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Kidnapped American Pleads For Release; Turkey Anti-Government Protests; Target Hackers Stole Encrypted Pins

Aired December 26, 2013 - 05:30   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking news overnight. New video released. An American kidnapped by al Qaeda pleads for help.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Waking up cold and in the dark. The death toll rising from a deadly winter storm that slammed the east coast. Bitter cold continuing to take lives. Is there any relief in sight? Chad Myers, there he is, he is tracking the very latest for us.

BROWN: And delivery day disaster. Christmas gifts delayed across the country as U.P.S. and FedEx drivers miss big deadlines. So, what led to this delivery breakdown?


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel, coal in my stocking, Marquez.


BROWN (on-camera): And I'm Pamela Brown. At least you got something --



MARQUEZ: You got to work hard to get coal these days.

BROWN: All right. Well, 30 minutes past the hour now. Great to have you along with us. So, we are following breaking news happened overnight.

The release of a video featuring a kidnapped American pleading for his release. Warren Weinstein (ph) was taken by al Qaeda militants in Pakistan back in 2011 while working as a U.S. government contractor. In the video you see right here made in captivity, Weinstein urges President Obama to negotiate with his captors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been more than two years since I was taken prisoner by al Qaeda while I was working as a consultant on U.S. government programs in Pakistan. I'm now over 72 years of age. I'm not in good health. I have a heart condition. I suffer from acute asthma. And the years have taken their toll.


BROWN: Now, this is the third video released of Weinstein since he was kidnapped. The latest recording showing a dramatic change of appearance, as you can see here. He seems to have aged considerably. Weinstein said he feels totally abandoned and forgotten and wants the Obama administration to consider releasing al Qaeda militants in U.S. custody.

MARQUEZ: From Michigan to Maine, the blackout misery continues this morning after a massive winter ice storm. Hundreds of thousands of people in the dark, and it could take days for many to have power restored. Officials in Michigan say it's been more than a century since they've experienced a deep freeze like this.

It's the latest chapter in a string of violent winter weather that's blamed for 25 deaths. It's left more than 210,000 people without power and cold, freezing temperatures are expected to continue. Utility crews are working around the clock to make sure things are going right and people are showing their appreciation.


RANDY HARLESS, LOST POWER IN STORN: The more you get upset about it, try to argue with somebody at customer service to get the power back on, it's not going to help. Just wait and let it happen. If you see a crew out here working, you know treat them nice. Bring them some coffee. You know, see what you can do for them because it's cold out here. They're stuck out here. So, be nice to them.


BROWN: Yes. They're out there working --

MARQUEZ: I don't know how they're going to warm the coffee that they're going bring to them.

BROWN: No, looking at that.

MARQUEZ: Let's get to the big picture.

BROWN: Yes. We want to know if there's any relief in sight for these people? Chad Myers?



MYERS: I think this morning is the coldest morning of the rest of the week. Twenty-three was the morning low on Monday in Detroit, then 12, then 11. And this is the area of the ice right through here. A lot of people without power. You can't turn on the furnace even if it's a gas furnace because the blower doesn't run and then the power doesn't work and the gas won't go through the system.

And if you turn on your stove, then you get the carbon monoxide issue. Sometimes, we lose more people from carbon monoxide after a storm like this than during the storm. So, please don't be one of those people. Here you go, snow right now from Cat Skills back down to the Poconos, also into Detroit seeing some snow. It's cold, but it's not the end of the world at this point.

It's the beginning of a warm up, a couple day warm up. There goes some snow. There goes a low pressure, sending up the east coast. That will bring more snow to Maine like they need that, and also, maybe a bigger problem is wind. Those power crews can't get it in those bucket trucks if it's 25 miles per hour or greater. Another couple of smaller system is coming through the flow.

