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Actor Paul Walker Killed in Fiery Car Crash; 8 Killed After Chopper Crashes into Pub; U.S. Urges North Korea to Release Korean War Vet; Officials: Obamacare Site Fixes "On Track"

Aired December 1, 2013 - 07:00   ET


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Surprise at the news that Paul Walker was killed in this fiery car crash. Let's take a look at what happened yesterday.


VIN DIESEL, ACTOR: Right behind you.

TURNER (voice-over): One of Hollywood's most bankable stars, Paul Walker, who has made a name for himself in "The Fast and Furious" movie franchise, died in a fiery car crash in Santa Clarita, California. A second person also died in that accident. Both were attending a charity event for Walker's organization Reach Out Worldwide. The event was intended to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The crash happened just north of Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon.

According to his representative, Paul Walker was not driving the 2005 Porsche. When deputies arrived, the car was on fire. Both people in the car pronounced dead at the scene. All that remained was the burnt, mangled metal and the light poll that got knocked down. Authorities say speed was a factor.

Walker wasn't just a car enthusiast on-screen. Off the screen, the actor competed in the redline time attack racing series. He had been filming the seventh installment of "Fast and Furious" at the time of his death.

Hollywood has been reacting with condolences coming in from Will Smith, Jack Osbourne, DMX and many others. Quote, "No @realPaulWalker, no, no, no," tweeted actress Alyssa Milano. Walker guest-appeared with her in the '80s comedy "Who's the Boss." "Rest with angels, you sweet boy."


TURNER: You know, it's interesting, because a lot of other co- stars and friends are reacting as well from Alyssa Milano. Ludicrous, his co-star on "Fast and Furious", tweeted, "Your humble spirit was from the start. Wherever you blessed your presence, you always left a mark." His co-star Vin Diesel, who he was good friends with as well, put on Instagram. "Brother, I will miss you very much. I'm absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new angel. Rest in peace."

Also, we're hearing from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He tweeted, "All my strength, love and faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength in his light. Love you, brother."

So, you're just hearing from some of his friends and cohorts in Hollywood. You know, Paul Walker had a 15-year-old daughter named Meadow. A lot of celebrities tweeted last night giving condolences to her and talking that that was the love of his life and really sending out condolences to her.

Guys, we also mentioned that they were shooting "Fast and Furious VII', the next installment of the franchise. They started shooting in September in Atlanta, were set to wrap filming. We're told Paul Walker was in Los Angeles visiting friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday and was headed back to Atlanta to finish filming the movie.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, it's still very early, we know. But there are already comparisons being made to his Hollywood character, "Fast and Furious", and the real life event here. Is there any connection?

TURNER: Well, you know, I'm a fan of a franchise, George, myself. And so, I have been watching it since the beginning. And in the beginning of the franchise, we see Brian O'Connor, who was Paul Walker's character.

And he is an undercover cop trying to infiltrate this street car racing gang, and he's a little bit of a loose canon at times, a little bit of a wild child. Paul Walker has said, you know, that was kind of me, back in the day. And I kind of evolved as my character Brian O'Connor evolved.

And now, we see him as this guy who loves his family and would do anything for his family. And that's who Paul Walker says that he is.

It's interesting, too, because he said he kind of started identifying with Brian. When people on the street would say, "Hey, Brian", he knew they were talking to him. But when they said, "Hey, Paul Walker," it took him a second to compute. So, he really did start to identify with who he is.

Also off-screen, we said he was a car enthusiast. He called himself a metal head in a self-described adrenaline junkie. He loved cars. He loved the body of the car. It kind of made him happy, he said.

And, guys, by the way, we talk about the popularity of this franchise, "Fast and Furious," and that he was a bankable star in Hollywood. Here's something to leave you with, domestically last summer, "Fast and Furious 6" made $238 million. Worldwide, this movie made $788 million.


TURNER: He was a bona fide movie star.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: He clearly was, especially seeing the outpouring on social media. Everybody is stunned about this.

All right. Nischelle Turner, thank you.

And we have much more to come on Paul Walker's death. So, stay with CNN throughout the morning as we get more information on his passing. We're going to bring it you to.

HOWELL: Now on to Scotland, candles will be lit today in Glasgow, at a cathedral, for the victims of a deadly helicopter crash.

KOSIK: Emergency crews are coming through the wreckage of a popular pub. They're looking for bodies still in the debris. At least eight people were killed when the police helicopter smashed through the pub's roof Friday night. Fourteen people are hospitalized with serious injuries. Authorities warned, the search for victims could take many days, because the building is unstable and crews have to work perfectly.

