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Obamacare Signup Deadline Approaches; Taxiing Plane Crashes into Building in South Africa; Countries Evacuating South Sudan of Their Citizens; JPMorgan Chase Restricts Credit Cards After Target Hack; Obama Administration Polls Show Disapproval Growing

Aired December 23, 2013 - 07:00   ET


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning him welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, December 23rd, 7:00 in the east. Just in time for Christmas travel a weekend of wicked weather, a bizarre assortment of deadly conditions with roads slick, rivers flooded, towns damaged, even tornadoes and ice storms stretching from north to south. Meanwhile, here in New York City, an early Christmas gift, record highs of 70 degrees. So what is in store for the holiday rush? Indra Petersons bringing us up to date on all of it. You're following all of it, lots to do. Take us through it, please.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We definitely saw a lot. We saw icing in the northeast. We saw heavy rain and flooding in the Midwest, more rain in the southeast today, but record-breaking heat into the northeast. And, yes, it's hard to believe this was just the first weekend of winter.


PETERSONS: It's just two days before Christmas and a powerful storm system is knocking most of the country into weather extremes, all on one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. Freezing rain and snow slammed the middle of the country creating colossal sheets of ice on the roof of these outlets shops in Oklahoma City while in the northeast a bizarre mix of winter weather and unseasonable warmth. In upstate New York, an ice storm knocked out power, freezing branches and roadways, a stark difference just a few hours away in New York City, which saw a record high of 71 degrees over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. I feel like it's may in December.

PETERSONS: A dangerous mix of storm, flooding, snow, and ice threatens travels plans this week. And our neighbor to the north isn't immune. Toronto, Canada, saw one of its worst ice storms in recent memory. Severe storms swept across the south. In Arkansas, this damage was from a 130 mile tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I threw my whole body weighing over my 16-month- old child to save his life. Then I flung my daughter into the bathroom to save her life.

PETERSONS: In Nelson County, Kentucky, rushing floodwaters from this creek flipped an SUV downstream, killing three people inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew we had a terrible situation here. We were hoping to make some rescues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheets of rain and wind.

PETERSONS: In Charlotte, fans of the New Orleans-Carolina Panthers game endured drenching rain. The guy seemed to have the worst seat in the house as rain cascaded down from the upper deck.

Flooding in the Great Lakes had rescuers evacuating a retirement village in Larue, Ohio. For nearly 94 million expected travelers it's a whacky combo of weather.


PETERSONS: All right, take a look at what we have already seen, almost 10 inches of rain in Illinois, so still flooding concerns there this morning, about five inches now for Indiana. But on the contrast we had all this icing, over an inch especially in upstate New York. We did have that ice storm in that region. Today, what are we left with? Flood watches. We are still talking about heavy rain in the southeast. We will give you updates on this and what we're expecting as we go through the afternoon coming up in a few minutes.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Indra, thank you for that.

Let's look overseas now, where new reports of violence in South Sudan this morning as President Obama raises the stakes on possible military action there. He says he will do what it takes to protect Americans, including sending in more troops. Countries have been air lifting their citizens out of the region, and one evacuation mission has left four U.S. troops wounded after their aircraft came under fire. Let's get more on all of this. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live with the latest. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. They did get some Americans out, but for U.S. troops it was a very rough weekend.


STARR: As thousands in the war torn city faced growing violence, the U.S. evacuated what it believes are the last American citizens, many of them of Sudanese dissent, who want to get out. U.N. and civilian aircraft flew them to Juba, and the U.S. military took them to safety in Kenya. The first attempt failed on Saturday when three U.S. Air Force special osprey aircraft with 46 heavily armed troops on board were fired on. Four U.S. troops were wounded, one seriously and rushed to surgery.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's always a very tenuous situation when you are flying into a relatively unknown, very hostile environment. The rebels probably ha what's probably former Soviet Union-type weaponry. Those AK-47s are out there. STARR: All three U.S. aircraft sustained damage, but they were able fly with the wounded 500 miles from South Sudan to a safe landing zone in Uganda. The wounded troops were then flown on to Kenya. It is not clear who fired, but U.S. officials believe they were deliberately targeted.


STARR: So, Americans out of this one area of South Sudan still Americans working for the U.S. government there, those are the ones President Obama is, of course, vowing to protect. As for the four wounded U.S. troops, they have recovered enough in this holiday season thankfully to be able to phone their families and speak with them. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's good news. Barbara, thanks so much for that update.

Today marks the first major enrollment deadline for Obamacare, the last chance for people to sign up if they want coverage starting at the beginning of the year. President Obama says more than 1 million people have already enrolled through federal and state exchanges. Still, that's far lower than the administration originally predicted. And a new CNN poll shows support for the health care law has hit new lows.

