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New Day Saturday

Growing Worldwide Concern Over Omicron COVID-19 Variant; The Great Resignation; Peng Shuai Appears In Video Call Concerns Over Safety Persists; U.N. Calls For Proof Of Chinese Tennis Star's Whereabouts; FBI Conducts New Search For Remains Of Jimmy Hoffa Under N.J. Bridge; Afghan Refugees Celebrate Their First U.S. Thanksgiving; U.S. Travel Hitting Pandemic Highs This Thanksgiving Holiday. Aired 7- 8a ET

Aired November 27, 2021 - 07:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Boris Sanchez this morning.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Alex? I'm Christi Paul. Countries around the world of restricting travel from several African countries. Amid these fears in the new rapidly spreading Coronavirus variant. The concerns from health officials about that and the rising number of cases in hospitalizations here in the U.S.

MARQUARDT: And the Women's Tennis Association is saying this morning that it remains deeply concerned about the fate of Chinese Tennis Star, Peng Shuai, how her case could impact the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing as well as China's image.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If COVID didn't happen, do you think that you still would have quit your job?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, I think I'd still be there.


PAUL: The great resignation has a pandemic, has prompted millions of people to wait think their career priorities and take a leap of faith.

MARQUARDT: Plus, an American family and a family of Afghan refugees coming together to share a meal and some life lessons on this Thanksgiving.

Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Saturday, November 27. So great to be back with you, Christi.

PAUL: Oh, it's good to have you, Alex. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way to everybody who's still recovering are still celebrating this weekend that the holiday weekend. So, we do want to begin with you regarding this global concern of this new potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant that's reached Europe. We know right now, Dutch health officials are investigating whether 61 People traveling from South Africa who tested positive for COVID-19 Yesterday, were infected with a new strain. It's known as Omicron.

MARQUARDT: The World Health Organization gave it that name and is saying that the strain could pose an increased risk for reinfection. It was first detected in South Africa and so far, other places such as Israel, Hong Kong and Belgium have also had confirmed cases of this new variant.

PAUL: Yes, and multiple studies are already underway, testing how well vaccines work against this Omicron variant. Last hour, I asked Dr. Abdul el-Sayed about that.


DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: That's not a likely outcome, what's more likely is that they may be less effective, than they might have been even against Delta. That being said the fact that we are boosting is critical. But I'll go back to the main point, so long as you have people who are vulnerable to exposure, because they do not have the vaccine at all, whether they're choosing not to get them here in the United States, or don't have access to them in South Africa. It's increasing likelihood of this of this new variant to spread and so really is a dire situation.


MARQUARDT: And as a result, U.S. travel restrictions have already been announced against South Africa and other African nations in the region. That starting on Monday. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, we have detected a new variant, which, which it is a reason for concern in South Africa. And so, what we have done is to act very quick.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A new COVID-19 variant spreading quickly in South Africa, U.S. health authorities in contact with officials there.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: We want to find out scientists, the scientists exactly what is going on. They're seeing that's a bit more widespread in South Africa than was originally felt.

COHEN: Researchers in South Africa say there's likely reason to be worried. They say this new variant has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein. That's the part of the virus that gains entry to human cells to cause infection.

The COVID-19 vaccines target the spike protein, if the spike changes too much and in the wrong way, it could make the vaccines less effective. Learning exactly where the mutations are and how they changed the spike protein will be key. FAUCI: First of all, you want to find out if in fact it does evade the

vaccines that we're doing. Right now, we're getting the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually directly test it.

COHEN: Scientists at BioNTech have already started investigating the impact of the variant on its vaccine developed with Pfizer with data expected within the next couple of weeks. This isn't the first variant to initially be detected in South Africa last year, the beta variant was identified there and there were fears it could quickly spread around the world and become the dominant variant worldwide. That didn't happen and now authorities are working to see whether this new variant will slowly smolder or quickly spread around the planet. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.



PAUL: The United States is added to this growing list of countries imposing travel bans as that variant emerges. President Biden announced the U.S. will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries. That starts on Monday. He signed the official proclamation last night, which says it will remain in effect until being terminated by the President.

