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Pregnant Woman Kept On Life Support; Researcher Resigns After Spiking Blood To Falsify The Results Of AIDS Vaccine; Reporter: Snowden Launched Public Debate; Top International Stories Of 2013

Aired December 24, 2013 - 14:30   ET



DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: -- the life of its unborn citizens. And that interest is superior to even the interest of the remaining family that might be charged with raising an ill child.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hospital says it's just following the state laws of Texas.

J.R. LABBE, JPS HOSPITAL SPOKESPERSON: We have a responsibility of making sure that we follow the laws, whether they are state or federal, when it comes to providing care to patients. That's what we're doing in this case.

BROWN: He says he wants time to grieve with their 14-month-old son, Mateo. He understands his fight isn't popular, but maintains it's deeply rooted in love for his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say enough about her. Everything I do will always be short of what she was. I can't do her justice. She's a great woman.


BROWN: Texas is one of several states with this law that invalidates pregnant women's do not resuscitate directives. Meantime, it could be several weeks until doctors can even make a decision about delivering the baby. Pamela Brown, CNN, New York.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Thanks to Pam there. To help us navigate through the ethical land mines of this case, Art Caplan, medical ethicist from NYU Medical Center. So Art as an ethicist, when you read about this story, when you see that interview with the husband, what, if anything, here bothers you the most?

ARTHUR CAPLAN, NYU MEDICAL CENTER, MEDICAL ETHICS: I think that Texas law is too restrictive. It doesn't make room for the situation in which the fetus isn't viable. At 14 weeks or 18 weeks, fetus can't live outside the mom's body. Fetus may also have been damaged by this terrible incident that happened to this wife in terms of going without oxygen.

So the law says you've got to put everything else aside and keep going in order to save the fetus, but when the fetus can't be saved or may have been fundamentally damaged, I think that's too restrictive. I hope this guy challenges this law.

PHILLIPS: Yes, that was my next question. Does someone need to challenge it in order to get it amended? I'm curious, do you know the background on how this law even got on the books?

CAPLAN: Basically, as states began to allow living wills or advanced directives, those documents we sign to say, this is what we want, some legislators said, wait a minute, what about fetuses? They were thinking more about 24 weeks, 28 weeks, even a baby about to be born. They didn't want to see a child die unnecessarily. Here we're way earlier in pregnancy. We've got a circumstance that probably caused harm to the fetus.

We've got two very informed parents, both paramedics. They talked to each other extensively. We know they're very uncertain about wanting to take a child to term under these circumstances. So I think the drive for the law was well intended but it's too broad. I think this gentleman, as unpopular as it might be, if he says we wouldn't really want to keep going in these circumstances, that's not what my wife would want, I think he should be heard.

PHILLIPS: Well, could he be heard, and could he get what he wanted? Is that possible?

CAPLAN: If a law firm or a lawyer would come forward and say, I'll represent you and let's take an appeal up to the U.S. Supreme Court and say, is this Texas law constitutional, or is it too broad and invading too much the individual's right to decide what they want for themselves or to have their, in this case, husband act for them. I think he might have a shot. Whether he's up to that given all the other emotional turmoil he's in, loss of his wife, he's got this tough decision to make about this fetus plus he's got another child, I don't know.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I mean, that's what we got talking about, sort of, you know -- we know what our biggest fear would be for this husband and father. How about you? Because he already has another child, he's got to move on without his wife. And then this baby, if born, could have so many serious problems.

CAPLAN: Absolutely right. So I know many are thinking, look, isn't it better to have this child and in that way there's some memory of the mom, but some people don't see it that way. We all don't agree on what's best when a child or a fetus in this case could be compromised when, in fact, it may not be healthy to try and keep the child where it is. It may not be a good environment if the mom is severely compromised in terms of her own health with all of the life support. Different people see it different ways. Texas law is not making enough room for that.

PHILLIPS: Art Caplan, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

CAPLAN: My pleasure.

PHILLIPS: Well, coming up, Edward Snowden has declared mission accomplished. He spoke to a reporter for "The Washington Post" saying that his leaks have spurred the public debate that he intended. He also says he lives life like an indoor cat. We're going to have more from that interview.

