Return to Transcripts main page


Americans Released in Libya; Hackers Did Steal PIN Data; NSA Data Collection is Legal; Millions Lose Jobless Benefits Today; Icebreakers get Stuck; Iowa Sky Lights Up; Sports Headlines; UPS and FedEx Fail to Deliver on Christmas; Car Bomb Kills U.S. Ally in Lebanon; Colorado Issues First Marijuana Licenses

Aired December 28, 2013 - 06:00   ET


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Target confirms the debit card PIN data was stolen in its recent massive security breach. The retailers says your info, however, remains safe and secure, but experts say still watch out.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: "Duck Dynasty" will resume with the entire Robertson family. It's a reversal for the TV network A&E that suspended Phil Robertson about his controversial remarks about gays and blacks.

FEYERICK: And a massive fireball lights up the sky across several Midwest states. Was it a chunk of rock or ice or maybe burning space junk? We're going to explore that.

FEYERICK: Good morning, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Maybe it was Santa and those reindeer.

FEYERICK: Possibly. Possibly.

BLACKWELL: Maybe. Maybe.

FEYERICK: It was the jet fuel being burned off the back of the sled.


Good morning. Thanks for joining us this NEW DAY SATURDAY. And we're starting this morning with four Americans detained in Libya and then suddenly released.

FEYERICK: Well, the four military personnel were working security at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli when they were detained by the Libyan government.

BLACKWELL: And joining us now with more on this is our own Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, thanks for joining us. Do we have any indication - I mean we're missing some of the w's here of the basic story, when and why. Let's start with the why. Do we know why they were detained? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, we still are missing those w's, Victor and Deborah. It's not yet know why these four U.S. military personnel were taken into custody. A defense official says they are in touch with the Libyan officials trying to identify exactly what prompted this.

Now, there still is a lot the U.S. government is trying to find out right now, but here is what we do know at this point. Four military personnel were detained for some hours on Friday in Tripoli, held by the ministry of the interior with the Libyan government. Hours later, overnight, the U.S. Defense Department confirmed to CNN that they were released. A U.S. official tells CNN that the four were in Libya, quote, "augmenting security" at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.

And as you know, this is such a transitional time for Libya. In November, the U.S. announced that its stepping up military support for Libya's security forces in the country as we have been following. It's been overwhelming by violence since the overthrow of Gadhafi two years ago.

Victor and Deb.

FEYERICK: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Washington, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you for keeping us posted. We'll check back in just a moment.

FEYERICK: And new concerns this morning for Target shoppers. The retail giant now backtracking from an earlier statement that debit card hidden data was not stolen. CNN personal finance and business correspondent Zain Asher has more.


Target is in damage control mode one day after stating there was no evidence that PIN data was compromised in its massive security breach, the retailer has now reversed course. Now saying that, in fact, hackers did actually steal PIN data, but they added the data was very securely encrypted and that it's unlikely that the hackers would be able to unscramble them to figure out people's PIN numbers. One computer expert likens it to someone stealing your safe but not knowing the combination code.

While most banks do not hold consumers liable for fraudulent charges, Target Red Card holders should still proceed cautiously. If you stopped at Target between the end of November and mid December, check your statement for even the smallest charges you don't recognize. You can also call Target directly to cancel your old card and order a new one. The retailer did offer a 10 percent discount all of last weekend, but that's not much of a comfort to customers who had their card information swiped just before the holidays.

Victor and Deborah.

FEYERICK: All right, Zain Asher, thanks so much. BLACKWELL: Well, that was quick, by my watch, which I don't wear, I'm just being facetious here. A week and a half. The A&E Network had officially ended the suspension of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson. Now you'll remember, a little over a week ago, nine days or so, Robertson was suspended indefinitely after making controversial comments about African-Americans and gays in an interview with "GQ" magazine. Well, Robertson apologized and clarified his remarks saying he loves all people. Well, here's how some people are reacting to that news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think he had the right to say it. And we believe in the same morals and Christian beliefs that Phil believes in. So we're behind him 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the comments were pretty harsh. There's a way of saying things. You know, if you don't agree with something, there's ways to word it where you're not trying to, you know, dehumanize someone.


BLACKWELL: Well, the rest of the family profiled on "Duck Dynasty" hinted that they may leave the show and end it if the show's patriarch wasn't reinstated. Well, A&E, they decided it would blink. They also announced that they produce several public service announcements promoting unity and tolerance.

