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Christmas Eve Spacewalk; Edward Snowden Speaks; Obamacare Deadline Extended; Marines Prepare To Enter South Sudan; Birds Strike Plane; Target Security Breach; Deadly Explosion In Eygpt; Military Parents Surprise Kids; Judge Refuses to Stay Gay Marriage Ruling; New Pope's First Christmas

Aired December 24, 2013 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of course, if you were it leak ammonia, it's not a very pleasant chemical. You couldn't bring it inside. So there is definite risk out there.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mastracchio will be wearing a newly tailored spacesuit on today's mission, a replacement after a cooling issue with his previous suit during the last walk.

UNIDENTIFIED ASTRONAUT: The only issue I'm personally having is I'm very, very cold. I have very, very good air flow in my boots, but my toes are quite cold.

MACHADO: NASA says there was never any danger to the astronaut, after five hours of meticulous work for Mastracchio and Hopkins on Saturday, day one of the spacewalk is being called a success.

UNIDENTIFIED ASTRONAUT: I think I'm ready to leave this work site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, copy that, Rick.

MACHADO: NASA hopes by Christmas all the work will be done, leaving the astronauts to celebrate safely back on the space station.


MACHADO: Now this is only the second Christmas Eve spacewalk to ever happen, the first took place 14 years ago when two Discovery astronauts spent eight hours working on the Hobble space telescope. Today's spacewalk is set to start in about an hour -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alina, thank you so much. A reminder, one hour from now, we are going to have live coverage of that spacewalk. Tune in for that.

Also mission accomplished, those are the words from NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, in a new wide-ranging interview with the "Washington Post" just released. Snowden explains why he exposed the now notorious revelations on the spy program and talks about how he says he raised flags about the program before going public.

Joe Johns is in Washington this morning with much more. This was hours -- hours and hours of interviewing Edward Snowden, but we learned a lot -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Certainly true, this was interview with Barton Gelman of "The Washington Post." Edward who's leaked information from the National Security Agency had a worldwide impact. He gives this interview to "The Post," he says he's already won even though he faces criminal charges in the U.S., a long interview from Russia where he's been hiding out with the permission of the government.

For me in terms of personal satisfaction, he says, the mission is already accomplished. He said I've already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work everything that I had been trying to dos with validated because remember I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. He also says he's not being disloyal. He asserts he's trying to help the National Security Agency.

BOLDUAN: He definitely says that in the interview. He also talks about why he says, I guess, about what he says compelled him to come forward and do what he did.

JOHNS: Right. A variety of motivations I think there. He's clearly not afraid to weigh in on U.S. politics. He calls out the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers for essentially not doing their jobs properly in ensuring oversight of the NSA. He says they elected me. The overseers, Dianne Feinstein, elected me when she asked softball questions. Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs hidden. He described the agency's collection philosophy as one of ordering everything off the menu -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: A lot more to dissect from this interview, Joe, thank you very much.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So in case you're wondering, there's still time to sign up for Obamacare. The deadline for January coverage has been extended by one day. That means you can enrol through midnight tonight. The White House said the change was made for people who attempted to sign up, but were slowed by record high traffic on

We also learned the president signed up for coverage over the weekend. Athena Jones has more from Honolulu that's where the president is vacationing. What do we know, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, health officials as you mentioned pointed to a record day for on Monday with more than a million visits to the site by the afternoon. This as people all across the country were scrambling to sign up for health coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONES (voice-over): Millions of Americans got another day to get insurance coverage that starts January 1st. The cut-off was Monday, but officials now say you have until midnight today, Christmas Eve, to pick a plan. It's a welcome delay for Karla Johnson who's helping people sign up through

KARLA JOHNSON, CONSUMER OUTREACH DIRECTOR, GEORGIA WATCH: So that's great for the consumers. Consumers have somewhat of an early Christmas gift for them. You know, so I'm excited that, you know, the powers that be made this possible for more enrolment.

JONES: Some states and insurance companies have also extended the deadline for coverage starting in January to give people more time to pick a plan. The federal exchange,, saw more than 1.2 million visitors over the weekend. A last minute surge in interest, in California alone, 77,000 people signed up over the weekend.

In Washington, David Rosenberg starts a new job late next month, but needs insurance until then.

DAVID ROSENBERG, NEEDS HEALTH INSURANCE: Current coverage ends on January 1st. I'm covered through the end of this year, that's when it ends and my next coverage doesn't start until January 20th.

JONES: Joining the crowd, President Obama whose staff signed him up for a plan on Washington, D.C.'s exchange, but his $400 a month plan is purely symbolic. The military provides his care.

JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president felt strongly that he wanted to demonstrate his support for the market places and for the million Americans who shopped on those market places.

JONES: The president sounded a positive note Friday about the overall pace of enrolment so far.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Since October 1st, more than 1 million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state market place.

