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Protests Continue in New York Despite Mayor's Call to Delay; Will We See "The Interview?"; Internet Outage for North Korea; Rainy Christmas for America; Tornado Hitting American South; Loaded Guns Onboard Passenger Planes; Beware of the Towels

Aired December 23, 2014 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer sitting in for Anderson.

We begin with breaking news. Protesters out tonight on the streets of Manhattan despite calls from New York's mayor not to March. The mayor, Bill de Blasio asking once again today for New Yorkers to put the memories and the families and the extended NYPD family of two murdered first for now to let passion cool and tempers mend a bit on all sides. Instead tonight, political leaders are still accusing the mayor of demonizing police in the wake of Eric Garner's death or as you can see hundreds of protesters not let the rain, the mayor, or the recent assassination of two police officers keep them quiet.

Miguel Marquez joining us in the middle of the protest that started relatively small. Getting bigger, I take it.

Miguel, what's the latest?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has grown bitter, somewhat. It's maybe 500 or 600 people, but not a lot bigger. Not as much as previous protests. The issue now is that they've moved into the streets. This is Lexington street as you can -- Lexington Avenue headed north toward Harlem. The problem that they have right now is that police are trying to keep them on the streets or the sidewalks all night. Protesters now taken to the streets. And that is the issue. And it has caused a lot more tension between protesters and police.

If you turn around here, you can see it's not very big. The police are right behind them and they have tried to protect the protesters as they have taunted them through much of the evening. I had to say that the police have showed amazing restraint this evening as they watch these protesters go by -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are the protesters saying, Miguel, about defining the mayor's call to the protest before Ramos and Liu are buried?

MARQUEZ: The point that they are making and the reason that they want to be out here this vociferously and in traffic again is that they don't want to be cowed. They draw a sharp line. Despite how badly they may feel for the two police officers and the family and a lot of them came up to me saying we're not antipolice but they believe these are two separate issues. This is a first amendment issue to them. This is an issue of police brutality against black men. Those are things they want to stop. They see institutional racism they want to stop. They believe these are two separate issues and they are not drawing the conclusion. And they want the commissioner, the police commissioner here in New York, Bill Bratton, to step down and they're calling on the mayor to show some backbone basically and make police do what he wants -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Has the mood change as the night is progressed, Miguel? Have you heard any really angry vicious rhetoric from the protesters?

MARQUEZ: It's not been as vicious and as angry as previous protests, although they've called police racist throughout the night but something that will not sit well with the cops that help them make their way through the streets of New York. And some of the protesters have been challenging police off to the side as they're walking. Basically trying to make them, you know, make them take a swing or have an issue with them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are they actually going into the streets blocking traffic or the sidewalks? Because if they're in the streets blocking traffic, I take it that's a violation of the law.

MARQUEZ: This is Lexington Avenue. This is what police have been trying to avoid all night. When they were on Park Avenue in the middle of the shopping district, you know, shopping, Christmas shoppers on park avenue and Madison, see this protest coming down by them, they were freaked out, I have to say. Now they're up farther north in Manhattan. There's far less traffic, far less foot traffic, far less vehicle traffic. They have taken to the streets here despite police attempts to keep them off the streets. But at the moment, police are allowing them to go on the streets -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Have you heard about any arrests?

MARQUEZ: No arrests that we've seen so far. And it's a fairly tight protest. We've been able to keep up with everybody basically, despite some of the protesters taunting police individually. We've not seen anybody arrested so far. It's only about a block long, this protest, so it's fairly easy to see the entirety of the protest from our vantage point -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alright, Miguel. We are going to check back with you throughout this hour. Stand by. We're also following this developing story.

The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, we have learn, will attend funeral services for one of the two fallen officers. Rafael Ramos. The ceremony for Officer Ramos is planned for Saturday. Officer Wenjian Liu's funeral is pending until relatives arrive from China.

Marin Savidge is joining us now from Brooklyn at the spot where two officers were assassinated on Saturday, the site of the makeshift memorial that's come up. Joining us, it's been emotional today not only in New York but especially where you are. What's the latest over there? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You would have to say that

this is the absolute epicenter of the emotion of all of this because this is where the shooting took place on Saturday. And now this is the place people come to gather to remember and where this memorial continues to grow.

