" with Alison Kosik, that's coming up next.


CARROLL: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." Alison Kosik is here with all of the latest. Good morning to you, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And we're talking stocks. It's a half day of trading today. Trading is actually going to be wrapping up at 1:00 p.m. today. This is the last trading day of November. Stock futures are sharply higher following a rally on Wednesday. The markets were closed in the U.S. yesterday for Thanksgiving.

So, let's talk about this morning. All of the major averages, they are starting at record highs. A record 16,097 on the Dow, 4,044 on the NASDAQ, and a record 1,807 on the S&P. Unprecedented.

And if history is any indicator, the rally that we're seeing happening here, it could actually continue through the end of the year. BeSpoke Analytics finds that since 1945, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's has shown an average 1.8 percent gain and positive returns 71 percent of the time.

But whatever the case, investors have had quite a year, so far. The Dow is up 23 percent since the beginning of the year. The NASDAQ is up 34 percent and the S&P 500 up 27 percent. So, don't be afraid to look at your portfolio if you're invested in the markets. But caution about the economy still seems to be the theme in a new CNN/ORC poll conducted last month, actually, in November.

Overall, 59 percent say that things are going badly in the country. That's a number that's been steadily rising since April. Only 41 percent believe that things are going well or fairly well. The lowest that number's been since 2012. Now, looking specifically at the economy, what this poll found is that 39 percent feel the economy is still in a downturn. Only 24 percent believe that an economic recovery is under way.

Thirty-six percent are kind of caught right in the middle. They don't think we're in a recovery, but they believe conditions have stabilized. So, not very optimistic on this Black Friday, but no matter how they feel about the economy, many shoppers, they decided to eat and run on Thanksgiving. You look across the country. Door buster sales drew in crowds. 140 million people are expected to shop this holiday weekend and last year shoppers spent $60 billion.

Forty percent of that shopping happening online. And there were signs that a healthy amount of cybershopping already taking place on Thanksgiving. Online sales were up 10 percent last year with smartphones counting for 23.5 percent of the total. That's according to IBM's digital analytics benchmark unit. I was just -- we were just talking about shopping. I can't wait to actually get online and start shopping.

CARROLL: Yes, I'm one of you. I'm definitely one of those online shoppers.

KOSIK: As long as we get free shipping.

CARROLL: Yes. Free shipping. Forget that going out there to do that. Do it online.


CARROLL: All right. Alison, thanks very much.

OK. Coming up, she was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Now that she's been released just in time for the holidays, the latest on a controversial case that has captured the nation. That's ahead on EARLY START.


A Florida woman who got 20 years behind bars for firing a warning shot during an argument with her abusive husband is free on bond this morning. Marisa Alexander (ph) now awaits a retrial of her stand your ground case. She was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, touching off a national debate.

Supporters comparing her case to the self-defense case of George Zimmerman. Much more on this closely watch case coming up on "NEW DAY."

I'm Jason Carroll and that's it for us for EARLY START. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully, they'll get this guy, Lender (ph), and get all of their dolls and toys and over with and I'll be back next year.

PEREIRA: Shopping frenzy. The mad dash for discounts has begun. Black Friday off to a manic start with shoppers literally fighting over deals. Is it really worth the mayhem?

LEMON: High alert. Tensions rising as China sends fighter jets into disputed air space. The U.S. and its allies doing the same. Now, vice President Biden is heading to the region.

PEREIRA: A comet of the century. Did it survive or burnout? Astronomers across the world looking to the skies this morning. We have the photos.

Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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


LEMON: And Don Lemon and Rosa Flores.


PEREIRA: And Don Lemon and Rosa Flores. Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." We made it to Friday, folks, November 29th. It is six o'clock in the east. As you know, Chris and Kate are off, but Don Lemon and Rosa Flores are joining us here on this Friday news set.

FLORES: Good morning.

PEREIRA: -- to have you both. We're all surviving after our turkey coma (ph).

LEMON: Oh my gosh! A lot of (INAUDIBLE)

PEREIRA: A lot of --

LEMON: A lot of alcohol.


PEREIRA: That could make for a very interesting program today.

It is Black Friday. The mad dash to find all those best holiday deals has already begun. In fact, just look at the shoppers fighting their way into stores. It's a scene that is playing out across the country. Crowds lining up. Not always politely for things like clothes, electronics and more with everyone looking to get a bang for their buck, assuming the stores have not sold out of the hottest items already.

Let's start our coverage with Zain Asher who's at Macy's flagship store right here in New York City which actually opened last night to allow shoppers a head start. Zain, how is it looking there so far?

ASHER: Hey, Michaela. Well, 15,000 people lined up yesterday outside Macy's roughly around eight o'clock Thanksgiving Day. I'm told that it expects to be a mad rush roughly around 10:00 a.m. this morning. But yes, Black Friday officially kicking off today. Take a listen.


ASHER (voice-over): Just hours into the holiday shopping season kicking off, the hunt for bargains is becoming a contact sport. Many taking advantage of some retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving night, some even foregoing the holiday dinner. Tempers flaring at this Wal-Mart with shoppers clamoring for a bargain on tablets in Virginia.