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Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty; Bone-Chilling Cold
Aired January 9, 2010 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with video that just may enrage many. It shows the apparent double agent blamed for killing seven CIA employees in Afghanistan last month talking about the attack in advance. He is shown sitting next to the head of the Pakistani Taliban essentially confirming the Taliban's claim of responsibility for that attack.
Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is standing by now in Amman, Jordan. Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, until this video came out all that we knew was what the Jordanian intelligence service and the CIA knew about him, that he said he had gone to Pakistan to train there and continue his training as a doctor. He contacted Jordanian intelligence services offering to help track down Al Qaeda leaders.
Now he's on this videotape filling in all the blanks. He said what he actually did when he got to Pakistan is went to the Taliban, joined the Taliban and told him what these intelligence agencies sent him there to do and then plotted this attack against the American CIA base in Afghanistan. Then he shared a very clear warning for the CIA and for the Jordanian intelligence that somebody like him who has so much faith in god cannot be bought off, as he said, by millions of dollars.
We have no idea if that is the real amount of money that he may or may not have been offered to help track down Al Qaeda, but this, he said, was his answer to the United States to Jordanian Intelligence. Also, we can see in this videotape that is sitting next to the current head of the Pakistani Taliban, and he said this attack was in part revenge for the U.S. in a drone attack last year killing the Pakistani Taliban leader at that time.
So a multiple message here and another part of the message that's very, very clear is just how important the Taliban have come in these sort of Al Qaeda-type operations here, taking this Arab doctor and the Taliban essentially being the front group, if you will, perpetrating what is essentially a very much Al Qaeda-type attack. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so how might this video, you know, impact CIA, Jordanian intelligence gathering, sharing plans this point forward?
ROBERTSON: You know, as much as what this doctor comes out and says that he was a double agent, went over to the Taliban, according to an analyst here very familiar with security operations in the Middle East, he said quite simply the United States, Jordan Intelligence, CIA and all of the other intelligence agencies working to catch Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leaders are going to have to re-evaluate all their spies that they have working there.
Why? Because they're going to want to know, are they really - whose side are they on ideologically? Taliban/Al Qaeda or are they helping the intelligence agencies? That is going to slow things down. It's going to take time to readjust, which means catching Osama Bin Laden is going to take that much longer, Fredericka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Nic Robertson in Amman.
So one other note on Humam Al-Balawi. In Istanbul, Turkey, his wife talked to reporters and she said she's proud -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEFNE BAYRAK, HUMAM AL-BALAWI'S WIFE (through translator): In fact, I'm proud of my husband. My husband accomplished a very big operation in such a war. If he's a martyr, may god accept his martyrdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Our Arwa Damon will have more on Humam al-Balawi's Taliban connection and on the man who is sitting next to him in this video. That's 30 minutes straight ahead.
The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas day has pleaded not guilty. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made his first court appearance yesterday in Detroit. He told the judge that he understands the charges against him. At least one passenger from Northwest flight 253 attended the arraignment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEABBE AREF, FLIGHT 253 PASSENGER: He looked the same but he had a little bit more actions. When I saw him on the plane, he was very blank. He didn't move. He didn't struggle. You know, he spoke in court today. He didn't say anything on the plane. So it was a little bit different.
Seeing him felt a little strange. I felt something sort of in my stomach and my heart. I think it was just a little bit of - brought back the feeling of maybe what I felt on the 25th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So this week a grand jury indicted Abdulmutallab on six charges. The most serious, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which could bring a life sentence.
Another nasty weekend in the deep freeze for much of the U.S. and it could be days before any relief is in sight except Jacqui just let us know it might feel a little less cold over the next few days in some places. Temperatures are so cold right now however that records have been following us as far south as Florida. And the U.S-Mexico border and in the Great Plains, it is dangerous to even be outside. It was 34 degrees below zero this morning in Pollock, South Dakota and far south of there, eight degrees in Waco, Texas.
And these folks here in Indiana have a lot of work ahead of them as they try to keep up with all of the snow that has fallen there. Oh, gosh, that is the worst, isn't it, trying to shovel snow across the country? At least nine deaths are now being blamed on the snow and the ice and the cold.
So the big question is when is that warmup going to happen? When will it feel less cold, Jacqui Jeras?
JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Early next week.
WHITFIELD: It cracks me up.
JERAS: Yes, I know. Because well, you have to put it in perspective, right?
WHITFIELD: I know. It's cold.