MARQUARDT: CNN's Jasmine Wright is live this morning from the White House. Jasmine, what does the White House want Americans to know about this new ban that's going into effect on Monday, as well as the variant that has caused it?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex, look, the message is that they are acting swiftly taking precautions in hopes of keeping Americans safe. That is the bottom line from this White House, because frankly, few White Houses want to stop commerce. It really wants to start the chaos at travel bans kind of incur. So, President Biden yesterday in Nantucket, he told reporters that after the news break of that swiftly moving variant that he met with his medical advisors, including Dr. Fauci and that is when they made the decision really, to instate this travel ban. Take a listen to the president here.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I decided that we're going to be cautious. We don't know a lot about the very end, except that it is a great concern, it seems to spread rapidly. And I have spent about a half hour this morning with my COVID team led by Dr. Fauci --


WRIGHT: So, we just heard from the President talking about the process, but one of the big questions, Alex and Christi, is why Monday? Why not start this ban immediately? Well, White House officials tell CNN that it takes time to put this band in place. Like you said, it is South Africa and seven other countries. So, that Monday start date reflects a time that this administration

needs to talk to the airlines and kind of avoid the chaos at the airport when putting this ban into place. Now, another question is kind of what is the White House doing really to kind of fact find, well, official say that this ban in place provides the U.S. government time to go on that fact finding mission really time to investigate what exactly this variant is.

Now, one thing I want to notice that this ban does not apply to American citizens. But the President for his part really, in that announcement yesterday in that statement, he pushed the global community to provide more vaccines for the world so that these things are not such an issue down the line. Another thing that he did is he called up Americans to do their part.

He said that they need to get vaccinated if they have not gotten their initial shots or get those boosters. If it is time really calling it a patriotic responsibility. Alex, Christi.

PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And the U.S. is far from alone. Around the world, the list of countries imposing restrictions on travelers coming from Southern Africa does continue to grow. CNN's Nada Bashir joins us now from London. Nada, you've been tracking all this? What more do you know about the global response?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex and Christi, there has been an urgent response from European leaders. This is coming in response, of course, to news that there could be travelers coming from the Southern African region into Europe, leading to a spread of this variant. And there are concerns of course, because we don't know an awful lot about this variant just yet.

And you'll remember last winter, you'll really struggled to deal with the Alpha Varian leading to a serious uptick in the number of hospitalizations and deaths and of course, the Delta variant which has led which has been highly transmissible. So, there are serious concerns there. And of course, yesterday, the first case reported in Europe of this new variant in Belgium.

Now, European leaders have acted together European Commission announcing yesterday they would take that collective response and hold that travel from the Southern African region. And this comes off the back of the UK decision. We heard from the Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday saying that if there are any lessons that have been learned from this pandemic, it is to act quickly to act at the earliest stage possible.

And while there has been some criticism with these travel restrictions or who warning against hasty travel measures, the European leaders have said that actually, this is the key this is the fast action that's needed to stem the spread of this new version. And just a few hours ago, we heard from the Netherlands that 61 travelers coming from the Southern African region, have now been tested positive for Coronavirus, and German Health Minister has said that he is concerned that the new variant could already be in Germany.

So, there are serious considerations there of course, and obviously with this new variant there are serious questions how transmit is it and how will it How will vaccines be able to cope with this new variant. So, of course, a lot of investigation to come on that but European leaders are taking that fast action, hoping to stem the spread of this new variant ahead of the winter months and save the health sector that we've seen struggled with this Coronavirus pandemic of the last few months. Alex and Christi.


PAUL: Nada Bashir, thank you so much.

MARQUARDT: Now, concern over this new Coronavirus strain has sent jittery financial markets and the stocks associated with them tumbling. CNN Business Reporter Matt Egan has more on that market reaction to what has happened on Wall Street. Take a listen.


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Christi and Alex, this new variant is already setting off shockwaves on Wall Street, the Dow losing 905 points that equates to two and a half percent, worst day for the Dow since October of 2020. Investors are worried that the variant is going to slow down the economic recovery just as it was gaining momentum. Travel stocks also falling very sharply. Airlines including Delta hotels like Marriott and Hyatt also Carnival Cruise Royal Caribbean all of them falling sharply on the day.

Oil prices also losing 13 percent, that's the worst day for oil since April of 2020. That's a big deal because oil is very sensitive to swings in the economy. This shows that investors are betting that people are going to be flying, driving and commuting less often. Investors are also betting that people are going to be stuck at home more often. So, stayed home stocks like Netflix, Zoom, Peloton, all of them rising. Another ominous sign the best stock in the S&P 500 is vaccine maker Moderna, rising 20 percent on the day.