There were flowers. The notes with the candles and then there are the people. Yes, you have many police officers here, detectives, firefighters, but you also have many of the general public. Some are from the surrounding community and some are from all over New York. They come to pay respects earlier today. The mayor with his wife attended here.

And later, also too, there was a moment of silence at 2:47 p.m. which is a critical time because that is the exact moment of the shooting took place on Saturday. And so, that would be exactly three days since that point in time.

And then tonight at 9:00, it's anticipated, actually city has asked the public buildings and landmarks dim lights for five minutes, again, in tribute to the fallen officers. So very much a different scene here. It is quiet. It is respectful. It is remembering those who died -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, Martin, the mayor of New York, bill de Blasio yesterday, called for the hiatus of the protest until funerals of the officers have taken place. That's not happening. There's a major protest that we have been seeing on the streets of Manhattan. Do you have any more information on the funerals of these two police officers?

SAVIDGE: Well, as we know, the funeral for Rafael Ramos, the police officer who was also with Officer Liu, that was the one that has actually been planned. And it is for 10:00 a.m. And it is going to take place in queens. We noted that the vice president is going to be there with the mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has also said that he will be there too despite the fact that there are some who have said that he should stay away because of the emotions involved and the divide, but widely reported between the mayor's office and the police department. But anybody who politically watching this saying it would be unheard of if the mayor did not attend.

As for officer Liu, plans are still being work on that. They're still waiting actually for his family, many of whom are in China waiting to be transferred to the U.S. -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Martin Savidge with us. We'll check back with you as well.

Yesterday, we saw a powerful symbol of healing. Eric Garner's daughter, Emerald, paying respects. She's joining us tonight to share her thoughts on what has obviously been a very difficult emotionally loaded time for her.

Emerald, what went through your mind when you heard that the man who murdered those two New York city police officers in Brooklyn had earlier posted online that the killings would be revenge for the deaths of your father and Michael Brown?

EMERALD GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: Well, the first thing that went through my mind was basically, you know, there's something wrong with, you know, him as a person. He's not, you know, mentally stable because, you know, with everything that we've been saying, we want everything to be peaceful. So it wasn't, you know, that he didn't know what was happening. He just, you know, took it upon himself to take, you know, negative actions.

BLITZER: You visited a memorial yesterday that had been created to honor these police officers Ramos and Liu. Explain why that was important for you to be there and publicly offer your condolences.

GARNER: It was important to me because in the case of my dad, people came out and they supported us and I just felt really saddened by it. Because a young boy, a young kid lost their father like I did. So I know exactly what it feels like to lose a parent, so for him to lose a parent and, you know, a senseless death was just, just so heartbreaking. Because he's a young boy. He's young like my brother. So he's going to live the rest of his life without his dad. I can relate to him. And just because he's a police officer's son doesn't mean that he doesn't have feelings.

BLITZER: Of course. It's very sad and tragic. As you know, Emerald, there are those who point fingers at the tiny number of people who were saying really ugly things during the protest about dead cops and stuff like that. What do you say to those people?

GARNER: I tell people like I want to get the message out there that there's not all bad cops. Like all cops are not bad. I have, you know, NYPD in my family. So that doesn't make me look at them like, you know, they're bad because they're cops. They are still my family, so once you take off that uniform, you're a regular person. So just because you have a uniform doesn't define you as a bad cop.

So I just want to let them know, not all cops are bad. So we just got to salute the good ones and wean out the bad ones.

BLITZER: But you reject this notion of calling for dead cops. I mean, that's ugly and horrendous.

GARNER: It's ugly and very tragic. And you know, I don't want anybody to die. Like there shouldn't be any more bloodshed. It doesn't matter the situation. Nobody needs to lose their life in a senseless way. It was so, you know, it was bad. Like I just -- just looking at all the candles just brought me back to when what happened to my dad happened because it's like, it's just repeating, it's like a repetitive thing that just keeps happening and happening and happening. And it doesn't make it right because you killed the cop. That doesn't make it right. My father is still gone. So you kill the cop and just don't know -- I still can't get my father back. So I can't say, go kill this person because they're a cop. That's not going to bring my dad back. So that's just something that, you know, people need to understand that killing somebody because somebody else was killed is not changing the fact that the person was gone.

