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Lawson Ashamed of Cocaine Use, Denies Giving Permission to Assistants to Use Credit Cards; American Schoolteacher Killed in Benghazi; NSA Gathers Five Billion Cell Phone Calls Every Day; Chaos in Central African Republic; Cobalt-60 Truck Recovered in Mexico; Storm Crashes into Europe; Chinese Buying Property; American Star in Middle East

Aired December 5, 2013 - 12:30   ET


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: During the testimony, she faced more allegations from the defense of habitual cocaine use, this time the defense claiming that she kept the drug inside her jewelry box; defense also claiming that a drug dealer would come out to her house, claims she responded to by saying, quote, "I have never known or seen never known or seen a drug dealer in my life. I was given them." She also went on to say, quote, "People who are regular cocaine users do not look like this," gesturing at her body and face.

Now, during yesterday's testimony, she did admit to having used the drug cocaine on two separate life phases, troubling times during her life. But she said that she's not a habitual drug user, and she's not a drug addict.

She also went on today to talk about that she never at any point allow the defendants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, to use the Saatchi credit cards at their leisure saying, quote, "There were not written- down rules, but was known that they were not for personal use unless directed."

Now the prosecution in this case alleging that the Grillo sisters charged over a million dollars fraudulently to the Saatchi credit cards. The sisters denying those charges, pointing to Lawson's habitual drug abuse and saying that she knew about the charges.

Today, Nigella Lawson denying that in court.

Michael and Suzanne?


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Just a downward spiral.

Thank you, Erin McLaughlin in London. Appreciate that.

And you know, I mean, so many other things are coming through in this trial. This is just -- it started off one thing and then -- and now it's just everybody (inaudible) trouble.

HOLMES: And she's a headline-maker at the best of times, particularly in England. As we were saying yesterday, her father was the chancellor of the exchequer, which is like the treasurer for the country.

MALVEAUX: Exactly.

HOLMES: And she's got her own TV show. She's on TV in the U.S., as well. Yeah, tacky stuff, got to be said.

All right, we are going to attack a short break. When we come back, we're going to look at this, cold and windy along the North Sea today. We're talking Europe.

It's supposed to be. It is winter, but there is some nasty weather on the way. And the folk there are bracing for a storm surge that could rival a big storm from 1953.

MALVEAUX: And don't look now, but the NSA might be tracking where you are. We're talking about the cell phone and that story, up ahead, overseas and AROUND THE WORLD.


HOLMES: All right. Just reminding you of one of the top stories. An American teaching school in Benghazi, Libya, in the eastern part of the country has been shot and killed, reportedly while doing his morning exercises, this happening not far from the U.S. consulate where, of course, the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a September attack last year.

MALVEAUX: And we're getting new video, just receiving, but this is the street where -- you just saw it a moment ago, where the street attack took place.

The chemistry teacher was working at an international school in Benghazi, but we don't know what the motive might have been behind this. We also know that an al Qaeda spokesman, however, has put out a video asking Libyans to rise up against the United States, and he asked that the arrest of a Libyan be avenged, essentially, seeking revenge.

At this point, however, we don't know if the two stories are even related.

HOLMES: Getting new details about how the National Security Agency gathers nearly 5 billion -- with a "B" -- cell phone records around the world, every day.

Now, those records are put then into a huge database that can track the movements of individuals, map their relationships, how they're connected, who they're calling and create a web of information, if you like.

MALVEAUX: So we're bringing in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, on this story, because, Barbara, you hear about all of this, the cell phone locations and who they're actually trying to trace.

Is it Americans? Is it Americans living abroad? Just how expansive is this, if you're overseas and you're on the phone? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know a lot about how expansive it is, "The Washington Post" reporting that this all came from more leaks by, guess who, Edward Snowden, and the documents that he had, and that is it about 5 billion phone records -- cell phone records a day.

How much does it affect Americans? Well, by all accounts, if you're an American, and you're out of the country on business or vacation, you pick up your cell phone, you use it, that call, that record of that call, not the conversation itself, is most likely to be recorded by the NSA.

Why are they doing this? It's what you're saying. They're trying to establish a huge database of connections. They have terror suspects they want to go after. They look at that. They look at who might be calling them and work their way back through this web of information.

