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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

US President Addresses "Fiscal Cliff" in First Post-Election Press Conference; Israel Strikes Gaza, Kills Hamas Military Leader Ahmed al- Ja'abari; Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Says Israel Seeks Peace and Security; Hamas Spokesman Calls Israel the Aggressor; Funeral Scheduled for al-Ja'abari; Yen Down Sharply Against Dollar; Europe's Day of Action; Strikes in Spain

Aired November 14, 2012 - 14:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NINA DOS SANTOS, HOST: Good evening. You've been watching President Barack Obama in his first news conference since winning reelection. And in his speech just then, the US president addressed the issue of the so-called "fiscal cliff."

In his words there, he reiterated his call for high earners in the United States to pay more in taxes and to share the burden. We'll have plenty more on all that and all the financial news to come.

But first, we want to update you on the situation in Gaza. Israel has carried out a series of air strikes on Gaza, killing Hamas's military chief.

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(POLICE SIRENS)

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DOS SANTOS: The burning car marks the site where Ahmed al-Ja'abari died. A Hamas website now says that al-Ja'abari's son was also killed in the attack. Hamas says that al-Ja'abari's death, quote, "opens the gates of hell" in its conflict with Israel.

Israel says that it's also targeting long-range missile sites in Gaza and wants to impair Hamas's command and control structure.

The attacks come amid a week of escalating violence. While Israel has said that it's been hit by more than 120 rockets from Gaza in just the last few days alone.

Earlier, Fionnuala Sweeney spoke with the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon from CNN New York, and she asked him why attack such a high-profile target right now?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANNY AYALON, ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, he's the guy who kidnapped Shalit in the first place. But most importantly, he is the one who's responsible for Israel being under fire, not just in the last few days, where more than one million Israelis are terrorized by these incoming missiles and rockets from Gaza, but for the last seven years.

Ever since we left Gaza, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians, and we never had a day of peace and quiet. There is continued terror. We are still under fire, and they specifically direct their fire at Israeli children and kindergartens and schools. So --

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And in terms of escalating this right now -- when I say "escalate," I mean by this particular fascination, what are you hoping to achieve? And can I ask, will Israel continue to target individuals in Hamas over the coming days?

AYALON: Fionnuala, let me make it very clear. What Israel wants to achieve is peace and quiet and security for our citizens, as they deserve. This is not only our right to self-defend ourselves, but also it's an obligation. This is what we need.

We have given ample messages to the Hamas and others: if you do not shoot, if you stop the fire, we won't respond.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Well, Fionnuala also got the chance to speak with Hamas's spokesman Osama Hamdan. She asked him if it was now time to declare war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OSAMA HAMDAN, SPOKESMAN FOR HAMAS (via telephone): I think the one who declared the war was Israel. It's clear that they have attacked us in the last few days and there was response from the resistance.

Two days ago, there was indication from the Egyptian side by the request of Israel to calm down the situation. Hamas agreed on that and Hamas asked all the Palestinian resistance movements to accept that, and they agreed to have a calm situation.

For the last two days, Israel broke down this, like what had happened in 2003. We called for a cease-fire for 90 days. At the 50 day -- the 15th day, Israel attacked us and they are continuing to deny questions about that time.

So, the one who declares the war is Israel, and I think the Palestinians are in the position of defending themselves, nothing more than this.

SWEENEY: Is Hamas prepared militarily for a protracted operation, should Israel continue its operations?

HAMDAN: Well, I think there are no choices for Hamas if Israel continues their operations. If the Israeli operations were continued, Hamas must resist and must turn against that sense of attack.

I don't think that the one who's supposed to be asked is Hamas. The question is whether the Israelis are willing to continue the war. As I heard a few minutes ago from your guest, he's talking about the wish is to remove Hamas as a terrorist organization.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Our Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner joins us now, live, from our Jerusalem bureau. So, Sara, this situation seems to be escalating rather rapidly. Bring us the latest.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're hearing now is that the funeral has been planned for Ahmed al-Ja'abari. He's not just the leader of the military wing of Hamas, but he's really looked upon as a symbolic leader of Hamas, one of the founders of Hamas, so we're expecting thousands of people in the streets for this funeral.

