tv MSNBC Live MSNBC December 26, 2013 11:00am-2:01pm PST
s annoying runny nose. [ sniffles ] i better take something. [ male announcer ] dayquil cold and flu doesn't treat all that. it doesn't? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting antihistamine. oh, what a relief it is! good afternoon, i'm craig melvin. right now at 2:00 on the east coast, new reaction from the video of the american contractor kidnapped by al qaeda pleading for president obama's help. >> my name is ryan weinstein. >> and that video obtained by "the washington post" weinstein asks president obama to negotiate his release saying he feels, quote, totally abandoned and forgotten. the state department said we're working hard to authenticate the latest report, but we reiterate our call that weinstein be released and returned to his family. originally from rockville,
maryland, he was working as a consultant on u.s. government programs when abducted from his home in 2011. weinstein should be freed if the united states stops the air attacks, and he demanded the release of all al qaeda and tall ban members. peter alexander is traveling with the president in honolulu, where the president is vacationing. martin fletcher is in london for us. pete, at this point, has there been any official word yet from the white house? >> reporter: craig, it's a good question. we have reached out to officials with the white house who aren't commenting at this time. generally they think it's not helpful -- and the obama administration officials have said before that they will not negotiate with al qaeda
terrorists over weinstein. that doesn't mean they're not making significant effects using significant resources to try to find individuals who have been kidnapped and are believed to be overseas. >> martin, really quickly, peter just alluded to it there. what is this administration's policy, what's been the track record on handling kidnapped americans? >> well, as far as the families of the kidnapped americans, it's not very good, but the american government said that negotiating with kidnappers only encourages them to take more. so the policy is no negotiations, but however, they said they'll go after and find them wherever they are. it's more retribution or revenge against the kidnappers and trying to find them through secret means. but actually paying ransom to the kidnappers, it's not an
american policy because it would encourage more kidnappers. on the other hand, it's an attempt to stop more feeling it's worthwhile to kidnap americans. >> weinstein said in the video, his health starting to fail as well. we're talking about warren weinstein. his family not the only ones pleading for the government to help get their loved one. we're talking about the levinson case. how does this differ from the levinson case? >> i think it's difficult because weinstein was living in pakistan for seven years. he spoke the local language, wore the local clothes. he was helping the local people. as a matter of fact, he was about to end his assignment in pakistan a few days before he was kidnapped. so whereas in the case of norman levinson, he apparently it's being reported was in some way working with the cia. he went for a secret rendezvous on the small island ten miles
off the coast of iran. he was supposed to meet somebody, the rendezvous went wrong and he got kidnapped. it appears that levinson was involved in some kind of shady business that got him in trouble and he's been missing for a number of years. whereas warren weinstein was minding his own business, helping the local people, about to go home and got kidnapped by the eight or nine people who apparently went into his home in the middle of the night. there was a fight with his guards and he was kidnapped and taken away. so it appears it's two completely different cases. one person was working in some context with the cia and the other one was not. >> peter, really quickly, what's the president and the first lady up to today? >> reporter: it's a good question as far as we know, the president will spend most of the day relaxing with his family. it was a unique scene last night as the president and the first lady went over to the marine corps base not far from the location where they're standing here on the island. they had a chance to visit with
about 580 troops and their families. as we understood the president was going to take pictures with just a select few of them but they stuck around for an extended period of time. took photos with everybody. all the troops and their families in that group. certainly made for a special christmas. and they said merry christmas in hawaiian. >> okay. meanwhile, another day of violence and uncertainty in egypt. one day after the government officially designated the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization. the move allows the government to arrest anyone who belongs to that group on terrorism charges now. five people were hurt this morning when a roadside bomb went off near a bus stop in cairo. the police defused two more devices. it comes two days after a
suicide car bomb killed 16 and injured dozens more north of cairo. and we have more from cairo. and ayman, first of all, do we know who's responsible for today's bombing? >> reporter: no official claim of responsibility has been made by any group. certainly it's being denounced by the muslim brotherhood and others and more importantly, the egyptian government is not holding back. it's blaming the muslim brotherhood for the violence that has been seen in egypt over the course of the last several months. >> let's talk more about this declaration, the government declaring that the muslim brotherhood is a terrorist organization. what is that going to mean now for the hundreds of thousands of egyptians who are affiliated with that group? with that party in some way, shape, form or fashion? >> reporter: well, it gives the egyptian cabinet much more power in going after individuals of
the muslim brotherhoods, its charitable organizations and businesses that draw financial support to the organization. that is going to give the egyptian government that much more authority in cracking down on anybody associated with that organization. as you mentioned earlier any individual whether they're a leader or a grass roots support of the organization, who publicly comes out and speaks on behalf of the muslim brotherhood makes any comments on the brotherhood is subjected to severe punishment including up to two five years in prison just for protesting on the streets. it gives the egyptian government to go after them in a very aggressive manner from all of the individual levels to the grass roots organizational levels of the organization. >> how is that labelling being received on the streets of cairo? >> reporter: well, many of the people who are supporting the government's crackdown are saying that this was long overdue. some of the organizations that were behind the june 30th protests including the major one
has come out and said this is a good decision by the egyptian government. however, the muslim brotherhood has denounced it, saying they will not be deterred. they'll continue their calls for the protests and they're getting support from other political organizations who second rise that the muslim brotherhood should not be shun and labelling them as a terrorist organization will breed the kind of violence they have been witnessing over the past few months. no doubt they're in support of the crackdown against the muslim brotherhood. >> thank you. hundreds of thousands who spent christmas without power after a massive ice storm being held in the dark by severe cold.
tens of thousands left without power. after christmas, before christmas as well. because of that vicious ice storm, downed trees and power lines from michigan to maine. those folks, many are still in the dark. as of this morning more than 140,000 households are waiting for the lights and the heat to be turned back on. crews have been working frantically, but frigid temperatures are making it rough. some are calling this the worst christmas week weather in 100
years. nbc's meteorologist dylan dwyer has more on that. >> throughout the midwest and northeast, downed trees and power lines and ice that shows no sign of melting in freezing temperatures. all fallout from last weekend's brutal ice storm still wreaking havoc. worst hit, michigan, many more than 150,000 remained without power christmas day. george and his wife and dog shep left behind the stockings to seek warmth at a hotel. >> we spent our anniversary here yesterday, 23 years. we got to spend it in a motel. very romantic. >> they brought their stockings with them. >> everybody is having a tough time. so we still don't have any power. but we don't care. we're together. >> crews worked tirelessly giving up their own holiday to restore power to cold residents who have been without heat, some for five days. >> we have got 800 men and women
working in the field to try to get as many families and homes restored with power. we know how important this time of the year is to families. we're working hard and diligently. >> a home with heat, a welcome gift, even if it comes after christmas. some help for crews trying to restore power in the areas. temperatures should inch above freezing. for more on the forecast let's go straight to weather channel's vivian brown. what can we expect? >> well, craig, unfortunately some of the same areas that were hit hard last weekend have a snowy and wet weekend to come. here we go tomorrow, looking at the lake-effect snows with the snow coming off of lakes erie and ontario, that will be the case on saturday too. but it's sunday, the key day that two separate systems will impact the upper midwest and the northeast. this will bring widespread snow over the region, but this will will bring the rain up the east
coast as it comes in from the gulf of mexico. so rain on sunday in boston, new york city, philadelphia. down to d.c., but widespread snow showers say for milwaukee as well as the green bay area. because the temperatures will be colder here over the great lakes, but actually because of the rain, we have the warmer air temperatures in the 40s on sunday. 47 in the new york city area. that's slightly above average. but look at d.c. with 53 and because it's so warm of course, the precipitation will be in the form of rain. craig? >> all right, vivian brown, thank you so much for that. from gift returns to gift cards, customers and retailers hoping to cash in on major post holiday sales. the fight over same-sex marriages, officials looking to the supreme court to stop gays and lesbians from marrying in utah. pete williams has an update on that. beauty, plus power.
a century old icon goes abroad to help women lift themselves out of poverty. >> it's a company for women. that puts food on your table and mascara on your face. it's time for the your business entrepreneur of the week. arnie arsenault owns a company that works only nine months of the year. he invested in franchise, and they maintain and design holiday displays. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone.
there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. the richest one percent, that's a merry chwho.mas? republicans in congress made sure of that protecting billions in taxpayer giveaways. and for those facing tough times? republicans stripped 1.3 million americans of jobless benefits folks who want to work, but cannot find a job kicking them to the curb during christmas. so to the 1.3 million americans losing benefits merry christmas - from the gop. it's wrong to leave more than a million americans behind. tell republicans: restore unemployment benefits now.
well, now that theant pros have been handed out, stores are back open today and they are still expecting huge crowds of shoppers making returns and using those new gift cards. the data firm shopper track predicts that the crowds will be the fifth largest of the year. many stores are offering dramatic discounts, hoping to clear the inventory by the end of the year. for those of you looking to make some returns, buyer beware. according to the national retail federation, 28% of stores have changed their return policies. according to consumer world, at least three major retailers, best buy, sears and toys "r" us have shortened the window that return window, they have shortened it for some or all products.
