December 27th, 2013
06:41 AM ET

Flu Kills Five in Texas

The CDC report widespread flu infections in several states – primarily in the Southeast, CNN's Victor Blackwell reports.

Texas appears to be hardest hit with five dead after catching the H1N1 strain.

Back in 2009 – this same strain spread rapidly across the globe, infecting 52 million, according to the CDC.

SEE FULL REPORT ABOVE

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December 27th, 2013
06:29 AM ET

Rescue Near for Ship Stuck in Antarctic

After four days trapped in Antarctic sea ice, the 74 people aboard an expedition vessel could soon be freed. Two ice-breaking ships are expected to reach them on Friday.

The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long ("Snow Dragon") was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the vessel as of Friday morning, the icebreaker's captain said. China's State Oceanic Administration said the ship sailed through an intense cyclone to try to reach the stranded vessel as soon as possible.

But the Chinese ship is moving slowly because the ice is very thick, Capt. Wang Jianzhong told CNN by phone. He said he expects to reach the stranded vessel late Friday local time.

Meanwhile, the French icebreaker Astrolabe was within 17 nautical miles of the stuck ship and is expected to reach the trapped researchers and tourists a few hours later. And the Australian ship Aurora Australis is expected to follow.

"Between the three of them, we're hoping to get out relatively quickly," said Chris Turney, the expedition leader aboard the trapped ship and a professor of climate change at University of New South Wales in Australia.

Jianzhong said he's worried the extreme weather could cause the Chinese ship to get stuck itself. But even in that case, the French ship could help rescue the Chinese ship, Jianzhong said. If the French vessel also gets trapped, they would call for more help.

The Chinese crew is hoping to break the ice around the trapped Russian-flagged ship, so it can leave on its own. If an emergency arises, the Chinese team is willing to help those on board the Russian boat onto the Chinese one, Jianzhong said.

Sea ice locked up the MV Akademik Shokalskiy on Monday night. The crew members, researchers and tourists on board spent the next 12 hours hoping that high winds would subside.

They didn't.

A British rescue coordination center received a satellite distress signal Wednesday morning from the ship and contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which handles the Southern Ocean region where the vessel was stuck, a safety authority statement said.

But the passengers had to spend Christmas at a frozen standstill 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D'Urville, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Tasmania.

"We had a great Christmas," Turney told CNN via Skype, even though everyone was frustrated about not being able to venture out into the open ocean.

Despite the conditions, Turney said morale was "remarkably high."

"We just want to assure family and friends everyone is fine," he said. "The vessel is safe, and we're looking forward to getting home and having a decent cup of coffee soon."

The setback gave scientists more time to conduct research and study life under the sea ice.

"This is an area of enormous change. We're in an area of a big driver of global climate," Turney said. "We wanted to come here to see how much change has taken place."

Turney said everyone aboard the expedition vessel is scheduled to return to southern New Zealand by January 4.

Expeditions Online, a polar booking agent for the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, said on its website that the ship got stuck partway through her Australasian Antarctic Expedition towards Mawson's Hut at Cape Denison.

The Expeditions Online website described the ship as "a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel" for working in polar regions.

"This class of vessel is world-renowned for polar exploration, because of its strength, maneuverability and small passenger numbers," the company's website said.

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5 Things to Know for Your New Day – Friday, December 27
What do Bill Murrary and Abraham Lincoln have in common?
December 27th, 2013
05:10 AM ET

5 Things to Know for Your New Day – Friday, December 27

Ice storm power outages persist in the United States and Canada, men breach security at two airports, and help nears for a Russian ship stuck in Antarctic ice.

It's Friday, and here are the “5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

1. ICE STORM

Four days without power: Baby it's cold outside - and inside, too - especially when you have no heat. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Northern United States and southeastern Canada haven't had power for at least four days because of ice bringing down tree limbs and power lines. At least 19 people have died in weather-related incidents since Saturday. Snow is expected in many of the same areas Friday.

Chad Myers updates the weather throughout the morning.

2. AIRPORT SECURITY

Climbing the fences: Jumping a high-security fence at an airport isn't part of the usual holiday fun. But two men - at two separate airports in Newark, New Jersey, and Phoenix - reportedly did just that on Christmas Day. One showed "indications of possible drug and alcohol impairment," authorities said. The other was wearing women's clothing and was not interested in anything at the airport - instead he was seeking safety from someone who frightened him, police said. Both men were charged with trespassing and released.

Alexandra Field joins the "New Day" crew at 6, 7 and 8.

3. CONVICTION OVERTURNED

Priest to be released: Monsignor William Lynn was the first Roman Catholic priest sent to jail for covering up the crimes of other priests. Now an appeals court says he can go free. He could be released as soon as Friday. Lynn was convicted of child endangerment last year for not removing a defrocked priest from active ministry after learning he had molested a teen. Lynn's attorneys convinced a Superior Court panel of three judges that the law only applied to people who directly supervised children. The Philadelphia district attorney says his office will likely appeal the ruling.

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Monsignor William Lynn's attorney will appear on "New Day" during the 7 a.m. hour.

4. BRAIN-DEAD GIRL

Transfer requested: The family of Jahi McMath wants to transfer the 13-year-old girl to another facility after a judge concluded this week she is brain-dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy. A family attorney says Jahi would need to have tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes put in before she could be moved - something Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland in California is refusing to do at this point. A hospital official says the judge's ruling instructs the facility to maintain the status quo and it doesn't believe "performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person" is appropriate.

Pamela Brown updates news headlines throughout the morning.

5. TRAPPED SHIP

Stuck in the ice: A trapped expedition vessel could be freed soon as two ice-breaking ships neared it Friday. The Russian-flagged MV Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in Antarctic sea ice four days ago during a storm. Chinese and French icebreakers are within a few miles, and an Australian ship is also en route. There are 74 aboard the Russian vessel, which is about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Tasmania.

Diana Magnay updates this story at 6 and 8.

Those are your five biggies for the day. Here are a few others that are brewing and have the Internet buzzing.

- Delta fares: A glitch of some sort is responsible for sending online air fares for Delta Air Lines into the bargain basement. For a few hours Thursday, folks were snapping up cross-country flights for a song. One customer said she bought tickets between Tallahassee, Florida, and Los Angeles for $27 each way. Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said the airline would honor the incorrectly priced fares, which were offered on the airline's website and other travel sites where it lists tickets.

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- It's a bird. It's ... not a plane: Of course, you can get cheaper fares, if you don't use an airplane at all. This guy flying in a wingsuit sails perilously close to the ground down Couloir de l'Ensa near the resort town of Chamonix in southeastern France. We just hope the wingsuit comes with a change of underwear.

- The flying TARDIS: "Dr. Who" fans are going to love this. A couple of guys in England have created a flying version of the show's TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). It's kind of a combination time machine and spacecraft for those of you not familiar with the British science-fiction TV show. It's remote-controlled. Flying lessons are a must.

- $5 Bill Murray: We're pretty sure this qualifies as a federal crime, defacing U.S. currency to make it look like an "Saturday Night Live" alum, but it's still a lot of fun. Apparently Honest Abe and Bill Murray bear a striking resemblance to each other - at least if you use enough ink.

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- One man, many stunts: Aung Zaw Oo seems to have a knack for this stunt and trick thing. He does them all the time - and we do mean ALL THE TIME. Here's his 2013 showreel.

There you go. All you need to know to get an early start to your morning.
Be sure to tune in to "New Day" from 6 to 9 a.m. ET. Join us at NewDayCNN.com and go and have a GREAT NEW DAY!

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