News Wrap: Deadly winter storm threatens Thanksgiving travel plans
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The holiday plans of many thousands of Americans lay at the mercy today of a major winter storm that’s arrived before winter actually starts.
The system has led to the deaths of at least 11 people since it blew onto the West Coast last week. The storm rolled toward the east as a wintry mix of heavy rain, wind, snow, and ice on the eve of the Thanksgiving travel period. This morning, road conditions in eastern Kentucky were already getting dangerous.
NEVIN WHITIS, traveler: It’s been pretty terrible. It’s — since I got on 75, it’s been rain, and now it’s all been ice and snow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The system had earlier crossed the west and southwest, dumping snow and ice from Southern California into Texas and Oklahoma. By today, it was spreading from the Gulf Coast region up the length of the Eastern Seaboard.
Salt trucks hit the roads from North Carolina to the Northeast, trying to get the jump on expected snow and ice.
MAN: Yes, we’re getting ready.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Airlines braced for major cancellations and flight delays through tomorrow, just as millions of people try to get home for the holidays.
In New York today, some hoped to beat the bad weather by flying out early.
KIM POWELL, traveler: It was many hundreds of dollars to change our tickets, but we had family plans in Chicago that we can’t miss, so off we go and we have to suck it up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For others, it was too late. Some were stuck in Miami yesterday after flights to Dallas and other Western cities were canceled.
COREY KEYS, traveler: I can’t get home. Had to spend a whole night in here in this airport on this cold floor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They were feeling the frustration in Milwaukee as well.
MIKEY SMITH, traveler: Now we are trying to connect to Kansas City and get back to Texas. So, yes, I just — wish I could click my heels three times and be home, but this is pretty tough here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To avoid getting stuck at airports or on the roads, some people decided to take the train.
AMY JACOBSEN, traveler: My son said, don’t you think about driving. And I’m so glad we are not driving.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, according to AAA, 90 percent of travelers will be on the roads this week, and nearly 40 million are expected to drive 50 miles or more from home.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear another challenge to President Obama’s health care law. At issue is a provision that employers provide birth control coverage under their health benefits. A number of business owners have cited religious objections. Lower courts have divided in their rulings on the issue.
Two American B-52 bombers flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea today. On Saturday, Beijing announced an air defense zone over the islands, which Japan also claims. The U.S. rejected the Chinese restrictions. Meanwhile, China sent its only aircraft carrier on a training mission today into the South China Sea. Disputes in that region center on oil and gas fields. We will have more on this right after the news summary.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is making new demands before signing a security agreement with the U.S. The Washington Post reported today that Karzai wants the U.S. to help start peace talks with the Taliban and to release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo. Karzai made the demands during a two-hour meeting Monday with the president’s national security adviser, Susan Rice.
She warned against delay in signing the security pact.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. National Security Adviser: If the agreement isn’t signed promptly, what I said to the president is, we would have no choice. We would be compelled by necessity, not by our preference, to have to begin to plan for the prospect that we will not be able to keep our troops here, because they will not be invited.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The agreement would allow some 8,000 American troops to stay in Afghanistan after next year, helping to train Afghan forces.
In Thailand, thousands of protesters forced the evacuation of several key government ministries and announced they mean to bring down the government. Crowds have already seized a number of government buildings. They vowed today to shut down more offices if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra doesn’t resign. She called for calm and she offered to negotiate.
France pledged today to send 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic in an effort to restabilize the nation. The former French colony has fallen into near anarchy since rebels ousted the president in March. Now the U.N. is warning of mass atrocities.
In Paris, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius outlined his hopes for the mission.
LAURENT FABIUS, French Foreign Minister (through interpreter): In this operation, what are we aiming for? First, assist an abominable humanitarian situation — I mean really abominable — then restore security in a country that is imploding, thirdly, allow a political transition because there are transitional authorities, and, fourthly, at some point, allow a kick-start of the economy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The French deployment is in conjunction with a regional peacekeeping force being deployed by the African Union.
CBS News has ordered 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and her producer to take a leave of absence over a story on last year’s raid in Benghazi, Libya. The October report cited a security guard’s claim that he was there when the U.S. mission was attacked in September 2012. It turned out that he told his employer and the FBI that he wasn’t there. A CBS internal review found Logan did a poor job of vetting the man’s account.
Wall Street was relatively quiet today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained a fraction of a point to close at 16,072. The Nasdaq rose 23 points to close at 4,017.