Also coming up, an assistant professor received millions of dollars in grants to work on a breakthrough and a vaccine for AIDS. Just one problem, he was a complete fake. That story next.


PHILLIPS: An assistant professor working on a potential AIDS vaccine at Iowa State University wasn't thrilled with how the research was going, so what did he do? He faked the results, actually spiking rabbit blood to falsely show that the AIDS vaccine was working. He has since resigned, but the fraudulent results helped the research team gain millions of dollars in federal money.

Joining me now, Dr. Ivan Oransky, the global editor, director at med page today and co-founder also of What was your first reaction to this story?

DR. IVAN ORANSKY, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, MEDPAGETODAY: Well, you know, Kyra, I wish that I could say, wow, I was terribly surprised, a case of terrible fraud. Unfortunately, we see a lot of these cases. I will say, though, that the sort of brazen nature of what we saw here, actually spiking rabbit blood, as you put it, with human proteins in order to make it look like their HIV vaccine was working, that's pretty brazen. You see people fake results in different ways, maybe fudge things a little bit. To actually spike blood, that's pretty impressive in a negative way.

PHILLIPS: OK. So I'm surprised. I didn't think you were going to tell me that. So let me follow up with, aren't these researchers vetted? Aren't these programs vetted in particular, the researchers before they give them millions of dollars?

ORANSKY: They are. To be fair, I want to be clear, these are rare cases. The Office of Research Integrity, who's charged with investigating these cases for the U.S. government, they find about a dozen cases where they clearly have evidence of fraud and make a ruling on that and institute sanctions as they did in this case. But what's unclear is sort of what happens between when someone applies for a grant and when someone starts to use the grant.

These are often big labs. The money here was given to Iowa State University to another professor. This particular assistant professor worked for him in the lab. These labs can get pretty big. So it might be a little bit difficult to watch over everyone's shoulder as working.

PHILLIPS: So how devastating is this? I mean, put into perspective, besides the loss of money, and it's obviously utterly disappointing this professor was so unethical, do we know what kind of legs this research even had? Was there any kind of breakthrough on the horizon?

ORANSKY: I think that's always the question. In this particular case, I think they caught these fraudulent results early enough that they're able to sort of shift gears a little bit and move on with the work in ways that are obviously improper. This particular result, this particular vaccine was not being used in humans yet.

I think that's important to sort of point out. Obviously, it was being used in rabbits, which is why we're looking at it. But $10 million actually went to this lab basically for these results, sort of because these results are promising. That's a lot of money.

PHILLIPS: Well, we'll definitely follow up on the program. See where the money goes and how they're going to sort of redirect the research. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Dr. Ivan Oransky, thank you so much.

ORANSKY: Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

Well, coming up, the Russian punk rock group "Pussy Riot" out of prison and charges dropped against Green Peace activist. So is Vladimir Putin launching a pre-Olympic PR campaign or is this real change in Russia? We're going to explore that with our Jill Dougherty.


PHILLIPS: Mission accomplished. That's how NSA leaker, Edward Snowden actually summed up his past year, in an interview with "The Washington Post," Snowden says that he wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. The reporter who interviewed him spoke to CNN and he says that Snowden wasn't gloating, but did feel he had done something very important.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he means by mission accomplished is he wanted the public to know what was being done in its name and what was being done to it in terms of surveillance, and he wanted it to be possible that decisions be made outside the secret bubble that they had been made since 9/11. To that extent, because he's had a lot of -- a great deal of public attention, because many of his concerns have been validated by, for example, a federal judge, by the president's own study commission, he believes he has launched the public debate that he wanted.


PHILLIPS: A little side note, Snowden also says that his life now is like that of an indoor cat that he doesn't drink alcohol, but he lives on ramen noodles and chips.

Well, a month before the winter games, you'd think Russian President Vladimir Putin is freeing all the opponents that he's chucked into prisons. Well, he isn't. We're going to talk about that. But the latest to walk free today are these two members of the punk band "Pussy Riot," imprisoned for two years for blasphemy. They're not buying this pre-Olympics Putin, though. They say it's all a big show. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA, FREED MEMBER OF PUSSY RIOT (through translator): They just put on another show ahead of the Olympics such is their big desire to prevent all European countries from boycotting our Russian Olympics. But let us remember about all those people who are not much talked about and are even forgotten but who will still need to come out of their jails as they do not belong here.