Current temperatures, 33 in Cincinnati, 19 Chicago. The warmest it's been in Minneapolis for a very long time. And it warms up to a balmy, almost 40 in Minneapolis. I mean, I know they'll be out there on their snowmobiles without clothes on. Thirty-eight in New York City. There's your 24 in Minneapolis. Look, 36 up in the twin cities, 32 in Chicago. And just for reference, I know we like to keep everything in perspective. It's 73 in Honolulu.


MYERS: And today, it gets to 82.

MARQUEZ: That's not perspective. That's just teasing.

BROWN: -- reporting out there. I don't really --

MARQUEZ: Yes, yes.


BROWN: Thank you so much. In the meantime, it seems like those people without power could use some of that coal you got for Christmas.

MARQUEZ: Yes. I'll be sending it (ph).


MARQUEZ: There's plenty of it.

BROWN: And that ice storm is partly to blame for why Christmas came and went with some of Santa's biggest packages absolutely positively not arriving in time. Delivery giants, U.P.S. and FedEx, overloaded systems they shorter (ph) holiday shopping period and more buying online also contributed to what may be their worst Christmas ever. That is little comfort, though, to customers locked out in the cold.


JULIE STRACHAN, UPS CUSTOMER: I was expecting my husband's big Christmas gift at my office. And, you know, today is the last day before Christmas. So, I waited around for hours and hours for it to show up and it never did.


BROWN: U.P.S., for its part, isn't saying exactly how many packages failed to make it in time for Christmas, but they did issue a statement saying "U.P.S. understands the importance of your holiday shipments, however, the volume of their packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed."

MARQUEZ: We're going to need a bigger plane, I think, is what they mean to say.


MARQUEZ: Now to more post-Christmas madness, a brand new shopping frenzy begins today.

BROWN: So, of course, that leads to the next question, is this when you'll find the real holiday bargains, because we've already seen some pretty good bargains?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you'll find stuff discounted more because you're seeing these retailers wanted to get this inventory out because the new stuff is supposed to be coming in if it's not in already. So, yes, if you thought the holiday shopping spree was over, it's actually revving up again just like Black Friday. Many stores are actually opening their doors early today.

In fact, some of the biggest retailers like Wal-Mart and Kohl's, they are open right now. People are shopping at 5:37 eastern time right now. And the deals you can find, they're really good, because you look at Deal News. Deal News is saying some of the best bargains you'll find will be on clothing, brand name HD TV, holiday treats, decor items as well.


KATHY GRANNIS, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: The discounts will definitely be deep this week. But what you're getting are leftovers. You're getting the clearance items. Retailers have not yet brought in fresh, spring merchandise. We'll start to see that spring merchandise come in towards January as people with gift cards want that new, fresh, you know, the fresh apparel and the fresh electronic items. But you can guarantee that you'll see some 70, 75 percent off.


KOSIK: And the sales aren't just in stores, they're also online as well. Retailers like, Old Navy, Saks Fifth Avenue, they are ramping up their day after Christmas sales in hopes of cashing in on your holiday cheer. Just how big is the week after Christmas in terms of holiday shopping? The season, I mean?

The National Retail Federation says week after Christmas sales it can account for as much as 15 percent of what retailers make during the entire holiday shopping season. So, this is still -- its one more push for the retailers to bring in that money. Also when people come in to return stuff, they're going to try to sell them more stuff to try to get that stuff out.

MARQUEZ: We need more stuff.

KOSIK: More stuff.


MARQUEZ: You know, I love stuff.

BROWN: That's the bottom line (ph). All right. Alison Kosik, thank you.

KOSIK: Sure.

MARQUEZ: All right. From the White House to you for Christmas.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): After was jammed with people enrolling to beat the Christmas Eve deadline for insurance starting January 1, the Obama administration says it plans to work with those who tried to sign up but were unable to finish the process in time.

BROWN (voice-over): At least 42 people and more than 80 injured in a series of Christmas day bombings in Iraq. The deadliest attack, a car bomb exploding near a church in Southern Baghdad just as worshippers were filing out, killing 26 people. Three roadside bombs followed at a busy market place in the same largely Christian district of Baghdad. Iraq is experiencing its worst violence in recent years.

