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Winter Storm Slams Holiday Travelers; Pope Puts Out Vision for Church; Caroline Kennedy Criticizes China Defense Perimeter; Gap Praised for Response to Racist Graffiti; Iran and Turkey Call for Syrian Cease-fire; Amanda Knox Retrial Winding Down

Aired November 27, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MALVEAUX: Live pictures from some of the country's major airports and interstates. As you can imagine, the roads are pretty slick. We are dealing with ice, as well as freezing rain.

HOLMES: Oh, my goodness me. I hate that ice. That's the worst stuff.

AAA says about 40 million of you are going to be driving to your Thanksgiving destinations, if you haven't left already. Plus, for more than 3 million others who are going by plane, we are starting to see more and more of those things that we feared, flight delays and cancellations.

MALVEAUX: CNN crews are in position across the country, all those folks out there, covering this storm like nobody else. And you got to stay throughout the day to watch. We've got constant updates from where they are headed, where they're going next. Right now you're going to hear from George Howell. He's in upstate New York. Alina Machado, she is at the world's busiest airport. Jennifer Gray tracking the storm in the CNN Severe Weather Center as well.

HOLMES: Yes, OK, George, let's kick it off with you. Clearly going to be a white Thanksgiving for folks in the Buffalo area. What are conditions like? Are they getting worse? Are they holding steady?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, Suzanne, good afternoon.

So yes, the situation now, we do expect lake-effect snow showers later today. That's a possibility. Overnight, we got about three to four inches. So if you talk to any Buffalo resident, they're used to that sort of thing. In fact, many of them are happy to see, you know, the snow back on the ground. They like that sort of thing. But the concern is for people who are traveling, millions of people on the roads this Wednesday trying to get in position, trying to get in place for Thanksgiving.

And the big concern is on the roads as things get slick and icy. For instance, here in Buffalo right now, I want to go to this other camera that we have set up where you can see travelers here on this road. The road is clear. The plows have done their job. But we are below freezing. And where things may have gotten above freezing and gone back below, you can find icy spots. So drivers have to watch out for that as they travel from place to place. Also, there were some power outages, guys. We know that many of those power outages have been restored and now we're just waiting to see if we get more of the lake effect showers.

MALVEAUX: All right, George, thanks. Try to stay warm there.

Let's go to Alina Machado. She's at Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International Airport.

This is the busiest one in the world. Alina, I was just there earlier this morning, coming in from Baltimore. Just got under the radar. We were talking about, there was a lot of rain, but it hadn't really frozen at that point. What are you watching there? Are you seeing -- is it getting worse?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, things here, Suzanne, are actually looking pretty good. I know earlier today we did have some sleet falling. Crews did spend some time de-icing planes in the morning. But things right now seem to be better.

You can see it is busy. This is concourse d and there's plenty of people trying to make their flights. These departure boards are looking pretty good. There's a lot of on time departures. We are starting to see some delays creeping up. There's some delays on flights going to New Jersey and also up here, if you pan up there, you can see Philadelphia flights are also delayed.

But, overall, things look great here at the airport and no widespread cancellation or delays to report on.

Suzanne. Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, the weather's a little bit better here in Atlanta because it's the destinations that are the issue. Alina, you must be happy. Yesterday you were in the rain. Now it's George.

And there is more nasty weather on the way. So let's have a look at where it is headed. For that we're going to turn to meteorologist Jennifer Gray. She's at CNN's Weather Center in New York.

All right, tell us where it's going.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, this is basically a rainmaker right now. Still seeing a little bit of snow in some interior sections, but most of the East Coast, all up and down the East Coast, is just a lot of rain. And it is still coming down. And we'll continue to see that rain throughout the day and then in the overnight hours for tonight.

Some of the snow totals we've seen, up to 10 inches in some locations and could see an additional three to eight inches in places like upstate New York and then two to four inches of rain across a large portion of the northeast. So the rain will still continue for another day or so.

But by Thanksgiving, this should all be pushing out, which is good news. We are going to see better conditions as we get into the Thanksgiving during the day. We'll see the sunshine come back out. And so that is going to mean better weather for the Macy's Parade and all of you travelers who maybe have to travel on Thanksgiving Day. It looks like most of the rain will be pushing out of the way.

After this passes, the rain may be out of the way but we'll still be worried about those winds. We are seeing winds possibly peaking at about 32-mile-per-hour gusts for tomorrow with sustained winds about 20 miles per hour. And as we know, that is right on the cusp of whether these balloons will fly or not. So it looks like it's going to be a game day decision for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

MALVEAUX: All right. Keep Snoopy floating there.

