Return to Transcripts main page


Hong Kong Ferry Crash; Syrian Children Scared by War; When Heaven Can't Wait; Black Friday Shopping Starts Holiday Season; Trial Begins for Men Accused of Killing British Soldier Lee Rigby; Church Leaders Protest Gay Ambassador to Dominican Republic; Drone Strike Kills Afghan Civilians; Improvised Bomb Explodes Outside U.S. Air Base in Japan

Aired November 29, 2013 - 12:30   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, unless a product is going to be sold out you think, I'd say go ahead and play the eight waiting game and avoid the crowds.


KOSIK: Michael and Hala?

HOLMES: It's all about the hype, isn't it?

HALA GORANI, CNN CO-ANCHOR: It is. But it's also about this being a gauge Black Friday is a gauge. It's the beginning of the shopping season. It tells the market whether or not retailers are going to do OK this holiday season in terms of sales. This economy depends so much on consumer spending.

KOSIK: It's true.

GORANI: But, Alison, a new CNN/ORC poll is out showing people are just so very much pessimistic out there.

KOSIK: Yeah, and -

GORANI: Just to read it out quickly, four out of 10 Americans think the economy is getting worse.

KOSIK: Yeah, exactly. And that's what's a big worry here. You know, one of the things that's sort of going wrong in the economy is the jobs picture. You see home prices are higher these days. Portfolios are doing so well, because we're seeing stocks do so well.

The problem is really jobs. You know, 11 million Americans remain out of work and those who are getting work, many of them are getting these jobs that don't pay a lot, these low wage jobs. So that really is hitting on confidence. And that's why you're seeing a lot of Americans in this poll, you know, not feeling like this is a true recovery, Hala.

HOLMES: Going to be interesting to see those retail numbers when they do start to come out, and see how much is actually being spent.

Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

KOSIK: You've got it.

HOLMES: You know, a friend of a friend spent 11 hours, bragged about this on Facebook, 11 hours shopping yesterday, and showed off the SUV full of stuff. I couldn't think of anything worse.

GORANI: Why? All right, well, look, some people have fun doing it.

HOLMES: Yeah, I guess.

GORANI: Now to something completely different. Heavy security at a courthouse in London today. Take a look. A trial starting for two men accused of this, you'll remember this horrific incident, slamming their car into a British soldier, then hacking him to death.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy to murder a police officer and other charges.

HOLMES: It was a horrible, horrible story that many of you may remember, that gruesome attack on 25-year-old Lee Rigby, a soldier, this happening broad daylight. London street.

Witnesses videotaped the defendants allegedly holding the knives and meat cleaver that they used to stab and hack him. He was almost decapitated. Absolutely horrific situation and that trial now under way. Not guilty pleas are in.

GORANI: A new diplomatic fight between Argentina and Great Britain. Argentina says it will pursue legal action against oil companies drilling off the disputed Falkland Islands. But Britain says island residents have the right to develop resources for their economic gain.

HOLMES: Earlier this year, residents of the islands voted to remain a British overseas territory. Britain and Argentina, of course, went to war over the islands 30 years ago. Argentina still claims them.

GORANI: There's a new U.S. ambassador in the Dominican Republic and he is openly gay and has a husband. That has some high-profile Catholic Church leaders there outraged. They say President Obama's appointment of James "Wally" Brewster was disrespectful. The Dominican Republic government quickly accepted Brewster's selection, but one evangelical church is asking people to protest his appointment with black ribbons on their cars.

HOLMES: Two explosions just outside a U.S. air base, this happening in Japan. A bomb squad finds remnants of improvised explosive devices. As I said, this didn't happen in a war zone. This is not far from Tokyo.

GORANI: Plus, what investigators and locals are saying in a report from the scene.

That and more coming up on AROUND THE WORLD. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GORANI: An impasse between the U.S. and the president of Afghanistan may have just reached the breaking point. President Hamid Karzai is lashing out after a drone strike hit Afghan civilians, killing a small child and wounding two women.