MARQUEZ: Horrendous.

New clashes between government forces and rebel troops in Southern Sudan. Despite an appeal for a Christmas ceasefire, the country's president condemned ethnically motivated killings in South Sudan during his Christmas day message. U.N. officials say tens of thousands of people have sought refuge at peacekeeping compounds across the country. It's believed the fighting in South Sudan has claimed thousands of lives.


MARQUEZ (on-camera): Here at home, the first family still on holiday in Hawaii. The president and first lady Michelle Obama, spent part of their Christmas Day visiting with military service members and their families at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. The Obama's thanking them for their service to the country.

BROWN (on-camera): And coming up right here on EARLY START, the streets of Turkey looking like a war zone as thousands of protesters take to the streets demanding their leader step down. We are live with the story right after the break. Stay with us.


MARQUEZ: Welcome back to EARLY START. New unrest in Turkey. Police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators who took the streets demanding removal of the country's prime minister. CNNs Andrew Finkel is following developments there. He's live in Istanbul. Andrew, what's happening there right now? The protest still going on?

ANDREW FINKEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The protests are not going on. They were there last night. The people demanding the resignation of the prime minister. There's a very major corruption scandal going on here. Sons of ministers have been detained. Huge amounts of cash have been discovered in safe deposit vaults.

The real opposition the government is facing may be within its own camp. It's a question of whether support is crumbling for a government which just 10 days ago appeared to be invincible, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: So, first three ministers were leaving, then Erdogan announced that another seven would follow. It sounds like a full-on crisis. Is that what people are feeling there? Do they smell the blood in the water?

FINKEL: Well, it's very clear that the government is doing its best to contain this investigation. They reassigned many of the police officers and prosecutors who were pursuing these corruption charges, and they basically sacrificed some of the ministers who had may or may not be implicated in the affair and in sense they concealed this within a much larger cabinet reshuffle.

But, the allegations may well continue. The corruption allegations are not going to go away. And so, the Turkish government has a real fight on its hands, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: If Erdogan falls and his government falls, how big of a concern for the U.S. and for the west is that?

FINKEL: Well, at the moment, it's not exactly clear, because Mr. Erdogan has been blaming his troubles on foreign forces. The government and the newspapers loyal to him are pointing their fingers at the United States and Israel. Pretty much anyone, really. So, at the moment, there is something of a crisis brewing between the two nations.

The United States sort of relies on Turkey as a strategic ally in the region, but they need a stable, reliable ally. And of course, a Turkish government which is engaged in a fight for survival is not the stable ally that it wants to see. So, there's a lot of dust that has to settle.

MARQUEZ: He's been there a lot of years. It may just be a case of him getting tired. Andrew Finkel for us, keeping an eye on it in Istanbul for us. Thank you very much.

Now, an LAPD bomb squad officer was at the right place at the right time on Christmas Day, saving a driver who lost control of his car. It (INAUDIBLE) and burst into flames and fully engulfed within seconds.


OFFICER DON THOMPSON, LAPD BOMB SQUAD: It was just a matter of seconds. Another ten, 15 seconds, it just would have been too much fire for just about anybody to just go in and just deal with that.


MARQUEZ: The driver went to the hospital, complaining of neck and back pain, amazingly enough. Officer Don Thompson suffered burns to his hand and to his forearm. Amazing.

BROWN: It really is.

Well, a court date today for suspected L.A.X. shooter, Paul Ciancia.


BROWN (voice-over): He'll be arraigned and will likely be asked to enter a plea to 11 felony counts including a first-degree murder charge. Ciancia is accused of storming into terminal 3 at L.A.X. last month, killing a TSA agent and wounding three other people.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And police are looking for the person who opened fire after being refused entry to a New Jersey strip club. Three people were killed including the bouncer and the club owner's son. It's unclear if the third person killed was shot by club security or the suspect who opened fire after the bouncer patted him down, found the weapon. Two others were also wounded.

