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AMERICAN MORNING

Giving Thanks to Our Troops; No Credible Holiday Terror Threat; An "Occupy" Thanksgiving; Egypt Apologizes for Deaths of Protesters; Arizona Plane Crash Caught on Tape; Amish Beard-Cutting Case; Sticky Situation; Turkeys Giving Thanks; How To Prepare Turkey; Thanksgiving in Afghanistan; Macy's Thanksgiving Parade; Happy Thanksgiving To Our Troops; U.S. Students Held In Egypt

Aired November 24, 2011 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A time-honored tradition. Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the famed balloons will rise for more than 50 million people expected to watch. We're live along the parade route.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Thanksgiving overseas. We'll take you to the front lines where U.S. troops are celebrating this holiday.

COSTELLO: Turkey troubles, you say? You are not alone. A Butterball expert is on standby ready to save you from a kitchen disaster on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Good morning and happy Thanksgiving. This is the day you've been waiting for, Carol Costello. It is Thursday, November 24th. Ali and Christine have the day off. I'm Alina Cho along with Carol on this AMERICAN MORNING. So glad you're with us.

COSTELLO: I have all of the fattening stuff laid out for me already here. It's already here. They ordered in Thanksgiving dinner for us at 3:00 a.m. The turkey is crusty now, but still edible.

CHO: The stuffing is quite good, actually.

COSTELLO: OK, first up this morning, one thing we're very thankful for, our brave men and women in the military serving here and overseas.

We still have about 20,000 troops in Iraq right now, but the forces are flooding out as a December deadline for withdrawal approaches.

Thousands have been sent to Kuwait waiting to be reassigned or sent back home. CNN's Martin Savidge at the Camp Virginia right now where it is turkey time. Happy Thanksgiving, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Happy Thanksgiving to you. It is a happy Thanksgiving especially for those soldiers gathered here at Camp Virginia. Let me tell you why.

We're located about 20 kilometers south of the border with Iraq. This is the primary staging area for all the troops that are coming out of Iraq and taking the big bird and heading home and many are going to be joining there pretty soon.

This is sort of the winding down of the dinner. It started about three-and-a-half hours ago. So they've had plenty of heaping helpings of turkey. That's why it's looking quiet right now. A couple lieutenants are here with me. I want to sit down and join.

Say hello to Ryan Donnelly and also to Patrick Watson. They have both just come out of Iraq. First of all, let me ask you how was the meal?

LT. RYAN DONNELLY: The meal is pretty good. Good turkey. Good roast beef. Mashed potatoes. Corn, can't complain.

SAVIDGE: So you're headed home, right?

DONNELLY: Hopefully soon. I couldn't be happier. Glad to be going home. A lot of stuff to do when we get back there.

SAVIDGE: Let me bring in Patrick Watson here in this conversation. So this mission went shorter than you expected?

LT. PATRICK WATSON: Yes, we definitely thought we would be here for a year. But we ended up wrapping up things a little early. So now it's time to go home.

SAVIDGE: We should point out that Patrick may not make it quite by Christmas. What do you think?

WATSON: Hopefully by the end of the month. I should be getting there by Christmas Eve.

SAVIDGE: I would think that in both cases your families have to be thrilled that the mission was cut short.

DONNELLY: Absolutely. You know, they weren't expecting it like we did to come home early so it's a great bonus for us.

SAVIDGE: Mom and Dad.

WATSON: I bet they can't wait.

SAVIDGE: Normally holidays are spent away from home for soldiers, it can be on the depressing side. But everybody here, Carol, knows at least for the most part they'll be home in time for that other big holiday, which as we know is right around the corner. A lot of smiling faces along with plenty of full plates.

COSTELLO: I know that big beautiful smile when the lieutenant said mom and dad are waiting for me. Thank you. Thank you, Martin Savidge reporting live for us today. We appreciate it.

CHO: Let's get you a first look at the holiday forecast. Bonnie Schneider is in the Extreme Weather Center for us. Good morning, Bonnie.

You know, not as busy of a travel day today as yesterday, but still a lot of people I'm finding more and more are traveling on Thanksgiving Day. So what's it looking like out there?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's absolutely looking pretty good, Alina and Carol. We're getting off to a little bit of a foggy start in the southeast. That's where we're looking at some low clouds hanging overhead.

So if you are driving this morning in Kentucky, give yourself a little extra time because you may have poor visibility out there. A lot of fog and low clouds over parts of Tennessee and into Arkansas.

