Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Extended Unemployment Benefits Ending for Americans; Ship Trapped in Ice in Antarctica; NFL Approaches End of Regular Season; Target Customers PIN Numbers Possibly Compromised by Hackers; Anti- Government Protests Take Place in Egypt; Hollywood Prepares for Oscars; New Year's Hangover Tips From Around the World

Aired December 28, 2013 - 10:00   ET


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Target says your debit card PINs are safe and secure, but it admits the data was stolen in a massive security breach. What to do if this happened to you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A difficult rescue operation at the bottom of the earth as other vessels try to reach a ship trapped in the Antarctic. What's the problem? Ice, and more ice.

FEYERICK: And a massive fireball lights up the sky across several Midwest states. Was it a chunk of rock, a chunk of ice, maybe burning space junk? We're going to take a closer look.

Good morning, everyone, I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 7:00 on the East Coast. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

Out of work Americans bracing for a new reality this morning -- jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, people without a job for 26 weeks, are being cut.

FEYERICK: And those cuts may leave many wondering how they're going to survive, how they're going to pay for basics like food, even housing. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.


SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what the last six months have been like for Paul Hallasy.

PAUL HALLASY, UNEMPLOYED: I've answered over 500 want ads just on one website along.

SERFATY: At 52 he's been out of work in educational publishing, and now another blow. He's one of 1.3 million Americans losing unemployment benefits. On average they've been getting $300 each week. Hallasy's check wasn't nearly enough to cover the $1,100 rent on his New York apartment, and now it will stop coming.

HALLASY: I won't be able to buy food. I won't be able to pay my bills. SERFATY: Extended unemployment benefits beyond the usual 26 weeks were started during the Bush administration to help Americans hit by the recession. Since 2008 they've been renewed 11 times, but not this time. Congress failed to pass an extension in the budget deal, teeing up a nasty fight for the New Year.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's going to be classic messy Washington politics over an issue with the two parties don't have a united view. This is one of the issues that the right flank wants to fight on.

SERFATY: Some Republicans say it's time to end the program altogether. They argue it's too expensive. A year's extension costs $25 billion. People have gotten dependent. And they say the economy is strong enough now without them.

CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE: When you extend benefits to 73 weeks or 99 weeks, it encourages some people to stay unemployed too long, and that makes it increasingly hard for them to get back into the workforce.

SERFATY: Democrats say benefit checks get spent right away, spending that's necessary to boost the economic recovery.

CHRISTINE OWENS, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: This is what these people need in order just to get by, and it's what the economy needs in order to keep its momentum. Removing this bare minimum safety net, beyond just being cruel, is not going to be productive in terms of getting them back in the labor force or getting them a job.

SERFATY: But the political blame game doesn't help Paul Hallasy's new reality.

HALLASY: It's extremely stressful. I mean, I've gotten physically sick. I haven't been able to sleep.

SERFATY: Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: Well, it's a battle of man versus nature in Antarctica. Nature is now winning.

FEYERICK: Yes, well, researchers and other passengers of a Russian expedition vessel thought that they were about to be rescued. Then the polar weather kicked in, stopped Chinese icebreakers just right in its tracks.

BLACKWELL: They're just six nautical miles away, which might as well as be 600, because all they have to do now is wait. They can't get there and try to reassure frantic friends and family.


CHRIS TURNEY, EXPEDITION LEADER: It's the 28th of December, 2013, and as you can see, the weather's closed in. We've got snow falling, but it's not too windy. Unfortunately, for weather forecasters these conditions will continue for the next few days. It's our fourth day now trapped on the Schakowsky, and we thought it was important to let family and friends know that everyone is OK.


FEYERICK: Just amazing to watch them broadcast from the South Pole. Unfortunately, they won't be able to wait forever for a rescue. CNN's Issa Suarez joins me from London. And Issa, what happened to the snow dragon?

ISSA SUAREZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Deb, like you said, it was so close, yet so far at the same time. The Snow Dragon was approaching the Russian vessel. It was about six nautical miles away when the decision was made it couldn't go any further. Basically, the ice was just too thick. There was too much of it.

So the Snow -- so the Snow Dragon had to return, basically, reverse on the -- from the channel it created, to the open sea. Now, it hasn't completely abandoned the Russian vessel. It's still in the vicinity and ready to assist should it need to assist with helicopter. In the meantime, though, as you heard there from Chris, you know, they're doing particularly well. Spirits are high.

