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Reveling in Black Thursday; Pecan Prices Soar; Pope May Travel to Israel Next Year; Amateur Video Shows Mortar Attack Near Syrian Children; CBC News Reports Canada Allowed U.S. to Spy on G-8, G-20 Summits; Russians Furious Over Louis Vuitton Ad in Red Square; "To Heaven and Back"; Driverless Cars Tested in the U.K

Aired November 28, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: All right. It seems like Thanksgiving has morphed from a feeding frenzy into a shopping frenzy in a lot of places. As we know, more and more stores throwing open their doors and offering huge Black Friday deals a day early.

But a new poll shows most Americans won't be shopping today. It also found that only 16 percent of people approve of stores being open on Thanksgiving at all.

CNN's Kyung Lah is at Kmart in Burbank, California, open since 6:00 a.m. Pacific time?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hard to believe, but I know it because I was here, yes, 6:00 a.m., 50 people lined up outside. Things have calmed down, looking much like a normal shopping day here.

But what makes all of this significant is that, remember, check your calendar. It is Thanksgiving, the Black Friday frenzy spilling into the holiday.


LAH: The shoving, the screaming --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (inaudible)!

LAH: -- the swearing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll stab one of you (inaudible)!

LAH: Let the fists fly.

Retailers call it the super bowl of shopping or Black Friday, but scenes like these that flood the Internet give the bargain battle a black eye.

This ugly clash at a Los Angeles Walmart two years ago was captured by Juan Castro.

JUAN CASTRO, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: All of the people went in there and they just started destroying the boxes.

LAH: All this for marked down Xbox games.

CASTRO: People were fighting, trying to get deals. And that's when some lady grabbed pepper spray and just started going at it.


LAH: Was that moment a turning point for Walmart?

RACHEL WALL, WALMART SPOKESWOMAN: Certainly. I think we could do a better job at managing crowds and helping customers get into the store, find the item they're looking for, and get out. So I think we learned a lot.

LAH: Walmart says this time it's a calmer Black Friday, orderly lines through the store. Shoppers will get wrist bands and rain check tickets of sale items that run out.

But what won't change are the surprise deals through the store.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty seconds and all of the people go crazy.

LAH: So predictably while this dad brought his dad to this Walmart to witness the mayhem, firsthand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's something about Black Friday. Your integrity?

LAH: These Chicago-area cousins don't care about the mayhem. In fact, they thrive on it every year, using shopping apps and meticulous planning to save on toys for their young kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What, eight hours of shopping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it was all night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, eight hours or so.

LAH: Seriously, all night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was worth it.

LAH: Kwasniak (ph) spent $960, half of her budget, saving a thousand dollars on gifts, enough to make her want to dance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So yeah, the jig had to happen, and I would do it again if I got a deal like that.

LAH: Not a laughing matter to Victoria Caruso, who's seen enough of the fighting --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and you, any time you want (inaudible).

LAH: -- and doesn't want any of it, even if it's literally a pillow fight. VICTORIA CARUSO, ONLINE SHOPPER: I think they're crazy. To them it's a sport. Lacrosse is a sport. Black Friday is not a sport.

LAH: She shops all online. Sure, she gives up on some of the deals, but savors her serenity.

CARUSO: The savings aren't worth the bail money.

LAH: After capturing the Walmart wildness, Juan Castro avoids the retailer on black Friday, but still can't resist a short outing.

CASTRO: Just get a bulletproof vest and make sure -- maybe some football gear would do me good.

LAH: That may be good advice, because for shoppers like these, it's game on.


LAH: So why on earth would a retailer be open on Thanksgiving? It's because people are actually buying.

Even though it isn't like the aisles are jam-packed full of people, there are still people here.

Michael, Hala?

HOLMES: When shoppers attack, we hopefully won't see anything like that. Kyung Lah, thanks so much. Be safe out there.


HALA GORANI, CNN CO-ANCHOR: You couldn't pay me, basically.

If there's no pecan pie at Thanksgiving dinner blame it on the rain, pigs, and China. Record rainfall hurt the crop in the south. Industry experts say it could drop by 35 percent. Those heavy rains made harvesting difficult as well, and feral pigs went wild on nuts that fell from the trees. And then there's China, whose love affair with the pecan continues to grow. About a third of American pecans are exported to China.