julia, first of all, what's behind this shortening of the window to return? >> reporter: well, i think it's worth pointing out that about 6% of all returns are fraudulent. that's terrible for retailers so they want to cut down on that fraud as much as possible and one great way to do that is just have stricter rules about returns. they also would rather if you not returned things. i mean, i have to say that returns are going to be about $60 billion this year. so if you don't buy anything else in exchange, that's just bad for the retailers. so they want to make sure that consumers hold on to their products. >> some stores opened as early as 5:00 a.m. today. toys "r" us opening for 14 hours today. 13 hours friday and saturday. is this a trend to see this grow in the coming years, much like black friday has? >> reporter: well, you know, i have been at this mall for many
hours now and early this morning it was pretty dead. it feels very different than black friday, just being at the mall. i think that we're going to see a lot more online shopping starting on christmas day. we saw target and nordstrom's and kohl's offering significant discounts starting yesterday. so i think that's going to be a lot more of the trend, but i would be surprised if we saw too many really early openings the day after christmas. simply because based on the turnout this morning, people aren't that eager to get out of bed when there isn't that much time pressure before christmas. >> you have 364 days. we know that the retailer sales declined about 3.1% we're told. however, the national retail fedcation says they expect -- federation says they expect the retail holiday sales to increase 4%. is that because people are waiting after christmas to shop
or more about online sales? >> reporter: i think it's a combination of both. overall numbers i heard were in the ballpark. about 3% growth for the crucial holiday sales period. a lot of people are waiting for deals and a lot of people are shopping online. one real growth area is online shopping. this holiday season online shopping is expected to grow about 15% over last year. and now it compromises about 14% of the total holiday season sales, but that's a big deal because for the whole year online is only about 6% of the total. so the fact that it's making up such a bigger chunk of the holiday season pie says a lot about the fact that that's where people are now turning for better deals and more convenience when it comes to shopping. i have to tell you, i do a lot of my shopping online. >> you and me both. hey, quickly before we let you go, for folks who want to take back the sweater that doesn't fit or the tie that's hideous, what are a few of the things
they should keep in mind? what are a few of the things they should know when trying to make returns? >> reporter: well, in terms of the new return policies, i think it's about getting it in as soon as possible. i think it's about saying there's a 30 day limit or a 15-day limit on when you can make the returns. so might as well go into the mall and get it out of the way. >> julia, always a pleasure. thank you. still ahead, while some people are returning gifts one las vegas cabbie is being praised for returning 300,000 bucks that one of his fares left behind. it's a really great story. also jobless benefits expire for more than a million out of work americans saturday. one group is already out with a new ad going after republicans who blocked the extension. >> so to the 1.3 million americans losing benefits, merry christmas from the gop. [ sneezes, coughs ]
♪ when our only job was having fun. well, it's feeling pretty simple again thanks to weight watchers new simple start. i started losing weight right away. and i'm having a lot of fun. new simple start. a 2-week jump-start to a whole new beginning. get motivation at meetings, like i did, or do it entirely online. join for free. weight watchers. your new beginning starts here. utah officials say they will now ask the united states supreme court to stop same-sex
marriages in their state. it is a last-ditch effort after a federal appeals court rejected the state's request to reinstate an anti-gay marriage law. pete williams is our justice correspondent. pete, let's talk here. first of all, about the chances. what are utah's chances, chances that the high court is even going to consider this? >> well, they'll consider utah's request. utah will file an emergency application asking the court to do what the tenth circuit court of an peoples in denver would not, and that's to delay the effect of the judge's ruling that found the state law unconstitutional. that will be referred to justice sotomayor who's the circuit justice responsible for that part of the country but it will be a while before they move toward that. they did not get the stay on christmas eve and now it will take them a while before they
ask the u.s. supreme court for a stay. >> any idea why, why is it going to take so much longer? >> it's more complicated to go to the supreme court. i think they want to take their time to make sure they get the request right. because that's the last chance. if the supreme court says no stay, then same-sex marriage will remain the law in utah until and unless it's overturned by the court of appeals. so you have to think of this as two tracks. the judge makes the decision last week, saying the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. that decision will be appealed and in probably early next year, the tenth circuit court of appeals in denver will hear an argument on whether to overturn that ruling. this other track is on whether to put a hold on the effect of that hearing that's what we're following that's what may go to the supreme court here within a day or so. >> pete williams, thanks for the clarity. do appreciate you. for more on what we can
expect in 2014, i'm joined live by mark solomon from freedom to marry. thanks for coming in. utah, the first red -- not just red, really red state where same-sex is happening right now. and looks to be happening for the foreseeable future. how significant is it that it's happening right now in utah? >> i think it's really significant. what we're seeing is that it's been a huge amazing time for all of these loving and committed families. and for the rest of utah, people are fine. you don't see people too upset about it. people are living their lives. i think it's all good. it's important for people to see. >> is this the tipping point nationally? >> you know, there have been -- we have had so many wins this year. you know, we won nine states. i think this is really significant because the country can see that even in a red state, even in a state that's the second most religious in the country, people are okay with
us. >> at this point, do we know how much -- what's happening in utah, how much that was influenced by the decision, by the high court earlier this year? >> it was influenced a lot. the judge referred a lot to the opinion and both the majority opinion as well as the dissent by justice scalia pointed to that in saying you know what, you're right. the federal government can't discriminate against same-sex couples nor can the states. >> it has been a bit of a banner year for same-sex marriage advocates in this country. when you look ahead to next year, when you look ahead to 2014, what are some of the potential hurdles, some of the obstacles? >> i think the obstacles -- well, it's a good question. i think things are going to continue to go well. i think we're going to continue to win more states. we'll continue to grow public support. it's because of the scenes that people are seeing in utah right now. can you imagine for all of these family, these loving and committed families right around the holidays being able to marry
the person they love? it's really a beautiful moment. >> when we look back, you know, 20 or 30 years from 2340u, -- from now, and same-sex marriage in this country is probably for all practical intents and purposes the norm, when we look back, what are we going to say was the tipping point? or is there that moment, okay, that's when they -- the needle moved? >> i think there will be a u.s. supreme court ruling that will finish the job. when the court decides america is ready they'll finish the job. i think it's the couples telling their stories, talking about why marriage is is important to them and their families. so it's not one moment. it's many, many moments added up together. >> 2013, you just mentioned the number of states that allow same-sex marriage and the jump we saw. at this point, any idea in 2014 whether any additional states will follow suit, and if so,
where will those be? >> no question oregon is next on the list. right now, there are so many court challenges that it's anybody's guess. >> what about the deep south? what's happening in the deep south right now? >> we are launching an effort from the deep south to build public support. i think a lot like utah, people will be very surprised to see how much support there is and the people are fine with it. even in the deep south as people might say. even in utah. >> because you know that's how a lot of folks on the outside will measure i think whether this is -- whether we are in fact at the tipping point, when you start to see south carolina and kentucky and tennessee start to move as well. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> all right. good to see you. see you soon. an estimated 1.3 million people will lose their emergency unemployment benefits when they expire this saturday. the extended again fits were left out of a bipartisan -- benefits were left out of the
bipartisan effort this month. now, one has taken out a television ad accusing republicans of protecting the rich and punishing the long-time unemployed. >> do you know who had a merry christmas? the richest 1%. republicans in congress made sure of that, protecting billions in taxpayer give aways and for those facing tough times, republicans faced 1.3 million americans of jobless benefits. kicking them to the curb during christmas. >> susie cam is the national reporter, so let's start here. how did the unemployment benefits come about, and why are they expiring now after they were extended i think 11 times by congress. >> yeah, so originally, these federal unemployment benefits which kick in after state benefits expire which is 26 weeks started in 2008, just as we were able to hurdle into the financial crisis and the recession thereafter.
so since then, they have actually have been scaled back progressively. they're shorter. they're less generous than they used to be. but they are a temporary measure. the emergency measures. so congress has had to go back time and again and extend them. however, this time, congress decided not to include them in this budget bill that passed and then they left for recess and so that's why we're in this position we're in now. >> democrats say they're -- that extending these is going to be a priority. we know that if that happens, republicans are more than likely going to want some sort of concession. what might a compromise resemble? >> so i actually was just on the phone earlier today with congressman sandy levin and senator jack reed, democrats who are leading the push for this. basically they are proposing and they have a bill lined up for initial bid on january 6th, a three-month extension that would not be paid for. they have the support of senator dean heller -- >> that would not be paid for?
>> that would not be paid for. a straightup extension. dean heller, they have the highest unemployment in the country, is supporting this extension. the argument is let's do that first and then talk about how to pay for it. the pay for is not an easy, straightforward thing to find. as we have discovered before in these fiscal negotiations. >> politically here, what are the benefits of opposing extending unemployment benefits? >> so there's actually a new poll that was commissioned by the national employment law project advocacy group. there's a small but vocal minority, i think about 20% or so, who firmly support ending the benefits. that they are -- you imagine the folks of being at the core of some part of the conservative base who feel strongly about this. however, the poll found that americans support this, genders, economic classes, and basically the political indication is that
this is in their favor. if they want americans to support them, they should go on and support the extending the benefits. >> really quickly here, i don't know if you know the answer to this. but how much -- i know it varies depending on your state, the size of the checks what are we talking about? >> i think on average it's a couple hundred dollars a week. there was a woman who was on this -- she was an unemployed woman, she's 57, in rhode island. basically the check is one-third of what she made at her old job. it is barely enough to keep her basically meeting her mortgage, meeting her basic needs. you know, basically if you have a job, any kind of job that is paying a regular wage, you would prefer to have that over these benefits. they're supposed to be sort of the safety net before -- to keep people from really just hitting rock bottom. >> msnbc.com susie khimm, good
to see you. u.p.s. and fedex facing backlash from customers waiting for christmas packages. >> i want my package, like i want it today. i have done everything i can and they have given me nothing. >> what's the holdup? and most importantly when will those packages get there? what those shipping giants are saying today and also full of surprises, beyonce released a record breaking album out of the blue. then bought some presents for customers from walmart, but neither compared to the smile she put on one fan's face in vegas. sniffles ] i better take something. [ male announcer ] dayquil cold and flu doesn't treat all that. it doesn't? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting antihistamine. oh, what a relief it is!