That funeral is now scheduled for 9:00 AM in Gaza. We understand he'll be taken from the hospital to his home, then to a mosque.

Now, as far as the escalation, we have just heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We have also heard from the defense minister, as well. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel sent a clear message to Hamas that the army is ready to widen the operation. So, giving a hint there that the army and Israel is ready to widen its operations.

We heard earlier in the day that they did have the army readying itself for a possible ground -- begin a ground war. However, they're saying we are waiting and watching to see what happens.

We do know that there have been more rockets that have come into Israel. Since Saturday, there have been at least 120 rockets that made it into southern Israel. So far, the ones that have made it in this evening, about seven at this point in time.

The areas in the south that are on that Gaza border that are usually getting the brunt of this fighting between Israel and Gaza, those residents have been told to hunker down.

We're talking about a 40-kilometer area where people have been told that the schools will be closed, the businesses are now closed, and we expect them to be closed tomorrow as well. People trying to get into a place that is as safe as possible.

As for what's happening in Gaza, we're hearing from our producer there, Talal, he is telling us that it is as if bombs are raining down on Gaza. There have been, according to him and Hamas, at least 30 hits, 30 airstrikes that have happened in Gaza over the past few hours, and we're also hearing that warships, Israeli warships, are also blasting into Gaza.

We were looking at these pictures, and you're seeing fires, which appear to be all over Gaza City. A lot of concerns there by, of course, the civilians there, wondering what is going to happen next.

DOS SANTOS: OK, Sara Sidner there in Jerusalem, thanks so much for the latest there.

Up next, we turn our attention towards Europe, where painful spending cuts are driving protesters out onto the streets literally in the millions.

Let's have a quick look at how the currencies are doing, though, for the moment. The yen is sharply down against the dollar this Wednesday. It's dropped over Japanese prime minister says that he would hold snap elections in December after dissolving the lower house of parliament. Right now, $1 buys you just over 80 yen.

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DOS SANTOS: Welcome back. Separated by borders, united against austerity. A wave of coordinated strikes and protests have swept literally right across Europe as workers all across this continent say, basically, enough is enough.

Let's take a look at these protests, starting out with things in Italy. Most protests have been peaceful but, however, in this country, demonstrators built blockades and attacked riot police in Rome, as you can see here. There's also been some violence in the northern cities of Milan and also Turin.

Now, Spain is also staging a general strike. That's their second one to take place in just the last year. Public transport is almost completely shut down. Schools, shops, and even airports have all been closed.

And that takes us towards Greece, of course, the epicenter of Europe's ongoing debt crisis. Some 5,000 people marched through the streets in Athens earlier today, as you can see in these pictures.

And there were even protests across the more financially stable parts of northern Europe. Take, for instance, here, Belgium. What we saw in Belgium was railway workers there going on strike, as you can see, disrupting all sorts of things, including train services in particular.

Let's head back towards the situation there in Spain. In Madrid, we have our Bureau Chief, Al Goodman, who joins me now live from over there. Al, Spain saw some of the most fraught scenes, didn't it, on the streets of Madrid? And presumably, that had people visiting the Spanish capital confused about what was happening.

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Indeed. And we saw some travelers at the Atocha Train Station earlier this morning, hours ago, because of course, the unions tried to shut down the public transport right at the start of the strike day on the morning rush hour.

And they were largely successful at that in Madrid, Barcelona, and a lot of other cities, which meant that people -- in addition to the people who wanted to go on strike, those who wanted to go to work or wanted to go someplace had a hard time getting there.

Now, I want to tell you that we're at a very large demonstration. There are thousands of people here in the Plaza de Colon. Dozens of these demonstrations going on across the country as sort of -- for the unions, the icing on the cake at the end of what they consider a very successful strike day.

