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Snow Storms Hit Parts of U.S.; U.S. Sends Troops to Protect Embassy in South Sudan; "Duck Dynasty" Star Suspended for Comments on Homosexuality; Dennis Rodman's Holds Basketball Tryouts in North Korea; Protecting Yourself From Hacking; Changes to Obamacare

Aired December 20, 2013 - 07:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Friday, December 20th, 7:00 in the east. Mother Nature is threatening to mess up your holiday plans again. It's already snowing out west. There have been hundreds of accidents, thousands of people without electricity in Utah. Tornadoes are possible in the Midwest and severe storms are expected for parts of the east. So getting where you need to go this weekend could be a problem. Indra Petersons is tracking all of it for us at the CNN center. What do you see out there?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I see problems, definitely no shortage of them. And a lot of variety as well, just like the Thanksgiving holiday, once again as people are trying to get outdoors, ahead of the holiday itself, we are talking about major systems making its way across the country. It's a good case of here we go again. As holiday travelers bombard the airports and roadways this weekend, a wicked weather system could derail travel plans with snow, freezing rain, and severe thunderstorms across the country. According to AAA, the wide ranging storm potentially affecting the travel plans of 94 million Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to go on the airplane?


PETERSONS: From the south to the Midwest, the risks of severe thunderstorms include damaging winds and even isolated tornadoes. Up north, freezing rain will be the problem from Chicago to Wichita. Holiday commuters will have to watch for icing on bridges and overpasses. Snow's already caused issues for air travelers this holiday season. In Wisconsin this week, a plane slid off the snow- slicked runways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know what was happening. And then they said the airport was shut down.

PETERSONS: Further east, up to 10 inches of rain could dampen holiday travel plans. And once millions finally arrive to their destination, who will have a white Christmas? Right now it's looking like Colorado and parts of the Great Lakes. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: Let's take a look at the map. You want the big picture and what it is we're expecting? Heavy amounts of rain, flooding concerns, icing concerns and heavy amounts of snow and not to mention record-breaking heat along the east coast. And yes, we're not done there. Of course, a severe weather threat including the threat of tornadoes. We'll break it down coming up in just a few minutes, Chris and Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Indra, thank you so much.

A real life drama played out at London's famed Apollo Theater. Part of the century old ceiling of the theater came crashing down on to the audience of more than 700 people. Officials are left asking how this happened. They're clearly still investigating. Erin McLaughlin is in London with more for us. Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Kate. More than 70 people were injured, seven seriously after a section of the ceiling collapsed, sending members of the audience running for cover. They may have come here to London's Apollo Theater to watch a mystery, but they ended up being a part of a real-life human drama.


MCLAUGHLIN: It was certainly not your typical Thursday night at London's historic Apollo Theater. An audience of over 700 people, families and children had assembled for a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime." And then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A loud bang and the ceiling came down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It we thought it was sound effects of the theater and then, yes, we just looked up and the whole ceiling was like slow motion.

MCLAUGHLIN: Parts of the roof started caving in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of dust, chandelier, wood, all that sort of stuff, landed on about five or six rows.

MCLAUGHLIN: And panic erupted inside the auditorium.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was right next to the steward because we were at the back. He looked at me and had panic on his face, he just said run, everybody get out.

MCLAUGHLIN: Witnesses say people stayed calm and helped one another. Quickly, everyone was out. Injured people, bloody and in shock, were treated at the scene, some taken to the hospital aboard a London bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to go into too much detail about the why and what's happened. Suffice to say there's been a collapse of heavy plaster from what appears to be the roof of the auditorium within the theater. MCLAUGHLIN: British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted his thanks to first responders. "I'm grateful for the fast work of the emergency services and helping the injured." As for the cause of the collapse, that's still unclear. The police later saying, "There is no suggestion at this stage that this was the result of a criminal act. However, at this stage, we are keeping an open mind."


MCLAUGHLIN: I talked to a spokesperson for the local council. She told me they believe this is an isolated incident. Overnight they checked the roof. They say that's secure. More checks today as they try and figure out what exactly happened. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Erin, thank you very much.

We want to turn now to a developing story out of Africa. The U.S. is sending troops to South Sudan to protect our embassy and American citizens there as the world's newest nation is on the brink of civil war. Days of violence and hundreds killed in what the U.N. fears is fighting between rival factions. CNN's Elise Labott with more from Washington. What do we understand?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the U.S. was instrumental in helping South Sudan move to independence just two years ago, now you have these deadly ethnic clashes. Yesterday we saw a raid on a U.N. base leaving at least two U.N. peacekeepers dead, tens of thousands of civilians were in that compound seeking shelter from the fighting. And there are fears this is just the beginning.