But the big picture shows sunny and milder conditions across the south. Temperatures will be very comfortable. We do run the risk of showers up into northern New England, cooler temperatures through the mid-Atlantic, but very pleasant.

And as you can see out west, we're monitoring two weather systems that may bring rain to southern California as well as the Pacific Northwest. Really I think the name of the game today is going to be fairly mild.

For those of you that are looking to catch a flight today, we do have some delays we're anticipating some low clouds for the morning hours in New York and Boston so afternoon flights look OK.

Chicago, Minneapolis, look for fog and wind. Detroit and Cleveland, also facing some low clouds and wind. I mentioned the fog that's happening right now across parts of the south so in Dallas and Memphis, you're also looking at that overcast condition.

But major delays are expected out west due to that storm system so Seattle and San Francisco, a combination of rain and wind. But now for the good news, temperatures are looking very mild for today for this Thanksgiving.

You can see climbing all of the way to 68 degrees in Atlanta, 54 in New York and incidentally the weather looks much better for the parade today than we originally thought.

I think the winds will be breezy, but not at all as strong as originally thought. So that's some good news there. Mild temperatures in Florida.

As you plan ahead for your early start to Black Friday for shopping, again, great weather for Friday that's always good for those of you looking for a good deal. Back to you.

COSTELLO: That's good. So the balloons may go up after all.

CHO: Yes, that would be great.

COSTELLO: Yesterday you didn't know because it was supposed to be windy in New York City.

CHO: Fingers crossed. We still have a couple hours.

COSTELLO: Bonnie has given us hope though.

CHO: Jason Carroll is along the route. So we'll be talking to him a little bit later. Thank you, Bonnie.

COSTELLO: All quiet on the terror front this holiday season. That's according to a notice sent to police departments by the FBI and Homeland Security.

There are no credible terror threats facing the United States right now. This is the first holiday season since the death of Osama Bin Laden and officials say in the past terror organizations have plotted attacks during the holidays because of large crowds and the opportunity for mass killings.

CHO: "Occupy Wall Street" organizers are planning a Thanksgiving feast for thousands of protesters at New York's Zuccotti Park. Turkey day meals with all the trimmings will be prepared at a nearby kitchen space and served later this afternoon.

COSTELLO: In Egypt, an uneasy calm this morning in Cairo's Tahrir Square after nearly a week of violent and deadly crashes with protesters demanding the country's military rulers step down.

Egypt's Supreme Ruling Council is now apologizing for the loss of life. In the meantime, three American college students arrested for taking part in the demonstrations will be held for several more days.

CHO: New this morning, a deadly plane crash east of Phoenix to tell you about. Six people were killed last night, three of them children. Their small plane slammed into Arizona's famed Superstition Mountains. Rescue crews reached the wreckage. Officials say the plane appears to have disintegrated.

COSTELLO: A string of attacks by a so-called Amish hair cutting mob in Ohio. Seven members of breakaway group were arrested for allegedly shaving the beards and cutting the hair off other Amish men.

Officials say the sect leader claims he was being mistreated in the community and he wanted to send a message to the other Amish. The Amish believe the bible instructs women to let their hair grow long hair and men grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.

CHO: Believe it or not, this is not holiday traffic. Look at that. More than 100 cars literally stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike covered in sticky black tar. A tanker truck dropped the stuff over a nearly 40-mile stretch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN PHILLIES, MOTORIST: I thought we were going over rocks in the road, but then I saw these cars pulled off to the side and it ended up being tar on everybody's tires.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHO: Workers covered the goo with sand to make it dry faster.

COSTELLO: That is insane. That would ruin your day.

CHO: Yes, it might.

COSTELLO: It's all about food, family and football today, a very special Thanksgiving Day matchup. San Francisco 49ers will battle it out on the gridiron with his older brother, the Baltimore Ravens coach.

This is the first time in NFL history that two brothers face off as head coaches. Both teams are pretty darn good so it should be a pretty darn good game.

CHO: That's pretty amazing.

COSTELLO: As will Detroit Lions versus the Green Bay Packers. That comes on first.

CHO: I'm not the football expert. But this is the first time in history two coaches who are brothers, but there are the manning brothers who are both quarterbacks, right?

COSTELLO: Yes, but they have nothing to do with today. You can watch the Lions today and tell me everything that happens because I'll be testing you.

CHO: Fine. They could end up next to mashed potatoes and stuffing, but two turkeys caught the luckiest break ever. This is a time honored tradition.

President Obama pardoned the two birds named Liberty and Peace in this Thanksgiving tradition at the White House. That's Liberty on the table there, little turkey humor there.