The government, by contrast, says it really was almost a normal day. So, the truth clearly somewhere in between, but it was not a fully normal day in Spain. Nina?

DOS SANTOS: Well, that's the kind of thing I wanted to come to here, because the fact that these strikes and protests are so coordinated across so many austerity-hit countries, is that starting to weaken the governments' resolve over there in Spain? You've got one of the most pronounced austerity measures going on.

GOODMAN: Indeed. Clearly, the unions trying to take a page from the governments and from big business, who have a more coordinated policy, the central bank, et cetera. And so, they've tried -- this is the first time we've had two general strikes within one year, 2012, in Spain ever.

This is the first time that Spain and Portugal have coordinated their general strikes, trying to push on the government. However, on the core economic policy, the austerity measures, we have not seen any indication the government is going to change.

However, in the recent days on the evictions of homeowners unable to pay their mortgages in this deep economic crisis, which has really come to the forefront in Spain, we have seen because of persistent protests, some change by the government on that point.

And so the unions are hoping that opens a breach and they will be able to get some movement on the overall austerity measures and the tax hikes, which aim to bring down the deficit. Nina?

DOS SANTOS: OK, Al Goodman there in Madrid for us this evening. Thanks for that.

Now, tone down the rhetoric. That's just some of the advice Warren Buffet is offering to both sides of the aisle in Washington. Up next, our exclusive interview with that legendary investor. Plus we'll also be speaking to the foreign minister of Jordan about today's protests. Please stay with us.

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DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back. I'm Nina dos Santos. These are the main headlines this hour here on CNN.

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DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Well, Israel has killed Hamas' top military leader in an airstrike in Gaza (inaudible) a week of escalating violence between the two sides. Israel says that the killing of Ahmed al-Jabari is part of a larger operation to severely impact Hamas' command and control apparatus. And as for its part, said that it will retaliate.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that lawmakers need to make compromises to avert a fiscal cliff. Mr. Obama says that he wants to make sure that middle class families don't end up taking a bigger financial hit than the wealthiest of Americans.

Workers across Europe have staged strikes and protests against government austerity measures. Spain's staged its second general strike in just this year. Several other countries have also joined in with these demonstrations. The vast majority of the protest have been peaceful, although there was some violence in parts of (inaudible).

China is preparing to unveil its new leadership at the Communist Party gathering in Beijing comes to an end. It's widely expected that the president, Hu Jintao, will announce the party is passing the reins of power over to Vice President Xi Jinping.

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DOS SANTOS: U.S. President Barack Obama says that lawmakers will have to compromise if they're to avert a looming fiscal cliff as higher spending, high taxes and suspending cuts. Here's what Mr. Obama had to say on the issue just a few moments ago at a press conference.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together. As I've said before, I'm open to compromise and I'm open to new ideas.

And I've been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree on the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we're going to be serious about reducing the deficit, because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available: option one, if Congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody's taxes will automatically go up, including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year.

And the 97 percent of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. That doesn't make sense. Our economy can't afford that right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: (Inaudible) country's biggest companies, we'll be getting their ideas on how exactly he should be dealing with the looming fiscal cliff.

Well, today's meeting at the White House involved some of the biggest names in business, from Aetna to Xerox. Leaders from 12 Fortune 500 companies will be meeting with President Obama. You can see their logos here on the screen.

Their combined generated revenues amount to about $1.4 trillion just in the last year, to give you an idea of the scale we're talking about. And altogether, these companies are responsible for more than 3.9 million employees worldwide.

(Inaudible) often called the Sage of Omaha wasn't at the meeting in Washington. Warren Buffett, who stands at number 22 -- or number 20, I should say -- on the "Forbes" list of the world's most powerful people, an exclusive interview with our CNN's Poppy Harlow, the billionaire investors, who famously pointed out that his tax rate is about half of what his assistant pays, has plenty of advice for Mr. Obama on the so-called fiscal cliff.

Poppy joins us now live from Omaha, Nebraska, to run us through exactly what he said.

