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Unusual Weather Threatens Holiday Travel; Americans Trapped in Sudan; Colorado School Shooting Victim Dies; Bleacher Report; PR Executive Loses Job Over AIDS Tweet; Americans Trapped By Fighting in South Sudan

Aired December 22, 2013 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Ice, rain, and freezing temperatures gripping the Midwest as flooding sinks cars and streets and backyards. But despite a storm stem the stretches from Louisiana to Canada, the northeast is enjoy spring in December.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The conflict in South Sudan has now become an American problem. When U.S. military members there were fired upon and injured, they had to abort their rescue mission. So the question now, how to evacuate those stranded American civilians.

BLACKWELL: And it is a new day in Canada after the supreme court ruled unanimously to strike down prostitution laws. What the decision means for one of the oldest professions. Your NEW DAY starts right now.

BROWN: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for waking up with us on this Sunday morning. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

And, let me just say this off the top, I feel great.

BROWN: OK. Good. Your voice is just -- (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: I'm breathing well. I feel good. It's just that, you know --

BROWN: Just the voice.

BLACKWELL: It's just the voice. You know, when you live alone, you don't speak to anyone in the morning. So, I discovered this when I came into work.

BROWN: When you woke up.


BROWN: It's very anchormanesque (ph), Victor.

BLACKWELL: Is it really?

BROWN: Yes, it is.

BLACKWELL: Well, you know, "Anchorman 2" December 24th (ph). BROWN: But I'm here to catch you if you can't talk.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much.

BROWN: So, all right, let's start with the weather, because that's really the talker this morning, the big headline, because it's deadly, actually. The weather is still grinding its way across the country and it's already caused some serious problems.

BLACKWELL: Possible tornadoes in Arkansas carved a path of destruction four days before Christmas. And in Mississippi, severe storms are now being blamed for killing two people.

Now, let's go further west. An ice storm left branches frozen in mid- air and forced air travelers to scramble to rebook canceled flights. Some places got more than a foot of snow.

BROWN: Meantime, the unusually warm temperatures to the north led to some dangerous flooding there. I took a look at this strange weather mix that's still sweeping the country.


BROWN (voice-over): The first day of winter brought a massive storming packing snow, ice, rain, and floods. Official in Mississippi said two people were killed and several others injured after a line of storms moved through the state. In Arkansas, a possible tornado destroyed buildings and hurt three people. This home was demolished, but everyone survives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's left of the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Practically nothing. No clothes. The Christmas gifts were demolished. Everything's gone. So --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it blew out the windows in the van, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It totaled my van.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, totaled the van.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totaled the van. So -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's -- it's a mess.

BROWN: In parts of the Midwest, heavy rains caused flooding in the Ohio River Valley, leaving cars, streets and backyards under water. Today, snow, ice and freezing rain will be the focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got home. So I figured, throw a little salt down in time to beat the - beat the ice.

BROWN: For the more than 94 million Americans traveling for the holidays, treacherous road conditions in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri make driving difficult. And more ice and freezing temperatures this morning will make it dangerous. But this weather system is getting even stranger. Temperatures will feel like spring for much of the east. In New York, bikers, joggers and baby strollers were out in full force to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. It feels like it's May in December. It's like 60 degrees right now. It's beautiful.


BROWN: Yes, not too bad here in Atlanta, either, huh?

BLACKWELL: Yes, not bad. It's been a great 24 hours.

BROWN: It really has. But, you know, Mother Nature not making it easy for a lot of travelers trying to get out of town for Christmas.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Jennifer Grey is in the CNN Severe Weather Center with more on how this weather could affect travel plans.

Who's under it?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's mainly going to be areas to the north. Mainly (ph) just the tornado threat is down for today. We will see some thunder storms. We will see a lot of rain. But we're basically going to be dealing with more snow and more ice if you're traveling extreme northern sections of the country.

I want to give you a peek from yesterday, though. These are all those storm reports we had. We had hail reports. We had severe wind reports. We had flooding reports. And as you mentioned just a moment ago, we even had a couple of tornado reports.

Now, they'll send surveyors out. You can see one right there in southeastern Arkansas and then one just on the west side of Memphis. And they'll send surveyors out to confirm these. But those initial reports do indicate about three tornado reports from yesterday.

Here's the line of showers and storms and it's continuing to travel to the east. You can see just on the outskirts of Atlanta. A big story, though. We have a lot of snow going off to the north, right around Chicago, basically to your north, right around Green Bay seeing some snow. And then look at this. We're seeing even ice and freezing rain in northern portions of Vermont, New Hampshire, upstate New York. So if you're traveling to those extreme northern sections, you're going to be dealing with the snow and ice for just one more day.

But these showers are going to track to the east for today. Like I mentioned before, I think the tornado threat is down today. We'll still see some thunderstorms. We could see anywhere from three to five inches of rain anywhere from Atlanta all the way to Charlotte, and then two to four inches of rain as you get into portions of Virginia and just on the outside of D.C. Could see three to six inches of rain in portions of Michigan, maybe even Wisconsin. So we are going to see Minnesota even. So we're going to see some of that as we go through the day today. Here's the radar. We're forecasting this storm to basically just set up shop on the East Coast throughout today, should be pushing out by later tomorrow. So if you are making travel plans, it looks like tomorrow is going to be a much, much better day. Today should gradually get better, but tomorrow is going to be even better. And then look at these temperatures, guys, New York City, 66 today. But you'll be feeling like the holidays, 38 on Tuesday.

BROWN: Wow, quite the swing there.

BLACKWELL: That's a considerable drop in just a couple of days.

BROWN: I know.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Jennifer, thanks.

BROWN: All right. Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Overseas now to Africa. The Pentagon is scrambling to get roughly three dozen Americans out of the city of Bor in South Sudan. The fighting has trapped them in a U.N. compound in Bor. The world's newest nation born out of civil war, is now moving dangerously close to civil war itself. Four members of the African military - or rather the American military are recovering in Kenya this morning. They were wounded Saturday when their osprey helicopters took ground fire. Their mission, to evacuate Americans in Bor, aborted. CNN's Nima Elbagir is now on the phone with us from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Nima, why are these Americans in South Sudan? And also, how much danger are they facing?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, it was undoubtedly a tense night for them because the aerial of Chinook (ph), pretty much the only option. When you look at the geography of Bor, in a very difficult region with very little infrastructure. Bor is as extreme as you can get. It's in the northern most area of South Sudan. It's up very close to north Sudan itself. Very little option to go in by roads. Going in by air helicopter at the time seemed the safest way to get them out, but, of course, that was before U.S. helicopters came under fire.

These 30-odd Americans, we understand, are working with aid organizations. Part of the hugely crucial humanitarian push that's pretty much supported South Sudan since it came under - since it won independence.

But that all now is unraveling, Victor. The worry is that we're moving closer and closer to what President Obama has called the precipice because it's not just Bor that is currently in rebel held hands. Another crucial town slightly further south, (INAUDIBLE), has also fallen to the rebels. And while, of course, everybody's thoughts are with those three dozen Americans, the broader concern is that when you start targeting aid organizations and you start targeting the only life plan pretty much for most of the civilians in South Sudan, and they end up having to be evacuated, it's the people left behind that are left in the most difficult of circumstances. Victor.