Now the U.S. is pulling out its diplomats from the country, starting to evacuate U.S. citizens, the State Department warning all Americans to leave the country. President Obama has ordered 45 military personnel to the capital juba to protect the U.S. embassy there. Officials telling me this morning it's just a precautionary measure. They will be armed. I don't expect they'll get involved in the fighting but it shows the U.S. is bracing for a potential escalation and the U.N. Security Council will be having an urgent meeting on this today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for that update.

Let's stay overseas now. Dennis Rodman's basketball diplomacy is in full swing in Pyongyang. But how much diplomacy is it really? The former NBA star held tryouts today for a North Korean team. He's planning to have them face a dozen NBA veterans in an exhibition game next month. But he may have hit a stumbling block. Anna Coren is live in Seoul with the latest. Good morning, Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. That's absolutely right. It looks like Dennis Rodman may not have a full team. You talk about those former NBA stars will be flying into Pyongyang in two week's time with Dennis Rodman when he returns to that exhibition match to celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who as we know is close friends with Dennis Rodman. Apparently some of those players don't feel very safe. Two of them refusing to sign on the dotted line, concerned about, obviously, the political upheaval in that country.

Just last week, Kim Jong-un executed his uncle. There's a power struggle going on behind the scenes. Dennis Rodman weighed into this debate before he flew into Pyongyang today, saying he has no concerns, this is none of his business. He's basically there to play basketball, have some fun. And he certainly, Kate, won't be raising the issue of human rights. Obviously, some activists would like him to talk about Kenneth Bayh, the American missionary who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for allegedly trying to overthrow the regime.

But Dennis Rodman says he won't weigh into that. He's not going to affect his personal friendship with Kim Jong-un. He's just there to play basketball, and obviously his major concern at the moment is getting his team together so that they can actually play in that exhibition match against the North Korean team next month. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: No matter what he does, even if he doesn't say much, he still garners a lot of attention. Anna Coren in Seoul, thanks so much for that.

Let's take a look at your other headlines this hour. The White House is now giving people who had their individual insurance policies canceled because of Obamacare another option in order to not fall through the cracks, the option to buy catastrophic coverage. Meanwhile, state officials are reporting seeing a surge in Obamacare signups, rising 30 percent to 40 percent in the last few weeks. Monday is the deadline to enroll to guarantee coverage January 1st.

The Senate has approved a comprehensive new defense bill that raises troop pay and revamps how the military handles cases of sexual assault and rape. The 84 to 15 vote came late Thursday night. The House passed the bill last week with strong bipartisan support. It all heads to the White House now. The president is expected to sign it.

New information about a possible motive in this week's deadly shooting inside a Reno, Nevada medical building. The gunman has been identified now as 51-year-old Allen Frazier. Police say he left behind a suicide note indicating that he was angry about a surgical procedure he had had there in 2010. Frazier shot two doctors and a patient before killing himself. It is not clear whether the doctors he shot were the ones who actually treated him.

The fired Air Force general who oversaw nuclear missiles was repeatedly drunk and boorish during a summer trip to Russia. Major General Michael Kerry was relieved of duty in October. An Air Force investigation found that consumed alcohol regularly, he was late to meetings, and slurred his speech at those meetings, and was rude to delegates and hosts. The report goes on to say he went to various Moscow nightclubs with two women over several nights.

Mariah Carey coming under fire, the Human Rights Foundation group slamming the singer for performing last weekend in Angola. They claim she had given credibility and support to the president, a man they're labeling as a corrupt tyrant and human rights violator. Carey reportedly received over $1 million for her appearance. No word yet from Mimi or her camp. Those are your headlines at this hour. CUOMO: That's one kind of controversy. Now to another.

Is it the end of a dynasty? The stars of "Duck Dynasty" now seem to be threatening they won't return to the series without their patriarch Phil Robertson. He was suspended from the show, of course, for making comments many call homophobic and racially insensitive. But others say he was speaking the lord's truth. And so the controversy only grows. CNN's Nischelle Turner is with us. It's certainly now slowing down.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: No, it's not. The Robertson family is presenting a united front as we go forward. The family is backing Phil, who they call the head of their family. In a statement released late yesterday, they said, quote, "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E. But as a family we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of "Duck Dynasty."


TURNER: talk about rocking the boat. Just a day after A&E suspended the backwoods Louisiana star Phil Robertson from his hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" for making anti-gay comments, a firestorm erupted. Now as his critics and supporters are lining up, getting their ducks in a row, Robertson's family has addressed the controversy for the first time, saying, "While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil would never insight or encourage hate."

But now surfacing, a video from 2010 showing Robertson in a Pennsylvania pulpit preaching morality.