FEYERICK: Well, score one for the embattled National Security Agency. The NSA finally getting a legal win in its surveillance program collecting Americans' telephone and Internet metadata.

BLACKWELL: A federal judge says the NSA's collection of your communications is not only legal, it's a critical weapon in the fight against terrorism. We get the details now from CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Deb, Victor, this is a big, symbolic victory for the NSA. A federal judge in New York says it's completely legal for the NSA to collect data on nearly every phone call made in America. The agency has been on somewhat of a losing streak since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking the NSA secrets.

Just recently, another judge here in Washington ruled the opposite, saying it was likely unconstitutional. Also an intelligence panel, appointed by President Obama, questioned whether the phone program was even useful in preventing terrorism. Now, the Justice Department is working to appeal the D.C. court ruling and the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the New York case, says it will appeal that ruling.

Well, the bottom line is that these two judges of equal rank have come to opposite conclusions and it will probably take a couple of years for the appeals court to work through these two decisions. For now, the NSA gets to continue its data collection. And in the end, it may be up to the Supreme Court to take a look at the privacy issues and what the NSA is doing is legal.

Deb. Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Evan Perez for us this morning. Evan, thanks.

FEYERICK: And a harsh new reality for out of work Americans today.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 1.3 million of them, the long-term unemployed, we're talking about folks who haven't had a job in more than 26 weeks. They will lose their jobless benefits today. Tom Foreman joins us now with a look at who will get hit the hardest.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who will be most affected by this program? The long-term unemployed. This is people who have already used up all of their regular unemployment benefits for 26 weeks and now are getting these additional emergency benefits that Congress has approved and reapproved several times over the past few years. It's those additional benefits that are being cut off.

How much is it? About $300 per week to each of the recipients. And they're about 1.3 million people who will be immediately affected by this cutoff. They're spread around the country, but some areas are being hit more than others. In the northeast, you might look at New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, down here, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, California out here. Those are the places hit the hardest because they have the most people who have been unemployed for the longest period of time.

And all of this brings up a lot of uncertainties. For those who support the idea of cutting these emergency benefits, they believe it will not only save the government $25 billion, $26 billion in the coming year, but also unemployed people may accept previously rejected jobs. Their theory is that this pushes people out there to look a little bit harder for work.

Those who are against this cut say, nonsense, long-term unemployed people are less likely to find work. That's why they're having such a hard time. You're just punishing them. You're not going to encourage them any more at all.

And, of course, the biggest uncertainty, what is the impact of all of this on the economy? We don't really know right now if you take all that spending out, but we'll have to see.

FEYERICK: Tom Foreman for us there in Washington. Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, the plan was simple, send one ship to rescue another ship stuck in the ice off Antarctica. But the weather isn't cooperating with that plan, and now they're going to need a third ship.

FEYERICK: Plus, a sonic boom and streak of light over Iowa. Just what was this massive fireball? We're going to have that for you on the other side. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Good morning, Connecticut. A live look right now on the campus of the University of Connecticut. You can see a little bit of snow there on the ground. Still a lot of people without power in the northeast this morning. We'll have those details for you coming up.

And this morning we also have new details on last year's tragic and horrific shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary and the troubled young man who killed 27 people and himself.

BLACKWELL: According to a heavily redacted report from the Connecticut State Police, 20-year-old Adam Lanza hated his mother and resented her volunteer work at the Newtown school. One unidentified witness says that Lanza believed his mother loved the students more than she loved him. Twenty first graders were among his victims. His mother was found shot to death in their home.

There's new information on a man who is the target of a nationwide manhunt after investigators say he killed a police officer in Mississippi. The FBI says the man had tried to rob a bank on Atlanta on Monday just hours before robbing that bank in Tupelo. Now, one police officer says - rather one police officer was killed in the shoot-out after the Tupelo robbery. Another officer was critically injured. And anyone with information is being asked to dial this number. Here it is, 1-800-CALL-FBI.

FEYERICK: Well, help is on the way, kind of, sort of. An icebreaker sent to rescue a ship trapped in a South Pole ice flow (ph) now actually needs rescuing of its own. China's Snow Dragon was just six nautical miles from the expedition vessel when it too got stuck. Now both ships are hoping that a third ship, the French icebreaker, can do the trick. That vessel is 14 nautical miles away. The frigid South Pole weather, well, guess what, it's not helping. Seventy-four researchers, crew and tourists who are on the expedition vessel are in good spirits. So far, the ship seems to have enough supplies to wait out the delay.