Peace was apparently camera shy. With daughters Sasha and Malia at his side, the president issued the executive order at the White House yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: From our family to yours, I want to wish everybody a wonderful and happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

And now since Liberty and Peace have been so patient, it is my privilege to grant them the official pardon. I'm going to -- I've got to give them a little symbol.

All right, what do you think? Are we ready? All right, here we go. All right, are you all right there, Liberty? OK, I like doing this. You are hereby pardoned.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHO: Blessing the turkey as well. The president joked that Liberty and Peace had undergone media training, which included learning how to gobble without really saying anything.

COSTELLO: Well, at least one of those turkeys was well behaved, don't you think?

CHO: Yes, 45 pounds or something like that. It's crazy.

COSTELLO: Well, lucky Liberty and Peace. They are free this morning.

If you just realized your turkey is too big for the oven and don't know what a turkey tent is? We have one of the highly trained Butterball talk line experts in the house to help save you from any Thanksgiving drama you may be having.

CHO: And if you are doing holiday shopping this weekend, get ready to be monitored at the mall. It has something to do with your cell phone. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 11 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Welcome back, everybody. Happy Thanksgiving. You know, it's time to get real about your Thanksgiving meal when Butterball's turkey talk line began 31 years ago. It really was a crack pot team of six Home Ec experts who answered about 11,000 calls.

COSTELLO: Just that you called it Home Ec experts, I haven't heard that term in a long time. Now Butterball has a fleet of 50 people answering calls, e-mails and tweets on Thanksgiving.

This is Carol Miller. Thank you for coming in. Is it 1,000 people per hour, per two hours on Thanksgiving Day? Is it more?

CAROL MILLER, BUTTERBALL HOME EC EXPERT: When you're taking the calls, it seems like, birthday you can go. You know, we have a staff -- a staff of 50 and we'll probably take 10,000 to 12,000 calls. Some of them are short and some of them are very long.

CHO: What period, 10,000 or 12,000 over a couple of days?

MILLER: Today.

CHO: Just today?

MILLER: Today.

CHO: Oh, my gosh. Wow.

COSTELLO: We're not the only ones clueless when it comes to cooking.

CHO: Exactly. Let's just say cooking is not our forte. All right, Carol. So, let's get to it. You know, if you're waking up this morning and your turkey is still in the freezer, is it too late to start?

MILLER: It is not too late.

CHO: To start now.

MILLER: Yes. Butterball has been making it better for all of these years trying to get the turkey to the table for people. If it's a little frozen this morning, there's some ice crystal in it, you can run it under the cool water. That's OK. Those will loosen them up.

If you can do knock, knock jokes on it, you need to -- if possible and if you're eating later today, you can get it in a bath of cold water, turn it up side down and let it sit in there and that will thaw it out. Sometimes you have to have pumpkin pie first.

COSTELLO: So how long do you have to sit it in the water? I know poundage makes a difference here.

MILLER: It does. It does. It's like 30 minutes in the cold water for every pound of turkey.

COSTELLO: Oh, that's why the pie comes in.

MILLER: Yes, it does. So if you have a 20-pound turkey, you know, it's about 10 hours.

CHO: We have -- we actually have a viewer question about thawing from Mary Lou on Facebook. How will I know if the turkey is completely thawed and when do I start cooking it after it's been thawed?

MILLER: OK. When you open it this morning and you -- there's no ice cubes -- crystals in it, you know, it's thawed. At that point you're ready to, you know, pat it dry and get it ready for the oven.

Actually people who thaw it in the (INAUDIBLE) and in the refrigerator, sometimes they're concerned they let it thaw too long. They actually -- you have four days after it's completely thawed so relax. It's fine.

COSTELLO: Does it really matter if it's a little frozen? Can you just put it in the oven if it's just a little frozen?

MILLER: You can. It is. And it probably will just take a little longer, you know, a little longer. If it's very frozen, it can be, you know, an hour or two.

COSTELLO: OK. That makes me feel better about life.

CHO: All right. So stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. Already had some this morning. So when you're talking about stuffing the turkey, is it better to put it inside the turkey or put it around? You know, sometimes my mom does both, actually. MILLER: It seems to be a family tradition. Guidelines for stuffing is that you want to put it in right before you put it in the turkey. You know, you don't want to make it the night before and put it in there. You want to do it right before you put it in the oven.

You also want to make sure that you do have a meat thermometer because you don't want to take the turkey out of the oven until the temperature is 165 in the center of the stuffing. Or even if you put it in a bowl or around the turkey, you should still take the temperature.

