check check check >> strong holiday sales fuelled by deep discounts, but is it enough to send the economy rebounding in time for the new year. >> a desperate plea from pakistan - a kidnapped american seeking freedom begs the american government not to forget his plight. >> child bribes still married in kenya, despite the practice being outlawed. >> the olympic skier whose dreams is not to win in socchi, but to promote his sport in his homeland.
>> hello welcome to al jazeera america. i'm thomas drayton. first a look at the update economy. the retail season spurred sales, the highest in three years. a bright outlook on the jobs front. more americans stayed employed. jobless claims fell by 42,000 last week. encouraging news for traders as they headed back to work after the christmas holiday. the stock market continued its climb with the dow hitting on all-time high. is the economy on track? here is what economist mark lieberman had to say. >> we says hurdles going forward. at the end of the month 2.5 million people go off unemployment insurance. the program will end. that's money spent. it's spent every day by every
recipient. plus the jobs have not necessarily been the higher paying jobs. in october, for example, half the jobs created were in the retail sector or a hotel tore restaurant personnel. not career jobs or the best paying jobs. the best thing we can say about the economy is it's improving. there won't be a particular date that we see a turnaround or a statistic. >> christmas has come and gone. the day after is the biggest draw, one of the top 10 busiest shopping days. retailers slashed prices. some stores opened early to give buyers a leg up on after-christmas bargains. the grinch who stole christmas are the shipping customers. thousands who bought gifts online are disappointed their packages ant arrive on time.
robert ray is in atlanta where many packages are in transit. >> a busy holiday stephen and huge shipping problems across america as ups and fed ex struggled to get out on time deliveries. we spoke to ups and they gave us this statement: >> ups - one of their largest clients is amazon.com and they saw a surge in online ecommerce orders this season. last week they had to stop a membership program which allows people to get guaranteed 2-day free it deliver, because they
were afraid that the shipping companies like fed ex and ups would be overwhelmed and, indeed, that seems to be the case. holiday sales online have surged as well. listen to this. here is some numbers. holiday season to date, up 10%. thanksgiving day 21%. black friday up 15%. cyber monday 18%. green monday 10%. so as people await their packages that were supposed to be here before the christmas holiday. retailers like amazon are offering gift cards or refund for people that have not received the packages. also ups saying they will refund anyone set to package via domestic air or international air if the package does not get there on time. for ground delivery you're out of luck. people at fed ex saying they'll apologise and are willing to give refunds if the pack ints have not made it.
>> amazon is offering $20 gift cards to customers whose gifts have not arrived. >> military aid is being sent to iraq. the iraqi government has been hunting fighters across the province for months. syria, where al qaeda is active there there year. tom ackerman reports. >> the u.s. is providing 75 he'll fire missiles deployed on light prop planes for the al qaeda affiliates, iraq and syria, acting from across the border, inflicting serious casualties against civilian and military targets inside iraq. the white house cautions that there has been no formal request for armed - us armed drones operating over iraq, nor is
there any intention of diverting american armed drones into iraq. but this increasingly serious security situation really belies the assurances previously by the white house that after the withdrawal of all american combat forces from iraq, that the security situation inside iraq is secure. >> tom ackerman reporting. >> an american kidnapped in pakistan is appealing to president obama for wep. warren weinstein was working for a u.s. consulting form when abducted in lahore. in a video sent to several media outlets, the 72-year-old urges the white house to help him get released. the white house is urging him to step in. >> nine years after the death of yasser arafat there is conflicting information about how he died.
a russian investigation says there was no evidence that he was poisoned with polonium. a swiss report says overseas. they say high levels of rare and highly radioactive elements from in arafat's body. there was moderate bagging for the theory. french scientists rejected the theory, along with reports from russian scientists who say arafat died of natural causes. >> the death toll from flooding in brazil has risen. 60,000 were forced to flee. a brazilian army distributed food, water. the region has been under a state of emergency for six days now. tens of thousand in this country are here without power as a new snow storm blanketed the
midwest, causing this 35-car pile-up that shut down the pennsylvania turn pike. 10 were insured and 97,000 customers in michigan were in the dark. that's down from half a million earlier in the week. electric companies say it may take several days to get everything back up and running. snow hampered efforts to restore power to 100,000 customers. >> we had plenty of snow across the great lakes and new england, causing problems with repair workers trying to get the power on for thousands of people. accidents especially in pennsylvania. over the next several hours it will start to diminish. things will get better. we are looking at cold
temperatures. here across the north-west we have showers pushing through montana. we will be getting showers today into friday and will last a day, a high temperature of 46 degrees. after that we are looking nice for the weekend. 47 on saturday. better sun conditions as we go towards monday and tuesday. down towards the southern part of california, we are dealing with red flag warnings. temperatures warm, 80 degrees. look at the area. we are talking about the coastal regions to the north-west and including los angeles. we think this will continue until about 10am. that's how it stands right now. it could be extended. it was extended yesterday and could today. temperatures warm. we are looking at sunday, seeing about 79 degrees there.