JERAS: It's winter, right. This is impacting so many people. This is two-thirds of the country, easily 60 percent plus of the population. And when we're not hitting a lot of records, we could start seeing some records for having a prolonged period of cold weather in places like maybe Gainesville, Florida and across much of the deep south.
So today our big focus of the cold weather and the Arctic air mass is what's happening across Florida. And this is hitting at places that don't see this all that often. And you're just not prepared for this whatsoever. Check out some of this pink that we've been seeing across central Florida. Oh, yes, that's exactly what you think it is. That's a little bit of some of that snow. Let's go ahead and show you what's been happening in Orlando.
These are pictures from just a couple of hours ago and what you see there on that car, yes, that's sleep. Sleet is ice pellets so it's rain. Liquid precipitation freezes before it reaches the ground. So that's what you see bouncing off. It wasn't really enough to cause problems, I guess, on the roadways from what I'm understanding. You know, central Florida does get cold but it's pretty rare to see something like that. And we're going to continue to see this across central and southern Florida as that front passes on through.
In fact, we can even see some sleet in Ft. Myers later on this evening as well as West Palm Beach. Now, Miami, I think for the most part you're going to be OK. Temperatures tonight are getting really cold. You can see you're 43 degrees at this hour. Tomorrow morning you should be waking up to temperatures in the middle 30s. But we think the precip's going to cut off. So hopefully you won't have that threat.
Here comes some of those warmer temperatures as they move on up into the 60s. And we're going to see people having temperatures more like, you know, 20 degrees instead of 20 below, for example, in Minneapolis. I think that is a big swing. 20's still cold but it's a whole lot better.
WHITFIELD: Right now I get the whole less cold. That is still cold. All right. Thank you, Jacqui.
All right. The economic crisis is taking a toll on American families in so much different ways. We take a look now at how some states are slashing social programs and how families are actually being affected.
WHITFIELD: President Barack Obama says the economic recovery is still on track despite disappointing unemployment numbers. The Labor Department says 85,000 people lost their jobs in December and 4.2 million people were jobless in 2009. The unemployment rate remains at 10 percent. Still, President Obama said he remains firmly committed to doing all can he to turn things around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A year ago when I took office in the midst of the worse recession since the Great Depression, I promised you two things - the first was that there would be better days ahead. And the second was that the road to recovery would be long and sometimes bumpy. That was brought home again yesterday.
We learned that in November, our economy saw its first month of job gains in nearly two years but last month we lost more than we gained. Now we know that no single month makes a trend. In job losses for the final quarter of 2009 were 1/10 of what they were in the first quarter. But until we see a trend of good, sustainable job creation, we will be relentless in our efforts to put America back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The economic crisis is also causing many states to cut their budgets. For example, Maryland has slashed $30 million from some programs, including one that provides health to families with children and special needs. CNN's Kate Bolduan reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy found toys.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old Carson Brewster has a rare chromosomal disorder. Her mother Michelle left a contracting job four years ago to care for Carson full time.
MICHELLE BREWSTER, MOTHER: She can't care for herself. You know, we've got to change her clothes. She gets fed through a tube. She's got over 22 doctors, so -
BOLDUAN (on camera): 22 doctors?
BOLDUAN (voice-over): With $13,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses last year alone, Brewster said supplemental funds from the state of Maryland have been essential to her family's financial survival for years. But the economy has struck even this vulnerable segment of the population. Faced with a $700 million budget shortfall, Maryland cut nearly $30 million from the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK.
BOLDUAN: For the Brewster's, that means painful decisions. The extra help for things like diapers, medication and physical therapy dropped from $2,500 to just $300.
(on camera): What does that really mean for you guys?
BREWSTER: A struggle. A struggle to figure out how we're going to help - how to help our daughter and make sure that we have the moneys to make sure our other children get too. Mom and dad, me and my husband, we can wait. Our daughters can't. That's what it's all about.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Outraged by the state's action, advocates for the developmentally disabled launched a statewide campaign, holding town halls to fight the budget cut.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think people realize how this can just totally devastate your family.
BOLDUAN: State officials say they understand, especially in this sluggish economy, every cut hurts someone but they defend the governor's budget decision.
CATHERINE RAGGIO, MARYLAND DEPT. OF DISABILITIES: He was able to protect services for people with disabilities throughout most of the budget-cutting rounds. But the choices are getting much more difficult to make. It's not easy anymore.
BOLDUAN: And not easy for states across the country. A recent report by the Pew Center said state's budget troubles are having far reaching impacts on residents.