BLACKWELL: And we've seen that in conflicts around the world.

Nima, I also want to ask you just to explain quickly why the South Sudanese are now fighting each other. As we mentioned, this country was born out of civil war, maybe at the threshold of civil war itself. Why this fight, why now?

ELBAGIR: Well, I guess it is the oldest story. You have a country that's incredibly resource rich, but because of the decades of conflict, people haven't really managed to set up institution or infrastructure, and so it becomes this struggle to get into power, because that's the only access people really have to fulfill their daily needs. This is one of those countries that we talk about so often where people live under $1 a day.

But when you then compound that with this battle for the seat (ph) of power, then things only continue to get worse. Some of the aid organizations we've been talking to on the ground, Victor, even they don't have definitive numbers for those who are caught in the crossfire. But the U.N. has said that they're hearing from their sources that up to 600 people have already been killed since this fighting began late this week.


BLACKWELL: Nima Elbagir on the phone for us from Khartoum, Sudan, this morning. Thank you so much.

BROWN: A public relations executive and her company have parted ways, all over an offensive tweet. Justine Sacco posted this on her way to South Africa, quote, "going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white." Well, that tweet went viral and caused international outrage. Sacco was an executive at InterActive Corp., parent company of dozens of companies like College Humor, and "The Daily Beast." A company spokesman said, in part, quote, "there is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally. We hope, however, that time and action and the forgiving human spirit will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at the core.

BLACKWELL: Well, there's been a lot of talk about Obamacare and questions about what will and will not be implemented. Well, now, Obamacare, the word, is involved in some arrests. Why police say hundreds of packets of heroin were stamped with Obamacare.

BROWN: Plus, have you heard about this? New notoriety for George Zimmerman. His oil painting - his purported oil painting, we should say, sells on eBay for six figures.


BROWN: You heard it correctly.

You're up early with NEW DAY SUNDAY. Thanks for being here with us. Stick around. We'll be right back.


BROWN: More grief this morning in Denver. Really a sad update here. Seventeen-year-old Claire Davis has died. This is eight days after she was shot in the head by a classmate in Arapahoe High School.

BLACKWELL: Investigators say Davis didn't know Karl Pierson, who fired randomly through the halls before killed himself. Davis has been in a coma since the shooting. Now, Jim Hooley of CNN affiliate KDVR has the latest now from Centennial, Colorado.


JIM HOOLEY, KDVR REPORTER (voice-over): Well, what was a place to share thoughts of hope for the critically wounded teenager --

MADDIE MONTGOMERY, ARAPAHOE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: I just wanted to support Arapahoe and the family of Claire as much as I could.

HOOLEY: Has now quickly become a memorial for Claire.

CAMILLE MYLS, ARAPAHOE PARENT: It just touches so close to home. She just had a beautiful smile. And she loved animals. So you know she had a kind heart.

HOOLEY: Friends, classmate, and parents stopping by with flowers and candles, and heart heavy beyond belief.

TIFFANY IRWIN, ARAPAHOE PARENT: And we went over there and we just said a prayer for her and all the other kids.

HOOLEY: Tiffany Irwin came here with her 17-year-old daughter.

IRWIN: Trying to explain it to my little ones and it's -- it's unexplainable. I don't know really what to tell them.

HOOLEY: Claire's family issued a statement saying, "although we have lost our precious daughter, we will always be grateful for the indelible journey she took us on over the last 17 years. We were truly blessed to be Claire's parents. The grace, laughter and light she brought to this world will not be extinguished by her death. To the contrary, it will only get stronger."

MONTGOMERY: I just felt such an overwhelming need to do something and be as supportive as I can.

HOOLEY: That light burns ever so brightly, along with that question no one can answer, why?

MYLS: When kids start killing each other, I don't even know what more to say about that.


BLACKWELL: Jim Hooley of CNN affiliate KDVR from us this morning. Thank you.

BROWN: A group of bikers accused of assaulting a driver of an SUV will likely face reduced charges. Prosecutors say driver Alexian Lien wasn't seriously injured. Eleven people were indicted after a video from the September incident went viral. You may remember this story. The footage, right here, shows Lien being chased by the group after he initially bumped one of the bikers. Investigators say Lien was later pulled from his SUV and beaten after he hit a biker while trying to drive away. The group could still face up to 15 years in prison if charges are reduced.

BLACKWELL: This morning, four men are facing murder and felony murder charges for a carjacking at a mall in New Jersey that left a young lawyer dead. Prosecutors laid out charges against Rasim Henry, Kevin Roberts, Hanif Thompson and Karif Ford yesterday. Thirty-year-old Dustin Friedland had been Christmas shopping with his wife when he was carjacked and killed. This was last Sunday. His wife was not hurt.


PAUL FISHMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: You have the right to be safe and the expectation that you should be safe in this county in the state of New Jersey. And in particular, you shouldn't have to worry that wherever you go, whether it's in downtown Newark or the Short Hills Mall or anyone else that someone will put a gun to your head and take your car.


BLACKWELL: Well, if they're convicted of all of the charges, the four suspects face a maximum of life in prison. They're each being held on $2 million bond.

BROWN: Police in Massachusetts have seized more than 1,200 packets of heroin labeled with the word "Obamacare" on them. Some bags were also marked "Kurt Cobain." Police arrested four people after stopping the car for speeding and then found the stash of drugs in the car. Police say the "Obamacare" label was only a marketing ploy so drug users know what kind of products they're getting.

BLACKWELL: A painting said to be by George Zimmerman has sold on eBay for a little more than $100,000.

BROWN: Unbelievable. It's an 18 by 24 blue American flag in oil. Here it is right here. Zimmerman says he'll personally deliver the artwork to the buyer. Bidding started a week ago. It started at only 99 cents.

BLACKWELL: A jury acquitted Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin last summer after a racially-charged trial. Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law since.

BROWN: I need someone to explain this to me. It's just --

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know, this phenomenon of people who - I won't say infamous, because he was not convicted of anything, but painting and selling it on eBay. This, to me, is, you know, Jodi Arias did a similar thing. It's interesting that this is what -- how they then make money.

BROWN: It is, what they're turning to.

BLACKWELL: All right.


BLACKWELL: You know we've got some sports news for you. Another setback for skier Lindsey Vonn.

BROWN: Still to come, how it might affect her chances of going for the gold in Sochi. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: Vonn's injured knee let her down again, raising doubts about whether she'll be ready to compete at the winter games.

BROWN: Jared Greenberg has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hi there, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: How you guys doing? All right?

BROWN: Good.


GREENBERG: Better than Lindsey Vonn is right now.



BLACKWELL: But she probably sounds better than I do, but my knees work.

BROWN: Yes, that really puts things in perspective for you, right?

GREENBERG: Absolutely. Olympic dreams not totally dashed yet for Lindsey Vonn. However, knee issue continue to make her life very difficult, trying to obtain her goal of winning yet another Olympic medal yesterday in France. Another setback. The Olympic gold medalist lost her balance and missed a gate during the race. Vonn said that the same knee she had surgically repaired completely gave out.

