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Treacherous Roads; Supreme Court Weighs Obamacare Provision; Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Obamacare Case; Pope's Embrace of Man Goes Viral, Changes His Life

Aired November 26, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Heavier in the hours ahead.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Looks like many people in Ohio are set to have a white Thanksgiving. Snow is on the ground and temperatures are staying in the low 30s. Also, check out this traffic backup in Milwaukee. Talk about a commute there. A long, awful commute. You can bet you'll be seeing lots of this sort of stuff as the winter storm keeps moving to the northeast and lots of accidents, unfortunately, as well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get on the highway. The next thing I know, I'm spinning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People just don't realize when they cross those bridges that they've got ice on them. And then when they cross it, they lose it.


HOLMES: And CNN is covering this storm and how it will affect your holiday travel plans like no one else. Our crew is in position right across the country.

GORANI: We have Alina Machado in Atlanta, Martin Savidge at the world's busiest airport, Chad Myers tracking the storm in the CNN Weather Center.

Let's go first to Alina Machado. She's here in Atlanta.

And the south, nothing is freezing yet, but the south is getting soaked, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soaked is a good way of putting it, Hala. It's been raining here in Atlanta all morning along. And this is what the south is going to be seeing today, a lot of rain.

Take a look at the traffic situation behind me. These roads are wet. They're slick. And this is what people are going to be experiencing as you are south. If you head north, you're going to obviously start running into some sleet, some wintry mix and possibly some snow depending on where you are. More than 43 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving holiday. That's according to the AAA. About 90 percent of those people will be driving. They'll be getting in their cars to go somewhere.

So the bottom line is, if you're going to be among those people, you need to be careful. You need to pay attention to the situation and make sure that you give yourself enough time.

Hala and Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Alina, thanks so much.

If you are flying this week, chances are you're going to spend more time at the airport than you might be in the air. There are delays averaging four hours expected at major airports across the country tomorrow.

GORANI: Well, you know, this is easy to give the advice when you're not in that situation, but just embrace it or at least try because there's probably no way around it. But there are ways to make it a little bit less of a hassle. Martin Savidge is at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International, the busiest airport on the planet, with that.

Hi, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala, and, hello, Michael.

Yes, the good news is that we're on concourse d here. There are about a quarter million people that are going to be passing through here today, 1.8 million over the holiday period Monday to Monday and it's pretty good in the terminal. It looks even better here. This is the flight board.

We will point out, there are some delays that are starting to creep into the system, specifically if you're going up that eastern corridor, flights into New York, LaGuardia, and into JFK, they're showing delays about a half hour. Some of the other flights are also delayed, especially the international flights. But right now though, it is phenomenally on time. That's the sign you see. So that's what most passengers want to know.

The good news is, of course, this is such a hub, it impact airports all across the eastern seaboard. So far, it's just a rain event here. Tomorrow, I'm afraid that is a whole different tale, especially for those say airports like, well, Dulles, Charlotte, Reagan, Baltimore, even Atlanta. It will be a different deal. Give yourself lots of time.

HOLMES: Yes, and even if things aren't too bad in Atlanta, it gets impacted by the destination cities as well.

GORANI: Right.

HOLMES: It becomes a domino effect.

Let's bring in the very busy Chad Myers, tracking the storm's every move.

You've been on television for hours. Now, how are things looking? GORANI: Days.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know. I said hello and good-bye to the same guard as I left CNN last night and came in this morning.

It is cold up here to the north. It is warm down to the south. It is the rain event down here that Martin is in. It's also the snow event in Pittsburgh.

How this is going to change in the next couple of days as a low develops right there. It's going to changing this rain/snow line. So where is rain/snow line is here, that line will turn to here. And then to here. And then eventually to here as the low moves to the northeast. So even though you might be seeing all rain in West Virginia right now, that is going to freeze tonight and then you're going to get snow on top of that ice and so you're not going to be able to see the ice that you're going to start to try to drive on. That's part of the issue here.

The other issue is going to be the wind. The wind is going to slow down airports even though Boston, New York, Philadelphia, I repeat, all the way down I-95 will only be wet. The cold will not get to I-95. It's the snow, Buffalo, Rochester, all the way down to Catroga (ph), Shataqua (ph) County. But it's the rain to the southeast of there, heavy rainfall.

You know, I know rain is easier to drive in than snow, but if you still have a million other people trying to drive in the rain, you all have that mist in front of you, be sure your washers are full. That little bottle in your car, make sure you can squirt the windshield if you have to and make sure the wipers are working properly.

But somewhere in between, right where the snow is going to be here and where the rain is going to be here, there's what there's going to be the ice event tonight. And I'm worried about tonight after dark. Most of the roadways are doing OK right now because the sun is out. I know you can't see it, but it's daylight.

When that daylight goes away, those roads will freeze. The bridges freeze first, like that guy was talking about on that little package right there. And so that's when you have to start being very, very careful as soon as the sunsets tonight. The turnpike, the thruway, New York thruway, all the way across I-80, I-95, the Pennsylvania turnpike, all the way back even into Ohio, anything across from 66 west of D.C. into Front Royal is those east to west roads that are going to start to freeze up tonight.