if you have a business idea, we have a personalized legal solution that's right for you. with easy step-by-step guidance, we're here to help you turn your dream into a reality. start your business today with legalzoom. two of this country's biggest shipping companies are spending today scrambling to deliver packages that were supposed to arrive on christmas. fedex and u.p.s. faced a tough backlash online from angry customers yesterday. both companies are apologizing to those customers blaming the delays on weeks of bad weather and also on higher demand from
online sales. meanwhile, amazon which uses u.p.s. is also apologizing to customers. and has announced that it's going to be refunding shipping charges and also offering a gift card to compensate. and donna, you know, these companies are saying it was partially the weather, but they're also saying it was partially the sheer number of packages that were shipped this year. you would think though that u.p.s. and fedex would have seen this coming, it being the holiday season and all. how did they not? how are they caught so flat footed? >> you know, clearly, they did not anticipate the kind of demand that they encountered. they do plan for demand. u.p.s. delivers 16 million packages a day and they said that they expected an 8% increase. but they seemed to have gotten far more than that. a lot of, you know, online
retailers like amazon and kohl's and all kinds of places offered two days before christmas guaranteed -- >> guaranteed? that being the operative word, guaranteed shipping. >> right. that things would arrive by christmas eve. and a lot of people took advantage of those offers and then u.p.s. was just not able to deliver. >> amazon as i just mentioned offering customers a gift card, refunding the shipping fees. at this point, is there any reason to believe that fedex and u.p.s. will be providing some sort of monetary compensation to upset customers? >> i just did receive a note that somebody forwarded to me. they're a customer who actually sent some packages via u.p.s. and they haven't arrived yet and they said that they would be getting some sort of small e gift card but they didn't really specify. you know, i think u.p.s. is still deep in the middle of trying to clear this whole thing up. and you mentioned amazon. amazon has said in a statement
to us that they did get their stuff packaged and to the shippers on time. so they're saying it's not our fault. >> basically it wasn't us. call fedex, call u.p.s. not on us. >> yeah. >> you know, it's interesting, donna, to see what type if any long term effects this may have on the shipping industry. and whether the united states postal service, here to for the whipping boy for many, whether they come out of this smelling like roses. >> you know, this is definitely going to have an impact. one of the things that you are doing when you send your packages u.p.s. or fedex is you're trusting them to deliver on time. so this erodes that trust and it's a trust that builds up over years and years and one incident like this can send it crashing to the ground. how they handled it, a lot of the consumers feel is a little bit tone deaf. you know, the consumers are
facing disappointed kids who didn't see what they wanted under the christmas tree. and they're angry. they're really angry. >> especially when you pay extra for the guarantee. thank you so much, do appreciate your time. >> my pleasure. here's a quick look at the other stories that we are following in the news right now. a not guilty plea moments ago for the man accused of walking into los angeles international airport and opening fire on tsa agents, killing one. 23-year-old paul siancio was indicted on murder. that trial has been set for february 11th. a las vegas taxi driver said he didn't think twice about returning a bag that a passenger left in the back of the cab even though, even though that bag was full of cash. a lot of cash. some $300,000 in cold, hard cash. reportedly left by a poker player. when asked why he did not keep the money, his answer was
simple. >> because it does not belong to me. first of all. and it was not my money. i'm not interested. and i just want to do the right thing. >> there are still some good people left. look at that. and imagine sharing the stage with beyonce. in front of thousands of people. well, the make-a-wish foundation and queen b herself teamed up to make it happen for this young girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. she and the pop diva danced to "survivor" leaving the young girl in tears of joy. and now for a story about the power of beauty. a cosmetics company is using its products to transform the lives of african women living in poverty. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman explains.
>> it's morning, where half of the people are unemployed. with this woman is getting ready to go to work for a 120-year-old american icon. she's an avon lady. >> this is the foundation from avon. >> but she's not just peddling makeup, she's a role model for many african-american who are ready to lift themselves out of poverty. >> avon is a company for women. it puts food on your table and mascara on your face. >> a pretty good motto. >> yes. ♪ >> avon calling. >> it's hard to believe that avon lady we remember from generations ago is now thriving here. one of south africa's poorest townships, 150,000 people are crammed into tiny tin shacks built right next to open sewers. and yet, this is not a place of despair. because just like alice, many
women here who never imagined a life of prosperity are learning to believe in themselves. >> we're empowering women to be financially independent. so the main thing is not to sell to them. if they can't buy, then they have to join, go sell to the people out there, get extra cash for their families. >> when a woman gets that first piece of money in her hand, what's her reaction? >> she gets excited. >> can i pay myself? >> yes. >> yes. >> you didn't know that? >> i didn't know that. >> i think that's the whole point. >> i'm going to get a treat. >> alice now earns ten times more money than when she was cleaning houses. she has recruited hundreds of other avon ladies and tracks their sales on her own laptop. >> i'm speaking to avon. >> once computer illiterate, these women are taught basic business skills and they must make a motivational poster of
all the things they want to buy. it's called a dream board. >> so first thing on here was to become an executive? >> yes. >> then the blackberry. >> then my washing machine. >> for alice the dream was sending her children to private school and she's done that. >> on that dream board, what's left? >> what's left is the house. >> is there any reason why i should think that you won't do that? >> i don't think so. >> economic freedom also means freedom from guns and domestic violence. and this is alice's business deputy, but not so long ago anna was selling hot cakes at the bus stop and being brutally beaten at home. you were in an abusive marriage. >> yes. >> what did he do to you? >> i remember one day he beat me with the ax on my back. >> with the ax? >> with the ax. >> now he's gone? >> now he's gone. he's out of my life.
>> you feel safe? >> i feel safe. when i wake up i think of any job and i love my job. >> anna has inspired her daughter to get into the business too. she just opened her own beauty shop from money she earned as an avon lady. how do you think what you're doing is going to change the economics of south africa? >> i think that i'm going to be an example to most of the young girls out there, that they have to be independent. you can call me and give me your order. >> for what you have learned, do you feel this responsibility to bring women along with you? >> yes. because if you teach somebody the knowledge, to take up the business, so they teach others to do the same. so it all goes on and on, everyone being self-sufficient. >> how about that? still ahead, why the season of giving means so much more for one town ravaged by tornadoes.
well, we are keeping our eye on the number of stories in politics including a boom in gun sales in state of colorado where more guns were sold this year than in any other on record. in the first 11 months of 2013, colorado completed a record 354,000 background checks. that's 19,000 more than all of last year. and here's the thing. that does not include the month of december which is typically the busiest month for gun purchases in this country. a visit by the japanese prime minister to a world war ii shrine in tokyo is drawing criticism from u.s. officials as well as the governments of china and south korea. the shrine honors japanese killed during the war.
it includes though a number of convicted war criminals. the u.s. embassy says it's disappointed that the prime minister chose to exacerbate tensions with its neighbors in asia. every december, high school students in moore, oklahoma, they collect donations during the holidays. but then came this year's tornado. and all of a sudden, the need was almost overwhelming. almost. nbc's gabe gutierrez explains. >> reporter: in a town where recovery isn't measured in rebuilt homes, christmas can't come soon enough. >> it's been a really rough year. the worst i ever had >> reporter: jason and laura dorman remembered the damage when the twister roared through. the family endured months of temporary housing, but then jason an airplane mechanic, lost his job. >> it's been a very humbling
experience for us. >> when you -- >> reporter: their daughter aerial a junior at the high school had planned her usual donation to families in need. >> and then my teacher came and told me, hey, don't worry about it. because your family is one that we're trying to help. and that really -- it was a lot to take in at the time. >> reporter: at south moore alone, the tornado displaced about 400 students giving the annual holiday surprises drive new meaning. they worried fund-raising might be tough. how could they ask the fellow students who lived in the neighborhoods for donations when so many of them needed help? >> it's actually brought many of us to tears just to see the kids and how excited they are to do whatever they can to give back. >> reporter: the students adopted 74 families buying toys, stocking stuffers and canned food, raising $7,000 in cash and gift cards and learning lessons no textbook could teach.
>> it's an awesome experience to see the smile on the kids' faces. >> reporter: in the gym donations piled up and were sorted into care packages. >> the past six months have made us way stronger. we have that special bond now. >> reporter: and that may be the greatest gift of all for the dormans. >> if anything good comes out of something so tragic, this brought my hope back in people. >> this is for you guys. >> reporter: a gesture they'll always remember after a year they'd rather forget. gabe gutierrez, moore, oklahoma. >> that's going to do it for me this hour. brian shackman is up next. more snow for tens of thousands still waiting to get their power restored. how long is this latest round of winter weather going to last? we'll get an update from the weather channel on the other side of this break. [ sneezes, coughs ]
i'm brian shactman. right now at 3:00 p.m., the state department is responding to the new video purportedly of an american contractor kidnapped by al qaeda pleading for the u.s. government's help. >> my name is warren weinstein. >> in the video obtained by "the washington post," weinstein asked president obama to negotiate his release saying he feels, quote, totally abandoned and forgotten. end quote. the state department has released the statement saying, quote, we're working hard to authenticate the latest report, but we reiterate our call that warren weinstein be released and returned to his family. originally from rockville, maryland, he was working as a consultant on u.s. government programs when he was abducted from his pakistani home in 2011. at the time he was said to be released, and he demanded the release of all the al qaeda and
taliban members. peter alexander, live for us from honolulu, where the president is vacationing and now live for us, martin fletcher in london. peter, first of all, looks good behind you. it's not on a green screen. has there been any reaction from the white house today? >> reporter: we reached out today and they don't have any public comments on this. they don't comment on situations like this, because they think it only brings more attention to it and empowers theser t terrorist groups. the obama administration said it won't negotiate with al qaeda over weinstein's release. u.s. officials say that the u.s. doesn't negotiate with kidnappers specifically they say that's because in part that that would only give them an incentive to capture more hostages going forward. but u.s. officials insisted to me again this morning that the u.s. does allocate significant resources to try to bring these individuals who have been kidnapped home. >> yeah, martin, so let me put
it to you. so the general policy is not to negotiate with al qaeda but do they just do nothing? i mean, what does the white house and the administration, the federal government do in these kind of situations? >> well, there's not much they can do in terms of direct contact with the kidnappers except try to find them and kill them. the policy of the american government, like the british government is not to negotiate with the terrorists because only encourage further kidnappers, but they do make it clear they'll go after those people and they'll find them and bring them to justice. well, in whatever way they can, including killing them. so that's the -- what america can do about it. but in terms of negotiating, paying ransoms, the american policy is not to do that. what goes on behind the scenes of course is a different matter. as peter alexander mentioned, a lot of intelligence resources that are invested into finding them. and attempting to rescue hostages, but paying ransom, the