HOWELL: The U.S. is urging North Korea to release an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War. Merrill Newman has been held in that country since he was pulled off a plane in North Korea in October.

Now, the North Korean government is releasing video showing the Korean War veteran apologizing. He says he went back to North Korea to meet with surviving soldiers to put them in touch with others who escaped South Korea.


MERRILL NEWMAN, KOREAN WAR VETERAN: I gave the document written with their addresses and e-mail addresses to the guide in the Yanggakdo Hotel, against the DPRK government the Korean people again. On this trip, I can understand that in the U.S. and western countries, there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.


KOSIK: And Gordon Chang is an author of the book, "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World." He lived and worked in Asia for two decades as an attorney. And he's joining us now from New York.

Good morning to you.

You know, we heard Merrill Newman speaking there. Why would North Korea have him at this point and make this alleged confession/apology? And why now?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": I think it's important for North Korea because they are still fighting the Korean War. And one of their founding myths is that South Korea and the United States invaded the North in 1950. And I think the regime of Kim Jung-un and Pyongyang wants to replay this theme for the Korean people. And I think that this is an indication that the regime probably is not as stable as most people think, that they need to be able to do this to bolster their legitimacy.

HOWELL: Newman has sent a message to his family saying that he's well. How much credence could we take in that?

CHANG: Well, he probably is well, because it would not do will for the North Korean regime to have Merrill Newman, 85 years old, with a heart condition, die in custody in Pyongyang. So, I think that they probably are treating him well. You know, from the video, it looks he's in good condition. So, I think that that's probably true.

KOSIK: So, Newman is the second American at this point detained by North Korea recently. You know, we saw Kenneth Bai, who was sentenced last year to 15 years hard labor. So, is there any indication at this point that either of them could actually be freed soon?

CHANG: I think that essentially right now, you know, Newman is the seventh American detained in North Korea since 2009. I think that eventually Newman and Kenneth Bai will be freed.

But, really, what the regime wants right now are benefits from the United States. So, for instance, you know, we sent Presidents Clinton and Carter in 2010. That was really helpful for Kim Jong-Il, who was the ruler at the time. So, they want something from the United States.

The U.S. has given nothing for Kenneth Bai's release, and that's why I think they grabbed Newman largely because they want another bargaining chip.

HOWELL: Gordon, I'm curious to your opinion on this. I mean, both of these men -- do you think the North Korean government is trying to use them with leverage with the Obama administration? And if so, why?

CHANG: Well, I think there's a number of things the North Korean regime wants. And one of them is they do want to have that leverage over the United States. You know, we have a number of issues with the North Koreans right now, including the denuclearization talks that have been stalled for more than a half decade.

And North Korea, of course, always wants aid. They are going into winter, which is a very difficult time for the government. So, I think all sorts of things are happening here. Of course, they want leverage. And, you know, what better leverage than to take an individual.

KOSIK: OK. Gordon Chang, thanks so much for your time.

CHANG: Thank you. KOSIK: Another big day of holiday day travel, this time in reverse.

HOWELL: Yes. So, everybody is trying to get back home now from Thanksgiving. But the weather, hey, it may not help you, especially there in the Pacific Northwest. We'll get you up to speed right here on NEW DAY SUNDAY.


HOWELL: Welcome back to NEW DAY SUNDAY.

OK. In about two hours, the leading man that upgrades is going to brief reporters on how things are going. Today is the day that that Web site is supposed to work, according to the president, to work for most Americans smoothly.

KOSIK: It's supposed to work smoothly.

CNN's Tory Dunnan is in Washington.

Tory, good morning to you.

So, from what we can tell, how is the site working this morning? We did a little test run and weren't too --

HOWELL: It wasn't so good.

KOSIK: -- weren't too impressed with the results.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George and Alison, I think that's a big question everyone wants answered. It's kind of a complicated one-two answer because we're hearing different takes this morning as you mentioned.

One CNN producer got through quickly but then hit an error message. Another CNN producer got through once but then hit a road block later. So, it's these types of stories we're really relying on, until we get those hard numbers from the White House.

But I'm also talking with those in the tech industry this morning. I spoke with the computer security expert. He's been following this all very closely. I asked him if he's already seeing changes and this was his answer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it looks a little better. Looking at the site recently, what I've noticed, there's been a lot of changes to usability that I think are going to make it more robust. The big question is, what's happened to the back end? Have they fixed those problems that we can't see, that actually allow people to sign up successfully to get health care?

(END VIDEO CLIP) DUNNAN: All right. So, here's some of the benchmarks that have been set by the administration. The goal is for 50,000 people to be on the site at the same time. We're told if there's more users at any given time, people are going to be put in what's called a virtual line. They get an e-mail that tells them of a better time to come back and try.