We do need to put all these market moves into context though, despite this sell off the S&P 500 is still up 22 percent on the year. That is a monster move and the market can't go straight up forever. Also, the S&P 500 has more than doubled from the March 2020 lows. Big picture, there are so many questions that we don't have answers to yet. We don't know how contagious this new variant is going to be. We don't know how effective vaccines are against the variant, and we don't know how governments are going to react.

Christi and Alex, I think the answers to those questions are going to go a long way determining how big of a deal this ultimately is for the market, for the economy and for society at large.


MARQUARDT: Thanks to Matt Egan there. Coming up. It's being called the Great resignation, why millions of Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs and what it means for the labor shortage?

PAUL: Also, the mystery deepens over the whereabouts and safety of tennis star, Peng Shuai, one of the big questions now whether athletes and sponsors will boycott the Olympics. We'll talk about that next.



MARQUARDT: The COVID 19 pandemic has led to what's being called the Great Resignation. A record 4.4 million Americans have voluntarily quit their jobs, and that's just in September.

PAUL: You might be wondering why the mass exodus particularly at a time when wages are higher and jobs are plentiful. Well, CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich wonders the same thing so she set out to determine where are all the workers?


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN REPORTER: A simple task, Kate Santangelo picks up her 7-year-old daughter, Grace, from school, something she's waited years to do.

Do you recall how often you were able to pick your daughter up from school?

KATE SANTANGELO, MOM: Oh, my gosh. Never.

YURKEVICH: But that all changed in April, she quit her 15-year career in sales to be home full time with her kids.

SANTANGELO: I was working endless hours and traveling a lot.

YURKEVICH: If COVID didn't happen, do you think that you still would have quit your job?

SANTANGELO: No, no, I think I'd still be there. Yes, without a doubt.

YURKEVICH: She's one of millions quitting the workforce in recent months, a record 4.4 million quits in September. It's being called the Great resignation.

SANTANGELO: We had, like had so much time that you know, he had to be sat in our homes and spending time with, with, you know, people that we live with and just shifting priorities.

YURKEVICH: And she's one of 4.7 million business applications filed from January through October of this year. A 34 percent increase from the same time period in 2019. She founded Monmouth Moms: A Resource Guide for Parents.

SANTANGELO: It allows me to take off if I need to bring you know, my kids to the doctor or you know, offer more flexibility in terms of when I can even schedule appointments for them.

YURKEVICH: It's not just moms leaving the workforce. Americans are retiring in greater numbers too.

What am I looking at? Behind you guys right now?

SCOTT BANKS, RETIREE: That's our R.V. Yes, that's our RV you got the background. Scott

YURKEVICH: and Mary banks retired early this September at 57 and 59, respectively, and are road tripping across the country.

BANKS: Packed up, strapped down and ready to head down the road.

YURKEVICH: Scott quit his finance job, Mary left real estate.

BANKS: I said what would you think if we did it now instead of waiting three more years.

MARY BANKS, RETIREE: And I'm like I pushed all my chips and I'm all in

YURKEVICH: 1.5 million Americans were on pace to retire during the pandemic. Instead, that number more than doubled to 3.6 million.

BANKS: And it was just that thought of gosh, wouldn't it be just a tragedy? If we spent all this time working for retirement and then right near the finish line? You catch a horrible disease and die and never get to enjoy your retirement.

YURKEVICH: So, they capitalized on the hot housing market sold their home and hit the road.

How is life on the road compared to the jobs you left behind?

BANKS: Gosh, I wish I could say it was tough but no it's great. I do not miss at all working right now.

YURKEVICH: The banks clearly enjoying their early retirement there. Now the industries with the highest quit rates are education, transportation, leisure and hospitality. These are industries that before the pandemic were suffering from labor shortages. And of course, that's being felt much more acutely right now. And the Americans we spoke to who quit those industries said that they did it to look for higher wages, to look for more flexibility at work and to be able to work from home so they didn't have to interact with as many people because of COVID fears. But Alex and Christie clearly this pandemic has transformed the way that Americans are wanting to work and the work that they're willing to do. Christi and Alex.


MARQUARDT: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much. They do make a very good case.

PAUL: Yes, thank you Vanessa. So, the Women's Tennis Association says it's quote deeply concerned for Chinese Tennis, Peng Shuai. Coming up, how concern for Shuai's well-being could impact the upcoming Olympics because athletes and sponsors they're demanding answers now.



