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Christmas Travel Trouble; Retailers' Last Push Before Holiday; Target: Data Breached, Now Fixed; High Drama in Space; Interview with Jack Kingston

Aired December 20, 2013 - 08:00   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The way you just said all, it almost sounds like I'm making this up. But unfortunately, I am not. Many people are trying to head out for the holidays, having several storms moving in across the country, another case of here we go again.


PETERSONS (voice-over): 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 threatening the travel plans of 94 million Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to go on the airplane?



PETERSONS: From the South to the Midwest, the risk 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.

Snows 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 they said that 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 a destination, who will have a white Christmas? Right now, it's looking like Colorado and parts of the Great Lakes.


PETERSONS: There's so much going on, here is kind of your cliff notes. Heavy rain and flooding, some icy concerns, even heavy snow and yes the threat for severe weather and isolated tornadoes, we're going to give you the entire update on all of this coming up in a few minutes. It is not even winter yet, by the way, that starts Saturday but we're getting there.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But it's already playing into the situation. For instance the last-minute shopping rush is officially on. Some stores are staying open around the clock from this day until Christmas Eve to make sure you have a great Christmas and take advantage of the final rush of shoppers, many forced into last-minute moves because of the weather and general procrastination.

CNN's Pamela Brown is live in New York's Herald Square with more.

Did you get my gift yet?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Chris, still waiting for it. I know.

Well, it is crunch time as you pointed out there, Chris. In fact, the amount of discount stores are offering this season up 13 percent, a big reason is the weather and the fact that the holiday shopping season is six days shorter this year.

So, you're seeing stores like Macy's behind me ramp up their sales, stay open around the clock to try to lure in customers and beat the competition. And if you're waiting until the last minute to shop, good news, that may actually work in your favor.


BROWN (voice-over): The Christmas crush is on. And this year, it seems the shoppers have the edge.

(on camera): So who is in a better position this holiday shopping season, the customer or retailer?

HITHA PRABHAKAR, CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER OF HP RETAIL ADVISORY: The customer is definitely in a better position this holiday season. One of the reasons why is because of weather. Weather has really had an impact on shopping. People haven't been going out because the weather's been so bad, therefore retailers are doing everything they can to get the shoppers in and start spending their money and that means even more discounts.

BROWN (voice-over): Deep discounts as high as 80 percent, meaning some stores will be losing money just to get inventory off the shelves, according to retail experts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were actually better deals after Black Friday, like the week after.

BROWN: Stores like JCPenney are dramatically dropping prices on certain items for super Saturday. The second busiest shopping day of the year behind Black Friday. Walmart is offering gift certificates with certain purchases, and taking the price match guarantee program to a whole new level by paying back customers the difference, if a competitor is advertising a lower price.

So, this year if you're a procrastinator you're in luck. Toys "R" Us and select Macy's locations are staying open around the clock through Christmas Eve, hoping to lure in those last-minute shoppers.

PRABHAKAR: If you are a procrastinator this might work in your favor, you might come under budget because so many discounts are happening.

And we're not just talking about discounts on apparel and shoes and accessories. We're talking about electronics, big TVs, stereos, headphones.

BROWN: And if you'd rather not face the crush of last-minute crowds, retailers are making online shopping more convenient than ever, with free shipping and quicker delivery. EBay is offering same-day delivery service and Amazon is offering one day shipping on orders placed by midnight on December 23rd and offering express delivery in certain cities.


BROWN: And the National Retail Federation says the average holiday shopper has only completed half their shopping, and I had to if check for myself, Chris, Kate, and, Michaela, how real these deals are.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my!

BROWN: Let me tell you something, they're real.

BOLDUAN: Good use of your time between live shots, well done.

CUOMO: Gift for me in there?

BROWN: It's part of my job. I had to go make sure everything I'm reporting is accurate, clearly enjoying this assignment.

BOLDUAN: Well done, Pamela. Pamela noticeably silent on the question from Chris, "Where's my gift?"

CUOMO: Right. She assumed it was a gift to her. She was asking what my gift is, I'm holding it down here.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Her track record is good. She got us lotto tickets that didn't win but still got us lottery tickets.


CUOMO: Where money come from the shopping? You know what I'm saying?

PEREIRA: Your credit card.

Let's move and take a look at our headlines, shall we? Six minutes after the hour.

The White House is now giving people who had their individual insurance policies canceled because of Obamacare, another option to not fall through the cracks -- the option to buy catastrophic coverage. Meanwhile, state officials are reporting seeing a surge in signups, rising 30 percent to 40 percent in the last few weeks. Monday is the deadline to enroll to guarantee coverage on January 1st.