BLACKWELL: So, let me echo this morning what I'm sure the people who are waiting for rescue say, what is the point of a rescue mission that gets stuck, too?

FEYERICK: Or more to the point, how do these icebreakers actually get stuck in the first place since they're the ones who are supposed to be breaking the ice. Carl Azuz has the answer.


CARL AZUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'd think that because this is a glacial environment, sea ice would move at a glacial pace. Not the case. Rafts of ice moved quickly, rushed over the sea by wind. They can expand and grow thicker, rise and fall with the waves beneath them. And blizzard conditions, common to Antarctica even in summer, don't help.

You might remember this scene from Minnesota when wind blew ice ashore from Mille Lacs (ph) Lake, climbing and cracking into doors and windows. Think of this same principle in a massive, frigid sea. And you can see how a Russian research vessel, on route to the Antarctic, got trapped. How Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance were surrounded and how that ship was eventually crushed. Even animals used to these condition, like the trapped whales dramatized in last year's movie "Big Miracle," are vulnerable.


AZUZ: So what does it take to get through the ice and rescue whales, cruise ships or anything else that gets stranded? Weight. Sea ice as thick as 10 feet can be broken. And the sloping hulls of some icebreakers are designed to actually wedge up on top of the ice so the heavy ship can crush down on it. The bows are also designed to then move the cracked ice to the side, plowing a path that other ships can follow. A crusty road to open water out of a frozen maze.

Carl Azuz, CNN.


FEYERICK: Absolutely incredible to watch that. Boy, 10 feet think.

All right, well, still to come on NEW DAY, a fireball lights up the skies over Iowa. But, what was it?

BLACKWELL: Plus, big trouble in the "d." The Cowboys lose their star QB right before their most important game of the season.


FEYERICK: So, I really do like your theory about the fireball being Santa's sled there, actually.

BLACKWELL: I think it is. You know, Rudolph's nose, so, so bright.

FEYERICK: Exactly. And we're going to go to Alexandra, who is in the weather center, who is going to explain to us exactly what that is that we are seeing flash across the sky.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, Deb, there it is. You see it on the top of your screen. So what was it? Thursday night across six Midwestern states, a glowing object from south to north, about 600 people reporting they saw something.

So, there was no meteor shower on that night, on Thursday night. So most likely it was just space junk or scraps of satellite or rockets. For 50 years we've been launching stuff into space. So essentially that comes down. There's also an asteroid belt between two planets. So it could have been ice or something along those lines, like a meteorite. So those are most likely what it was.

BLACKWELL: All right. Hopefully it wasn't anything important that burned up and went away.

STEELE: Right, right, right, right. It's certainly interesting. A big flash you could see of green and red. And certainly over 600 people reported it in six states. So most likely maybe a meteorite or some ice tracked back to this asteroid belt, which is between Jupiter and Mars. But you can deduce it from its path. So looking back, that's what we'll know a little more.

So let's talk a little bit of weather, from the fireball in the sky to what this is. Looks like a fireball in and of itself. An area of low pressure here in the south and it's going to be a wet weekend from Atlanta to Raleigh to Washington. Tomorrow morning, there it is. And then it moves into the northeast for Sunday.

And, guys, the timing of it was so close, but gets so far. Cold air comes in right after this moisture comes in, so it could have been a big snow event for the northeast. It looks like snow just for northern New England.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alexandra, thank you very much. We'll check back.

STEELE: All right.

BLACKWELL: And the football season is over for Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

FEYERICK: And Jared Greenberg has more on the injured Cowboy's star in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Jared, what's up?

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Well, Deb and Victor, the question now is, is the Cowboys' season over? Minus their star quarterback, Dallas will have to win their most important game of the season tomorrow as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Tony Romo underwent back surgery yesterday, keeping him sidelined for the rest of the season, however long that is for Dallas. In March, you might be surprised to hear that Romo signed a six-year contract with a reported $108 million. But he won't be available to Dallas. Without him, they must beat the Eagles to advance to the playoffs. Kyle Orton will get his first start in two years.

History made in college football last night. Two female officials oversaw the Fight Hunger Bowl. It is the first time two women have worked in the same major college football bowl game. The honor went to Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka. The game featured 10 total penalties called. The University of Washington beat BYU 31-16.

LeBron James has us talking once again and it is trending right now on Heat and Kings last night, Mario Chalmers, all of a nonchalant over the back no look toss. And then LeBron goes windmill style. LeBron James, special, getting it done. In the game, he also passed two hall of famers, Larry Bird and Gary Payton, to become the NBA's 29th all-time leading scorer.