PAUL: Well, the International Olympic Committee is facing growing scrutiny this morning after one of the organizations officials pushed back on Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai's claims of sexual assault. The new comments come after the IOC posted this image of a video call this past week with Shuai, but officials have yet to make the entire video public. And now, one committee member had this to say.


DICK POUND, SENIOR MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: That she's alive and healthy and not under coercion. And so, I think the first thing you have to do is figure out what, what was she trying to accomplish with the post? Is that just to tell, tell them to tell her story? Or did she want an investigation and consequences if she was able to establish the, the coercion?


PAUL: Now, earlier this week, Human Rights Watch denounced the IOCs role in collaborating with Chinese authorities on Peng's reappearance, and now the United Nations and the head of Women's Tennis Association have both called for a full investigation into our sexual assault allegations. Rick Burton is with us now, the Former Chief Marketing Officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee and Professor of Sports Management at Syracuse University. Good to have you with us. We appreciate it so much. So, let me ask you, Rick, first of all, what is your reaction but the response from that IOC official that he said he didn't hear the conversation between Shuai and Olympic officials, but he trusts that she is safe. Why would he trust that?

RICK BURTON, FORMER CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER FOR THE U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Well, my guess is he saw some kind of video evidence. And as an IOC member, I think he has to believe that other people with the IOC confirm that safety. I think he's going on what he has to imagine as a, is appropriate protocol.

PAUL: Do you think it's important for that video to be made public?

BURTON: I do. I mean, this is a horrific charge. And, and I think all of us around the world are concerned for this young woman and the allegation or charge that she made. I think the IOC needs to do a complete and thorough investigation, and I imagine that they probably will. I just don't know if it will go at the speed that some people will want.

PAUL: Should it go at a speed by which it would be completed by -- at the beginning of February? I mean, we're only weeks away from the Beijing Olympics.

BURTON: Yes, one would certainly think so. I mean, this is a serious charge. And something that I'm sure the sponsors, the international sponsors are calling, Zooming, or you know, are reaching out to the IOC and saying, we need to know where this matter is going and what we should know, because we're going to be attacked as sponsors of your organization.

PAUL: Yes. So, talk to us about the influence sponsors have and their willingness or not to do something in this case.

PAUL: Well, they have huge influence, because they represent the, the brand, the IOC, the Olympics, the five rings, but they sell their products, almost all of them in every country in the world. And they pay the IOC, a great deal of money to be an official sponsor. Now, in saying that, they can they know that there's always going to be a controversy before every Olympic Games and that they're going to be questioned about whether or not they should remain with the Olympics. But I think as we saw in the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, a single sponsor standing up and saying, I don't accept this approach. And that was done by John Hancock relative to the bribery scandal that happened in Salt Lake, a sponsor can really make a difference.

PAUL: When we look at what the WTA has said that, OK, we've seen video proof that Shuai is alive, that doesn't mean she's safe. What do you prognosticate will be done or should be done prior to these games, and would it be? I mean, it would certainly be unprecedented, but would it be accurate and necessary for them to be banning the games?


BURTON: Well, I think all of these sponsors are going to demand a full accounting, as well the National Olympic Committees from many other countries around the world. And in particular, I'm thinking of the USOPC. This is a serious charge, and I think everyone is going to want it addressed.

From the sponsor standpoint, I think the issue that has to be realized is that many of those sponsors, if not all of them, sell their products in China. And they are thinking about the business ramifications and trying to balance that with the social obligation which is to have this matter addressed.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Rick Burton, we appreciate your insight here. Thank you so much for taking time for us this morning.

BURTON: Thank you.

PAUL: Of course.

I want to let you know too, join Fareed Zakaria for an in-depth look at China's leader, Xi Jinping, "CHINA'S IRON FIST: XI JINPING THE STAKES FOR AMERICA". That begins tomorrow night, at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. We'll be right back.



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The FBI may have broken new ground in the hunt for Jimmy Hoffa that has now led them to a former landfill in New Jersey. Hoffa hasn't been seen since he first disappeared in 1975. But now, investigators conducted another search for remains of the powerful Teamsters boss last month.

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.


JIMMY HOFFA, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS: This is another propaganda seen of Mr. Robert Kennedy.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jimmy Hoffa, the infamous union boss.

HOFFA: We are successful in getting large band members at Monte Neva Hot Springs.

MARQUEZ: Are we today closer to knowing what happened to him?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (on camera): This is one of the great mysteries of the modern criminal world. This is one of the great mysteries in Mafia history. What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried?

