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Helicopter Crash in Glasgow; Destroying Syria's Weapons; Black Friday Tussles; CNN Heroes Night

Aired November 30, 2013 - 09:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell. It is 9:00 on the East; 6:00 on the West. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. And it is early afternoon in Scotland where a painstaking search and rescue effort is under way.

KOSIK: Rescuers are trying to get to people who are trapped in a pub after a police helicopter smashed through its roof last night killing at least one person but the building is very unstable. CNN's Richard Quest is at the scene in Glasgow -- Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A black day for Scotland is how the Scottish first minister Alex Salmond described the crash last night when the helicopter went through the roof of the Clutha Vaults Pub behind me.

It has been confirmed that one person was killed in the collapse, but it is widely also expected that that death toll will rise in the hours ahead. The rescue and recovery operation is extremely delicate because the force of the crash made the entire building unstable. And so the rescuers have to be extremely careful as they work through the wreckage to ensure they don't bring the building down completely.

Eyewitnesses who saw the crash were consistent in what they saw. They say the helicopter which was flying overhead, there was a sputtering noise from the engine. The rotors would stopped and then the helicopter fell out from the sky. What is not known is whether the pilot was trying to do an emergency landing on the roof of the pub.

As for those inside, the revelers and those enjoying a Friday night at the pub, enjoying the live music, well, for them, for many of them, it was a lucky escape. The investigation into why the helicopter crashed will take many weeks, if not months. The investigative authorities are already on the scene and once it is safe to do so, will remove the wreckage of the helicopter from the roof.

Richard Quest, CNN, Glasgow, Scotland.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Richard Quest, thank you.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And new this morning, the United States is offering to help destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons. The organization for prohibiting those chemical weapons announced today, the U.S. offered destruction technology support and financing. Also several private companies may be paid to destroyed the stockpiles. Syria has to meet a deadline next year to get rid of all the chemicals or face consequences.

KOSIK: An American is supposedly confessing his crimes against North Korea. In new video released by Pyongyang, a man thought to be 85- year-old Merrill Newman is seen apologizing. He's apparently accused of killing civilians and troops during the Korean War. In his apology, he said western governments are not telling the truth about North Korea.


MERRILL NEWMAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA: ... gave the document written with their addresses and e-mail addresses to the guy in the (INAUDIBLE) hotel. The DPRK government and the Korean people again. On this trip, I can understand that in U.S. and western countries, there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.


KOSIK: And until now, Pyongyang had not explained why it is holding Newman. He has been held for about a month. He is one of two Americans currently trapped in North Korea.

HOWELL: All right. Today is the day. gets its big test today. It's the day that the website is supposed to work for most Americans, but the Obama administration says is and will be a work in progress.

KOSIK: Tech experts actually took parts of the site down overnight for maintenance but it's back up now. CNN's Tory Dunnan tells us programmers are working right through the holiday weekend to make today they hope a success.


TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a frenzy race to fix And today, November 30 is the day President Obama promised the website will be running smoothly for the vast majority of users.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the end of this month, we anticipate that it's going to be working the way it is supposed to. All right.

DUNNAN: It's been two months since the botched rollout on October 1st. Sparking a fire storm in Congress and forcing the administration to set a self-imposed deadline.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The assessment we made is that it will take until the end of November for an optimally functioning web site.

DUNNAN: The latest from Jeffrey Zients, the man the president brought in to turn things around, says the fix is "on track." That the web site should be able to handle 50,000 users at the same time. Double what it once could. Overall, more than 800,000 users per day. But there's a caveat.

JULIE BATAILLE, SPOKESWOMAN, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: To be clear, November 30th does not represent a relaunch of It is not a magical date. There will be times after November 30th, when the site like any web site does not perform optimally.

DUNNAN: And too many people trying to log in could still spell trouble. The administration says they will be putting a virtual cue and will get an e-mail with a better times to sign on. Troubleshooters have been working around the clock, including at this command center in Columbia, Maryland.

One expert we talked to says even if the 50,000 concurrent users is met, how much time they're spending on the site could be a headache.

LUKE CHING, SOFTWARE DEVELOPER: So the challenge is how many lanes do you have on the highway is how fast the cars can go down the highway. Because if there is ant breakdown, you will have a big traffic jam and pile up behind you.