HOLMES: You love that.

MALVEAUX: We like that.

HOLMES: You love that.

MALVEAUX: I did. That was hilarious. It was great.

Jennifer Gray, thank you very much, reporting from the Weather Center in New York, along with George Howell in Hamburg, New York, Alina Machado at the busiest airport in the world. And again, you know, this morning it just - it wasn't that bad. People were calm.


MALVEAUX: But it was really early in the morning in Atlanta. It's OK, though.

HOLMES: Yes, down here it's cold.


HOLMES: As we say in my country, cold as a mother-in-law's kiss it was this morning.

MALVEAUX: Oh, that's cold.

HOLMES: It - yes, no disrespect to mother-in-laws.

Now, speaking of the busiest airport in the world, something like 95 million passengers a year. Go across to You're going to see, of course, the latest weather there. Plus, what it is like behind the scenes as the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport right here in Atlanta. It's a fascinating look.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, for the latest weather updates, stick with CNN. Just take a look at the bottom of the screen there. That's where you're going to find weather conditions for temperatures and cities across the country. We're going to be following this as people are figuring out how much time does it take to get home, to their families, their loved ones. You know --

HOLMES: Yes. For once I'm glad to be working on Thanksgiving. I don't want to be out there and --

MALVEAUX: You're going to stay put. I'm taking off again tomorrow.

HOLMES: I'm staying put. You are. You're out again.

MALVEAUX: I have the day off.

HOLMES: All right, coming up, the Thanksgiving travel frenzy, as we said, in full swing. CNN, well, we tried to have a little bit of fun with it.

MALVEAUX: So what we're doing here, we've got reporters who are racing from New York to D.C. to see who gets home first. One is traveling by car, another by plane, the third by train. We're going to check in with each one of them this hour.

HOLMES: And, of course, the pope has been laying down the law, as we reported here yesterday, calling for the church to get out of its comfort zone. But will the world's 1.5 billion Catholics follow his lead?

MALVEAUX: Plus, Jon Bon Jovi has two high profile backup singers. Check it out. Pretty high profile, I would say. Taylor Swift, Prince William, a charity royal rock out coming up. (INAUDIBLE)


HOLMES: A tragic accident today at one of the upcoming World Cup venues in Brazil. Three people were killed when a falling crane struck a stadium under construction. You see the pictures there that we've been getting from Sao Paulo. Authorities say the crane caused part of the roof to collapse. Now, what we're talking about here is a $355 million arena. It's called Corinthians. It's scheduled to host the opener of the 2014 World Cup soccer games next summer. Still a lot of concern about whether all those venues are on schedule to be ready.

MALVEAUX: And Pope Francis making his first appearance since laying out his vision for the Catholic church. Now it's 85 pages long. It speaks volumes about the new pope and his priorities, as well.

HOLMES: Yes, the fateful greeted him today at St. Peter's Square for the papal blessing, the audience that takes place every week. Now, Ben Wedeman says the people seem pleased with the pope's ideas. He's calling for changes in the church starting at the Vatican and addressing things like commercialism, capitalism, how much power the Vatican should have.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, how the church should avoid the comfort zone. Francis writes, "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security." Here's how some Catholics are reacting to it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that he's a little moral flexible and not so closed off to new ideas does make me more interested in getting closer to the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I used to listen to the pope, I just changed the channel or anything. But now I really want to listen to what he has to say.


HOLMES: Let's talk about all of this with CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen.

Always good to talk to you, John. Breaking it down for us, making doctrine make sense. But doctrine is not what he is talking about. This is a man who's put out well let's call it a pep talk, a mission statement, whatever you like, but he's really connecting with the disaffected, isn't he?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Oh, absolute right, Michael. I mean, listen, the technical term for this document is an apostolic exhortation, which is a kind of genre the Vatican uses to gather the results of a meeting of bishops called a synod. In this case, a synod on the new evangelization last year.

I've been covering the Vatican, Suzanne and Michael, for the better part of 20 years. I've seen a lot of apostolic exhortations come and go. I will tell you that this is the only one that I could name that really has captured the imagination of the world. In a piece I did yesterday for my paper, "The National Catholic Reporter," I called this Francis' "I have a dream" speech because he opens with a dream.

He says his dream is of a church that is more missionary, focused on reaching out rather than collapsing in on itself, and more merciful, that is less focused on what he calls rules that make us harsh judges and more on expressing compassion and tolerance, especially for the poor. And as you say, my Ben's piece indicates, my read of the catholic grass-roots is that this is resonating all around the world.

