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Police Storm LAX after "Prank" Call; Snow, Ice & Flooding Hits much of U.S.; Kerry in Geneva for Iran Nuclear Talks; Interview With Reps. Gregory Meeks And Marsha Blackburn; Obama Approval Ratings Hit New Low; Rolling Stone: Manson Denies Wedding Rumor; Jameis Winston's Accuser: "This Was Rape"; NFL Suspends Ref For Abusive Language; Bulls Star Derrick Rose Injures Right Knee; A-Rod's Lawyers May Release Evidence; Dow Hits 16,000 Milestone; Mortgage Rates Take A Big Fall; Former Hooter's Waitress Now A CEO; Remembering Dallas Officer J.D. Tippit; Four Arrested For Playing "Knockout" Game; U.S. Troops In Afghanistan Past 2014?

Aired November 23, 2013 - 11:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The CNN NEWSROOM begins right now. It's the 11:00 Eastern hour. And this is what we're watching.

Police officers storm Los Angeles International Airport, guns drawn and passengers hit the ground. Hear what triggered this scare this time.

And the U.S. and Iran could be getting closer to reaching a historic nuclear agreement. All the big players are meeting right now in Geneva -- a live report just moments away.

And there are new developments in the rape investigation involving a Heisman trophy hopeful and a fellow student. The results of DNA tests -- coming up.


WHITFIELD: We begin with two frightening incidents at Los Angeles International Airport. And they happened almost simultaneously. One at Terminal 4, the other at Terminal 5. Terminal 4, an apparent crank call to police last night causing this chaotic scene. Authorities say it all began when the caller reported a gunman at the airport, and that prompted this response from police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone on the ground. Everybody get down.


WHITFIELD: Police evacuated the terminal, but then, they didn't find anything suspicious and they gave the all-clear. Almost at the same time at Terminal 5, an SUV crashed, triggering a panicked reaction from passengers inside there.

Paul Vercammen is live for us now at LAX. So Paul, no connection to these two incidents, but nonetheless, a lot of nerves frayed.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fredricka. Back to normal this morning, but last night, absolute panic here at LAX. What happened? This driver of what was a minivan collided with some parked cars, some other cars, and hit a parking structure here. Someone mistook the sounds of the collision for gunfire. And as you also pointed out, there is what police are terming, they think was a prank call to another terminal, saying there was a man with a gun inside.

Well, police came rushing into both terminals, guns drawn, and basically you can imagine the passengers here absolutely scared out of their minds, as this went on. Let's take a listen.


SUE RUTTER, PASSENGER: The first I knew was when I was in the ladies' restroom and a security guard told us to come and hide in the babies' room, because there was lots of yelling and screaming outside.

LESLEA WOLF, PASSENGER: I was in the security line and they all of a sudden, the security people were shouting, andale, andale and get -- move, just get, get, and everybody just went running.


VERCAMMEN: This was exactly three weeks after the fatal shooting of a TSA officer here, which caused so many problems. So yesterday, last evening 4,600 people were impacted with flight delays or landings. Then you had the ripple effect, the roads in and around LAX absolutely jammed. Many people worried and fearing that here we go all over again.

But in the end, it turned out to be nothing but a false alarm. That driver of the minivan that crashed said to be in good condition at a local hospital -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Well, we're glad that it wasn't anything more serious than that and everyone's all right, and travel has resumed.

Thanks so much, Paul Vercammen.

All of this taking place at the height of what will be holiday travel. Many Americans are already starting to get a jumpstart and they're facing a whole lot of weather challenges while on the road. Parts of Oklahoma and Texas are getting hit this weekend by freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Take a look at the conditions there. The southwest, also dealing with rough weather and just take a look at the flooding on this road -- this is Phoenix, Arizona. And all of this -- rain, snow, ice -- all of it moving east.