policy is never because it only encourages more following a couple of weeks ago? >> well, i guess levinson was working for the cia when he went to the island that was off the coast of iran. he was going to meet somebody. it was a rendezvous that went wrong and he was kidnapped. whereas weinstein was living in pakistan for seven years, he spoke the local language, he was helping the people through u.s. aid. by the way when weinstein was kidnapped after living there for seven years, he was about to end his assignment in pakistan. he was going to go home in a few days. so sadly, he was kidnapped right before he was about to leave by eight or nine people who went into his home, attacked his guards, kidnapped him from the house that we just saw. and so it's a -- one apparently
was working for the cia. one apparently was not. >> thanks, martin. quickly, peter, before we let you go off topic, anything interesting on the docket for the president today? >> well, he got in a workout today, if you consider that interesting. he's played golf during the trip. the only business on his trip, at some point we anticipate over the course of the next several days it could happen today, he'll sign that budget deal, the bipartisan deal that was agreed upon by pat murray the democrat from washington state and republican paul ryan. when it does happen we'll let you know. >> peter alexander, martin fletcher, live for us on msnbc, thanks and be safe. another wave of deadly violence in egypt is putting that country on edge and threatening to further destabilize the political situation there. five people were wounded when an explosion tour apart a bus stop in cairo. two other devices were found nearby and defused by bomb experts. this comes one day after the
interim egyptian government declared the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization. they accused them of being behind the latest rash of attacks including a suicide bombing that killed 16 people. joining me live from cairo, nbc's ayman mohyeldin. does this violence differ from what we have seen in the past from egypt? >> reporter: well, over the past several months, there have been a series of high profile attacks that have been targeting egyptian security forces. most has been concentrated in the northern part of the sinai peninsula. what we have seen in the past 48 hours, both in the attack in cairo and north of cairo, it was targeting a police security headquarters, not too far away from the capital. given the fact that it was very heavily fortified according to the ministry of interior. the scope and the significance of the attack is the fact that
the would-be attacker was able to get so close to this building and carry out the type of suicide bombing that egypt has not seen for decades. more importantly, it has the hallmarks of the type of violence we are seeing in other countries near egypt. that is what is giving a lot of people in the country and officials here a sense of tremendous amount of fear of what could be coming in the weeks and months ahead. >> of course, calling the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization gives the military coverage to go after them as a so-called war on terror. i'm curious how is that playing on the ground in egypt? does the public believe that that's the case? >> reporter: well, right now the majority of the egyptian public does believe in fact there is a legitimate war on terror. there are calls by all sectors of society to reject the type of violence we saw today and on tuesday. right now the biggest voice of concern about what the egyptian government is doing is coming from a handful of human rights organizations who are afraid that the egyptian government may try to capitalize on the war on terror and reverse some of the
liberties gained over the course of the last several years by imposing or reinstating martial law and trying to use the crackdown on the muslim brotherhood as means of trying to crack down on dissent at large. there are growing concerns that the government is trying to seize the opportunity to reverse some of the gains. no doubt there's a strong sense of anger against the muslim brotherhood, very much a big part of the society is now condemning the muslim brotherhood. so the egyptian government feels it does have a little bit more of a free hand and a lot of public will and support to go ahead with the so-called war on terror. >> we know how concerned some of the countries around south sudan are. how about in terms of egypt spreading? >> reporter: right now, no major concern it will spill over out of egypt's borders. although many are contributing to this problem. a lot of the egyptian officials i have been speaking to are citing that this violence that we are seeing here in the
country is stemming from neighboring territories like gaza. and more importantly an influx of weapons coming from the west of the country from libya. they do believe that the borders of egypt are making this situation a little bit more volatile. and that something they're keeping a very close eye on. >> all right. ayman mohyeldin, thanks very much. snow falling in areas where residents are still waiting to get power restored after a massive ice storm. we'll check in with the weather channel. plus, the post christmas rush. i just can't get my arms around it. from gift cards to returning stuff, shoppers out again and you will not believe how big a shopping day today actually is. we'll be right back.
he was clear in his priorities headed into the year. during the election he said he thought by defeating mitt romney the republican fever would break. he mentioned the infrastructure, climate, immigration. a whole host of things pretty much none of which has happened. so when you add in addition since the election we had the whole gun control debate which became a major white house priority right at the start of the year after the newtown shooting and again, gone. so some of this is congress.
some is the courts. but it -- >> out of all the issues and you touched on four or five of them, what do you think is the biggest disappointment in terms of his agenda and the optimism he had when he took the office for the second term? >> it seemed like gun control was a debate. this was an unexpected battle. not something that would have expected at the start of the year was the top priority. but i think it stung. immigration is surprising for the same reason. i seemed to have a tremendous amount of momentum. it's not dead, but nothing has happened that he can sign. >> before he went to hawaii he acknowledged that a lot of his legislations that not gone through congress the way he'd like. i didn't think he'd get in the tit for tat like president bush did. does the blame go to president obama or congress? >> it's hard not to put a lot of
this on congress. i mean, you shouldn't expect them to agree with the president if they don't agree on the policy, but one of the issues that stymied their agenda, they can't get appointments through. that republicans delay with them. they delay them and vote for some of the appointments that's the reason that the democrats enacted the nuclear option. >> so the president doesn't really like we know to do the politicking on the hill. he doesn't like to invite them out for lunch who wants to have a drink with mitch mcconnell, yet his approval ratings are as low as they have been in the presidency. do you think he'll change his attitude in an effort to get something done at least leading into to the midterms here in 2014? >> there's been efforts where he tried to smooth things over, having golf with john boehner. but we're dealing mostly with kind of systemic issues here. structural.
the republican party as it's constituted now is very conservative and its base is very, very suspicious of any interaction with the president. it makes it hard to whip votes up for a compromise. >> you're in d.c. i got blown out of the water on "morning joe", listen, boehner fought back could a more moderate republican get some traction in 2014 and people said you're dreaming is that a dream, could that happen? could republicans try to work more through the middle? >> it's difficult to say. right now the strategy seems to be don't get much of anything done and just hope that obamacare's troubles bring down the democratic party around them. >> but yet they shut down the government. if they had not shut down the government at all and had the focus on the affordable care act they might have more success --
>> that's the argument that the moderate republicans are saying. >> it's a low bar. >> this is a low bar as obama was saying during the election. the fever breaking. suddenly this era of compromise on a whole whoes of -- host offed issue. >> 2014, is it more productive or more positive, more changes with the agenda that the president put forth a year ago? >> the only area where i think there might be a serious, positive change -- immigration. it's not dead. it's still has a chance, it's a tough road for john boehner to whip up that conservative support for it. but it's possible. if that gets done, this will have been a pretty substantial congress. a major policy. if not, it's hard to see what else is there right now. >> thank you very much. have a good one. still ahead, one person who did have a good year -- pope francis. he's won the hearts of millions but political reports he's
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usaa. we know what it means to serve. welcome back. i'm brian shactman. of course tens of thousands spent christmas in the dark. after a brutal ice storm from maine to michigan. some are waiting for the lights to come on along with the heat. some may have to wait it out until saturday. let's go to the weather channel's paul goodloe. i was in vermont, it went from 55 to 25, and it seemed -- it seemed like a blink of the eye. some of the areas in the vermont, and the northern midwest, are they getting some heat? >> not really. the areas in the dark still are from a storm that hit last sunday, and here it is now thursday. and a dark and cold christmas. without the heat as well.
so we're still seeing some snow showers across the area and we add insult to injury in terms of maine. they could have another three to four inches of snow. boston, we're seeing some light snow and rain mixture east of the downtown area. we're watching the lake effect favored zones, off lake erie and that's where the snow will be. some lake effect favored zones over half an inch and insult to injury here. many areas of maine still without power. dealing with another three, four, five inches of snow. although they should get a break. temperatures won't warm up a whole lot. lake effect snow comes off lake erie and lake ontario. no widespread snow across the new england area. then our attention starts to shift to the gulf coast states. it's warm much for all rain across the area on saturday.
the northeast will be dry on saturday. temperatures on average. no big warm-up for you. then to sunday, we start to bring more rain and thunderstorms all across the southeast. very busy travel day. folks kind of get back for their new year's, after their christmas plans. but also into the northeast, yeah, insult to injury. another area that could see some sleet and freezing rain as we start to push this into the northeast and new england. brian? >> paul, thank you very much. have a happy new year if i don't see you. after taking a break for christmas shoppers are back out in full force today making returns and using those new gift cards. the data firm shopper track predicts crowds today will be the fifth largest of the whole year. stores are hoping to clear their inventory by the end of the year and for those of you making returns be ware. 28% of stores have changed their return policies according to
consumer world. best buy, sears and toys "r" us have shortened the return window for some of all of their products. jul julia boreston joins me live. >> good to see you. >> toys "r" us is opened for 14 hours today, 13 over the weekend each day. we know black friday has become sort of black thursday. i mean, is this something we'll bank on every single year? >> well, we did some earlier store openings but i think the big trend is offering more online sales on christmas day. we saw a big increase in christmas online sales and a lot of retailers started the post christmas sales yesterday. from target to nordstrom's all offered significant discounts yesterday. here at the grove, it's packed now, but people didn't want to get here at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. i think we'll see stores open
earlier, but i would not everyone to jump on that 5:00 a.m. bandwagon the day after christmas. >> interesting numbers don't make sense. i want you them to make sense to me and the people watching. last year, in-store retail sales went down, but the national retail federation expects the sales to go up almost 4%. does that everyone shopped really early or really late or a change in trend that one group is not seeing? >> i think -- you know what, the big trend is online shopping, brian. this year we are seeing online shopping, over the holiday season grow as much as 15% over last year. and over the holidays, online shopping is going to account for 14% of total sales. now, that doesn't sound like a lot but it's actually huge if you take into consideration that over the rest of the year on an annual basis online shopping, it's only 6% of sales. we are seeing people make a ton more purchases online.