MARQUEZ: The latest tantalizing possibility points to a former landfill under a New Jersey bridge, the Pulaski Skyway just outside of Manhattan, he's disappearance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Frank. This is Jimmy Hoffa.

MARQUEZ: Becoming the stuff of legend depicted in recent films like The Irishman. The murder portrayed as a setup by mobsters who wanted the toughest nails union boss out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get out of here.


MARQUEZ: And older films like 1992's Hoffa that assumes his murder was in the parking lot at the suburban Detroit Restaurant where Hoffa was last seen alive on July 30th, 1975.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's right.

MARQUEZ: Both scenarios contested, and just where is his body? For decades, a near national obsession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A body, officials believe, was disposed of in an industrial waste incinerator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could this be Jimmy Hoffa's grave? The FBI, once again, digging for answers.

MARQUEZ: That wasn't either were several locations around Detroit; a backyard, a horse farm, a suburban home. Underneath the old New York Giants Stadium was discounted by investigators. The search found another dead end in the Florida Everglades.

Where is Jimmy Hoffa? Now part of American lore.

SETH MEYERS, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS, NBC: The FBI reportedly searched the site of a former landfill in New Jersey last month, looking for the body of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. So far, no Hoffa. Three Jimmy's but no Hoffa.

MARQUEZ: We do know he was last seen outside Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are confirmations that he was seen outside of the restaurant.

MARQUEZ: Hoffa helped build the Teamsters union into a powerhouse.

HOFFA: I appeal to the chair that, that be taken out of the record, and that nobody cast any aspersions on my loyalty to this country.

MARQUEZ: And spent nearly five years in prison for conspiracy fraud in jury tampering. His 13 years sentence commuted in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dick's guest tonight, our Jimmy Hoffa, former head of the Teamsters union.

MARQUEZ: When he got out, he still had celebrity status, and will still trying to control the Union.

HOFFA: The media made me look as though I was probably one of the biggest goons that ever took place in this country, and then I was some kind of an illiterate bum that had muscled his way to the top of this union.

MARQUEZ: The FBI used ground-penetrating radar and conducted a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway for two days in October. Results are now being analyzed to see if yet another dig, another search, and 46-year mystery is called for.

HONIG: Knowing the FBI, if they believe they have a reasonable chance to find Jimmy Hoffa, they will dig. The FBI cares about solving this mystery.

MARQUEZ: A decades old mystery, his family and the country would like solved.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.


MARQUARDT: The mystery lives on. Our thanks to Miguel Marquez for that reporting.

Three people were shot and at least three more were injured during a shooting at a mall in Durham, North Carolina.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): One of those wounded was a young child, 10 years old who was hit by a ricocheting bullet. Several off-duty police officers were working in the mall when they heard the sound of shots and called for backup.

Authorities are saying that the incident happened between two groups of people which know each other, but most of those involved did flee the scene. So, so far, just one person has been detained and one weapon was recovered.

The mall was evacuated but It is expected to reopen today.


MARQUARDT (on camera): Still ahead, it is more than just a meal on American family, and a family of Afghan refugees are coming together to share Thanksgiving, as well as a few life lessons. That's coming up.

PAUL: Welcome to "CNN UNDERSCORED". Your guide to the best in tech, travel, products, for your home, and so much more.

So, if you're still looking for holiday gifts, for instance, we've got you covered here. Mike Bruno, has you covered. He's the editorial director for "CNN UNDERSCORED". And we're talking about this busy time of the season, not just really the holiday, but even afterwards, because I know 2022 people are going to be just doing everything they can to get out and about.


MIKE BRUNO, CNN UNDERSCORED EDITORIAL DIRECTOR (on camera): They're getting back out there.

PAUL: Right?


PAUL: So, we need some of this.


PAUL: And I know that you beat the living heck out of it.

BRUNO: We do. That's what we do on "UNDERSCORED". We beat the living heck out of things. And we took -- these are checked luggage bags.


BRUNO: The ones you actually put in, which are the ones that you do handoff, and sometimes they tend to get beat up. We packed and unpack them a million times. We rolled them through the streets of Manhattan to test them for maneuverability and some of the durability of handles and whatnot. And we beat them up. We threw them down flights of stairs, concrete stairs. There's a video on our TikTok, you could see us beating them up in that way.

PAUL: Nobody else was on the stairs at the time, of course, but yes, that is beating them up.