This two-story high Louis Vuitton suitcase was sent packing from Russia's Red Square. Why? People thought the ad was an eyesore. We'll explain ahead on "AROUND THE WORLD".


GORANI: We're learning that Pope Francis will be visiting Israel next year. It's his first trip to the Jewish state. A source tells CNN the pope will travel there at the end of May, but there's no official confirmation of that yet.

Israeli media have reported that visiting the Holy Land has been Francis' life long dream and he hopes to bring the message of reconciliation. The Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is heading to the Vatican next week for meetings with the pope.

HOLMES: With so much violence in Syria, it takes a certain kind of attack, like one targeting children, to shock the world, and isn't it a shame we have to say that?

The video you're about to see is just that kind of attack. Let's go to neighboring Lebanon, Mohammed Jamjoom with the latest on this Syrian attack.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a chilling amateur video that showcases how accustomed Syrian children have become to the horrors of war.

In this clip, you see several boys and a girl talking about the ghastly violence that they've witnessed. Suddenly, a huge explosion goes off nearby. The kids run and duck for cover. Thankfully, they're OK. Later in the clip, you see one of the boys smiling, seemingly unfazed, as he describes how he learned to best protect himself all on his own.


HOLMES: All right, now to another accusation against the NSA about spying on world leaders, CBC News reports Canada allowed the NSA to spy on the G-8 and G-20 Summits in Ontario back in 2010.

Now, the report cited documents shared by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. They don't mention targets for the spying, but say the operation was closely coordinated with Canada.

GORANI: Some Russians are furious and the Kremlin is trying to contain the uproar and you will not believe why.

It's all over this, a giant designer suitcase. The French fashion house Louis Vuitton thought that the two-story eyesore -- some might not think it's an eyesore -- but it was plunked in the middle of Moscow's Red Square, which was part of the problem for many.

They thought it would be a good way to celebrate its ties to Russia, but the publicity stunt hasn't gone done very well at all.

Phil Black is in the Russian capital.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Russia's most famous, historic, some say, sacred public space. It is Red Square, right next to the Kremlin, the presidential seat of power, right next to the tomb of Lenin, the founding leader of the Soviet Union.

And this is a giant replica of a Louis Vuitton suitcase. Moscow is famous for its love of luxury brands, but this has made people angry. Many believe it's gone too far. Pretty much everyone from the president's office down says it should be sent packing, so it's now being dismantled.


GORANI: Not carry-on luggage size, that's for sure.

She say she's died, and then she says she thinks she went to heaven.

Coming up, you'll hear from one woman who shares her personal experience of surviving death.

Stay with us.


GORANI: Well, construction delays are expected after a deadly crane collapse at one of the soccer World Cup venues in Brazil. It's the last thing that country needed. Two people were killed in Sao Paolo when the crane fell, causing part of the roof to collapse.

Sao Paulo is scheduled to host the opening match at this very stadium in 2014 next summer.

HOLMES: Two CIA officials have been named by a Pakistani political official in connection with a police murder investigation. Now this all stems from a drone strike that killed several people.

CIA director John Brennan was singled out, along with a person identified as a high-ranking agent based in Pakistan. The Pakistani political official wants to put him on a list to prevent him from leaving the country. U.S. authorities have not confirmed the accuracy of these claims.

GORANI: Well, this is the new Egypt, coming down hard on dissent, the new military rulers. More than 20 Islamist females, some just 15 years old, getting anywhere from two to 11 years in prison, you see them there in the cage in the defendant's box.

Their crime, taking part in a protest demanding that the ousted president, Mohammed Morsy, be reinstated. Now, Egypt's military- backed government has been cracking down on demonstrations and enforcing a very stringent anti-protest law.

Officials say it is needed to combat terrorism and make the country stable. Critics say they're just trying to silence critics.

HOLMES: Well, their stories begin tragically but end with an amazing love for life. Coming up this weekend, Anderson Cooper hosts a special report on people who say they died, went to heaven and then lived to share the experience.

GORANI: Well, orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal says she was trapped underwater for more than 15 minutes when she saw the light.

Here's her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARY NEAL, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: I could see the sun on the river bank. I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR. I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were unconscious, so how do you know that all this was happening?

NEAL: I felt my body break free, and I felt my spirit break free and I was greeted by these people or these spirits.

I could be with them and be going down this incredible pathway and simultaneously look back at the river. When I saw my body, I will say that was the first time that I actually thought, well, I guess I am dead, I guess I really did die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the book you write about dancing with them.