BLITZER: Yes, well said.

Mayor de Blasio, as you know, called for a halt for the protests until after two police officers are laid to rest. Do you support him on that? Because apparently there are some out there who don't want to heed what he was saying. They want to continue the protest during these days.

GARNER: I feel like anything peaceful should be brought to the table. So like if you want to be peaceful, then I support you. If you want to disrespect these families as far as them laying to rest their loved ones, I don't support it at all.

BLITZER: How are you doing, Emerald?

GARNER: I'm better. I'm better because a lot of people are coming forward and saying, you know, we support your family. We, you know, we want to help you and stuff. That's really like what makes me keep going because a lot of people are like, you know, they gave me backlash. You shouldn't have went down there and paid respects to the family and a lot of people say that's a good thing that you did.

I do what I feel is right. I felt like I needed to go and let that family know that if nobody else in the world is sending condolences to you, I am. Because it was wrong for them to lose their life that way. I would never, you know, I would never wish that on anybody because it's hurtful, and I'm hurting. I'm very hurt. I'm still, you know, dealing with what's going on with my dad, but I feel like their support and the people who encourage me to keep moving forward, that's what gives me the strength to keep moving forward.

BLITZER: Well, our deepest condolences to you, Emerald. Thanks very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

GARNER: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: A lot more to come in the hour ahead.

As always, a quick reminder, make sure to set your DVR so you can watch "360" whenever you'd like.

Up next, the war of words over the protest and whether it's right to march with the murder of two police officers, still such a raw wound to so many New Yorkers. I'll talk to two former members of the force, one is the borough president of Brooklyn where the killings took place.

And later, more breaking news. They pulled the movie after hackers threatened a horror show and U.S. squared with North Korea. Now a stunner from Sony. "The Interview," that's the film, it could be coming soon to a theater right near you.


BLITZER: Looking at these live pictures of the protesters. They are making their way up in Manhattan's, up Lexington Avenue, up to Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood getting closer and closer carrying signs reading among other things, jail, killer, cops. Defying calls by the mayor to stay home. Emotionally raw from the murder of two of their own by a deranged man who believed he was avenging the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

On the other side, no quiet from the critics of Bill de Blasio who continues to claim that he and other democratic candidates on the last mayoral primary fostered a climate of antagonism for the NYPD. That's what the critics charge the mayor and his associates of doing.

Earlier tonight, I spoke with the former New York governor, George Pataki.


GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Over the last few years, there's been a conservative effort to demonize the New York police department, the best trained police department anywhere and one that had made enormous strides to making this city the safest large city in America at tremendous risk to themselves.

So we should be applauding this great police department and they should not have been demonizing it the way it happened over the last two years.


BLITZER: The former governor, George Pataki, earlier tonight in "the SITUATION ROOM."

Joining us now, the former secret service agent and New York police detective Dan Bongino. Also, former NYPD captain and currently the Brooklyn bureau president, Eric Adams.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us.

Dan, let's start with the protests happening now. Let's show our viewers some live pictures of these protesters marching through the streets of Manhattan. You say you're disgusted by what's going on. Tell us why.

DAN BONGINO, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well Wolf, while I would ferociously defend their right to protest, this is America and to protest as American, that doesn't make it right. I don't get what their end game is here.

If the goal of the protest is to gather public support for your cause, well, this is a fail of epic proportions. I don't think any straight thinking New Yorkers right now think this is a good idea while these two assassinated police officers haven't even had the chance to be laid to rest yet.

BLITZER: Eric, what do you say? Because, you know, you're the bureau president of Brooklyn. That's where those two police officers were assassinated over the weekend. Are you concerned that emotions could get even higher as a result of these protesters?

ERIC ADAMS, PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN BUREAU: No, I'm not. And I too joined the mayor and stated that the -- I was hoping to protest the cause on the protest to allow these officers and their families to mourn the death of two fine members of our community. And so they made the decision to continue this part of what it is to be in America. We do not dictate how people voice their right to protest their right, all we can do is put out our call for these families to receive the support they deserve.

BLITZER: Dan, you believe the mayor of New York, bill de Blasio, should resign?

BONGINO: Absolutely. I think he should resign in shame.

