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American Sentenced In UAE; Target Traffic May Have Suffered

Aired December 23, 2013 - 05:30   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And it will be a white Christmas in many places across the country, but the start of winter has seen wild and, in some cases, deadly weather. Snow, ice, flooding, and record warmth where you'd least expect it. The weather extremes also impacting pre- Christmas holiday travel.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is a scene out of Oklahoma City. Unbelievable. Those right there, sheets of ice crashing down from the roof of an outlet mall over the weekend. A holiday shopper capturing it all on camera.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And a deadly accident in Wichita, Kansas after nearly a foot and a half of snow and freezing temperatures turned roads into thick sheets of ice. Police warned residents against driving. One man was killed when his car crashed on a snowy, frozen road.

BROWN: And a major cleanup now under way in Northern Louisiana because of this, a weekend storm brought strong winds, even some tornadoes there. Tens of thousands of people left without power.

MARQUEZ: Wow. They're also cleaning up this morning in parts of Arkansas. The National Weather Service says a tornado touched down in the town of Hughes ripping off the roofs of homes and other structures. CNN affiliate's WREG reporting the storm is blamed for at least one death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything came down on top of me and the kids. We were sitting in there for an afternoon snack and just sitting there. The wind came up and it just went everywhere. And I threw my whole body weight over the top of my 16-month-old child to save his life and then I found my daughter and slung her towards the bathroom to save her life. No clothes. The Christmas gifts were demolished. Everything is gone.


BROWN: A storm that brought down power lines in Louisville, Kentucky triggered a massive fire at a local Ford dealership there. Thousands of residents were without power for hours. And about a dozen cars on that lot were either damaged or destroyed. MARQUEZ: Just crazy.

There have been five storm-related deaths reported in Kentucky. Authorities there say three people drowned near the town of New Hope after their SUV became trapped in floodwaters. Two people in the vehicle managed to escape but couldn't save the others.

BROWN: And it doesn't stop there. Rising flood water is in the town of Larue, Ohio forcing evacuations there. Emergency crews went door- to-door telling people they should leave their homes. They had to use a raft in some cases to rescue some of the stranded residents there.

MARQUEZ: And go figure. Mother Nature, she really served one up this on parts of the east coast are experiencing record breaking winter warm. It's 51 right now in West Hollywood, California. It's 60 degrees here. New York City tourists are shocked.


JASMINE KUGLER, FROM SWITZERLAND: We packed really warm clothes, and now, it's too warm. I'm here in a T-shirt. I have my sweater. I have jacket. I have too much stuff. But, it's nice.

KATHY MARSHACK, FROM VANCOUVER, CANADA: I brought boots to walk through snow. I have a heavy parka and I was so warm yesterday that I had to buy a T-shirt so that I could come out.



MARQUEZ (on-camera): Oh, I love it.

BROWN (on-camera): -- including you coming from Los Angeles.

MARQUEZ: Well, I'm loopy to begin with. This is really -- this is bad.


MARQUEZ: Indra, Indra Petersons, make sense of it all for goodness sake.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It sounds like people need to look at the forecast. That's all I hear right there, right?

MARQUEZ: There you go.


BROWN: I listen.

PETERSONS: Thank you very much. You sit next to me. You got me.

BROWN: Exactly.


PETERSONS: All right. Let's take a look at what we have seen over the weekend. Look at these heavy amounts of rain. Obviously, we're still talking about flooding concerns in the area. About 10 inches of rain in Illinois, even out towards Indiana, about five inches of rain where we currently are still seeing the rain is pretty much the mid- Atlantic down to the southeast. We're going to be watching for is about another one to three inches of rain today.

Still some flooding concerns as it kind of slowly makes its way off shore. Notice though the contrast, still in Maine, icy concerns about a quarter of an inch is still possible in places that have already seen about a half an inch of icing and then word as warm (ph), but we're still talking about that rain. You can actually see it making its way off the coast today kind of exiting the Carolinas last.