Karen Maginnis is keeping a close watch on the system from the CNN Weather Center. All right, so it's nasty and it's about to get nastier, just in time for Thanksgiving. How convenient.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Exactly. And the timing on this is going to be critical, but we'll take you across the south central U.S. right now. Here's Amarillo, here is Lubbock. Lubbock is reporting some light freezing precipitation.

So it's already started across West Texas. Into the panhandle, you could see two to four inches of snow. Dallas, we're looking at an icing situation taking place here. This looks to be where it is going to gather some strength. So we'll watch that. We've got live picture out of our tower cam in Dallas. Take a look at this. Low clouds, reduced visibility, and you know what?

We're checking on the flights coming up for tomorrow. Maybe cancellations, maybe delays. Yes, I think that that certainly may happen with the effects of what will be some icing, possibility of sleet or maybe some freezing rain.

Into the Great Lakes, we've got lake-effect snows, blowing wind moving across the warmer or relatively warmer waters of the Great Lakes, producing that lake-effect snow. And for New York City, temperatures -- well, maybe in the 40s for today but Sunday and into Monday, only in the 30s. So areas of low pressure across the southwest, produce the flooding rainfalls around Phoenix. It could be one of the wettest Novembers on record.

And then a secondary area of low pressure is going to develop across the Gulf Coast, so we've got cold air moving to the south. We've got the moisture coming up from the south, or cold air coming from the north, and you know what, Fred? That could spell a little bit of icing. So just in time for travelers, but right now, in Fargo, the current temperature is one.

WHITFIELD: Ooh. That's brutal.

MAGINNIS: That's not wind chill. It is.

WHITFIELD: Oh that hurts ok. I know the folks are accustomed to that, but my interpretation is, that's painful. All right, Karen, thanks so much. We'll check back with you.

All right in the meantime, let's talk about what's taking place overseas. Talks on Iran's nuclear program appear to be moving closer to a deal. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran's foreign minister for an hour today after arriving in Switzerland early this morning. Matthew Chance is live for us right now in Geneva. So Matthew, what is going on right now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very interesting. I certainly think that these negotiations are coming to some kind of resolution at the moment. John Kerry, your Secretary of State, is in a meeting with all the other foreign ministers from the world powers, with the exception of Iran, to discuss what the Iranian negotiating position is.

They're talking about that intensely. Obviously, to see whether there's any kind of way they can bridge the narrow gaps, as they've been described to us and that still exist between the two positions. All in an attempt, of course, to try to build an agreement, an interim agreement that would ensure that Iran would not build a nuclear weapon. Now, what we've also heard and it's been announced by the State Department now, is that on tomorrow, on November 24th, John Kerry will go to London. So that means that his travel plans have been set. He's going to be meeting the British Foreign Secretary William Hague there. They're going to be discussing Iran, they're going to be discussing Libya, they're going to be discussing the Middle East peace process.

But it means that if there is going to be a deal, that deal is going to come, you know, within the next 12 hours or so. And so, we're sort of bracing ourselves for a marathon -- potentially marathon negotiating session of all those parties sitting down at the table over the course of this evening.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still lots of hope there in the next 12 hours. Thanks so much, Matthew Chance. We'll check back with you there in Geneva.

All right and later this hour, there is a new game being played on the streets across the country. Some are calling it a game, but police are calling it a crime. We'll tell you why the knockout game, the so- called knockout game, is no child's play.

And next, the President's challenges are adding up. I'll tell you what -- what that has done to his approval rating these days.


WHITFIELD: President Obama has been facing some pretty big challenges in the past few months and it is starting to catch up with him with voters. His next challenge may be what to do about his dipping approval ratings.

Our Paul Steinhauser explains.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, Fred. From cancelled health care plans to the disastrous start-up of, Obamacare is taking a toll right now on President Barack Obama's poll numbers. And the President admits that these are self-inflicted wounds.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There've been times where I thought we were -- kind of you know slapped around a little bit unjustly. This one's deserved.