Now, Deb and Victor, that is the good news. The bad news coming out of this game is that LeBron James strained his groin and the Heat lost snapping their six-game losing streak. So we'll have to keep track on LeBron to see how his injury is progressing.

FEYERICK: Is that pass even legal?

GREENBERG: Of course. Why not?

FEYERICK: The more creative you are, the better television it makes.

GREENBERG: Exactly. That's what highlights are all about.


FEYERICK: Absolutely. That is what - exactly, the best of. Excellent.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about something a lot of people really don't want to talk about, but we have to.

GREENBERG: I want to talk about it.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's talk about it.

FEYERICK: It's because you're hungry.



BLACKWELL: It is tough to put down the sugary stuff, all the sweets, the cookies, the pies, the cakes and all the stuff that's in your home and at work this time of the year. And, listen, if you're having some tough - a tough time putting down the sweets this seasons, of course you're not alone. A new CNN/ORC poll reveals the majority of Americans are not holding back.

FEYERICK: That's right, not holding back in the least. And 53 percent actually say, hey, guess what, they're going to eat what they want. They're going to indulge. It's the holidays. Only 35 percent plan to actually watch what they are consuming.

BLACKWELL: Now, when it comes to cutting back on the carbs after the holidays. The majority of Americans don't plan to diet. Only 23 percent say they plan to go on an eating plan. Now, I have sent everything away. After Christmas dinner, I packed up all of it. I kept the turkey, the cranberry sauce because I could, you know -

FEYERICK: Absolutely. It's healthy.

BLACKWELL: I can explain that away. But everything else went away.

STEELE: What about you, Deb? What do you do?

FEYERICK: You know what I do. I actually - I try not to eat more than I usually eat is what I do and then I pick. I pick. I graze. I graze. I take like a couple of small bites of everything is like perfect. I just don't get that hungry. But the problem is, is the - just the deluge of food.

STEELE: The volume.



FEYERICK: It's everywhere. It's on desks. It's on counters. And so you can't help but just sort of -- you know, I feel just like I'm just picking up as I go.

STEELE: It's available. It's around all the time.

FEYERICK: It's available. That's the issue.

STEELE: Right.

FEYERICK: What about you guys? Jared?

GREENBERG: Well, I think I've come up with the best plan here.


GREENBERG: All you do is move 900 miles away from your family so you're not surrounded by that food all the time. That's what I do.

FEYERICK: Yes, well, yes, exactly. How does your family help -- feel about that?

STEELE: They're not speaking at this point.


STEELE: They're estranged.

GREENBERG: Yes. They like that I'm being healthier now. No, but I think -- you know what I think about this is that there's so many fad diets now and these quick trending cleanses that people do.



GREENBERG: That they feel - and I know I'm guilty of this sometimes too - that you can splurge a bit now because in two weeks if you need to drop two, three, four pounds you can do it quickly.

STEELE: Right. You wrap yourself in cellophane and you're done. There you go.

FEYERICK: Yes, exactly. Exactly. No, it's hard. It's definitely hard to watch what you eat during the holidays, obviously.


FEYERICK: So, anyway, well, we'll get it done.

BLACKWELL: And we're going to talk more about this throughout the morning.

Still to come, still waiting for your Christmas gift to arrive via FedEx or UPS?

FEYERICK: Well, ahead, how the shipping companies are responding to outcries over late deliveries.


FEYERICK: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back to your NEW DAY, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell. Here are five things you need to know for your new day.

Up first, four Americans held by the Libyan government were released overnight. The four military personnel were attached to a security detail with the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and it's not known why the four were initially taken into custody.

FEYERICK: Well, number two, it didn't seem like he was even gone, but now "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, he's back after A&E Network ends his suspension. There was a public outcry after Robertson made homophobic and racist comments in a recent magazine article. Some say he should be fired, while others said, no, he should be allowed to speak his mind. Robertson apologized. And now, after just over a week, the suspension is over.

BLACKWELL: Number three, if you haven't had your flu shot yet, you might cringe when you hear this. The season promises to be a dangerous one. Federal health officials say over the past week widespread activity has leaked from just a few states to now 10. The most common strain is H1N1, which is blamed in the death of at least four children over the last few months. H1N1 was known as swine flu during the 2009 pandemic that swept across the globe and killed nearly 300 people in the U.S.