This was the first time that her boyfriend, Tiger Woods, was on hand. There he is, the masked man. And what -- he didn't like what he saw at all. After the race, Vonn, in some obvious pain there, she says she's not giving up. I'm going for the gold in Sochi. That's just six week away.

And this could be the best hockey goal you've see this year. Even, Victor, if it's the only hockey goal you've seen this year.

BLACKWELL: Yes, just this one. GREENBERG: Linus Klasen on the penalty shot. He runs the spin cycle. You'll have to take another look to see the added degree of difficulty as he goes between the legs for the game winner as Sweden beats the Czech Republic in an Olympic tune-up (ph).

Bowl season, believe it or not, is upon us and trending right now on, Buffalo alums, watch with caution. Onside is kicked. It is a swing and a miss. Actually more like a swing and a foul tip. The kicker got just enough of it to make it a live ball. That kind of day for UB. San Diego State wins the very famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 49-24. The famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

BLACKWELL: Yes, because everybody has heard about that.

Hey, you know, Lindsey Vonn decided to go to Sochi. She could do more damage to her knee. Why wouldn't she just sit that out?

GREENBERG: That's the Olympic spirit.

BROWN: It's the Olympics, yes.

GREENBERG: I mean these athletes that are Olympic competitor have some sort of fire inside of them that you and I just could never under.

BROWN: Right.


GREENBERG: And this is the thing. She has trained her whole life to win another gold medal.

BLACKWELL: All right.

BROWN: Yes, she's determined, that's for sure.

BLACKWELL: All right.

BROWN: All right, thank you so much, Jared.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, a winter storm moving across the Great Plains and Midwest could affect some of today's NFL games. I know Victor is really concerned about this.

BLACKWELL: You know all -- the DVR is set. Let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Grey.

Frozen tundra at Lambeau Field.

GRAY: Yes.

BLACKWELL: We saw that they were hiring people to shovel out the seats there.

GRAY: Yes, they were. And so we could see a snowy day today. You know, it is starting to clear out but still a little bit of snow this morning. Temperatures are going to be cold, though. It's going to be 22 degrees. And you were just telling me that it's even rougher on the players with the wind. And so 16-mile-per-hour winds at kickoff, you know, with temperatures at 22.


GRAY: That's going to make it --

GREENBERG: Yes, the temperatures are bad for the fans. For the players, it's not that big a deal. Even the snow is something they've trained for and they practice outside to get ready for this.


GREENBERG: But when there's windy conditions, that's when it changes the game plan for the players.


GRAY: Right.

BLACKWELL: Well, I'd imagine if you're - and I just imagining because I can't tell you how many times I've thrown a football, maybe a dozen in life. But, yes, this is the picture of the fans cleaning out the stands there.


BLACKWELL: That you've got to kind of recalculate, recalibrate when those winds are heavy.

BROWN: They're no stranger to this kind of weather, though, that's for sure.

GRAY: Yes, they're tough up there.

BLACKWELL: That's true.


BLACKWELL: All right, so, guys, stick around. Singer Justin Timberlake brought some holiday cheer to "SNL" last night.

BROWN: Yes, the friend - the longtime friend of late night was the show's musical guest, appearing alongside comedian Jimmy Fallon for a variety of skits. Instead of singing about his you know what in a box, Timberlake traded in that sultry song for a holiday rap. Take a look.


JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, MUSICIAN: Go nap (ph), let's rap you up, let's rap you (INAUDIBLE), put some diamonds in it, make (INAUDIBLE) with some windows (INAUDIBLE). what in the world is in that bag? What you got in that bag?


BOTH: (INAUDIBLE) roll it out, roll it out and bring it on down to wrapin'ville (ph).

TIMBERLAKE: And listen to this. (INAUDIBLE), I think it's very vital -

FALLON: To wrap a gift -



BOTH: Here we go. (INAUDIBLE) wrap a gift, you bag your (INAUDIBLE) you make it (INAUDIBLE). It's tricky. Say what?

FALLON: Tricky, tricky, tricky -

TIMBERLAKE: Tricky, tricky -

BOTH: (INAUDIBLE) and lost its shape, it's sticky (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

TIMBERLAKE: Bring it on (ph). Bring it.


BOTH: Bring it on down to wrappin'ville.


BLACKWELL: That sketch could go on and on and on.

BROWN: I know.

BLACKWELL: My favorite is I'm a omelet-ville (ph). Out of all they've done, omelet-ville was my favorite.

BROWN: Omelet-ville. OK. See this man right here? Recognize him?


BROWN: Mayor Bloomberg. Outgoing Mayor Bloomberg. And, let's see, Beatles legend Paul McCartney also on hand last night. So they had quite the cast on "SNL."

BLACKWELL: Yes, a pretty special night.


BLACKWELL: Hey, still to come on NEW DAY, an ice storm in the Central Plains, while spring-like temperatures got everybody outside in New York City. Even my mom in Baltimore washed the car yesterday.

BROWN: Yes, what's going on here?

BLACKWELL: It's really warm.

BROWN: And we're going to tell you what you can expect to see out your window today right after this break. Stay with us.


BROWN: Mortgage rates ended the week mix. Take a look.


BROWN: Welcome back, everyone. Great to have you here at the bottom of the hour. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Here are five things you need to know for your new day.

Up first, the U.S. is working to get about three dozen Americans out of a U.N. compound in Bor, South Sudan. The Americans and thousands of South Sudanese have jammed the base seeking shelter from fighting. The South Sudanese troops are battling forces loyal to the country's former vice president.

BROWN: And at number two, more grief this morning in the Denver area. Seventeen-year-old Claire Davis has died. This eight days after she was shot in the head by a classmate at Arapahoe High School. Investigators say Davis didn't know Karl Pierson, who shot her in the head and fired randomly through the halls before killing himself. Davis had been in a coma since the shooting.

BLACKWELL: Ned Vizzini, who wrote young adult fiction about teen depression, late bloomers and outcasts, has died at 32. The coroner says his death was a suicide. Vizzini's book, "It's Kind of a Funny Story," about a teen contemplating suicide, was made into a movie starring Zach Galifianakis.

BROWN: At number four, be careful out there on the roads today. Driving could be treacherous as a huge storm continues to dump rain, snow and ice on much of the country today. In Wichita, Kansas, an ice storm Saturday morphed into a blizzard that dumped heavy, wet snow. It made many roads impassable and froze some drives right there in their tracks.

BLACKWELL: And that takes us to number five, the brunt of this storm, it may have passed for many, but millions from the upper Midwest and through to northern New England are in for a blast of winter weather today. While areas like New York could be in for near record temperatures. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here with the forecast. This is really unbelievable, just a couple of days before Christmas.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know. And there's so many different components to this. We've had the flooding, we've had the severe weather, the ice, the snow. So, this has been a very complex system. And we're still dealing with snow and even freezing rain, extreme northern sections of the country. We're also looking at that line of showers and storms that are heading for the East Coast. So, still seeing some snow in Green Bay just to the south of Minneapolis and to the north of Chicago. We're also seeing the freezing rain extreme Upstate New York, northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and even Maine, guys. So, this should be pushing out today, and getting better tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jennifer Gray, we'll watch for it. Thank you.

BROWN: Pope Francis is getting ready for his first Christmas as pope.