U.S. troops headed to South Sudan. The African nation is on the brink of civil war this morning. President Obama deciding to deploy 45 members of the military to protect the U.S. embassy and Americans in the area. Violence erupted in the country after an apparent coup attempt Sunday. So far, 500 people have been killed in the fighting.

Back here at home, Target says it has fixed the data security breach involving a staggering 40 million credit and debit cards. A spokesman now says there's no indication that debit card PINs were impacted. Still, 40 million debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes are out there.

The entire student body and staff of a southern California high school will be screened for tuberculosis after 45 students tested positive, 1,800 students and staff will be tested today at Indio High School in Palm Desert, even though the risk of transmission appears fairly low.

We have to show you this, two elementary school teaches hailed for preventing what could have been a catastrophic school bus accident. You can see the bus goes out of control, making a turn, the driver falls out of his seat, that's when one teacher grabs the wheel, another climbs into the driver's seat to slam on the brakes and was able to stop the bus from crashing into a ditch.

You can hear the screams but fortunately no one was hurt. What a terrifying ordeal and quick thinking on those teachers' parts.

BOLDUAN: Quick thinking. Wow.

PEREIRA: Those are your headlines for this hour, Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: Good stuff, thanks for that one, Mick.

All right. "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson sparked a heated debate after hat he said about African-Americans and gay people in an interview with "G.Q." Now, the "Dynasty" clan is suggesting the show may not continue if Phil is at the helm.

So, is the show in trouble? But more importantly, are we all in trouble. The standards that govern a situation like this, was the right thing done or wrong thing done?

Joining us from Washington is Michael Medved. He is the host of "The Michael Medved" and the co-host of PBS "Sneak Previews."

Michael, merry Christmas, happy holidays to you. Thanks for joining us on the show. MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO HOST: Thanks a lot.

I'm -- I've heard "Sneak Previews" mentioned, we've been off the air since 1996, but still appreciate the credit.

CUOMO: I've appreciate it, though, it was clearly an error. So, let's talk about other errors here that you may point out to us.

MEDVED: No problem.

CUOMO: How do you feel about this situation, Michael? What's your gut on it?

MEDVED: Well, my gut on it is that committed media malpractice. For them to come forward with a statement that never articulated what it is exactly they were objecting to.

One of the points here is that everyone's saying that Phil Robertson made vile remarks, hate-filled remarks. What he said was coarse, it was crude, but there was nothing here that seemed to be a red line that was crossed. If that red line was there, what was it? Is it somehow a red line to say that most men instinctively are more attracted to women than men, which is what he said? Is it somehow a red line to paraphrase First Corinthians which is in the New Testament?

I mean, the point about this entire controversy is that people need to go back and actually read the interview in "G.Q." and there's nothing in the interview where Phil Robertson was saying something hugely absurd or outrageous or something that should have been a surprise to A&E or anyone else who is working with him.

CUOMO: Well, let's unpack it this way.


CUOMO: First of all, there's a little question that A&E has the legal standing to do what they did so this is really about judging, not the law, but right in a social context. We agree on that. OK.

MEDVED: Right. Absolutely.

CUOMO: So let's not judge, but where is it coming then from, Michael, if it you believe nothing that was said was beyond any line, although we agree we don't know what the line is because society is totally stratified on what's decent and indecent. So what is fueling the reaction?

MEDVED: Well, part of what is fueling the reaction is this is "Duck Dynasty." We're not talking about the show on PBS, like the show that I used to have. We're talking about "Duck Dynasty". And also, it's not something he said on the air.

When Martin Bashir was suspended at MSNBC -- he, in fact, fired. He was fired for something that was scripted that he said on the air, that he said that was representing the network. This is a private interview, with a I think clearly hostile reporter who was trying to get embarrassing things out of Phil Robertson and it's something I think was insensitive. And what's ironic to me here, Chris, you and I might agree, is that what I said, what Phil Robertson said about African-Americans in Louisiana before civil rights was probably less more insensitive than anything that he said about homosexuality.

CUOMO: Yes, I think there's a distinction, though, because I have noticed that that doesn't seem to be getting the attention that the comments about gay people did and I wondered why that is. I went back and I looked at it again and I do think you can take contextually what he was talking about in his experience growing up as either accurate or inaccurate, but certainly not designed to have any particular message attached to it.

He may have been oblivious or the people around him may have been exhibiting exactly the reaction he said, but in either event, he wasn't targeting a group for exclusion. Whereas with homosexuals, whether he was talking about extractions from the Bible or not, it seems as though he is targeting a group for prejudice that has been recognized by many in this society as deserving protection from that. Fair point?