PHIL ROBERTSON, "DUCK DYNASTY" STAR: Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant god haters.

MATTHEW HINTON, "THE ADVOCATE": He has the right to say what he wants to say. But A&E made a decision that those views are not American views and do not represent their brand as a network, and they pulled him.

TURNER: But now, coming out of the woodwork are Robertson's supporters, even pledging their support on twitter with #standbyphil. Republicans like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin taking a stand behind the boys from the bayou as well. Palin saying on her Facebook page, "Free speech is an endangered species. Those intolerant, hating and taking on the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: The left keeps saying they're for tolerance except for people that disagree with them. It's stunning to me that after all those antics, that Miley Cyrus would still be on TV and Phil's the one getting kicked off.

TURNER: Robertson's supporters say they're fighting the good fight. But critics say it's an old fight, likely to lose in a new world.


TURNER: Now, a rep for A&E networks tells CNN they will not have any further comment on this matter. The show's new season is set for January 15th. Even though A&E says Phil Robertson is suspended from filming, he will be in the initial episodes of the new season that reportedly have already been shot.

CUOMO: They're going to have to say more about it. And many others will as well.

TURNER: The questions aren't going to stop coming. We're all still talking about it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Nischelle.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Target targeted. So how did thieves get away with credit card information for 40 million shoppers? We're going to talk to an actual hacker who did time, so he knows what happened, and he knows how to keep your money safe.

BOLDUAN: Also, days before the first big enrollment deadline, the White House is making another last-minute change to Obamacare, this as the federal exchange is still facing troubles. New reports from states saying customers have been flocking to sign up to their state exchanges.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Target says they were able to identify how hackers stole information from 40 million credit and debit cards over the past couple weeks. They say the security problem is fixed and that a dedicated team is working with law enforcement to try to find those hackers.

So what can you do to protect yourself and really, how did they pull it off?

Kevin Mitnick is former computer hacker who is now the CEO of Mitnick security, and he's joining us now to try and explain.

This is fascinating and scary, Kevin, I must say. First off, when you -- the more and more you're learning that we are learning about what happened at Target, how do you think they pulled it off? Can you help explain this?

KEVIN MITNICK, FORMER COMPUTER HACKER: Well, I think there's a couple of ways. First of all I think they got malicious software into their point of sales system.

But how were they able to do that? It could have been an insider. The hackers could have found a security flaw within any web application that the internet has access to or good old-fashioned social engineering. And you asked me, you know, what is social engineering? That is where a hacker can send a file to a Target employee, and if they go ahead and open that attachment, that file, it exploits a security flaw and now that hacker has complete control over that user's computer. So that could have been the foot in the door.

But I guess what they'll do is, when Target does their forensic investigation, they'll actually figure exactly how the hackers got in.

BOLDUAN: Does this speak more, do you think, poor security at Target or do you think every company is vulnerable to something like this? Because it's pretty scary when you think 40 million people could be impacted by this.

MITNICK: Well, I do hacking for a living. Companies hire me to break into their systems, and my success rate over the last decade is 100 percent. And I'm talking --

BOLDUAN: Really?

MITNICK: -- large financial companies to e-commerce. Yeah -- 100 percent we get in. And that's probably because the hackers are ahead of the security industry. And it's really easy.

Imagine if I could send you a file in an e-mail, just one employee opens up a file that I send, a pdf file, and that employee opens it, the game is over. The hacker is in. That only takes one employee to make a mistake.

BOLDUAN: Kevin, of course, then that begs the question, is there any way for a company to be 100 percent protected? Target says that this problem was fixed, this one hacking incident. But how do you protect against it if it's as simple as one employee opening one pdf?

MITNICK: Well, it's really about people, processes and technology. So companies have to harden their systems, harden their technology. They have to train their people and actually to inoculate their staff against these social engineering attacks.

And one of the best ways of doing that is actually doing mock attacks against your employees to see who's susceptible to this type of -- who's susceptible to this type of attack and then train those people specifically.

BOLDUAN: From your experience, do you think they'll be able to find these hackers, or do you think they at least just fix the problem and they're going to have to move on?

MITNICK: It really depends how sloppy the hackers were. In cases of recent time involving large-scale credit card thefts, it's been -- the perpetrators were in Russia or the Ukraine. So it really depends how far the Department of Justice reaches in these countries. So I suspect that's where -- I think -- I'm guessing that the attackers were actually from a foreign country.

BOLDUAN: So clearly, companies and retailers, they've got a big challenge ahead of them to try to prevent from something like this happening again. What are your tips For customers? I mean, customers are the ones that are really vulnerable here. Is there any way they can protect themselves other than just watching their credit card statement closely?