Mayor de Blasio has provided absolutely atrocious leadership throughout this incident, Wolf. You know, there was an opportunity after this tragic incident with Mr. Garner to have very, very helpful and productive conversation about police training, community affairs, foot patrols, consistent foot patrols in neighborhood to get to know your neighborhood cop again.

These could have been really excellent conversations to really move forward police community relations. That's not what he did. He put innuendo upon innuendo, de facto accusations of racism that fed gasoline to an exploding fire.

BLITZER: Eric Adams, you have a unique perspective because you were a cop for a long time. Now, you are the bureau president of Brooklyn. What do you think?

ADAMS: I think that both Dan and I talked about how complex it is to police a big city like New York. And the mayor has done a great job. You know, of course, we don't believe he should resign. That doesn't make sense.

The death of these two fine officers had nothing to do with the mayor has done. The mayor has provided support to our police, everything from continued state-of-the-art academy, the training is where to take place, the cameras that will help exonerate officers when accusations are made as well as the proper training that they need.

And so, this is a difficult moment. And blood is not on the hands of the mayor, as some stated but was on the hands of the sick person who committed this act and blood is on the hands of those who have embraced a policy when we have an over proliferation of guns in our society and not only killing police officers but also the blood continues to flow that kills many of our children.

BLITZER: But Eric, you know that the head of police union in New York, the Patrolmen Benevolent Association said the mayor does have blood on his hands. You agree with him.

ADAMS: No, I don't. That is inaccurate.

BLITZER: No, I was asking that question to Dan. I know you don't agree with him, Eric. I was wondering if Dan agrees with the head of the police union.

BONGINO: No, I don't think those words are appropriate. I don't think the mayor cause this. I think that would be irresponsible to say that. But Wolf, if you were to look at the series of options, Mayor de Blasio could have taken, after the tragic death of Mr. Garner. Say was options one through five, with five being the worst way to handle this, that's what he picked. He picked the worst way to handle this.

And with all due respect to the bureau president, I suggest you talk to some police officers out there because the ones I'm talking to -- by the way, of diverse group that I keep contact with my time from the New York police academy, Mayor de Blasio has absolutely zero credibility with them. And throwing some money at the police department for technology, while a great cause, is not going to fix this. He has really lost the support of all the troops. He's, in general, going to battle with no warriors behind him.

BLITZER: Eric, what are you hearing from the cops in Brooklyn?

ADAMS: Nothing could be further from the truth. The New York police department as Dan indicated in the beginning, is one of the finest well-trained professional department. And if you go through the history of New York City, you'll see that ever since the days of Mayor Cobb to (INAUDIBLE), to Bloomberg and Giuliani, there's always been a strike between cops.

Cops and unions don't make policy. The mayor makes the policy. They're the soldiers, they carry out the policies and they were to respond to call of service every day. That is what a professional is and that's why they're New York city's finest.

BLITZER: You know, Dan, the mayor said last night he will attend the funeral of both slain police officers. Relatives of t least officer Ramos, they say the mayor will be welcome. Do you think it's right for the mayor to attend both of these funerals?

BONGINO: You know, I do, Wolf. He's still the mayor of the city. Hasn't resigned yet unfortunately, in my opinion, but he is the mayor of the city. I think the cops are professionals to provide the same protection they would for him for any other mayor there. they are pros. They are going to keep the city safe. And you know, he's entitled to some dignity of the office. But I'll be honest with you, Wolf. But if was God forbid it was me or a member of my family, I wouldn't want him there. I'd ask him to stay away. He'd only be a lightning rod for more controversy.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Eric, because we did see a lot of the police officers at the hospital over the weekend, they turned their backs on the mayor. That was pretty ugly.

ADAMS: Yes. But we are talking about a department with over 30,000 members and it is not a monolithic department where everyone walk last step. Not only do I speak to a lot of officers, I still have family members who are officers and they do not subscribe to disrespecting the office of the mayor. That office is not an individual. It is the symbol of the people of

New York and we represent that. And resignation, New Yorker don't run. We deal with the issues and lean into the discomfort and come out the other side a better place and respect each other's purpose. That's what a New Yorker is.

BLITZER: All right, Eric Adams, thanks very much. Dan Bongino, thanks to you as well. Passion is intense right now.