MEDVED: OK. No, I don't think so it's a fair point, but he isn't targeting a group for prejudice. One of things he's doing -- he is a recovering alcoholic. He talks about that, and when he gives his list of sinners who are all forgiven which is part of what he talks about, yes, he includes homosexuals. He includes drunkards, he includes idolaters, he includes slanderers, he includes greed, he includes a range of what the Bible defines as sinful behavior.

And now, to have someone, to have one of the most popular shows on A&E, it is the most popular show, the most successful reality show in history suspended over someone who is paraphrasing the bible is just an believable mistake on the part of A&E, that I think they'll come to regret and probably will walk back from.

I predicted yesterday on the air that the family would do exactly what it's done, we are standing by Phil and, right now, you know the TV business, Chris, just as well as I do, there are going to be tons of other network opportunities that are just waiting to provide a new home for "Duck Dynasty" if A&E really lets them go.

CUOMO: All right. But again to the point and we'll see that play out. Frankly I'm less interested in what happens. I don't know the move wasn't motivated by the business model with "Duck Dynasty"" it was easier to pull this move than not, maybe if it was at a different point in the series, they wouldn't have done it, but they do it now.

So I'm less interested in all the machinations, more interested in what this means in our society, and my question to you is, if you are trying to create a culture, I think, that is inclusive of gay people, right, you have all this law now about same-sex marriage.

MEDVED: Yes. CUOMO: When you are open in your feelings that they should not be included in the rest of society, that they are somehow less than, that perhaps --

MEDVED: He never said that. Chris, Chris, he never said that. You go back and you read the remarks. Basically what he is saying is a standard Christian approach. We are all sinners, and we have various sins, and here is what I think is --

CUOMO: Standard Christian or standard straight adaptations strictly from the bible? Different things.

MEDVED: No, the standard Christian approach is from the New Testament, and, by the way, from the Old Testament as well. Look, I do not believe that what Vladimir Putin is doing --

CUOMO: Standard Christian would be New Testament, right, in terms of just what it represents and not a lot of this kind of talk in the New Testament, a lot of it is directed at the Old Testament.

MEDVED: I'm sorry, his quote is an accurate paraphrase from First Corinthians.

CUOMO: Right.

MEDVED: And you see, this is -- this is what the problem is here. The problem is you and I would agree, I think everyone would agree there are certain things someone could say even in an interview that should lead to consequences -- if you use the "N" word.


MEDVED: If you use the "F" word.

CUOMO: Targeting an actual individual, I agree.

MEDVED: He didn't do that and he also didn't do -- there was a previous talk show host who was suspended because he said on the air, to a caller "I hope you get AIDS and die."

CUOMO: Right.

MEDVED: That's appropriate to get busted for.

Phil Robertson didn't do any of that. What he was stating a religious and personal point of view. "Duck Dynasty" is not a show that comments about social issues.

CUOMO: Right.

MEDVED: Look, he says politically incorrect things on the show all the time. He has said on the show that every young man should be looking for say a woman who walks quietly with a bible and knows how to cook.

Now, some people might say that's offensive but, you know what, that's why people tune in to "Duck Dynasty." These people are real, they speak from the heart.

They speak probably to a huge segment of America.

CUOMO: And as you say, he didn't say it on the show, he didn't target an individual and you don't ascribe any particular malice, you see it as a reflection of his beliefs that he took from the bible, that's your case.

MEDVED: Correct. By the way that's in the text of what he said. What he said is repeatedly, "I don't hate anybody, I don't judge anybody. It's up to God to judge all sinners." And yes, he includes himself in that category and talks candidly about his former alcoholism and shortcomings.

This entire thing I think is hugely embarrassing for A&E and is only going to strengthen the popularity of "Duck Dynasty" for people who are courageous, and who say what they believe, and are what they are, and aren't trying to pretend to any level of political correctness.

A&E would be in big trouble if they demanded they shave their beards and I don't think they're going to end up demanding they change their core beliefs.

CUOMO: And it is interesting to note, at this point in the debate, let's call it, it is people coming out in defense of him from the public sphere, politicians and so forth, rather than on the other side. We haven't seen that side yet. I wonder if we will.

Michael, thank you very much for the perspective. Great to have you on here. Look forward to having you again.

MEDVED: I appreciate it, Chris. And thanks for the intelligent discussion.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris. Coming up next, dangerous repairs in space. The International Space Station group planning a series of urgently needed space walks. How will NASA keep the astronauts safe? What are they going to do?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

A gravity-defying last resort at the International Space Station. Tomorrow, astronauts make the first of three emergency spacewalks to fix a critical cooling system. But the risky fix comes at a tense time, the last astronaut to attempt a space walk nearly lost his life.