HOLMES: All right, Chad, yes, it's the ice that worries me every time I get behind the wheel in this sort of weather. Yes, Chad Myers, thanks so much. Also Alina Machado, Martin Savidge out there at the airports. Stay warm. Stay dry. Well, Alina, you can forget about that. You're already wet. We'll continue to follow this and check in with you all as the day goes on. GORANI: All right. And now we have this breaking news coming into us. The Supreme Court has agreed to review some provisions of Obamacare, particularly those that repair employees of a certain size to offer health insurance when it comes to birth control and other reproductive health services without a copay. So that is the provision of Obamacare that would be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Mark Preston is in Washington with more on the significance of this.

Mark, what does this mean exactly? What might be decided at the Supreme Court level?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Hala, what we'll find out from the Supreme Court, and we won't hear from them probably till March or April of the next year, is whether this provision can withstand in the Affordable Care Act. And what has happened is, is we had this very large craft store that's based out of Oklahoma City called Hobby Lobby who opposed it.

And they opposed this provision because they do not want to have a to pay for contraception. They don't believe that it is right. They think that it goes against their religious values and they feel like it is being imposed upon them.

And I have to tell you, whenever you are out on the campaign trail, if you're ever out with the social conservatives, this is a very big issue for them. This is one of the main sticking points for them in the Affordable Care Act. Of course they don't like the idea of the mandate, but they certainly don't like the idea of the mandate pushing something that goes right against their beliefs.

So the Supreme Court has said that they will now hear the arguments in this case. Likely to hear them in probably March or April of next year, Hala.

HOLMES: All right, Mark.

Let's bring in our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who's on the phone from New York.

I know you're just getting around this, too. What -- why would the Supreme Court want to buy in on this? They can decide yea or nay on whether they'll even look at it.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, for the very simple reason that courts have disagreed about this case. This issue has been percolating through the lower courts for some time. And several lower courts have reached different conclusions.

Some have said that these companies have to offer insurance that includes birth control. That they are not allowed to sensor their employees in that way. In the way that religious scruples can't get you out of all sorts of requirements. If your religion says you can't pay taxes. If your religion says you can't have fire escapes, you still have to do it.

But other courts have said, this is a core religious belief in these companies and they cannot be expected to subsidize something that is a violation of their religious beliefs. So it's a clear conflict and the Supreme Court will resolve it this year.

GORANI: And, Jeffrey, what are the chances that the -- first of all, if the Supreme Court rules that this particular provision of the Affordable Care Act is -- because it's (INAUDIBLE) to rule on whether something is or isn't constitutional - when -- what happens then with regards to that particular part of Obamacare?

TOOBIN: Well, this is an important case, but I don't want to overstate its importance. The only thing at issue here is whether certain companies, and again the size of the company is at issue here because, you know, the court has never really said that individual corporations have a right to exercise religion. It's a little bit of a paradoxical thought.

How can a company, as opposed to an individual, be religious? If those small companies, where they are controlled by a single, religious individual, doesn't want to subsidize birth control, they may get out of it. But that's really under all circumstances a small group of companies. And those are the only -- those are the only people whose cases really are at issue here.

HOLMES: Jeffrey Toobin, do stick around. We're going to talk more about this, too. We're going to take a short break. We will be right back though. You're watching "AROUND THE WORLD" on CNN.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

We're going to return to this discussion now about the Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments about contraception coverage in the Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. Let's go back to Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, let's say the justices say, you know, strike this down and say that that's right, you don't have to cover things like contraception. A, what precedent does it set? B, if you would like to be covered and all of a sudden you're not, do you then have an argument for, I don't know, discrimination of some sort? Now you're being excluded from that coverage?

TOOBIN: Well, that's the argument. In fact, that's the issue that the court is taking on. Congress has said that when you offer insurance in this country, birth control has to be included as a copay. Women who are at this -- who work for these religiously oriented companies, but private companies, are saying, look, we want the same coverage that everyone else gets. The owners of these companies say we will not subsidize something that's against our religious scruples. That's a clear conflict and that is something that the court has to resolve.

One of the other issues, which I think you alluded to is, sort of how you define these companies. You know, companies are not people.

Can a publicly-held company have religious views? I mean, those are some of the other questions that the court is going to have to resolve in this case. Is it only small companies, bigger companies? It's difficult.

HALA GORANI, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Eric Marrapodi is our Belief Blog co- editor and he joins us, as well, with more on this.

So, Eric, can a company have religious views that impact whether or not it is, under the law, obligated to provide certain services here, companies becoming religious entities in the same way individuals are, Eric?

ERIC MARRAPODI, CNN BELIEF BLOG CO-EDITOR: Right. Let's make a quick distinction here. There are some religious organizations who are and have been exempted from the mandate, houses of worship, churches, temples, synagogues exempted from this portion of the Affordable Care Act.