Just ahead, it's the movie of the center of the Sony hacking scandal. It is going to see the light of day after all. There is breaking news about the release of the film titled "the Interview." That's coming up.

And North Korea's internet blackout problems continue. But was it retaliation for the hacking? We will have a live update from South Korea when "360" continues.


BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, Sony has done a 180 when it comes to the film at the center of the hacking scandal. "The Interview," that's the name of the film, opening on Christmas day on theaters after all. At least some of them with more being added as we speak.

The film was comedy about an assassination plot against the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un but nothing there has been nothing but drama about its release, after hackers threatening any movie theaters that would show the film. The big theater chains backed down, Sony pulled the plug. But now, more than 200 independent theaters across the country agreed to show the film.

Our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is joining us now with more.

Brian, first of all, do we know why Sony has made the decision to allow these theaters, these independent theaters to go ahead and screen the film.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Well, they're taking a stand, Wolf. They say they don't want the film suppressed. In the statement today, Sony did not named North Korea or the hackers in particular. But they do not want this to be a precedent for Hollywood in the future that a threat or a hacking can affect movie were lays in the future.

BLITZER: Typically, a major studio movie is played in the thousands of theaters all over the country. That would have been the case with "the Interview." Do we know how many are willing to show it now?

STELTER: This was going to be in 2,000 to 3,000 theaters. Now it will be in 200 to 300. So, it's about one tenth of the original size of its release. And this is really about supply and demand. Originally, there was going to be a lot of supply and only a limited amount of demand. Well, now, there's limited supply and the amount of demand is increasing because there's so much attention around this movie, so much free publicity about it. I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot of sold out theaters on Christmas day even though we should point out, the reviews have not been very good for this movie, Wolf.

BLITZER: As you said before, there're other options for Sony to release this film digitally. The big things are though, they would have to partner to do that and Sony could charge money for it, but they've got a lot of money invested in this film, they're not going to make a ton of money if they do that. Are they?

STELTER: Well, they have a $44 million budget for the movie and they are in talks tonight with possible online distributors, but here's the challenge for them. Think about this as a teeter totter. On the one hand, you want to get big movie chains to play your movie. On the other hand, if you play it, if you put it online, if you let people rent it through their cable box, if you put it on Netflix, those big movie chains are not going to play the movie. So, they have to make a decision what they want to do. I think there might be an announcement about some sort of video on demand or Netflix or Hulu deal tomorrow, but time will tell. Whether Sony can find the partner for that, to put it online. It would be a pretty cool idea, wouldn't it? To have this movie streaming on the Internet on Christmas day so anybody could see it, but Sony hasn't decided if it's worth alienating those big movie chains.

BLITZER: But so far those big movie chains are saying no, they are not going to - they are not going to show it, right?

STELTER: Well, they say very simply, they've already other movies lined up, you know, the movie was cancelled last week, so they went ahead and made alternative plans. Frankly, they're a little bit miffed at Sony tonight that Sony is going ahead and releasing this movie with the independent theaters. But you know, at the end of the day, this is business and Sony and the theaters are going to do what's best for them businesswise.

BLITZER: Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

STELTER: North Korea's Internet service is still spotty at best after it went down completely for more than nine hours. Kyung Lah is joining us now live from Seoul, South Korea With The Very Latest. What more do we know, Kyung, about who or what is behind the Internet outage in North Korea?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we know is that what the data is showing us, is that there was simply a problem. It doesn't really tell us the origin of this. We've been talking and watching the pattern over the last 48 hours, cyber-intelligence experts are basically telling us that based on what they see with this pattern is that it certainly looks like it's a rogue hacker. They don't believe it's the United States or some official entity. They believe that this is probably most likely, given that there's a sudden outage and then there's a sputtering after for hours on end, that it's probably a 15-year-old in Jersey wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. I mean that's essentially what a lot of the hacking community believes is the case right now. BLITZER: Well, how's the service tonight?