showers down here towards the southern part of texas, including san antonio, and we don't think we'll see accumulation or flooding. dallas at 53 degrees, at san antonio. tuesday warming up to 55 degrees. >> ice breaking ships are heading to antarctica to rescue a vessel trapped in thick ice with 70 on board. the ship carrying scientists and explorers was on an expedition, getting stuck on tuesday 70 miles south of australia. >> the first vessel is expected to reach the area on friday. >> turmoil in turkey - a corruption scandal threatening the leader of a key u.s. ally. getting fined for getting a divorce. a look at a country penalizing
>> welcome back. in turkey thousands of demonstrators were back in the streets, calling for the resignation of the prime minister in the wake of a major corruption scandal. al jazeera's correspondent has more from istanbul. >> hours after three senior cabinet ministers resigned recep tayyip erdogan announced a cabinet reshuffle replacing 10 ministers. >> translation: some of the ministers arrived to resign because of ongoing developments. some quit as they will contest mayoral elections, and some are my judged. interviewer minister armando gulouza and economy minister
caglayon resigned. the departure of erdofrksan bayraktar was different. he announced his resignation on live television. he asked him to resign, a call the prime minister chose to ignore. >> police are investigating allegations of illicit money transfer to iran, and bribery for construction projects. many believe the scandal stems from a power struggle between recep tayyip erdogan's government and this man, the influential u.s.-based cleric who is said to have many followers within the police and judiciary. the government dismissed police officials involved in the investigation, or told to be linked. >> the government in this case means internal turmoil.
such a step was unprecedented, unexpected, and one can only speculate that this will shatter the ground. >> this is the first time three ministers resigned during recep tayyip erdogan's rule. recep tayyip erdogan was asked to resign by erdofrksan bayraktar, a close friend of his. this is the first crackdown in the government. the main question is whether recep tayyip erdogan's leadership is being questioned. >> the man accused of opening fire inside the los angeles international airport, and killing a t.s.a. agent is pleading not guilty. last month he opened fire inside an lax turm nal. he could face the death penalty if convicted. >> a court in pennsylvania
ordered the release of a catholic clergyman convicted of child endangerment. the mon siing nor served one year of his sentence. a pennsylvania superior court dismissed the case after lynn's attorneys argued the state child endangerment law applied to parents and caregivers. >> a controversial law sparking a religious debate are trying to combat a high divorce rate, forcing men who divorce their wives to pay up. $300 is the fine. a hefty price in a country where most people live on less than $200 a day. leaders are trying to prevent a civil war in south sudan. kenyan and ethiopian officials arrived in juba. the fighting forced 90,000 from their homes. u.n. troops are on their way to protect civilian refugees in
south sudan. >> we are improving a rapid redeployment, and in particular where civilians sought refuge in our camps. we are over 50,000 civilians in our fairs compounds. in juba, bentiu and elsewhere. >> al jazeera's correspondent joins me from kenya and nairobi, where east african heads of state are meeting. hello to you. what do the leaders hope to accomplish in the meeting today? >> well, there has been an understanding that this has been primarily political conflict and therefore they need to address the political grievances or outstanding issues between the two sides in order to prevent
the situation from escalating further. what we have in nairobi is the leaders of eight african countries, including the president of south sudan. the idea is to primarily find a way to stop the fighting on the ground and move to the second more complicated stage, which is to try to find a political settlement or negotiated settlement to the conflict. open dialogue between the two sides. why we have the south sudanese president attending. the other party was being accused of the government of staging the rebellion. he is not attending. at some stage the leaders will invite him for mediation talks, but not today. given, of course, the protocol reasons. this, after all is a heads of state meeting. >> does this bring renewed hope. what is the significance of a meeting like this?