COSTELLO: So where do you stick the thermometer?

MILLER: You know, that's a good question. The method that we use is just the shallow open pan on a rack like this turkey here. And if you have an oven safe meat thermometer, that confuses people, too. But the oven safe one usually has a big dial like that. If you have a small dial, don't put it in the turkey when you put it in the oven because it will melt.

COSTELLO: Oh, that would be bad.

MILLER: Those are designed --

CHO: Good to know.

MILLER: Yes, right. Then you wouldn't have a thermometer.

This is the thigh and that's the last thing that cooks on the turkey. There's what I call a little ledge there. If you pop it if in there, you'll hit the bone. And when you hit the bone, that's the thigh bone, angle it towards this way because you're aiming for that big muscle in there.

COSTELLO: Look at the leanest stuff (ph) it has.

MILLER: And when you put it in this way, you can monitor it. But when you use the instant read, the ones you don't put in the oven, you have to slide it out, take the temperature and --

CHO: This is so great. It makes it dummy proof almost.

MILLER: It does. It really does.

COSTELLO: Almost.

CHO: Although if something can go wrong in the kitchen, it will go wrong with me.

COSTELLO: You know, I -- I have to say that the one year I did attempt to cook a turkey, I forgot to take the stuff like the neck and --

CHO: Oh.

COSTELLO: That was so wrong. MILLER: You know what, that's one of the calls that we get today. We -- I counted them one day after Thanksgiving. We got 200 calls. "I've ruined my turkey. I put the little -- the bag -- we're carving. I've ruined. Is it OK?" Relax.

COSTELLO: Because I thought it would be -- it would poison the turkey.

MILLER: No, it doesn't. It doesn't harm the turkey. It only embarrasses the cook. Carve and feast, it's OK.

CHO: You know, when are -- you know, you get so many calls. You said 10,000 to 12,000 today alone. People freaking out. What are -- what are some of the most common questions that you get?

MILLER: Well, thawing, how to roast. And today, too, if you want a little help, you can go to butterball.com where there are videos. So you can, you know, watch us go through the whole process. So that's -- that's a good thing if you're, you know, visual.

But really knowing when the turkey is done, using meat thermometer, protecting the breast of the turkey. You know, turkey comes from Mother Nature with white meat and dark meat. The dark meat needs to be a little higher temperature. So if you put foil on it, the heat is reflected. It stops cooking just a little bit and the thigh keeps cooking.

CHO: And when do you put the foil on?

MILLER: About half to two-thirds, after it's brown nicely.

COSTELLO: Because you want that nice brown color.

MILLER: And then you'll have that moist, juicy turkey that's cooked at perfect (INAUDIBLE).

CHO: So we're going to be asking you all morning about your tips. And so do you have any good, you know, one good tip right now that you can share with us as you are waking up and fixing your turkey?

MILLER: Right. Make sure that you have your meat thermometer. If you don't, call a friend. Call a guest. Run down to the local mini mart and get one. It's really important.

CHO: Well, I hope that Williams Sonoma is open today. Maybe I can go get one. All right.

COSTELLO: No, I don't think it will be.

CHO: I don't think so.

COSTELLO: Thank you. You're going to be back in the next hour.

CHO: I know.

COSTELLO: So we're very excited. Thank you so much. Thanks, Carol. Butterball Turkey lady Carol Miller.

CHO: Thank you.

COSTELLO: So if you have questions, you can tweet, right?

CHO: Yes. You can tweet to us @CarolCNN, @AlinaChoCNN. And if you have questions, just send them along to us and we'll try to get them answered later on this morning.

COSTELLO: We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Investors are nursing a holiday hangover. The Dow dropping another 236 points yesterday. The sell-off triggered by a report that Chinese manufacturing has fallen to a 32-month low. Heightening fears that the eurozone debt crisis is spending beyond Europe's borders.

Retailers and shoppers across the country are gearing up for Black Friday. Many stores plan to open at midnight tonight or even earlier. Shoppers have been camping out for nearly a week at one electronic store in Florida that's advertising a 42-inch Sharp TV for $200.

Prepare to be tracked at the mall starting on Black Friday. Two major U.S. malls will monitor every step shoppers take by tracking their cell phone signals. Officials at the malls in Southern California and in Richmond, Virginia, say no personal data will be collected. The idea is to identify shopping patterns.

Rupert Murdoch's son, James, has resigned from the boards of two companies that publish News Corp.'s newspapers. He's come under fire for his handling of the U.K. phone hacking scandal. James Murdoch does remain chairman of News International and deputy chief operating officer of News Corp.