FEYERICK: And number four, bad news for people who have been out of work for a long time, 1.3 million Americans this month expected to lose their long-term jobless benefits. This is the emergency federal program that picks up when state benefits run out. Supporters say the move will motivate some folks into accepting job offers, but critics say, no, there simply aren't enough jobs and they argue that cutting benefits will drag down the economy.

BLACKWELL: Five now. Target confirms hackers stole PIN code data during that massive security breach that compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts. The retail giant says data was securely encrypted and it's unlike that hackers would be able to unscramble code information. Well, the security breach took place between Black Friday and December 15th. Shoppers are encouraged to contact their bank and change that pin code.

FEYERICK: And what might be worse than getting coal for Christmas, well, getting nothing. That's exactly what happened to thousands across the country when they woke up Christmas Day after shipping giants UPS and FedEx failed to deliver the gift. So, who is to blame for this? And what are the carriers doing to promise that it never happens again?

CNN's Nick Valencia has the details.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deb and Victor, UPS tells us that the issues were so diverse and wide ranging that even some of its employees didn't receive their Christmas gifts on time either. The world's largest package delivery company feeling the fallout from their Christmas blunder.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Better late than never?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It said it hasn't been processed yet.

VALENCIA: Not quite, especially when it comes to Christmas gifts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I can't tell you how many countless hours we have spent on the phone dealing with this issue.

VALENCIA: FedEx and UPS are delivering normally today after delays in Christmas shipments. Neither company has released any numbers, but it's estimated thousands were affected. Both companies have apologized, but a UPS spokesperson couldn't even guarantee all delayed packages would be delivered by Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can only do what they can do given the conditions.

VALENCIA: UPS says it hired 55,000 seasonal employees to keep up with their projected demand of 132 million packages. FedEx says, it hired 20,000 people, and they, too, admit they had, quote, "minimal service disruption despite the increased volume." UPS blamed, quote, "a perfect storm," bad weather and an increase in online sales. FedEx noted a shorter holiday shopping season.

MARSHALL COHEN, CHIEF INDUSTRY ANALYST, NPD GROUP: Weather is always going to be a factor somewhere. So that's really not a good enough excuse.

VALENCIA: Experts say shipping companies can't simply look into the past as predictors anymore. The Internet is changing things.

COHEN: This is really about underestimating the power of online now. And stores, as well as online retailers, were driving so much traffic and so much opportunity to buy gifts and use it as a vehicle to ship it.

VALENCIA: And online sales broke records this year with sites like Amazon leading the way, reporting sales of over 36 million items on Cyber Monday, promising on-time shipments. UPS says, they will absolutely be looking at changes in policy during the holiday season, but couldn't say what kind of changes they might be. Neither UPS nor FedEx made deliveries on Christmas Day, but after this it's something they might reconsider.


VALENCIA: And now this issue has turned political, a senator from the state of Connecticut calling on all shipping companies to reimburse customers for their shipping costs. UPS says, it will reimburse some customers' shipping costs. No telling how much that will cost the company, but they've already had their reputation damaged by their broken promises -- Deb, Victor.

FEYERICK: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you very much. You got to wonder also who shopped last minute.

BLACKWELL: Right, if you're shopping on the 22nd, and you want it in Des Moines by Christmas Eve --

FEYERICK: You get what you get and you don't get upset.

BLACKWELL: That's true. Unless you did weeks ago and then you have --

FEYERICK: That's the issue.

BLACKWELL: So the Santa Claus rally, it certainly delivered on Wall Street this week. The Dow hit its 50th record high of the year before pulling back a bit on Friday.

FEYERICK: But despite these incredible numbers, a new CNN ORC poll finds that the majority of Americans simply says, the economy is in poor shape. Zain Asher with more. Zain?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Deb and Victor, it was a strong week on Wall Street even with the market open half-a-day on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. Investors was still in a blind mood. The major average is ended the week up more than one percent each with several record highs along the way. Despite the gains in the market, Americans aren't that optimistic about the economy. A new CNN ORC poll shows that 68 percent of Americans think economic conditions are poor and the majority don't think they won't get much better a year from now. And there's something a bit worrisome when asked if the economy has made consumers put off major purchase, 56 percent said yes and that's actually higher than the recession began back in 2008.

Target is giving more insight into its massive data breach. And as they are saying Friday that costumers' pin data was indeed stolen but that's because of encryption used, hackers would unlikely be able to decode them. Remember in most cases, banks will not hold consumers liable for fraudulent charges.

