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UPS Packages Delayed Due to Volume; Pope Francis Delivers First Christmas Mass; Top Legal Stories for 2014; Home for the Holidays; Helping Veterans Come Home

Aired December 25, 2013 - 11:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A prayer for peace and an end to suffering. In his first Christmas Day message Pope Francis said may the lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts.

And the holiday of very big surprises like this one right here -- those serving our country in uniform around the world returning home unannounced, a gift that warms the hearts of their loved ones and pretty much all of us.

Making the best of Christmas when you're far apart from your loved ones. We're going to be live with Dr. Mary Brown when she speaks to her husband William Brown in Afghanistan.

Hello, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown in today for Ashleigh Banfield. It is Christmas Day, and we're so happy you could spent a part of the holiday with us on LEGAL VIEW. Thank you so much for being here with us.

Some UPS customers may not be getting their Christmas gifts after the holiday. Thousands of packages did not make it in time for Christmas, and the company says that's because it was simply overloaded with high demand.

Our Margaret Conley is following the story. She joins me now. Margaret, a lot of unhappy ups customers today. Tell us, what exactly happened here?

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pam, there may be some IOUs under the Christmas tree this morning. UPS is backlogged, meaning some holiday gifts won't be delivered in time.

The company issued this statement. "UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination. However the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas, so some shipments were delayed."

CNN spoke with a UPS spokeswoman. She apologized. She said some of the factors were that, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that period was shorter this year.

She also said that some of the consumer -- the trend of consumers shopping online more contributed to this. UPS did consider doing deliveries today, on Christmas Day, but ultimately decided to not ask their drivers to come in to work on the holiday.

Now, all of this has had an impact on companies as well. Amazon alerted customers to what they say is a failure of UPS transportation network. They are offering to refund some shipping charges and give out gift cards.

BROWN: So. people across the country must be disappointed, but you know, Margaret, I guess, those who don't have a gift to give their loved one, they have a pretty good excuse here, right?

CONLEY: Right.

Now, UPS is -- from what we've seen, a lot of problems we've seen, they've been on the distribution side, not on the weather or technical glitches that we've seen that have held up deliveries in the past.

Here's what some people are saying.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell you how many countless hours we have spent on the phone dealing with this issue with people in Memphis, and they're still blaming it on the ice storm, which was two-and-a-half weeks ago.

It's terribly disappointing, because we ordered these things on December 1st.

They can't find them, because there's a thousand packages on pallets in there and they can't find our package.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to the front of the line after waiting about an hour, and they said it hasn't been processed yet and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been here since 8:00.


CONLEY: Now, people are also taking to Twitter and Facebook to vent.

In response, we're also seeing comments from workers from UPS themselves. They're saying they all work really hard, and people have too high expectations.

Now, UPS workers, they'll be back first thing tomorrow morning, Thursday, making deliveries.


BROWN: And as UPS said, it cannot control the weather.

Margaret Conley, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Merry Christmas to you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (via translator): In every place, turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue.


BROWN: Thousand pilgrims filled St. Peter's Square this morning for Pope Francis' very first Christmas Day message to the city and the world.

The pope singled out Syria, South Sudan, Iraq and the Philippines for special prayers, reminding all that peace calls for, quote, daily commitment and we can't do it alone.

Hours earlier in the first Christmas mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope hand-delivered a statue to the front of the infant Jesus to the front of the altar, as we see here.

And he ended that service in a manner we've all come to expect, tending to the lambs in his worldwide flock.

And John Allen was watching as always. CNN's Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the "National Catholic Reporter" joins me now live from Rome.

Great to have you here with us, John. So, tell us, what was your takeaway --


BROWN: Merry Christmas.

Tell us what your takeaway was, John, from Pope Francis' Christmas message and how it was different from his predecessors.

ALLEN: Well, of course, the mechanics of the Christmas ritual here, Pam, are pretty much the same every year, and so the things that he did, that is, celebrating the mass of Christmas, the Urbi and Orbi address to the city and world this morning, those are all things we've seen before.