SUSAN URAHN, PEW CENTER ON THE STATES: As the states face increasingly severe budget troubles, the public is going to feel it. They'll pay more taxes. They'll pay higher fees.
BOLDUAN: With the $2 billion budget shortfall projected in Maryland for 2011, Brewster said she has no idea what's in store for her family's financial future. She only hopes more cuts aren't on the horizon for her daughter and so many others.
BREWSTER: They didn't ask to be disabled. We're not asking for hands out. We're just asking for a little bit of help. That's it.
BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Frederick county, Maryland. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: An apology today from the Senate majority leader for disparaging remarks he made about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. And just a few minutes ago, the president also issued a response. Just to keep you up to date now on what is at issue here. In a new book journalist Mark Halperin and John Hellmann quote Harry Reid as saying privately that Obama could be successful thanks in part because of his "light skin appearance and speaking patterns with no Negro dialect."
Well, in a statement today, Reid said he deeply regrets, "using such a poor quote of words." He goes on to say in his written statement "I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans especially African-Americans for my improper comment.
And then just moments ago, this now from the president of the United States, saying, "Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years. I've seen the passionate leadership that he has show on issues on social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I'm concerned, the book is closed. That comment coming from the president.
A newly released video shows the Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA officers in a suicide attack in Afghanistan. Well, he says the attack was in revenge for the killing of a Pakistan Taliban leader last year. CNN's Arwa Damon on the man and his connection to the Taliban in Pakistan.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The video was released in Pakistan on Saturday. In it you see a man speaking on the right. That is the alleged CIA bomber, Humam Abumulal al-Balawi.
In this video he stated the attack that he is going to be carrying out is in revenge for the U.S. drone strike that killed former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Massoud in August. Sitting to his left is the current leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, in October, vowed to avenge Baitullah's death. That the strike carried out against the CIA in Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very clear that there is no real distinction between the Taliban on this side of the border and that side of the border. That this is now international at least to the extent that it is something that crosses between the Pakistan and Afghan borders.
But then it draws strength from Jordan. It draws strength from Iraq, and there is a fusion of Iraq, of the Iraqi Al Qaeda with the Al Qaeda here in Pakistan. And so all of this is getting tied together by one single thing, and that is a common world view and a common ideology. DAMON: Until now the Pakistani Taliban largely focused on domestic attacks. What we're seeing now is carrying out a strike across the border in Afghanistan, the operative that it sent an Arab, a very startling development that is sure to see even more pressure being put on Pakistan to target all militant groups operating within its boarders and that could further threaten the already fragile stability in this country.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Islamabad.
WHITFIELD: Our top stories right now. A New Jersey man accused of touching off a massive airport security scare is due in court next week. Police say 28-year-old Haisung Jang ducked under a security rope at Newark Airport early this week. That forced officials to shut down the terminal and rescreen thousands of passengers. The breached delayed flights worldwide. Jang was arrested yesterday and charged with defiant trespassing.
And in New York, a Bosnian immigrant has pleaded not guilty to terror charges. He's 25 years old and accused of conspiracy to commit murder and received military-type training from Al Qaeda.
A New York taxi driver has been indicted on charges of lying to federal agents about trips he took to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both cases are linked to the investigation of Najibullah Zazi, the airport driver from Colorado who allegedly conspired to use weapons of mass destruction in New York on September 11 of last year.
Record-breaking cold will keep much of the U.S. shivering through the weekend. In Atlanta icy roads have triggered numerous accidents. The city woke up to a temperature of 14 degrees with the wind-chill factor near zero.
So you think you're having a hard time coping with the cold? Well, wait until you hear what the animals are doing.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that hurts. Slipping and sliding in the deep south. This week's winter storm still causing problems after coating roads and highways with ice and snow from Mississippi to the Carolinas. Atlanta is one area still coping with a lot of slick spots as you see right here. Folks not really sure how to maneuver once they hit that slick spot.
And take a look at these buses in Nebraska. It's enough to make you shiver just thinking about spending any time outdoors. Is that not incredible? So far at least nine deaths are being blamed on this cold wave. Oh, my gosh, that is incredible. The depths of that ice.
JERAS: I know.
WHITFIELD: Hard to believe.
JERAS: You know why those buses got iced over like that -
JERAS: -- by the way?
WHITFIELD: Why? Don't tell me a sprinkler system was going -
JERAS: Sort of. Yes, they were parked behind a bowling alley apparently and there was a fire at the bowling alley. So it was from the spray hose, fire hose.
WHITFIELD: Oh, OK.