LAH: The service is actually exactly the way it was yesterday. There was a complete failure overnight. It was as if North Korea was completely wiped off the Internet map and then throughout the day, we've seen a lot of trouble trying to get on to the state's web sites. They're failing at times. It certainly looks like they're struggling to come back online. The interesting thing, Wolf, is that if you watch North Korean television today, it's broadcasting today some sort of holiday schedule. We are seeing a lot of Kim Jong-Il films and there is no veneer that there's any problem inside North Korea. A lot of the same propaganda, saying that the U.S. is evil, you know, the same old story lines over and over again. But no hint that there is anything awry in North Korea with the Internet.

BLITZER: Kyung, now that "The Interview," that's the film, is going to be released in a number of theaters, probably a couple of hundred, maybe 300, in the United States on Christmas Day, are there concerns that North Korea may retaliate?

LAH: There are a lot of concerns that there may be retaliation, but the retaliation that people are bracing for are the cyber nature. There's growing concern ever since the Sony hack that North Korea has simply been underestimated by the entire community, the international community. So there is that concern that this is simply just going to make Kim Jong-Un even madder. But the fact of the matter is that if you speak to anybody whether it being United States or in South Korea, they say that this is simply the reality that cyber-attacks and a growing number of them coming from North Korea, ordered from North Korea is the new reality.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah reporting for us from Seoul, South Korea. Thanks.

Just ahead, breaking news, a deadly tornado strikes Mississippi. And other one hits Louisiana causing extensive damage. Plus, a look at holiday travel.

And later, guns and ammo allegedly smuggled on to a commercial airliner, not just once and not just in the baggage compartment either. Right in the cabin with other passengers. The troubling details ahead on "360."


BLITZER: A breaking news. At least four people are dead. Many others injured after a tornado tore through southern Mississippi. A tornado also hit Louisiana where some structures were flattened but there are no reports of deaths there. It's a wet mess across much of the South tonight and a pouring rain stretches up the East Coast along the I-95 corridor causing treacherous driving conditions. Good luck getting to your Christmas destination. It's not any better at the airport where there are already delays.

Our meteorologist Karen Maginnis is joining us from the CNN weather center with more. What's the latest, first of all, Karen, on these deadly tornadoes? KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has been widespread, Wolf. It

began in Amite, Louisiana. But we saw the supercell just kind of hop, skip and jump across Mississippi. But we are still looking at widespread potential, at least an area from Alabama into Georgia and Florida, which is already seeing a variety of problems there as well. Let's take you back to that 2:00 local time. That is central time in Mississippi. A supercell ricked across Columbia. That's in Marion County. Two fatalities there. They are seeing a number of buildings have been heavily damaged. A day care was affected by the tornado as well. There were children in there, they were taken out to a bank. They say no children were injured but substantial damage to the daycare along with other buildings. Then we go to Summerall and then in the vicinity of Laurel, Mississippi. They're saying two fatalities there as well. Widespread damage, numerous power outage reported there as well. In Tallahassee, our latest report of over seven inches of rainfall. There's a flash flood emergency and just within the past hour, they were saying they were doing high water rescues.

Coming up over the next 24 hours, we are looking at substantial rainfall totals here. But Wolf, it's going to be widespread up and down the Eastern Seaboard just in time for Christmas Eve.

BLITZER: As I was going to say, the next couple of days are huge travel days over this Christmas period. What can we expect, more treacherous traveling conditions especially on the East Coast? Is that what I'm hearing?

MAGINNIS: Yes, you certainly got. And if anything, it's going to get worse. And we saw bad delays today at New York's metro airports, also in Philadelphia. All day long. I was taking a look at Philadelphia and they were looking at delays all day long of at least two hours. Here, the delays that we have now, New York City's metropolitan airports, also Newark, Philadelphia is probably responsible for the most cancellations, but delays up and down the entire system, mostly in the Eastern Seaboard, but not to be outdone.

In CHICAGO, coming up in the next 12 to 24 hours, it looks like there will be a band of very heavy snowfall here. Computer estimates are still kind of all over the place. Four to eight inches. Buffalo, no. Not a white Christmas. It looks like you could see wind gusts as high as 65 miles an hour. There is a winter storm watch in effect for Chicago. In the Deep South, places like Atlanta could see some low line flooding and the airport could be affected here as well. As a matter of fact, delay-wise, we are still anticipating that I-95 corridor. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York to Boston with some major delays coming up for tomorrow. So it's widespread misery. I hate to be the Grinch.