But I think in many ways this was a vintage Francis performance, because the theme throughout was what the Catholics often call the social gospel, that is lifting up the special concern for the poor, for victims of violence and war, for those who have been forgotten about, cast aside, marginalized.

So, last night, for example last night, we heard Francis talking about how God chose to be born as a poor person, and that the news of his birth was presented first to the shepherds in the field because they're the ones in the margins.

This morning, we heard this forceful, even impassioned, appeal for peace from the pope, as you said, beginning with Syria and then radiating out to a number of other global hotspots.

In addition, we also all saw that vintage streak of dialogue and outreach from Francis when the pope said this morning he wants to try to build peace, not just drawing on Catholics, but also followers of other religions and even nonbelievers. He wants them all working together.

So, the social gospel and the pope of dialogue, that's what we've come to expect from Francis over nine months, and that's what we got over Christmas, Pam.

BROWN: And, you know, 150,000 people filled St. Peter's Square, as we mentioned, the Vatican saying that it got a number -- a record number of requests, really a reflection, John, of the pope's popularity.

Is he boosting mass attendance at regular churches?

ALLEN: It depends on what part of the world we're talking about, Pam. There was one recent survey in the United States by the Pew Forum that found, at least so far, they couldn't detect an uptick in mass attendance or in people who would identify themselves as Catholics in the United States.

Now, on the other hand, there was a recent survey here in Italy that found that more than half the country's Catholic parish priests report that in their parishes they have seen increases in mass attendance and they have seen an increase in requests for the sacrament of confession because of Pope Francis.

So I think it's going to take some time to see how this plays out around the world, but I think the one thing that's indisputable, Pam, is that most of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will tell you they feel like this pope has given the church a breath of fresh air and a new lease on life.

BROWN: And on that note, John, very quickly here, as we look ahead to the new year and beyond, the pope really has shifted the focus of the church and the conversation really to service, humility, acceptance over power and judgment in the church.

Do you think he has permanently changed the course of the church?

ALLEN: Well, I think in just nine months of his papacy he's made himself virtually unforgettable.

Now, I think the structural work of bringing the church along with his vision remains to be done, and we're going to continue to see him plug away on that in 2014.

But I will tell you this. He's utterly changed the public conversation about the Catholic Church, and that's no small accomplishment for a man who's been in office less than a year.

BROWN: Yeah, and hard to believe that many of us didn't even know who he was before nine months ago.

John Allen, thank you so much.

2013 was a year chock-full of legal landmarks and a few landmines, from Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage and voting rights to the wrangling in Washington over ObamaCare and the NSA.

But what's in store for 2014? Two of the best legal minds out there, Danny Cevallos and Alan Dershowitz join me with their predictions, up next.


BROWN: I need a lawyer, not your ordinary holiday greeting, but this is LEGAL VIEW, so today we're taking a look ahead at what may be the top legal stories for 2014.

And joining us now with their predictions, famed attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. He is the author of the new book, "Taking the Stand -- My Life in Law."

Also with me, CNN legal analyst and defense attorney Danny Cevallos.

Thank you both for being here with us on this Christmas Day. We appreciate it.

Alan, I want to go to you first and just kind of get your predictions for what you think that the big legal stories will be for the year ahead.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: Think national security when you think of 2014. It will be a major year for national security issues.

The NSA is coming under tremendous scrutiny. Even today, as we speak, Snowden is making a speech from England following the Queen's address. It will get a lot of attention.

Congress will be hearing a lot of information about the NSA.

We'll also be having legal cases involving drones, targeted killing.

We may see the International Criminal Court flex its muscles and go after Israel, which would be a terrible, terrible mistake, but it may happen, and that may get litigated around the world.

We'll see other issues relating to Iran, presidential powers, the power of Congress. I think it will be more of a national and international security year than a year focusing o

This, I think, will be much more an international and national security year than a year focusing on domestic issues, although we'll see some cleaning up of the gay-rights issue. I think that's an issue that will be over within a few years, but this year we'll see more and more courts striking down prohibitions on gay marriage.

We'll see some affirmative action cases.