JERAS: Not just winter doing that but still -
WHITFIELD: But cold nonetheless.
WHITFIELD: In order to cause that freezing.
JERAS: I can't imagine how long it's going to take for them to get those doors open. Well, you know, the Omaha area, which is where that was, is going to start to see some warmer temperatures. So this is some good news. We're still under this trough, which just allows all that Arctic air from the north to spill in, and that's why we've been so cold for so long.
Our jet stream pattern is going to start to shift now in the upcoming days and when you start to see these ridges like that, that's a high pressure system which has compressing air and when air gets compressed, it heats up. Yes, we like heating up, right? So we'll be less cold by Monday. It's just going to be a gradual process of moderating and getting this all across the U.S.. Temperatures are going to be near normal across parts of the east, where we've been seeing these frigid conditions by the middle of the week.
So, you know, we are on our way to it. In the meantime, you know, we're stuck with conditions that are still well below zero for a whole lot of people. Particularly the upper midwest, where the worst of it has been. You know, you're a little more used to this than a lot of the people across the southeast. And that's why it's been so problematic with all those accidents that we saw in the Atlanta area. People don't know how to drive in that.
And when temperatures get this cold in Florida, people don't have the proper clothes for this either. I do want to show you my favorite i- report of the day in the winter weather though, by the way. This is from our i-reporter Stacey Duncan from Milton, Florida. This is near the panhandle. Temperatures there were in the 20s in the morning hours this week and so the sandbox turned into -
WHITFIELD: Oh, no!
JERAS: - the icebox! And ice skating rink. Yes, became an ice skating rink. Mom said she put on the church shoes so she could slide around and have a little fun in the winter weather. Send us your i- reports. We love them at www.ireport.com.
WHITFIELD: That's fun. Well, I'm glad to see momma still holding her hand. That would hurt falling on that.
JERAS: Be careful.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jacqui, appreciate it.
JERAS: Well, humans aren't the only ones shivering and running around trying to find shelter or stay warm and cozy.
CNN's John Zarrella reports from Florida. The apes are bundling up. The turtles are slower than ever. And the iguanas? Well, just check it out.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just throw me a blanket, will you? Even with all of that hair, Bonnie, the orangutan, wasted no time wrapping up against the cold at Miami's Metro Zoo. Her buddy, Mango, sipped on a cup of hot chocolate, vet approved. The tortoises, well, they're not too swift with their feet or their brains.
RON MAGILL, MIAMI METROZOO: We have to take actually plywood and lock them in there because they're not bright enough to stay in there. They'll go out and freeze and stop and freeze and that's it.
ZARRELLA: In Florida, the animals are no more used to this cold than people. Zoos are doing what they can to provide creature comforts. Space heaters for the parrots and the Komodo dragons, boxes for the primates. This little guy shut his own door. Don't ever say dumb animals.
For beekeepers in Tallahassee, where the temperature has been in the teens, the only hope - save the queen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as the queen and some of the bees make it through the winter, then we're fine.
ZARRELLA: No, you're wrong. That's not protozoa under a microscope. They're manatees, 300 of them. The heating system at a power plant was turned on to warm the waters for them. Sea turtles lethargic and stunned by the cold are being rescued and brought to marine life sanctuaries. Nearly 100 so far.
(on camera): Now, to be honest, there are some animals here in Florida that just don't get and won't get any love.
(voice-over): So how do you feel about rats? Maybe a foot long? They're not crazy about the cold either. Well, they're scrambling and slithering and squeezing their way into nice, warm homes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That kind of rats should be in New York. It shouldn't be in Florida and it certainly shouldn't be in my apartment with my kids. ZARRELLA: And there are the iguanas, invasive species over running south Florida. The cold weather puts them literally in a state of suspended animation, not good when you live in a tree. Florida's version of Ground Hog Day. When the iguana falls out of the tree, six more weeks of winter. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Yuck. All right, it's so cold that maybe now's a good time to cozy up at a movie, or something. Our film critic Ben Mankiewicz will be along to tell us what to check out.
Hey, Ben. Looking cozy from L.A., right?
WHITFIELD: OK, so if you're wondering what to do this weekend, we've got the lowdown on the movies hitting the big screen. "Daybreakers," "Leap Year" and "Youth in Revolt." They're all out this weekend. Are they worth seeing? We turn to our film critic, and host of Turner Classic Movies, Ben Mankiewicz.
He's joining us from Los Angeles, one of the few places in the country where it's not freezing cold. You lucky dog. How did you get L.A. this weekend?