In total some 800,000 users will be able to go through successfully each day. So, those are the numbers weave answer been given.

We've also heard the term that it's going to be working for the vast majority of users and hopefully, today, in that conference call, we'll get the big question answered, is it working or not?

HOWELL: Well, Tory, we know about these upgrades from overnight. The site was done. Have we heard anything from the Obama administration about the upgrades?

DUNNAN: George, no word yet this morning but last night they seemed pretty optimistic about everything. In fact, an administration official was saying that the Web site was on track to meet the goal for the sight to work for the vast majority of users.

Now, we do know that there are specific ways for the White House to measure the site's really success or failure, and we don't really expect them to necessarily release those numbers right away. Again, we've mentioned time and time again, there's this conference, all eyes are on that conference call to get our questions answered.

And we know Jeffrey Zients, the man the president has really tapped to turned things around, is going to be on that call -- George and Alison.

HOWELL: Tory, you know, I think you really framed it. It's like some people can get on, some quite can't at this point.

But, Tory, thank you so much for keeping watch of in Washington, D.C. this morning.

KOSIK: It can be interesting to see if any of the deadlines are pushed back even further, on knowing that, you know, there's still the hiccups that continue.

HOWELL: There are a few.


All right. Today is expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the year as people are returning home from Thanksgiving.

HOWELL: CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now this morning.

Good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George and Alison, AAA estimated that 43 million people would travel this Thanksgiving. Now, everyone has to get home. So, if you're hitting the road today, you'll have a lot of company.



FIELD (voice-over): Here we go again, the rush is back on. And this time, it's the race back to reality.

YOLANDA CADE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, AAA: Monday and Sunday will be two busiest days. So, gosh, if you can stay the extra day Tuesday, and come back when everybody is back at work, that certainly will provide a little bit of relief.

FIELD: The traffic report could be difficult as millions hit the highways. Fortunately, the forecast calls for clear skies for most of the country.

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We do have a strong system moving in the Pacific Northwest. Be careful if you're traveling in the cascades, four to six inches of rain there. Also some rain and snow possibly moving into northern New England later on today. But the rest of the nation is looking much dryer and much calmer.

FIELD: All together, much better than the day before Thanksgiving. Winter weather along the Eastern Seaboard caused trouble with a ripple effect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you have concerns with the weather, delays and crowd?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a holiday. You just expect it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one. Way to go.

FIELD: On Wednesday, CNN's "Great Race Home" pitted three of our correspondents against each other in a mad dash from New York to Washington, D.C. One by train, one by plane and one braving the traffic by car.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The best day at work I've had in a long time.

FIELD: Nic Robinson flew in for the win. But with $500 total for his one way trip, he's paying the price along with plenty travelers this holiday season.


FIELD: And if you're still deciding when to head home. Maybe the numbers will sway you. AAA said one in three travelers will head home today. One in four travelers will head home tomorrow -- George, Alison.

HOWELL: Alexandra Field, thank you so much. You know, today, if you have to travel, maybe you just wait a day. I don't know.

KOSIK: You just have to go to work tomorrow. I can't wait a day. Can you tell my boss that?

HOWELL: Yes, I don't think it will fly.


HOWELL: I don't think it will fly.

KOSIK: Still to come on NEW DAY, the thrill of the bargain hunt. Ever wonder why we go absolutely bananas for this crazy Black Friday deals? I'm wondering that.

HOWELL: All right. One expert that we'll talk to has a very interesting take. We'll tell you what he says. That's coming up as NEW DAY SUNDAY continues.


KOSIK: Pretty day in Washington, yes?

HOWELL: And a red bow there.

KOSIK: All dressed up for the holiday. It's World AIDS Day, by the way.

HOWELL: Very nice.

KOSIK: That's what (INAUDIBLE) that one.

HOWELL: Great.

And thank you so much for joining us on NEW DAY SUNDAY.

KOSIK: So, let's talk about the holidays. Thanksgiving, it was all about the big dinner and the even bigger deal. A new survey shows that for the first time ever, Americans spent more than a billion dollars online on Thanksgiving Day.

HOWELL: That's nearly 40 percent jump compared to last year, maybe people wanted to avoid scenes like this. You don't know, shoppers throwing elbows, fighting for flat screen TVs, tablets, whatever they can grab. Just a mess out there.

KOSIK: So, what's with people? Why do they do this? Why do they behave like lunatics to save a few bucks?

To discuss this interesting phenomenon, we're joined my Mark Ellwood. He's in New York this morning and he's the author of "Bargain Fever", how to shop in a discounted world.