We'll see some focus on insider trading as the government ratchets up its concerns about Wall Street.

And so I think we'll see a mixture, but the focus I think will be on national security and international cases.

BROWN: And, Danny, you had mentioned that gay marriage is what you think will continue to be a top legal story for next year.

Eighteen states have now legalized same-sex marriage. Thirty-two have a ban on same-sex marriage. Tell us what else your predictions are for the year ahead.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Let's start with decriminalization and other drugs.

Between Eric Holder's announcement that the federal government would prosecute less these crimes, and even Obama commuting sentences, it appears 2014 is going to be the year of decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs, and possibly a move towards getting rid of mandatory- minimum sentences.

On the other hand, you have, in 2014, I think we're going to see a real move, the dominos are going to begin to fall when it comes to same-sex marriage.

But consider for a moment how drastically different these issues are, and I'll tell you why.

When it comes to marijuana, that is a states'-rights issue. The states have literally, and by literally I mean figuratively, thumbed their nose at the federal government and caused this sea change.

On the other hand, when it comes to same-sex marriage, the idea is that states should not have that power to legislate, even if it's a democratic process. States should not have the power to prohibit same- sex marriages because that implicates some fundamental right, and I think that's going to get defined in 2014, if not 2014, then soon after. We very close to that, as it is.

BROWN: Alan?

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that. Yeah.

But I think there's another trend we're going to see, as well. In my book, "Taking the Stand," I predict that over the years the Supreme Court will diminish in its power and its authorities, and I think we're already seeing that already happening.

We're seeing the states taking the lead now on abolishing restrictions on gay marriage, on several of the things that were just mentioned, legalizing marijuana, on issues like abortion rights.

And so I think we're going to see over the years to come a diminution of the power of the Supreme Court, because the Supreme Court has become a very politicized, ideologically divided and partisan institution. So we're going to see an increase, I think, in the power of state courts, in the power of other federal courts and decrease in the role of the Supreme Court.

It will begin perhaps in ...

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: --- divided and partisan institution. So we're going to see an increase, I think, in the power of state courts, in the power of other federal courts and A decrease in the role of the Supreme Court. It will begin perhaps in 2014, but that's a trend that will continue for probably years to come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And no doubt about it, a lot of the big legal stories this past year really setting the stage for legal issues and the years to come.

Alan Dershowitz, Danny Cevallos, thank you so much for sharing your perspective. So many more questions I'd love to ask you but unfortunately we just don't have time. Thank you.


BROWN (voice-over): Well, there's nothing more heart-warming during the holidays than seeing soldiers reunited with their families. Coming up on LEGAL VIEW, we're going to share with you some of the most moving reunions of the year. Trust me, you don't want to miss these moments. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, we're the Calendar (ph) family stationed at Lodges (ph) Field, Azores, Portugal. And we'd like to send our happy holiday greetings out to our friends and family in the Indianapolis area. Happy holidays, everyone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think most of us can agree one of the best things about holidays is surprises, about the laughter and joy that it brings, especially the tears of joy when one sees a loved one home after a long time like these reunions between soldiers deployed overseas and their families. Take a look.

SSGT. JOE MARTELL (PH): I'm Staff Sergeant Joe Martell (ph), just returned from Afghanistan. I'm in Brussels, I'm going to surprise my son during his football game. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family is the most important thing to me. It's going to be a special Christmas this year. That's because they don't know that I'm coming home. You see these videos on YouTube a lot and you always wonder, yes, that would be nice. I would love to do that for my kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Cameron Woods (ph), Rip, rip, pull it.



WOODS (PH): Daddy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Hey, buddy. I missed you all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I missed you so much.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's send a video to your daddy. Hey, what would you say if he was here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love him for always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love him for always?

All right, Lucy (ph), what would you say? Would you say love you, daddy?

Mommy, what would you say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love you, miss you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I'm going to send this to him on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you freaking kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), your husband is here reporting for duty.






(INAUDIBLE)? I thought you were in Afghanistan. Oh, Sweetie!