BEN MANKIEWICZ, FILM CRITIC: Yeah, it's nice, although because it's note totally sunny, we still have a reason to complain here, and complain we will.
WHITFIELD: Oh, really? Does that mean will you complain about this first movie, "Daybreakers," vampire flick?
MANKIEWICZ: I'm not going to complain about it. I think its unfortunate that people are going to see this as a vampire flick, in the sense that we have been overrun with vampire flicks. But this is nothing, nothing at all like the other vampire movies.
This is kind of an original concept. It is set 10 years from now, 2019, nine years from now, my goodness. And there are only 5 percent of the humans left. Vampires have sort of taken over. But they lead fairly normal lives. They go to work, but everything happens in reverse. Everything happens at night as opposed to during the day.
WHITFIELD: Vampires have consumed everything. Let's watch and listen.
(BEGIN MOVIE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you all right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get back!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot him again!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't shoot me again!
WHITFIELD: OK, she thinks he's a vampire.
MANKIEWICZ: He is a vampire. Everybody's a vampire. He's a vampire driving home from work and encounters humans. He is, Ethan Hawke plays a scientist who is trying to come up with a synthetic blood substitute because we're running out of human blood. The sort of story develops from there is he going to go work with the humans and try to extend the human race?
It's -- it's campy. It is blood gushing. It is disgusting this parts. But that said, I kind of liked it. And it is certainly --
WHITFIELD: Your kind of movie.
MANKIEWICZ: And it's certainly original. Willem Dafoe is in it. He looks, in every movie now, like he just pulled a 12-year stretch for strong-armed robbery. But it's pretty good, it's intriguing. It wraps itself up a little quickly. But it is fun and campy. I gave it a B-minus. I think it is worth seeing.
WHITFIELD: Campy is a good word, especially once I heard that little music. That kind of da-dum. That's campy. But we haven't seen Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe for a while. Good to see them.
How about "Leap Year"? What is this one all about?
MANKIEWICZ: "Leap Year" is being enormously poorly reviewed. This is Amy Adams, in Ireland, with Matthew Goode, she goes to Ireland because she wants to propose to her -who she hopes will be her fiance on February 29th, Leap Year. That is apparently a tradition when women can propose to men. I thought woman could propose at any time, apparently not.
WHITFIELD: In your world, yes.
MANKIEWICZ: It's being very poorly reviewed. But you know, look, it's right out of the romantic comedy playbook.
WHITFIELD: You like romantic comedies.
MANKIEWICZ: I do. You see everything coming a mile away. But they're very engaging. I like Amy Adams a lot. She lights up the screen here. And so does Matthew Goode. It's certainly not great, it's certainly forgettable but worth seeing if you want to see this kind of movie. It's OK. It's harmless. I wrote down some romantic comedies from last year like "The Proposal," "The Ugly Truth," "New in Town". "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past", "Confessions of A Shopaholic". This is better than all of those.
WHITFIELD: Oh! OK, I thought that "Confessions of a Shopaholic" was kind of cute. I liked it.
MANKIEWICZ: You did?
WHITFIELD: I did. It was cute. MANKIEWICZ: Oh, Fred. Oh, my.
WHITFIELD: I went to a review, and I was like, I actually like this.
MANKIEWICZ: That is devastating news. I'm crestfallen.
WHITFIELD: I'm sorry. How about "Youth in Revolt"? Let's listen to it a little bit before we talk about it.
(BEGIN MOVIE CLIP)
My name is Nick. I live with my charming mother. Her latest boyfriend, Jared, is a pathological liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a woman answered the phone, probably just the maid.
He's a real prize.
(END MOVIE CLIP)
WHITFIELD: OK, what do you think?
MANKIEWICZ: Well, this is Michael Cera playing a role that we have certainly see Michael Cera play a lot. Nobody plays Michael Cera, better than Michael Cera.
WHITFIELD: Everybody loves him.
MANKIEWICZ: He plays a teenager who is a virgin, and he meets a girl who he likes a lot and wants to be with. But he can't seem to get to her without sort of allowing his alter-ego bad-boy self to take over. So Sarah kind of plays two roles here, Nick and then Francois, the bad boy self.
This movie feels much more original, seems like it's going to be much more original than it is. It ends up feeling like we've seen this before. I was actually fairly disappointed in this movie. I'm going to give it a C-minus.
By the way, I gave C-plus there, if I didn't mention it, to "Leap Year."