Some Delta flyers got a late Christmas present when a computer glitch caused the airline to pose super cheap prices in their websites. Some of the deal included a Boston to Honolulu route at $68. Flights from New York to Seattle and Los Angeles for between $25 and $40. And an Oklahoma to St. Louis trip for just under 13 bucks. The issue was quickly resolved. A Delta spokesman wouldn't say how many tickets were sold at incorrect prices. That's a look of the week on Wall Street -- Victor and Deborah.

BLACKWELL: Zain, thanks. I know, for just a few bucks, someone tweet, please, when these things are active.

FEYERICK: Or just call us personally.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let us know.

FEYERICK: All right. Well, Christmas might be over but people around the world are getting ready to ring in the New Year.

BLACKWELL: This is going to be fun. Up next, we'll show you some of the most unique celebrations. Stay with us.


BLACKWELL: Twenty minutes until the top of the hour. Now, you're watching NEW DAY SATURDAY. Let's get a look at some of the news making headlines around the world. Let's go to Deb.

FEYERICK: Thanks, Victor. Well, the U.S. has lost one of its biggest allies in Lebanon to a devastating attack.

Let's go to Beirut where CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has more on the assassination that stunned the capital.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Deborah, security's extremely tight in and around Lebanon's capital today, just one day after a car bomb ripped through downtown Beirut. Killing seven people, among them, Lebanon's former ambassador to the U.S. Mohamad Chatah. The U.S. State Department has condemned Chatah's killing as have numerous Lebanese officials. Speculations in Lebanon is growing that perhaps he was targeted because he was a staunch opponent of the Syrian regime. And nobody has claimed responsibility for this attack, but many believe that this is another example of serious civil war spilling over into neighboring Lebanon. A memorial service is being held for Chatah today -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: Mohammed Jamjoon for us. Thank you. Well, members of the so-called Arctic 30 are coming home after this week's prison amnesty in Russia. CNN's Rosie Tomkins has more on their release and why some find its timing, curious.

ROSIE TOMKINS, CNN PRODUCER: Deborah, here in the UK, five prisoners were released to be reunited with their families after spending three months in Russian prisons. They were detained after staging a protest against an offshore Russian oil rig. And -- amnesty under a new law passed by President Putin last week. And their release follows the release of several others including two members of the punk group Pussy Riot and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Now, the move by President Putin is being widely interpreted as possible attempt to clean up its human rights records ahead of the winter Olympics in Sochi. Back to you, Deborah.

FEYERICK: All right. Rosie Tomkins, thank you. Meantime, the U.S. and Japan hopes they finally put to rest a longtime sore spots between the two allies. CNN's Karl Penhaul explains why both sides are happy with the deal to move the U.S. base in Okinawa -- Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deborah, the governor of Japan's Okinawa Island has approved a measure to relocate a controversial U.S. military base. The deal ended 17 years of deadlock over the facility. The U.S. military seized Okinawa as a key part of its strategic plans in the Asia Pacific region especially in the face of China's growing political and military power. But for years, many Japanese have been calling for the base to be closed after string of sex attacks quite U.S. personnel on Japanese women and children. Under the deal, just agree a new base will be built on the side of a former trash dump in a remote corner of Okinawa -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: All right. Karl Penhaul, thank you.

Well, from counting down the ball drop in Times Square to that anticipated kiss at midnight, here in the U.S., we have all the rapid people how celebrate New Year's.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Around the world, people are gearing up for different types of celebrations, so let's bring in CNN editorial producer Nadia Bilchik. Good to have you with us.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Thank you. Could we start in Scotland?

BLACKWELL: Let's start in Scotland.

BILCHIK: Let's start in Scotland because you have Hogmanay. So, here you have grown men dress up as Vikings. To celebrate their Viking ancestry. And they like tortures and they really create this river of fire. And this is a four day celebration. So you can imagine a lot of scotch and whiskey is consumed.

BLACKWELL: Certainly, I mean, if you're going to dress up like a Viking, keep it on four days.

BILCHIK: And then we go to Brazil. And in Brazil, we were talking about it earlier, what do people wear? They wear white.


BILCHIK: If you want to know why they wear white.


BILCHIK: It's really purity and peace, a peaceful New Year. And then they also go to the beaches and throw flowers into the sea, really paying tribute to the goddess Yemanja.

