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Ready, Set, Shop!; Economy Not Looking Up; Will Healthcare.gov Work Tomorrow?; Stand Your Ground Mom Released?

Aired November 29, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Zain Asher is at the Macy's flagship store in New York City.

Zain, how are things going? I know you've seen people with multiple bags. Are they really kind of doing some aggressive shopping today?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS & FINANCE CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) just the quality of the discounts here and I'm also going around talking to shoppers, guys, was it really worth no sleep, could you just not have gone online? They say when you go online, you can't try the item on, I agree that. But, you know, a lot of people are saying you have to be careful because there are aggressive shoppers around retail stores across the country.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ASHER (voice-over): Just hours into the holiday shopping season, kicking off the hunt for bargains is a contact sport.

CROWD: Hey, hey!

ASHER: Many taking advantage of some retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving night, some even foregoing the holiday dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Settle down!

ASHER: Tempers flaring at this Walmart with shoppers clamoring for a bargain on tablets in Virginia. Just hours after its signature parade, Macy's broke out the barricades for hundreds of hungry shoppers starving for a deal at their flagship store in New York City.

Across the country, long lines a welcome site for retailers hoping to cash in on the holidays. Hundreds more lining up outside of a Toys "R" Us, starting at noon, so they wouldn't miss out on must have items on their kids' wish lists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully, they'll get their Skylander and get all their dolls and toys over with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make sure I'm here in the front of the line instead of all the way in the back.

ASHER: Shoppers camped outside of this Best Buy in West Palm Beach, Florida, all in hopes of getting their hands on a 40-inch flat screen TV for only $200. It's big ticket items like these and rock bottom prices on electronics that are feeding the frenzy, police stepping in to end a tug-of-war over a television.

And amid all the chaos, police shot one shoplifter at this Kohl's store in Illinois, sending the thief and two officers to the hospital. Convenient alternative to the mayhem, Cyber Monday, when retailers are set to offer steep discounts online so you can avoid the crushing crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow it down! Only two people can help you!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ASHER: And Macy's saying there are 15,000 people trying to get into Macy's when it opened yesterday Thanksgiving at 8:00. I'm told by executives they're expecting it to get a lot busier around 10:00 a.m. in a couple of hours.

Don, back to you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate that, Zain.

And despite the big shopping frenzy that we're witnessing live here on the air, what do Americans really think about the broader state of the economy? A new CNN/ORC poll shows that the majority has a pretty dismal outlook, 39 percent think economic conditions are actually getting worse.

So here to break it down for us is CNN's global economic analyst and "TIME" assistant managing editor, Rana Foroohar.

OK. Rana, what is -- what does this new poll indicate the fact that people feel things are getting worse?

RANA FOROOHAR, TIME: I think people are still feeling really fragile. We are still in the weakest post-war recovery. We have another two and a half years to go at the current job creation rates to get back to where we were before the financial crisis. So, things are still really fragile.

PEREIRA: To some, this is going to seem like a disconnect. We've seen record highs on the stock market. Yet, if that's the perception, is it just that it takes a while for it to trickle down to our own personal economy in.

FOROOHAR: Well, that's definitely true. But one that's really interesting, is historically when you're in a recovery and the stock market goes up, so does confidence. Those numbers usually tick up together. This time --

LEMON: And housing as well.

FOROOHAR: And housing as well. But this time the stocks are going up but confidence is going down so that's a real market change and I think that's happening is that we're pumping up the stock market, the government is pumping up the stock market via the Fed and the asset buying program that the Federal Reserve has been doing, putting a lot of money into the economy that pumps up stocks.

But remember that stocks are held mainly by the richest quarter of Americans.

LEMON: Right.

FOROOHAR: So the rich are feeling this and you can see that in the consumer sentiment polls, because when they tick it up, it tends to be amongst the affluent.

LEMON: Well, that's sort of -- we were talking earlier and saying it's the two different Americas here.

FOROOHAR: That's right. That's absolutely right. I think it's a great point. Stocks are up, the wealthy are feeling good. Housing are starting to flatten out and even dipping in certain markets --

PEREIRA: But that shutdown rattled so many people.