But, Deb, there is a concern that the ship that is coming, the Australian ship, that's due to arrive tomorrow night, won't have the capability either to break through the ice. Now, the Chinese vessel and the French vessel, which also cannot break through, could cut ice about one meter deep. This one can come 1.35 meters deep. The reports say it's two meters deep of ice, so it could mean that, in fact, the Australian vessel that's making its way won't be able to cut through the ice and really help those passengers.

FEYERICK: If they're not able to cut through the ice, if they're not able to get the ships out, how long are they going to have to wait, because it seems like they're sort of putting in more vessels when, in fact, the weather's so bad it's just freezing everything in its tracks?

SUAREZ: I spoke to Australian maritime safety authority this morning, and I basically put the same question to them. They said they're going to try the Australian vessel, you know, as almost the last -- the last attempt they're going to take and see whether they can really push through. Alternatively, they will have to go with the helicopter, really moving people out. That's the only way.

Just to clarify, Deb, though, the Chinese vessel isn't stuck. It is in the vicinity, and it can move freely. It's only the Russian vessel which is stranded. But the decision was taken that it couldn't push any further for fear that it, too, could be stuck.

FEYERICK: All right, Issa Suarez, thank you so much. Fascinating to watch and it's fascinating to see the people on board, as well, who are there for research purposes, and at least making a good -- the best of a tricky situation. Issa, thank you. BLACKWELL: The state department says it's still trying to piece together details in Libya after four Americans were detained, and then released late last night. The four military personnel were attached to a security detail for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. And the White House says that the president was briefed but offered no further comment.

FEYERICK: And new this morning, in Egypt, anger and frustration boiling over.




FEYERICK: Protesters filled the streets for a second straight day. They're rallying in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was democratically elected then deposed. The current government has now denounced that as a terrorist group just a few days ago. The violence has been especially ugly on the campus of Azra University in Cairo. Some 60 students have been arrested. There are reports that one young protester died.

BLACKWELL: If you did your Christmas shopping at Target this year, or went to Target to buy anything, you might want to call the bank and change your debit card PIN number.

Target is backtracking after telling shoppers that PIN numbers weren't stolen during the massive security breach. CNN's Alexandra Field joins us live from New York.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Deb. Target is now saying that this was a bigger breach than initially reported. Along with the card numbers and names stolen, they are now saying PIN numbers were stolen. But the retailer is saying that information remains safe and secure. They're saying the PIN numbers are encrypted in checkout, changed in the system, and encrypted when they leave the system. Those security experts are saying there are still reasons for shoppers to be concerned.


DAVID KENNEDY, CEO, TRUSTEDSEC: The encryption itself is actually an industry-grade standard. It's called data encryption standard, and they call it triple des, which allows it to be protected. But unfortunately the problem with PIN numbers is they are only four characters, which means that there is really only 10,000 combinations that you can do in order to get it. So altogether it's not going to hold up, because hackers can brute force it to get those pin numbers itself.


FIELD: All right, 40 million people were affected by the Target security breach. The advice for all of those people right now is to replace their bank cards and credit cards and to get some new PIN numbers. Also, security experts are telling people they need to be looking at their banking and credit card statements very carefully, especially watching for small charges. That could indicate if fraudsters are checking to see if the accounts are active, and sometimes you miss the smaller charges, before you get hit for a bigger charge.

FEYERICK: Interesting point.

BLACKWELL: Alexandra Field reporting for us from New York, thank you.

Still to come, the new year is almost here, but you still have time to make sure you don't have to pay the taxman too much. We've got some tips to keep your money in your pocket. That's coming up next.

FEYERICK: Plus, more drama on "Duck Dynasty," as if we needed any more. A&E does an about-face on the show's suspended star.


BLACKWELL: Look at this. Hundreds of teenagers run wild in Brooklyn in a shopping mall. About 300 rowdy teenagers overran Kings Plaza on Thursday. You can see them here banging on shop windows, scuffling with security, chasing away after-Christmas shoppers. The stores actually had to close their doors for safety on what is usually a busy shopping day. The melee lasted about two hours. No one was arrested. Fortunately, no one was injured.

It might not be your favorite thing to do, but we all have to do it. Filling out the tax form is one of the most important things you will do all year.

FEYERICK: Maybe even more important, well, is making sure that you don't pay more than you have to. So it help you out this tax season, we brought in an expert. We're joined this morning by Wes Moss. He's a certified financial planner and the host of "Money Matters" radio. So, Wes, what are two or three key things that the average person can do to offset some of their taxes?