Occupy the NBA. New York basketball fans staged a protest outside of Madison Square Garden. They're calling for full refunds for Knicks and Nets season tickets and demanding an end to the lockout. An upcoming day of solidarity will be announced that will take place at arenas across the country.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back right after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Today we thank our troops overseas and we'll take you to the front lines of Afghanistan where U.S. servicemen and women are celebrating Thanksgiving on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO (on camera): And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on this Thanksgiving Day. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Thirty minutes after the hour. It's time for this morning's top stories.

Egypt's military rulers apologizing for the deaths of protesters during this past week of demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square. At least 35 people have been killed in clashes with military police.

Meanwhile, three American college students suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails during the protests are being held for another four days while prosecutors continue to investigate.

COSTELLO: The FBI and homeland security report there are no credible terror threats facing the United States this holiday season. It's the first holiday season since the death of Osama bin Laden and officials say in the past, terror organizations have plotted attacks during the holidays because of large crowds.

CHO: More than 3 million people are expected to pack New York City streets for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Millions more will watch at home. Fifty balloons will be featured. Some of them you'll recognize like SpongeBob. Others are making their parade debut. Festivities kick off at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

COSTELLO: The big worry here in New York City, Bonnie Schneider, is the wind. Yesterday, there were rumors maybe the balloons weren't going to fly. What's it looking like today?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's looking a lot better. A front went through yesterday and usually behind a front you tend to get strong winds from the northwest.

We will see those northwesterly winds but they will not be as fierce as originally thought which is great news. One thing for those of you still traveling today for Thanksgiving, we have a lot of fog in the South. And that stretches all the way from Dallas to Oklahoma City back out to Arkansas, and even as far east as Kentucky. So, be careful because driving conditions will be tough when you have low visibility like this.

In some spots, visibility is less than a quarter of a mile. And you can see that is well into Tennessee and as I mentioned into areas of Kentucky. So, just be careful out there.

As we look toward the west, it's still pretty early out there. You can see some rain moving into northern California. But it was rainy weather elsewhere that caused us to ask this question, what happens when the fish crosses the road. Let's take a look.

You can see in this video, there's a fish trying to cross a flooded roadway. It's actually doing a pretty good job. Unfortunately, though, we did have some wet roadways. And you may -- I love how, it loops over and over again.

This is in Washington state where there's more rain in the forecast. But be careful those of you driving. Not just a fish in the road of course, but any time there's water covering the roads, you don't know how deep it is and don't attempt to cross the road. I guess it's OK for the fish because they can swim.

We're looking at some rain, as I mentioned, for northern California and overcast conditions for the Pacific Northwest. All of that will impact travel in a big way. Many people are traveling this morning.

Yesterday, of course, was our busy travel day. But today is busy as well.

So, in Boston, we'll look for low clouds, some delays there in the early part of the day. Chicago, Minneapolis, early fog. Detroit and Cleveland, low clouds and some windy weather. And you saw the fog alerts right now in Dallas, that holds true for Memphis as well. The biggest delays will be out west. Seattle, San Francisco, rain and wind could slow you down. And that could be over an hour.

Well, elsewhere across the country, we're looking at sunny and mild conditions later on today. That fog will burn off in Texas and Oklahoma.

High pressure across the Southeast. It's actually going to be a nice mild day with temperatures that will be warming up into the 60s and 70s. A little cooler out west where clouds are.

And I just want to give you the heads-up, Carol and Alina, for tonight because a lot of people are going to the stores tonight at 10:00 or midnight tonight. Temperatures will be mild for those of you that are standing in line waiting to get in.

But I don't think they'll be in line for long, they open so early this year.

CHO: I don't know how you get the energy to do that after eating that big turkey meal.

SCHNEIDER: That's true.

CHO: People are in it for the deals.

All right. Bonnie, thank you so much.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

CHO: An American Thanksgiving in Afghanistan today. Thousands of U.S. troops are getting their fill of turkey and stuffing and reflecting on what they're thankful for. And certainly, we are thankful for them.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spending the holiday with airmen at the Bagram Base in Afghanistan. He joins us now.

Happy thanksgiving, Nick. And good morning to you.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a decade of American war here is still swirling around me on Bagram Air Base. I'm just seeing a medevac helicopter take off to my right.

But Thanksgiving and its celebration provides a few hours and, certainly, several thousand calories worth of relief for many soldiers from the conflict here. We've just been to quite remarkable dinner here that shows the sheer logistics in feeding people on a celebration like this in a war zone. Remarkable amount of beef available to them. (INAUDIBLE) which I've never seen before being cut up for some very grateful soldiers here.