FOROOHAR: It did. And that's when the confidence numbers started to go down, the shutdown and then also the problems with the rollout of Obamacare, I think that makes people feel worried how government is functioning and that hurt, too.

LEMON: Can I ask a very simple question, I remember during one of the campaigns a simple question, are you better off than you were four years ago?

FOROOHAR: Yes.

LEMON: Are we -- are things better or are they getting worse?

FOROOHAR: Well, I think they're better that be they were four years ago because four years ago we were really in the midst of crisis still.

LEMON: What I mean, the economy actually improving or is it not?

FOROOHAR: I think that it's flat, that's the problem. You know, our trend growth in this country historically should be about 3 percent a year. We're still in a 2 percent economy. It doesn't feel good for a lot of people.

And here's the thing, too, nobody's gotten a raise in four years, wages have been flat so you can't really have a robust recovery in an economy like ours that has made up 70 percent of consumer spending when no one has gotten a raise.

PEREIRA: Well, speaking of consumer spending, today, Black Friday. How much more important is Black Friday, given the state of our economy and given the sentiment, et cetera, how are those things going to play out in how this turns out today? FOROOHAR: Well, Black Friday is responsible for about 10 percent of retailers' yearly sales. So, it's huge to begin with, big number. I think you can see with folks starting the sales earlier, they are worried. Thanksgiving fell late, so you have fewer shopping days on the run-up to Christmas to begin with. The fact that a lot of retailer started their sales on Thanksgiving Day is quite telling.

You know, companies like Best Buy, Walmart -- Walmart is actually announcing record results already -- so they're trying to really push this sales season and get these results. I think we're going to have an average shopping season this year.

PEREIRA: You think so?

FOROOHAR: I do, I do.

I think that when all of the numbers and it's funny if you look back in the middle of the shopping season you tend to hear everybody say it's been a great weekend. When the results are tallied it's more negative than you think.

LEMON: I really think from this new CNN/ORC poll, I think the big take-away for me and I think for many people is the two different Americas. You have a good job, you're lucky enough to have a portfolio investment and a home, you're doing well.

If you don't have those things, many people don't have the money to invest. You're looking at everyone else going what do you mean it's getting better? Things are not better for me.

FOROOHAR: That's right. And until we get more job creation and wages start to come up that's going to be the story.

PEREIRA: Rana Foroohar, thank you for making it on a Friday --

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

LEMON: So, how are you doing?

FOROOHAR: Wrapped dress today.

LEMON: Dressed appropriately, right?

PEREIRA: That's Rana's secret from your (INAUDIBLE). I love it.

Thank you so much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

Rosa Flores here with other stories happening.

Good morning.

ROSA FLORES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and good morning to you at home.

We are following some breaking news from overnight -- a huge time line explosion near Houstonia, Missouri, rocking the small town about 75 miles from Kansas City, a 30-inch natural gas pipeline exploding outside a compressor station at the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company. The fire is now out and a spokeswoman for that company says there were no injuries. Now, the cause of that blast is still under investigation.

Iran is taking the first step to live up to the landmark nuclear agreement it reached with the west last weekend. Iran's representative with the International Atomic Energy Agency says it will implement the deal by the end of December or early January, and inspectors from the IAEA have been invited to visit a heavy water production plant on December 8th, a reactor under construction is on the same site.

Officials will investigate an air strike in Afghanistan that killed a child and injured two women. The International Security Assistance Forces said the strike did kill its target, an insurgent on a bike, and it regrets any civilian casualties. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemns the strike. He adds he won't sign an already shaky security pact if there are more incidents.

Tensions growing this morning in Asia. China has sent more fighter jets into a disputed area in the East China Sea. Officials call it a defensive measure. Both China and Japan claim that territory belongs to them, and South Korea now says it has flown into that zone. Vice President Joe Biden expected to try and ease those tensions when he visits all three countries next week.

A quick thinking store clerk helped cops catch a crook. Take a look at this, in Miami Gardens on Thanksgiving morning, an armed robber was caught on surveillance video. Police say 22-year-old Johnny Love demanded the clerk hand over cash. He did, and suggested to Love to grab some beer as well. That's when the clerk hit the silent button, what finally did Love in was his clumsiness.