STEINHAUSER: Mr. Obama's approval rating, one of the best indicators of a president's standing with the public and clout right here in Washington, stands at 41 percent in our new CNN/ORC poll. That's Mr. Obama's lowest approval rating ever in CNN polling.

The President's approval rating has now reached or tied all-time lows in six national surveys released over the past three weeks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the American people are losing confidence in this administration.


STEINHAUSER: The rocky rollout is also giving new hope to Republicans whose own poll numbers were down in the dumps following the partial federal government shutdown. The Democrats' advantage over the GOP in the 2014 generic ballot, which asked whether you'd vote for a Democrat or a Republican in your congressional district in the midterm elections, has disappeared in recent Quinnipiac University and Fox News polls.


OBAMA: There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the ACA smoothly has put a burden on Democrats.


STEINHAUSER: But remember, people change their minds and polls can quickly turn around and the midterm elections are still a year away -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Paul.

So what does the President need to do to get his approval ratings back up? I'm joined now by Representative Gregory Meeks, he's a Democratic -- a Democrat, rather, from New York; and by Representative Marsha Blackburn, she is a Republican from Tennessee. Thanks to both of you for joining us.


WHITFIELD: So Representative Meeks, let me begin with you. You know, the President, is he doing enough to deal with the health care Web site? We know that the start-up was a real debacle. There is a deadline looming. Is this in large part why we see his approval ratings dipping?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Well, it's clear that as the President has indicated we've had a bad rollout. And the best thing for the President to do is to just stay focused, because we know that the marketplace is going to open up and once it does, individuals will then see and be able to look at what the Affordable Care Act really is.

And then, the conversation will go back, also, to what the Affordable Care Act is presenting to individuals, even now. Those who no longer can be locked out because of pre-existing disease and those young people who under 26 can stay on their parents' health care, those who can now have preventive medicine that they never -- preventive care that they've never had before. So you know, it was a rocky rollout. Mistakes were made. The President has acknowledged that. And the thing that you do and the last thing that was indicated was polls go up, polls go down, polls go up, there's plenty of time. When American people start to get the health care that they need and realize for the first time that there's access to affordable health care like never before, then the polls will go back up.

So there's no need in panicking here.

WHITFIELD: So Representative Blackburn, you think it's that simple or that it's just a matter of time before the American people who have been disappointed in, say, the rollout, for example, that things will look up and it will reflect as the case for the President's approval rating?

BLACKBURN: Right. Well, what we're finding out is the rollout is just the tip of the iceberg or you know, that's kind of the first wave of problems, if you will, Fredricka.

And what we now are seeing as the cost, the escalation and the sticker shock of the cost of health insurance is prevalent across the country coast-to-coast. What we also were seeing, individuals are losing their existing health insurance. They cannot keep their plans.

Secondly, they're not able to keep physicians and health care networks that they have established. Third, the cuts that are taking place within the Medicare community. And this is individuals who have basically prepaid for this. Government has been taking that money out of their paycheck all of their working lives, if you will.

And it is a series of problems. And as Mr. Chow from CMS told us this week in a hearing in our committee, you've got 30 percent to 40 percent of that Web site system that has not been developed. This infrastructure, the backbone of the marketplace, if you will, that will accommodate the insurance payments from individuals to the company will accommodate the insurance payments from the insurance company to the providers.

And this is why so many individuals on both sides of the aisle are now saying, you have to call a time-out. You have to suspend this because the problems grow every single day.

WHITFIELD: This has been a week where the nation has reflected on past presidents with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, and the President and the first lady, Michelle Obama, actually sat down with Barbara Walters for an interview. And one of the things that the President talked about was the legacy of John F. Kennedy. Let's listen to that.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: JFK, in particular, I think, captured the idealism, the ability to imagine and remake America to meet its ideals in a way that we haven't seen before or since. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: There have been a lot of historians that made comparisons between Obama and JFK. They're both youthful, both very affable, likable, you know beautiful wives, kids in the White House. Representative Meeks, in what way do you see the legacy of President Obama either shaping up or has it already shaped up, or do you still see that there is time for him to cement his legacy?