>> well, this is an important meeting, of course, because you see the continuous political pressure. we heard from african leaders, european leaders and mooern -- and american leaders, that there needs to be african solutions for african problems. it is an understanding, there is a realisation that if the conflict goes on, it is a threat, a danger to the entire region, not just to south sudan. this is an important meeting. don't expect magic solutions to come out of nairobi. both sides involved in the conflict had specific conditions, to speak, for the dialogue to take place. on the one hand the former vice president riek machar is demanding political prisoners that have been rounded up, 11 senior south sudan officials that have been rounded up be
released. on the other hand the government of south sudan is demanding that riek machar renounce his rebellion first. unless we see signs of goodwill or compromise from both sides, it is one more step in several meetings that we are expecting to take place to reach a political solution. >> thank you. it >> in kenya marriage practices are being challenged. tradition dictates december as the month when boys and girls are circumsised. after the proceedings girls are often immediately married off. >> schools are closed and these girls should be at home with families for the christmas holidays. if they go home, they risk being married off by their parents. rose and elizabeth, 16, escaped marriage in 2008 and 2009. we have hidden their faces for
their protection. >> i went back home last year. my father did not want to see me. he was so angry because i shamed our family by not getting married to the man he had chosen for me. >> if i go home, they have not returned the cattle as dowry, i'll stay here until i finish high school. >> they have to stay in a rescue center in western kenya. poverty and tradition forced thousands of girls in rural kenya to early marriages. the problem is persistent with some communities. this girl is 20. she was married at 16 as a second wife. now, with two children, no education or skills, she feels hopeless. >> translation: when i got married i was so young. i did not know how to manage a family. life has been hard. i regret i did not finish
school. >> laws criminalized under age marriages, but the communities practice this culture do it in secret, making it difficult for this to be effective. this man, speaker of the assembly, an affected region, believes that communities must relate to the laws. >> when the proposals for enactment of laws that have direct public interest, there should be equally a public mobilisation so that it is widely known that this law is mandatory to regulate all kenyan communities at the same time. >> so he says they'll do things differently at a local government level. complaining heavily, and why the tradition must end. >> in the meantime, many girls like rose and elizabeth must
keep hiding in rescue centres. their only refuge. >> we should point out it is illegal in kenya to marry before the age of 18. some believe it is important to marry their girls off young so honour or virginity is preserved. >> from maths class to grid iron, a math teacher returns to the n.f.l. to benefit his school back home. >> and an olympians dreams who may be just getting to the games.
maths teacher at lincoln high school. he says he's going donate his paycheck $53,000, to lincoln high, where he serves as a football coach. >> the 41-year-old kiddner was brought in as a back up after tony roma suffered a herniated disc. the winner against the eagles moves on to the play-offs. he's never won a medal and probably never will. but peruvian skier is set to make olympic history. he was one of the first athletes to represent peru at the winter games. in a shaw weeks he will head to socchi. >> on perfect snow be neath the skies on british columbia, a solo skier trains.
>> skiing and being in contact with nature, you are at your own pace and think about a million things. >> among the many things in his head, memories of a night four years ago, the opening ceremonies of the vancouver games, when he had a flag in his hand and a country on his shoulder. >> you open up and walk up and, "oh my god", and you feel the roar of people and you can't put it in words. i was absolutely happy just to be there and carry the flag. >> he lives in seattle with his wife kate and daughter frankie. he gets support from the peruvian olympic committee and more from the international olympic's sol darty program.
he'll cover about a third of the cost - $50,000 from his pocket this time around. kate works for microsoft. he has a consulting business. roberto was a surfing champion and long distance runner before he tried skiing, a sport he admits at 43 years old, he is still learning. >> believe it or not i'm getting older and better. >> he finished 94th out of 95 in his event in the 2010 olympics in vancouver. and knows he will not win a medal in socchi. victory is raising awareness of winter sports in his native country. >> how much recreational skiing is in peru. >> tiny little. >> right now he's the peruvian team - all of it. he has a dream of a group of kids taking on the world. >> training a group of kids
living in the ands, and putting them on skis and perhaps down the road we'll have peruvian delegation. >> he hopes a second olympic appearance and what he expects will be a better performance will help him raise money and interest to get the program started. meanwhile it's him and the snow and a challenging trail ahead. best of luck to him. looking ahead to the new year with optimism. according to a time square poll, a lot of americans are feeling optimistic about 2014. 49% of those surveyed say they think their fortunes will improve in 2014. 14% expect the new year to be a downgrade. more than a third of those surveyed, 42% don't expect much to change. here is for the new year. that'll do it for this edition
of al jazeera america. i'm thomas drayton here from new york. remember news at the top of every hour. thanks for watching. our digital producer, wajahat ali is here bringing in all of your live feedback. waj our staff was so excited when we told them which viral stars we were going to have on the program today.