PHILLIPS: Good thing that he didn't throw her back in the slammer. Jill Dougherty is with us from the State Department. So Jill, in an earlier life, you covered Moscow for us. So what's your take here? What's Putin's game?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think part of it definitely is this timing in the run up to the Olympics. I mean, they're getting slammed because of their anti-gay law. And part of it, at least, is to improve the image of Russia. Magnanimous President Putin freeing these people from prison, but there also, I think, are other messages that he's sending.

After all, he's a former KGB guy. He's smart and cagey. He has some, I think, messages. One would be for the punk rockers, this is unacceptable, don't even try it again, you're out. But the message gets to others who might want to try the same thing. On others, he's shown, I've punished you, I'm letting you out, I'm the guy who can do it. With Greenpeace, it's a serious message. Don't even think about trying to shut down our oil rigs in the arctic.

PHILLIPS: Cagey, that's a good adjective. Last week President Putin gave this news conference, right. Four hours long. If you take a look at the entrance, you know, he looks kind of like a game show host. You were there, Jill. Having covered the White House, you know our own presidents never even give us four-hour news conferences, all right. It looks like freedom of the press far from over. What's it look like from there?

DOUGHERTY: Well, when you're in the room, I mean, I was quite astounded that over four hours. A lot of the questions were really softball or kind of off the mark. I really do feel that. It's a way of showing, you know, showcasing President Putin how he can handle these things. But in terms of really, you know, giving him a tough question that will make him squirm, there was nothing like that.

PHILLIPS: Jill Dougherty, appreciate your perspective.

Coming up at the top of the hour, on the eve of Christmas, Pope Francis has an approval rating that President Obama could only dream of. We're going to take you live to the Vatican as the pontiff prepares for his first Christmas mass. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here in Afghanistan. I'd like to say hello back to my family in New Jersey. All my friends back in Florida as well. I'd like to give a shout out to my Philadelphia Eagles. Job well done. Nick Foles, you owe me a beer.



PHILLIPS: All right, kind of pretend you're in my living room. We have the fire going, stockings hanging with care. Gather around, children. It's story time here in the CNN newsroom. It was the night before Christmas, news version, "Dateline," Florida. It was two days before Christmas in a Florida bank when in walked a Santa with his own evil prank. He walked to the teller, acting quite brash, handed her a note reading "give me the cash."

The note said he carried an explosive device. It was obvious that Santa was naughty, not nice. The beard on his chin was as white as the snow, but no one laughed as they gave him the dough. He wore dark sunglasses so no one could see if his eyes twinkled or not or his jolly crime spree. And he dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all. Speaking of dashing, the beautiful Jennifer Gray, our CNN meteorologist with our frigid Christmas temps.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is cold. You know, finally feeling like the holidays. We were worried for a little bit. We were in the 60s just a couple days ago. It looks like a few folks in the north will wake up to a white Christmas. We could see 2 to 4 inches in places like Minneapolis, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Detroit even picking up a little bit of snow during the next couple of hours.

We're going to see temperatures dropping down into the 20s across much of the country, Memphis at 27 for tonight, Atlanta, 26. New Orleans waking up on Christmas morning at 36 degrees. Temperatures in the single digits in Minneapolis, most of Christmas day, though, looking very, very calm, mostly sunny in the south. We could see a little bit of snow around the Great Lakes.

PHILLIPS: All right, thanks so much.

GRAY: No problem.

PHILLIPS: Well, 2013, the world welcomed a new British heir and said goodbye to a leader who inspired the world with his calm, courage and strength. Those are just two of the top international stories that we witnessed together this year.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Number ten --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're getting word of a deadly shooting involving international sports icon, Oscar Pistorius and his model girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The Olympian admits to shooting Reeva Steenkamp in his Las Vegas lavish South African home on Valentine's Day. That he says it was all an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oscar Pistorius appearing before the magistrate. He was clearly upset, at times sobbing, crying.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Pistorius, nicknamed blade runner for the prosthetic legs he uses for sprinting, was charged with premeditated murder. He's fighting that charge, saying he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. Number nine, the royal announcement heard around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The duchess of Cambridge safely delivered a son at 4:24 p.m. local time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God save the queen!