So, that's that little piece right there as far as the rain. We keep going with contrast. So yes, around the lakes, still some snow expected today and a little bit of a wave kind of kicking through. So, maybe one to three inches of a light kind of dusting in that region. Otherwise, it is the temperatures. The big story. I love showing the contrast. Seventy degrees in Tampa right now and -22 in Bismarck.

So, over a 90-degree temperature difference is across the country, but of course, what goes up must come down. There you go. Temperatures are going across the country. That cool air will be moving in and temperatures are going to quickly go from that good 30, 40 degrees above normal to good 10 degrees below normal.

MARQUEZ: So when the time I back in L.A., I can mock you all for being here. Fantastic!


PETERSONS: I have my family for that. I'm good.


MARQUEZ: Indra Petersons, thank you very much.

Well, today is the last day to sign up for Obamacare if you want the insurance coverage to begin on January 1st, 2014. According to the Obama administration, more than a half million people signed up and enrolled at the in the first three weeks of December alone and since October 1st, more than a million people have signed up for health insurance, either through state exchanges or the federal marketplace.

BROWN: And now to that case of an American newsman jailed in the United Arab Emirates since April. American, Shezanne Cassim, was accused of endangering the country's national security all because of a YouTube parody that mocked the life of teenagers there. Well, he just learned his sentence moments ago, and our CNNs Sara Sidner was in the courtroom. She joins us now live from Abu Dhabi. So, Sara, tell us about this. SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the judge came out. He did not read the verdict, but he did give a sentence to Shezanne Cassim and his four friends who have all been in prison for eight months over this video that was supposed to be funny about a Dubai suburb. They were making fun of it. They thought it was supposed to be an entertaining video and they ended up in jail.

A lot of people wondering what happened. The family members were in court today as well. Some of them had tears in their eyes, but ultimately, they looked a bit confused because they couldn't figure out exactly when these men will get out of prison, but the judge did say he will get one year in prison, him and the other two foreign nationals will get one year in prison plus a 10,000 Dirham fine which equals about 2,700 U.S. dollars.

We do understand from court watchers that the sentence will not actually be as long as you're hearing. They will have time served. So, so far, they've served eight months, but the sentence isn't based on a calendar year. So, hopefully, the family is hoping that he will get out in the next couple of weeks, but they are still waiting to hear from the attorneys who will get the actual verdict on paper so they can look at the release date so they know that their loved ones are finally coming home.

This has been a very stressful time as you might imagine for the men who have been in prison and for the families themselves and they're simply just waiting to make sure that they can get their hands on their loved ones. We do not yet know, but we understand the court may deport the foreign nationals including American, Shezanne Cassim, but we're still waiting to hear from the attorneys to get that confirmed -- Pamela.

BROWN: Yes. And you can see why the families a bit confused as to when they will officially be out. Sara Sidner, thanks for breaking it down out for us and I know you will stay on top of this story for us.

MARQUEZ: And for the state of (INAUDIBLE). It has evacuated (ph) about 15 American citizens from the city of Bor in South Sudan.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): And U.S. officials are trying to make sure no one was left behind. Fighting has put South Sudan on the edge of civil war and Washington is urging all Americans to leave. Four U.S. troops were wounded Saturday when in a plane they were on planned to use as an evacuation plane that came under fire.

BROWN (voice-over): Anger in Israel this morning and demands from top Israeli officials for an end to U.S. a spying there. This revelation coming from documents leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. They say the spy agency intercepted e-mails from the offices of the country's top former leaders.

The scandal is also renewing calls for the release of Jonathan Polard (ph). He's a former American intelligence analyst who is in prison in the U.S. for nearly three decade for spying on behalf of Israel. MARQUEZ: And world power struck a deal with Iran on freezing its nuclear program, but now, another challenge figuring it out how to implement it. On Sunday, Iran's foreign minister said they're making slow progress. He said all parties in the talk should avoid troublesome issues, but he didn't elaborate. Israel and American critics of the deal have said it gives Iran cover to expand the program.

Here at home, New York senator says that target needs to answer for the massive security breach that saw the debit and credit cards of numbers of some 40 million target shoppers stolen over 20-day period. Chuck Schumer is calling on the Federal Consumer Protection Bureau to investigate.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: If there's one silver lining in this mess, it's perhaps that we could use this troubling news as a lesson for the future. We could get to the bottom of how target's in store payment security was compromised in order to make sure that target in the future and all other stores adequately protect consumers from this kind of devastating theft.