BROWN: A man was killed in a Christmas morning house fire in Massachusetts. Authorities say crews had trouble putting the fire out because there's no hydrant system in that area. They later used a backhoe to sift through the debris and that's when they found the body. No word yet on how the fire started.

MARQUEZ: The Pennsylvania girl who battled with leukemia and inspired her community, she's died. Eight-year-old Delaney Brown (ph) of West Reading passed away with her family by her side Christmas morning, seven months after her diagnosis. Known best as Lanny, her family had been told last week she only had days to live, and they took that time to make some of her dreams come true.

Thousands of people gathered outside her home on Saturday night to sing Christmas carols. Lanny also got a chance to pet an alligator via baby sitter and speak with singer, Taylor Swift.

BROWN: Well, it is the last thing Santa would expect while on his appointed rounds, getting shot. And that's exactly what happened to this man, Xavier Hawkins, on Christmas Eve. He's out of the hospital now this morning and talking about getting shot in the back with a pellet gun as he handed out toys to needy children in the Nation's Capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) XAVIER HAWKINS, SHOT WHILE DRESSED AS SANTA: I just thank God that I'm alive. And I'm very grateful no one else got hit, especially kids.


BROWN: The shooting took place in an area at Southeast Washington. That's been plagued by crime and it was all caught on camera by our affiliate, WJLA.

MARQUEZ: Uncool to shoot Santa. Just uncool.


MARQUEZ (on-camera): And it could have been a much more sour Christmas for a professional poker player. He caught a cab between Las Vegas casinos but left something important in the backseat namely 300,000 grand in cash.


MARQUEZ: The guy's winning streak could have ended right there, but he got even luckier that Gerardo Gamboa was his cabby. Gamboa turned the money in and the player got it back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He signed the poker circuit and very, very famous worldwide poker player.

GERARD GAMBOA, CAB DRIVER: Even they call a Sin City, but it's not. It's angel city.


MARQUEZ: Angel city says Gamboa. He's been named driver of the year. The cab company gave him a $1,000 reward for his honesty and a steak dinner for two. Typical Vegas. The player did not want his name revealed, I'm sure not, but have reportedly is thinking about giving Gamboa a big reward as well. Hello! Why --

BROWN (on-camera): Yes. As he should. This needs to happen now.

MARQUEZ: Yes, yes.

BROWN: I do think this qualifies for the good stuff. Chris Cuomo, is he around? Kate Bolduan?


BROWN: What's coming up on "New Day," guys?


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don't tell us what qualifies --


BROWN: Come on, Chris.


MARQUEZ: Someone got coal.



BOLDUAN: Don't give it to you.

CUOMO: There was certainly a good deed. We'll have to see. We'll have to see if he makes it in.

MARQUEZ: All right.

CUOMO: This morning, we're following a couple stories that you're going to want to hear. Imagine being taken by al Qaeda, held in Pakistan for two years. That is the fate of the man you're looking at on your screen right now, Warren Weinstein. He is in a new video message. We've heard from him before. But now, he says his health is failing. He believes time is running out on him. A desperate plea to the president. We'll tell you about it.

BOLDUAN: And also, you probably know this. This may not be surprising, but worst Congress ever, question mark. Well, that seems to be the verdict by many Americans. A new CNN/ORC poll out today, it's going to show you just how Americans feel about the work being done in Washington and you probably know the answer. But two-thirds say it could be the worst Congress of their lifetime. We're going to break it down for you.

MARQUEZ: But comedy gold.


BOLDUAN: There you go.


BOLDUAN: There you go, Miguel. I like that.


CUOMO: I got a book on how to be a good parent. It's always a nice gift to get --


BOLDUAN: Not for me.

CUOMO: But at the end of the book, it says what we should do with Congress is actually support that they have worked together on the budget, that they seem to be talking positive reinforcement -- (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- harping on how much they stink.