BLITZER: Yeah, sounds bad. Especially on Christmas Eve, already, thanks, Karen, thanks very much. Travel delays. One thing today, though.

Federal authorities revealed something a whole lot more troubling than that. A security gap that allegedly let bad guys board flights carrying loaded weapons. Details from Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 153 firearms recovered smuggled onboard nearly 20 commercial passenger planes from Atlanta to New York, that according to federal investigators.

KEN THOMPSON, KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They put guns on the planes this time. They could have easily put a bomb on one of those planes.

MARSH: Here's how authorities say it happened. Delta baggage handler Eugene Harvey with a backpack full of guns uses his badge to enter the secure area of the Atlanta Airport bypassing security checkpoints. Most airport and airline employees like ramp workers and baggage handlers undergo security vetting and reoccurring background checks, but they do not go through daily TSA screening to gain access to secure and restricted airport areas. The accomplice, former Delta employee, Mark Henry, clears TSA and arrives at a concourse. The two men communicate by text message and meet in an airport bathroom. Once inside, out of the camera's view, the guns are handed off.

CHAD WOLF, FORMER TSA OFFICIAL: The TSA, the airports and the airlines after 9/11, are there to prevent those types of incident occurring.

MARSH: According to prosecutors, Henry seen here in surveillance video boarded flights from Atlanta to New York with handguns, AR-15s and AK-47s, some of the weapons loaded. It was all part of a five-man operation.

THOMPSON: This gun can shoot through a car door. Can shoot through an apartment door, can shoot through a bulletproof vest. In November, Mr. Henry brought this gun on a Delta commercial airliner to NEW YORK.

MARSH: This kind of breaching security has happened before. In 2010, an American Airlines baggage handler helped smuggle 12,000 pound of marijuana onboard a flight to New York. In 2013, an airline employee sentenced after agreeing to smuggle a machine gun and cocaine on to a commercial plane. And in 2009, government audit says workers with access to secured airport areas is one of the greatest potential threats to aviation.

WOLF: Everyone who is involved in aviation and aviation security know that this is a gap and a vulnerability.

MARSH: Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: Take a look at this. So we got some live pictures and update on the protests that are happening in New York City right now despite the appeal from the mayor of New York to pause in these protests until after the funerals of the two police officers who were assassinated over the weekend, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The protests are going to continue at least for an hour -- we are going to get a live update when we come back.

Also ahead, an early Christmas present from Wall Street. The Dow surges to a record close.


BLITZER: We've been following the protests in New York City throughout the evening. I want to bring you an update right now. Let's go back to CNN's Miguel Marquez, she's out on the rainy streets of New York for us. What's the latest, Miguel? Where are you guys?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here way up the city now. We are in the heart of African-American New York in the Harlem, on the 125th Street. We are heading over to the Adam Clayton Powell building. A very, very significant area for protesters here, a place that they have come and ended these protests traditionally. They are also meeting other protesters who are coming in from the Bronx. They want to show the city, they want to show the police that they will not be cowed by the hall and the desire for them not to do this very type of protest. They will come out here and they will continue to protest as long as they can, as many times as they want. They draw very, very sharp line between the deaths of the two police officers here and these protests for what they see as institutional. Wolf?

BLITZER: As you know, the protesters have defied the mayor's call to alter protests until after the police officers and RAMOS and Liu are buried. What are they telling you about that?

MARQUEZ: They -- (INAUDIBLE) They say that they are not antipolice, that they feel very badly for those police members, but they also say that they want to protest. They see this as a First Amendment issue. They don't see this as related to the police that were shot and killed here. They find it very sad. I will say that the police have been behind us, the police who have been along with these protesters, some of the protesters themselves individually challenging police, trying to harassing them, trying to make them react. The police have shown incredible restraint tonight, they did not want them to go on the streets. They eventually did go on the streets for parts of this protest, but now they have, it looks like we're coming to the end of this thing here at Adam Clayton Powell building in Harlem. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Miguel, Be Careful Over There. We'll stay in touch with you. Miguel Marquez on the streets of Manhattan for us.

But there's a lot more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks has a quick "360 News and Business Bulletin." Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a record setting down in Wall Street. The Dow closed above 18,000 for the first time. The S&P also finished at an all-time high as well.