MARQUEZ: Now, target is offering free credit monitoring to customers affected by the breach. Three class action lawsuits have already been filed against the big box retailer, including more than $5 million in damages.


BROWN (on-camera): Well, tragedy in the streets of New York when a man takes a custody fight over his son into his own hands.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): And dozens of homes burn to the ground. Hundreds of acres torched and finally some good news in the California wildfire fight.

BROWN: And Paul Walker's last "Fast and Furious" film getting a release date. When we come back, we're going to tell you about that and more.



MARQUEZ (voice-over): Welcome back to EARLY START. Developing news out of Russia. Two members of a punk rock grouped jailed for performance critical of Vladimir Putin have been released from prison. Both members served more than a year. One calls amnesty a PR stunt. This is the latest humanitarian gesture by Russia before it hosts the Olympics next year.

BROWN (on-camera): A tragic story in New York City. Police say a father threw his three-year-old son off a Manhattan high rise building and then jumped to his own death. They say 35-year-old Dmitry Kenrickoff (ph was involved in a custody dispute with his estranged wife. He had just picked up his son. He was dressed in Christmas pajamas. The shocking death come just three months after he posted on Facebook that he aspired to be the best father and husband. Awful.

MARQUEZ: A Colorado high school student shot in the head by a classmate has died. State officials offered condolences to the family of Claire Davis. The 17-year-old was shot apparently at random. She spent eight days in a coma. Her attacker, 18-year-old Karl Pierson (ph) also killed himself. His parents saying they are heartbroken by the girl's death.

BROWN: And a desperate plea from a mother of a 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after complications from tonsil surgery. The family of Jahi McMath -- a rally today right outside the hospital where the girl remains on life support. Doctors say she has no chance of recovery, but her mother says she believes the little girl is alive. A grueling Friday (ph) has cleared the way for an independent review.

MARQUEZ: So rough.

A teenager's eyeglasses may have saved her life. Police in Seattle say 16-year-old Alonza Bryant had fallen asleep on the couch with her glasses on when her family's home was suddenly sprayed with bullets. One hit Alonza right between eyes, but incredibly, her glasses kept the bullet from going all the way into her head. Amazing.


ALONZA BRYANT, SHOOTING VICTIM: I heard a big bang and then my nose start bleeding. So, I went to go tell my mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The glasses saved her life. Yes, I definitely believe that and I thank God for that.

BRYANT: I don't know why somebody did this to me, to our family to shoot our house. If I didn't have my glasses on, I wouldn't be here.


MARQUEZ: That poor thing. Glasses save (ph). Police say someone in the house is involved in gangs and Alonza was not the target of the shootings.

BROWN: Incredible.

A week after it started, a wildfire in California is finally fully contained this morning. Firefighters remain on the scene in Big Sur to clean up and watch for hot spots. The flame started last Monday blackening 917acres and destroying 34 homes including Celia Sanborn's home on Pfeiffer Ridge. She describes being chased away by the approaching inferno.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CELIA SANBORN'S, LOST HOME TO FIRE: There was just an enormous wall of flame. And, actually, the smoke becomes illuminated at night. It looks kind of glowing and pink, you know? I thought, oh my God! This is really close. It wasn't flames flickering. It was balls of fire, you know? Hot, fast. You know, just ripping along.


BROWN: Sanborn says she will rebuild and is grateful that no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

MARQUEZ: And dozens of animal rights activists protesting outside SeaWorld in Florida. They were demanding the theme park and its killer whale shows try to get drivers to change their minds about entering. It's the latest fallout from the CNN documentary "Blackfish" showing how whales are captured and trained.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These animals are living miserable lives and doing stupid tricks in tiny tanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After watching this documentary, I learned the truth and that's why I'm here. I'm not here to point fingers or say that these are bad people for going into this park. I used to be them.