WES MOSS, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER: Well, there's a few things, and we still have two days left. So we still have Monday and Tuesday, two trading days in 2013, and they're really important days. So if you have had gains so far this year, and it's been a good year in the stock market, up almost 30 percent, if you have gains this year, you still have two days to find maybe one or two securities that have -- that you've not made money in or you've lost money in, it's called tax loss selling, so you can sell those and pay less in capital gains for 2013.

FEYERICK: So the money you made on stocks, basically the money you've lost, you can use --

MOSS: To sffset the gains.

FEYERICK: -- to balance it out.

MOSS: Yes. Capital gains taxes, 15 percent, as high as 23.8 percent for some Americans. So this is a really important thing to do.

BLACKWELL: What about the charitable donations, because we've got a couple of more days to do that, not just the tangible items?

MOSS: Right. So two things. You can give stock away, a good idea, highly appreciated stock. If you've made money on something, give that stock away, get the deduction for it. It has to be done for the next two days, trading days, December 31, or by December 31. And then give away cash, of course. One interesting way to think about this, you could actually make a charitable donation on your credit card, it has to be done by 12/31, but not pay for it until 2014.

FEYERICK: Which means you're buying yourself extra time on that one.

MOSS: Sure. There's some wiggle room, absolutely.

FEYERICK: What about pretax retirement, giving money into those funds?

MOSS: All right, this is where you have much more time. You have until April 15th, whenever you file your taxes in 2014 to make these IRA contributions of $5,500 or $6,500 depending on your age. Also, if you're a small business owner or you're an independent contractor, there's something called a SEP IRA, and you can put up to $51,000 into that, really dramatically lowering the taxes for 2013.

FEYERICK: What about the mortgage payments or student loan payments? If you've got one due at the start of 2014, does it help to pay it before the end of the year, to write off that interest?

MOSS: Well, again, when you're able to make -- get deductions, a lot of that is subject to how much you earn. So it really depends on what your income level is. If you're going to be able to get some sort of deduction for that. That depends on the overall income. But again, you want to try to do as many things as you can right before the end of this year, 2013, in order to lower the taxes in 2013.

FEYERICK: All right, Wes Moss, appreciate it.

MOSS: Thank you.

FEYERICK: "Duck Dynasty" is back at full strength. The controversial suspension over one star's comments we think is over, or over now. We're never sure. We'll tell you what people are saying.

BLACKWELL: And check out this sonic boom. You can't hear it, but you can see the streak of light in the sky. So what was that massive fireball over Iowa? We'll explain.


FEYERICK: And there you're looking at a shot of Atlanta. It is 40 degrees here on a chilly but somewhat clear day. And if you blink, you may have missed it. "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, he is no longer suspended. What, you say? Well, that's correct. He was suspended about a week ago. And he was suspended indefinitely after making controversial comments about African-Americans and gay people in an interview with "GQ" magazine.

BLACKWELL: Here's how some people are reacting to that news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think he had the right to say it, and we believe in the same morals and Christian beliefs that Phil believes it. So we're behind him 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comments were pretty harsh. There's a way of saying things, you know. If you don't agree with something, there's ways to word it so where you're not trying, you know, dehumanize someone.


BLACKWELL: Other reaction, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted, "As PC enforcers often forget, tolerance is a two-way street. Welcome back, Phil." Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal had this to say, "The left may control Hollywood, but they don't control the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans."

FEYERICK: And this from GLAAD, "If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African-Americans and gay people, especially its employees and its viewers."

BLACKWELL: I'm sure that conversation will continue.

FEYERICK: It will. And they are going to do apologies. They are going to do public service announcements where they sort of make good. It doesn't necessarily take away what he said originally, but at least sort of smoothes it over.

BLACKWELL: Yes, PSA's about unity and tolerance.

FEYERICK: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: PSA's on that.

A massive fireball lit up the fire over Iowa. Check this out. A security camera caught it all. Wow. You can't really hear the sonic boom, but you can see the flash across the sky.

FEYERICK: Experts aren't sure exactly what it is. Most believe that the fireball in the night sky was most likely a meteor crashing through the earth's atmosphere. You can see it burning up there. Meteorologist Alexandra Steele here now.