MEEKS: Well, I think the camera of history is going to record President Obama in a very good light. When you think about the tough times of JFK dealing with the Cuban missile crises, and the beginning of the Cold War, with Russia, and what was taking place and the racial tensions that were in our nation at that particular time, and President Kennedy was just starting to step up to the plate just a few months before his unfortunate assassination, talking about race relations.

He stood up to the big challenges even though they may not have been popular at the time. So he took some credibility hits with those that were anti-civil rights at the time.

President Obama has done the same thing. When you think about the financial crisis that he's had to get us through as a country, and we're starting to get back on the right feet -- on the right footing. When you think about the, you know, the overall economy, you think about Syria and some of the wars that he inherited, and Afghanistan, Iraq, and how he's guided us out of that.

History is going to record him in a -- in a good light. And overall, when this is done, history is going to show that he is the President that made affordable care, good health care, good for all Americans, similarly as to a place back then when we finally passed Medicaid and Medicare. So I think history's going to serve him well.

WHITFIELD: Representative Blackburn, how do you see his legacy being cemented?

BLACKBURN: You know, I think that what you're going to have always as a footnote or maybe an asterisk even for the Obama administration is going to be weak leadership, fumbling, not able to figure out how to effectively lead, whether it is working with Congress or working with our allies.

There's an article in the "Wall Street Journal" today where you have one of the Saudi Arabian princes talking about the lack of leadership and the reduction of standing of the U.S. around the globe. And people want to see strong, solid focus, leadership.

And I think that's one of the things that JFK did well. He was for lower taxes. He wanted to make certain that people ask, what can you as an individual do to strengthen your country? That concept, Fredricka, of giving back more than you take, that was an imperative and an underpinning in that administration.

And I think that's a thing that people would like to see President Obama bring to the table during this last part of his administration, to bring forward that strong decisive leadership. And what we have had is a series of fumbles that say there is a weakness and an indecisiveness there to strengthen the country as a whole for the good of the nation.

WHITFIELD: All right, Representative Blackburn and Representative Meeks, when we come back, we're going to find out what your thoughts are about the nuclear option in the Senate exercise this week, and whether this could already make difficult relations between the parties even worse.



SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: So this is not just about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about doing what is right for this institution to evolve and remain responsive to the needs our country has, and we've not been doing that.


WHITFIELD: That was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He's defending the Democrats' move to make the approval of White House nominees a simple majority in the Senate, which effectively curbs the Republicans' ability to filibuster.

Representative Marsha Blackburn back with us -- let me get you in on this. The Republicans have been filibustering nominees for months. The President even saying it's taken his nominees twice as long to be confirmed, and he said not because your party opposed the candidate on credentials necessarily, but because they oppose the larger policies.

The "Washington Post" today reporting that the White House is looking to maximize the change, perhaps getting 240 judicial and executive nominees through. So, Representative Blackburn, is the White House overly optimistic?

BLACKBURN: I think the White House is overly optimistic, and I think that this is a power play that is absolutely going to backfire on Harry Reid and on the President. This is to set aside 225 years of precedent, to look at the way and the manner in which the Senate has been the greatest deliberative body in the world.

And now, in order for convenience and to avoid having a discussion with the American people, and their elected representatives, they declare the nuclear option. And why -- because deliberation is too much work? Because it takes too much time? You know, I think that this is so incredibly unfortunate --

WHITFIELD: Well, let me get Congressman Meeks to respond to that. Is what she's saying the case -- that it takes too much time; that no one wants to do the work? Or is there something more to it? We heard the President's words, what his point of view on this was. But how do you respond to what she said? MEEKS: Look, it's obvious that the -- what the Republicans were doing, as Senator McConnell had said from day one when the President was inaugurated, that he's trying to block, and he will have the senate minority block anything and everything that the President does. It is clear, in the history of our nation, over 230-some-odd years, when a filibuster had been utilized to block over -- almost half of that has been done in five and a half year, just with President Obama which means that they're not blocking his individuals because they're not qualified or because they're not good folks. They're blocking them because they don't want the President to get his people in place.