DUNNAN: Republican critics like Congressman Fred Upton is not letting up. He is taking aim at the administration's claim that running smoothly for the vast majority of users means an 80 percent success rate saying, "The situation is so bad that a 20 percent failure rate is the goal."


HOWELL: All right. Joining us live in Washington, D.C., CNN's Tory Dunnan. Tory, here is the big question. We will all be watching this web site. Really, the people on the inside know whether it is working or not. How do we judge on the outside, how do we grade site accordingly?

DUNNAN: George, that is the huge question this morning. We know the administration has ways to measure the site's success or really its failure as well. But by the same token, they are not really expected to release any numbers right away. So that's going to leave outsiders to guess.

Now one measurement that was brought up in a recent administration briefing, is that the page that once took an average of eight seconds to load should now be up in just a fraction of a second.

Now one other thing to point out even if this site is determined really to be functioning smoothly, some insurance insiders are telling CNN that there are still problems with the back end of the site, saying that some customers' personal data is getting mangled or even lost. So Alison and George, people will be looking at the site today. You can probably expect over the next few days, they'll be taking a closer look and some of those insurance insiders will be speaking as well. KOSIK: OK. Tory Dunnan, live in Washington, D.C., thanks.

And this morning, plenty of shoppers are recovering after a brutal Black Friday. We heard reports of everything from tussles over TVs and chaos over computers even pepper spray used to break up a mob of bargain hunters.

HOWELL: But for all the disappointments, the madness, we are talking about a lot of money. Alexandra Field is following all this, with us live in New York. Alexandra, what are you hearing about Black Friday sales?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, a lot of money and a lot of people. First of all we should know that a lot of Americans behaved very well over the last two days. It was estimated that 33 million people would go shopping on Thanksgiving day. Another 97 million people were expected to shop on Black Friday. Now together, shoppers will spend more than $600 billion in November and December. But the process of spending that money can, as we have seen before, get ugly.

We have seen the swearing and the shoving, the spitting and the pushing but what we saw yesterday at a Philadelphia mall takes Black Friday to a new and dangerous low. Take a look at this video.

You can see them there. Two women, shoppers, brawling with each other. One woman actually pulls out a stun gun. The whole scene left nearby shoppers feeling a little disgusted by the bad behavior. It didn't stop in Philadelphia. In Las Vegas, there was a shooting when one shopper tried to steal another shopper's deal.

In Texas, bargain hunters say that they were pepper sprayed and in Virginia, two people were arrested after a stabbing in a Walmart parking lot. George and Alison, you can call this the uglier side of the holiday spirit.

KOSIK: Ugly, certainly. Alexandra Field, thank you.

HOWELL: Thank you so much.

KOSIK: So it's the brain center for the Obamacare web site. Just an ordinary office building in the Washington suburbs. The media though is not allowed in but our next guest was.

HOWELL: We'll have that story coming up, next.


HOWELL: You're watching "New Day Saturday." Good morning. Washington, D.C., it will be mostly cloudy there today. Temperatures around 43 degrees. So kind of chilly.

KOSIK: Balmy. I kid.

All right. The command center, speaking of Washington, D.C. area, the command center for the Obamacare website is kind of this generic- looking office building in Columbia, Maryland which is about 45 minutes to an hour outside of D.C..

HOWELL: Well, a tech team there has been working around the clock to fix the web site by today's deadline set by the administration. The White House gave several tech outsiders a tour of the command center and one joins us now.

KOSIK: Yes, from San Antonio, actually, John Engates. You're the chief technology officer for Rackspace. That is a cloud computing provider. John, good morning. So we actually tried to get a CNN camera to go inside the command center. But we were told no. So I want you to be our eyes and our ears. Give me the best description of what you saw.

JOHN ENGATES, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, RACKSPACE: OK. It looks like a control room for maybe a scaled down rocket launch or something. You got these desks that sort of face the front of the room. You got big screens on the front of the room, the back of the room where they can monitor the site and performance and how many users are hitting the site at any given point.

And basically just imagine a roomful of technical people with computers on their desks and really paying attention to that web site.

KOSIK: Can you cut the stress level with a knife?

ENGATES: Yes. It is certainly a high stress environment. But they are all very serious about what they are doing. The morale is high. The team feels very confident, at least that was my impression.