POPE FRANCIS (speaking Italian): Bon Giorno.


BLACKWELL: This hour, it's his weekly prayer at the Vatican. Yesterday, he delivered his Christmas message to the Vatican staff, urging them to stay professional, avoid gossip and stay dedicated to serving the rest of the church.

BROWN: And then he spent several hours at a local children's hospital greeting patients who gave them a basketful of notes with their wishes on them. Mostly hoping to get well.

BLACKWELL: CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen is in Rome this morning. John, on Friday, the pope tweeted, and I'm paraphrasing here, to continue to serve the people of the church and to stay focused on the center mission of Christianity this Christmas. What could we expect from the pope this Christmas message?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hello there, Pam and Victor. Well, I think he's going to continue to emphasize, as you say, this idea of the spirit of service. That was the heart of the speech he gave to the cardinals and other senior Vatican officials yesterday. And then he provided a visual of what that spirit of service looks like with that remarkable, almost three-hour visit to Rome's Bambino Gesu hospital yesterday. Providing another one of the iconic images of this papacy, that shot of Pope Francis reaching out and kissing a small child who's bald because of a tumor and wearing a surgical mask. I think that's going to be the scarlet thread that runs through the Christmas celebration. He'll, of course, preside over the Vatican's traditional Christmas Eve liturgy. He'll deliver what's called an "Urbi et Orbi" message on Christmas Day speaking to the city and the world. But I suspect it's not going to be the formal rhetoric from the pope. I suspect it's going to be these gestures of him reaching out to ordinary people and trying to bring them a taste of God's love. That's been the hallmark of his papacy so far and I think that's what we'll continue to see.

BROWN: Yeah, he's really walking the talk. You know, he gives the message about service, really, over power. And then he goes to serve at the hospital. How do you think that he's changed the Vatican's administration?

ALLEN: Well, look, he's made a number of substantive reforms, Pam. He's changed the membership of the Vatican's department that names bishops around the world, trying to find more moderate and more pastoral leaders for the church. He's changed the process of how the Vatican consults with the grassroots and on and on. But I think fundamentally, probably the most important reform he's achieved over nine months is that he's totally changed the public conversation about the Catholic Church. I mean nine months ago when we talked about the church on CNN here and elsewhere, we were talking about pedophile priest scandals and Vatican bank imbroglios, and bruising political controversies and crackdowns on nuns.

And while none of those stories have gone away, today the dominant story about the Catholic Church is rock star pope takes the world by storm. I mean if that's not a revolution, I'm not sure we've ever seen one.

BROWN: All right. CNN senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, thank you so much for offering your perspective. I appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, John.

Still to come on "NEW DAY," the world's oldest profession -- you know what it is -- it just got a little easier up north.

BROWN: Yeah, we're going to tell you why call girls in chilly Canada are warming up the legal system. We'll be right back.


BROWN: Being a sex worker in Canada just got a little easier.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, prostitution is actually legal in the country. But until this week a series of laws make it extremely difficult to make your living in the sex trade.

BROWN: CNN editorial producer, Nadia Bilchik here with this story. This is not something that you normally here. Usually, it's the other way around, Nadia.

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Right. And as you said, prostitution has always been legal in Canada, but it's been very difficult to practice. So, three primary laws have been struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court in Canada. And they are the following. Number one, visiting brothels is no longer illegal. Number two, living off the proceeds of a prostitute, no longer illegal. And public solicitation, no longer illegal.

BLACKWELL: Well, that sounds like the whole game here. So, essentially, what now - what has changed, I can open a brothel, bring in women from wherever, and force them to have sex for money and keep the proceeds?

BILCHIK: Well, it's not quite not like that. What was proved unanimously by the Supreme Court, is, for example, let's take the living off the proceeds of a prostitute.


BILCHIK: So, the idea is - up until now, prostitutes couldn't have a tax consultant, couldn't have a bodyguard, couldn't hire a driver. So, now they can. And what the Canadian court realized is that the positives of striking down the law outweigh the negative. And let me quote the Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, interesting, a woman justice who said parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, because remember the laws were originally there because they wanted to prevent the nuisances of public solicitation. But she said not at the cost of health and safety of the lives of prostitutes. So, in the end these laws were put in place to prevent nuisances, but they didn't make prostitutes' lives easy or healthy. So, that was the idea of striking them down.

BROWN: That's the legal justification.

BILCHIK: That's the legal justification for doing it. Now, the women who actually filed the lawsuit, three prostitutes, one was a dominatrix. And they are both surprised.


BILCHIK: And elated. But you can understand there's also a position, for example, women's advocacy groups saying well, what it does it sends the message that it's OK to sell women and girls. So, a lot of controversy over here, but don't you think it's interesting that it was unanimous?

BROWN: 9-0. Yes.

BILCHIK: 9-0. But still, the original laws are in effect this entire year until such time as parliament then decides what to do with them. So, interesting debate.

BLACKWELL: Are we expecting this conversation to continue? It's probably going to take this up.

BILCHIK: Exactly. It will be interesting to see, but will parliament reinforce the laws, or will they change the laws so that in fact these three things then are struck down?

BROWN: So, in the meantime, the laws - the older laws will remain in place ...


BROWN: Until those changes come about?

BILCHIK: But it's a big victory for the sex workers of Canada. And so many things like being able to hire an accountant.

BLACKWELL: But also a pimp.

BILCHIK: Well, that's the other side of the law, isn't it?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, I mean ...

BILCHIK: Exactly. BLACKWELL: If it's now legal to profit from the proceeds of prostitution, I can give you ten percent, take the 90. And you have to live in this house.

BILCHIK: But what about a sex worker's child caregiver? You know, when you really start to analyze, what things also, isn't health care more regulated in a brothel than outside of a brothel? And that's been a longtime argument. So, again, pros and cons, but certainly you have three very happy prostitutes in Canada today.

BLACKWELL: At least three. All right. Nadia, thank you very much.

BROWN: All right. Stick with us.

BLACKWELL: Stick with us for a moment. Because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live" last night. BROWN: That's right. The outgoing mayor joined the host of weekend update to share his plans for retirement. Bloomberg also took the opportunity to poke some fun at some of his policies and, of course, how can we forget his Spanish accent.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're both leaving your current jobs as early as next year, are you excited?

JIMMY KIMMEL: I'm so excited to be hosting the tonight show as well as bringing it back to New York City.


KIMMEL: I hosted "Late Night" for five years. And now the "Tonight" show. And then five years after that I'll host the nightly news.


KIMMEL: Five years after that, the "Today" show ...


KIMMEL: And then five years after that I'm the new Carson Dailey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what is next for you, Mayor Bloomberg?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I'll be fulfilling a lifelong dream of enjoying a small soda on non-smoking beach.



KIMMEL: You don't have another job lined up, Mr. Mayor?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I applied to teach Spanish at a few universities ...


BLOOMBERG: But I'm told that my accent isn't - well - bueno.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I hope you don't mind but I have to ask the question that's on everyone's mind, would you ever consider running for president?

BLOOMBERG: I don't know what the future holds, president, pope, naked cowboys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I have lots of actions.


BROWN: Shirley MacLaine said it best. She said that if you can learn to laugh at yourself you'll be forever amused.