BLACKWELL: How often does something like this happen?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, there's two different types of space junk. There's natural space junk, which is like pieces of asteroids or comets, and then there's artificial, which is kind of nonfunctioning manmade objects that have been orbiting the earth. And of that type, since about 2008, there's an estimated there's 12,000 pieces about four inches or greater. So it's not that uncommon. So what was it? Space junk, a meteor, ice, they can tell by the track, actually. It went from south to north last Thursday night, so they'll be able to analyze it even further.

All right, let's analyze this map a little further. And if you're in the southeast, you're in for such a wet weekend. Here's the area of low pressure. It will move south, move east, and then move north, and this is this afternoon, and this is through tonight. So Atlanta, Georgia, by tonight, incredibly wet night, through the overnight hours, and potentially one to two-and-a-half inches of rain. This really could be in Georgia, Macon, Atlanta, one of the wettest years on record, at least the top eight or so.

But then by tomorrow morning you can see Washington, Raleigh, Annapolis, Baltimore, the wet weather moves in, but just a rainmaker. Temperatures way too mild to have it be snow. But by Sunday night, even in Boston and New York, temperatures in the 40s, so it won't be snow. A little bit of cold air up here, though. And that's where maybe the ski resorts, Whiteface, upstate New York, western New York, they could see a few inches of snow, but the cities will not.

Here's a look at how much, again. This is kind of the big winter is Maine, because the cold air is in place, and then here comes that moisture. That's not happening in the big cities along the eastern seaboard. The moisture is in, but the cold air is a day late. Here's how cold. You can see it today, temperatures today 48 in New York City, 58 in Charlotte. Watch the cold air, Minneapolis, high temperature four below, all of that shifts south and eastward, and again, along the eastern seaboard, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, temperature are really going to drop off 10 to 15 degrees from where they are now.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alexandra Steele, thank you.


FEYERICK: Still to come, Obama's 2013 began with his inauguration.

BLACKWELL: And it ends with an inconvenient truth. We'll look at the many missteps that have pushed his approval rating to an all-time low.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell.

FEYERICK: And I'm Deborah Feyerick. Hi, everyone. This holiday season hasn't been the greatest for President Obama. The flawed rollout of the Affordable Health Care Act has caused him a lot of headaches.

BLACKWELL: And it's given his critics a lot of ammunition about his credibility. So what does the president have to do to get back ahead in the next year? Well, with us now from Dallas, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson.

FEYERICK: And in Philadelphia, CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill. So, gentlemen, a question for both -- can President Obama get his credibility back in 2014? Let's start with you, Marc.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I mean, the great thing about the way political news works and the political culture works in D.C. is that you're only as good or as bad as the last cycle. There was a time in October where people said Republicans can never recover from the shutdown, and then they recovered. Before that it was Benghazi will be on everybody's lips for a year, and then we forgot about Benghazi.

It's no different now. The economy is recovering. The kinks in the Obamacare, as bad as they are, will be ironed out by April, May, and then we'll be talking about what's next. And if Obama is smart, it will be the economy.

FEYERICK: Yes, short-term memory helps. Ben, what do you think?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a little bit different, because this is an issue that actually affects people's lives. You look at people losing their doctors. You look at people with these premiums higher than they ever imagined they would be, and this is supposed to be the Affordable Care Act. When you have your premium double, that's nothing something like Benghazi that you may walk away from or forget.

And the real issue I think the president has now is an issue that we've seen with other presidents the hardest thing to recover from, and that is a trust issue. When the American people feel like you lied to them and you told them that you could keep your doctor, that were you told you could keep your hospital, you were told you could keep your plan if you liked your plan, it's now bigger than just some sort of scandal. It is truly a trust issue for the president of the United States of America, and I think he's in a hole right now that will be really hard for him to dig out of this next year.

BLACKWELL: Ben, you use the phrase that it's something that people -- you know, that their lives depend upon, and you talk about healthcare. Let me ask you about the news today, the 1.3 million Americans are losing the long-term support as it relates to jobless benefits. What would Republicans have those people do?

FERGUSON: Well, I think at some point, you know, 99 weeks is two years to find a job. And the economy went down, the president is now claiming the economy is in the right direction, moving forward, we're adding jobs. And so, at some point you have to treat these people like adults. We're not talking about children here. These people have been out of work and we've allowed them to have a longer period of time to look for a job. But how long is long enough for a grown adult to be able to have help? And I think --

HILL: Wait, hold on, Ben --

FEYERICK: Yes, Marc, jump in.

FERGUSON: Let me finish.

HILL: Ben, do you -- ben acts as if this are jobs out there, that people aren't accessing, people are watching reality television. There are few jobs out there, and the jobs out there are unavailable to big chunks of the American public.