The Pentagon is saying that for today, they have sent around the world 168,000 pounds worth of turkey around the world, nearly 100,000 pounds worth of beef, thousands of pounds worth of stuffing as well. Absolutely a massive celebration here for Americans.

CHO: Nick Paton Walsh from Afghanistan, Bagram Base there, again, happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for joining us.

COSTELLO: Soldiers look so happy, didn't they?

CHO: I know they do. You know, we send over 168,000 pounds of turkey, 37,800 pounds of stuffing. It's incredible.

COSTELLO: They're hungry.

CHO: They are hungry.

COSTELLO: They do a lot of work there.

CHO: They most certainly do.

COSTELLO: A favorite tradition for Thanksgiving tradition in Cincinnati. The annual turkey toss. Several lined up for a chance to win 50 bucks and a turkey trophy, not to mention the trash talking rights.

The game was simple. Whoever knocks down the most pins wins. This year's winner says the secret to his success: do not wear a coat. He said he was so cold and shaking so badly it actually improved his aim.

CHO: Well, there you go.

COSTELLO: Food for thought.

Millions are getting ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, now celebrating its 85th year if you're counting. And there will be new faces floating above the city like a jet pack-wearing monkey.

Our Jason -- it's not Jason Carroll.

Although I'd like to see you wearing a jet pack and flying above the crowds. I bet you would, too.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, was that an insult I heard earlier? I'm going to have to replay the tape to make sure.

Anyway, we're here at the start of the parade. You can see turkey is already in position getting ready for his march. And it's been exciting to be out here this morning you guys simply because we're expecting such great weather that, look, a lot of people have already started to come out and line up. I've already met a few thousand of my few favorite friends here.

This is Joyce. Her daughter is going to be in the parade dressed as an apple. I bet you're excited, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're thrilled to death for her. She worked very hard to become part of the parade and thanks to Macy's in East Brunswick, she was able to get a spot to walk in the parade because it's invitation-only.

CARROLL: An apple in the Big Apple. That's perfect. Thank you, Joyce from Jersey.

So, we have Joyce from Jersey here.

We also have some folks visiting from Brazil. This is their first time coming out to the parade. Say hello to Brazil. And also Atlanta -- a shout-out to Atlanta.

What are you looking forward to? You came out last night trying to see big balloons. But didn't happen, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn't happen. The lines were too long. We were going to wait but they said we wouldn't get there before they closed them down.

CARROLL: So, what are you guys looking forward to seeing out here today? Give me a shout-out, what are you looking for?

CROWD: Balloons.

CARROLL: Yes. But which balloons. There are a lot of balloons. Which one?

CROWD: Smurfs.

CARROLL: OK, Smurfs. That's not bad.

Personally, you guys, I'm looking forward to seeing Snoopy because I'm old school. Have to give it up for Snoopy out here. There are going to be a lot of new balloons here that we're going to be seeing this year.

Tim Burton has got a new balloon. We've got Sonic the Hedgehog. He's coming back as well.

So, a lot of things to look for. This is a great tradition; 50 million people expected to tune in this year. You can see why when you stand out here. Parade starts at 9:00. We'll be here all morning bringing you highlights. Back to you.

COSTELLO: I can't wait.

(CHEERS)

CHO: Jason, we talk about turkey and stuffing being a time honored tradition. This is Alina, by the way. You're friend here in the warm studio. Hey --

CARROLL: I can't hear you guys. Everyone is so loud here.

CHO: All right. Can you hear me now?

CARROLL: I can hear you now.

CHO: All right. You know, we talk about time honored tradition of turkey and stuffing but a time honored tradition is also you covering the parade. How many years have you been doing it?

CARROLL: Gosh, I think it's been, what, like four or five. I've been looking off camera to my producer Adam who's hiding.

(CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: You work so much and you start to lose track of this.

But actually I was walking down the parade and the guy said, you talked to me last year. Or was it you? Did I talk to you last year?

UNIDENTIFIED KID: Yes.

CARROLL: I'm getting old. I don't even remember. What are the chances of that?

COSTELLO: The kid was three last year.

CHO: What are the odds? I'm sure he's telling you the truth.

Jason Carroll, thank you. We'll talk to you later.

Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING: journey of discovery. It's taken one man from New York to Los Angeles -- that man there -- on foot. He's celebrating his impending naturalization as a U.S. citizen and we'll talk to him.

It's 38 minutes after the hour.