BLACKWELL: That's exactly where I was going to go.


BLACKWELL: Because people have made fun of the accent, people have made fun of his laws, but he can stand there and make fun of himself on the way out.


BLACKWELL: That's a good thing.

BROWN: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Nadia.

BILCHIK: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, after a huge breach of bank account data, Target stores' Chase Bank customers are feeling the fallout.

BLACKWELL: Just days before Christmas, the bank is limiting its own exposure and limiting customers' access to their own money. We'll have details after the break.


BROWN: Welcome back, everybody. 6:45 Eastern time, taking a live look here at the Capitol building all lit. It's at still dark in D.C. The high today in D.C., 75 degrees. Not something you normally expect in December there in our nation's capital. All right, time now to take a look at what is in store for your new week. On Monday, last day to sign up for Obamacare if you want to have health coverage on January 1. New enrollment will continue through March 31, though, current at moment is far below the goal of 7 million by March.

All right, let's take a look at Tuesday, the second space look at the International Space Station. Astronauts will replace broken pump that was removed yesterday in what was expected to be a quicker spacewalk than we all expected. And then, of course, Wednesday, Christmas day, a lot of people looking forward to this. Christians worldwide will rejoice, give gifts and Pope Francis will give his message to the city and to the world on Wednesday. And then on Thursday the LAX arraignment - the arraignment scheduled for LAX shooting suspect, Paul Ciancia. He is accused of murdering a TSA officer on November 1. Ciancia was shot and injured by police, but has since recovered.

And on Saturday, let's see. The federal jobless benefits expire. About 1.3 million Americans expected to lose benefits. Congress did not extend benefits in the budget deal, which has not been signed by the president yet. But the way, unemployment is at a five-year low of seven percent. Victor. I survived the wall.

BLACKWELL: You made it.


BLACKWELL: Rejoice! JPMorgan Chase is taking a hard line with its customers after a massive breach of bank account data at target stores. Chase has capped spending limits on debit cards just until it can issue new cards to customers who shopped at Target during a 20 day security hack that started the day before Thanksgiving. Well, the limits include a $100 a day limit on cash withdrawals. A $300 a day cap on total purchases. All of this with just three days left to shop before Christmas. A lot of people are going to hit that $300 a day cap. The move appears designed to limit Chase's exposure after data hit that has put as many as 40 million shoppers at risk. Target says the problem has been resolved, but Chase has not put any limits on credit card holders.

Wall Street was feeling, let's say festive on Friday. Lots of green. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs after the government said the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 4.1 percent. That's the fastest rate of growth in two years. This week is a short week of trading. Markets are open for half a day on Christmas' Eve and, of course, closed all day Wednesday, Christmas day.

One in three thefts involves a smartphone. And now officials in California are proposing a new law aimed at curbing that trend. They want to require manufacturers to install a kill switch that would make it impossible to use a lost or stolen smartphone. Now, the idea is that if thieves cannot use your phone, there's no point in stealing it. An iPhone's new operating system already has a kill switch. But some mobile carriers are opposed. They say it invites hackers.

BROWN: Wall Street is getting ready to celebrate Christmas after a pretty good week. It might be closed for a day and a half, but Monday is going to be interesting.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, it's the first day of trading for one major social network. Zain Asher has more on that from New York. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela and Victor, this coming week brings some big change for on particular social media giant. Facebook will start trading on the S&P 500 on Monday. It's certainly validation that Facebook is one of the nation's most important companies. The move will also open up to a lot more investors, people like you and me, for example. There are more than 1,000 mutual funds that use the S&P 500 as their benchmark. And they are all going to add Facebook shares to their holdings, so it could be part of your retirement portfolio sometime soon. Of course that does also mean more money for Facebook. Also, Wall Street will celebrate Christmas this week. On Christmas Eve, trading will end three hours early at 1 p.m. Financial markets will be closed on Christmas day. It's also the final week of the year, a time when we usually see what's called a Santa Claus rally. The S&P 500 typically gains about one and a half percent in that time. But so far, December has been overall pretty slow months for stocks. So, it's unclear if Santa will appear this year. Now, data on manufacturing, housing, and spending could also impact trading. That's what is coming up this week on Wall Street. Pamela and Victor?

BROWN: All right, Zain, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: OK, so it's no secret that the first family will not be attending the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

BROWN: Instead, a U.S. delegation including three openly gay athletes will be heading to the country with antigay legislation.

BLACKWELL: Tennis great Billie Jean King is one of those athletes and last night, "Saturday Night Live" decided to have a little fun with the upcoming trip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty exciting, you go to Sochi?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I couldn't be more excited. I'm President Obama's big game middle finger and this bird is about to get flipped.

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's quite a big thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'd bet it is (inaudible)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: BJK is about to double down and Putin is going to find himself in the epicenter of a gay tornado.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to drive my Subaru outback into Red Square doing donuts and blasting Melissa Etheridge.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'll tell you what, Mr. Putin. I'm no Melissa Etheridge, but if you come to my window I'll punch you right through the glass.



BLACKWELL: What's with the Subaru outback reference?

BROWN: I'm not sure. Not sure. But not surprised that they poked some fun at that in the light of - you know, the fact that obviously, the Obama administration be not so subtle in the message they're sending.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, and I wonder if there will be a message sent when those athletes and the rest of the delegation is there.

BROWN: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: I mean Russia has warned not to have any outward demonstrations of protests, so I wonder if they will actually do something.

BROWN: Yeah, what it will be like when they're actually there and what happens.

BLACKWELL: And sometimes just showing up and being in the room is enough.

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Almost every child has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up, of course.

BROWN: Including Chelsea Wheeler. But once you hear what she's up against, her dream will become that much more incredible you're not going to want to miss this story. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BROWN: We want to introduce you now to a Connecticut girl with a passion and a plan. And she's only ten years old. Her name is Chelsey Wheeler. Wheeler says she wants to become a chef and open her own restaurant when she grows up.

BLACKWELL: There's just one problem. Wheeler suffers from a disease that prevents her from eating solid food. And although she loves cooking in the kitchen, Wheeler cannot taste the food she prepares. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ten-year-old Chelsea Wheeler loves preparing dinner with her parents. Her dream is to become a chef and open her own diner when she grows up. But Chelsea essentially can't eat food.

CHELSEA WHEELER: I know my stomach doesn't work. And that's why I have - because well, I can't eat real food. So I've got to have IV fluids.

PLEITGEN: Those fluids which Chelsea needs to survive, come from especially equipped backpack she has to wear 16 hours a day.

(on camera): Do you feel it's unfair that you know, you can't eat and other kids can?

CHELSEA WHEELER: Not usually, but sometimes, yeah. I get really fed up with it.

PLEITGEN (voice over): Chelsea has been sick since birth. Suffering from mitochondrial disease and tahicardia. She was also diagnosed with pseudo obstruction and suffered irreversible intestinal failure a year ago. Chelsea's had more than 30 surgeries. And once even went into septic shock.

WHEELER: I have got to finish home work.

PLEITGEN: Her parents Chris and Linda recall she barely survived.