MARQUEZ: SeaWorld responded to the "Blackfish" controversy with a full-page ad calling reports about the park inaccurate and promoting work it does to rescue and care for animals.

BROWN: State attorneys in Utah will once again try to stop same-sex marriage in the state. A federal judge ruled on Friday that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. That decision prompted a flurry of same-sex weddings in the state. Then the state filed emergency request to stop same-sex marriage while the judge's ruling was reviewed by higher court. That request was denied.

MARQUEZ: And the Cleveland man who helped save three women held in captive in Ariel Castro's home has landed a book deal. Charles Ramsey (ph) is set to write a memoir which will describe the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight who had been kidnapped and held captive for over a decade. Ramsey is also expected to tell earlier years including time he spent in prison.

BROWN: A California bishop is reaching out to the Methodist pastor defrocked (ph) for officiating his son's same-sex wedding. And, that pastor is offering him a job. Reverend Frank Schaefer (ph) is appealing the church's decision to remove him from his Pennsylvania congregation. But now, Schaefer says he might accept the California offer. The conflict is just one sign of a larger split over the issue of homosexuality in the nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination. MARQUEZ: And "Fast and Furious" fans, the news is bittersweet. The seventh installment of the film franchise will be released in April 2015following the death of Paul Walker. The actor was killed in a car crash last month. Walker's co-star, Vin Diesel, revealed the new release date in a Facebook posting. "Fast and Furious 7" had initially been scheduled for release next summer, but production was put on hold after Walker's death.

BROWN: Looks like Cracker Barrel pulling an about-face. This morning, you can once again get your duck dynasty gear at Cracker Barrel. The food chain had pulled the merchandise from shelves after star, Phil Robertson, suspension from the show. Robertson angered many of his comments considered anti-gay and racially insensitive. But now, Cracker Barrel saying the real offence was its decision to pull the goods.

MARQUEZ: In a battle of the sequels. "Hobbit 2" topped "Anchorman 2" -- I can't believe this. Shocking -- at the weekend's box office. The desolation of small took in $31.4 million to earn the top spot for the second straight week. As per Ron Burgundy boys, they debuted with $26.7 million take to finish in second place.


BROWN (on-camera): Have you seen it?

MARQUEZ (on-camera): I have not seen it. I loved the first one so much. I'm afraid this --

BROWN: Yes. I know. Usually, the sequel doesn't live up.


BROWN: I don't know.

MARQUEZ: I'll do it, I'll do it.


BROWN: All right. Let's take a look now at what's coming up on "New Day."

MARQUEZ: Chris and Kate, how are you there? What's going on?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Happy Monday, you guys.

BROWN: Same to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have a morning in conflict here, fellas. We were debating how to say the name of the dragon in the "Hobbit" movie --


CUOMO: I saw the movie. I didn't hear anybody saying -- I think they were saying like smog.


CUOMO: Smog is what they call it.


CUOMO: We were talking about "Anchorman 2." I got very mixed feelings about it because, you know, my pass with Burgundy.



CUOMO: The contact, they still (ph).


MARQUEZ: I was going to say something dirty.\



CUOMO: Back to news. Get them off the screen. We'll be back to them in a second. News we do have for you this morning on top of the weather. We've been following a case here of American jailed in the United Arab Emirates. Remember this, the parody video. They put him in jail. He's been there a long time. He finally got his hearing, but he's been sentenced. This morning, you're going to find out what it is and why he's not coming home for the holidays. We have his brother on the show this morning to get the family's thoughts.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

And also, this. They were on a school bus full of children coming back from a field trip when something went terribly wrong. The driver you see in the orange vest started to lose control. So, two teachers jumped to action and ended up rescuing them all and taking the wheel and likely saving lives as they careen into a ditch. We're going to speak with those two hero teachers this morning about what many are calling, obviously, true heroism.

BROWN: Incredible video there.

MARQUEZ: Chris and Kate, thank you very much. See you guys in a moment.

BROWN: Thanks, guys.

MARQUEZ: Coming up, Target may be paying the price for a massive security breach

BROWN: Zain Asher will have the retail details in "Money Time" up next.