AFC PATRICK CAFFREY (PH): My name is Airman First Class Patrick Caffrey (ph).

Mom, Dad, Nicole (ph), unfortunately this was the best Christmas gift I could get for you at the moment. I hope you have a lot of fun with your little shootout competition. If you just want to go ahead and turn around.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this surprise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The look on your face --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess the baby waited long enough, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all right.








UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that your daddy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this young lady is going to love this.

Where is Katy (ph)?

Her dad has spent a year in Afghanistan.

What would you like to say to him? (INAUDIBLE). Why don't you turn around and tell him?


BROWN: Wow. Tough to top that.

Well, if seeing all those touching reunions hasn't put you in the spirit yet, I don't know how that couldn't.

We've got something up next that most definitely will. Christmas for a Texas mom and her two children is about to get a whole lot merrier. Her husband, the children's dad, has been stationed in Afghanistan since April, but they're all about to reunite remotely live on our air. We'll bring that to you up next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends, but there are thousands of U.S. troops who are far away from home today, stationed overseas. They're waking up in a military base away from their families. All they want to do is come home. One Army veteran is trying to fulfill that dream. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports.


COL. DAVE SUTHERLAND, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I'm Colonel Dave Sutherland. I'm a veteran with great pride. I'm a father, I'm a husband, I'm an uncle, I'm a son, I'm an American soldier. I served for you, I fought with you and I would die for you.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dave Sutherland led 5,000 troops in Iraq. We met him first on patrol in 2007.

SUTHERLAND: They were sick and tired of Al Qaeda.

STARR (voice-over): Now retired his journey to serve continues, with one passion, helping veterans coming home.

SUTHERLAND: We believe in everything we do that our veterans, our military families, our families of the fallen can thrive where they live.

STARR (voice-over): A journey of absolute commitment he's made with colleague Ken Mitchell, a former Naval officer. They are here talking to veterans and veterans' advocates.

KIM MITCHELL, PRESIDENT, DIXON CENTER: Something in my heart told me that this is what I was meant to do, given my background, given the fact that the only reason I'm here is because of the Vietnam veterans.

STARR (voice-over): They left military service in 2012 and opened up the Dixon Center, working with communities across the country, organizing locally-based help with jobs, education and housing.

NICHOLAS STEPHANOVIC, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERAN: This is the new approach that everyone is looking towards, more local, community-based organizations to help veterans, which is essentially going to be the answer for all of the fixes that the V.A. hasn't been able to cover.

STARR (voice-over): He knows how bad the post-traumatic stress can get.

STEPHANOVIC: Pretty much destroyed by life. But it was the common issues of PTSD, like the anger, sleepless nights, the substance abuse.

STARR (voice-over): Army veteran David Barr, now a social worker, he and Sutherland hope to work together. Barr says veterans like him often feel alone when they come home.

DAVID BARR, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: You're going to need a community, you're going to need a town, you're going to need a block, you're going to need a neighborhood to kind of reestablish that bond.

STARR (voice-over): Sutherland and Mitchell have gone to more than 500 communities across the country, organizing local help on their journey born of grief and hope.

Dixon Center is named after Sutherland's friend, Staff Sergeant Donny Dixon, killed before Sutherland's eyes on an Iraq patrol. Kim's journey born of the Vietnam War. More than 40 years ago, a South Vietnamese soldier had orders to blow up a bridge.

KIM MITCHELL, PRESIDENT, DIXON CENTER: There's one last survivor stumbling across the bridge carrying a bundle. It was a hat with a baby wrapped up in a towel. He had found me along the side of the road, clinging to the body of a dead woman.

STARR: Kim was adopted by an American servicemember. Last year, after reading an article about her, that Vietnamese soldier, now living in New Mexico, found her again.

We meet up on Skype. He tells us it was beyond belief. She was the baby he saved. He could not imagine how she survived.

(on camera): David Sutherland and Kim Mitchell strongly believe that veterans can do more than just survive. They can thrive in the communities where they live.

So this holiday season, if you see a veteran, stop and ask them how they're doing.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Pentagon.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Barbara.