>> online sales usually go up about 20% year over year for the decade. gift cards is a definite trend. $30 billion in gift cards given. it's good for the companies but a little bit of a wrinkle too. people have to spend them for the companies to reap the benefits. >> that's absolutely right. about $30 billion. it's up about 4%, so not a dramatic increase. retailers don't get to count them as revenue until consumers cash them in. so a lot of the folks when we talk to them here today are here to use gift cards so the retailers hope that consumers use them early and often and they spend more than the value of the gift cards. >> you know, they want to move inventory, but they're making it tougher to return things. as i mentioned at the beginning of this interview, give me a few more details about what companies are doing to change
their return policies and sort of how that impacts the consumer. >> well, brian, there are about $60 billion in returns expected over the holiday season. that's a huge number and about 6% of all returns are fraud. so for retailers, they'd love to have as many limitations as possible to make sure they're not getting ripped off by consumers. so the basic rule of thumb is that retailers are going to try to pressure people to make those returns as early as possible. so if you have some spare time over the next couple of days it's a great way -- great opportunity to get those returns out of way. >> aren't you surprised there are so many people shopping? doesn't that surprise you at all? >> well, i say you walk around here, there are 50, 70% off. i cannot believe how deep the discounts are. they were significant discounts before christmas, but i think people have been trained to wait for a deal. and i think that we're going to see a lot of shoppers come out, look for odeals online. look for deals here. if you're talking about 70% off, one analyst said people will be trained to never pay full price
retail again because they could get such significant discount. >> so few people would say, that's so last season. thank you very much. still ahead, three more utah counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the state's ban was defeated in court yet again. the question now, could the issue end up back before the u.s. supreme court? plus, running behind. are you one of the unlucky people still waiting for your christmas package? u.p.s. and fedex, they say they can explain why you didn't get it. mom ] be right there, baby. [ muffled noises ] oops. ow. sorry. [ baby crying ] ♪ [ female announcer ] new pampers. unlike ordinary diapers with 2 layers, pampers have 3 absorbent layers, to stay up to 3 times drier, so babies can sleep soundly all night.
where does the united states get most of its energy? is it africa? the middle east? canada? or the u.s.? the answer is... the u.s. ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. another victory for advocates of same-sex marriage. a federal court has refused to put a hold on them in utah. but the state plans to keep on fighting this and maybe try to get in front of the highest court in the land. joining me now is pete williams. simple way to start off, what
happens next in the process? >> what happens next is for the state to go to the u.s. supreme court. but that will take a while. we expected them to do it today, but a statement on the utah attorney general's website makes it clear it will take a while because they're seeking the help from outside counsel, from law firms that are accustomed to dealing with the u.s. supreme court. so there are two tracks here. one, the judge's decision itself, finding that utah's ban on same-sex marriage is unkou unconstitutional. that goes to the tenth circuit of appeals and it will be argued in the next month or so, early next year on whether the judge got it right or wrong. then whoever loses there could go to the supreme court. but what we're talking about now is this different track of trying to put a hold on the judge's order. he didn't do it himself when he issued it. the state asked him then on monday if he would go ahead and do it and he said no. and then on christmas eve, it was the tenth circuit court of appeals that declined to issue a
stay so now utah is preparing to ask the supreme court if they will put a stay, while the case is on appeal. that's what we're waiting for. >> in terms of the court of public opinion, generally, it's a conservative state, utah, right? so can we extrapolate a little bit about them not allowing the ban? >> well, of course, the state says that the -- one of the things that's wrong with the decision is that the voters of utah had voted -- to amend their constitutional amendment to make it clear that marriage is one between man and one woman. but you do have a -- here is a judge in conservative utah, a judge appointed by president obama, but anyone nonetheless it goes to the court of appeals. one judge appointed by president obama, but the other by george w. bush. so i think, you know, you have that double whammy. it is a sign that things are changing. >> you know, we had a 50% pop in states that allow it now.
it went from 12 to 18, but still less than half of the states in the union. do we expect the same kind of growth that will allow same-sex marriage next year? >> you used to work at cnbc and economists say if my daughter continues to grow at her present rate, she's 8 now, she'll be 16 feet now by the time she's 25. >> right. unlikely. >> right. so that's the problem with trying to extrapolate a rate. i think what you saw is that we're, you know, eager to make a change or willing to make a change having done so. some of this -- more than half the states that allow same-sex marriage have done so by votes of their legislatures or city council here in the case of washington, d.c. it will be much harder now to move along in that direction. there are several court cases pending though. but the rate may be slower. even though it was very fast in the past week. >> right. all right, pete, thank you very much. nbc justice correspondent pete
williams. pope francis presided over the first ceremony at the vatican. it was traditional and nontraditional and something that the church goers seem to love. >> the message of hope and love translates into every language. >> he's a people's pope. >> well, he's shifted the tone from the catholic church and it's been intense from gay rights to his critique of capitalism, he may force some republicans in washington to re-evaluate their relationship with the catholic church. katie glick writes about it in the politico. she joins us from washington, d.c. first of all, thank you for joining -- >> thanks for having me. >> about a quarter of americans consider themselves catholic, and former catholic leaders, usually in the past it's pretty clear on social issues and makes them somewhat of a natural ally of conservative republicans. so how are they reacting now? >> that's right. you know, for a long time, the
republican party and catholic leaders have found a lot of common ground on some of the hot button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to some disagrees over the affordable care act. but pope francis has sort of reframed the debate, he shifted the emphasis from some of these, you know, hot button social issues to really focusing more on some of those that you noted. he's talked a lot about helping the poor and he's used some language that's controversial among some conservatives but others are happy with the direction he's moving the church at large. >> it's a little debatable how gay friendly he is, but the into has changed. when asked about gay priests the pope responded if someone is gay and he searches for the lord and he has goodwill, who am i to say anything? some are excited about this, and yet others are jarred is this
going to have an impact on the same-sex marriage debate here in the u.s.? >> it's interesting that you mention that line because of course pope francis, named time m magazine's person of the year and he also received it from a gay rights magazine. it's interesting to see the new tone he's brought to this issue and other issues. so the advocate magazine is giving him that designate noted he's not making my big pronouncements in terms of shifting church dock trip, but he's calling for a more inclusive tone. >> it's not like he's saying we should do this, this or this. he's not demonizing them any more. he is talking about them in a more welcoming way. and, you know, when you talk about his comments on capitalism, i want to talk about that for a second, because it sort of makes you change your perspective on how we view this politically. you have on one side, you know, rush limbaugh calling it poor
marxism. and then you have john mccain who comes right out and says, quote, his economic perspective i'm not particularly enamored with, but his advocacy for the poor, i'm very impressed. so catholic issues don't determine policy for these guys but it shows you the range within the republican party on the pope. >> sure. you know, it's been very interesting to see especially how some of the more recent comments on capitalism, that have played out here over the last month or so. because you have some people within the conservative movement, the rush limbaughs of the world, who were quite troubled by the remarks he made concerns unbridled capitalism. but up on the hill i talked to half a dozen lawmakers and republicans and others said they didn't necessarily agree with that interpretation of his comments or that perhaps as senator mccain said they didn't necessarily agree with all of it. but at the same time, they do agree with the sort of broader approach he's taking to the
catholic church. more inclusive approach. >> he doesn't have to make economic decisions in the u.s., but he does advocate for the poor. katie glick from politico, thank you. still ahead, nsa leaker edward snowden declares a christmas message. >> a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. >> snowden says he's already won. but has he really? we'll discuss next.
so you can see like right here i can just... you know, check my policy here, add a car, ah speak to customer service, check on a claim...you know, all with the ah, tap of my geico app. oh, that's so cool. well, i would disagree with you but, ah, that would make me a liar. no dude, you're on the jumbotron! whoa. ah...yeah, pretty much walked into that one. geico anywhere anytime. just a tap away on the geico app. a holiday message from edward snowden. speaking on video for first time in months the nsa contractor turned whistle-blower delivered a so called message stressing the importance of privacy. >> privacy matters. privacy is what allows us to determine who we are, and who we want to be.
the conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. >> meanwhile, one of the biggest defenders glenn green wald had this to say when asked if the public can expect more leaks? >> snowden hasn't leaked any information for since monx mont. he gave us all his documents back in june and as journalists we have been going through the documents that he furnished us in order to figure out what are the newsworthy stories. >> let's bring in national investigative correspondent michael isikoff. his message was for all people in all countries and the one part of the story i'm fascinated with is snowden's future. so when he talks about all countries across the world, is he sort of narrowing the places he might be able to go if his team in russia times out? >> well, i mean, there are
plenty of signs that he does -- he is looking for an exit strategy from moscow. he recently asked the brazilian government to grant him asylum. brazil is one place where his disclosures caused an uproar. he might expect sympathy from brazilians. of course the problem is he's got the u.s. government which criminally charged him with leaking violations of the espionage act and the u.s. government has made it pretty clear, no, they're not inclined to grant him amnesty. he should come back the white house said the other day and he'll be afforded full due process. but look at the steps that the u.s. government took to prevent him from going to latin america after his disclosures last june. they even downed the plane -- forced the plane to land that they thought he might be on. so i think right now his options
are limited beyond staying in moscow at the sufferance of vladimir putin. >> he told "the washington post" mission accomplished, if you will. and let's face it, at the beginning of this process very few news outlets called him a whistle-blower and now almost all do. there's been a lot of action on the topic of the nsa and spying. so would you be more inclined to say he did succeed in what he wanted to do? >> well, certainly mission accomplished in terms of provoking a -- a debate about the subject. and getting a political response from the american government. it's still not clear exactly how that's going to change policy. we had the nsa review panel last week recommend a major change, ending the program as it's now structured but leaving these -- the record of phone calls in the hands of the phone companies to be accessed when law enforcement intelligence agencies need them.