This is a C-minus. This is disappointing. I would like to see Michael Cera branch out a bit. Not that he cares what I want him to do in any way, nor should he.
WHITFIELD: Maybe he's watching and listening.
MANKIEWICZ: And one tip for all of the movie characters, the teenage boys, who have trouble meeting girls, buy a shirt made since the Carter administration. That's just a little tip. It's a suggestion. Take it or leave it. But that will help.
WHITFIELD: Just be a little fashion conscious, OK.
We will talk about DVDs, what's hitting the store shelves come this week, and what you need to pick up. Among them "The Hurt Locker." So, you'll be back, Ben, with that. And we'll also have some top stories after this, as well.
WHITFIELD: No escaping a cold, even in a state known for its hot temperatures. CNN's Martin Savidge joins us from Plantation, Florida. Not really the Sunshine State, these days.
How serious a threaten is the freezing, particularly to people not used to enduring this. And we're talking about produce as well growing there, in that state.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yep, definitely.
I mean, let me point out, Fredricka, first of all just what a difference a day makes for us. Yesterday we were standing in St. Louis, where with the combination of temperature and not to mention the snow on the ground and wind in the air, it felt like double digits below zero.
Now we come all the way down to south Florida and I'm still freezing down here. In fact, it feels almost colder than it did up north. However, it is not technically freezing, at least, not in this part of Florida, at least not now. Temperatures probably in the low 40s but you've got overcast skies. You've got a strong, gusty wind that's blowing. There are wind chill advisories that are out for South Florida.
And there are concerns, as you point out, the possibility of freezing. And that would be devastating, of course, to the vegetation. It would be very harmful depending on how cold it gets, perhaps for the citrus crop. And it could also create a great deal of chaos for life in general down here.
We ran into two types of people that are very busy today. First of all, the repairmen who fixes furnaces and heaters. They are in great demand. There are a lot of people who have not turned their heaters on down here for years. This week, when it started to get cold, they turn it on and much to their dissatisfaction, cold air came out. They've been putting in the emergency calls and emergency services going nearly around the clock.
The other busy person down here, the person who delivers firewood. A lot of people down here have been stacking it up, and storing it, and using it in the fireplaces. There are in fact some houses that do not have heat.
WHITFIELD: I know.
SAVIDGE: Fireplace is the one place they cuddle around, as it gets cold, Fred. WHITFIELD: In fact, I was going to ask you. I remember living in South Florida, a remember a lot of folks, a lot of my neighbors there in Miami, people did not have heat. Whenever there was a little cold snap, folks were trying to get real creative about how in the world to stay warm.
SAVIDGE: They still remember you fondly down here.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's nice to hear. Martin Savidge, try to stay warm there in Plantation, Florida, as best you can.
SAVIDGE: I will, thanks.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.
Let's take a look at the stop stories right now if we can.
A new video showing the man blamed for the deadly attack on a CIA outpost in Afghanistan, sitting right next to the head of the Pakistani Taliban. It was apparently made 10 days before the attack, and in the video, Humam al Balawi calls on jihadists to attack U.S. targets.
And a deadly weekend for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Today a roadside bombing in a southern province killed a U.S. service member. And yesterday two other NATO service members were killed, including a Danish soldier, who was hit by an explosive while on patrol.
The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day has pleaded not guilty. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made his first court appearance yesterday in Detroit. A grand jury indicted him on six charges. The most serious, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. And that could bring a life sentence.
So for the past couple of weeks, we have been hearing about Yemen, the danger, the poverty, the haven for terrorism. But there is more to this country. Photographer and contributor to foreignpolicy.com, Sandy Choi, captured amazing pictures of what a day in the life is like there in Yemen. Sandy is joining us right now.
So these pictures kind of depicting the Yemen that you experienced. You were there in 2004, right? Did you go there with kind of preconceived notions of what Yemen might be?
SANDY CHOI, PHOTOGRAPHER: Not really at all.
CHOI: This was my very first time in the Middle East if you can believe it. Quite a place to choose. Normally -- I was there at a student, and usually people will go to Cairo. They will go to Amman. They will go to Beirut. But Yemen kind of struck me as someplace a little bit different. And someplace new, so that's kind of how I ended up there.
WHITFIELD: It is those things. New and very different. And so you went to -- to study the Arabic language.
WHITFIELD: And as you snapped off photographs, your real objective was to show these pictures to friends and family back home. So they got an idea of what you were seeing. So how did you see Yemen?