Well, the U.S. Agency for International Development has paid out Gross $3.2 million. Gross was working as a subcontractor for the federal agency when he was arrested and imprisoned in Cuba in 2009. He was freed a week ago as part of the historic deal to ease relations between Havana and Washington. Gross had faced 15 years in prison for distributing communications equipment to Jewish groups in Cuba as part of a democracy promotion program. And under proposal from the FDA, gay men who abstained from sex for

one year would be able to donate blood in 2015. If approved, this would end the lifetime ban for the gay community.

To the NFL now, according to reports, quarterback free agent Rex Grossman rejected an offer to play for the Cleveland Browns this weekend, yes, the same team that - in training camp. Grossman wants to spend time with his family and has no interest in the nearly $54,000 he would have earned for about six days of work. Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel are both in there, Wolf.

BLITZER: Susan, thanks very much. Just ahead, tonight's edition of the top five "Ridiculist" countdown. Your choice for number four. That's next.


BLITZER: Tonight, your choice for number four "Ridiculist" of the year. Televangelist Pat Robertson and his theory about towels. Here's Anderson Cooper from back in October.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Time for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, we have an important travel warning for all Americans, not from the government, but from the grouchy grandpa of televangelism, the infinity (INAUDIBLE) information that is Pat Robertson.

Recently, a 700 club viewer asked him for advice about a plan mission to Kenya. Now, some of the viewers, friends and family were concerned about this person going to Kenya because of Ebola. Robertson said there's no need to worry about Ebola in Kenya and then he said this.

PAT ROBERTSON: You might get AIDS in Kenya. The people have AIDS. You've got to be careful. I mean the towels could have AIDS.

COOPER: That's right. The towels could have AIDS. Do not even get him started on the washcloths with hepatitis C. We're talking bed, bath, and way, way beyond here, people. Just to be clear, if like Pat Robertson you somehow missed all the evidence, all the research, the depth and breadth of all the knowledge garnered about HIV and AIDS over the past three decades, you cannot get HIV if you share towels.

Now, if a guy has shared towels, it's true he might be gay, even then, though, there's no guarantee. Some people just love sharing. I've got to say, one interesting thing about Robertson's warning is that when it comes to other infectious diseases like Ebola, he's actually kind of measured in his opinion.

ROBERTSON: I was in Zaire, a great Ebola outbreak, and we were helping people with Ebola and it wasn't all this panic.

COOPER: You know, if there's one thing you can say about Pat Robertson throughout the years, is that he's anti-panic. After all, why panic about things like Ebola outbreaks when the bath mat is trying to give you chlamydia, and your food is trying to kill you? ROBERTSON: If you go overseas, don't eat fresh vegetables, if you go overseas, don't drink ice in any drink, because the water isn't pure. Be careful of ice cream and milk because the milk might not be pasteurized.

COOPER: Do not eat ice cream when you go to Italy. I'M telling you, I know, everyone says the gelato is great. It's going to kill you. Overseas. Everything overseas is bacteria. They got bacterias overseas. You just -- imagine. I'M just trying to think maybe we'd be better off not traveling at all. Just stay right here, in the good old United States. Except steer clear of San Francisco because that's, of course, where all the gay people live and Pat Robertson thinks they have an ingenious way of giving you the stuff, and the stuff, of course, is what he then was calling HIV or AIDS in this classic clip from last year.


ROBERTSON: You know what they do in San Francisco, some of the gay community, they want to get people so if they've got the stuff, they'll have a ring. You shake hands and the ring has got a little thing where you cut your finger?


ROBERTSON: Yeah, really.


COOPER: Really? How much did they pay that woman to sit there like a zombie? I mean do you think she actually believes what Pat Robertson is saying, or she just thinks, he's my boss. Better smile.

Really? Rings?

That's what the gay people want to do to you in San Francisco, they want to stick you with the rings. Summing up, if you going to San Francisco, do not shake hands with anyone, , if you going anywhere overseas, do not eat the ice cream and whatever you do, do not have unprotected sex with a towel in Kenya. Those are travel tips you can use on the "Ridiculist."


BLITZER: That does it for us. We'll see you again 11:00 p.m. CNN special, "TO HEAVEN AND BACK" starts right now.