First, he dropped the loot and the gun, we might add. Then, outside, he dropped the beer, gave cops enough time to get there and arrest him. Poor thing.

LEMON: No, I won't talk about the dangers of having a gun, last time someone said, hey, Don, come on, have some fun with that. But --

PEREIRA: I like what Rosa said last hour. She said that he might want to consider a career change.

FLORES: Career change, not a good crook.

LEMON: Music right behind him, right?

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: Rosa, thanks so much.

Let's talk weather. I'm looking forward to the weekend. Lot of people might be traveling.

Let's talk to Jennifer Gray is in for Indra.

LEMON: Help us out, Jennifer.

PEREIRA: Help us out.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we're going to throw you a bone. We've been stuck inside, the weather has been miserable, but we are making a turnaround. We had a lot of rain, a lot of snow during the past week, slowed a lot of you down especially with travel, looks like things are going to really turn around as we head into the weekend. Temperatures right now are chilly. We're seeing temperatures in the 20s and 30s across the Northeast. Up in the north, around the Great Lakes temperatures in the teens, so it is chilly, even in the 30s as far south as New Orleans.

As we look at the East Coast, we're seeing Washington about 43 degrees this afternoon, this is your forecast for today, that's about 8 degrees below normal and most of the east will stay 10 to 15 degrees below normal for today.

As we head into the next couple of days, though, things are going to start to warm up just a tad especially in the South. Looking at the nation, we have high pressure in control across the East, South, the West, it is looking good.

So a lot of sunshine for today, still cold in the Northeast, could see a little bit of lake-effect snow in the North, but no more than about an inch or two and as we head into tomorrow, we still stay sunny in the South, a few showers pulling into the Pacific Northwest, and maybe even South Florida, but could see about an inch or two of lake-effect snow. The entire country -- that's really the most exciting thing going on, no rain, no snow, quiet, which is nice considering what we dealt with a couple of days ago.

PEREIRA: It was a bear.

LEMON: Fingers crossed. Everything is horrible outside. We don't want to change anything. Thanks, Jennifer.

PEREIRA: We'll take a short break. Coming up next on "NEW DAY", the deadline to fix the Obamacare Web site tomorrow.

Here is the question, will the White House roll out a victory or have to concede defeat? We will ask a former White House tech leader?

LEMON: And the Florida woman who used a controversial stand your ground defense is out of jail this morning while she awaits retrial. Will she be convicted again?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back to "NEW DAY", everyone. Tomorrow is the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline for when healthcare.gov should be working properly. So, will the Obamacare website be up and running? Good person to ask is Clay Johnson. He is a former presidential innovation fellow under President Obama and has been critical of healthcare.gov.

Now, he's the CEO of the Department of Technology and the author of "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption." And he joins me now. The administration's deadline is tomorrow. Are they going to make it?

CLAY JOHNSON, CEO, DEPARTMENT OF BETTER TECHNOLOGY: Well, you know, I think if you ask a Democrat, they'll say they made it and if you ask a Republican, they'll say that they won't. Look, the fact is that websites are never bug free. If you took a whole bunch of public scrutiny and put it on, you know, Facebook or amazon.com, you could definitely say that, you know, parts of these websites were broke be and I think you'll be able to say the same thing for healthcare.gov.

You know, when the administration says it will work, you know, for the most people or four-fifths of the people who try, I think that's what they're aiming for. I think that there's been marked improvement since October the 1st for certain, but we'll see what happens on December the 1st. Again, I think it's going to be a subjective thing.

LEMON: The quote is the vast majority of people the administration is promising. So, what are some of the things that they should be looking out for, not only the administration but also people looking to sign up for health care?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I think when we're talking about what's working, you know, there's sort of two things that we need to think about. The first thing is whether or not the user interface is working, whether or not there's lots of, you know, bugs or error messages flashing at the users. But on the other part is whether or not the information that's coming through the system is getting to the insurance companies in the right way.

And that back half is actually a lot more complicated than the first half, and that's the harder problem I think so solve whereas the front end stuff of like making the stuff look acceptable to the user and not scaring them off will work just fine for again the vast majority of people. The question is that back end if we really want this thing to be useful.