now, what's significant in the last few days is we're getting real push back from that, from the telephone companies themselves and from civil liberty advocates who say having the phone companies store these records for up to five years could create privacy issues alone. it could create an invitation for hackers and it will be an enormous cost. the phone companies don't want to do it and the civil liberties don't want them to be storing the records. so it's not clear, they're saying not an easy solution to what snowden highlighted here. >> very, very quickly, snowden seems to be done leaking but has the ship tightened in d.c. to make it so no one else can leak anything near the volume that we saw in 2013? >> well, look, that was certainly the case after the bradley/chelsea manning
disclosures of 2009, with wick i can -- wikileaks there was an enormous crackdown. there was an unprecedented number of criminal prosecutions. then snowden leaked after that. so to say -- >> never know. >> to say this is going to end all leaking is not going to be borne out. >> all right. michael, thank you. michael isikoff here on msnbc. many high school seniors of course and you parents out there know this, they're going to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. where to go to college. but now a number of unconventional alternatives are popping up. they're not for everybody, but for some you might call it college reimagining. jenna bush has that story. >> zuckerberg, geffen and gates. all brilliant billionaires and self-made success stories. with something else in common. none of these overachievers graduated from college. it's an idea that david luper
can get behind. >> ideally i want to start a company or be part of a company that contributes real value to the world. >> anna sides agrees. >> if you want to learn it, teach yourself, surround yourself with people that are knowledgeable and can help you. >> when it comes to getting a college degree, they both say no thanks. >> i'm going towards the same goals as people who are in the university. but i believe i'm taking a much more direct route. >> a more direct route is precisely the goal of on college where they're called fellows, not students. >> i'm not motivated by grades, i'm motivated by building the skills to create the results i want. >> all part of the carefully hand picked first class. >> there are people committed to being self-directed. >> the program is the brain child of dale stephens. it's a loosely structured gap year of sorts for young adults who may have the means and grades to attend a top institution, but don't want to. >> this is a very american idea
that you can be successful on your own, you can create your own education. >> for this initial san francisco group, it's a competitive year-long college alternative, compromised of networking, interning, creative projects and traveling abroad. when people talk about college, does it mean more than just academics or what's your philosophy on that? >> i think it's a structure of college changed and that would be a benefit to everyone. >> stephens is a proud college dropout. >> do you think our college and university system in the united states is inherently flawed? >> i think our college and university system is overpriced and is underdelivering. >> recent figures put college costs at $14,000 a year for undergraduate tuition and room and board at a public institute and more than doubles to $38,000 at a private institution. >> i would have been $100,000 in debt. >> for comparison sake, uncl
uncollege costs roughly $15,000 with an idea to find a job after one year. not four. >> i don't want to go into debt and i want to find a job and if i don't like it, i have to stay there to pay off my loans. >> so many do. for each borrower on average, it's between $25,000 to $30,000 owed after four years but rather than give up on the four year model, there are some trying to reinvent a less expensive experience. it's called the mier in have a project. new school university president bob kerrey is the executive chairman. one of the cornerstones of this program is you're trying to bring down the costs for students. >> right. we want to produce the highest possible quality at the lowest possible cost. our tuition costs will be $10,000. >> and the for profit program plans to admit less than 20 students for the exclusive founding class next fall. ultimately, students will live in various designated cities
worldwide. culturally immersed in a local landscape while taking courses in a virtual one. >> we want to prepare you for not just the work force when you graduate, but life after you graduate from college. you not for the work course. >> are virtual courses actually viable? only time will tell. minerva has high -- university model as we know it. >> i think we're going to have a much richer array of offerings than most of the universities are able to do. >> as for college, success of its first class remains to be seen but so far, they're convinced and doing reimagining themselves. >> a way to build besides four-year program. >> as good a point as that is and as interesting as it is, my oldest is 7 years old. jenna bush reporting. frnchts pajama boy to the poor
another group of americans that saw themselves thrust in the spotlight seemingly out of nowhere, to picking president obama to a few involved in the anthony weiner scandal to the young woman who unwittingly became the face of healthcare.gov. 2013 host of unique and unexpected americans and they got their 15 minutes of fame. politico breaks down a list of its top ten political celebrities over the year from this standpoint. thanks for coming on the program. listen, i don't have a lot of time. i want to pick through a few of these and get your impressions.
marines who emerged, holding umbrellas over the president and prime minister of turkey during a conference. the hecklers last month. of course, sydney leathers, and the cubicle guy that peered over the cubicle during anthony weiner's press conference, the man who mowed the lawn at the lincoln memorial during the shutdown. the woman whose face was adorning healthcare.gov. and, number one, pajama boy. >> these people sky rocketed to fame and plummeted back to anonymity.
news cycle or two and then again receded back into anonymity. >> why number one and why did people just grab on to it so much? >> pajama boy is fresh in our minds, most recent. it's pretty unexpected. osa has been doing special media push, encouraging people to sign up for health care, talk about health care. to sign up for exchanges. there's a huge push and all of a sudden out of nowhere amid this young han in pajamas, sipping hot cocoa. becomes the face of health care. co-opted the means to their -- chris christie even tweeted out something to get in on it. it took over social media a day or two in a completely unexpected way for this poor young man that was identified as
an employee. >> the woman on the front page of healthcare.gov. what a horrible situation for her, just her picture got used and all of a sudden, boom, she's the talk of the country. >> certainly. she actually remained anonymous for quite a while. away from her face, which itself got attention because her face had become so ubiquitous and synonymous. kind of asking for privacy and putting the issue to rest. she signed up for family photos hoping to exchange them for free, never expecting to be synonymous with this. and she said she felt cyber bullied, that people really attacked her as synonymous with obamacare in a way that she never really signed on to be. >> what a shame. happy new year. >> happy new year. >> that will do it for me this hour. craig melvin is up next. lions i taxpayer giveaways.
and for those facing tough times? republicans stripped 1.3 million americans of jobless benefits folks who want to work, but cannot find a job kicking them to the curb during christmas. so to the 1.3 million americans losing benefits merry christmas - from the gop. it's wrong to leave more than a million americans behind. tell republicans: restore unemployment benefits now.
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i'm craig melvin. we start with breaking news in hawaii. president obama has just signed the two-year bipartisan budget act and the defense authorization act. in honolulu, where president obama continues to vacation with the first family as well. were we expecting this? >> reporter: craig, we anticipated thd this would happen during the course of this vacation. we had been tipped off earlier that the president had plans to do this today, signing a series of bills, blending in some business with his pleasure trip to hawaii. very recently by democrats and republicans. it was led by the democrat, patty murray, and republican paul ryan. among other things, it eases
spending cuts, some of the sequester over the course of the year of 2014 and 2015. so though anticipated, this is still a significant deal. >> what about the other part here, the defense bill and, of course, the crackdown on military sex assaults? >> reporter: our understanding is that it protects the pay of the military. and how the military handles sexual assaults within the military. the administration, the white house had specifically hail this had bill was that it would give the administration additional flexibility in the words of jay carney to be able to transfer inmates at guantanamo bay, cuba, to their -- to other countries. this was one of the president's desires in an effort to try to draw down that establishment, that base that exists there in cuba right now.
beyond that, the president said it's significant in that it helps -- spends direct money to help counterterrorism efforts. about $127 billion. >> traveling with the president in honolulu. peter, thank you. also some new reaction this hour from the state department on the video of an american contractor kidnapped by al qaeda, pleading for president obama's help. >> my name is warren weinstein. >> warren weinstein asks president obama to negotiate his release saying he feels, quote, totally abandoned and forgotten. the state department released this statement saying, quote, we are working hard, but we reiterate the call that warren weinstein be released and returned to his family. he was working as a consultant on u.s. government programs when he was abducted from his home back in 2011.
at the time, al qaeda leader said he should be freed if they stopped launching air strikes in pakistan, afghanistan, and yemen. he also demanded a release of all al qaeda militants as well. of course, at this time, no official response from the white house. but historically, what has been this administration's policy on handling kidnapped americans? >> well, craig, not to negotiate with the kidnappers is the key point. the american government always says to negotiate with kidnappers, to agree in ransom in order to save the lives of the hostages, all it does, the government says, is to encourage more kidnappers. they've never done that. it's simply hands off, don't negotiate. of course, remaining very active in other ways in terms of intelligence, trying to track down the whereabouts of the
hostages and especially in warning the kidnappers. they will be followed. they will be pursued to the ends of the earth, so to speak. they want to make it clear, they'll find the kidnappers but not release the hostages through ransom payments. they live by real threats to the kidnappers. we know well they've carried out those threats against kidnappers but the kidnappers remain. weinstein has been held for two years. >> weinstein says they will allow his family to visit him, which i found somewhat interesting. we're talking about warren weinstein. that family not the only one pleading for the government. robert levinson, who is being held in iran. how is this case different from the levinson case? >> let me point out before i mention that, craig. the kidnap -- weinstein stated
the kidnappers would let his family visit him if the americans let the families of those held at guantanamo bay to visit them. in terms of levinson, it's a different case really. norman levinson was picked up, was kidnap ped on -- when he arranged a rendezvous with people -- he was working on behalf of the cia in some capacity. the rendezvous went bad and he was kidnapped and now has been held for what i believe is -- a number of years. i believe it's seven years. weinstein is quite different as we know, working in pakistan, living there for seven years. he spoke the local language. he wore the local clothes. he was helping the pakistanis improve their economy locally and then, unfortunately for him, within just a few days of when
he was supposed to leave pakistan at the end of his assignment, eight or nine men burst into his home, attacked his guards and kidnapped him. that was pretty unfortunate, just a few days before he was supposed to leave. there was a clear difference between him and levinson, apparently working for some part of the cia, weinstein apparently not. >> martin fletcher covering it all for us in london. thank you. another day of violence in egypt. one day after the government officially designated muslim brotherhood terrorist organization, the move allows the government to arrest anyone who belongs to the group on terrorism charges. five people were hurt this morning when a roadside bomb went off at a bus stop near cairo. police also diffused four more nearby. injuring dozens more at a police headquarters north of cairo.
correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't the muslim brotherhood also condemn -- didn't they also condemn the 16 deaths? >> reporter: absolutely. they've been condemning the violence that's been plaguing egypt the past several months, calling on their supporters to refrain from any -- against what they are saying is a coup so far has been peaceful. obviously, that is falling on deaf ears when it comes to the egyptian society, media and most of the egyptian public. >> what's behind this move to label the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization? >> well, since the egyptian military ousted president mohamed morsi, the egyptian government has been blaming the muslim brotherhood, blaming this organization for the violence that has plagued the country. over the course of the last several months.
since that, the egyptian government has been trying to disban the government by shutting down their newspapers and other media outlets so they cannot reconstitute themselves as a political force or charitable organization. that would certainly prevent them from participating in any upcoming elections. analysts here in egypt say that is the ultimate goal of the egyptian power brokers, the military, in trying to opinion out a new political reality in egypt that does not have the islamists, either the muslim brotherhood or their allies, coming back to power in any way, shape or form. >> does anyone claim responsibility for today's bombing there? >> reporter: for today's bombing, there has been no claim of responsibility so far. the one attack that you mentioned on tuesday, the significant one at police
security headquarters has been claimed by an organization in the northern sinai peninsula inspired by al qaeda, growing in its profile and more brazen in these type of suicide attacks. that is the new organization that authorities are much more concerned about. it is an organization that has all of the hallmarks of al qaeda-inspired mill ta emillita >> what does this declaration that the muslim brotherhood as a terrorist group -- what does all of this mean for egypt's transition to a new democratically elected government? >> in short, it raises a lot of questions as to whether or not egypt can actually bring about a new political reality with political representation from all across the political spectrum. a lot of people are concerned that the government and the military are going to seize this violence, to try and bring back some of this type of draconian
measures on civil rights that they used to have. this includes martial law, o oppression of freedom that we've seen already with the more prominent activists of the 2011 revolution being arrested. there is concern that the measures by the government will take egypt back and more importantly, take it down a very dangerous path. >> ayman, thanks, as always. coming up, hundreds of thousands who spent christmas without power after that massive ice storm are still in the dark right now. there's something holding up power crews and now there's more snow that could be on the way. we'll get an update on that. also some late arrivals. u.p.s., fedex, they're apologizing, scrambling to deliver packages to angry customers who did not get their gifts in time for christmas day. what the company says went
i think we both are clean freaks. i used to scrub the floor on my knees. [ daughter ] i've mastered the art of foot cleaning. oh, boy. oh, boy. oh, boy. [ carmel ] that drives me nuts. it gives me anxiety just thinking about how crazy they get. [ doorbell rings ] [ daughter ] oh, wow. [ carmel ] swiffer wetjet. you guys should try this. it's so easy. oh, my. [ gasps ] i just washed this floor. if i didn't see it i wouldn't believe it. [ carmel ] it did my heart good to see you cleaning. [ regina ] yeah, your generation has all the good stuff. [ daughter ] oh, yeah. and let's say you bought cut-rate insurance and you weren't covered. oh, and your car is a time machine. [ beeping ] ♪ would you go back to when you got that less-than-amazing policy and go with esurance instead? well, they do have tools like coverage counselor® to help you choose the coverage that fits you. it's like insurance from the future. actually, more like insurance for the modern world. thank you! esurance. now backed by allstate. click or call.