CHOI: You know, it's funny looking back on these photos now, you're absolutely right. My objective was really just to share this experience with friends and family back home. And what I was trying to capture was the neighborhood I lived in, the people I would meet on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to do a little bit of traveling and see some of the places we're seeing on the screen now, to be able to share some of that with everyone back home, and give them an idea of what it would be like.
WHITFIELD: What did you find remarkable about the people, the place or maybe even unremarkable in some ways?
CHOI: Well, for one thing, Yemen is an incredibly beautiful country. You can see from the photos the architecture is spectacular and very unique to the country. Life in the old city of Sanna, where I was living was very normal. Very sort of day to day, you go to work and stop at the baker on your way home, you buy your groceries. So even though I was living in a centuries' old house, in this sort of ancient Medina, it felt very normal in a way.
WHITFIELD: So now you were there in 2004. This is after the USS Cole attack, so to hear Yemen being equated with, or being associated with terrorism was not necessarily a foreign thing. It has stepped up that dialogue quite a bit in recent years. When you were there, how conscientious were you of that notion of it being a haven for terrorism?
CHOI: You know, it's funny, that was almost second to my concerns about being an American there, and whether or not that would ever come up as an issue when I would stop and talk to people on the street. It was there in the back of my mind, but it was never really a concern to me in my day-to-day life there.
WHITFIELD: How much did you -- or how hard did you work against people learning that you were American for fear that you wouldn't be accepted, for fear that people wouldn't necessarily want to associate with you?
CHOI: Not at all, to be perfectly honest. I realized it was a very uncomfortable time for a lot of foreigners who happened to be in the country. I decided I wasn't going to tell people I was a Canadian. I was very proud to be who I was, and where I was from. And if people didn't like that, and some people didn't. Some people just turned around and would walk away when I would talk to them. But others, they didn't have a problem with that. We exchanged view points. We had some really good discussions about what was going on, and it was fine.
WHITFIELD: So when you look at these images again. It was 2004, but you refreshed your memory on Yemen by looking at these pictures, pulling them out one more time, do you see Yemen any differently today than you did in 2004 when you were living there?
CHOI: Not really. And certainly not as a result of the things we're hearing in the news. I mean, I do realize the seriousness of what's coming out of there. But at the same time it's -- it's still the Yemen that I remember from when I was living there and the neighborhood that I lived in and the people that I knew.
And if anything, it's actually more troubling to see how it's been portrayed for the most part in the media as this terrorist haven, as if it didn't have this rich cultural history, and population that lived there.
WHITFIELD: Sandy Choi, photographer, contributor for ForeignPolicy.com. Thank you so much for sharing those stories, and sharing those beautiful images as well, and letting us see a different side of Yemen.
CHOI: Thanks for having me.
WHITFIELD: Some Muslim-American women say they are being singled out for airport searches. Is that discrimination? We'll look into it.
WHITFIELD: OK, perhaps you don't like going out in the ice and snow and going to the movies. Instead you want to bring movies to your home. Can you do that by picking up the next few DVDs released this week. "The Hurt Locker" is one, and the "Moon" are coming out. Have you heard of either one of them?
I think I have been living under a rock, because film critic and host of Turner Classic Movies Ben Mankiewicz, you have to school me on these flicks here, soon to be out on DVD. Why haven't I heard of "The Hurt Locker." Where have I been?
MANKIEWICZ: Because you were apparently watching "The Shopaholic" nine times.
WHITFIELD: I saw it once. I thought it was cute. That's just me.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tell me about this "Hurt Locker". Oh, actually maybe we should watch and listen a little bit. And then you tell me more about it.
(BEGIN MOVIE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your gun down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Advance, advance. Keep your hands up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END MOVIE CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ooh, this looks intense. Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pierce. Tell me more.
MANKIEWICZ: Yeah, this is very intense. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Last week when I was doing the top 11 list for you guys, this came in No. 3 for me. It is on a lot of critics lists.
WHITFIELD: I'm sorry, I was out that day.
MANKIEWICZ: That's all right. You're allowed to take a vacation once in a while.
This is very dramatic stuff. The cameos, there are extended cameos for Ray Fiennes, David Morrison, Guy Pierce. You saw Jeremy Renner, there, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, are the three main stars of this film. They play members of a bomb squad in Iraq. It's about the Iraq war. It's a big canvas but this is a small, personal story. It is intense throughout. It is believable throughout. It is credible.
Kathryn Bigelow really keeps it moving along. It came out some months ago, but I don't think it will be forgotten when the Academy award nominations come out. It's a really terrific movie. Really outstanding film. Best Iraq war movie so far.
