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tv   CNN Newsroom With Pamela Brown  CNN  January 15, 2022 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. it is the top of the hour, 8:00 eastern. i'm poppy harlow in new york here in the "cnn newsroom." we have significant developments this hour in today's breaking news. one of four hostages in a texas synagogue has just been released unharmed. the fbi continues to negotiate with the hostage taker who is still holding three people including the rabbi at congregation beth israel in texas right near fort worth. and the situation has now been going on for some eight hours at this point. cnn is working to confirm a shocking account of a woman who says she was watching the
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synagogue live stream when a man took at least four people hostage. we do not know this hostage taker's name. what we do know is that he has demanded the release of a woman convicted in 2010 of triing to kill americans in afghanistan and a woman of extreme significance to terrorist groups. with that in mind law enforcement officials have stepped up surveillance at security at synagogues and jewish establishments tonight across the country. so that is where we begin this hour. let me bring in my colleague ed lavandera who's on the ground in colleyville. let's begin with the good news tonight, this one hostage, a man who's been released apparently physically unharmed. >> reporter: that is the news we're hearing from colleyville police this evening as we're approaching almost 9 hours of this hostage situation continuing to unfold here. it was just after 9:00 central
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time we were told one of it hostages was allowed to leave the synagogue. we were told that person is un unharmed, does not need medical attention and the last statement said that gentleman was in the process of being renewitted with his family. that comes as incredibly welcome news because everything we're hearing from members of this congregation here in colleyville is that watching all of this unfold over the course of the day has been excruciating, painful and just harrowing to watch as they wait for any semblance of good news. so the welcome news one person has been released from the synagogue, but there are still three others including the rabbi of the synagogue that remain inside with the suspect. we have not heard more details where the communication stands, what kind of progress if any they are making with this suspect. so all of this continues to unfold here into the evening
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hours. poppy? >> ed, i know it's very early, and they probably haven't released these details, but i just wonder if there have been any updates in terms of the condition of the three inside from the one man who was released. >> reporter: yeah, that's a good question. we don't know what kind of information this person who was released has been able to offer up authorities. so imagine that as came out to the fbi investigators, local police, everyone involved in this hostage situation very eager to learn as much as they can of what the conditions were like inside, what the mood has been, what is being said, any kind of information that can help negotiators get through the coming hours, we would imagine, is something they are well-trained in trying to ask the right questions from someone who's released from these -- from a situation like this to try to gather as much
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intelligence and information that they can use to bring this to a peaceful resolution. obviously that is not something they're going to share as all of of this continues to unfold, but the gentleman who was released almost two hours ago clearly should be able to provide some sort of insight into what it has been like inside that synagogue throughout the course of the day. >> ed, before you go, the reporting that cnn has is from law enforcement officials is that this was a hostage situation was at least in part motivated by this hostage taker to get this woman released from prison serving an 86-year sentence in texas. you spoke with a significant leader who had really poignant things to say about the rabbi who's currently being held right now. >> reporter: yeah, we reached out to -- as we were speaking to members of the congregation of the synagogue what we kept hearing over and over again is that this is a rabbi of the
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synagogue who has gone to great lengths over the last five or six years of his tenure here to reach out to the muslim community. and so we reached out to them, several leaders of that mosque in the nearby town of south lake, texas, described this relationship, an interfaith relationship they had developed with this rabbi, bringing the two different communities together for religious observations and that sort of thing. so they are distraught by what they are seeing. they went out of their way to condemn -- to describe the suspect as a criminal. they're as well heartbroken to see their friend in this situation. and they wanted people to know just the length this rabbi has gone to bridge these two different communities together.
