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Obama to Answer Questions; Spain Will Not Tolerate Privacy Invasion; Best Viral Videos of 2013

Aired December 20, 2013 - 12:30   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. President Obama about to leave Washington for his annual vacation in Hawaii, but before he goes, he's going to be facing off with reporters one last time. That news conference is expected to begin in about 90 minutes or so.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, he's going to face a lot of questions. One of them about the sanctions against Iran. The president also going to go and talk about the strong economic numbers and the country's overall growth.

I want to bring in our Wolf Blitzer from Washington.

So Wolf, we do know he's facing a number of real challenges going into the next year. We're talking about Obamacare, whether or not that website is really going to allow people to get the kind of coverage they need. The NSA spying, whether or not they're going to cooperate on that and whether or not he's going to get something he's really wanted, immigration reform. What do you suspect he's actually going to start with in his opening statement?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I assume if he wants to start with positive news, he'll start with the latest GDP numbers, the growth more than 4 percent in the third quarter. That's pretty good. If he wants to it tout some of the other positive economic numbers over the past year, housing starts, certainly the stock market when he took office, the markets, the Dow Jones was what, at 7,000 or so. It's at 16,000 right now. So people who have 401(k) investments and all sorts of other stock-related investments, they're doing well.

If you take a look at the Dow Jones, right now it's almost up another 100 points, 16,276. So maybe he'll talk about the improving economy. If he does, he'll make the point that the country still has a long way to go; 7 percent unemployment is not good. It's got to keep coming down.

And the disparity between the rich and poor has grown. A lot more people now are on food stamps than were on food stamps when he took office. So there's mixed numbers. But the big issue he faces is his credibility, his reliability, his competence as a result of the failures of the rollout of Obamacare.

HOLMES: Yeah, Wolf, let's talk about Iran. A lot of people worried about this, particularly outside of the United States -- that move in Congress to threaten Iran, not with sanction relief, but more sanctions. How likely is that going to happen? And what would the president do if Congress does pass such a thing? Because, you know, Iran would say then deal off just when things are starting to look a little bit promising on that score.

BLITZER: Yesterday the White House said the president would veto that legislation if it did pass the Senate, did pass the House of Representatives, even though it wouldn't take effect for more than a year during which there would be this opportunity for the Iranians to prove they're cooperate in at least eliminating or reducing their nuclear program significantly to the benefit of the rest of the region and indeed the world.

But at this point, the president is being very tough on this because he is afraid, Secretary Kerry is afraid that if the Congress were to pass this legislation, then the Iranians might bolt and decide they're ending all of this cooperation.

Those who support it say that's not going to happen. The only reason the Iranians are cooperating right now is because they feel the bite of those sanctions and letting this hover them if they don't comply, if they don't come up with an agreement will only encourage them to do so. There are two sides.

I think they have the votes in the Senate, the House, to pass this legislation, but if the president vetoes it, then you need a 2/3 override in the Senate and the House. I don't know if he has that 2/3 vote. He might have the 2/3 vote, but it's a sensitive issue, and I know that the president probably, if asked, will discuss it at length.

MALVEAUX: All right, Wolf, thanks. Good to see you, as always. Appreciate it. We'll be watching closely. The press conference begins at two o'clock.

We're also following this: a wave of violence continuing today in Iraq. At least nine people were killed, some two dozen injured when two roadside bombs exploded at an outdoor market. This is about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

HOLMES: Yes, this is becoming a daily event; 300 people -- in fact, more than that -- about 400 or 500 now have been killed in the country this month. Last month it was about 700. It is getting out of control. These killings did begin to spike earlier this year after authorities in Iraq started to crack down on a protest camp. But it's become very sectarian in nature.

MALVEAUX: And turning to Afghanistan, a new poll shows a changing attitude in the U.S. about the war there. The ABC News/Washington Post survey found 66 percent of Americans do not think that the 13- year-old war was worth fighting. Nearly 2,300 U.S. troops have died in that conflict.

HOLMES: Let's turn to the Central African Republic now becoming what some might fear would be killing fields. We're going to look at the atrocities as a U.S. ambassador goes there and tries to talk the people to the table to discuss this and try to circumvent what many people fear could be a blood bath.


MALVEAUX: Well, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is putting a spotlight on the atrocities underway in the heart of Africa. Samantha Power, she is trying to stop the escalating violence between Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic. She got a firsthand look at the crisis during a visit to the capital.

HOLMES: Human rights groups say more than a thousand people were killed there in just two days earlier this month. Hundreds of thousands more are displaced and for many of them, food now running short.


SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable. That is a very important element of preventing future violence and cycle of violence.


HOLMES: More on then now from our own Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a hospital in the Central African Republic, the unimaginable, children wounded in a machete attack. These and other chilling atrocities documented in the capital earlier this month by a team from Amnesty International.

JOANNA MARNIER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: What we saw, particularly on December 5th, was really armed groups deliberately killing large numbers of civilians.

ROBERTSON: In Amnesty's video, these horrific images shot in the hospital's corridors. Those less fortunate than the children evidence the human rights group says of war crimes.

MARNIER: That is pretty much a classic example of a war crime, and when it's carried out systematically as it was on December 5th, it's a crime against humanity.

ROBERTSON: During their two weeks in Bagui, Amnesty International says close to 1,000 people were killed in sectarian bloodletting. First, a predominantly Christian militia killing Muslims, followed immediately by revenge attacks about a mostly Muslim militia killing Christians.

It's been bloody since the government was overthrown by Muslim rebels in March, causing its president to flee country. Witnesses describing the barbarity.

He fell in the hands of thug combatants, he says, his throat was cut. You've seen his neck. Cut with a knife. Then they cut his hand, his genitalia. He was cut piece by piece, as you can see. Nearby, Christians destroy a mosque in anger. The concern now, what began a few months ago as militia violence has infected everyone.

CHRISTIAN MUKOSA, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: In the situation where neighbors are killing neighbors. We move from a situation to a new development which is horrifying because now there are people who have been living together for years who are killing each other.

ROBERTSON: Hundreds of kilometers to the north, another charity, Human Rights Watch, were witnessing similar trauma, tens of thousands on the run living in fear. And this extraordinary moment.

Human Rights Watch says they found a baby lost by fleeing parents. But what happens next for this child and all the others is uncertain.

MARNIER: It really will depend on the actions of the international community and the proper deployment of international troops to protect civilians and stop the violence.

ROBERTSON: In a country with no army, no police, no justice, no way of ending the violence itself, that is a very big question not easily answered.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


MALVEAUX: It's just heartbreaking when you see the pictures in the story like that. They need so much help. It is really escalating day by day.

HOLMES: There's a few thousand U.N. troops there and some French troops as well. They're trying to sort of bring things under control. But it's hard to get out of Bangui and into some of these other areas.

MALVEAUX: We're also following this: President Obama taking actions to protect Americans. This is in South Sudan. He is sending a contingency of 45 service members to boost security at the U.S. embassy in the capital city of Juba (ph). A reported coup attempt last weekend triggered an outbreak of violence that has now been spreading all week. And yesterday a U.N. base came under attack.

HOLMES: In fact, two Indian army peacekeepers were killed, a couple of others wounded. Two civilians also died. Very worrying situation. President Obama releasing a statement that says, quote, "In 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan's people. Today that future is at risk. South Sudan stands at the precipice. Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past," unquote.

MALVEAUX: And Google has run into some trouble in Europe. We're going to tell you how some countries say that the way the tech company collects information on its users is illegal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: A bit of trouble for Google, in Spain, anyway. Privacy watchdogs there say the company broke privacy laws.

MALVEAUX: Google has now been ordered to pay a fine of more than $1 million. I want to bring in our Zain Asher here to talk about this.

And Zain, you know, honestly, that's kind of a drop in the bucket for Google, right? A million dollars? Is there a message here? What's behind this?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Spain is basically saying that they will not tolerate what they consider to be privacy violations. Here's what they're saying the problem is. There are three reasons for this penalty, Suzanne.

Number one, they're saying that Google gathers data on users. They're saying that they sort of combine users personal information across various online services that Google has. And number three, they keep the data indefinitely.

And that's also a problem because -- Spain says people have no idea how long their personal information is being kept for this all started when Google changed their privacy policy last year. But Google does have a response.

I'm going to read it to you very quickly. They're saying that we continue -- and I'm quoting here, "We continue to engage fully with the Spanish data protection agency to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler and more effective services," not exactly apology but there you have it.

HOLMES: Yeah, working on it. Let's call it that.

Blackberry, boy, how are those shares looking? Lost $4.4 billion.

ASHER: $4.4 billion. I know. It's hard to consider one day, there wasn't a long time ago when Blackberry was actually one of the fastest growing companies in America, but yes, $4.4 billion this quarter. That was their last.