Good morning to you, Mark.

MARK ELLWOOD, AUTHOR, "BARGAIN FEVER": Good morning. How are you?

KOSIK: I'm good.

You know, you saw those crazy shoppers in that video. Why is it some of us are willing to behave this way to get just a deal?

ELLWOOD: You know, it's chemical. We can't just help ourselves. We are pre programmed in our brains to respond to bargains. There's a hormone that I think everyone heard of called dopamine. But I called do called dopamine biagra (ph) because it really makes us spend. We can't help it.

KOSIK: Was it Viagra with a V or B?

ELLWOOD: B. It opens our wallet, it's biagra.

HOWELL: Never heard of a word biagra before. That's all new.

KOSIK: So, wait, are you linking this to like some sort of sexual desire, but they're sort of channeling it to the retail level here?

ELLWOOD: I think what it was like is that it makes us very vigorous in our spending.

So, when we see -- you have to think about this like this: dopamine is a chemical I think a lot of people heard of. But we misunderstand what it does. We think that it's sort of feel good juice. But dopamine is actually a bonus juice.

It's the difference between when you order a slice of cake or the owner sends you a slice of cake and says, hey, happy birthday. You're getting more than you expect. That's a dopamine moment. When you see a sale sign, exactly the same thing happens in your brain.

HOWELL: So, you talk about people being hopped up on biagra. But what about the concept of these deals? I mean, are people getting deals or are they getting duped?

ELLWOOD: They are getting both. More and more. It's like an outlet mall. Between 80 percent to 70 percent of what you buy at an outlet mall is especially made for that outlet mall and that's happening more and more over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where the products are not necessarily bargains, they are cheap.

But once in a while, you are going to get a good deal. I just wouldn't apply for that $200 laptop.

KOSIK: How much is this is desperation? I mean, you know, the economy is moving forward. It's recovering. It's kind of a relatively anemic recovery, though.

So, is this really desperation when you see these people coming to blows in the middle of stores?

ELLWOOD: Actually, I think it's about the dopamine reaction on our brain because one in four people have a completely harmless genetic variant that turbo charges dopamine in their brains. So, I suspect that everyone is at fisticuffs are drawn for those TVs, probably is just one of the people with the dopamine susceptibility enhanced.

KOSIK: OK. So, let's talk deals for a second. Where should we go online to try to get a good deal? I think that Cyber Monday is tomorrow.

HOWELL: Coming up, yes.

ELLWOOD: I use two sides when I'm checking deal -- deal roundups. One is called flick deals, and the other is deal news. And for tomorrow, I would really focus on clothing. Clothing is weirdly one of the best things to by on Cyber Monday. And since this winter is going to be the coldest since 1962, I would buy a coat while you can when it's cheap.

HOWELL: Mark, you know, just your opinion on this. When you see these scenes like yesterday, we saw the image of a woman being tasered on the ground, what do you think about all of this?

ELLWOOD: I do think, thank goodness, that more and more online shopping is happening, because it's much harder to punch someone when you're shopping online.

HOWELL: You got -- you make a good point there. Mark Ellwood, thank you so much for joining us.

ELLWOOD: Thank you.

KOSIK: All right. Some sad news for a poor little pup who earned his fame for all of the wrong reasons.

HOWELL: All right. This is Elwood. He gained notoriety in 2007 for winning the world's ugliest dog contest. He passed away on Thanksgiving.

KOSIK: Only a mother could love, right? But his owner doesn't know yet the cause of his death, but she tells us, he didn't suffer and he died in her arms. Aww.


KOSIK: There's a record to the biggest ever pediatric research in the U.S.

HOWELL: "The Seattle Times" reports this man, Jack McDonald, left $188 million to a Seattle Children's Hospital when he died this week at the age of 98. But get this, McDonald was known for being extremely frugal, wearing tattered clothes and taking the bus. He also has secretly donated thousand of dollars to other charities during his lifetime. He apparently made most of his money in the stock market.

KOSIK: You know, it's interesting, when you hear a story like that, those are sort of the quiet heroes. He's not looking for any recognition, he just does that. I think those really are heroes.

HOWELL: And you find a lot of those people, you know, secretly doing great things.

KOSIK: Yes, they don't have to be gratuitous and put it on Twitter. They can just do it. Love it.

HOWELL: Yes. Good stuff.

KOSIK: All right. We'll see you at the top of the hour for 8:00 Eastern for another hour of NEW DAY SUNDAY.

HOWELL: And we've got a lot more coming up, including new details on after Paul Walker's tragic death and the capture of an American citizen in North Korea.

But up next, "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D.", which starts right after this quick break.