FERGUSON: Marc, you can't have it -- Marc, you can't --

HILL: These people are not lazy.

FERGUSON: Marc, you can't have it both ways. You can't say there's no jobs out there, yet the president of the United States of America at his end of the year press conference saying the economy is going well right now, in the right direction. Look how great it is compared to a year ago. You can't have it both ways.

FEYERICK: Ben, let me interrupt. Ben --


HILL: Ben, it's not both ways. What we're saying is the economy was in a bad hole, and we are recovering. Gas prices are down, the housing market has recovered, or is recovering, jobs are recovering, unemployment is recovering, but we're still in a hole. We're still not doing well enough. Even though we've turned a corner in some ways, we still don't have --

FEYERICK: Ben, let me ask you, look, corporate America is doing very well. Individual workers are not. A lot of people, one of the reasons the jobless numbers are also down is not because people are finding work, people are giving up. They are quitting. They're not finding the jobs that are out there. So is there no help? Is there no relief for those people, sort of a swift kick in the pants, which is what it sounds like you're suggesting, is seems a little bit little inhumane?

FERGUSON: It's not inhumane. How long -- I'll say this to you. If you have a child and they lose their job, and they come home and they start living with you, and they're sleeping on the couch in their old room, how long would you allow them to not work before you finally said, I don't care what job you get, you're going to lower your standard of employment and you're going to go actually get a job? Most parents would probably say a year is long enough. You're advocating basically for a two-year period at 99 weeks, which is unrealistic even for parents who love their children. There's no parent out there who doesn't let them for two years sleep on the couch without a job.

BLACKWELL: Get an answer to my original question. I asked the question and I didn't get an answer. What would you have them do?

FERGUSON: I would have them lower their standard of --

BLACKWELL: You assume they haven't.

FERGUSON: Well, a lot of them have not. If you talk to people that are unemployed, and I talk to them all the time, they call into my show. They're like, well, I was making "x," and I'm not going to go out there and just make $10, $12, $15, when I was used to making 75k. And the reality is these are not children. These are grown adults.

FEYERICK: Marc, go ahead. Last word.

HILL: That's why you're -- well, that's why Ben's comparison to the parent and the child is not analogous, because these aren't children. These aren't lazy people.

FERGUSON: I said a grown adult.

HILL: -- who try hard every day to find jobs and simply cannot. This is not a story of make $50,000, who are too lazy to work at fat burger. Fat Burger is not hiring them, either. You're saying a year is too long. Republicans want this to go back to 26 weeks, not 52 weeks. They want to give these people six or seven months. It's not fair, and it's in an unfair labor market.


BLACKWELL: I didn't want to get passed the news of the day, the theoretical elements of what can the president do over the next year or the next two years or so when people today are running out of money to take care of their families.

FEYERICK: And it's really all about job creation, and while the economy is getting better, it's still sputtering along, especially when it comes to folks who are unemployed, who are trying to get back to work. Gentlemen, both of you, fascinating. Thanks so much to both of the political commentators, Ben Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill. Happy New Year.

FEYERICK: And now to the urgent crisis in the world -- newest country, the oil rich nation of South Sudan. The first of 5,500 U.N. peacekeeping reinforcements began arriving today. They're going to be shoring up security around U.N. facilities. Those bases are now flooded with people who are trying to escape the violence, refugees running from the violence that has swept the country in the past two weeks. CNN's Arwa Damon just arrived there, and she joins me now by phone from Juba. Arwa, what are you seeing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a curfew in place, and we managed to make it to our hotel just before that went into effect at 6:00 p.m. local, so we haven't been able to really see that much. But people that we have been talking to have been telling us that at this stage in the capital itself, you really only hear sporadic bursts of gunfire at night, and even that is fairly rare.

But just to give you an idea of how terrorizing the situation has been and how traumatized the civilian population here, here in Juba, the tens of thousands that have sought refuge at the U.N. bases, those that have done that here in the capital, they're still not going back home. They don't feel as if they are safe, they don't feel the situation is stable enough. And of course, everyone is incredibly, understandably concerned at the violence flaring up once again, especially at this stage, without a cease-fire or any negotiations take place. BLACKWELL: Arwa, people who focus on this region of the world and the split between Sudan and South Sudan, they used the terms "cusp of" and the "precursor to" civil war in describing what's happening in South Sudan. Do you think we've crashed that threshold, or they've crossed that threshold into civil war now?