You know, votes and elections have consequences. The American people elected President Obama the President of the United States by overwhelming majority.


WHITFIELD: How do you see the road ahead now? Do you think that this nuclear option will now open the way that the next three years of getting business done on Capitol Hill, at least in the Senate, as it pertains to these nominees will be different?

MEEKS: Well, I think they will still be -- there will be hearings, there will be questions of those who are nominated, they will be looking at the individuals' qualifications, all of those things will still take place, except there will be votes now that would be based upon the merits of the individual, and not based upon the politics of one party just trying to block the President's appointees.

WHITFIELD: Representative Gregory Meeks, Representative Marcia Blackburn, thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate it --

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: -- this Saturday and of course, Have a great holiday as we enter the holiday week.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely, you, too.

MEEKS: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.

All right. He's a Heisman Trophy hopeful with a rape allegation hovering over him. Florida's Jameis Winston takes to the field as his accuser releases a new statement.


WHITFIELD: Is Charles Manson really getting married? A 25-year-old woman who Manson called "Star" tells "Rolling Stone" magazine that she and Manson are getting hitched. For the 79-year-old convicted killer says the wedding rumors are quote, "garbage." Manson has spent the last 44 years behind bars for masterminding a grisly 1969 killing spree. A prosecutor says Manson will likely die in prison.

Twenty seven Baltimore Correctional officers are facing federal charges for allegedly helping to pedal drugs, cell phones, and sex in the city's jail. The officers took bribes, smuggled in contraband and traded sex for money. That's according to an indictment. One gang member allegedly impregnated four guards. One of whom reportedly had his name tattooed on her wrist.

All right, in just a few hours, a Florida State University takes on Idaho, and if all eyes weren't already on FSU star quarterback, Jameis Winston, today he'll be under a microscope as he faces allegations of raping a student. Our Nick Valencia has more on this story and what the alleged victim's family is saying now.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jameis Winston arguably the most talked-about college quarterback in the nation, some of it for all the wrong reasons. The 19-year-old has been linked to an allegation of sexual assault that occurred nearly a year ago. The allegation has damaged the Heisman hopeful's reputation and turned the life of the alleged victim upside down.

Her attorney told CNN, quote, "She was in classes at FSU. Exams were coming up. She had to leave school and come back home because of this." Winston's lawyer says his client did not sexually assault the woman, but he does acknowledge having consensual sex with her, and the lawyer confirms that Winston's DNA was found on her clothing.

TOM JANSEN, ATTORNEY FOR WINSTON: Where it infers, you have DNA, so he must have done something wrong, or our defense is shifting. I would tell you from day one, December of 2012, our defense has not changed whatsoever. This DNA result had no effect on it. It had no effect on the testimony of eyewitnesses that were there.

VALENCIA: But the victim's attorney completely denies the quarterback's claims. In a statement, she wrote, quote, "To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape." The case began in December 2012 when the woman reported she had been sexually assaulted. A month later, she accused Winston of the alleged rape. But about two months later, police say, she changed her mind.

TOM COHEN, INTERIM POLICE CHIEF: In February 2013, the case was classified as open, but inactive when the victim in the case broke off contact with TPD, and her attorney indicated she did not want to move forward at that time. Let me iterate to you the case was never closed.

VALENCIA: In a statement from the family of the alleged victim, an attorney met with police. The family says, quote, "Detective Angelo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she'll be raked over the coals and her life made miserable.

Detective Angelo has not returned CNN's requests for comment, but the Tallahassee police deny wrongdoing. The investigation grew more curious this week. Tallahassee's police chief at the time of the alleged incident tells CNN he was never told by his detectives there was a sexual assault investigation against Winston while he was chief.