For now, Athena Jones in Honolulu.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. There's one more number the president mentioned. More than half a million people signed up for plans via in the first three weeks of December alone. But even with the problem-plagued website working better now, our new poll shows the president has a long way to go to sell the health care law to the American people.


JONES: The latest poll by CNN-ORC shows the White House has a long way to go to convince the American public the president's signature domestic achievement, Obamacare, is working. Support for the affordable care act has dropped to a record low. Just 35 percent approve of the law, a five-point drop in less than a month. And 62 percent oppose it despite the president's efforts to defend it.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite the website problems, despite the messaging problems, despite all that, it's working.

JONES: The new poll numbers come as Republicans continue to rail against Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rollout and the ideas behind the fact that the federal government could manage appropriately one-sixth of the economy is proving itself erroneous.

JONES: And as members of the president's own party push to delay until 2015, fines for people who don't buy insurance by the end of March.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, 2014 will be a transitional year to find out where our glitches and little nuances that we have to work for and find out if the market can produce the products that we need to keep the U.S. healthy.

JONES: The administration did offer a reprieve last week to people whose policies are being cancelled and haven't been able to find affordable plans on the exchanges. They'll be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage or be exempted from the fine.

While enrollment for the federal website is speeding up, states running their own exchanges have seen mixed results. Making matter worse for the White House, the drop in support for the law was driven by women, 60 percent now oppose it compared to 54 percent in November.

OBAMA: Women oftentimes are the ones making health care decisions in the family.

JONES: Just last week the president and first lady launched a renewed push aimed at moms, hoping they will help sell the law. And in another sign of bad news, most poll respondents believe they will pay more, not less under the new law. And 63 percent said their medical bills will increase. Just seven percent expect them to fall.


JONES: Despite the recent jump in people signing up for coverage, the administration is still nowhere near its goal of 7 million enrolling by the end of March. Today's deadline will likely mean a surge in folks trying to sign up on, another test for the website. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, thank you for that.

Another headline for you, disaster averted barely when the wing of a British Airways jet sliced through part of a brick building at the airport in Johannesburg as it was preparing for takeoff. No one was hurt, but the passengers weren't going anywhere for a while. Neither is the plane. Rosie Tomkins has more for us from London. Rosie, what do we know?

ROSIE TOMKINS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, an incredibly frightening experience for almost 200 people on board this British airways flight intended for London. Before it even had a chance to take off, it was taxiing, preparing to take off in Johannesburg international airport and the wing, I hope you can see on the pictures now, collided with an office building on the side of the taxiway as the plane, of course, did not take off at this stage, and thankfully, nobody on board was injured, although many of them understandably very shaken up.

We were able to speak to one passenger just a short while ago who described what it was like to be on board when this happened. Let's have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were doing a decent rate of speed for taxiing purposes, and I just saw this building in front of us. I said to myself, that building looks close, but I never thought anything else about it. Then within a half a second, a millisecond the plane just smashed into whatever building that is. And there's extensive damage to the building. I said, that 747 isn't going anywhere.

What blew my mind is once we got off the plane that, wing was probably three to give meters deep into that building. So it wasn't just the tip that penetrated that building. It was like a good portion of the tail end of that wing.


TOMKINS: The passengers there very clearly shocked by the sheer impact of this collision. When it comes down to why this happened, the civil aviation authority in South Africa said to us that the aircraft travels down a taxiway that was too narrow for it. There is now a full investigation underway, so we'll keep an eye on that. And also, it's a very busy time for travel in the holiday season with the run up to Christmas, but the aircraft involved the mood and disruptions have not taken place with operations of the airport. Travel continues as normal, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Rosie, thank you for the reporting. Lucky nobody in that building got hurt, either, after looking at the pictures. Appreciate you keeping us up to date.

All right, let's get to Miguel Marquez right now. He is in for Michaela. He has the top stories for us. What do you have?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I do indeed. The M's have it today. Making news, the United Arab Emirates have sentenced a Minnesota man to a year in prison. He got in trouble for a parody video he posted on the Internet. He claims he was poking fun at teens in Dubai, but authorities claim he broke the country's cyber-crime laws and endangered national security.

It's back to court today for Utah officials who want a federal judge to stop gay marriages in that state. The judge ruled Friday that the state had to recognize same sex unions, leading to a rush of couples tying the knot. He's being asked to issue a stay. An appeals court has already declined to get involved until the lower court judge makes his decision.

An apology from Al Qaeda. A leader from the group has issued an apology for a hospital attack in Yemen earlier this month with killed dozens of people. In a video message the leader admitted to the attack while apologizing to the families of the victims, saying it was a mistake to attack the hospital. The intended strike was against a Yemeni ministry defense compound. Extraordinary.