So, Poppy, what was his answer, if he is so wise as the Sage of Omaha?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did have a chance to sit down for a wide ranging interview with Warren Buffett here in Omaha. We're actually standing outside the headquarters of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, right now, Nina.

We talked about the CEOs' meeting at the White House and he told me that he really believed that those -- that the president needs to take a very hard line with those in the business community on not just regulation but also on taxes.

We know they've been calling on the government in the U.S. to lower corporate tax rates, not something the president wants to do right now. But we talked extensively about the fiscal cliff. And before the U.S. presidential election, Warren Buffett had said publicly that he believed that there was a good chance that the U.S. would fall off the fiscal cliff for a short period of time.

But I asked him now that we know who the next president will be, and what the makeup of Congress will be, do you still believe that? Here's what he said.

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WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I don't know whether we'll go over it. It really depends very much on, you know, on the Republicans in Congress. It does make the whole group in Congress to avoid that.

I mean, if 25 Republicans decide that they'll put country above party and sign up for something that makes sense, we don't need to go over the fiscal cliff.

HARLOW: Well, that's interesting. You say it really depends on the Republicans in Congress. What about the president? I mean, he's taking a very hard line going into these negotiations, starting on Friday, asking off the bat for $1.6 trillion in --

(CROSSTALK)

BUFFETT: (Inaudible). If -- we need to get our revenue up to about 19 percent of GDP. We need to get our expenses down to 21 or 21.5 percent of GDP. And everyone knows that.

And we're a long way from 19 percent and we're a long way from 21.5 percent. So it's going to take significant action on both sides. And $1.6 trillion happens to be 1 percent of GDP. So you're just moving up one percentage point by that. We'll need that much revenue. Now we'll need to cut expenditures significantly, very significantly, too.

HARLOW: What is the likelihood of the United States falling into a recession if we go over the cliff?

BUFFETT: I don't think -- I don't think that's going to happen. I think that if we go past January 1st, I don't know whether it'll be January 10th or February 1st, but we are not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along.

HARLOW: Even if we go over for two months, does that -- does that get this economy back into a recession?

BUFFETT: I don't think so.

HARLOW: What about a female president in 2016?

BUFFETT: I hope so.

(LAUGHTER)

BUFFETT: I hope it's Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: You hope it's Hillary Clinton?

BUFFETT: Sure.

HARLOW: I know you supported both her and President Obama in the 2008 race. What is it about Hillary Clinton you like so much?

BUFFETT: I like what she believes in and I think she's extraordinarily able and energetic, for that matter, in pushing those beliefs. I think -- I don't see how you could have anybody better qualified.

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HARLOW: All right. There you go, Nina, already a 2016 U.S. presidential endorsement from a very influential investor. I will tell you also, Nina, big topic we discussed, U.S. taxes.

He thinks that capital gains taxes should be significantly higher in this country, possibly double from 15 to 30 percent. He also thinks personal income taxes should be much higher for the wealthy. He says 50 percent is not too high, something that really puts him at odds with most business leaders in this country, Nina.

DOS SANTOS: Gosh, and I'm a country where you do have 50 percent income tax. Gosh, that's interesting stuff. And he's polishing his crystal ball already for the next 2016 elections.

Poppy Harlow in Omaha, Nebraska, thanks ever so much for that.

Now let's move to other news, because (inaudible) sharp rise in fuel prices has triggered violent protests across the country. For the first time, demonstrators are directing their anger against King Abdullah himself. Protesters are calling for an end to his rule. Fourteen people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and the riot police just on Tuesday night.

Joining me now is the Jordanian foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, who joins us now live from Amman.

So thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Judeh. First of all, let me ask you this. If people are calling for an end to King Abdullah's reign, that is a taboo subject in Jordan. They could face jail.

Will they?

NASSER JUDEH, FOREIGN MINISTER, JORDAN: Well, first of all, I think it's an unfair representation to say that the people are calling for an end --

DOS SANTOS: Some people --

JUDEH: -- to the reign. There are -- there are a few people who have, but they're a minority.