DAMON: The concern is that that threshold is nearing very quickly. I think people would hesitate at this stage to want to call it a prolonged civil war, especially given everything at stake here, not just for the country itself or its civilians, but all of the foreign investment that's come in, all of the various global leaders that really supported Sudan's independence.

The tensions here, though, are, tragically, nothing new. There have been sporadic clashes since Sudan gained independence some two years ago. The issue that a lot of Sudanese have been saying is even though they were able to unite in their design for independence and fighting the government of Sudan itself. As a nation they still have yet to find their own Southern Sudanese identity identifying with these various ethnic groups and fighting along the ethnic lines that is so easily ignited.

FEYERICK: Yes. And the U.S. is so invested, helping to create South Sudan. But there is now evidence of mass graves, everybody keeping an eye on this, this latest potentially humanitarian crisis. Arwa Damon for us in Juba, thank you so much.

Still to come on Newsroom, big trouble in Big-D.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the cowboys just lost their star quarterback ahead of their most important game of the season. So can they make the playoffs without Tony Romo?


BLACKWELL: After waiting two long years, NHL fans finally get their annual outdoor winter classic.

FEYERICK: Just check out this time-lapsed video of the football field at Michigan Stadium. It is being turned into a hockey rink.

BLACKWELL: More than 100,000 fans are expected to pack the stadium and battle cold temperatures on Wednesday to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Detroit Redwings.

FEYERICK: And last year's game was cancelled because of the league's labor strike.

BLACKWELL: A comeback win in a bowl game is the latest chapter in how Syracuse's quarterback overcomes adversity.

FEYERICK: Jared Greenberg joins us now with more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Jared, what have you got?

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: This is a tremendous feel-good story, Deb and Victor. Terrell Hunt has never stopped fighting. While in high school, both of his parents died one year apart. Hunt's mother wanted him to go to Syracuse. Now, completing his first season as Cuse's quarterback, Hunt had some magic up his sleeve. Syracuse down by three. Watch the poise by Hunt, decided to run. It's a 12- yard touchdown to put the Orange up four. Minnesota would have one last chance, and they got a great shot. The quarterback delivers a perfect pass, but it goes right through the receiver's hands. Maybe some magic for Syracuse as they hang on to win and Terrell Hunt named the game's most valuable player as the orange win the Texas Bowl.

Tony Romo is out as the cowboys prepare for the most important game of the season. Romo underwent back surgery yesterday, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the year, no matter how long that is. The only way it continues for Dallas is if they beat the Eagles tomorrow night. In the spring, Romo sign add six-year contract worth a reported $108 million. Now, they'll turn to their backup, Kyle Orton, who hasn't started an NFL game in two years.

It's trending right now on, ladies' night inside the octagon. Mixed martial arts tonight in Vegas. The champ, Rhonda Rousey, takes Meisha Tate in the women's bantam weight division. Rousey, get this, is undefeated with seven wins, and each of those wins have come in the first round, including a win over Tate. Now, regardless of weight class or sex, Rousey is ranked 10th in the UFC's pound for pound list of best fighters, men and women, they say she is the 10th best. Victor, I'm not trying to fight.

BLACKWELL: No, indeed. No.

FEYERICK: Come on, I dare you.


GREENBERG: You couldn't pay me enough to have her disfigure my face.

BLACKWELL: No. Jared Greenberg, thank you.

GREENBERG: You got it.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. Well, roll out the red carpet. It is almost awards season in Hollywood. People are already buzzing about the Oscars.

BLACKWELL: Up next, we'll talk about the best and, yes, the worst movies of the year.


FEYERICK: Well, you're looking at a live picture of the Hollywood Boulevard, some of the Hollywood walk of fame. It is 7:45 in what appears to be a beautiful Los Angeles.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look what you got here. Look at this, $26,000 for one dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, this can explain. Dad, we had client -- we had the Pfizer clients, the porterhouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The expensive wine -- the champagne.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tell them about the sides you ordered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sides, $26,000 worth of sides? What are these sides, they cure cancer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sides did cure cancer. That's the problem. That's why they were expensive.


BLACKWELL: Oh, that's funny to me. Award season is heating up in Hollywood. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio generating a lot of buzz for his performance in "The Wolf of Wall Street." The movie is based on a true story about the rise and fall of a wealthy stock broker.

FEYERICK: And voting for the Academy Awards is now open, and the final nominees will be announced next month.