He told CNN, quote, "I'd like to know why it didn't make it to me." Jones said athletes are never given preferential treatment by police. Florida State University told CNN it cannot comment on an open investigation.


WHITFIELD: And Nick Valencia is joining me now from Tallahassee. So Jameis Winston is playing today, but in what way are these allegations interrupting his game play?

VALENCIA: Well, Fred, it appears to have had very little effect on his play. There have been a couple of games that the Seminoles have played since this alleged incident came to light. They're still undefeated. Jameis Winston is here to be in very good spirits during the games, and also for intents and purposes, the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, though some sports fans say because of the controversy, it may have cost him the Heisman, even if he is innocent -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Nick Valencia, thank you so much from Tallahassee. Keep us posted throughout the day.

All right and this, an NFL referee is benched this weekend after using profanity aimed at player during a game. Joe Carter break it is down in today's "Bleacher Report."

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The NFL has suspended Roy Ellison for one game without pay for using derogatory language toward as player in a game, and that player is Trent Williams, an offensive tackle for Washington. Basically, Williams, the player, said that Ellison, the ref, called him a, quote, "garbage expletive" among other things.

Now, a referee cannot use any language that directly or indirectly insults a player. The job of the ref is basically to restore order and keep things calm. Now, the referees' union believes this is an unfair suspension, unfair penalty, so they'll appeal on the grounds that this creates a double-standard for on-field conduct.

Trending on, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose hurt his knee again. This time, it's his right knee, you'll see in the video. It's a noncontact injury. He actually gets hurt making a sharp cut on the court. Now, Rose went to the locker room after this and did not return to the game last night. And this scene is painfully familiar. Rose sat out all of last season because he tore his ACL in the other knee. The team says he'll have an MRI on his right knee today.

Alex Rodriguez's lawyers may take his steroid case all the way to federal court. Earlier this week, A-Rod walked out of his arbitration hearing in disgust. Now, there's a possibility his lawyers are going to release their evidence in favor of A-Rod to the public during a press conference. A-Rod's lawyers reportedly vow that no matter how the arbitrator rules, they're preparing to fight this all the way to federal court.

Now, coming up, Fredricka, in the 3:00 p.m. hour, we'll get into the latest A-Rod drama when we speak to Lenny Davis, the attorney for A- Rod's legal and media team.

WHITFIELD: All right, we look forward to that. Thanks so much, Joe.

All right, also, later this hour, no one is laughing at the new game teens are playing on the streets. It involves sucker punching unsuspected victims, and police are calling it a possible hate crime.

Also, next, she started out as a waitress at Hooters, and now she's a powerful CEO. We'll tell you how Kat Cole did it.


WHITFIELD: All right, it was a busy week on Wall Street. Alison Kosik explains why a new record high on the Dow actually has some people concerned.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPENDENT: Hi, Fredricka. A new milestone on Wall Street, Dow, 16,000, the blue chips hit the mark for the first time ever during Monday's trade and Thursday it finally closed there. But some worry a bubble may be forming because economic growth is weak and unemployment is high.

Janet Yellin is one step closer to becoming the first female head of the Federal Reserve. The Senate Banking Committee voted Thursday to move her nomination forward. It now goes to a full senate vote. If confirmed, Yellin would replace Ben Bernanke in January.

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to landmark $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department. It's the government's biggest settlement with a single company. JPMorgan is accused of selling risky mortgage investments, but marketing them as safe. Those investments later failed, and contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

Mortgage rates took a big fall. A 30-year fixed rate loan is 4.22 percent down from 4.35 percent. Rates had risen for much of the year, but things turned around this past week because of concerns about the weak economy.

Fredricka, that's a wrap of the week on Wall Street.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Alison.