Were you celebrating something?

NEAL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What? What were you celebrating? You had just died.

NEAL: It was a great homecoming and I was really surprised by the fact that I had no intention of going back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't want to return?

NEAL: No. And I had all of the reasons to return. I had a great life. I had a great job. I had a great husband. My children are wonderful; and I loved them more than I could ever imagine loving something on Earth.

But the love that I felt for them in comparison to God's love that was absolutely flowing through everything was just pale in comparison. And then at a certain point, one of the people or the spirits told me that it wasn't my time and that I had more work to do on Earth and that I had to go back to my body.


GORANI: Well, all of this raises interesting questions, how do you know it's not a construct, it's not your imagination, what makes her think that this was absolutely real?

And the stories that they tell are extraordinary.

HOLMES: No doubt about that. And you can hear more of them Sunday night, whatever you think, 7:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. It's called "To Heaven and Back," this weekend.

GORANI: All right. That's going to do it for me for this hour. I will see you on CNN International.

But Michael...

HOLMES: You'll be down there, downstairs in a couple of minutes.

GORANI: I will also see you tomorrow.

HOLMES: You will. You will. So let's not miss that on Black Friday.

Still ahead -- I'll be back after the break. I'm not done.

They turn corners, they park, they even speed. We're talking about the driverless car of the future. How you could see them on the street in a few years.



HOLMES: While most of you are enjoying Thanksgiving with the family, some workers in Chicago are on strike. Last night dozens of them turned out to protest Whole Foods' decision to stay open on Thanksgiving, like so many other stores.

Whole Foods says Thanksgiving hours are voluntary and those who do work, well, they get time and a half for doing so.

An Indiana Pizza Hut manager who says he was fired for refusing to open on Thanksgiving and wanted to give the employees the day off has been offered his job back. Tony Rohr is his name. And he says when he refused to open on Thanksgiving he was asked to write a letter of resignation. Pizza Hut's corporate office now says an error in judgment was made. Rohr says he has not yet decided whether to accept the offer to stay on.

And now to this. It is a story you might be thankful you heard right here on "AROUND THE WORLD".

How would you feel speeding down a highway, weaving through traffic in a car you have no control of? Sounds like my daughter driving.

What we're talking about is those driverless cars and the U.K. has just begun testing them along with an interesting vehicle they're calling a pod. CNN's Jim Boulden is in London with the details. Check it out.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Knight had one, a driverless car, though K.I.T.T. had a host of sci-fi gadgets to help Knight fight crime. Thirty years on, and this is more the reality of a driverless vehicle, a two-seater electric pod.

These are expected to be running on designated pathways in the British city of Milton Keynes in coming years. Airports already have similar pods running on designated rails to and from terminals and parking lots, but they aren't running on city streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) you're able to take control.

BOULDEN (voice-over): And what about real cars with no drivers?

Nissan and the University of Oxford already are testing actual driverless electric cars. To allay worries about safety, they've released video showing how cameras and sensors are used to stop the car.

The engineers say their navigation system with an off-the-shelf computer adds less than $8,000 to the price of an auto, all controlled, not from a steering wheel, but from an iPad. Michael Knight may have gotten K.I.T.T. from a mysterious industrialist. Now the British government is offering $120 million to business to test a host of different low-carbon engines, $2.4 million on these driverless pedestrian pods.

Coming soon to the town of Milton Keynes, the government wants 100 of these on pathways by 2017 -- Jim Boulden, CNN, London.


HOLMES: And now we've got some incredible video out of Botswana. A New Zealand photographer strapped his camera on a remote controlled buggy and drove it right into a group of lions in the wild. The lions' curiosity, well, their bit of suspicion and then, yes, that, they attacked and grabbed the camera.

Thankfully it was lion-proof and the images were safely recorded.

Check that out.

Thanks for watching "AROUND THE WORLD". "CNN NEWSROOM" starts right now. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST (voice-over): Right now you can forget Black Friday. The doors are open for shoppers today as retailers try to get a jump on the buying season. Right now some shop owners are defying the corporate call to remain open on the holiday. We'll talk to one woman who says enough is enough.

And right now, U.S. troops overseas are celebrating Thanksgiving. You're looking at soldiers at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, lined up for turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.


SCIUTTO: Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, a very happy Thanksgiving to you and also a very happy Hanukkah. Wolf Blitzer is off.