MALVEAUX: Yes, and, you know, as a catholic myself, I mean this really is - really gotten a lot of attention and it's captured my attention, as well, because you've got a pope here who's talking about things we've never heard before.

I mean, he is saying, look, he's taking on the free market. He says trickle-down economics doesn't work. That the poor is still poor, the wealthy are getting wealthier. How does this translate? I mean, how -- will people - will he push for people to change their behavior? We've certainly seen the pope behaving differently than the previous ones.

ALLEN: Well, I mean, first of all, to be fair, we have heard this kind of thing from popes before. I mean there's a long tradition of catholic social teaching that reaches back in some ways to Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century.

But I think what's new about Francis is that he's taking this fairly traditional catholic teaching about the need for -- to make sure the free market serves the interests of people rather than the other way around. And he's phrasing it in a way, both in terms of his own personal lifestyle and also his language that really is sort of forcing the world to take note.

Now, where does it all go? Look, I mean, any one figure, up to and including a pope, has a relatively limited ability to shape the dynamics of a globalized economy. But at a bare minimum, I think he is making it clear that the Catholic Church wants to stand four square on the side of the poor. And I think that message in and of itself, backed up as it is by his own personal credibility, is something that a lot of people have been longing to hear.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Well, John, he's certainly the first person - first pope to talk about trickle-down economics as something very specific. But what about the role of women, I mean, because he still does not believe that women should be priests?

ALLEN: No, but beyond that, what he has said is that he wants what he calls a more incisive female presence in meaningful roles inside the church. So to give you a concrete example, I mean, it is entirely possible that Francis, for example, might choose to appoint a woman to be in charge of Vatican finances, or to be the spokesperson for the Vatican. That is the most visible figure in the church, in some ways, after the pope himself.

These are not roles that require a sacramental ordination. In other words, they don't have to be held by priests. And I think, if he does that, in highly visible ways, that certainly sets the tone for leadership by women at the church at other levels, in dioceses and parishes all around the world. I think that's what he has in mind.

HOLMES: John, always good to have you on. Words that resonate with the flock, but not touching on doctrine, not yet, anyway.

John Allen, thanks for being with us.

MALVEAUX: Wouldn't that be cool?

HOLMES: It would be very cool.

MALVEAUX : A lot of changes happening.

HOLMES: Absolutely.

All right, now, going to move onto the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, criticizing China's move to set up a defense perimeter, an aerial one, in the East China Sea.


CAROLINE KENNEDY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN: We hope to see a more collaborative and less confrontational future in the Pacific.

Unilateral actions like those taken by China with their announcement of an East China Sea air defense identification zone undermines security and constitute an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. This only serves to increase tensions in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Over the weekend, Beijing warned it would take what it called defensive emergency measures against aircraft that failed to identify themselves entering this self-imposed zone.

MALVEAUX: It covers a chain of islands which have long claimed by both China and Japan. So the U.S. responded, saying this is not going to be acceptable to them, by flying two unarmed military planes into that air space, that very disputed air space, on Monday.

HOLMES: And Japan, too, flying commercial aircraft through there, as well, so nobody's taking much notice of it at the moment. But nobody wants a misunderstanding. It's a delicate situation, that's for sure.

MALVEAUX: Also, Gap releasing a new ad featuring a Sikh model, it went viral after it got hit with racist vandalism. And you don't want to miss how the company, Gap, responded.


MALVEAUX: So Gap is actually being praised for how it responded to a racist attack. This is on one of its holiday ads. This is what the ad looked like before it was vandalized. It features a Sikh American actor wearing a turban along with a female model.

Now, it was seen and Sunday it was posted in New York City subway's system. The caption reads, "Make love," followed by the Gap logo.

HOLMES: And there's the "after" shot and you can see what the vandal did to it, the person changing the caption, "Make love," to, "Make bombs," and right under that, someone else it appears also wrote, "Please stop driving taxis."

Now the senior editor at posted it to his Twitter account. What happened was Gap moved really quickly, responded, thanked him for flagging it.

MALVEAUX: And then to show solidarity for diversity inclusion, the company, Gap, changed its Twitter background to the picture of the original ad.

So I want to bring in Arsalan Iftikhar to talk about -- he's the founder of

And so you post this, the vandalized version, on your Twitter account after seeing it on Facebook, and then it goes viral. Explain why this was important to you to post it in the first place.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR, FOUNDER, THEMUSLIMGUY.COM: Well, Suzanne, you know, first of all, my first job in high school was at the Gap, and so I've always been interested in their advertising campaigns.