LINDA WHEELER, CHELSEA'S MOM: Last year was our worst. Where she went into ... CHRIS WHEELER, CHELSEA'S FATHER: Last October.

LINDA WHEELER: Yeah. On Halloween she went into septic shock and woke up in the morning, couldn't use half her body.

PLEITGEN: Chelsea tries to fit in with her peers. The day we came by it was Elves Day in her 5th grade class. She refuses to wear her backpack with the nutrients in school. The next big challenge, Chelsea's doctor say she need a small bowel transplant to replace the part of her intestine that has failed.

DR. DONNA ZEITER, CONN. CHILDREN'S MED CENTER: And because of the seriousness of it and the impact on her quality of life, we have referred her for possible intestinal transplantation.

PLEITGEN: Chelsea is waiting for a donor, the Wheeler say they will never give up fighting for their daughter's life. And their community in Oxford, Connecticut is pitching in. They've set up a giving tree at town hall and the Children's Organ Transplant association started a website for donations to help with medical bills. (on camera): What kind of life do you hope that she'll have?

LINDA WHEELER: She has a tube in her stomach, she has a tube in her intestine, she's had a tube in her nose. I mean she's -- it would be nice to have a day where she's eating food, pain free, and not through a tube. And be happy.

PLEITGEN (voice over): At the dinner table, Chelsea can only have one popcycle. That's all her stomach can take. But she's already thinking about the menu for her future diner? (on camera): What kind of food you want to serve at your diner?

CHELSEA WHEELER: You don't need to be a millionaire to eat there every night, but it's like you feel like a millionaire when you eat there.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Brad CNN, Oxford, Connecticut


BROWN: That gave me chills.

BLACKWELL: You know, I was just thinking there that I was complaining to myself about having to work on Christmas day, not being home to eat with my family but the fact that I will be able to chew and swallow and enjoy a meal at all ...

BROWN: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: is a blessing.

BROWN: I mean that most of us take for granted, you know.

BLACKWELL: Right. If you got to work on Christmas or if you won't be with your family, you will have a meal and taste it and enjoy it. So, be grateful for that.

BROWN: Yeah, absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Thanks for starting your morning with us.

BROWN: We have got much more ahead on the next hour of your "NEW DAY," which starts right now.

Good morning, everyone, we appreciate you being here with us on this Sunday morning. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 7:00 on the East Coast and 4:00 out West. And this is "NEW DAY Sunday."

BROWN: And we want to begin this morning with the deadly winter weather still granting its way across the country.

The unusual system is now being blamed for killing two people in Mississippi and one in Missouri.

BLACKWELL: In Wichita Kansas, an ice storm morphed into a blizzard that dumped heavy, wet snow. It made roads just impassable. Look at this. It also froze some drivers right there in their tracks. It's a scene that's being repeated all over the map on the busy holiday travel and CNN is all over the story from reporters and the severe weather center to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, to Kansas City, Missouri, where we find CNN's Nick Valencia this morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, Victor. We are waking up to a lot of snow here. Check this out, about three to five inches of snow falling overnight in Kansas City. That's creating a mess for these roadways out here. And that's really the case for much of the Midwest.


VALENCIA (voice-over): The first day of winter brought a massive storm, packing snow, ice, rain and floods. Officials in Mississippi say two people were killed and several others injured after a line of storms move through the state. In Arkansas, a possible tornado destroyed buildings and hurt three people. This home was demolished but everyone survived.

(on camera): What's left of the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Practically nothing. No clothes. The Christmas gifts were demolished. Everything is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it blew the windows out of the van, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totaled the van. Totaled the van. So, it's a mess.

VALENCIA (voice-over): And parts of the Midwest, heavy rains caused flooding in the Ohio River Valley leaving cars, streets and backyards under water. On Sunday, snow, ice, and freezing rain, will be the focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got home. I figured throw salt down, beat the ice.

VALENCIA: For the more than 94 million Americans traveling for the holidays, treacherous road conditions in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, where at least one person has died. Driving has been made difficult and more ice and freezing temperatures Sunday morning will make it dangerous. But this weather system is getting even stranger. Temperatures will feel like spring for much of the east. In New York, bikers, joggers and baby strollers were out in full force to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. It feels like it's May in December. It's like 60 degrees right now. It's beautiful.


VALENCIA: Back here in Kansas City, it definitely feels like winter. And there are not too many people on the roadways like right now. But that's expected to change. The Kansas City Chiefs, the sort of pride of this city right now. They're playing a game later today. So, expect traffic here in Kansas City.

Pamela and Victor, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia, trying to stay warm out there in three to five inches of snow in Kansas City, Missouri. We appreciate it. PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, he's bundled up this morning, unlike yesterday morning.


BROWN: Nick, thank you so much.

Well, Americans all over are gearing up for Christmas trips. This weather really reeking havoc on travelers and it could continue to.

CNN's George Howell at Chicago's O'Hare Airport this morning.

So, George, good morning to you. Are you seeing any delays, cancellations there?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, you know, so far, so good. A very different scene than what we saw there with Nick in Kansas City. No snow on the ground here in Chicago, yet. You know, and "yet" is the operative word as the weather conditions will change throughout the day.

But, guys, this could time out just right through travelers, at least through this airport, again one of the world's busiest airports. So far, the weather is cooperating. Keep in mind also, a lot of travelers are getting on the roads, getting to the airports early. You see that the lines are building here at Chicago's O'Hare.

So, right now, when you look at the boards, no delay, the weather is working. That's great news at this airplane. But you look at other airports around the country, and keep in mind, the weather here in Chicago is changing. We can expect delays anywhere from one to two hours through Chicago, through Washington, D.C., through New York, throughout the day as this storm system continues to pass through.

The good news right now, again, Pamela, if you're a traveler here in Chicago, if you're coming through this airport, better to do it now, rather than later. Right now, we're flirting on the freezing mark, flirting with it, right around 32, 33. That temperature expected to drop. We'll see snow as the day goes on.

BROWN: All right. Good advice there. George Howell, thank you so much.

Well, people, as we mentioned, gearing up for the holidays. It's really incredible what we're seeing across the country, tornadoes, blizzards, warm temperatures here in Atlanta?

BLACKWELL: Really warm in the Northeast.


BLACKWELL: Jennifer Gray has more on how the crazy weather could affect plans. Severe for some, beautiful for others.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it has been just a melting pot of all, just different, just types of weather. We've had severe, we've had flooding, we've had ice, we've had snow. So, we have had a lot.

But we are still going to be dealing with showers. We have a flooding threat for today. Again, however, the tornado threat has gone down. So, it doesn't look like we're going see as many severe storms but we could see a couple of thunderstorms.

We are dealing with the snow right outside of Chicago. We'll zoom down on some areas. You can see around Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, seeing some of that snow all over the Great Lakes region. And then as we head into upstate New York, Northern Vermont, New Hampshire, even in northern Maine, we're going to see quite a bit of snow and freezing rain. We have seen an accumulation of an inch, inch and a half of ice across some of these areas.

And then, for the south, it's really going to be the rain. You can see, it's pushing towards Atlanta right now. And this is basically going to set up shop for today and into tonight and it should be pushing out by tomorrow. And so, we could see rainfall amounts anywhere from three to five inches, right around the Atlanta area, through Charlotte. Could see anywhere from two to four and that will be around D.C. as well a little later today.