JONES: Still enrolment is far short of the 3.3 million the government expected by this time.


JONES: And with visits to, the federal exchange hitting more than 2.2 million over the past three days. You can bet we will be watching those numbers closely again today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Athena. We'll check back in with you. U.S. Marines are on standby to evacuate more Americans from South Sudan. Officials saying they are heading to Africa so they can quickly respond to a crisis in the world's newest country if violence escalates toward an all-out civil war. CNN's Elise Labott is following this story from Washington. Good morning, Elise. ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Good morning, Kate. Well, this is just a precautionary measure, OK. After the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year, this is the new normal. The U.S. military wants to make sure it has an emergency force on standby. So 150 troops moving from Spain to Djibouti in Africa will be at the ready to evacuate the remaining 100 or so Americans in South Sudan if the violence escalates and the country goes into all-out civil war.

The U.N. is already preparing for that possibility. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is looking to double its peacekeeping force from 6,700 from 12,000. There is one bit of encouraging news though, U.S. envoy, Donald Boot, is on the ground meeting with everybody. He seems to be making some progress in getting these warring factions, the government of President Kir and those loyal to the former vice president to the table -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Such a delicate situation, nonetheless. Elise, we'll be tracking it. Thank you so much. Let's move on now to Miguel Marquez in for Michaela this morning with other headlines.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Merry, Merry Christmas to you both.

BOLDUAN: Merry Christmas Eve.

MARQUEZ: Making news this morning, scary scene for passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight leaving St. Louis for Kansas City. The jet had to return to Lambert International Airport after a flock of birds got sucked into the plane's engines just before take-off. Passengers described hearing a loud boom and smelling smoke. More than 100 passengers had to return to the terminal and wait for a new plane that eventually took them to their destination safely.

JPMorgan Chase says it's easing up on the imposed limits on place on debit cards and those customers affected by the Target security breach. Chase informed customers that it was raising those limits to $250 a day in cash withdrawal and $1,000 a day on purchases. Chase said it may continue to change the limits as long as it makes sense to do so.

At least a dozen people are dead after a car bombing at the Interior Ministry Building in Egypt. More than 130 people were also injured. Part of the building collapsed and the blood donation center was running so low it had to turn some people away. Egypt's interim prime minister called it a terrorist incident and implied the Muslim Brotherhood was involved, but did not directly blame the group.

Documents from Israel's state archives said agents gave Nelson Mandela paramilitary training more than 50 years ago. The documents were just recently published along with others that suggest Israel opposed South Africa's apartheid government. The Nelson Mandela Foundation says there's no evidence he was in touch with Israelis at the time.

And two parents serving our country made it a very, very happy holiday season. Surprising their kids back home in Massachusetts, Doug Valencia, an Army sergeant stationed in Alabama, his wife, Melissa, in training in Texas, after fighting through travel troubles they saw their children, James and Arianna Sunday for the first time in five months. They walked on stage, finished their performance at their day care's annual holiday program. So adorable, almost as adorable as you two this morning.

CUOMO: Much more adorable. Again, the sacrifice of those families, both parents away, serving their country.

BOLDUAN: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: So this is a big day weather wise. We have the Santa track working. People are making their preparations.

BOLDUAN: You sound a little Santa-like.

CUOMO: I'm getting there, a little bit more every day. A lot of pressure on you, Indra Petersons.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I got nervous just hearing that segue. I have a little bit of anxiety at this point after that. Let's take a look outside and show you where the current systems are. This is the water vapor satellite. The system we were tracking over the weekend making its way offshore off the Carolinas. What we are watching is a little wave over the lake and the clipper.

A real hope for a white Christmas, very easy to see them all right there. This one is for Kate. Kate wants a white Christmas. You have like that tiny little bit of snow makes it to New York overnight. That's for you. There's a chance. Otherwise we're looking at the big clipper and what we'll be watching as far as the timing here. As we go into the overnight tonight. Midnight mass or going towards midnight mass, Chicago, flurries, also in through Minnesota and Wisconsin. That's where we'll see the snow.

Tomorrow morning, my definition of the white Christmas, snow is coming down, talking about Michigan and Indiana and the sky kicks out of here so very quick moving. It's a clipper. Not looking for much. When all is said and done, we could see 2 to 4 inches primarily. Making its way from the Dakotas across the lakes and back through, can I say it again, through Michigan. Those are the only chances.

Otherwise, very cool temperatures. Notice the difference. Yesterday morning it was 61 degrees in New York City. You thought it felt different today. It did, 35. I did not like it. Same thing for D.C., Charlotte, 38 degrees this morning so by now we know the cold front has made its way through and it will only get colder. Temperatures going down right now pretty much around normal on the actual east coast.