So let's bring in Grae Drake from Rotten Tomatoes, because she has the inside scoop on all of the films. Good morning, Grae.


FEYERICK: This was a three-hour film with Leonardo DiCaprio. What did you think of his performance?

DRAKE: I thought he was spectacular. He was so good at playing an awful human being. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was the fastest three hours of my life.

BLACKWELL: Who are the contenders, contenders for best picture?

DRAKE: Well, there seems to be a lot of voter support for the extraordinary film of "12 Years of Slave." In a true -- in a real story, an outrageous real story, which is an important topic in our nation's history about slavery. But that movie has some competition, because for the last two years, Hollywood has given the best picture Oscar to a movie that is self-congratulatory to Hollywood.

Yes. So if they're following that pattern this year, then Disney has its first chance of winning an academy award in the best picture with "Saving Mr. Banks."

FEYERICK: I know people who saw it who were older who enjoyed the film, and people who were younger, 10, 11, 12, which also liked that film, which is interesting that you have that kind of range. We're talking about the best movies, obviously. But what about the worst movies on Rotten Tomatoes, the ones you reviewed this year, because they're so much fun. DRAKE: Golly, you know what, it would be lovely if every movie could win an award, but that's not the way it is. And unfortunately, one of those films was "RIPD." I don't know if you all even remember this movie --


DRAKE: -- but it stars Ryan Reynolds as a cop who dies, and then he joins kind of a supernatural cop company called the "Rest in Peace Department." And the plot is so complicated I couldn't even explain it to you. And ultimately, Ryan Reynolds didn't have a very good year at the movies. This movie on the Tomato meter scored 13 percent. Now, that's a percentage of positive reviews from the critics. So --

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.


DRAKE: You know what, guys?

FEYERICK: Clearly, the 13 percent is Ryan Reynolds fans.

DRAKE: Exactly. Don't feel bad for Ryan Reynolds because he still gets to wake up to his lovely wife Blake Lively.

FEYERICK: And he gets to wake up and be Ryan Reynolds.


BLACKWELL: When the golden globe nominations were announced, no nominations for Lee Daniels, "The Butler." Was that surprising to you?

DRAKE: It was a little surprising. That movie was released back in the summer and everybody was saying that this would get tons of nominations. But then, "12 Years of Slave" came out and it became the first thing in everyone's consciousness, both about similar kind of topics, right? And I think that when the Oscar nominations come out, they're going to right all wrongs of the Golden Globes and give Oprah a best supporting actress nomination.

BLACKWELL: You think she'll win?

FEYERICK: I think she deserves it.

DRAKE: She does. She both deserves it, and I think she will win it because she is Oprah, and she was great in that movie. Let's give her an Oscar.

FEYERICK: Grae, what were your top five picks, for people of limited amount of time, what are the top five movies they should see last year?

DRAKE: You've got to see "Gravity." one of the most unbelievable films, both technologically and performance-wise, side note -- Sandra bullock in her underpants. You have to see "American Hustle" because it is about all of these fabulous people doing awful things, which seems to be a theme this Christmas, but it's based on the Abscam scam of the '70s. Costumes, acting, everything is on point. You definitely have to catch "Wolf of Wall Street." It's a very divisive movie, but it is about Leonardo DiCaprio being an awful person. There are a lot of drugs. It is not for the faint of heart. But amazing three hours, Martin Scorsese has done it again. Mike sure you seek out and find in limited release "Nebraska."


DRAKE: This movie is directed by Alexander Payne, whose movie "The descendants" also won an Oscar, and Bruce Dern is a Hollywood legend. He's spectacular in this film, and it is going to remind you of your family and make you laugh and cry at the same time.

FEYERICK: And the last one?

DRAKE: And the last one that you've got to see this year -- I mean, to be fair, I really want everyone to see "Sharknado."


DRAKE: But I'm telling you. You know, if you really, really like depressing films that have absolutely no shred of hope in the middle whatsoever.


DRAKE: Find a movie called "Out of the Furnace," because it stars Christian Bale and Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson all turning in amazing performances. I don't think this was enough on people's radar for it to actually win awards this season. However, it is a really just devastating time at the movies, and Woody Harrelson has completely shed any skin from his "Cheers" role we know him from decades ago. He's so mean and scary. It's actually made me nervous to sit in an interview with him at this point.


FEYERICK: Interesting.

BLACKWELL: Great performance. Gray drake from Rotten Tomatoes, thank you so much. I'll put them on the list.