All right, if you ever doubted America could still be the land of opportunity, this next story just might change your mind. Kat Cole started working as a waitress at "Hooters," well, now runs one of the best-known food chains in the country. Zain Asher has the story.


KAT COLE, PRESIDENT, CINNABON: This is where the food science happens.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kat Cole knows a thing or two by rising. It wasn't long ago she was the one carrying the tray. Cole started her career at age 17 waiting tables at a "Hooters" in Florida. Now, she's traded Buffalo wings for the board room, as president of Cinnabon.

COLE: Everybody had a first job. Not everyone worked at "Hooters" as a first job, but a lot of people were waitresses. Mine was a little unique. So it makes it is a little more fun to talk about.

ASHER: Cole runs a $1 billion franchise empire, one that employs 12,000 people. But she says that first job as a "Hooters" server gave her a taste of what she had to do to succeed.

COLE: If they don't have a great experience, you won't have a good income. It's pretty simple. All I did was apply the same habits that I built as a waitress.

ASHER: Cole soon went from taking orders to giving them, with management sending her to open new "Hooters" restaurants all over the world.

COBY BROOKS, FORMER HOOTERS CEO: I had few people in the executive ranks that I could count on, and she was certainly on top of the list.

ASHER: She quit college to work full time. By age 26, "Hooters" had named her a vice president.

COLE: If you have someone willing to drop out of school because they have a passion, that's probably an indication of a fire in the belly, and an understanding of what their purpose is.

ASHER: At 30, she applied for her MBA, getting a letter of recommendation from the founder of CNN, Ted Turner, whom she'd met at a non-profit.

COLE: I appreciate all of the help that I got.

ASHER: But Cole didn't have much help growing up. At one point, her mother, newly divorced, could only afford to spend $10 a week on food.

COLE: I didn't want to be defined by where I came from. I wanted to be different.

ASHER: One challenge Cole faces is with the contents of Cinnabon's treats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am I doing it right, though?

COLE: There you go.

ASHER: Its classic role contains 880 calories.

COLE: I think there is a market for really healthy, healthy, high- nutrient products and that's not what we do. You know, we provide indulgent moments, sweet moments.

ASHER: And her rapid rise from Hooters to the corner office is certainly one of those. Zain Asher, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: All right, I know everybody's hungry now.

All right, take a look at this. This, to some people, is considered a prank, but it's certainly gone too far. People suddenly sucker- punched and it is called a knockout game. And now, four suspects have been arrested. We'll tell you what has police so worried after the break.

But first, this week, the nation mourned the slaying of President John F. Kennedy, but there was another victim in Dallas on November 22nd, 50 years ago. A 39-year-old Dallas police officer killed by the man who shot John F. Kennedy. We remember him in today's "American Journey.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360" (voice-over): As the bells rang out in Dealey Plaza to commemorate John Kennedy, an 85-year-old great grandmother watched and listened and more than anyone in that audience she must have felt a double heartache. The nation lost a president, she had lost a husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Dallas policeman a short while ago was shot and killed while chasing a suspect.

COOPER: Marie Tippit was at home that day. She remembered her husband coming home for a quick lunch before heading back to his patrol car. As she told NBC News it was suddenly a hectic day.

MARIE TIPPIT, J.D. TIPPIT'S WIDOW: They had called him and told him a description of the person that they was looking for.

COOPER: That person was Lee Harvey Oswald. J.D. Tippit drove to the neighborhood in Dallas. He pulled over the intersection of 10th and Paton and stopped a man walking along the street, but as Tippit got out of his patrol car, Lee Harvey Oswald fire three times from a .38- caliber revolver. He shot Tippit a fourth time as the officer lay on the ground. J.D. Tippit died instantly.

TIPPIT: I just couldn't believe it. It was unreal.

COOPER: Marie Tippit was in agony as they buried her husband. She had three children to raise and a pension of $232 a month from the Dallas police. Donations from a grateful public ultimately added to almost $650,000. Today there is a memorial plaque at the corner of 10th and Paton in honor of J.D. Tippit, but it took almost half a century to make it happen. It was dedicated only last year.