By tomorrow, look at them go down further, 29 degrees is the high for New York City. Burlington, you get a whopping 16. Merry Christmas for you. Chicago, 28 degrees, notice the trend. It's staying that way. It does moderate by the time you get to the day after Christmas. For you, Kate, Merry Christmas. You're saying there's a chance.

BOLDUAN: So you're saying there's a chance. PETERSONS: Our words.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

All right, coming up next on NEW DAY, a Utah judge makes a sudden and controversial ruling validating same-sex marriages in one of the country's most conservative states, but is the battle over?

CUOMO: And Pope Francis set to celebrate its first Christmas as leader of the world's Catholics. He's already change the way many people think inside the Catholic Church and outside. Is he going to make this Christmas different as well?


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Victory this morning in Utah for gay couples looking to finally tie the knot. A federal judge upholding his ruling that banning same sex marriages is constitutional, denying the state's request to put a temporary hold on the unions.

State attorneys are already set to appeal but what will happen next?

CNN's Miguel Marquez is here with more.

Making it sound like you're in a remote location. You're right here.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am right here with more. It sounds like this is going to go on and on. Some are calling it a Christmas miracle. Now that same sex marriage can happen in Utah, the same sex couples to get married there. The federal judge who ruled same-sex marriages are legal in the state said that any clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples will be in violation of the law.



MARQUEZ (voice-over): For gay and lesbian couples in Utah --


MARQUEZ: Those two little words mark the sound of the victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now pronounce you bound together in the covenant of marriage. What God has joined together, let no one put us under.

MARQUEZ: On Monday, federal judge Robert Shelby ruled same-sex marriages are legal, denying the conservative state's emergency request to halt them, calling the ban unconstitutional.

COURTNEY MOSER, MARRIED PARTNER IN UTAH: I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. I'm so grateful to finally have the protection of the state. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is it. It's go time.

MARQUEZ: Hundreds of LGBT couples now lining up at clerk's offices, weathering frigid temperatures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brave the cold all night long.

MARQUEZ: And long waits to tie the knot, getting their hands on marriage licenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try number four for us.

MARQUEZ: It's a victory nine years in the making since the state's ban in 2004. Utah now joins the nation's capital and 17 other states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: It's a huge deal, because for Mormons who have been spending these years fighting this battle, they've seen it happen across the country, but they really didn't expect to have it come to really their backyard.

MARQUEZ: The conservative states refusing to back down, it filed an appeal in the 10th circuit court, the state's governor accusing Shelby of being, quote, "an activist federal judge" and saying he's working to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.

COPPINS: It's going to be that much harder for conservatives to make the case that this can be stopped when Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country has now legalized it.

Once the dominos start falling you won't be able to stop it.



MARQUEZ: Now, on the heels of this dramatic development in Utah, a federal judge ruled that Ohio must recognize gay marriages on death certificates, though, that state joining in a challenge against same- sex marriage bans. My guess is it will be challenged further in Ohio in days to come.

CUOMO: That's the way the law is moving.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: In states all across the country.

MARQUEZ: The Supreme Court opened it up and I think states are doing it now constantly.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Miguel.

All right. It's "Money Time", folks. Alison Kosik is here with much more.

Alison, you well know it is Santa's big night. So, what does that mean, a record on Wall Street? Is that our Christmas gift?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Could be, could be, Kate. Look for the Santa Claus rally to continue.

Historically into the final days of the year, into the start of January, the average gain for the market is 1.5 percent. And guess what? Futures are higher this morning.

Now, there was yet another record, in fact, 48th of the year. That happened yesterday Monday for the Dow Industrials. Look at where we stand now for the year. The Dow is up 24 percent, the NASDAQ up 37 percent, the S&P 500 up 28 percent.

Good numbers there. News, though, not so cheerful for holiday sales, ShopperTrak, which is a retail number cruncher, says that from December 2nd to the 8th, those sales were down 0.8 percent from the 9th to the 15th, sales were down 2.9 percent and from December 16th to the 23rd, sales were down 3.1 percent.

And the suit seller smackdown continues. Jos. A. Bank is rejecting a $1.5 billion bid from rival Men's Wearhouse. But Men's Wearhouse says it isn't done yet. The battle started after Men's Wearhouse ousted it's former "you're going to like the way you look" chairman, George Zimmer, Jos. A. Bank launched a takeover bid only to have Men's Wearhouse turn around and make its own offer for Jos. A. Bank.

My guess, guys, is that this drama not stopping anytime soon.

BOLDUAN: Nope, nope and nope.

CUOMO: I've always confused him with the most interesting man in the world.

KOSIK: I miss him from commercials. I really do. I liked him.

CUOMO: You're going to like the way you look.

BOLDUAN: You just did it as the most interesting man in the world.

CUOMO: See, I confuse them.

BOLDUAN: Do you remember the one we came up with?


BOLDUAN: I know.

CUOMO: But thank you for shaming me on television.