MITNICK: Well, that's one thing. Watch your credit card statement. I'm sometimes guilty of not actually checking each transaction. And now people will --

BOLDUAN: We all are guilty of that, I feel like.

MITNICK: Yeah, people have to be more cautious and really take a look. Fortunately, if your credit card is stolen, you have zero liability. You can call your bank, sign an affidavit, they're gonna take that charge after your credit card.

However, when you use a debit card, if you don't catch that transaction within a certain period of time, you might be liable for it. So one thing I would do is always use a credit card. Check your credit card statement, and in this particular case, the fraudsters actually stole your credit card information or consumer information actually in a brick and mortar store, not over the internet.

So this is even more scary where you go into a physical store and your information is stolen. Unfortunately, the consumer doesn't have much control of that. The only thing a consumer can do is detect when they've been defrauded and remediate it at that point.

BOLDUAN: Handle it quickly. That seems to be really the first thing you need to do.

Kevin Mitnick, using his talents for good, which we like to highlight. Thank you so much, CEO of Mitnick Security. Thanks, Kevin.

MITNICK: Thank you for having me on your show.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, a surprise move from the White House before Monday's deadline to enroll in Obamacare for coverage in January. We're gonna break it all down for you.

Also, could it be the end of a dynasty? The family around "Duck Dynasty" is rallying around their patriarch saying if he's out, we're all out. And why some big-name conservatives are getting in on the fight. What do you think is the right thing to do here?


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here are some of the stories making news.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Wicked weather is on the its way just in time for the holiday weekend. Travelers, 100 million travelers in 30 states could actually be impacted. Ice storms already hitting parts of the west, tornadoes possible in the midwest this weekend, and the southwest also facing powerful storms and damaging winds.

The real drama was in the audience last night as part of a ceiling collapsed over the audience at a London theater. Part -- the century- old ceiling came crashing down at the Apollo Theater. More than 700 people packed into the play house at the time, dozens injured, some of them seriously. Officials are now investigating what caused that collapse.

What was supposed to be a peaceful vigilant in Durham, North Carolina turned violent Thursday. Friends and family of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta were rallying on the 1-month anniversary of his death while in police custody. Police say it turned ugly when the crowd started throwing rocks and bottles. Officers had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several people were arrested.

Six men charged Thursday with forging court documents that let two convicted murderers walk out of a Florida prison. The escape set off a statewide manhunt in September. The killers were captured weeks later. They are among those charged. Authorities say the documents bore the forged signatures of judges and attorneys. They say more suspects could still be arrested.

And I gotta show you this. It just brings me such joy. Charlie Brown's search for the true meaning of Christmas comes to life in a New York flash mob. Check it out. They recreated the iconic dance scene from a "Charlie Brown Christmas". Look at this. Look at this. Look at the girl dancing like that. And Snoopy.


BOLDUAN: Why am I the only one dancing?

PEREIRA: No, we were dancing.

CUOMO: You're the only one their size.

PEREIRA: That just screams Christmas to me. And I just love that they did a flash mob version of that.

CUOMO: Oh, so does, doesn't it?

BOLDUAN: That music always makes you happy.

CUOMO: One of the songs I always wished I could play but couldn't. I kind of fake it. Snoopy, Joe Cool with the glasses.

PEREIRA: Joe Cool, totally.

CUOMO: Continue.


Time now for our political gut check of the morning. Just days before a major deadline to enroll in Obamacare, the administration is announcing yet another change, another last-minute change to the rules, this as state exchanges, ones that have been working well, they have seen a surge in signups.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King is here with the very latest. A couple of different things happening. So let's first talk about this latest change, John, to the rules of Obamacare. This is applying to folks who had their plans canceled. And now the administration is saying there's another plan that you didn't have access to before that you can have it. What's behind this? Why do this now?

JOHN KING, CHEIF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is, Kate, why I say that Obamacare is in the eye of the beholder. Because you had that big controversy. Remember the president said if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

Well, it turned out for millions of Americans that simply was not true. And it's been one of the reasons the president's approval numbers are down. Plus, the website, the complication of the Obamacare rollout. So what the administration has said is those people who've lost their plans can purchase the catastrophic health plan that's offered through Obamacare.

And a lot of Democrats, Independent Senator Angus King last night issued a statement saying thank you to the White House, saying now the people an option. They can -- the uncertainty ends. They can find a plan.

But you have Republicans saying, `Wait a minute, Mr. President. You are now breaking your own rules, your own ambitions for Obamacare.' Because this is a cut-rate plan, doesn't have all the benefits that the president had said the whole goal of Obamacare was to get people into more comprehensive plans with better benefits.