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>> and somebody who is so helpful, and something like this happen to him, it's unbelievable. we condemn all acts of aggression against anybody. and nobody has the right to take the law in their own hands. and our heart goes out to you, and our community goes out to you, the rabbi and his family. we've known them personally, too, and we want to make sure that the jewish community knows we stand with them as they always stand with us when we feel we are -- >> reporter: it's also interesting to note the leader of that mosque, i asked them if they even knew this woman the suspect is claiming to be talking about, they said they
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didn't even know she was being held at a prison here in the north texas area. it's another reason why all of this has come as a terrible shock to them. >> ed lavandera, thank you. we so appreciate your reporting on the ground. we'll get back to you very soon. let me go to evan perez. he's also working the source story and his sources. last hour we heard from a member of the congregation who said she was watching that livestream when the suspect entered the synagogue. and she made -- and mean the comments she repeated of his were jaw dropping about the identity of the man, his reasons for this synagogue being targeted. i know we've been working to confirm that. what have you been able to confirm? >> poppy, that is some of what the fbi is still working to confirm. they're working to confirm the identity of this person. she made a reference, i think, to the hostage taker talking
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about his sister. we don't believe that, obviously, there's any connection at this point, certainly the fbi has no knowledge of any connection between the hostage taker and afia siddiqui. she is a called a celeb in islamist extremist circles. they use her as sort of a poster woman for their causes. and so there's a history of terrorists trying to use her imprisonment in the united states to carry out additional terrorist attacks. so that is part of what is being looked at by the fbi investigators. they know what he's said. they obviously know he's had conversations with other people. he spoke to this other rabbi in new york as shimon reported earlier. so they know what he claimed to be his motivation.
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now the work is to try to figure out more about him, try to figure out if they can talk to perhaps people who know him, his family members and use that connection to de-escalate and get this resolved peacefully. again, some of what -- we all heard the livestream. we all listened to it earlier, and some of it is obviously not confirmed because the fbi is still working to figure that out. >> evan, thank you for your reporting in washington tonight. as you learn more please bring it to us. let me go to former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe, a cnn law enforcement analyst. and andy, if we could start there more on this case and more about what, you know, multiple law enforcement officials have confirmed to cnn is at least in part the motivator of this hostage taker is to get this woman free from a prison facility not far from where this is happening in texas.
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you are intimately aware of and were involved in and witnessed how this all played out. so what can you tell us? >> sure, poppy. i was very closely involved in different aspects of this investigation, primarily as she was taken into custody after trying to shoot two fbi agents and two army officers who were interrogating her after she'd been arrested in afghanistan in 2008. she has since become as i think evan accurately characterized a cause celebre to the extent even the pakistani government or legislature at one point approved a resolution to returning her from the united states. there are all sorts of myths
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about many extremist believe she was held sureptishly by the united states or other governments during that time. that's not true, but she's achieved a somewhat celebrity status in that community. so it's not surprising to me she may be a motivating factor for this person. i should also include she's a noted anti-semite. she made all sorts of anti-semitic comments during her trial in 2010. so that might also be a motivator here, the fact that someone who is caught up in her kind of cultive personality, that that person might have targeted a synagogue, a jewish institution is not at all surprising. >> you know, it was even noted by the judge in their sentencing memo of her back in 2010 that she had stated during the trial her belief that israel was the mastermind of 9/11.
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andy, how does this all play in now that investigators know that, what you said plus more that we don't know, how does that play into how they handle these continuing hostage negotiations with this man, still holding three people? >> so it's an incredibly delicate situation, obviously, right? the lives of three innocent hos hostages hang in the balance minute by minute. that is what the fbi is focused on now, getting those people release. the aspect of aafia siddiqui motivation is actually good for the fbi because it gives them something to work with. it gives them some insight into the mentality and motivation of this person. it gives them topics they can talk about, they can try to appeal to him on a mutual understanding of siddiqui and her background and the rights or wrongs of her story, whatever
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that might be. so i would expect that the negotiators are using that to their advantage, and they are probably trying to negotiate the release of additional hostages. as we talked earlier tonight, poppy, they try to do that in a one at a time process, which is tortuous for us. we want this to be resolved quickly. but the fact it's still going on is actually a good news story for the fbi. >> you called it. just an hour ago before we learned that this first victim had been released and it's not going to happen all at once. is the data there to show and does your experience tell you that once one is freed often more or all are free? >> i don't know i have hard data on it. but if you've been able to appeal to this person on that kind of bargaining sort of level to a positive result there's no reason to believe you can't continue in that direction.