DOS SANTOS: And (inaudible)?

JUDEH: (Inaudible). But people -- but people are actually angry about a decision that was taken by the government and no government likes to take hard decisions that have an immediate impact, but that are of benefit to the people in the medium and long term. But a good government is the one that steps up to the challenge and takes it.

We're a country that imports 96 percent of our energy. We're a country that has to live with a deficit because of rising oil prices, because of our reliance on Egyptian gas supplies. And we have to finance our deficit. We have to finance our budget. And decision had to be taken. But --

DOS SANTOS: I understand that.

JUDEH: (Inaudible). The subsidies are redirected.

DOS SANTOS: I understand that. And you're not the only country around the world emerging market country that is facing a significant budget shortfall because of fuel subsidies and having to remove (inaudible) protests. But let me just ask you again, those people have called for an end to King Abdullah's reign. Will they be facing prosecution?

JUDEH: I think the people have freedom of speech. This is the Jordanian example that we have seen during the Arab awakenings or the Arab Spring, if you will, over the last two years. We've set an example of how people are free to express their opinions, to protest peacefully, to demonstrate. This is guaranteed under the constitution.

Now I have to tell you, by and large, people are demonstrating and we just saw in the previous segment on your program in Europe, demonstrating against austerity measures, demonstrating against hard economic decisions. They're doing the same here. It's immediate anger.

But like I said, there's -- these are decisions that had to be taken. Again, if there's a consensus on one thing in Jordan, it's on the king, because the king is the guarantor, not only the political, economic and social reform process --

DOS SANTOS: OK.

JUDEH: -- but the guarantor who facilitates dialogue. So I think when you see a few chants here and there, it's unfair to say that this is representative (inaudible) of the general mood of the country.

DOS SANTOS: You've started to lift these subsidies. You've faced the kind of backlash many countries around the world have been facing this at the moment with the oil price the way it is.

Do you think that these kind of -- the amount that you've lifted these subsidies, the price changes (inaudible). Will you have to change them again coming in a year from now? Or will you?

JUDEH: I missed the last bit of your (inaudible) question. (Inaudible).

DOS SANTOS: Will you have to review some of these price changes? And will you do so despite the fact that people have had to take to the streets yet again? Is this current change enough for you to balance your books?

JUDEH: Well, let me tell you a couple of things if I may. Subsidies in Jordan were misdirected. They were directed towards the commodity rather than towards the people who should benefit. That's number one.

Number two, subsidies were going to the well-to-do as well as to the low income bracket. What happened this time -- and you described it as raising (inaudible) prices. What happened actually is redirecting the subsidies. People of the lower income bracket will be given cash compensation. We are a country, again, I remind, that imports 96 percent of its energy. And the price of oil fluctuations internationally. We get affected.

This year alone, our oil has doubled. So I think in order to protect the people from an increasing deficit, from further burdens on the budget, these decisions have to be taken. Now this is not because we want to do them. This is because it has to be done.

There are intermediate and long-term solutions, renewable energy, exploring gas, exploring for oil. But in the immediate term, decisions have to be taken to enable us to finance our deficit. And it is increasing by a substantial amount.

DOS SANTOS: Will you have to take other urgent measures to try and, as you said, address the deficit? And what could those be?

JUDEH: Well, austerity; the government has started with itself. There's a serious major austerity program. Again, our subsidies now, oil prices have been adjusted and floated (ph). In other words, we'll be affected upwards or downwards. And we have said that if the prices of oil go up, the lower income brackets will be compensated with cash.

And this will, by the way, affect positively about 70 percent of the population. Should the oil prices go up, they -- 70 percent of the population will be receiving cash subsidies. But in the meantime, we cannot afford to continue in an unrealistic way subsidizing the product itself and subsidizing Jordanians and non-Jordanians alike.