Now, this could not have come at a worse time. The Afghan president had already put the U.S. on notice that he would not sign a long-term security agreement if another innocent civilian was killed in a raid by NATO forces.

Let's bring in Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon. First of all, there were people killed here. Before we talk about any strategic agreement, what more do we know about this raid and who died?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Basically, Hala, officially NATO officials are saying that they were going after an insurgent who was riding a motor bike in Helmand Province.

But officials are also giving us some more information behind the scenes, saying that basically this was a mid-level commander who had targeted Afghan forces, commanding attacks on those forces, and that there were actually two air strikes. Officials say the first air strike hit the road and missed the target, and that's the air strike that may have wounded the two women and killed that very small child, possibly as young as 2-years-old.

The second air strike did get the target. We're also told that General Joseph Dunford, the U.S. military commander there in Afghanistan, quickly called President Karzai to express regret and committed NATO to a full investigation to get the facts of what happened here.

But that -- what we don't know is whether that's going to really hold any weight with some of the things that President Karzai has said over the past few days.

GORANI: And let's talk about the strategic agreement, the incident coming at a time when the future of American troop presence in Afghanistan is very much in question. So if this new security deal is not signed, the U.S. will pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan.

Is that the expectation that that's going to happen, something as abrupt as that, or do people believe at the Pentagon that, at some point, a last-minute deal will be agreed upon?

LAWRENCE: It's possible. But right now, you've got two sides who are basically issuing ultimatums and every indication seems to be they're both sticking to this right now.

The National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with President Karzai and delivered just that message earlier this week saying, look, unless you sign this long-term security agreement, which you know, tribal leaders and people across Afghanistan have agreed to, this 10-year plan, we are going to start preparing to pull our troops out by the end of 2014.

Now, the U.S. needs some time to do that. That can't be a snap decision. So they want this agreement signed quickly. President Karzai has indicated that he's not going to sign it, that he's sort of positioning himself as this nationalistic leader protecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan.

But right now, it doesn't look like either side is going to budge, and that presents some real problems for the U.S. and for Afghanistan, as well, because that aid package, that commitment of 10 years also comes with about $4 billion attached to it.

GORANI: Chris Lawrence, thanks very much, live in Washington.


HOLMES: U.S. and Japanese authorities investigating two explosions that happened outside a U.S. air base. Now this happened last night, and it was quite near Tokyo. Bomb squads and police have found remnants of improvised explosive devices near this base, Karl Penhaul with the details.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A bomb squad on the move, it's just after dawn and Japanese authorities are on alert after explosions close to the Yokota U.S. Air Force base.

Police threw up a cordon. Nearby, residents say they heard two loud blasts just before midnight.

YOSHIFUMI KONNO, RESIDENT (via translator): There was a sound of something exploding. It wasn't something blowing up, but more like a sound of rockets going off.

PENHAUL: Factor worker Daisy Gonzaga thought it was part of Thanksgiving celebrations on the base.

DAISY GONZAGA, RESIDENT: Like fireworks, bomb, like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): Around 11:30, there was a sound like this and then the whole apartment shook.

PENHAUL: Police and bomb squad teams have been combing this area's fields and wooded land and now confirm that they found two steel tubes taped to wires, a battery and crude timing device.

They believe that is part of a homemade mortar system. There was no sign any projectiles flew into the base, home to some 3,500 servicemen from the U.S., 374th Air Wing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Air Force said there were no explosions inside the air base itself and no reports of damage or injuries.

The incident came a week after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy visited Yokota base. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Japan next week. Japanese and U.S. navies are currently conducting joint exercises. There have been similar incidents in the past, most recently in September. Previously, ultra-leftist Japanese guerrilla groups have claimed responsibility. Such actions are more a political protest against U.S.-Japanese military cooperation than a serious strike to cause destruction or death.

Karl Penhaul, near the Yokota Air Base, Japan.


GORANI: Imagine millions of American children living in refugee camps without school and far away from family. Well, that is a reality for an entire generation of Syrian children.

That's next on "AROUND THE WORLD".


HOLMES: All right, welcome back.