She told the "Dallas Morning News" quote, "I'm proud we have it. It will be a good thing for history to remember what happened here." Anderson Cooper, CNN.



WHITFIELD: Four people have been arrested in New York for allegedly playing the knockout game. The game might seem like a prank, but it is real and very dangerous, and it involves sucker punching unsuspecting victims. WPIX reporter, Arthur Chin, has details.


ARTHUR CHIN, WPIX REPORTER (voice-over): As sick a game as it is, police are investigating yet another case, possibly inspired by what's called knockout. A 24-year-old Jewish man was the latest victim passing this Deli on 18th Avenue on his way home. He overheard four men discussing the game and then one of them stepped up to him, and tried to punch him.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: When you highlight an incident or type of criminal activity, some people will simply try to copy it. So, you know, it's a phenomena that we've seen before.

CHIN: The victim was able to get away, police shortly arrested all four suspects, unlike other cases, showing the stunning depravity of knockout, surveillance camera we checked did not have an angle here, but the community gets the picture and they're worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if we allow this kind of behavior to continue, we're going to have chaos because the idea to attack someone for no reason on the streets of New York City is something that's outrageous.

CHIN: The suspects, male Latinos between 28 and 38 years old according to a source are being questioned by hate crimes unit. Seven attacks in recent weeks have focused on Jewish victims, one a 78-year- old woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one city and no one should do that based on skin color and nationality. We denounce that.


WHITFIELD: The NYPD is asking anyone who has been a victim of this so-called knockout game to come forward with information.

We're going to have so much more on this very scary trend tomorrow in the newsroom. First, let's bring in the legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Some want to qualify these attacks as hate crimes. Do they qualify, Richard?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, they do, Fred. This is ignorant, stupid, cowardly punks. This is not a game. This is a crime spree. They have to throw the book at these people. I charge top charge attempted murder every time. This is horrific behavior. WHITFIELD: Avery?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, yes, it could wind up where someone is killed. Hate crimes are based on targeting. These kinds of knockout crimes are based on randomness. I think it is time for legislature to add a specification to include it. I think it is standard assault and battery, that's it, until the law is changed.

WHITFIELD: All right, Avery, Richard, thanks so much. We will see you again next hour to explain how Spike Lee might be connected to the troubling story of George Zimmerman. That and more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: U.S. officials object to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's desire to delay implementing a security proposal extending U.S. troop presence there. A tribal council must sign off on the deal that Karzai and American diplomats reached earlier this week. Here is CNN's Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER (voice-over): Secretary of State John Kerry announced the deal that could leave thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for years to come.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no combat role for United States forces and the bilateral security agreement is an effort to try to clarify for Afghans and for United States military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that on-going relationship.

LABOTT: The draft agreement is now before an Afghan Council of Tribal Leaders, until they approve it, it is far from a done deal. To get their buy in, President Karzai wants a letter of assurances from the White House including a pledge U.S. troops won't enter Afghan homes unless American soldiers' lives are at stake.

Past raids have killed innocent Afghans and fuelled anger among the population, Karzai says the U.S. should acknowledge these past mistakes. Is that tantamount for apologies for U.S. actions in the 12 year war?

KERRY: I don't know where that term apology started. Let me be clear, President Karzai didn't ask for apology, there was no discussion of an apology.

LABOTT: It all boils down to semantics. U.S. officials in the past offered some form of apology for civilian deaths, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and General John Allen who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Even the draft agreement expresses regret for afghan suffering and the loss of innocent lives. Language one of President Obama's top advisers repeated Wednesday.

BEN RHODES, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have, of course, throughout the war always indicated regret when there are instances of civilian casualties, but I think the Afghan people understand the great sacrifices Americans have made on behalf of their security.


WHITFIELD: Much more ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM. It all begins now.