What's a big issue here, a company like Hobby Lobby, which one of the main names on the suit that the Supreme Court will hear, they're a privately-held company. So the question for Hobby Lobby which has over 500 craft stores across the country here, can the Green family that owns that store, what about their religious liberty? What's the issue for them? They're conservative evangelicals. They think certain forms of birth control constitute an abortion, so for them, they say that's a huge violation of their faith.

And remember, Hobby Lobby was facing a million-dollar-a-day fine, they calculated, based on the fees they would have to pay for not providing the Affordable Care Act insurances that covered those FDA-approved birth control measures.

So that's one of the reasons why this case has moved so quickly. The Supreme Court rejected an earlier temporary injunction against paying that fine and said, hey, go through the lower courts. And as Jeffrey mentioned earlier, this has gone back and forth in lower courts. This is not a publicly-held company, Hobby Lobby. This is a private company with private citizens who have their own private religious views.

The question the court's going to have to answer is, do the company's owners religious views, can they be spread across to those employees. And in this case, you're talking about tens of thousands of employees who work at these craft stores all across the country.

HOLMES: And, Mark Preston, let's talk politics again, if we can.

How political is this debate in Washington? What sort of impact could it have on the act, and, of course, some would say that the court itself may vote on a political way, as well.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Michael, it really is all framed through the lens of politics. We're heading into the midterm elections. We've already seen a statement released by a group that is opposed to Hobby Lobby preventing the payment of this coverage.

You know, we have a woman's rights groups out with a statement on this. We'll see that more and more throughout the day. What you're going to see is that this is going to help fuel, you know, the idea of the social wars heading into the midterm elections at a time when the Republican Party is divided on that in many ways.

You have younger Republicans who don't necessarily want to talk about social issues. You have older Republican who really want to dig in and kind of stand their ground on issues like this.

So what you're going to see is that this is certainly going to be framed through the lens of politics. And you're also going to see groups raising lots of money over this.

I can guarantee you this right now. There are e-mails being drafted, if they're not already written, and they are about to be -- hit -- sent, and they're going to be going out to people all across the country, whether you are for reproductive rights or against reproductive rights. So it is all about politics on this.

HOLMES: A thorny, thorny issue.

Want to thank you, Mark Preston, also, Jeffrey Toobin on the phone, Eric Marrapodi, for that conversation.

We'll be talking more about this, and I think we're going to talk with you Eric, about something completely different in a little while.

GORANI: All right, now, remember this, the image of the pope comforting a disfigured man?

CNN caught up with that man to find out how life has been since this moment, and a candid conversation with him, as well, that you won't want to miss.

HOLMES: Incredible story.


GORANI: Pope Francis is a different kind of pope and one can argue he's changed many hearts and minds. And one of his latest acts caught on camera is actually changing a man's life.

Francis, known as "The People's Pope," took a moment to embrace a man with a genetic disease that has left him covered with growths, swellings and itchy sores. This image has gone viral.

Our Ben Wedeman is in northern Italy where he caught up with the man who's became famous around the world.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After four hours of work, Vinicio Riva is done. Five days a week, he does odd jobs at a home for the elderly in Vicenza in northern Italy.

By the way, did you notice something? Yes, 53-year-old Vinicio suffers from a hereditary genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 1. His body's almost covered from head to toe with growths, swellings and sores.

His mother had the same condition, as does his sister. He's had it since the age of 15.

His appearance often terrifies strangers. Vinicio recalls trying to take a seat on a bus, but being told by the passenger next to him to sit somewhere else.

"I wanted to answer back, but I controlled myself," he says. "I felt my blood pressure rise. I wanted to leave the bus, but I had a doctor's appointment. There were lots of people on the bus, but no one said a word."

Not all strangers, however, react like that. Earlier this month, Vinicio went with his Aunt Caterina to St. Peter's Square where Pope Francis approached him and without a moment's hesitation kissed and hugged him. "When he embraced me", he recalls, "I quivered. I felt a great warmth."

Aunt Caterina was struck by the pope's very down to earth manner.

"I looked down at his shoes. They were like this," she says. "I thought, yes, this is someone who really walks. And he was someone who, if he weren't wearing that clothing, you wouldn't even know he's the pope."

Since then, Vinicio has returned to his daily routines. He continues to work and root for his favorite soccer team Juventus, but something has changed.

The pope's simple embrace was a symbol to millions that underneath Vinicio's tortured surface is a fellow human being. "I feel stronger and happier", he tells me. "I feel I can move ahead because the Lord is protecting me."

However, he still has some unfinished business with Pope Francis. "I hope he calls me so we can have a face-to-face meeting," says Vinicio. I have many things to tell him.

What do you want to tell him? I ask.

"That's a bit private", he replies. "It's between him and I".

He returns home from work on his bike, his dignity far more apparent than his illness.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Vicenza, Italy.


HOLMES: Well, as Hala said, is he called "The People's Pope: and with good reason, many will say.

He's also, today, pronounced some major changes. Will the Catholic Church follow Pope Francis's lead?

We'll tell you what those changes are when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Live pictures now of New York and Atlanta. Also, the map there, you can see the South is getting soaked at the moment, the north bracing for the nasty winter storm that's headed that way.

GORANI: And here are the numbers. You might be one of them.