BRUNO: That's right. We had somewhat --

PAUL: So, how did they handle?

BRUNO: Yes. So, they -- these both handled it very well. Most of them did. This is our pick -- our overall pick. This is the Away Medium. It's $295. The first thing you'll notice about the Away bag, as you do with all Away bags is it's a good-looking bag, it's very stylish, it comes in six colors.

This is a pretty blue color. It did -- it was the best overall. The best all-around bag, it tested the highest for pretty much everything we had.

There is a couple of little flaws, we -- what we love about it though, we love the handles on it, very comfortable, very sturdy, you could feel the sturdiness of the -- of the handle when you pick it up if there's not a lot of give. We also liked how convenient the packing was on this one.

Most bags. You'll notice on one side, there's the zipper flap.

PAUL: Right.

BRUNO: And on the other side, there's like that x-elastic. This bag, the Away bag has a flap on both sides. We found that a little bit easier to get to make it compact, a little bit easier to fill it up, and also if you happen to be in the airport, trying to shift the weight or whatnot, you don't accidentally open the wrong side and dump everything out. You have flaps on both sides.


PAUL: Oh, that's smart.

BRUNO: We really kind of liked that. We liked that a lot.

PAUL: This is your budget which will be less.

BRUNO: Yes, that's right. This is our budget check back. This is the Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner. It's about $160.


BRUNO: So, you're almost at half the price there. There's a lot to like about it, it's a little less stylish. Some of the durability issues which I could talk about in a moment. A couple of things we really loved about this bag, especially at the price point where it does have the x-pattern on one side and a flap on the other. We were actually able to get this more capacity in this bag slightly than the Away bag which is nice.


BRUNO: And it's a pound lighter, empty. So, you're starting from a lower base point in terms of lightness. So, there's a couple of really nice things about. The wheels were possibly a little bit smoother than on the Away too. So, that's another thing.

The primary things about this that we would say it's a little bit -- the things you sacrifice going to $160 Samsonite versus the Away, the durability. The handles not quite as sturdy, it's there's a little more give, especially when it's full. You could tell that. It fared a little bit less well in the scuff test took on a little bit. There was no cracks or dents, but it did take on a little bit more.



BRUNO: We recommend this more for an occasional traveler. That $160. That's a really good bag.

PAUL: Thank you. Mike.

BRUNO: Thank you.

PAUL: So, you can learn more about all of these products. Just visit



48 minutes past the hour right now. And there's an Afghan family who has been in the U.S. for only 14 months. And they had a traditional Thanksgiving meal for their very first time for this holiday.

MARQUARDT: There's an organization called, Miry's List, which helps refugees settle in Southern California. And this year, one of their volunteers decided to host a recently arrived family in their own home.

CNS Natasha Chen visited the gathering and got to see the festivities for herself.



WAHIDULLAH ASGHARY, AFGHAN REFUGEE: Hello, everybody. Hi, Kiki, how are you?

NAGY: Hi, hi. It's nice to meet you.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kiki Nagy was already cooking a Thanksgiving meal for a large group of friends.

NAGY: Why is everything so much harder after the pandemic? I forgotten how to do this.

CHEN: But she also wanted to open her Los Angeles home to some of the country's newest residents. She volunteers for an organization called Miry's List that helps refugees settle in the United States.

NAGY: I just threw it out to Miry like do you know any Afghani families who need to have a first Thanksgiving with an American family? And so, she said, yes, why don't you invite Wahid?

ASGHARY: Hi, everybody. How are you?

CHEN: Wahidullah Asghary tells us he was a translator and interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He arrived in late 2020. With his four children under a Special Immigrant Visa.

His wife joined them five months later. This was the family's first invitation to a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

ASGHARY: Sometimes when I asked me that what Turkey is, I said Turkey is like a baked chicken.

CHEN: Nagy made sure there would be at least something familiar on the table.

NAGY: OK. So, this is the lamb, it's hello.


CHEN: This experience wasn't just about new foods.


CHEN: It was also about learning the tradition of sharing gratitude.

ASGHARY: We may have more opportunities in our life in our hands. So, of course, the foremost example is this. That we are together. A family.

CHEN: With his wife's visa delayed, he says they're lucky she arrived before the chaotic exit of U.S. troops in August. The scene of people trying to escape, particularly resonated with fellow Thanksgiving guests. Tom Van Tran (PH).