LEMON: Before I move on with the questioning, I mean, my first question to you should have been, what the heck happened, Clay? I mean, you worked for the Obama administration. What happened?

JOHNSON: Well, it's a procurement problem. Imagine that you belong to a homeowners association that said that the only people that you could hire to paint your house would be convicted arsonists. That's what's happened with how we hire I.T. contractors in the federal government. The only people that we can hire, the only contractors that we can ire to build these websites are people who have a track record in burning down houses.

And so, at some point, I think we've really got to worry about not the bugs and the website, but the bugs in the system that cause us to keep hiring arsonists to paint our houses

LEMON: OK. Listen, that leads to the quote -- you wrote an essay shortly after the launch of healthcare.gov referring to the problem as not the result of any individual vendor but as a, quote, "deeply engrained and malignant cancer eating away at the government's ability to provide effective online services." Have they gone about this fix the right way you believe?

JOHNSON: Well, I think that they've got to fix healthcare.gov because it's one of the more important parts of the Affordable Care Act, of course. But, we need for Congress and the president to step up. There's been a lot of talk about procurement reform. I want to see some motion here.

We need some bills introduced that actually fix the way that government hires these contractors and allows for small and innovative companies to come in and actually start building and delivering some of these services, too.

LEMON: The day before Thanksgiving, the administration announced that small businesses, they won't be able to take part in this program for a year. What does that say to you if anything not only about Obamacare but also about the website problems and the fix?

JOHNSON: Well, I'm not a policy expert. I don't know -- you know, I can't really comment on the Affordable Care Act. But, you know, in terms of the website fix, I think that this is like, you know, some of the other stuff that they've announced where, you know, it was supposed to come out in Spanish language and it was supposed to at least be by bilingual. It's not bilingual.

It's only in English. It launched only in English and they did that, I think, in part to control traffic. And I think that they're doing this small business stuff to control traffic. I think what they're doing is being prudent. Another thing to note here is that they've spent $90 million on the website since the website launched.

So you know, how is it that this amount of money is being spent on something broken? The only way I can think of is if we've got a system that makes it so that we can only give our contracts away to people who aren't doing a very good job.

LEMON: So, the very first big deadline is a month away, just about a month away, less than, really, December 23rd and then that's the day that people are going to be -- should be signing up for coverage is January 1st. Do you think that this website will be able to handle the number of people that are trying to get on by then, and this is a lot of paperwork for them to have to deal with --

JOHNSON: Yes, I do. I think that we're going to see a lot of rapid progress. I think since October the 1st, the number of people -- one thing that people don't realize is that the number of people involved in the tech surge isn't that big.

You know, we're talking about dozens, not hundreds of people that were involved in this sort of tech surge to repair the website and the amount of progress that they've made since October 1st just from a technical, not political perspective, is amazing. Those people have done a great job cleaning up this mess. By December 23rd, I think we'll be in pretty good shape.

LEMON: But clearly what I'm saying is not only we have the people who are just, you know, normally would be signing up for it, but you'll have the backlog of people who had been trying to sign up and weren't able to.

JOHNSON: Right. Well, I think we'll be in pretty good shape by then. I think that the website will be scaleable. I mean, again, you know, they had six users sign up on the first day. They're probably capable of handling about 50,000 now. That's a huge difference. So, you know, let's give them some time and see what they can do by the 23rd even if that backlog swell starts on December 1st, I think, we'll be good.

LEMON: Clay Johnson in Hotlanta, a warm day finally there for the folks in Atlanta. We're very jealous up here in the north. Thank you, Clay. Happy belated Thanksgiving.

JOHNSON: Yes. You, too. Thanks very much for having me.

LEMON: All right. Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Don, thanks so much.

Next up on NEW DAY, a story we've been following for a while. Another chance now for a Florida woman who went to prison for firing a warning shot. She's now out of prison while she awaits a new trial. But, could Marissa Alexander go back behind bars?

PEREIRA: Also, should you run out for Black Friday or wait for another day? Why being patient may actually get you better deals on holiday gifts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It Is Friday, November 29th.

And coming up, Florida's controversial stand your ground law is back in the news. A mom used it as her defense after she fired a warning shot at her husband. Could the law help her stay out of prison?