You asked about the very warm temperatures. It has been warm across the East. Boston, you'll be at 56 today. But just wait until Christmas Eve, your high temperature will be 33. New York City the same. You have one more day of this warm weather. Sixty-six today, but then by Tuesday, your high temperature will be at 38.

So, the weather will be changing once this system pushes through. This is Monday morning around 2:00 in the morning and the rain will finally start to taper off. Push off the East Coast by then. And we should be in the all clear by Monday.

So, looking at travel delays, this is for today. Could see one to two hour delays in Chicago due to the snow in D.C. We could see showers, thunderstorms, even gusty winds. It could slow you down up to two hours. New York City, we could see the same deal.

Thunderstorms forecasted later today. So, you could see slowed down one to two hours. So, just be patient today. It does improve tomorrow and then we'll get better and better by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, guys.

BLACKWELL: How long does this break for the Northeast from this snow and ice, how long does that last for them?

GRAY: It looks like we could see another winter blast, looking ahead as early as maybe the New Year. We're going to see a possible another storm system roll through New Year's Eve time frame, around there, give or take a day or so.

So, temperatures do get back to the 30s, though, by Christmas Eve. But it looks like as far as the break in the weather with snow and the ice and all of that, we have about a week to breathe, hopefully.

BLACKWELL: Just in time to freeze in Times Square. GRAY: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you.

GRAY: All right.

BROWN: Checking our focus now, more grief this morning in the Denver area. Seventeen-year-old Claire Davis has died. This, eight days after she was shot in the head by a classmate at Arapaho High School.

BLACKWELL: Investigators said she didn't know Karl Pierson. He shot her in the head as he was firing randomly through the halls before he killed himself. But Davis has been in a coma since that shooting.

Still to come on NEW DAY, you heard all the uproar, the backlash that led to the suspension of the "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson.

BROWN: But could this controversy benefit the A&E network? We're going to dive into that right after this.


BROWN: Well, be careful what you tweet.


BROWN: That's the lesson a P.R. executive is learning this weekend. She's learning that the hard way after she posted a tweet that ignited really a firestorm on social media.

And here's what she said on Friday. She said, "Going to Africa, hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white."

BLACKWELL: This morning, Justine Sacco is out of a job.

IAC, the media company that operates Web sites like "The Daily Beast", "College Humor" and has parted ways with Sacco.

Let's bring the host to CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter.

Brian, good to have you this morning.


BLACKWELL: Has Sacco spoken out, I mean, since this tweet? Has she said anything since?

STELTER: She hasn't, unfortunately, because I think a lot people would like to hear from her and hear her side of whatever story she has. We've been texting her. I tried calling her cell phone. No answer unfortunately.

You know, she is in South Africa for a vacation. So, maybe she's decided she's going to lay low, and not apologize, not say anything. But no, not for now. We haven't heard anything yet.

BROWN: You know, you read her tweet. And you think, OK, here's a P.R. executive for a media conglomerate, a well-known company --

STELTER: If anybody should know better, she should.

BROWN: Right, exactly. Then you wonder, was her account hacked or what is going on? But it seems like she's tweeted offensive things in the past. Is that right, Brian?

STELTER: That's right. I mean, you know, first of all, I got to say I didn't know she was on Twitter. I worked with Justine as a P.R. person and a journalist for years. You know, I would call her when I had questions for stories. Her tweets did not sound like the Justine I knew.

But her Twitter account had a clear tone to it. You know, I don't think there's anything as offensive what she posted Friday about Africa. But there were insensitive posts in the past. And it just seems nobody ever noticed them until Friday, you know?

BROWN: Hmm, yes.

STELTER: It goes to show that even though everything on the Internet is public, sometimes you don't know which message, which moment, is actually going to blow up.

BROWN: Right. Then that's probably why she was emboldened to tweet back because the other --


BLACKWELL: Also I wondered if what she was tweeting wasn't on its face of what it said. If she was trying to make a point that because she is white, she's afforded health care in America. Maybe that's what she was trying to tweet.

I don't know. But I can't imagine a professional in public relations would think that makes sense.


BROWN: And the moral of the story, I think, Brian, is that, you know, you can't just joke or you can't make those types of points --

BLACKWELL: That's true.

BROWN: There's other ways to make that point if that's what she was trying to say, right?

STELTER: You know, and doing it, when you're getting on an intercontinental flight is the wrong time because she was defenseless. Even if she had the best of intentions for that post, she couldn't explain it for 12 hours.

I was glad, though, when IAC had her part. When the company said yesterday they were parting ways with her. They did say they know her to be a decent person at core and they hope that people don't hold -- you know, go through a wholesale condemnation of her, because we should never -- none of us should be judged based on our worst Twitter post.

BROWN: I mean, 12 words. It's a 12-word tweet and, you know --

BLACKWELL: It may have ended her career.

Let's go to another tweet because we don't want to just pick on Sacco. Actor/comedian Steve Martin is in hot water after he responded to a Twitter follower on Friday that asked, is this how you spell Lasonia?

Here's how Martin responded, "It depends. Are you in an African- American restaurant or an Italian restaurants, or neighborhood?" There it is. "Or an African-American neighborhood or an Italian restaurant." It's on your screen. Later he apologized and deleted the tweet.

But clearly, people have already seen. It's gone viral.

STELTER: Not smart. Yes, not smart.

But to his credit, he quickly apologized. That's something that Sacco couldn't do because she's on this flight. She hadn't have Wi-Fi on the flight. At least Steve Martin got ahead of it.

And, you know, I also think there are different standards for people. If you're a comedian, you're probably going to be able to get away with more, for better or worse, than if you're a P.R. executive.

BROWN: Yes, it just shows you the danger, though, of impulsively tweeting. You should always think twice before sending it out.

Let's go to another topic that's really been a talker of the past few days, something everyone is talking about. Of course, the "Duck Dynasty" star, Phil Robertson, being suspended from the A&E hit show after "G.Q." published an interview when he made some inappropriate comments, people are saying, calling homosexuality illogical and sinful and he also said black people were happy before the civil rights movement.

Now, Brian, do you think suspending Robertson was a good move? Do you think the show will survive? What are your thoughts on this?

STELTER: I think A&E was in an impossible situation because they had employees -- you know, openly gay employees, black employees who were understandably offended by Robertson's comments. It would be hard to go and send those staffers off to cut promos for "Duck Dynasty" and things like that, knowing what he had said.

But A&E also knew that by suspending him, there would be an outcry by other people. Fans of Phil Robertson didn't say anything wrong. I think they were caught in impossible position. So, on "RELIABLE SOURCES", we're going to get into that today and figure out if there's anything differently they could have done.

BROWN: Because you see this played out in so many other circumstances with Paula Deen and others. STELTER: Right, companies are sometimes very eager to get ahead of these stories. I mean, that's why IAC, to go back to Justine Sacco for a minute, that's why they put out a statement condemning her tweet, before she'd even landed, before a flight had even landed. I think A&E was in a similar situation where they wanted to get out ahead of this, so they suspended Phil Robertson pretty quickly.