And robots took center stage in Florida this weekend. The DARPA Robotics Challenge is sponsored by the Defense Department's research agency. Among the tasks to complete, opening a door, climbing a ladder, turning a valve, and driving a car as well. These are all too cool. There are traits that could make robots useful in disaster relief. And eight teams advanced from the weekend trails. One team will later walk away with $2 million.

And a little girls dying wish was granted by 10,000 Christmas carolers. Eight year old Lanny Brown has leukemia. She had two wishes, to meet Taylor Swift, and to hear Christmas carols at her home in Pennsylvania. On Friday, her birthday, she video chatted with Swift, and on Saturday, the singer came. At first it was just 200, but the crowd grew to 10,000. Amazing, she was too weak to go to the window, but she did hear them and later posted two thumbs up on Facebook. How sweet is that?

CUOMO: That is beautiful.

BOLDUAN: And 10,000 came together to sing to her. Thanks, Miguel.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, it gets worse for Target shoppers who had their info hacked. Now a major bank is making it even tougher for them this Christmas. We'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: And then the tweet heard around the world, a comment from a PR executive being insensitive is sparking outrage on social media, and in a matter of hours it cost her job. Now she's speaking out. Detail ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Is Target off target when it comes to online security? Some 40 million customers caught in that massive credit and debit card hack are now filing lawsuits claiming target security practices are behind the times. Meanwhile, at least one bank is playing the grinch, clamping down on some Target shoppers' credit card just in time for Christmas. CNN's George Howell is at a Target store in Warrenville, Illinois. Hey, George, what do we know?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, there you said it. You could call this bad timing. But that would be an understatement. Sales are reportedly down. This data breach has cost Target customers all of this playing out during a crucial week for sales.


HOWELL: Some last minute Christmas shoppers may be frozen in their tracks because of the massive security breach at Target. JPMorgan Chase the nation's largest bank has temporary placed limits on those customers potentially impacted by the hacking. Chase clients who shopped at U.S. Target stores between November 27th and December 15th can now only withdraw $100 a day from ATMs, their daily total spending now capped at $300.

With 40 million credit and debit card accounts now considered compromised, irate customers took Target to task online. One tweet reads, quote, my bank account got hacked and now I can't finish Christmas shopping @Target anything to help? Another chimed in, the moral of this story, Target hacking and Chase bank card limits -- have a backup plan, cash, paper checks, gift cards, one other bank card; and other hacked customers are asking why it wasn't noticed sooner.

ERICA EAKEN, HACKED TARGET CUSTOMER: They purchased six gift cards at $200, and as the person at the bank told me, they went for a seventh, and it was denied because I didn't have enough. I think that would have been suspicious.

HOWELL: U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Chuck Schumer are now demanding immediate federal investigations to prevent a breach like this from happening again.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NY: We could get to the bottom of how Target's in-store payment security was compromised in order to make sure that Target in the future, and all other stores, adequately protect consumers from this kind of devastating theft.

HOWELL: Some customers in California have already filed what could become a class action lawsuit against Target saying the chain, quote, "failed to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices."

Target said on Sunday it notified millions of affected customers via e-mail and is working with the Secret Service and financial institutions to resolve the problem. They also offered customers 10 percent store-wide discounts this weekend as well as free credit monitoring.


HOWELL: According to National Retail Federation, we could see more problems like this in the future, simply because of the magnetic strip on the back of these cards, technology that they say is also used on cassette discs, cassette tapes I should say, the same technology that can be easily compromised, Chris, Kate, and copied.

CUOMO: George, I must make an executive decision. Your shot is far too cold. It is impossible to report on television from your current position. As important as the Target store is, you must get to a warmer location or your mouth will fall off.

HOWELL: You know, Chris, you power through it. I'm powering through it. You know. Keep your ears warm.

BOLDUAN: You are a very strong man.

CUOMO: George, you're the man; I wilt in the cold. We all know it when I'm on location. Thank you for being there for us this morning.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, George. All right, coming up next --

HOWELL: I'd I take Athena's shot instead.

BOLDUAN: We all would, Athena is in Honolulu where the president is on vacationing. We should take the show on the road.

Our floor director says, yes, please, next up on NEW DAY, today is the first the critical deadline for Obamacare. This coming while CNN poll numbers show there may be bigger problems ahead for the law. They're still having trouble winning support.

CUOMO: And later, a question you hopefully never have to answer. What would you do if you were on a school bus and it lost control. Just a fraction to react. And that's all it took for two teachers to save a bus full of kids, amazing heroes coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. So, it's time now for our Political Gut Check of the morning. This is a key deadline today for the president's healthcare law, if you want to get Obamacare coverage beginning the 1st of the year. This comes as new CNN polling numbers show that the law has an uphill battle. The administration does in terms of winning support for the loss.