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now, at some point they will likely realize like i can't give up all of my leverage. i can't possibly release everyone. and that's a bit of a -- can be somewhat of a blockade. but there's some kinds of things the fbi will offer here. it could be things just as simple as food and water and sustenance. it could be connection to family members or to religious advisers, things like that. or maybe this person wants to speak to the media, make some sort of a public statement. so there's all kinds of cards that the negotiators have left to play. so i think buckle in, this could be a long night. >> andrew mccabe, thank you for all your expertise and insight. local law enforcement are increasing their security presence at other synagogues and across the country. and right now breaking news out of australia. the government right now making their case for the visa of
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with low rates and no fees. earn $10 just for viewing your rate and get your money right. ♪ welcome back. we do have a major development in the hostage standoff situation in a texas synagogue. a short time ago we learned that one of the hostages has been released, a male hostage physically unharmed. the fbi has been talking to the hostage taker. and as far as we know at this point no one has been injured. the ordeal is taking place at congregation beth israel in colleyville near fort worth. it's believed three hostages remain inside. witnesses say they were watching a facebook live stream of the service today when the gunman interrupted, his mood shifting between apologetic and screaming in multiple languages. the temple's rabbi is believed
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to be among the hostages. still the white house is monitoring this situation. and two cnn officials tell us investigators believe the hostening taker may have been motivated to free a woman named aafia siddiqui. she was convicted in 2010 on several charges. she's serving an 86-year sentence at a facility in texas. moments ago her attorney reached out and said she had no involvement in the hostage taking situation and wants no violence done in her name. let's talk about more broadly what is happening right now. joining me now is rthe senior rabbi. thank you very much for being with me. what is your reaction? again, member of your faith, of the jewish community being
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victimized here in america? >> well, first, of course, sadness. and, you know, it's just such a sad situation for all of us. and i think it's really important, poppy, for people to realize in this particular case this act of terrorism and hatred is being perpetrated in order to free someone who was not targeting jews but who was targeting members of the american military, of our troops in afghanistan. and that is hope these incidents call all of us together to realize that this is a threat to all americans, not just jews. and frankly, it's an insult to -- to real muslims, christians and jews who are seekers of peace. >> one of the things that has been so striking to me covering this situation today and hearing from our reporter ed lavandera on the ground and the community
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leaders he's spoken with is how much the rabbi of this synagogue in particular, a young rabbi, a father, has gone -- has made such strides and led such an effort to bring together the community of all faiths, of the muslim faith, of the christian faith, the jewish faith right there in colleyville and how much work he has done on that front and then to see this happen. >> well, the real enemy is extremism. >> right. >> and the rabbi understood we need each other. and this ultraextremism on the left and the right is a threat to all good people of every faith and of no faith. and the rabbi understood that we really need each other every day. >> have you been in touch with other rabbis and faith leaders about this today? one thing we learned the hostage taker forced the rabbi who he's holding hostage to call another rabbi in new york who then
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called the fbi. >> i've been texting, e-mailing back and forth with rabbi friends and jewish leaders all over the country. of course none of us want to say or do anything that would jeopardize anyone's life at this point. but the short answer is yes, and we're pulling together. i've sent out an e-mail to my entire congregation asking them to pray for the hostages and keep together with faith and that we're all connected, all good people of all faiths. we're all connected in this war against extremism. and the other thing i would say is that we all need to continue to remain vigilant. it breaks my heart to say it, poppy, but i'll never forget the former prime minister of israel in the early '80s when he was asked what are the lessons of the holocaust. the first thing he said is when your enemy says he is out to destroy you, believe him. and so we need to pull together and be vigilant, all of us,
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against extremism. >> are you concerned about -- about your synagogue, about other synagogues across the country? tonight we know that the federal government has sent more security to jewish establishments and synagogues across the country in the wake of this. >> you know, of course -- of course we're concerned. i mean, to be frank my wife didn't even want me on cnn with you, poppy. i mean, we all worry. but we cannot allow that to prevent us from speaking out against this, you know, senseless hatred. and i will tell you that synagogues generally speaking -- now, we don't know the specifics in this situation -- generally peeking are very, very well prepared to secure themselves in circumstances such as this and to prevent these circumstances in the first place. >> rabbi steve leder, thank you