BOLDUAN: No, I'm not shaming you, because I can remember that, we came up with the best line for the most interesting man in the world and we can't remember it. So, that doesn't help us at all.

CUOMO: It makes you question whether it really was the best in that case.

All right. We're going to take a break. When we come back, you'll want to hear what we have for you. Take a listen.


CALLER: Oh my God.

911 OPERATOR: Stay calm. Don't say a word. Just be quiet and breathe.


CUOMO: These are some of the urgent moments we're hearing from the first time, the frightening 911 calls from inside that Reno Medical Center is a man with a gun started shooting. You'll hear how people scrambled and survived.

BOLDUAN: And we're on the eve of an occasion that defines the faith of over a billion people. For Catholics, this year, it's extra special, the first Christmas for the new pope. Does he have a surprise in store?


CUOMO: I hope your morning is joyful and triumphant. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Thousands are flocking to St. Peter's Square to hear the pope's first Christmas mass -- Pope Francis, of course, the new pontiff. He met with his predecessor Monday as a new CNN poll shows how wildly popular he is. Listen to this -- 72 percent of Americans, 83 percent of Catholics are giving him the thumbs up.

The question is, why is he so popular and does he have a surprise in store for tonight?

CNN's Erin McLaughlin has a gift of an assignment in Rome for Christmas -- Erin.


There's a real sense of excitement here at the Vatican. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims are in town to celebrate and they tell me this is extra special. And not just because it's Christmas Eve, all eyes are on Pope Francis.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The tree is trimmed. The nativity scene is set to be unveiled and everyone seems excited for the pope's very first Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to share this special moment with a person who is beloved person and we appreciate all he's doing.

MCLAUGHLIN: Nine months into his papacy, much has been made of the pope's reforms. More scrutiny at the Vatican bank, changes to the church's bureaucratic structure, and a commission to deal with the abuse of minors. And that's to name a few.

GERALD O'CONNELL, VATICAN ANALYST: He tends to be a surprise, because he does things that are normal but are very abnormal in terms of the papacy. He brought three homeless men into the place where he's living to have breakfast with him on his birthday.

MCLAUGHLIN: The festivities began on Saturday with his Christmas message to the curia. Pope Francis urged the church's governing body to avoid gossip and to focus on service. Then he practiced what preached, spending three hours at a local hospital, bringing Christmas cheer to sick children. Francis met with Benedict for 45 minutes on Monday.

St. Peter's Basilica is the place to be on Christmas Eve. Pope Francis will celebrate the traditional mass. This year, there were a record number of requests to attend. And then on Christmas Day, tens of thousands of pilgrims will flood St. Peter's Square to hear his message to the world.

O'CONNELL: People are listening to him because he's speaking in a language that's not Vaticanese. He's speaking the language of ordinary people.


MCLAUGHLIN: Pope Francis already has his Christmas gifts taken care of -- 2,000 immigrants at a local shelter receive special packs complete with Christmas cards signed by the pope, the packs contained everything they might need to be able to phone home over the holidays, prepaid international phone cards and stamps. The pope sending a Christmas message that this holiday is about helping others -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: That is the perfect message this Christmas. Thank you so much, Erin. Enjoy your time in Rome. That's a very special assignment.

Let's get back over to Miguel Marquez, in for Michaela, for some more of today's top stories.

MARQUEZ: In boring, old New York.

BOLDUAN: Oh, boring Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Here we are.

Here's what I got for you, though.

The second Christmas Eve space walk history is set to happen in about half from now. NASA astronauts will suit up and try to fix the cooling system at the International Space Station. Today will be phase two of the repair job. The system keeps instruments inside and outside the station from overheating.

You have an extra day to sign up if you want health coverage under Obamacare starting next week. The administration says the deadline was pushed to today to help people who face Web site delays yesterday when record traffic was reported.

President Obama enrolled over the weekend, signing up for the bronze double plan. It will cost him a symbolic $5,000 a year since he's already covered by the military.

And a manhunt is under way for three bank robbers believed to have killed a police officer and wounded another in Mississippi. Officials in Tupelo say 38-year-old Gail Stauffer was shot at close range by one of the suspects, his partner is in critical condition after the two confronted the suspects who held up a local bank. Police are offering a $50,000 reward for any information in the case.

An a royal pardon for computing pioneer Alan Turing, nearly 60 years after his death. Turing played a pivotal role in breaking the seemingly impenetrable enigma code used by the Germans in World War II. He was convicted of homosexuality, which was a crime back in 1952. He committed suicide in 1954 by eating an apple believed to be laced with cyanide.

And there's no such thing as too much Christmas cheer. That's certainly the case for Jen Sazenski (ph) of Black Hills, South Dakota. This year, she has 22 -- 22, count them -- decorated trees in her home. It's an annual Christmas tradition for Jen. It took her three weeks to hang all the ornaments.