PEREIRA: And how about this, Orlando Bloom on Broadway. He's playing Romeo, I might be so jealous of Juliet I can't even stand it, but I did get a chance to sit down with Orlando Bloom about his debut on a great white way (ph). We'll have that for you coming up in just a few minutes.

In the meantime, there are five things you need to know, so we're going to go to Rosa for those.

ROSA FLORES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FLORES (voice-over): At number one, it's Black Friday. Retailers nationwide offering discounts to get you in the door for the start of the holiday shopping season.

The deadline to fix the Obamacare website is tomorrow. One government official has already tried to tamper expectations saying November 30th isn't some magical date and that the site will still have issues.

At number three, China making another move in contested air space. Several fighter jets flying patrol over the East China Sea. Vice President Biden will try to calm tensions when he visits China, Japan, and South Korea next week.

Once billed as the comet of the century, comet ISON was apparently no match for the sun. Scientists say it most likely broke up when it grazed the sun, though, part of it may have survived.

And the White House Christmas tree arrived this morning. First lady, Michelle Obama, will welcome the 18 1/2 foot Douglas fir from Pennsylvania. It will become the official blue room tree.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (on-camera): Now, we're always updating the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. So, all you need to do is go to NEWDAYCNN.com for the very latest -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Rosa, thank you very much.

A Florida mother sentenced to 20 years behind bars for firing a warning shot at her husband has been freed from prison on bail. Marissa Alexander is being granted a new trial after an appeals court ruled that the judge gave improper instructions to the jury. But could she be convicted again and then land up back in prison?

Hmm. HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson, back with us to discuss this case. Could she? Could that happen?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a real concern, Don, because listen, at the end of the day, when the appellate court said you know what? You didn't instruct the jury properly because you shifted the burden. Defendant never has a burden at all. It's the prosecution's burden, but what does that entitle you to? A new trial.

So as a result of that, you get a new trial, same facts, same circumstances, same witnesses, different jury instructions. So, in the event that she moves forward and is convicted again, she could very well go back to prison.

PEREIRA: OK. So let's back up for a second for the benefit of those that might be rusty on some of the details. She was sentenced to 20 years, a lot of emotion, a lot of public outrage about the length of the sentence. Why was that?

JACKSON: You know what happens, Michaela. You have what are called mandatory minimum sentences and that's really a product of the legislature, right? The legislature in Florida enacted these laws and the law is called a 10-20 life law. What does it mean? If you're engaged in the commission of a forcible felony and you brandish a weapon, the brandishing itself, ten years.

You discharged the weapon as what happened here, it's a mandatory minimum of 20 years. If you fire that weapon and someone gets hit, whether they die or not, then of course, it can be, you know, life in jail.

PEREIRA: She tried to use the stand your ground.

JACKSON: Yes.

LEMON: Because she said she was afraid of her life, afraid of her life because of her husband, there was a warning shot. The jury didn't see it that way.

JACKSON: What happened, Don, is she's not entitled to use stand your ground, believe it or not. What happens is, is that because stand your ground in essence means you have no duty to retreat. If you're lawfully there and, you know, you believe yourself in reasonable fear, bang, you can act.

Now, what happened is, is she did retreat because she went to the garage and instead of leaving the home, she got a gun from her car, the glove compartment, and came back into the home. And on that basis, Don, the court said you cannot use stand your ground. You can, however, use classic self-defense.

LEMON: Self-defense.

JACKSON: Yes.

PEREIRA: I think a lot of people would think, OK, she went back to get the gun because she wanted to make him understand that she was no longer afraid of him and wanted to stand her ground in the future. Do you know what I mean?

JACKSON: Sure.

PEREIRA: You can't come back and do this to me again in that kind of warning shot. Would there be any standing for her there?

JACKSON: It's a problem. And you know, the best you can hope for in this case --

LEMON: Can I jump in? Because --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Stand your ground, the way you -- it's interpreted differently by different jurors and it depends on the jury instructions. It's so nebulous.

JACKSON: It really is. As are many jury instructions. Stand your ground gives you immunity from prosecution, right? Immunity from prosecution, immunity from any civil liability whereas classic self- defense allows you to use self-defense to justify what your action was.