BLACKWELL: Anything different? Let's go to across South America then. BILCHIK: Well, Ecuador is really interesting because here they burn effigies. So, they create dummies, scarecrows and they often put masks on the effigies and sometimes very well-known personalities and they put on old clothes. And the idea is, you burn the old to bring in the new. But it could be seen a bit macabre.

FEYERICK: It is but also in a way, is it also getting rid of the demons? It's getting rid of the demons, getting rid of all those bad, evil things that perhaps are weighing you down. So, it is a bit of -- then you go, you wear white. And, you know, you celebrate peace. So, there's a little bit of darkness and a little bit of light.

BILCHIK: I like that. And the idea of cleansing, right? And wouldn't it be nice if you could just burn everything and start again?

BLACKWELL: Yes, start fresh.

BILCHIK: And then Spain, Spain has a very well-known tradition. And that is, on the strike of midnight, you begin eating grapes. And you have one grape for each second. So, that represents the 12 months of the year.

BLACKWELL: We have 10 grapes here --


BILCHIK: Take a look, these are green grapes and these are small.

FEYERICK: Do they have pits?

BILCHIK: Well, they don't have pits, but they should be peeled. And the idea is that you make a wish.


BILCHIK: Every time you pop the grape into your mouth.

BLACKWELL: All right.

BILCHIK: So Victor is going to time us. I've had practice on this, Deb, because I've been doing New Year's for CNN for a couple years.

FEYERICK: All right.

BILCHIK: So, I might have an advantage over you.

BLACKWELL: All right.

BILCHIK: So, tell us when to go.

BLACKWELL: OK. You both ready?

FEYERICK: All 12, all 12 of the --

BILCHIK: The idea is all 12 in 12 seconds. If anyone chokes, thank goodness you all -- (LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: One question. Do you have to finish the grape before you go to the next one?

BILCHIK: Not necessarily.

BLACKWELL: OK. All right.

BILCHIK: It's how quick you can do it. OK.

BLACKWELL: OK. Ready, go.

FEYERICK: Oh, my God. How many times have you done this?

BLACKWELL: Riveting.

FEYERICK: I'm stuck. Oh, my gosh.

BLACKWELL: OK, 14 seconds.

BILCHIK: -- In Japanese, Happy New Year, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), have a wonderful time and cheers.

BLACKWELL: And all of that and 12 grapes in your mouth at the same time. Nadia Bilchik, thank you.


BLACKWELL: How did you do?

FEYERICK: Not bad. They're almost all done.

BLACKWELL: All right. Almost, with 14-and-a-half seconds. So be sure to watch CNN on New Year's Eve. Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will be live from Times Square beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You know that's a lot of fun every year.

Also, I'm going to take this --

FEYERICK: I'm good. I'm good.

BLACKWELL: OK. Going green. Of course, it's the responsible thing to do.

FEYERICK: Well, at least, those in Colorado hope so. Marijuana licenses are going out now. And in days purchasing pot over the counter is actually going to be legal. And Bob Marley.

BLACKWELL: All right.


BLACKWELL: Good morning, New York. It's 10 minutes to 7:00 there in The Big Apple. A live look at Lady Liberty now. Still a little dark there this morning. The sun not up totally. But it looks like it's going to be a pretty warm day there. Warming up a bit. I can't say warm, because, you know, a high of 49 degrees is not really warm. But warm for this time here in New York, thanks for watching.

Sometimes, friends, patience pays. Watch this. A robber walks into a Florida drugstore and demands money from the clerk. But instead of just giving the man the money, the clerk says, hey, "I need to ask my manager if that's OK."

FEYERICK: All right. So the robber agrees and he waits, because really, maybe it's 50/50, well, the clerk gets the manager. The manager then comes over. Waits until the clerk is finished with another customer and then hands over hundreds of dollars in cash. The robber got away but police hopes someone recognizes him from the video. Alternatively someone probably who have called 911 or press an emergency call button.

BLACKWELL: You know, while I was reading through the story, I thought at the end, they were going to outsmart this man. But no, he really says, oh no, go and ask you manager. I'll wait. And the manager says, oh, yes, here's a few hundred bucks. And he says, thank you and walks out.

FEYERICK: Yes. A little hard to believe but there you go, it is the season.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is the season to give.

Hey, in Colorado, marijuana goes legit. This week, the state became the first in the nation to issue retail licenses to sell pot.