And we have a large number of non-Jordanians on Jordanian soil. So things have to be done. People have the right to express their anger at this. Unfortunately, what we saw in the last 24 hours is the un-Jordanian way of doing things, because we have, in the last two years, seen a Jordanian way of doing things, which is peaceful process, freedom of expression, but in a peaceful atmosphere.

DOS SANTOS: Well --

JUDEH: I hope this will contain itself. But at the end of the day, things have to be done.

DOS SANTOS: Mr. Judeh, I also want to ask you, of course, about the events in the Middle East today, notably Israel's killing of the top military leader of Hamas over in Gaza. That could have huge implications on geopolitical stability in the region. How do you view this situation playing out? It will also have an impact on the oil prices.

JUDEH: This region is not short of more factors for instability and turbulence and violence. I think we're all in agreement. I'm to put this contextually, our position in Jordan is very, very clear. There has to be an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

And that no matter what happens in the region, whatever developments there are out there, the core issue remains the peace process and the need to revitalize this peace process and bring negotiation back on the table so that we can resolve this and the region can enjoy peace and security.

So, again, contextually speaking, any incident such as we saw today will fuel the tensions that are already there, either simmering beneath the surface or above the surface.

DOS SANTOS: OK. Nasser Judeh there, the foreign minister of Jordan, thank you ever so much for coming on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

It's "Business Traveller" up next. And in that, we'll be tagging along at the world's biggest passenger jet takes a nighttime drive through Rouen, France.

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DOS SANTOS: It's five years since the Airbus A380 made its inaugural commercial flight and there are now some 89 of the super jumbos currently in operation. The plane is the world's largest passenger jet, typically carrying more than 500 passengers. In CNN's "Business Traveller," we'll show you how all of this is put together.

In this part of the journey, Ayesha Durgahee looks at how the various parts of this plane take a nighttime trip right around Rouen, France.

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AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The street is closed. The last cars cleared to make way for the night convoy.

DURGAHEE: It's almost 11 o'clock and the locals here in Levignac) are starting to come out and gather and wait for the night convoy of the A380. And we're literally minutes away.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): It's a fortnightly ritual for the locals and a midnight treat for tourists. Some have traveled as far as New Caledonia in the South Pacific.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are here on holidays, so we took the opportunity to see the convoy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've never seen it, so I'm very curious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's from Toulouse, and so are we, so it's part of our local pride. In fact, this is the second time we've come to see it.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): All wrapped up, component parts sit in sequence, as a holding area 11 kilometers away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking French.)

DURGAHEE (voice-over): A team briefing before the final leg of this mammoth journey.

ARNAUD CAZENEUVE, MANAGER, A380 SURFACE TRANSPORT: (Inaudible). The convoy is going to leave at 10:00 pm (inaudible) out to join final assembly line (inaudible). And it will arrive tomorrow morning at 1:30. OK, you have about (inaudible) kilometers to make to go to Levignac).

DURGAHEE (voice-over): Fifty-three people, 31 vehicles and 18 security guards, all of this every two weeks.

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DURGAHEE (voice-over): Soon after 10 o'clock, the convoy sets off, snaking its way through the dark, empty roads of southern France. With the first sign of the security entourage, the convoy is coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have (inaudible) little picture that it was the huge part of the fuselage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very close to a very outer wall. And we are trying to find that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the narrowest (inaudible) --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).

DURGAHEE (voice-over): A hint of flashing lights in the distance and the moment arrives. First to appear are the wings. Slow and steady, in single file, the parts crawl by. Next up, the horizontal tail (inaudible). And then the three sections of the fuselage. Just 30 minutes later, they've done it again, 123rd successful passage through Levignac), of the A380 convoy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm going to go a little bit further to see it again because I know we'll never get another chance.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): With the trickiest part of the route navigated, the trucks barrel on to complete the remaining 20 kilometers of their journey. And one hour later, they reach the Airbus headquarters. The final piece rolls into position for the 123rd time.

Six parts, all in a row, awaiting their turn for assembly -- Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, Levignac, France.