Now, after the holidays, I think they'll regroup and figure out how to keep the show alive.

BLACKWELL: But that's interesting variable I never considered, that they had people inside of A&E, cutting promos, working for the show who disagree.


STELTER: That were offended.


Brian Stelter, thank you so much for joining us.

BROWN: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And you can watch "RELIABLE SOURCES" this morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BROWN: And up next on NEW DAY SUNDAY, U.S. troops take fire. Now, President Obama's stern warning for South Sudan.

BLACKWELL: It comes as the Pentagon works on a plan to get Americans stranded on this U.N. compound out of that nation.


BLACKWELL: Let's go overseas now to central Africa. The Pentagon is scrambling to get about three dozen Americans out of the city of Bor in South Sudan. The fighting between South Sudanese troops and sources loyal to the ousted vice president has trapped them inside a U.N. compound.

BROWN: Four members of the American military are recovering in Kenya, right now. They were wounded Saturday when their helicopters took ground fire. Their mission to evacuate and rescue those Americans in Bor aborted.

BLACKWELL: We are covering a story with CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott in Washington, and Athena Jones, who's traveling with the president in Hawaii.

BROWN: Elise, we want to start with you this morning. You know, the big question still looms how will the Pentagon get these stranded Americans, three dozens, as you pointed out, safely out of South Sudan, obviously a very dangerous situation they're in, but without any more U.S. troops taking bullets?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Very difficult, Pam. I mean, this is what they're assessing right now. Defense Secretary Hagel and his military advisers are working with U.S. Africa Command. They're trying to review how to move forward. Of course, in coordination with the State Department, briefing President Obama.

For now, the State Department is urging citizens to hunker down in this town of Bor, avoid the area of the airport for the foreseeable future. They're not coordinating flights out at this time because it's too dangerous. Often in these cases, they'll try to organize ground transport but I think they also want to look at the terrain in terms of that ground transport and just want to wait and see for right now.

BLACKWELL: Elise, Secretary Kerry announced an envoy. President Obama announced 45 U.S. troops going over to South Sudan. Are we expecting those numbers to change, or those -- the envoy to continue to go, knowing that Americans are taking fire?

LABOTT: Well, I think they're going review this situation right now, Victor, and see whether it's safe for him to go in. But, you know, these ethnic tensions have been brewing for some time. Now, they're worried that the country is all out on the brink of civil war.

And so, I think this envoy, Donald Booth, wants to go in. Wants to see if he can organize some talks between the government of President Kiir and the rebels, run by the former vice president, Riek Machar, and the government says that they're willing to talk. So, I think that's what they want to try to do because, you know, this young country, this world's youngest country, decades of civil war with the North. They claim independence, he was instrumental in that, and now, it's on the brink of civil war once again.

So, I think the U.S. wants to see if they can get everybody to get back from the brink, sit down and talk before this really escalates any further.

BROWN: All right. Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott live in Washington this morning for us -- thank you, Elise.

BLACKWELL: The White House says that President Obama is being briefed on the situation in South Sudan while he's on vacation in Hawaii with his first family and he has a warning for the people and the government there.

CNN's Athena Jones is live in Honolulu.

Athena, how is the president reacting?


Well, we know that immediately upon landing here in Honolulu late Friday night, the president was briefed while still aboard Air Force One about the status of those four American service members who were injured in this attempt to evacuate those American citizens from Bor. Later on Saturday morning, his national court team led by national security advisor Susan Rice had a meeting on the situation in South Sudan and briefed the president again via conference call.

So, we know he's having continuous briefings. He directed his national security team to continue to work with the United Nations to try to evacuate these American citizens from Bor. Those Americans were working, of course, for the U.N. while in South Sudan.

And he had this warning for the leaders of South Sudan, which as Elise noted, it's a very young country, only about two years old. He said, I'll read part of the statement, "South Sudan's leaders must know continued violence will endanger the people of South Sudan and the hard-earned progress of independence."

The president also said it's the responsibility of South Sudan's leaders to help the U.S. secure these American personnel in that country. He's directed his national security team to continue giving him updates -- Victor.

BROWN: All right. It's only 2:20 where you are, but I can imagine, Athena, that the president will be briefed on the situation later this morning.

Do you know if he's been in touch with any officials in Sudan?

JONES: I don't know if he's been in direct contact with officials in Sudan. He's being briefed through the national security team in Washington, who, of course, are in touch with all of the necessary officials. We know every day, he receives his daily presidential briefing. Certainly not for several more hours will he get that briefing and we would expect that he would be updated again on whatever the latest plans are, or plans to be considered or how to deal with the situation there in South Sudan -- Pam, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Athena Jones for us in Honolulu, up at 2:20 a.m. -- thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, with a few days left to live, a community in Pennsylvania, helps a girl's wish come true.

Up next, we're going to show you what they did to help her check off an important item on her bucket list.

But, first, let's check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a look at what's coming up on "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." at 7:30 Eastern.

Hey, Sanjay.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, ahead, we have all of your medical news. Plus, Pastor Joel Osteen. He's going to join us to talk about the power of prayer this holiday season. And the top five things you should do this week to make your holiday meals healthier. Celebrity chef Richard Blais is going to show us.

We'll see you at the bottom of the hour.



BLACKWELL: Good morning. Columbus Circle. This is New York City. Wet, rainy, but --

BROWN: Dreary.

BLACKWELL: But they've got great temperatures.

So, as you head back to New York today for your flight, enjoy that.

BROWN: And you're talking about me, Victor.


BROWN: So our viewers know.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

BROWN: All right, everyone. Good morning, thanks so much for being here with us.

I love that music. It gets you in the spirit, doesn't it?

BLACKWELL: Yes, favorite thing, good stuff.

BROWN: And it's perfect for this segment because this is the good stuff. Of course, the part of the show where we feature stories about some of the good news out there, and personally my favorite part of the show.

And, first up, a really just a heart-warming story out of Pennsylvania. A community there helps make a dying girl's wish come true.

BLACKWELL: Yes, last night, nearly 10,000 people showed up to sing Christmas carols in support of Laney Brown. She was diagnosed with leukemia seven months ago. She said she always wanted to carol. Doctors said Brown had just days left to live.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't even express how I feel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is God's way of saying, OK, listen. I need you to go over and see my little angel and give her off that singing that she deserves.


BROWN: And to top it off the outpouring of support from Brown's community came one day after her 8th birthday.

BLACKWELL: A postal worker became one dad's hero when he helped rescue two baby boys from a burning building. The postal worker was leaving for the Bronx when he smelled smoke. Well, he shouted for everyone to get out.

BROWN: But one man was trapped on the top floor with 11-month-old twins. So, the postal worker got in position and caught the boys as the father dropped them to safety. And the dad got out as well we're told and he says that he is still grateful. Fire crews say aid it was an electrical fire.

I can only imagine how grateful he really was.

BLACKWELL: Yes, understandable why it's your favorite segment of the show.

But, you know, you don't have to do something valiant or courageous as that. You can did do a little thing every day.

BROWN: Yes, that's right.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see you at the top of the hour, 8:00 Eastern, for another hour of NEW DAY SUNDAY.

But first, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down with Joel Osteen to discuss the power of prayer on "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." which starts right now.