TOM VAN TRAN, VIETNAMESE REFUGEE: Well, when I saw the photo of the Afghans in the cargo plane, it reminded me very much of just -- I was in the same, but it was a gigantic cargo ship.

CHEN: Tran came to the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, when he was around the same age as Asghary's oldest children. He says he can offer a warm welcome. TRAN: A brotherhood, a camaraderie.

CHEN: And can imagine what they might be experiencing.

TRAN: When did you arrive?

ASGHARY: I came almost a year ago.

TRAN: How long --

CHEN: Like at many holiday gatherings, not everyone here practices the same religion or holds the same political beliefs. Despite that --

NAGY: There is something essential to the American experience that is rooted in gratitude, that is rooted in the volunteerism that you leave your country, you leave a situation and you come here, sometimes with very little, sometimes with nothing, and you start over.

CHEN: Asghary tells his kids to work hard to seize this opportunity.

ASGHARY: We have here for you, and the United States is here for you, and everything you have got in your hand. What are you going to do is you have to study. That's said.

CHEN: Starting with what Nagy hopes is a lesson from their first Thanksgiving.

NAGY: I would want them to see that, that kind of tolerance is really possible in the United States. That Americans are, at heart, really a generous people.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.


MARQUARDT: And so many Afghans are still arriving here in the United States and getting used to a brand new country. Our thanks to Natasha Chen there and to Miry's List for everything that they do.

A round of winter weather is being expected to bring snow and high winds to some parts of the country. What it could potentially mean for your weekend travel plans? That's coming up.



PAUL: I know you may be getting ready to head back home after Thanksgiving. Well, the TSA says they expect tomorrow will likely be the highest number of people screen nationwide over the 10 Day holiday traveling period. Just so you know. So you have a heads up here.

MARQUARDT: And that's after the U.S. already hit a new pandemic-era air travel record. That was back on Wednesday as people started to head home.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Now begins the process of everybody who left town for Thanksgiving, coming home all at once, and the numbers have been really big.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): AAA projected that 48 million people would drive for the Thanksgiving holiday. That number really not that far off from where we were back in 2019, before the pandemic, only about a three percent difference.

The bottom line here is the traffic is back. And so, is the expense, the average price of a gallon of regular now around $3.40 nationwide. That's up about $1.30 from where we were this time last year.

MUNTEAN (on camera): But I talked to folks at the Maryland House Travel Plaza and they told me the expense cannot get in the way of their Thanksgiving plans because they shuttered so many of their plans last year.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Over to air travel now, the numbers there have also been really big. 2.3 million people screened by TSA at airports across the country. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving that is a new pandemic-era air travel record. The TSA projected a total of 20 million people would fly for the Thanksgiving holiday, and it seems like we're on pace to hit that.

The TSA says the Sunday after Thanksgiving will likely be the biggest.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.

MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Pete Muntean there.

And if you are traveling this weekend, you may be running into severe delays as a series of storms crisscross the country. A fast-moving system is going to be bringing wintry weather and gusty winds to many across the Midwest and the Northeast this weekend.

PAUL: Yes, CNN's Tyler Mauldin is live in a weather center. So, where are the target areas specifically, Tyler? And good morning.

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Good morning.

More than 8 million people are currently under winter weather alerts. That's mainly from the Great Lakes on into the New England area. We're going to see that number rise, because here is what's at play. We have two systems.

Number one, is this system that's departing. And this system has already dropped a decent amount of snow behind some parts of New England, the higher peaks have picked up nearly a foot.

We got lake effect snow, ongoing. Windy conditions, and then, there's that Alberta clipper that is moving into the Great Lakes. As it pushes to the east, It's going to gather some strength and it's going to spread more snowfall to the Great Lakes and on into New England. We could even see some snow flurries in Philadelphia and New York. How much are we looking at? Well, around the Great Lakes, about one to three inches, off of Lake Erie though, where we expect some lake effect snow, we could pick up six to eight inches pushing on into New England, we could see an additional four to six inches or so. The consensus in that region is really back to inches.

Along with that, you're going to get the win and that's going to reduce visibility a bit on the roadways. You're also going to deal with some cold temperatures, temperatures well below average for this time of the year, and it's not going to be really rebound in the days to come.

At the moment, we have zero delays ongoing. But that could change as we go through time, as we go through today. And that system pushes to the east we could see some delays in the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

And then, once we get into tomorrow, that system could produce a few air travel delays across portions of the Great Lakes going on into New England.