christmas in the dark after a vicious ice storm downed power lines and trees from michigan to maine. many waiting for the heat to be turned back on. crews have been working frantically. frigid temperatures are making it tough. some are calling this the worst christmas week weather in 100 years. nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer. >> reporter: throughout the midwest and northeast, downed trees and power lines and ice that shows no sign of melting in freezing temperatures. all fallout from last weekend's brutal ice storm, still wreaking havoc. worst hit? michigan where more than 150,000
remained without power christmas day. george, his wife, and their dog left stockings hung by the chimney to spend a warm night at the hotel. >> 23 years we got to spend in a hotel. very romantic. >> this family brought their stockings with them. >> we still don't have any power, but we don't care. we're together! >> reporter: crews worked tirelessly giving up their own holiday to restore power to cold residents who have been without heat, some for five days. >> we've got 800 men and women working in the field to try to get as many families and homes restored with power. we know how important this time of year is to families and we're working very hard and very diligently. >> reporter: a home with heat, a welcomed gift, even if it comes after christmas.
>> should inch above freezing. weather channel's paul goodloe is here now with the latest forecast. when are these folks going to get some relief? >> perhaps april or may. >> oh, no. >> nothing to joke, but it's actually -- in terms of a break from all the cold air, yeah. slight break as we head into this weekend. dylan mentioned, this is a storm that happened sunday. thursday, we're still seeing snow showers here across areas of michigan. it's still areas of maine and new hampshire and vermont, still dealing with power outages, getting snow across the region. boston had some snow and rain mixed in this afternoon. much of areas of maine getting the snow. we turn on the lake-effect snow the next 36 hours south of buffalo, around the watertown area. those areas could see a half foot or more of snow. through tomorrow morning, maybe a dusting to three to five inches of snow falling here in maine. as we head toward tomorrow, still seeing a few snow showers, heaviest snow coming off the
great lakes. temperatures here are about average. they'll be slowly warming up about, but not that big thaw. then for travelers, the northeast is quiet this weekend. but then saturday you look toward the gulf coast and southeast, scattered showers and thunderstorms. can't rule out strong and severe thunderstorms here. this continues to expand across the region on sunday and then push in the midatlantic. areas in the northeast will see some snow showers. then enough cold in here where we see sleet, more freezing rain. we'll see a lot more rain up the albany area. maine and northern new england could still see some ice as we head into this sunday. craig? >> paul goodloe, thank you, sir. from gift cards to gift returns, those hoping to cash in on major post christmas holiday sales. plus fight over same-sex marriage. officials in utah are now
looking to the supreme court to stop gays and lesbians from marrying in that state. our correspondent is standing by to help us sift through that. a century-old american icon goes abroad to help women lift themselves out of poverty. >> avon is a company for women. puts food on your table and mascara on your face. nergy in os is also enough to keep your smartphone running for how long? 30 days? 300 days? 3,000 days? the answer is... 3,000 days. because of gasoline's high energy density, your car doesn't have to carry as much fuel compared to other energy sources. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
changed their return policies. according to consumer world, at least three major retailers, best buy, sears and toys r us have actually shortened the return window for some or all products. nbc's julia boorstin joins us now. >> reporter: people are out here in droves, carrying their gift ca cards, which they'll hope to cash in, and that ugly sweater, looking for returns. all the stores seem to be promoting some kind of discount. >> in-store retail sales were down last week by 3.1% over last year. the national retail federation
says it expects 2013 holiday sales to increase by nearly 4%. is this a sign that folks are waiting until after christmas to shop or are people really not spending as much this year? >> reporter: i think there are two factors. you're right. people are waiting for after christmas for the holiday deals. they know the prices are going to go down. they've been waiting. and they can comparison shop a lot better. everyone carries a cell phone in their pocket. we're seeing people wait for the best discounts. i do think that's one factor. the other factor is that a lot of the growth is coming from online retail. we expect online retail sales to increase 15% from last year. overall, through the whole annual period, when it comes to the holiday season it will be
about 14% of overall sales. >> folks that are getting ready to take something back tomorrow or later tonight, what are a few things they should keep in mind? >> well, as you mentioned, there have been some changes in a number of return policies. it all comes down to the fact that consumers will be better off if they can return early. a lot of the limitations are saying after 15 days or 30 days, returns are no longer valid. if you have time in the next couple of days, get those returns over with and you won't have to worry about those new restrictions. >> julia boorstin, thank you. some people are returning gifts, one las vegas cabby is being hailed for returning $300,000 that some guy left behind in his cab. also, a million out-of-work americans on saturday. one group now out with a new f ad, going after congressional republicans who block the extension. [ male announcer ] when mr. clean realized the way to handle
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utah now says they will ask the supreme court of the united states to stop same-sex marriages in that state. last-ditch effort after rejecting the state's request to reinstate an anti-gay marriage law. pete, let's start with the next steps here. what are we seeing next? >> the state of utah asking the supreme court to put a stop to same-sex marriage while the case is on appeal. we'll have to ask the justices responsible for that part of the country, sonia sotomayor. the utah attorney general says on its website that they're consulting with outside counsel, which i think is a polite way to say they've gone to find people who are familiar with the
supreme court practices and decisions to make sure they get this one right when they make that request. if the supreme court tells them they've got nowhere else to go, this is their last chance to put a stop to same-sex marriages, which has been going on in utah since last friday when a federal judge said it's unconstitutional for the state to ban same-sex marriages. more counties in utah are saying they will grant same-sex marriage licenses. some say they found the legal picture to be confusing. now that an appeals court has declined the stay, more counties are doing it. probably by now it could be almost 1,000 same-sex marriage licenses have been given out in utah since last friday. >> can you help us understand how we got here in utah specifically? >> sure. the state of utah passed a constitutional amendment saying that marriage exists between one man and one woman. several gay couples went to
court and challenged that law. the state defended it and last friday the judge struck it down as unconstitutional. it moved pretty fast. other lawsuits like that. nevada has one, for example, and the federal judge there came to a different conclusion. there are a lot of these challenges around the country now. some of them were percolating before the supreme court decided the defense of marriage act. some have been spurred on by that supreme court decision. >> pete williams, thank you, as always. >> you bet. >> estimated 1.3 million people will lose their emergency unemployment benefits when they expire this saturday. they were left out of a bipartisan budget deal this month because of strong republican opposition. it was signed, we heard at the top of our newscast, by president obama. one progressive group has taken out a television ad, accusing
republicans of protecting the rich and punishing the long-time unemployed. >> do you know who had a merry christmas? the richest 1%, that's who. republicans in congress made sure of that, protecting -- republicans stripped 1.3 million americans of jobless benefits, folks who want to work but cannot find a job, kicking them to the curb during christmas. >> national reporter for msnbc.com, susie kim. i know you were on the phone a few hours ago, talking to lawmakers who were heavily involved in the process right now. what are you hearing? >> basically there is a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including senator dean heller, a nevada republican, and senator jack reed of long island. when congress comes back in january 2014, a proposal that would extend jobless benefits for three months. basically, this would help
unemployed people not to lose aid while they work out a long-term solution. >> how would they pay for it? >> they're saying it's not going to be paid for. they say it's because it's described as emergency aid. in the past, congress has not paid for this, because this is happening in economic emergency. democrats are saying, however, they would be willing to consider a further extension. they want a year-long extension. and the next nine months of benefits, they are willing to talk to republicans for paying for those. >> how politically feasible is this? >> it's going to be tricky. the reason precisely is because of this question. the only reason the budget deal got past, we thought, is because they managed -- patty murray and paul ryan called together these odds and ends that weren't tax hikes or big entitlement changes to be able to offset some of the sequester. that was very difficult. to have anything further, a
year-long unemployment benefit extension would be $21 million. there is going to be a scramble even if there is stronger bipartisan support. >> congress voted to expand these benefits 11 times, roughly. what was different this time? >> these unemployment benefit have been extended since 2008 when they went into effect. they've been rolled back overtime. they've been less generous over a shorter amount of time. they were used as ammunition. unemployment rates have been dropping. democrats come back, however, and say why the economy is has improved for some people, if you're out of work and you can't find a job, it is still extremely difficult to find one. >> are there other options for folks who may be getting their last unemployment check? >> congressman from michigan said michigan had sent out a letter to those folks who will
be losing their long-term unemployment benefits saying, this is where you can apply for foreclosure aid. this is where you can apply for food aid and food assistance. this is the situation that folks are in right now. there are other measures that will help them get by. this is kind of the last leg of the road. the federal benefits kick in. after that, there's really nothing. >> suzy khimm, thank you. >> thanks again. good christmas for wall street. dow and s&p 500 hit all-time highs just before the holiday. more good news this morning. jobless claim reports was done by 42,000 by a seasonally adjusted 338,000. let's talk about what's shaping up to be a record -- as you just heard me, s&p on track for its best annual gains since 1997.