HOWELL: So John, you know, you got the insider's view of this. Clearly, we didn't. From what you saw in that room, the people working there, do you think this web site will be ready by the deadline?

ENGATES: I have pretty high confidence it will be ready. They have been making progress over the last several weeks. Again, they feel pretty confident. I don't think they would have toured folks like myself through there and set out a date like this if they didn't have some confidence they could hit their deadline.

KOSIK: So just curious, going back to the room, this sort of command center that it is, is it on multiple floors and how crowded is the room?

ENGATES: It was all in one floor. It was a room that was probably held two dozen people comfortably. You know again, most of the people were huddled up toward the front of the room. There was space in the back. There were offices that sort of around the back and side of the room.

You know, I think if you put too many people in the room, it could get tight. But I think they probably had the right balance there with the different contractors and vendors they had on site.

KOSIK: And now that you've actually seen sort of the inter workings of what is going on, are you more confident or less confident about the prospects of - kind of the rollout take two?

ENGATES: Well, I feel a lot more confident about it than I did in the early stages. I mean, I think the number one reason I feel confidence is because they've got everybody in one place with accountability and with the ability to take action immediately.

I think one of the things we saw is they were making changes and the direction was coming from people from that room. It wasn't as if they had to run things up to Health and Human Services or somewhere else outside the walls of that room. I mean, it was literally accountability right there on the spot.

HOWELL: John, you discussed before ways to improve government I.T., in the future, what do you recommend?

ENGATES: Well, I think today the government contracting process is a little bit heavy, especially for companies that are maybe start-ups or smaller companies based in Silicon Valley. The most innovative companies out there usually don't have all of the characteristics to go in the big government contracts. So I would like to go back to the drawing boards (INAUDIBLE) and work on some reform in this process to try to figure out how to bring in some more of the brightest and sharpest minds out there to work in these kind of challenges in the future.

KOSIK: OK. John Engates, chief technology officer for Rackspace. Thanks so much for that sort of fly on the wall perspective of what is going on.

HOWELL: We do appreciate it. Thank you.

ENGATES: Well, thanks for having me. Thank you.

HOWELL: All right. So it is that time of the year again. The battle of the holiday lights. I'm sure it is in your neighborhood. But check this out. It just broke a world record. Make your bets now. Later, we'll tell you how many lights it took to create what you see right there.


KOSIK: The actress best known as Trixie on the revival of the "Honeymooners" has died. Jane Kean was 90 years old. Kean first worked with Jackie Gleason on the vaudeville circuit in the 1940s. The two reunited in 1966 for the "Honeymooners." Kean played the long suffering wife of Art Carney's character, Ed Norton. She later appeared on sitcoms including "Growing Pains" and "The Facts of Life."

HOWELL: All right. As we enter the season of giving, we here at CNN are preparing for a very special holiday tradition.

KOSIK: One of my favorite to watch here on CNN. This is the celebration of the top 10 heroes of the year voted on by you and their extraordinary work helping others. This star-studded event airs Sunday, December 1st at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

But first, here's CNN's Nischelle Turner with a behind the scenes peek at preparations for the big night.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT (voice-over): It's that time of the year again when giving back to others is in the air, hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper, this year's annual heroes event is backed with emotion -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

TURNER: And unforgettable moments. A night when Hollywood's brightest stars come together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of makes your jaw drop.

TURNER: To shine the spotlight on 10 remarkable people who are changing the world. Like a great grandmother who used her life savings to turn a bus into a classroom.


TURNER: And a woman who started a girl team to keep kids off the street.

Turning the tables on a traditional awards show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not the only hero in this room.

TURNER: CNN heroes puts these every day people center stage.

It's a star-studded event with a few surprises. And a heroic ending that you tonight want to miss.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 2013 CNN hero of the year.

TURNER: A night to gather together to celebrate the human spirit.


KOSIK: And once again, "CNN Heroes, an All Star Tribute" hosted by Anderson Cooper, that airs tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. You don't want to miss it.

HOWELL: Such a great thing to be part of.

KOSIK: It is.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

All right. Millions of Americans are set to head home tomorrow and Monday, but the weather it may not cooperate. We will have all of the trouble spots for you right after the break.


KOSIK: Good morning, New York. A live look at the Statue of Liberty right there. Sunny there today. The sun is out, George.


KOSIK: Beautiful.

HOWELL: Yes, but it is chilly there.