President Obama making an unannounced appearance. It wasn't on his schedule. We have new video of that just in. He and the first lady taking part in Fast for Families on the National Mall and offering their support for those who are fasting on behalf of immigration reform.

GORANI: Well, it's a group of activists that have been fasting since November 12th in favor, as we said, to push for and to press for immigration reform. The vice president, Biden, visited Fast for Families in recent weeks, as well.

HOLMES: There's been some chaos in the waters off Hong Kong. More than 80 people injured after a high speed ferry hit what they're calling an unidentified object in the waters.

GORANI: CNN's Pauline Chiou is in Hong Kong and has the latest.


PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Hong Kong ferry company says 87 people were injured in a crash involving one of its ferries early on Friday. The ferry was traveling at high speed from Hong Kong to Macau when it hit an object in the water. It was carrying 105 passengers and 10 crew members. Everyone is accounted for. Passengers report hearing a loud bang and some were thrown out of their seats, but it's still unclear what the ferry may have hit.

Now, just over a year ago, a Hong Kong ferry collision killed 39 people. The city's worst in 40 years.

Pauline Chiou, CNN, Hong Kong.


GORANI: As far as mafia killings go, this one has got to be one of the most gruesome. Police in southern Italy say a group of mafia assassins beat a man with a spade and then -- oh, I'm having a hard time reading it -- and then fed him alive to pigs.

HOLMES: Goodness me. This is alleged over a gang turf war. Investigators say this brutal killing, to put it mildly, was overheard during a phone wiretap. Good heavens.

All right, let's go to Thailand now. Hundreds of protesters storming the army headquarters in Bangkok today, although it must be said relatively peacefully, demanding the Thai army help them remove the prime minister.

GORANI: After occupying the compound for a couple of hours, they left quietly. The latest protests come as the prime minister survived a no confidence vote in parliament yesterday. She says she is not going anywhere. She is refusing to step down.

HOLMES: Eleven thousand children have been killed in Syria's civil war. Eleven thousand children only. That's according to new figures from the United Nations. More than 1 million other Syrian children are refugees worldwide.

And for the first time, the U.N. is documenting the trauma they face. Authorities say thousands of Syrian children live alone in camps. They're far from their families. Many others are forced to work adult jobs to help feed their families and most of them are emotionally scarred from the war.


GORANI (voice-over): Wafa (ph) has barely spoken since she lost her father and her home in January. Her mother, Wada (ph), cradled her in her arms. Their new home? A refugee camp in Lebanon.

Her story is part of a new U.N. report that says in Lebanon and Jordan alone, a quarter million children have received psychological counseling during the first nine months of this year.

And here's why they need help. A nine-year-old boy drew this picture featured in the report. The bus he and his family took to flee their home was stopped and robbed by armed men.

And there's this picture. I left all my dolls in Syria when we fled to Lebanon said seven-year-old Nura (ph), so my daddy made this doll with a piece of wood.

The U.N. document reveals that 29 percent of refugee children leave their home once a week or less, isolated and alone. Fifteen-year-old Mahmoud (ph) hasn't been to school in nearly three years. Today he works at a fish factory making $60 a month. That helps pay the rent for the underground storage room his family now lives in.

Another number just released in the report, nearly half of the 3,500 Syrian refugee Children living in the Jordan valley work adult jobs to help their families.

And then there's this photo. One of baby Ziad's (ph) first experiences of life was registering as a refugee. And a young mother crosses the border from Syria carrying her one-month-old son, Hamid (ph). Since he was born, there's been nonstop bombing every day, she says.

Every day, the U.N. says, 125 Syrian babies are born as refugees, 18 percent of Syrian refugees are under the age of five. Families fractured. Innocence lost. Emotionally scarred kids. This is the reality for an entirely lost generation of Syrian children.


GORANI: There you have it. The U.N. HGR (ph) is doing all that it can, but it needs more support. So (INAUDIBLE) one of many groups that you can contribute to if you are -

HOLMES: Absolutely, yes.

GORANI: If you are so inclined and if you're touched by the plight of these kids.