BOLDUAN: But we'll harp on it and then we'll also try to smile --


CUOMO: Because I haven't read much of the book yet. So, that's all I got.


MARQUEZ: Thanks, guys. Looking forward to the rest of your sage (ph) political advice, Chris.


CUOMO: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MARQUEZ: Coming up, could the credit card attack on Target customers be worse than we thought? an alarming new report next in "Money Time."


MARQUEZ: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is "Money Time." And Alison Kosik is here with "Money Time."


MARQUEZ: How exciting.

KOSIK: This happens to be the best day of the year to be in the stock market at least if you look at historical standards. Going back to 1945, the S&P 500 index has risen on December 26 almost 79 percent of the time. At least, that's according to analytics group, BeSpoke Investment. So, it looks like Boxing Day appears to carry some extra punch for the stock market. And so far, this year, the market has been knocking out skeptics.

You look at the Dow. It's up 25 percent. The NASDAQ is up 38 percent. The S&P 500 up 29 percent. Wooh! And The Santa Claus rally, it's been good for internet stocks like Facebook which has been pushing 52 week highs. Facebook is up 23 percent in December alone. That's really the comeback kid. Yahoo! also having a good December, up 10 percent so far. It hit a 52-week high on Christmas Eve.

This is pretty disturbing. Reuters is reporting that despite what Target's public relations team is saying, that hackers managed to steal encrypted personal identification numbers or PINs. Reuters says it was told this by a senior payment executive familiar with the situation but who spoke anonymously because the data breach is under investigation.

Here's the concern according to Reuters is that the kind of sophisticated cyber criminals who stole the information for 40 million credit and debit cards, they may be able to crack the encrypted data. That could be one reason JPMorgan Chase limited how much cash customers could take from ATMs and spend at stores (INAUDIBLE) ease up somewhat on those limits.

Now, Target spokeswoman, Molly Snyder (ph) is still maintaining that P.I.N. data is safe and she's saying, quote, "We continue to have no reason to believe that P.I.N. data whether encrypted or unencrypted was compromised. And we have not been made aware of any such issue in communications with financial institutions to date."

Really disturbing if this, in fact, is the case. You know, you think this was happened between a three-week period, November 27 through December 15. Yikes.

MARQUEZ: It is amazing how quickly they can grab so much.


MARQUEZ: Alison, thank you very much. We'll be right back with more.


MARQUEZ: Thanks very much for tuning into EARLY START. Your "New Day" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm therefore, appealing to you to work for my release.

CUOMO: Help me, please. An American kidnaped by al Qaeda appears on a new video, begging the president to get him released. Will the administration act?

BOLDUAN: Christmas blackout. Hundreds of thousands are still in the dark as the death toll rises from a weekend ice storm.

CUOMO: No show. Still waiting for U.P.S. and FedEx packages? You are not alone. Carriers say they were overwhelmed by holiday volume. How long until the gifts come home?

Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "New Day." It is Thursday, December 26th, six o'clock in the east. We hope you all had a very wonderful, holy day.

Breaking news overnight for you, a new video message from an American being held captive by al Qaeda raising some alarming concerns about his condition. Warren Weinstein is who you're looking at. He's been held for more than two years. We've heard from him before, but he now says his health is failing and the clock is ticking. The question, will the president and secretary of state take action to bring him home?

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is with us this morning to break down this video, tell us the latest. But Barbara, please, let's begin by resetting who is this man, how was he taken?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Warren Weinstein (ph), Chris, was a contractor working for the U.S. government in Lahore, Pakistan back in August 2011 when militants broke into his house, overpowered his security guards and kidnaped him. It was after that that Ayman al-zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for this attack and claimed that al Qaeda was holding him.

Now, Mr. Weinstein, after all this time, has appeared again in another video, we believe, of course he made this under duress. We cannot verify the conditions of it. But this man is now making yet another plea. He seems very desperate. I want you to have a listen to what he has to say.