And, so, one of my Facebook friends, a photographer named Robert Gerhardt in New York City, took this photograph in the Bronx at a subway station by his house, and I saw the racist graffiti, saying, "Make bombs," you know, alluding to the Taliban, and, "Please don't drive taxis." And I thought, Well, this sucks. And so I wanted to share it with my 40,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.

And Gap responded immediately, directly to me. I've been in contact with Gap corporate. And the response from them has been remarkable, especially changing their Twitter background photo to the Sikh model. And you know it, really shows they are dedicated to inclusion and diversity. And this is just a perfect example of how special media and the Internet can be used for good things, as well.

HOLMES: I suppose like most racist acts, this was ignorant, as well, I mean, sort of trying to relate the Taliban with somebody who is a Sikh, clearly not the same. I mean, what is -- this was one incident, too. Don't want to make it too out of control here.

But what does that indicate to you, especially in a city where I think a third of the population is from somewhere else?

IFTIKHAR: Yeah, you know, Michael, I think it's important to keep in mind that this also speaks to our traditional American notions of what is considered beautiful. You know, I want to live in an America where a brown, bearded man wearing a turban is considered as beautiful as you know, a blonde-haired white woman in lingerie might be.

And so I think that this sort of goes to what we as Americans consider to be beautiful, and you know, in a multicultural, diverse country like the United States, I applaud the Gap for including more multicultural, more brown models in their advertising. I hope many more companies will take that route, as well.

MALVEAUX: And Arsalan, how have people responded to you and that fact that you've put this up on social media? Have you gotten people who are ignorant like those who put on the vandalism, the graffiti or has it been mostly positive?

IFTIKHAR: You know, Suzanne, the response has been overwhelming. To be honest, I could not even imagine this would become international news. But Gap and myself, we've received tens of thousands of messages on Twitter and Facebook, thanking us for pointing this out, showing solidarity with the Sikh model whose name is Waris Ahluwalia, who is actually an actor and a fashion designer. He's been in movies with Luke and Owen Wilson.

It really has been a wonderful, wonderful outpouring of support for the Gap and for the social media campaign. And I truly hope that will -- whenever people see any sort of racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic statements made anywhere on social media, that they'll share it with their friends to let people know what's going on out there so that we can make America a better place for all people.

HOLMES: Yeah, noble aims, hopefully successful, too.

Want to thank you, Arsalan Iftikhar, founder of

IFTIKHAR: My pleasure. Thank you. MALVEAUX: The governments of Iran and Turkey are calling for a cease- fire in Syria before the international peace talks begin in Geneva. That is happening next year. At issue is how to end the country's civil war which began back in March of 2011.

HOLMES: Yeah, more than 100,000 dead people so far in that conflict, a majority of them, innocent civilians. Now, Syria's foreign ministry says it is going to send a delegation to the talks. It is still unclear which opposition groups, if any, will take part.

The opposition outside the country says it will go along, but the Free Syrian Army, the guys who are doing the fighting on the ground, well, they don't support the Syrian representatives outside of the country, so they say they're not going to go.

The spokesman for the FSA says that the international community has not lived up to previous promises, such as aid delivery, prisoner releases from al-Assad's jail. They don't see the point. They're not going to go. So even if some sort of by-miracle resolution happens at those Geneva II talks, the guys on the ground doing the fighting say they're not buying into this.

MALVEAUX: Not going to happen.

And now to Rome, the Italian senate, it has now expelled former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament. That is effective immediately. Now, that is because of his tax fraud conviction. Berlusconi was sentenced in august to four years in prison, but his punishment was commuted to a year of community service. Well, he was banned from holding public office, as well for two years.

HOLMES: Stunning. Many, many years that man has not been in parliament.

Amanda Knox's retrial, winding down, this in Florence, Italy. She, of course, he American woman accused of killing her British roommate back in 2007, Meredith Kercher, when they were exchange students.

MALVEAUX: Prosecutors demanded a 30-year prison sentence for Knox in their closing arguments. The defense attorneys are going to sum up their case. That's going to happen in December, with a ruling that is expected in January.

Now, Knox has been living in the United States since her original conviction was overturned. That was back in 2011.

HOLMES: Her family attorney says there is a chance the Italian government could request her extradition if she is convicted this time around.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, we're keeping you posted on the weather, your Thanksgiving travel, as a nasty winter storm trying to mess things up for a lot of travelers there.

Two live reports straight ahead on what you can expect if you are flying or driving. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)