FEYERICK: Thanks, Grae.

If you're planning to party hard for new year's eve, you know, you better stock up on some home remedies for the next day.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, we'll share some of the most unique hangover cures from around the world to help you ring in the New Year. Stay with us.


BLACKWELL: Who has not been there, right? There's an animal somehow running around the hotel room and then -- no? The famous scene from the movie "The Hangover" is how many of us, you know, feel after partying too much, especially on new year's eve. But before you reach for the bloody Mary, which I think is the worst drink ever created, personally, and this is to cure your headache, you might want to try the unique remedies from around the world. Let's bring in Nadia Bilchik, CNN editorial producer.


BLACKWELL: Well, I wasn't going to say it.

BILCHIK: By the way, this is a great dinner party conversation. You go anywhere, and ask people for hangover cures, and they have a multitude. Let's start in Britain, the big, fat bacon sandwich. There's something about the greasy bacon and the bread, it completes the amino acids which helps when you have a hangover.

And in Germany, it's all about the pickles.

BLACKWELL: I can't imagine.

BILCHIK: Pickled cucumber, and even in Mongolia they have pickled eyeballs in tomato juice, because remember, the pickles are high in sodium, and sodium is a electrolyte lost in a hangover.

BLACKWELL: But what would make me more sick.

FEYERICK: Yes, exactly. You're done for the day.

BILCHIK: Some polls believe you have a shot or two with honey, and actually some athletes suggest you do that before a big game when you go to lose electrolytes.

BLACKWELL: I've seen people take a shot of pickle juice after Jameson. It takes the burn away or something. I don't drink dark liquor, but I hear that works.

BILCHIK: Better for the liver. But in Turkey, they suggest tripe soup. It's the stomach lining of sheep or lamb, very fatty. And this is a disturbing one in Vietnam.

BLACKWELL: This one is disturbing?

BILCHIK: And that's ground rhino horn, extremely popular in Vietnam. And they actually call it the rhino detox. And it is illegal. And rhino are so endangered. And rhino horn is actually more expensive than almost anything. They say more expensive than cocaine.


FEYERICK: So interesting. Part of it is, also, when you listen to the remedies, it turns you off drinking for the most part. But there's a cure known hair of the dog. So what is that?

BILCHIK: Hair of the dog, the idea was that if you were bit by a rabid dog, would you take the hair of the same dog that bit you and put it on the wound. Of course, having alcohol after alcohol may give you temporary relief, but of course long term, it doesn't help. Have you heard of the prairie oyster?


BILCHIK: Egg, raw egg, a bit of Worcester sauce, pepper, salt, and the texture of an oyster, and eggs have some special antioxidant that's supposed to help, either raw or cooked.

BLACKWELL: I was feeling OK before this, and now I'm feeling like I'm a little hung over.

FEYERICK: Yes, I think I'll have one less vodka tonic on New Year's Eve.

BILCHIK: What is the best hangover cure ever?


BILCHIK: Abstinence.

FEYERICK: No fun at all, Nadia, please.

We'll actually have a beverage, but I'll skip the sheep's eyeball. Nadia, thank you.

BILCHIK: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Be sure to watch CNN on New Year's Eve. Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, always fun when they get together. It starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

One Florida family got an unwelcomed surprise on Christmas night, a black bear a midnight snack.

FEYERICK: That's right. They say the bear busted through the enclosed back porch and headed straight for a pot filled with oil used to cook a turkey.

BLACKWELL: Oil not enough. The turkey he was hoping for. Florida wildlife officials say this time of year black bears bulk up before hibernation and will eat almost anything, even the oil. The dad says the bear only did around 200 bucks' worth of damage. But the lesson learned about not keeping food out was priceless.

FEYERICK: Yes, not to mention putting the oil away.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Get rid of the turkey oil.

FEYERICK: Exactly.

Thank you so much, everyone. That is going to do us -- that's going to do it for us today. Thank you so much for watching.

BLACKWELL: But stay right there, because there's much more ahead in the next hour of the Newsroom. Let's turn it over to Fredricka Whitfield. Get rid of the turkey oil. FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Victor, good to see you, because the oil is aromatic, fragrant, so it was smelling like the fried turkey or whatever else, and so it was good bait. Thankfully, no one got hurt.


WHITFIELD: And the bear's OK, right?

BLACKWELL: The bear's good.

FEYERICK: A little indigestion.


WHITFIELD: Yes, the oil will get you every time. You all, good to see you. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right, see you.