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very much for being with us tonight. >> thank you, poppy. >> of course. the invasion of a house of worship is especially painful to those who cherish it as their place of spiritual nourishment. when we come back i speak to a woman who attends congregation beth israel. you'll hear from her ahead. a nose in need deserves puffs indeed. america's #1 lotion tissue. ♪ you pour your heart into everything you do, which is a lot. so take care of that heart with lipton. because sippin' on unsweetened lipton can help support a healthy heart. lipton. stop chuggin'. start sippin'. nyquil severe gives you powerful relief
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who isn't fluent in bureaucracy, or maybe not in their own emotions. so show up, however you can, for the foster kids who need it most— at welcome back. here is the latest on the ongoing hostage situation tonight in colleyville, texas. right now three people are being held hostage at a synagogue. police confirm one male hostage was released a short time ago thankfully uninjured. the fbi is still negotiating
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with the suspect who is believed to have entered the synagogue around 9 hours ago. the hostage taker is reportedly telling negotiators he is motivated by the case of aafia siddiqui. earlier i spoke to ellen smith. her family has belonged to the temple since she was a child. listen. >> it's incredibly shocking and horrifying. >> can you tell me what you -- i mean, have you heard anything from -- from relatives of people who may be held hostage right now? is there anything that you can share with us? >> i don't think there is much new on our end. i was watching the live stream for about an hour and a half before it got shutdown, and i have no idea who's in there or what's happening. we're all even member of the
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congregation just watching and holding our breath and hoping for the best outcome. >> it is such a tight-knit community from all that i've heard. and i believe 157-member families of the congregation, the first jewish congregation in this county and incredibly close as you mentioned. what has your experience been there? >> i could not have asked for a better community to grow up in. it's incredibly tight. the members of the community come together when times are tough. my dad got really sick when i was about 11 years old and the community and the rabbi were incredibly close and supportive of my father and my family in a really difficult time for the community. and that's how they are for everyone. in my confirmation class there were two people and the entire community showed up for our confirmation service. it's a wonderful, wonderful
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community full of light and hope that i'm grateful to be a part of. >> a wonderful community full of light and hope. one thing that i, you know, am just realizing is that it's the sabbath, and therefore for many people and potentially many members of your community they may not have been looking at their phone or had their television on today until sundown, right? so for many they may be just learning of this. >> i think that for some that may be the case. we are a pretty reformed synagogue, and somewhat i can tell most folks have heard the news especially since so many folks are attending virtually during this time. >> what can you tell us about the rabbi? you've described this as a community of light and hope for your family, how it came together for you when your father was so ill when you were just a little girl. i've heard just remarkable things about the rabbi as well. >> the rabbi is genuinely the
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best human, i think anyone could ever meet. he was the one who went and sat with my dad who was not jewish. but the rabbi still took time out of his day to drive down to see my dad in the hospital. i went on a trip with the rabbi when i was 15 for my confirmation and it was just me and the this other kid in my class. and he was so cool to hang out with and supportive and interested. every single person with that family it's still a lot of people to keep up with and care about. and every single person, he cared about all of us. and he just was really big about doing what's right for the world and using jewish values of compassion and justice to make the world a better place. he's just the best.
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>> you talk about values of compassion and justice, and again, there's so much we don't know, right? we don't know the motive here. we don't have the name of the hostage taker. however, once again in america you have jewish people being victimized, you know, in their holiest place, a place of worship. and coming at a time when we continue to see an increase in anti-semitism across this country. for you what is it like to see an attack on jewish people again in america? >> it's unlike the fact that i think the shocking part was that it was my community, it's not shocking that it was a jewish community. it's -- it's awful, but the cases of anti-semitism have
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risen lately. but since jews were first walking the earth we have been persecuted. and it's just -- it feels almost hopeless without knowing it's my community i could feel like it was just another attack on it jewish community. but in every single attack it's painful, but it is almost inevitable that it'll happen again. >> ellen smith, i'm so, so sorry this has happened to your community, and we are all tonight hoping -- holding out hope for the very best. we'll keep everyone posted. and obviously if you learn anything else, feel free to get in touch with us again, and we're thinking of all of you. >> thank you so much. have a good day.