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DOS SANTOS: Amazing scenes. Do stay with us, because we'll be back with a full weather forecast next.

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DOS SANTOS: Time now for an update on the weather forecast. Let's go over to Jenny Harrison at the CNN International Weather Center.

Jenny?

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Nina, some pretty unpleasant weather conditions still across central regions of the Mediterranean.

Let me start out by showing you the satellite, because we saw that area of low pressure bringing sudden rains across into Italy and there's another system you can see just sort of to the southwest. But we've got some more pictures to show you, actually, of a sign across in particular in Rome.

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HARRISON (voice-over): Now of course most of the city actually is protected from floodwaters by a wall, more than one wall, and various bridges as well. But one of the bridges has actually had to be closed because of these encroaching floodwaters.

Now the weather conditions have actually improved. You can see the blue skies there in the picture. But (inaudible) show you where we're talking about and I can -- if you come back to me and I can show you --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRISON: There we go. This is the bridge we're talking about. This is one they've actually had to shut and it's actually well within the city limits, and you can see other areas to the north of the city, actually there is no protection at all. So there are some concerns there, although as I say, for now, the weather conditions have improved.

And then further away along the coast again, in Albania, we've had some more flooding that has affected this particular area as well. But we're keeping a very close eye on that system in the southwest, pushing into the western Med, some strong winds have been coming through, too. The warnings in place for those, 85 kph, the strongest wind gust in Ibiza.

And then in Algeria, look at this, more than the monthly average in 88 millimeters. That's the sort of rain that coming down in a short space of time could certainly produce some flash floods. So we're hopeful that this system across the south should stay well to the south of those flooded areas in Italy.

But across to the central regions, it's mostly fine and dry with high pressure in control. But two more systems on the way, one pushing into the U.K., another just sitting on the coast there, across into Portugal.

More warnings in place for that system in the central Med, but for the most part, that should continue to work its way eastwards and overall, in Europe, actually, temperature wise, Nina, things are not feeling too bad, just cold across the far north of Scandinavia.

DOS SANTOS: OK. Jenny Harrison, thanks so much for that.

Do stay with us out there. We'll be back (inaudible).

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DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back. Let's have a look at how U.S. markets are doing at the moment, because we had President Barack Obama speaking earlier about the issue of the fiscal cliff and how the burden should be shared between the rich in society as well. But during that what we also have had is the Federal Reserve releasing its minutes -- that's the latest October meeting.

And that is one of the reasons why the Dow is down by about just as you can see nearly 1 percent.

Fed members say that they believe the economy is continuing to expand at a moderate pace, although they often said about the issue of the fiscal cliff that some members have been saying that they're worried that the current rate of job creation in the United States is only enough to bring about a slow decline in unemployment. And that's why the Dow is down about 117 points.

And that's it for this edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Thanks for joining me. I'm Nina dos Santos (inaudible).

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DOS SANTOS (voice-over): You're watching CNN. These are the main news headlines this hour.

Israel has killed Hamas' top military leader in an airstrike in Gaza (inaudible) week of escalating violence between the two sides. Israel says that the killing of Ahmed al-Jabari is part of a larger operation designed to severely impair Hamas' command and control apparatus. Hamas, for its part, says that it will retaliate.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that lawmakers need to make compromises to avert the fiscal cliff. Mr. Obama says that he wants to make sure that middle class families don't end up taking a bigger financial hit than the wealthiest of Americans.

Workers across Europe have staged a series of strikes and protests against government austerity measures. While Spain staged its second general strike in just this last year, several other countries also joined in with the demonstrations. The vast majority of the protests were peaceful, but there was some violence in parts of (inaudible).

China is preparing to unveil its new leadership as the Communist Party gathers in Beijing and that's (inaudible). Now it's widely expected that President Hu Jintao of China will announce the party is passing the reins of power over to the vice president, Xi Jinping.

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DOS SANTOS: That's a main look at the news headlines we're watching for you here on CNN. "AMANPOUR" is next after this.

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