WHITFIELD: Oh, OK. "Moon"?
MANKIEWICZ: "Moon" is an interesting movie. It's from a first-time director named Duncan Jones, who certainly has some creative talents in his blood lines. David Bowie is his father.
WHITFIELD: Get out.
MANKIEWICZ: It's a really impressive debut film. It's really just Sam Rockwell in this movie. He plays an astronaut on the far side of the moon on a three-year mission to help mine the moon for a big corporation, to mine it for an energy source that we need on Earth. But the satellite has gone down so he has no communication with any other humans during this three-year time there.
And then all of a sudden after he has an accident on the moon, he encounters a meaner, angrier version of himself, and we're left to wonder exactly what's happening. I'm not sure I totally figured out what was happening, but it certainly -- it certain is intriguing. And it will stay with you and it's a very impressive performance from Rockwell. It's some thoughtful science fiction.
I give an A to "The Hurt Locker", I give a B to this movie. Some critics loved this movie. I merely liked it. I certainly think it's seeing, certainly for sci-fi fans, or Sam Rockwell fans.
WHITFIELD: And these two, these are definitely dude flicks. Not to say girls are not going to like it. Chicks can dig it too, but definitely dude flicks. MANKIEWICZ: Yeah, they are guy -but I mean, good movies, are good movies. I don't know what that means.
WHITFIELD: Oh, yes you do.
MANKIEWICZ: Look, I liked "Leap Year" for crying out loud. That's definitely a chick flick. I'm basically a guy, yeah.
WHITFIELD: All right, good. So "Moon" and "The Hurt Locker," DVDs that could be coming to your home any moment now come Tuesday, right?
MANKIEWICZ: That's right.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Mankiewicz, thanks so much. Enjoy sunny L.A.
MANKIEWICZ: I will. Thank you, Fred.
All right. A controversial billboard featuring President Barack Obama will soon be removed from New York's Times Square. Why? A clothing company created the billboard using a news photo of the president wearing one of its jackets.
But it didn't get permission from the White House to put him in this big old ad. So the company is now agreeing to actually take the billboard down after having what a spokesman described as a rather cordial conversation with a White House attorney.
For many Muslim-American women, the head scarf is an important part of their religious identity. But is it a red flag for airport screeners? We'll find out.
WHITFIELD: Some Muslims say they're being profiled in the tighter security that followed the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound jetliner. Well, CNN's Alina Cho has more on that now.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nadia Hasan is a frequent flier. So imagine her surprise when she arrived at the security checkpoint at Washington's Dulles International Airport Tuesday.
NADIA HASSAN, MUSLIM-AMERICAN: Racial, religious profiling. I'm being singled out as a -- as a security threat.
CHO: The 40-year-old Michigan-born Muslim-American, headed to Los Angeles, says she was singled out for what she calls a humiliating full-body search. When she asked why this was happening --
HASSAN: The gentleman who was working there specifically told me that the reason why I'm being put through this type of search is because I'm wearing a headscarf. He actually told me that that's the reason why you are being targeted.
CHO: She's not alone. On Monday a Muslim-Canadian woman says she was made to feel like a terrorist because she was wearing a headscarf, berated and banned from boarding a flight to the United States, all because of her faith. The Council on American Islamic Relations calls these textbook cases of profiling.
NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS: If it's violating the law, it is unconstitutional and un-American to single out people because of their religion.
CHO: U.S. Customs who handled the Canadian woman's case would not comment specifically on it. But in a statement to CNN, the TSA says current screening procedures for bulky clothing and headwear have been in place since 2007. That wearing a headscarf doesn't automatically trigger a search. And, quote, "In instance where's passengers choose not to remove bulky clothing, including head wear, our officers are trained to offer a private screening area and may conduct a pat down search to clear the individual."
Hassan says her pat down search happened in public, in front of her five-year-old daughter, and several male TSA agents. She stresses she favors strict security, but not when the screening is selective.
HASSAN: Do they even know what they're looking for? You're targeting the innocent people, but yet the bad guys are getting away. So it just makes me wonder.
CHO: The Council on American Islamic relation says if the TSA is going to flag women who wear headscarves, what about nuns who wear habits? Or Sikhs who wear turbans? What about them? The TSA says it continues to work closely to provide security protocols that are thorough, effective and foster respect. Alina Cho, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: Straight ahead -- Randi Kaye with the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, including a look at the latest and greatest gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A flying drone and 3D TVs are just a few of the fascinating gizmos.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here tomorrow.