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try olay body wash with skincare super ingredient collagen! olay body wash hydrates to improve skin 3x better, from dry and dull to firm and radiant. with olay body, i feel fearless in my skin. welcome back. we continue to monitor the ongoing hostage situation at the synagogue in colleyville, texas. a male hostage has been released in just the last few hours. authorities still believe, though, three people remain held hostage. and according to law enforcement officials the hostage taker may have been motivated to do this by a desire to try to somehow free this woman you see on your screen, aafia siddiqui who's in prison in texas for trying to kill americans overseas. we're learning more about how all of this played out as sabbath services were being live streamed. one member who watched that live stream said the suspect screamed
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hystericily in different languages and was also at times being apologetic saying i'm not a criminal and then becoming cl completely hysterical. the suspect also claimed to have a bomb at one point. the fbi continues to negotiate with him. we will keep a very, very close eye on this and get back to it in just a moment. but i do want to go now to another breaking story out of australia tonight. his legal team has wrapped up its side of the argument advocating djokovic be allowed to stay in melbourne and play in the open this week, and now the australian government is having its turn. our phil black is in melbourne. phil, good morning to you there. it's almost noon, and you've got the country's immigration minister saying that djokovic is a, quote, hero to ant vaccination groups and that's a big driver of why they're making the case he needs to leave the country. >> reporter: that's right, poppy. so the government's lawyer has
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described him as a hero, an icon, saying there's plenty of evidence online he is regarded as such even referencing specific online commentary, referencing what he describes as one influential commentator who has said at the moment djokovic is a political prisoner and commentary along the lines of if they can do this to him imagine what they can do to you. this is all in defending the immigration minister's reasons for canceling djokovic's visa on friday. under the relevant law the immigration minister says he believes that djokovic represents a threat or he might be a threat, he may be a threat to good order and public health in this country because he could fuel, fire up anti-vaccine sentiment, resulting in fewer people getting vaccinated and even create demonstrations and so forth which could become centers of community transmission. that's essentially the
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minister's argument. and that is what is being challenged by djokovic's lawyers who say that's illogical, irrational because there's plenty of evidence to suggest if you use the powers of the state, lock him up, deport him and so forth. and that is what is going to fire up the anti-vaccine sentiment, not just letting him play tennis as was his intention in coming here. they're making pretty swift progress through these hearings and oral arguments. we expect them to come back for around another hour or so this afternoon to complete the government's arguments there. and then the three judges with the federal court would go away to consider their decisions. in terms of the likelihood of djokovic winning here, even if you don't consider the substance of the arguments i think the expert legal view is that it's a very difficult challenge to overcome a minister's decision in this regard because under the law he has broad powers. his discretion is great, and the legal dart here that needs to be
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proven in terms of justifying the -- the minister justifying his own decision, that's pretty low. it's likely we're going to start to get a sense of that this afternoon, poppy. >> i mean, you make a great point. the threshold for what the government has to prove here is so much lower than it would be in a typical court setting because this is atypical being the minister's decision. phil, just one question before you go. is it possible this court, the three judges on the bench could once again punt it back and not make the final call? or is this it? are they going to say yes or no and that's the final final? >> reporter: it's the final decision at this level of the judiciary in australia. so what that means is any further appeal would be slow, time consuming and crucially beyond the start time for novack djokovic's opening round at the australian open tomorrow. so it becomes a moot point i think. what it means if djokovic
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doesn't get the decision he wants and doesn't get it quickly than his motivation for staying in the country essentially goes away. >> makes sense. phil black, thank you so much for the reporting. up next, millions of americans tonight in the path of a severe winter storm. the latest forecast right after this.