KOSIK: I know I have only 36 degrees. Thanks for starting your "New Day" with CNN. There's much more to come next hour. Including a fight blowing up online. Listen to this, you know, it's over this question, should you be proud of your girly curves or shape up and get healthier. A woman known on the internet as fit mom and the COO of Curvy Girl Lingeries, they're both going to join us the 10:00 Easter hour. This should be interesting, if you want to chime in, you want to tell us what you're thinking, I want you to tweet me or tweet George here. You can go to @alisonKosik or @georgehowellcnn.

HOWELL: And we'd be interested to know what you have to say. I mean, a lot of people have been talking about this online, on Twitter, it's a big story.

KOSIK: Yes, definitely. Let us know what you think.

HOWELL: All right. Millions of Americans will soon be boarding planes, trains and automobiles to head back home after the long weekend.

KOSIK: But not everyone is going to be happy when they see the forecast. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Pedram, what do you think? Should travelers be worried?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, back there is the country, it looks pretty good. It is one area of the flights that they're originating at the northwest or if you are headed towards the northwest, major problems going to shape up. You know on Wednesday, we had 308 cancellations.

In the past couple of days, about 20 to 25 cancellations cumulatively speaking. And you look at the area of high pressure dominating the eastern half of the country. (INAUDIBLE) across northern Texas, just some high clouds and high pressure yet again over the southwest. But you go in towards the northwest, one of the strongest storms we have seen all season. The coldest certainly we have seen all season beginning to shape up. This storm moves in Sunday afternoon into Sunday night. It brings in pretty significant rainfall with it. The cold air could bring it down to record temperatures in the early portion of the week from Seattle to Portland.

Snowfall could accumulate, initially starting at around 5,000 feet and then getting to around 1,000 feet. Seattle could even see a few flurries on Monday afternoon and Monday night before this is all said and done with.

But the concern right now going to be around the i-90 corridor. We know a lot of people, about 2.5 million planning on getting on airplanes on Sunday. Over 30 million driving across the country as well with travel expected and rainfall again going to be a concern. Gusty winds going to be an issue.

You look at the forecast from Seattle, you go from the 40s to the 30s. Portland drops down to the 30s degrees. Spokane, from nearly 40 down to 20 degrees, even across portions of Southern California, temperatures starting at about 80 degrees for your Saturday and Sunday highs. Going from 77 to 59 in Los Angeles. Winter certainly will be the felt even though we are still about three weeks away from the official start of winter.

KOSIK: it's not even winter yet.

HOWELL: Pedram, thank you so much.

JAVAHERI: Yes. Thank you, Pedram.

KOSIK: Finally some must-see moments in Australia. A family put up more than half a million Christmas lights to reclaim their Guinness World Records for the most Christmas lights on a residential property. They first won it two years ago which has more than 300,000 lights but they lost the title last year to a family that lives in New York. Now as you see though, they are back in the spotlight.

HOWELL: Alison, did you have the Etch-a-Sketch?

KOSIK: I loved it. As did my kids.

HOWELL: All right. Well, an artist in Louisville has turned child's play into a work of art. Kerry Johnson has drawn everything from the Roman Colosseum to the Louisville cardinals basketball team, all with that Etch-a-Sketch you see there. Some of her art work amazingly sold for hundreds of dollars.

KOSIK: Why can't I do that?

HOWELL: I can't/

KOSIK: All right. Behold the world's biggest gingerbread village. The 1.5 ton creation includes 400 pounds of candy, 500 pounds of dough and 2200 pounds of icing. It took almost 10 months to create this wonderful scene here. It is now on display at the New York Hall of Science.

HOWELL: This is something you don't quite see every day. Quite a site though on the Cheyenne River in North Dakota. A large floating ice disc. About 55 feet across that is spinning in the river currently kind of like a record turntable. Look at that.

It was first spotted by a retired engineer who captured it on camera. It is a apparently a national phenomena and very rare. Forecasters say similar discs have been seen in Canada, in England and Sweden. Fascinating to look at that.

Thank you so much for watching "New Day Saturday." We will see you back here at the top of the hour. KOSIK: But first, a brand new "Your Money" with Christine Romans, and she's going to take you to a place in America that is more economically divided than Iran, Nigeria or South Africa.

"YOUR MONEY" starts right now.