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The fountains of Trafalgar Square illuminated in blue light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new royal heir in the royal kingdom.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Baby George was born in July to Prince William and his wife, Kate. Number eight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tens of thousands of people have poured out on to the streets in is what another demonstration against the government.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: About a year after the Arab spring ushered in Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi is the ousted in a military coup. Many Egyptians frustrated by what they saw as the slow pace of change and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Number seven, after decades of distrust and a diplomatic gridlock, there's a thaw with Iran.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The phone call that's making history. President Obama called Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: And in November, a breakthrough in Geneva.

BLITZER: A deal has been reached, a deal involving Iran and six world powers.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The preliminary deal limits Iran's ability to work towards a nuclear weapon and loosens some international sanctions. Critics say it doesn't go far enough. Number six --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All around us you hear the sounds of windows breaking. You hear the sounds of large objects falling and crashing to the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Typhoon Haiyan wiped out entire towns in the Philippines, one of the strongest storms to hit any country ever.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": The smells are overwhelming, the smell of death, the smell of decay. UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: More than 5,000 people killed. Number five, terror at a mall in Kenya, gunmen opened fire, killing dozens and taking many hostages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone here in Nairobi is on a razor's edge. I'm standing just a short distance away from the Westgate Mall that's under siege in his third day.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Surveillance cameras captured this chilling video of gunmen shooting their way through a supermarket in the mall and al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab in Somalia claims responsibility. Number four, grief and gratitude as the world says good-bye to Nelson Mandela.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's now at peace.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died at the age of 95.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind me you can see a crowd. They've been dancing and singing almost nonstop since the news came.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: His life celebrated for ending apartheid and creating a democratic and inclusive South Africa. For 10 days, South Africans and dignitaries around the world honored the man who taught the world about compassion, patience, reconciliation and freedom.

CURNOW: We see Nelson Mandela making that final journey.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A person who says he leaked top-secret information about a government surveillance program has identified himself.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. manhunt for Edward Snowden turns into an international game of cat and mouse.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": The man who's been spilling U.S. intelligence secrets is on the move. But where is his final destination?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: First Hong kong lets him go then Russia refuses to extradite him. Snowden's leaks were a major embarrassment for the NSA, revealing the extent the agency was spying on Americans as well as international leaders and citizens. Number two --

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEWSROOM": The pope resigns, the leader of the Catholic Church stepping down at the end of the month.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Pope Benedict becomes the first head of the Catholic Church to resign in 600 years. The 86-year-old said it was because of poor health.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": The bell is ringing here in Rome. That means one thing, John Allen. What does it mean?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The first pope elected from South America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The curtains are open. The cross bearer is coming out and there he is.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Dubbed the people's pope, Francis has laid out a vision of a more inclusive Catholic Church, focusing on compassion for the poor and afflicted. Number one, the civil war in Syria. More than two years of fighting, some 100,000 have been killed. More than 2 million are refugees. In August, a chemical weapons attack kills hundreds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely horrifying. We've seen a video showing the bodies of lifeless children.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Syria denied responsibility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. is making the case for military intervention in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. on the brink of military action. But a last-minute deal brokered by Russia averted an international crisis. The agreement dismantles Syria's chemical arsenal that left Bashar al-Assad in power, a civil war raging and a civilian population still suffering.


PHILLIPS: And right now, a live look at Bethlehem as Christmas day approaches. Thousands of people gathering for a midnight mass, the Church of Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ. Also live pictures from the Vatican City. In about 30 minutes, Pope Francis will begin midnight mass, his first service as pope as the world watches.

It is the top of the hour. I'm Kyra Phillips in for Brooke Baldwin today. As you probably know, Pope Francis has brought sweeping changes to the church. Among several other things, he's created a commission to deal with the church's infamous sex abuse scandal. And he's told his flock to refocus on serving those in need.

John Allen here to talk about all these changes as we head into a new year, he's CNN's senior Vatican analyst. He's joining us live from Rome. We're talking about a pope that brought homeless men to his apartment on his birthday. How unique of an approach is that?