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well, major development in the hostage standoff situation in a texas synagogue. last hour, we learned that one of the hostages being held has been released unharmed, a male hostage. there are no other known
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injuries at this point. the fbi continues, though, to speak to the hostage-taker and this ordeal is happening at a congregation in colleyville near ft. worth, texas. at least three hostages are believed to be inside. witnesses say they were watching a facebook live when the 21man interrupted and his moods, they report a shifting between apologetic and then hysterical and screaming in different languages, the temples, rabbis believe to be among those who remain hostage. the white house continues to monitor the situation. we are told. two law enforcement officials tell cnn investigators believe the hostage-taker may have been motivated by a desire to free a counter terrorism group dubbed lady al qaeda. she was convicted in 2010 on several charges, including attempted murder and u.s. assaults on officers in
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afghanistan. she is serving an 86-year sentence in texas. meanwhile, around 74 million people around a winter weather advisory as storms barrel down on the southeast. people in the carolinas and tennessee and georgia could all see ice and snow. let's go to our meteorologist gene norman in the weather center. where is the storm now? where is it going? >> poppy, the storm is winding up in the south tonight. already snowing in little rock, in sections of eastern oklahoma, tulsa, they need a little light snow. ahead of it, you have the rain. that's the blue and the yellow. this is the problem because this rain will run into some cold air tomorrow morning and what falls out of the sky will be rain, by the time it hits the ground, with the ground below freezing, it will freeze up. that's freezing rain. that will be a dangerous situation. in fact, they have issued all of these winter weather advisories,
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winter advisories, the winter mess, including the ice storm warnings for sections of south carolina. this is a concern. because those areas could see anywhere from let's say raleigh back down to charlotte, anywhere from a quarter to almost an inch of rain and that's freezing rain. that could lead to the ice accumulations, where the ice that accumulates could ends up being an inch or more causing power lines to fall down, of course, trees to fall down. a lot of folks to lose power. how does the system line up? that's the freezing rain tomorrow morning. again will you wake up in atlanta and charlotte. it will be raining. it will quickly change over to snow. it will move its way up to the north. that's the other problem, because we're looking at heavy amounts of snow. on the east coast, places like new york, philly, boston, probably not going to see much other than rain. take a look at these purple areas, anywhere from six inches to a foot that could be a big
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problem up into the northeast and sections of new england, poppy, it will be amess. >> it sounds like it, all right. thank you very much, gene norman with the forecast for us. we appreciate it. now to the pandemic, there is hope that we may be approaching maybe crest of this omicron wave, for now, hospitalizations are straining capacity in many places, long lines offering proof of the high demand for testing. we have more from a testing megasite in atlanta. >> reporter: yeah, poppy, there are so many efforts ongoing right now to try to alleviate those long lines we saw, especially around the holidays, people trying to get tested for covid-19. so starting today on saturday, you are able to get at-home testing kits through your private insurance. that's the big quest for people that don't want to leave their house to figure out if they have the virus or not. then on wednesday, the federal government will roll out a new website covid, you can
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log on and get four kits peres dents per household. there are mass testing sites outside mercedes benz state of mind stadium in atlanta. they say they 3,000 tests and you will get your results digitally. you can figure out the next steps you may need to take. but when we spoke with a company behind the testing, viral solutions, they say really we're moving in the wrong direction. listen to how much they've had to expand their operations since the beginning of the pandemic. >> we start off in one tick and near downtown decatur. it's always been drive through. so we can see as many faces as possible and we are expanded to over 14 sites in atlanta. that's the need that we seen hawaii it's not the space we expect to be in two days out
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from now. >> reporter: other health experts say testing alone will not get us out of this pandemic. he is pushing for people to wear masks and get vaccinated. poppy. >> fadia, thank you for your reporting very much tonight. we are watching, following closely, breaking news this evening out of colleyville, texas, where an armed man has been holding several people hostage inside of a synagogue. we'll have more updates right after this here in the cnn "newsroom". up at 2:00am again? tonight, try pure zzzs all night. unlike other sleep aids, our extended release melatonin helps you sleep longer. and longer. zzzquil pure zzzs all night. fall asleep. stay asleep. when you really need to sleep you reach for the really good stuff. new zzzquil ultra helps you sleep better and longer
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. this is cnn breaking news. >> it is the top of the hour. i'm poppy harlow in for pamela brown a dramatic hostage situation unfolds. a court weighing whether ten my ace novak djokovic will play or pack his bags. 70 million americans in the path of a major winter storm. we will tell you what is ahead tonight and tomorrow. we begin this hour with significant developments in tonight's breaking news. we are learning more about a man who said he traveled to a texas synagogue today on a mission. some ten hours later, three people are still being held hostage, including the rabbi o


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