This time last year, they reported a profit of $14 million -- not exactly anything great, but that's a huge swing from $14 million to $4.4 billion. The bottom line is they had these new lines of phones, the ten models, z 10, Q10. They expected that to really be the saving grace. But they have not caught on. There's a lot of brand loyalty with smartphones and people are just so used to Apple and Google. But yeah, Blackberry shares down 50 percent so far year to date.

Suzanne and Michael?

MALVEAUX: Zain Asher, good to see you as always. Appreciate it. Thank you.

This is a fun one. Penguins dressed as Santa. Christmas trees and reindeer all to bring a little bit of the holiday cheer.

HOLMES: What could possibly go wrong? That's coming up.

MALVEAUX: We'll see.


MALVEAUX: All right. No escaping those end of the year lists. Lots of lists, top ten, top 20. Lots of headlines.

HOLMES: Et cetera, et cetera.

MALVEAUX: I actually love the list.

HOLMES: You do love the list, don't you?

She makes a good list. Screaming goats, monkey in a snow suit. Oh my goodness, it has to be Jeanne Moos, doesn't it?


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDETN (voice-over): 'Tis the season to be listing, from the 23 most breathtaking science photos of 2013 to the nine social media hoaxes you fell for, like the twerking girl pretending to set herself on fire video circulated by Jimmy Kimmel. We should be screaming from all of these lists. Still how can you resist the 21 most cringe-worthy TV news moments?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is wrong with you?


MOOS: Usually we try to escape ads, but not the ones that make it on to a year ender list.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can ship your pants right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear that? I can ship my pants for free.

MOOS: Any excuse for a list will do. The 28 most ridiculous celebrity face mashes combined Sarah Palin and Honey Boo Boo; Kim Kardashian and Chris Christie. And what's with the random numbers? Why 32?

MOOS (on-camera): Remember the days when a list was something on paper that you took to the grocery store? Now, instead of bread and milk, there are even listing listing the best lists.

(voice-over): Jonathan Mann, known as YouTube's song a day man, is singing his list of top viral videos.

JONATHAN MANN, YOUTUBE SONG A DAY MAN (singing): All the viral videos of 2013 held our attention guy, the hat check guy and this Russian meteorite

MOOS: But the video that gets his goat--

MANN: Goats scream like humans. MOOS: With lists ranging from the top 10 Miley moments to the top 10 Harlem shakes -- it's hard to pick a clip of the year, but Jimmy Kimmel tried.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TALK SHOW HOST: Monkey in a snow suit.

MOOS: Alas, monkey in a snow suit didn't win. Scared boss did. And as the scared boss came on the show to accept the award --


MOOS: It's been a crazy year, but if you think it's been crazy for you, wait till you see how nuts it was for the amorous cows that made it to number one on the craziest dashcam videos.

Holy cow! Not only were they not hurt, the male was ready for more romance. She's definitely at the top of his list.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.


MALVEAUX: Screaming boss wins hands down.

HOLMES: Oh my God.

MALVEAUX: Screaming boss.


I love that. Kept getting hit (ph) over and over again.

HOLMES: I'm not going to mention the cows. Carry on.

MALVEAUX: Carrying on. We've got photos, several stories catching our attention today. Want you to take a look at this.

South Korea beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We've been talking about this one all day. A group of penguins dressed as Santa Claus Christmas tree outfits.

HOLMES: Because they like doing it.

MALVEAUX: Who asked them? Waddling around the zoo, a lot of people getting excited about Christmas, and you know. I don't know how you do that.

HOLMES: I'd love to see them swim in that. Anyway, that's the penguins in a suit. As I said, I'm sure they love that.

Let's go to Bolivia: thousands gathering around an eco-friendly Christmas tree. That's nice. The tree stands 45 feet high, made up of 50,000 plastic bottles.

MALVEAUX: Pretty cool. And people actually have to pedal on a bike to produce enough energy to actually light up the tree. HOLMES: Oh.

MALVEAUX: Really cool.

HOLMES: All right. That will do it for AROUND THE WORLD today. We'll go off and make a list.

MALVEAUX: Yes, we'll make a list. Thanks for watching. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. Have a great weekend.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, President Obama is getting ready to face some tough questions after a tough year. We'll preview the president's news conference set to he begin in one hour. We'll also have brand new job approval numbers out this hour. How is the president doing?

Right now, Wall Street investors are reacting in a big way to new economic numbers that show the economy growing at a much faster pace than initially thought. The surprising figure and what it means for your finances just ahead.

And right now, snow, ice and driving rain. A nightmare scenario during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. What you need to know before heading home for the holidays.