But you know, certainly, privacy advocates in the United States and around the world are going to be extremely concerned about this, thinking it's another chip away into personal privacy in this cyber- age.

HOLMES: Because U.S. isn't meant to monitor Americans, but if you're overseas, you're fair game. They're just picking up -- they're vacuuming up all of this traffic, is that right?

STARR: Yeah, that's certainly part of the problem.

The NSA is not, under law, allowed to collect information on Americans, but in this, you know, again, in this cyber-connected world, they're overseas and the NSA freely admits that there are times when they perhaps inadvertently, incidentally, collect information on Americans, not supposed to happen.

But, you know, as we've talk about, in this day and age, you go onto the Internet, you click a few times, a commercial provider is recording the record of those transactions, as well.

We're getting into that age where the concept of privacy's pretty limited.

HOLMES: Forget about it.

MALVEAUX: So, if you're overseas, you've got a phone, you're make ago phone call, there's no protection? They're basically going to track it? There's no --

HOLMES: They can.

MALVEAUX: They're doing it, but can you fight back?

STARR: Well, that's a really good question. I don't know. I suppose you could call the NSA and object, but you're not going to get very far.

HOLMES: I want to go on the "do-not-call" list. STARR: Yeah. I don't -- and I don't mean to dismiss the question. I think it's hugely valid

If you're trying to call home, trying to call your office, we at CNN, around the world, who knows how many cell phone calls we all make a day around the globe to our sources, and we don't expect that to be tracked by the government.

And I think many citizens in other countries don't expect the NSA to be tracking their calls either.

HOLMES: Yes. Exactly. We're talking about being Americans offended, but what about those overseas who are apparently fair game?

Barbara, always great to see you, Barbara Starr there.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Barbara. Appreciate it.

HOLMES. Of course, your phone's putting out a -- you can track the phone just sitting there. You don't have to be on it.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, that's true. Not like privacy.

HOLMES: Forget about it. There is no privacy.

MALVEAUX: Fascinating story, a truck stolen in Mexico carrying radioactive waste prompted fears, of course, that it could have turned into a dirty bomb.

Now that truck found outside Mexico City.

HOLMES: Yes, the radioactive material had been forced open, so how do you keep all of that safe? If you're the thief, you probably -- you're probably in trouble.

Nick Parker is on the story in Mexico. OK, so, just tell us where the truck was found, and we discussed this yesterday, these guys probably didn't know what they were getting into.

NICK PARKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. The theory is they still didn't know what they were taking exactly when they did hijack that lorry.

It was found just outside the town of Zumpango, which is only about 40 kilometers away from where it was -- the truck was originally stolen on Monday morning, after a massive multiagency task force fanned out over seven states. It was discovered in a fairly remote area about one hour north of Mexico City. And they did discover about one kilometer away from the vehicle the container of cobalt-60, this radioactive material, which had been opened.

Most of the cobalt appears to have been there, but at this stage, nuclear safety officials are still trying to establish for sure whether any of the cobalt-60 has gone missing. They're still in the process of determining that now, and it's a hive of activity, obviously, as you can imagine. And radiation was discovered in that area.


MALVEAUX: So, Nick, tell us about the area here, the neighborhood. How many people potentially could be sick?

And what about these guys who were exposed to the radioactivity? They've gone away, and we don't where they are, but could they potentially be in danger of getting sick and even dying potentially from the radioactivity?

HOLMES: Could they be dead already? There was -- it was a fair exposure, wasn't it?

PARKER: Well, at this stage, they are still at large. What authorities have said is that members of the public are not in any danger of this radioactive material if they stay within about 20 meters away from this material.

But obviously, the thieves who opened this container would have had direct contact with it. And certainly authorities are expecting these men to be experiencing some kind of radiation sickness or burns, and they are closely monitoring clinics for any patients that are coming in with those symptoms.

HOLMES: Oops. Yeah. They didn't know what they were getting into.

Nick Parker in Mexico City, thanks.

And Nick was telling us earlier, too, it opened up all kinds -- this trucking company was not following the rules, either. They didn't have the right security for this payload that they were --

MALVEAUX: They had no idea what they were involved with.

HOLMES: They should have had more security on that truck itself and GPS, didn't have any of that, so they're looking back at all of that, the security.