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COSTELLO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. And happy Thanksgiving. It's 42 minutes past the hour.

To celebrate his impending U.S. citizenship, our next guest decided to do something of the beaten path, he might say. Constantino Diaz-Duran is on a walk across America to find out what it means to be American. We've been tracking his progress since his journey of discovery began in New York back in July. He's headed all the way to Los Angeles. This morning, he is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Happy Thanksgiving.

CONSTANTINO DIAZ-DURAN, WALKING ACROSS AMERICA: Happy Thanksgiving, Carol. How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. It's so nice to see you again.

So, like I said, you started in New York on July 4th. We've been checking in with you regularly. But for people just meeting you today, tell everyone again why you're doing this.

DIAZ-DURAN: All right. So I've been in the U.S. now as a legal permanent resident for 10 years and I'm now eligible for U.S. citizenship. So, I'm doing this primarily to celebrate the fact that I'm becoming a U.S. citizen and then also like you mention, I want to find out what it means to other people to be American. So, I am out to meet people and hear their thoughts.

COSTELLO: You've met so many great people along the way. You've made so many friends. You're actually taking something of a break in Tuscaloosa. You're working and you're even driving. Sounds like you're cheating a little bit, Constantino.

DIAZ-DURAN: Well, I don't know. I don't know if break is the best word to put it. But I've been working. I did put the walk on pause for a few weeks.

I wanted to, you know, get a better sense of life here in the South. Everyone in other parts of the country are always talking about the South as this imaginary place. So, I wanted to, you know, get a real sense of life here. Also I was starting to run low on cash, so I needed to get a job for a while and work a little bit.

So, I got a job in construction and I've been, you know, living here. And while I'm here, I have had to drive. It's hard to get around just on foot.

COSTELLO: I know. That's the sad thing about American cities. Some cities aren't built to walk in which is kind of a sad thing because walking is good for you.

So, you mentioned that you're an immigrant yourself. You went to a rally against the new immigration law there. What are people saying about it?

DIAZ-DURAN: Well, that was really interesting. It was in Birmingham on Monday and there were about 2,000 people there and it's been -- you know, that's also part of the reason why I wanted to stay here in Alabama. I wanted to, you know, really see the effects of this new law and, you know, it was interesting being there.

The main -- what seems to be the main point that people are trying to get across, they want to keep families together. The main chant at the rally was "one family, one Alabama." And one of the problems is, you know, there are parents who were being deported or who might get deported and just get arrested, and they are being separated from their children. So, that seems to be one of the main things that people are concerned about.

COSTELLO: And of course, that law is now being challenged in court. At least, part of it has been thrown out, but as an immigrant yourself, how does it feel to reside for a time in a state with an immigration law like that?

DIAZ-DURAN: You know, it certainly, you know, colors my experience a little bit different. You know, the topic comes up whenever I meet someone. You know, it's what everyone is talking about. Once they hear me, they hear my accent, they realize, you know, I'm Hispanic. The topic always comes up.

I'll say though, personally people have been very nice to me. I haven't really, you know, had any problems. You know, just also being an immigrant myself, I've been able to tap into the immigrant community a little bit more and make friends with other immigrants. I'm getting to really hear their stories much more personal.

COSTELLO: Along those lines, you have been meeting people, hanging out, having some fun. We've got pictures of you enjoying a very southern tradition and that would be tailgating outside an Alabama football game. So, you look like you're having a lot of fun. Are you becoming maybe kind of a southerner?

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DIAZ-DURAN: Well, I don't know. I certainly have gotten into football. And I'm a big, you know, Bamma fan now. So, (INAUDIBLE), but I don't know. I mean, the south really is growing on me. I Miss New York City, you know, that's home. I see myself coming back here quite often.

COSTELLO: Oh, that's awesome. So, Happy Thanksgiving. We're glad you joined us on this Thanksgiving Day and continue to experience America, because all parts of Americ,a you'll find fabulous things and fabulous people as you well know. Constantino Diaz-Duran, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

DIAZ-DURAN: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

COSTELLO: Happy thanksgiving. It's 47 minutes past the hour. Forget the movies. Asteroid attacks are a real threat. Right now, teams of scientists are working on a master plan to avoid a potential Armageddon. We'll hear from some of those who would be/could be heroes coming up. Hint, Ben Affleck is not one of them. We'll be back.

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CHO: Forty-nine minutes past the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.

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CHO: Happy Thanksgiving to the men and women in our military. Definitely thankful for their service. Our troops abroad are celebrating the holiday in a big way. The defense department says it flew in more than 160,000 pounds of turkey to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.