HOLMES: I think half the refugees, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, are kids, aren't they?

GORANI: Right. Yes, absolutely, and they're out of school. They're working. You know, goodness knows what the future holds for them.

That's going to do it for me for now, but Michael stays on for "AROUND THE WORLD".

HOLMES: I will carry on. You go down and do your duty at CNN International.

Now, still to come here on "AROUND THE WORLD", people who say they died, saw the light, experienced heaven, but were somehow returned back to this earthly world. We're going to have a look at one artist's impression of what they say they saw. This as we prepare for our CNN special presentation "Heaven and Back" Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Imagine being on the edge between life and death. Having a chance to return to this world or go onto the next. Many people feel near death experiences can shed light on what heaven might be like. Rosa Flores joins us now from New York with the story of one artist's version. Tell us about this.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, according to this artist, heaven is an eccentric place. And if you're in New York City, you can wait in line, I'd have to say probably for a few hours to experience heaven. And believe it or not, it's also for sale.


FLORES (voice-over): Heaven inspires curiosity. For Wyclef Jean, heaven is in New York. For Lady Gaga, it's a disco heaven. For avant- garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, heaven is an art. Her exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery New York is called "I Who Have Arrived in Heaven." ALES ORTUZAR, DIR., DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY: The infinity room in particular is really about gazing at one's self into infinity. And the paintings are her expression of that too about the infinity of the eternal, the otherworldly.

FLORES: People wait in line for hours to experience the infinity room for 45 seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me feel like happy and also sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really felt the timeless dimension of it.

FLORES: For others, tentacles and mirrors are a clear reflection of the afterlife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's almost like clouds moving you up and up and up.

FLORES (on camera): Webster's Dictionary defines heaven at the abode of God, the angels and the spirits of the righteous after death. But most people go to a different scripture for the answer.

FLORES (voice-over): Perhaps the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, if you ask religion professor Peter Awn at Columbia University, the answer depend on your faith.

PETER AWN, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Christianity clearly argues for an afterlife, a heaven. For Muslims on the other hand, they view paradise in much more concrete terms. For the Jewish community, one achieves one's immortality in a sense through one's family.

FLORES: It's safe to say one thing holds true across time, the definition of heaven is intensely personal.


FLORES: And just in case you'd like to buy a little piece of heaven, one of those pieces, let me tell you, it will cost you between $450,000 and $650,000. So, Michael, it's pretty pricey. And the curator probably said it best. He said, you know, it's not for every New York apartment because some of those exhibits are pretty big.

HOLMES: Heaven for sale, heaven forbid. All right, Rosa, good to see you. Rosa Flores there.

If you want to hear more of these extraordinary stories, Sunday night, 7:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. "Heaven and Back."

Well, a woman captures her incredibly close encounter with a hump back whale. Have a look. Yes, that's close. She was sightseeing near San Juan Island in Washington state Monday when this enormous whale appeared, hung around the back of the boat for about an hour, having a look. The woman nicknamed the whale Wendy, although I don't know how she could tell it was a girl. I'm going to call it Brian. Amazing. How would you like to have that happen right underneath your boat. Very frightening. All right, three unpublished stories by J.D. Salinger have been leaked online. Extraordinary stuff. It's believed that the works were anonymously uploaded and then auctioned on eBay. Somebody bought them for about $110 apparently, which is extraordinary.

The material was previously only available for academic study. J.D. Salinger wanted it that way. The reclusive author didn't want them published until 50 years after his death. One of the stories, "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," is said to be a sort of prequel to "Catcher in the Rye."

All right, thanks for watching "AROUND THE WORLD" today. We'll see you next week. CNN NEWSROOM, though, starts right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, major markets are closing. The Dow wrapping up a record-breaking month. In a minute we'll hear why main street isn't buying into Wall Street.

Right now, shoppers are checking their bargains while retailers check their bottom line. It's been another wild Black Friday and it's not over yet.

Right now, tensions are high over the East China Sea. U.S. and Japanese planes flew into contested air space today and China scrambled fighter jets in response. We'll have the latest live from the Pentagon.