BROWN: And welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is "Money Time." Zain Asher joins us now with more on that. Hi, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela. OK. We are watching Apple stock climbing up three percent this morning. It finally signed a deal with China Mobile. That will also the iPhone in China. China Mobile has about 700 million users. More than twice the population of the entire United States. Apple executives have been calling China Mobile for quite a while.

The deal took about six years in negotiations. Apple says the iPhone 5s and 5C will be available there beginning January 17th. Just in time for the Chinese New Year.

Despite Target's offer to give customers a 10 percent discount over the weekend, customers are not flocking to the store as much as the retailer may have hoped. According to one retail consultant, the number of transactions at Target slipped three to four percent compared to the final weekend before Christmas last year.

Target offered the discounts as a way of luring customers back to the store after a massive data breach may revealed the credit and debit card details of 40 million customers. It looks as though the entire retail industry may have also seen a decline this weekend. Retail next and analytics firm say the number of visits to the store fell seven percent on Friday and Saturday.

Also, futures are higher this morning pointing to a continuation of the Santa Claus rally. The Dow Industrials gained 465 points last week. Its best week since January. Friday was the 47th record close of the year. So far this year, the Dow has been up 24 percent. The NASDAQ up 36 percent. The S&P 500 up 27 percent and the S&P 500 specifically gained about 1.5 percent during the leading -- the week leading into January. So, we're all looking for the markets to start a little bit higher today.

BROWN: Good to hear that and what we like to hear on the --

ASHER: Absolutely.

BROWN: Thanks, Zain. Appreciate it.

And coming up right here on EARLY START, two teachers saving a bus full of kids from crashing into a ditch. Unbelievable video. Their heroic moments are caught on camera up next.


BROWN: Welcome back to EARLY START. This is a remarkable story. Two fourth grade teachers from South Carolina quickly became lifesavers. They saved a speeding bus full of kids by grabbing the steering wheel as you see after the driver took a turn too fast and was thrown from his seat. Coming up on "New Day," Chris and Kate will be talking to the hero teachers. That's just ahead in the seven o'clock hour eastern time. And "New Day" starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was quite high and it was extremely swift. It was moving. It was moving very rapidly downstream.

CUOMO: The weather is frightful. A deadly storm leaves eight dead, but in another part of the country, it's delightful. Record warmth. So, what happens as we head into Christmas? Our Indra Petersons is tracking it all.

BOLDUAN: Breaking overnight. The American jailed in the United Arab Emirates for making a parody video sentenced to one year in jail. Our reporter was in the courtroom as he heard the news.

CUOMO: Clipped wing. Look at this photo. a British Airway 747 crashes into a building. Its wings slicing through it. What went wrong?

Your "New Day" starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "New Day." It is Monday, December 23rd, six o'clock in the east. Extreme weather. That's the headline in the U.S. We had snow and ice removed from the Midwest to the northeast making for slick roads and treacherous conditions. There was flooding and a tornado in the southeast stretching from Kentucky to Mississippi. That's where the bad weather was there.

But, if you went out in New York City this weekend, no doubt, double take (ph). Warm temperatures that set records for the first weekend of winter. Then, not for north from here, ice an inch thick crippled communities. Dare we ask what is coming next? We do, because we have someone who can answer it. Indra Petersons over there in the weather center. What is going on here, my friend?

PETERSONS: Yes. It's been definitely a crazy weekend. We were talking about even as much as ten inches of rain in through the Midwest. We saw a half inch to even an inch of icing -- pretty good ice storm into the northeast. And now, you talk about those record breaking temperatures through whole bunch of the east coast. Hard to believe it was just, yes, the first weekend of winter.


PETERSONS (voice-over): It's just two days before Christmas and a powerful storm system is knocking most of the country into weather extremes, all on one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. Freezing rain and snow slammed the middle of the country. Creating colossal sheets of ice on the roof of these outlet shops in Oklahoma City. While in the northeast, a bizarre mix of winter weather and unseasonable work. In upstate New York, an ice storm knocked out power, freezing branches and roadways. A stark difference just a few hours away in New York City which saw a record high of 71 degrees over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. I feels like it's May in December.