A time honored tradition, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There will be more than 50 balloons floating high above Manhattan including some newbies, Julius the Monkeym and bee, a Tim Burkman creation. The parade begins at 9:00 a.m. eastern time.

Egyptian authorities say three American college students arrested during protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square will be held for another four days. Meanwhile, Egypt's rulers are apologizing for nearly three dozen death protesters in anti-military demonstrations.

Shoppers are gearing up for Black Friday already. Many big retailers plan to open at midnight tonight or even earlier. Customers have been camping out for nearly a week at some stores hoping to snag a deal.

Actress, Sienna Miller, says being hounded by press photographers is terrifying. She testified about British press ethics at a hearing sparked by the "News of the World" phone hacking scandal. "Harry Potter," author, J.K. Rowling is also scheduled to testify.

The NFL is shaping the way it monitors plays during games to spot possible player injuries father. Starting today, the league observer in the press box at every stadium will have phone access to a team's physicians and training stuff. They'll be looking for injuries like concussions often missed at the field level.

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CHO (on-camera): That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.

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COSTELLO: Fifty-three minutes past the hour. Happy Thanksgiving. Welcome back. It's not just in the movies, asteroids, they're a real threat. I'm not kidding. Thousands of space rocks are hovering near earth. If one hits, it could cause a real life Armageddon.

CHO: It's true. Right now, scientists are working on a plan of attack, kind of like the old Atari game. They would move wayward asteroids off course. CNNs John Zarrella spoke with some of these could be heroes. He's live at the Kennedy Space Center. This has been the best week of your life, hasn't it, John?

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CHO: You've been talking about all things space.

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JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It ranks right up there, I got to tell you that's for sure. Alina and Carol, you know, we're at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex and a couple of days from now, just a few miles from here, NASA is going to be sending a rover to Mars to search for evidence of past or even present life.

We got to thinking, while we're doing all this stuff looking for life out there, how about protecting life here from stuff coming at us from out there.

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ZARRELLA (voice-over): A nuclear blast. Humanity never wants to see another one of these on the planet, but off the planet, that's a different story. Rather than destroying life, it could save us from asteroid extinction.

JONTHAN MCDOWELL, ASTROPHYSICIST: If you don't think there are clear danger to us, you're nearest dinosaur.

ZARRELLA: While scientists are making great strides searching for life in the universe, they are also working on ways to prevent massive asteroids from ending life here. Like one did the dinosaurs.

MCDOWELL: Bad things happen to good planets. We know that the earth has been hit by asteroids before. In the long run, I think our species has to learn how to protect the earth in that way.

ZARRELLA: Scientists say there are methods that should work, a nuclear blast knocking the asteroid off its collision course or simply running into it with a spacecraft. To get a better handle on these flying rocks, NASA's first human deep space mission around 2025 is going to an asteroid. Down in the Florida Keys, they're already planning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I chip a rock on an asteroid, it's going off.

ZARRELLA: Astronaut, Mike Gernhardt (ph) is developing tools that astronauts would need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a soil collection device that we cock.

ZARRELLA: And just offshore, an asteroid proving ground of sorts where the tools are tested in the near weightless environment beneath the surface. But don't go losing any sleep over an asteroid impact. New findings show there are fewer of the really big ones. The size of a mountain than was thought, and none will threaten the earth for centuries.

There is a downside. The smaller ones, like the one that flew by earth a couple weeks ago, well, astronomers say they don't know where most of those are, about 15,000 of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We only have found a very small fraction of those objects yet, and they could still cause considerable damage.

ZARRELLA: Like taking out a metropolitan area or an entire state. But scientists are confident. If there's enough lead time, say 10 to 20 years before it would hit, they're pretty sure they'll get the asteroid before it gets us.

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ZARRELLA (on-camera): Now, the scientists out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are working on all different kinds of ideas. One of them they tell us is you simply got to go out there with cans of spray paint. If you can put enough spray paint on the asteroid, you add enough weight to it and that will make the asteroid just kind of slide off the earth and wouldn't hit us. Lots of interesting things.

CHO: You're telling me with all of the science and technology out there, all it takes is a can of spray paint?

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ZARRELLA: Just a few cans.

COSTELLO: Just a few. John Zarrella, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

ZARRELLA: Sure. Happy Thanksgiving.

COSTELLO: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, camping outside your favorite store does not guarantee you the best Black Friday deals. How to bring home the real bargains when this Thanksgiving edition of AMERICAN MORNING continues. It's four minutes until the top of the hour.

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