What does this all mean? Let's turn to chief national correspondent John King to break it down for us. Some really interesting poll numbers coming out, just releasing this morning, John. You got the deadline. You also have, and we'll go through some of these numbers, but just to throw up one of them -- favor when you talk about support or oppose the law, 35 percent favor the law, 62 percent oppose. What do you see as you dig into these numbers?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You see the ditch that the administration has dug for itself. Look, this was a law that divided the country anyway, but they you had the rollout drive a lot of the president's supporters away. What's especially troubling for the president, Kate, when you look at the healthcare number, add in what we know about the president's approval rating and other numbers, it's he's losing part of his own base here.

I'll give you another number, I hope we have to show people - 60 percent of women now oppose Obamacare. That's up six points in just a month. Now, that's the president's base. Those are the people who make a lot of the healthcare and financial decisions for American families.

So look, the president has a problem here. Now, you heard him the other day in this press conference - his year-end press conference as he headed off to Hawaii. He thinks there's only one way to go but up. But that is the challenge to the administration; when people are so skeptical and so opposed, if they make the progress they say they will make over the next 2,3,6 months. Will people change their minds, or are people so frustrated by all this that they're dug in in opposition?

BOLDUAN: Yeah, so I mean you could say that the administration probably isn't surprised when they look at these numbers, but how they turned it around is obviously the big question.

Here's one number I think is particularly troubling for the administration on the question of when we ask people, the amount that you pay for medical care under the new law, look at that, 63 percent think their medical bills, what they're going to pay is going to increase. Only 7 percent think their bills will decrease. When the law's name is the Affordable Care Act, you got to say, that's a problem. KING: It's a problem both from a policy standpoint, economic standpoint for American families who still don't think this recovery has a full head of steam. It's a huge problem for the administration politically, Kate, if that does not change. Because that's what Republicans are counting on. They're counting in next year a midterm election year where they hope to get control of the Senate back, where they hope to build their House majority. They're counting on, especially middle class families, to just be mad about this law, to be furious about it, to think I'm paying more, I don't like the paperwork. Some of them had to change their doctors or their plan. It's disruptive, it costs more, and I don't like it.

That's what Republicans are counting for for the political argument. And for the administration, let's just focus on the policy. This is the president's signature domestic initiative. He needs people to warm to it, and look it's just -- it's healthcare. It's the most - one of the most important things in your life.

CUOMO: Well, you got bad facts for the Democrats, for the administration on this, and bad tactics. To be honest, they haven't done well in dealing with what has been out there about them, and how it spun as well. That's on them.

Then you get to the bigger issue for the families. Whether or not it's more expensive, we're not going to know until we understand the pool. Everybody who understands anything about the actuarial tables say that. So you then get into this looming problem. I don't understand, maybe you do. What do you do about this going forward? If the pool is not big enough, what do you do? If they need to make changes, how do you do it? I mean, is there any course for a solution here?

KING: That's the snowball that's rolling down the hill. There's both the policy snowball and a political snowball. And the administration has tried to do a lot, Chris. We've talked about it. They've extended some deadlines, they've waived some rules, they're trying to change this. They're allowing those whose plans got canceled to buy sort of a bare bones policy, a catastrophic policy. So, they've done a bonch of things administratively. The Congress wants to push different ideas between Democrats and Republicans to do more. Senator Joe Manchin, conservative Democrat from West Virginia said let's still delay the thing another year.

CUOMO: Yeah, but if you do that --

KING: The administration says -

CUOMO: But if you delay the mandate, then a lot of the people - so if you delay the mandate, that means that people who don't have policies right now or want to swap out don't have to. The assumption is a lot of them at a younger, healthier people, so then you aren't getting the people into the pool that make it affordable in the first case, so that really can't be done, can it?

KING: Well, if it's done, that's why the administration says it can't be done, because as you know, it affects the numbers, it affects the math, it effects the economics. And so, it opens the trapdoor.

The administration's case is you do that, you essentially say bye-bye Obamacare as constructed. You have to go back and rewrite a much more modest program. That's what the Republicans want. And that's what some conservative Democrats want. Imagine going, this is chaotic enough. Confusing enough from a policy standpoint and politically. Imagine going through that in the middle of a high-stakes election year.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right, and even the insurance industry, who fought the law all along the way, they're now even saying you can't keep changing horses mid-stream. You can't keep changing this. It's risking kind of the base that pool so they can make affordable plans. I mean, it's a real policy problem.

KING: Their point is the administration keeps moving the goal post when it changes this deadline or that deadline or this fact or that fact. It allows people different options through it. The industry, you are right. The industry has been critical. Remember the president campaigned against the insurance industry to get this passed. They have been reluctant but pretty good partners in shaping it together. Now the industry is saying, hey, wait a minute, you can't keep changing this every week.

The president can only hope here that it just starts to get better for people. Stop the bleeding and starts to get better, and by politically, by next September, October, and election day in November, people feel a lot better about it.