CNN's John Zarrella has more on this.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the International Space Station astronauts, Christmas will be a working holiday. Three planned space walks, the first Saturday, the last coming Christmas morning -- 220 miles above the earth, quite literally, high drama.

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will spend about 20 hours in space removing the 780-pound failed cooling pump and replace placing it with the spare. Much of the time, Mastracchio will be dangling from the end of the station's robotic arm. Two pumps are used to call the station, the failure of either is considered critical. NASA says it learned a lot from a similar incident back in 2010 that's given them confidence this time.

DINA CONTELLA, ISS FLIGHT DIRECTOR: I looked around the room today and said, "what are people worried about" and really there was not much to be said. So I think we're ready to go out the door on Saturday.

ZARRELLA: A valve inside the pump failed over a week ago. Complicating matters, NASA has to carefully watch the crew's space suits. Back in July, astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet began mysteriously filling with water, scary moments as other station crew members raced to get his helmet off.

NASA still doesn't completely understand what went wrong. This will be the first walk since.

CONTELLA: Whole days have been spent with a lot of water chemists trying to figure this out. We have not said it's something that for sure complete wide.

ZARRELLA: Space agency officials don't expect the problem to repeat but they are taking no chances. Water absorbing pads have been installed in space suit helmets and tubing on the station has been fashioned into snorkels.

ALLISON BOLINGER, LEAD SPACEWALK OFFICER: This is your last resort that if water is encroaching your face similar with Luca the crew member can use this to breathe to receive fresh oxygen down near his mid section.

ZARRELLA: The astronauts always seem to make a space walk look easy but the bottom line is NASA never wants them to venture outside unless there's no other choice. This is one of those times.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


BOLDUAN: Amazing they can pull it off. Thanks, John.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, when kids are poor, many states like Georgia give them free breakfasts and lunches. That's good. How about making them work for them? A Georgia congressman says that's good, too. We'll test the idea, live.


PEREIRA: Welcome back. It is time for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. Number one, it's weather, people. Extreme weather set to hit most of the eastern U.S. This weekend, tornadoes, snow, severe storms all possible. You should expect your holiday travel plans to be affected.

An investigation is under way to what caused a ceiling to collapse during a performance last night in London's Apollo Theater. Seven people were seriously hurt among the dozens who were injured.

The Senate has approved a comprehensive new defense bill that raises troop pay and revamps how the military handling cases of sexual assault and rape. The president is expected to sign it into law.

A Kansas airport worker accused of planning a suicide bombing in court today for a detention hearing. Prosecutors argue he's a public danger and want him held before his trial in February.

And number five, Target says it has fixed the data security nightmare that affected as many as 40 million debit and credit card accounts. Spokesman says now there's no indication that debit card PINs were affected.

We always update those five things to know, so make sure to go to for the very latest -- Chris.

CUOMO: There's no such thing as a free lunch, right?

Republican congressman from Georgia is under fire this morning for saying low income children should have to work for part of the benefits they receive as part of a federal school lunch program. Take a listen to what Congressman Jack Kingston said.


REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: Why don't you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria? And, yes, I understand that would be an administrative problem and I understand it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people, getting it out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.


CUOMO: Joining us now is Congressman Jack Kingston.

Congressman, thank you for joining us. I know that you feel that media outlets, liberal leaning media outlets have been misunderstanding your point. Lucky for you, you're not on one this morning.

So tell us, what is this statement supposed to mean?

KINGSTON: Chris, first of all, thank you for letting me be on with you.

The discussion, the greater discussion, which was kicked off with a question of how many of you had a job when you were 14 or 15 years old, in which you learned something that you still applied to your day-to-day job or your life. And the discussion, the greater discussion was about the American work ethic, and how do we pass that on to the next generation.

And you know, to my critics in terms of well I did not specify clearly that this was not an indictment on anybody in a particular socioeconomic group, this would be good for all children, and as you probably know, Chris, there are schools in which kids do clean the table after they eat, there's one in Alexandria, Virginia. In Chatham County, you have to have 20 hours of community service in order to graduate.

CUOMO: Um-hum.

KINGSTON: So there are a lot of good things that kids can learn from chores in school, outside of the home, in the home, and things that I think we need to get back to in America for our work ethic.

CUOMO: Amen, amen, I say to you, Congressman. So let me ask you, should you be saying all kids, not just kids who are poor, so they need to have lunch subsidies, but all kids should do what you're suggesting, isn't that what you mean?

KINGSTON: I think so, and to be a little bit picky -- I again appreciate the time, Chris. I never did say "poor kids". You know, this was recorded by Democrat tracker. It was a public meeting. My Democrat opponent hires somebody to follow me around and record everything I say and turn things into politics.