MALVEAUX: That's amazing.

It is -- also another story that we're following, the weather, cold, windy, along the North Sea today.

Of course it's supposed to be that way; it is winter. But we're talking about something even bigger and nastier coming.

Wait until you see how folks in Europe are bracing for a wave of severe weather next on "AROUND THE WORLD".


HOLMES: You know, you often see this in times of need, people helping each other out. Have a look. Crews and trucks, equipment, all of this is in Florida. And they're getting on the road. Of course we were just saying it's warm down in Florida. They're headed for Arkansas ahead of a big winter storm that's about to hit to help them out.

MALVEAUX: (INAUDIBLE) more than 300 contractors, they're going by convoy, and they're going to be able to place -- get into place, help get power restored, get the lights turned back on. The big snow and ice storm should hit the Little Rock area we're talking about some time tonight.

Take a look at Dallas here because yesterday, 80 degrees. Today, snow and ice, below freezing tonight. A line of serious winter storms stretching from New Mexico to Ohio. It's just incredible. And it's hard to understand it, these -

HOLMES: It's a big one. Yes, it's broad, let's call it that.

By the way, we also just learned that American Airlines has protectively canceled, that's the word they're using, 500 flights out of Dallas-Ft. Worth due to the weather. They don't want to get them up in the air and then find there's a problem and nowhere to land and all that sort of stuff. So 500 flights. So if you're in the Dallas-Ft. Worth are, check your flight.

MALVEAUX: Yes, it's going to be tough going in Europe today. Particularly U.K., Netherlands, Germany as well. Weather is about to get very nasty.


MALVEAUX: We are talking about gale-force winds already cutting power to thousands of homes. Airports are now closed. The trains are not running. The worst of the storm hasn't even hit yet.


MALVEAUX: Want to bring in Matthew Chance on the east coast of England, on the North Sea in Great Yarmouth, to talk about how are folks coping.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see what's going on behind me. They're coping by filling up these sandbags. The sand's been put down by the local authorities. They're filling up their sandbags so they can go back to their homes that are in areas that may be flooded later on and put those sandbags by their front doors and by their garages to try and limit any damage, because what we've been told is likely to happen here over the course of the next five or six hours is potentially one of the biggest storm surges, one of the biggest tidal surges that this region has seen in the last six decades.

So very high winds. The winds have actually dropped over the past couple of minute, but they're going to pick up again later on. Very high tides. An area of very low pressure as well have all combined to make the perfect conditions really for very, very severe flooding indeed. And the environmental agency here in Britain have issued 41 severe flood warnings across the entire eastern seaboard of the United Kingdom. It's already been a fatal storm. At least two people in Britain have been killed, another two sailors off the coast of Sweden have been reported to have been swept off their vessel. Search and rescue teams unable to find them. A lot of people as well, thousands of people here in Great Yarmouth, have been told to evacuate their homes. Some of them are listening. Some of them are choosing to stay and take their chances.

Back to you.

MALVEAUX: Matthew, please be safe. I mean this is one of those storms, the storm surge is supposed to make the history books. It's a very big deal.

HOLMES: It is. Well, they're comparing it to 1953 where in the Netherlands alone you had 1,300 people died, but a lot of the storm defenses are better than they were back then. There you go. There's 1953. I didn't know we had that stuff. Three hundred people died in Great Britain, 1,800, I think it was, in the Netherlands when that flooding happened. But, of course, as I say, they've got more defenses now. The barrier on The River Thames, for example, they got a barrier that comes up from the ground and blocks the river basically to stop the storm surge there. So hopefully not going to see those sorts of losses.

MALVEAUX: And you've got to hope at least they've got an advanced warning, that they know that this thing is coming and it is huge.

HOLMES: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: We're also following some other top stories right now.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East. He has been meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since a fallout over a nuclear deal with Iran. Now you might remember, the Israeli leader called the agreement a historic mistake.

HOLMES: Yes, after today's talks, Kerry said he can't emphasize enough that Israel's security is at the top of the U.S. agenda and, oh, by the way, they did discuss the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians as well.