FEYERICK: That's right, about 350 businesses are cashing in on the opportunity and taxpayers are supposed to benefit from the windfall as well. CNN's Ana Cabrera with the details. Hey there, Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Deborah, the countdown is on. Pot becomes legal to self or recreational use here in Colorado in just a matter of days. The state hoping this is going to generate tens of millions of dollars of new tax revenue. Businesses are seeing green as well as certain pot shops, the ones already selling medical marijuana open their doors to a whole new clientele.


(voice-over): The green rush here in Colorado is about to get even bigger. This week state licenses went out to local businesses giving them the green light to start selling recreational marijuana.

TONI FOX, MARIJUANA RETAILER: And money does grow on trees and it's called the cannabis plant.

CABRERA: January 1st recreational pot sales are legal and heavily regulated by both state and authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do some profit.

CABRERA: Anyone over the age of 21 will soon be able to buy marijuana, 136 medical marijuana dispensaries now have state licenses to sell it and 178 businesses can now grow it for recreational use.

MORGAN IWERSEN, OWNER, CANYON CULTIVATION: They kind of say we're sort of like the United States Amsterdam.

CABRERA: Morgan Iwersen runs Canyon Cultivation. They make marijuana edibles, drops and candies. She expects business to at least double in the New Year.

IWERSEN: I really hope that people are responsible with it and they don't mess it up for the rest of us.

CABRERA: But Canyon Cultivation like most companies here won't be ready just on January 1st. Retail outlets had major hurdles to get state approvals. Fingerprint based background checks, financial checks and fees up to $15,000. Toni Fox said she has more than $1 million invested in her medical marijuana facility 3D cannabis center. Her store is only one of a handful expected to be ready for business on that first day.

FOX: A year ago I would have said I wish I hadn't done it. Now I'm very excited that I've done it and I'm looking forward to the future.

CABRERA: A future she and the state hope will pay off that massive investment.


CABRERA: It was medical marijuana that really paved the way for this new retail search. And much of this is being rolled out in existing infrastructure supporting medical marijuana in particular how the state plans to safeguard or regulate those products. And there are even stricter rules when it comes to the recreational government. But keep in mind, the federal government still considers this criminal -- Victor, Deborah.

FEYERICK: All right. Ana Cabrera, thanks so much. You could see that it was behind bars while they were growing it there.


FEYERICK: Interesting.

BLACKWELL: Got to protect it.

FEYERICK: Exactly. Well, still to come, there's nothing worse than getting out of a cab and then realizing that you left your belongings in the backseat, a raincoat or a wallet.

BLACKWELL: Or a cell phone. It has happened to me. That's what happened also to one unlucky passenger in Las Vegas this week but it wasn't a phone. We'll tell you what he left behind and why one cab driver is being praised as the angel of Sin City.


FEYERICK: Holy memorabilia collection, Batman, it's official. Indianapolis collector Kevin Silva has the Guinness World record for the largest Batman flag collection.

BLACKWELL: His 2500 items shattered the previous record, more than doubling it. Actually Silva keeps his collection in his own bat cave. His 1200-square foot basement.

FEYERICK: I want a bat cave.


Well, a Las Vegas cab driver faced a big temptations decides to do the right thing. When a passenger left behind a brown paper bag, driver Gerardo Gamboa decided to drive back to the hotel where he just dropped him off and actually returned it. He thought the bag was filled of chocolates.

BLACKWELL: Well, when Gamboa got to the hotel, he looked inside the bag and found something a little sweeter than chocolate, $300,000 in cash. Turns out the passenger was a professional poker player. Gamboa handed over the money and was named driver of the year by his company and awarded $1,000 for his honesty.

FEYERICK: You know, what? I got to tell you, for $300,000 I could buy my own bat cave.


BLACKWELL: Yes, you know, complete with 2500 items in the collection.

FEYERICK: A little cat woman suit there, you know?

BLACKWELL: Oh, cat woman suit.

FEYERICK: Yes, whatever.

BLACKWELL: Thanks for starting your morning with us.

FEYERICK: The next hour of your NEW DAY, it's starting right now.

American military personnel detained in Libya. They have been released. We don't know why they were taken into custody. The White House informs President Obama. We're going to have a live report coming out of Washington.

BLACKWELL: "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson is back after a reversal by A&E, he was suspended after recent remarks about gays and African-Americans. Now, the TV Network says, it would also use this opportunity to broadcast public service announcements promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance.

FEYERICK: And we will be going around the world for some really unusual ways of curing that New Year's Eve hangover. Would you like some pickle juice with that vodka? Or how about a sheep's eyeball with the pickle juice?

BLACKWELL: No, thanks.