in the simplest of terms, what does this mean for investors, large and small? >> it means they should be very thankful for what they've gotten. increase in the standard and poor's 500, which is really, really good. i would caution people. i wouldn't necessarily expect that to be a repeat next year. >> what are we looking at next year and why? >> the best way to look at this is long term. are stocks expensive or cheap right now? they are somewhat expensive to quite expensive, nowhere near where they are at the peak of the technology bubble in 2000, but certainly more expensive, 50% more over the average over the last ten years. so i guess what i would say to people is if you're thinking of buying now, you are buying an expensive product, namely stocks at this point. >> they're overvalued? companies are overvalued? >> for the most part, they are. if we have a roaring economic recovery and corporate profits continue to grow, then we could
grow into these prices. but if you have more of a reversion to the historic norm, if things are as they have been typically in the past, you'll see some kind of pullback. when that will happen is nobody's guess. as we say over the short term, the stock market is a voting machine. it's very popular. over the long term, things do tend to revert to the mean. >> millions of folks who are about to lose their unemployment benefits. does a good year on wall street help them at all? >> it certainly should in the sense that as companies start to do better and as their profits grow, they're looking to expand. they're looking to hire. that's what we saw with the unemployment numbers earlier today. it looks as if the corporate sector is beginning to employ. number of adults as a percentage of the population that's working is at a very low level. certainly we do have in the job front a long way to go. >> it sounds like you can expect
the chasm between wall street and main street to widen. >> if you are an owner of stocks, yes, it has been a very good year. >> good spot to leave it. neil wineberg, appreciate your time. u.p.s. and fedex continue to face backlash from customers still waiting for christmas gift. >> i want my package. i want it today. i've done everything i can so far and they've given me nothing. >> what's the hold-up? most importantly, when will those packages get there? what the shipping giants are saying today. and full of surprises. beyonce releases a record-breaking album out of the blue. she bought presents for a bunch of customers at walmart, but neither compares to the smile she put on one fan's face. ♪
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two of the nation's biggest shipping companies are scrambling to deliver packages that should have arrived on christmas. fedex and u.p.s. faced backlash from angry customers yesterday. both shipping giants are apologizing to those customers, blaming the delays on weeks of bad weather and higher demand than expected. amazon, which also uses u.p.s., is also apologizing to customers and has announced it will refund shipping charges and also offering a gift card to compensate. donna has been following this story. here is the thing. if the shipping season were the super bowl, u.p.s. and fedex are a lot like jim kelly here. a lot of folks watching and listening who don't have a great deal of patience for these explanations. >> they haven't given us a whole lot to work with here in terms of why this actually happened.
so, first of all, u.p.s. will not tell us how big the problem is. they plan for an 8% increase in shipping and clearly they got way more than they expected. in comparison, the u.s. postal service told me today that they got a 19% increase in package volume. and they actually had their mail carriers out on christmas day, delivering those extra packages so that they could keep up. >> in your article you said a woman tracked her package and found it left tennessee and arrived in ft. worth, texas, december 20th. how can u.p.s. explain that five-day delay? >> they can't. basically what happened was they did not have sufficient drivers to get the packages out. and so the packages are sitting there. and it turns out that they're not allowing people to go to the depot to pick up their own packages. >> why is that? >> they're just sitting there. they haven't said why. i've had a number of people call
me to say i've been calling u.p.s. can i go over to the depot? no one picks up the phone or they don't really know what the answer to the question is. and people get all kinds of different answers. a man was telling me today that one u.p.s. customer service rep told him his package would arrive today, and then a second u.p.s. service rep called him back and said the package would not arrive for two or three more days. so, clearly, we don't know how widespread the problem is, but it is definitely more widespread tha than u.p.s. is letting us known about. >> amazon will be giving out these gift cards, refund fees. do we know whether fedex or u.p.s. will be providing any sort of compensation? >> u.p.s. sent at least one message to a customer that i know of, promising them an e-gift card to make up for their trouble. interestingly to note is that
amazon, nordstrom and a number of other retail outlets said they upheld their end of the bargain, got the packages shipped to the customers on time. >> that's a good spot to leave it, donna. thank you. the other stories we are following in the news right now. a not guilty plea from the man accused of killing a tsa agent during a shooting rampage at los angeles international airport. 23-year-old paul ciancia indicted on 11 charges, including murder, remains held without bail at a california detention center this afternoon. trial date has been set for february. at this point, it is not clear whether prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty. las vegas taxi driver said he didn't think twice about returning a bag that a passenger left in the back of his cab even though that bag was full of
cash, a lot of cash. $300,000. it was left there by a poker player. when asked why he did not keep the money, this was his answer. >> because it does not belong to me. cares about that money and i'm not interested. and i just wanted to do the right thing. >> speaking of that, imagine sharing the stage with beyonce in front of thousands of people. the make a wish foundation teamed up to make it happen for a young girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. her and the pop diva, they sang, they danced to, you guessed it, "survivor." as can you see there, the young girl was overcome by emotion. now for a story about the power of beauty. cosmetics company is using its products to transform the lives of african women living in
poverty. nbc's chief medical editor nancy snyderman explains. >> it's morning in a south africa township where half of the people are unemployed. but this woman alice atheni is getting ready to go to work for a 120-year-old american icon. she's an avon lady. >> this is a foundation from avon. >> reporter: she's not just pedaling makeup. she's a role model for african women who are ready to lift themselves out of poverty. >> avon is a company for women. it puts food on your table and mascara on your face. >> pretty good motto. >> yes. ♪ take time out for beauty avon calling. >> reporter: it's hard to believe the avon lady we remember from swren rations ago is now in south africa's poorest
townships. crammed into tiny tin shacks built right next to open sewers. just like alice, many women who never imagined a life of prosperity are learning to believe in themselves. >> empowering women to be financially independent. >> then they have to join -- get -- for their families. >> reporter: then a woman gets that first piece of money in her hand, what's her reaction? >> she gets excited. can i pay -- >> yes. >> dunt know that? >> alice now earns ten times more money than when she was cleaning houses. she has recruited hundreds of other avon ladies and tracks their sales on her own lap top.
once computer illiterate, these women are taught basic business skills and must make a motivational poster filld with pictures of all the things they want to buy. it's called a dream board. first thing on here was to become an executive? >> yes. >> then blackberry. >> washing machine. >> reporter: the dream for alice was to sent her kids to private school and she's done that. >> what's left on that dream board? >> the house. >> is there any reason to think that you won't do that? >> i don't think so. >> reporter: economic freedom also means freedom from guns and domestic violence. alice's business deputy, not so long ago, anna was selling hotcakes at the bus stop and being brutally beaten at home. you were in an abusive marriage. >> yes. >> reporter: what did he do to you? >> i remember one day he beat me
with the ax on my leg. >> reporter: with the ax? >> with the ax. >> reporter: now he's gone? >> he's gone, out of my life. i'm doing my business now. >> reporter: do you feel safe? >> i feel safe. when i wake up, i just think about my job and i love my job. >> reporter: anna has inspired her daughter to get into the business, too. she just opened her own beauty shop with money she earned as an avon lady. how do you think what you're doing is going to change the economics of south africa? >> i think i'm going to be an example to most of the young girls out there, that they have to be independent. you can call me and give me your order. >> reporter: from what you've learned, do you feel this responsibility to bring women along with you? >> yes. because to help somebody with the knowledge, to teach others so it goes on and on. >> reporter: dr. nancy snyderman, south africa.
still ahead, why the season of giving means so much more this year for one tornado-ravaged area. >> it's actually brought many of us to tears, just to see these kids and how excited they are to do whatever they can to give back. with scottrade's smart text, i can quickly understand my charts, and spend more time trading. their quick trade bar lets my account follow me online so i can react in real-time. plus, my local scottrade office is there to help. because they know i don't trade like everybody. i trade like me. i'm with scottrade. (announcer) ranked highest in investor satisfaction with self-directed services by j.d. power and associates. turn to roc® retinol correxion®. one week, fine lines appear to fade. one month, deep wrinkles look smoother. after one year, skin looks ageless. high performance skincare™ only from roc®. take skincare to the next level with new roc® multi correxion® 5 in 1,
we are keeping our eye on a number of stories in the world of politics today, including booming gun sales in the state of colorado. more guns were sold this year than in any other on record. first 11 months of 2013, colorado completed a record 354,000 background checks. that's 19,000 more than all of last year. and a visit by the prime minister of japan to a world war ii shrine in tokyo is drawing criticism from officials in this country as well as governments of china and south korea. the shrine honors japanese killed during that war, including a number of convicted war criminals. finally, high school
students in moore, oklahoma, collected doengs for needy families for the holidays. then came this year's tornado and all of a sudden, the need was almost overwhelming. almost. here is nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> in a town where recovery isn't just measured in rebuilt homes, christmas can't come soon enough. >> it's been a really rough year, worst i ever had. >> jason and lori dorman remember the damage when the ef-4 tornado roared through. enduring months of temporary housing. then swraven, an airplane mechanic, lost his job. >> it's been a very humbling experience for us. >> reporter: their daughter, ariel, sophomore at the high school, planned her usual holiday donation to families in need. >> then my teacher came and told me, hey, don't worry about it.
because your family is one that we're trying to help and that really is a lot to take in at the time. >> reporter: at south moore alone, displaced 100 students. they worried fund-raising might be tough. how could they ask their fellow students who lived in these neighborhoods for donations when so many of them have needed help? >> it's brought so many of us to tears to see these kids and how excited they are to do whatever they can to give back. >> reporter: the students adopted 74 families, buying toys, stocking stuffers, canned food, raising $7,000 in cash and gift cards and learning lessons no textbook could teach. >> it's an awesome experience to see the smile on the kids' faces. >> reporter: in the gym, donations piled up, then were sorted into care packages. >> reporter: the past six months has made us definitely way
stronger. we all have that special bond now. >> reporter: and that may be the greatest gift of all for the dormans. >> if anything good ever comes out of something so tragic, this brought my hope back in people. >> this is for you guys. >> reporter: a gesture they'll always remember after a year they would rather forget. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, moore, oklahoma. >> that will do it for me. i'm craig melvin. "the ed show" is up next. protecting billions in taxpayer giveaways. and for those facing tough times? republicans stripped 1.3 million americans of jobless benefits folks who want to work, but cannot find a job kicking them to the curb during christmas. so to the 1.3 million americans losing benefits merry christmas - from the gop. it's wrong to leave more than a million americans behind.