Now to an important story about a country that not everybody in the United States knows about. The Central African Republic is warning of total chaos there. The U.N. just voted, the Security Council, to put more African union and French troops on the ground there. France, of course, is the former colonial power. There has been heavy gunfire in the capital, Bangui, overnight. You can see people scrambling for cover there.

What happened in the Central African Republic is that Muslim rebels kicked out the president, took over, and now other rebels are coming in. There's a battle between Christian and Muslim. It's a country of about 5 million people, 10 percent of them have been forced from their homes. This is a very dire situation in the Central African Republic. France even warned that there was potential for genocide. We've got reporters in country and keeping an eye on developments.

MALVEAUX: And in Yemen, militants launched a deadly attack on the defense ministry complex in the capital Sana'a. Officials say a hospital was targeted. Thirty people were killed, including four international doctors. The militants rammed the building with a vehicle loaded with explosives and then the gunman battled security forces inside the building. Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

HOLMES: All right, when we come back, from New York to Los Angeles, even Detroit, rich people from one particular country snapping up real estate.

MALVEAUX: All over America. Who and where, up next.


HOLMES: All right, let's have a look at the big board. The Dow is down. Now, here's why I don't get the business world. They're down despite positive reports about the U.S. economy. Yes, the economic figures were good, claims for jobless are down, but what that then worries investors is that quantitative easing might be backed off, so they get nervous, they - I don't get it. What -- good figures, Dow goes down.

MALVEAUX: Yes. You've got to call your investor today and find out what's going on.

HOLMES: Someone who does know about these things is Zain Asher, who is at the New York Stock Exchange.

And you've been watching a trend of wealthy Chinese people buying up real estate.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. So yes, Chinese nationals buying up American real estate. Eighteen percent of all new home purchases made by foreigners actually came from Chinese nationals. Part of the reason for that is obviously economic growth rates in China. Now, even though they've sort of slowed in recent years. They are still impressive by world standards. Last year, 7.8 percent. Also, China is the world's second largest economy.

But also, Suzanne and Michael, you look at the exchange rates, right? Chinese yuan strengthening in relation to the U.S. dollar. So it means that Chinese can actually get more for their money when they invest in the United States.

So what I find interesting though is that 70 percent of Chinese nationals that actually invest in American homes make all cash purchases. And not only that, they're actually buying more expense properties. They're spending, on average, $425,000 on a home. When you compare that to the average price of an American home, which is $200,000.

So in terms of where they're investing, New York and L.A. They're looking for economic, robust cities. But also they're looking at places like Detroit, which might surprise people especially given the economic hardship we've seen in Detroit. But what they're doing is, they're buying up properties there for cheap, at a discount, and then fixing them up and then renting them out. So it certainly is a business opportunity for them as well.

Suzanne and Michael.

MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: Yes, cash-rich. It's happening in other countries too around the world. The Chinese got a lot of money to spend.

Zain, got to let you go. Thanks for that. Zain Asher there in New York.

MALVEAUX: And we're also looking at this, what is trending.

North Korea. Here is why. A group -- the group Amnesty International is convinced that the North Korean government is expanding its network of prison camps and now building new ones. This is based on a series of satellite images that were taken years apart that show lots of new construction and other developments nearby. Now, human rights groups believe that as many as 200,000 people are held in North Korean labor camps, including children. North Korean officials deny that the camps even exist.

HOLMES: All right, in the Middle East, the TV show "Arabs Got Talent," sorry for the grammar, that's the name of the show, it's a big hit. And now a singer from the United States is taking the show by storm. Here's Mohammed Jamjoom.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jennifer Grout is the all- American girl with a very Arab voice. The 23-year-old from Boston barely speaks Arabic, but she's become a fan favorite on hugely popular Middle Eastern TV talent show "Arabs Got Talent" by singing classic Arabic songs. She's become so popular, in fact, many people think she'll win the competition outright come Saturday. She tells me she's just honored to be singing Arabic music and hopes to continue to do so in the future.


HOLMES: Mohammed Jamjoom there. The finals, Saturday night in Beirut. She learned to sing in Arabic before she could speak Arabic. Still doesn't speak it well.

MALVEAUX: Yes. No, not an easy language to learn, but good for her.


MALVEAUX: You know, we'll see how she does.

HOLMES: Masalama (ph). That's good-bye from us.

MALVEAUX: Thanks for watching. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.