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WV Lift Water Ban by Zones; Protests in Thailand; Some Marines Afraid Fallujah Falling to Terrorists; Lone Survivor Navy SEAL; Travel Alert; Golden Globes

Aired January 13, 2014 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin spoke just a short time ago. He and other officials say the water ban is being lifted by zones.


GOVERNOR EARL RAY TOMBLIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: The numbers we have today look good, and we're finally at a point where the "do-not-use" order has been lifted in certain areas. In these specific areas, flushing can begin.

We have made a lot of progress, but I ask all West Virginians to continue to be patient as we work to safely restore service to the affected areas


MALVEAUX: Residents are being directed to check the Web site,, to find out whether or not the water is safe in specific zones.

And the U.S. has withdrawn a diplomat from its embassy in India. That move came in response to a request made by Indian officials after one of their female diplomats was arrested and strip searched in New York in December. Well, she returned to India on Friday. The Indian government did not identify the U.S. diplomat, but said that the person left India on Sunday.

And in Thailand, the prime minister is facing growing public opposition. Thousands of protesters now took to the streets today in a general strike, snarling the traffic, as you can imagine, at key intersections. This is across Bangkok.

CNN's Saima Mohsin explains what the demonstrators hope to accomplish, and what's behind this.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of people have turned out to protest against the current government. They're trying to bring the capital to a standstill, threatening seven major interchanges around the city of Bangkok. Now, they want to see the current government ousted. They say they're corrupt and they've had enough of them.

The government has responded by calling an election for February 2nd, but that hasn't satisfied people here. They want to see political reform.


MALVEAUX: Saima Mohsin in Bangkok.

And across Iraq, we're following this, car bombs, suicide attackers claiming dozen of Iraqi lives. This happened over the weekend in some of the worst violence in years.

These attacks were blamed on insurgents linked with al Qaeda, which has been on the rise ever since U.S. troops pulled out two years ago.

Now, one critical factor is the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria, which is now fueling unrest in Iraq's Anbar Province.

CNN's Martin Savidge spoke with two former U.S. Marines to fought to liberate the city of Fallujah. They say they're now afraid that victory is slipping away.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Americans fought for Fallujah not once, but twice.

NATE WATKINS, FORMER MARINE: That rocket, you know, whistle coming and the explosion was just massive.

SAVIDGE: House to house, street by street.

ADAM MATHES, FORMER MARINE: The combat came down to five yards in a flak jacket. It was seeing the whites of their eyes.

MIKE DASHER, FORMER MARINE: I think mortars or rockets or something hit an ammo dump there, so it exploded, big-time.

SAVIDGE: Some of the hardest, bloodiest warfare since Vietnam.

MATHES: When it came to Fallujah, that was stand-up fighting.

SAVIDGE: Nate Watkins and Mike Dasher were in the same artillery unit.

WATKINS: This is a pretty cool photo here.

SAVIDGE: For days, they loaded and fired hundred-pound shells into the city.

WATKINS: It just felt like an eternity.

DASHER: Yes, it was constant shooting.

SAVIDGE: Adam Mathes was a 23-year-old second lieutenant, leading his platoon into the heart of the fight.

MATHES: I went to Iraq with 41 Marines and came home with 22.

SAVIDGE: All of which explains why what happens in Iraq today matters a great deal to them.

Adam calls Fallujah a kind of hometown.

MATHES: We gave a lot, spilled blood, lost friends, invested a lot of our young adulthood to the -- to that city.

DASHER: I do care. And I hope it's a bump in the road.

SAVIDGE: Mike and Nate are pragmatic, saying they didn't leave Iraq thinking everything would be --

WATKINS: Hunky dory.

DASHER: Yeah. To my opinion, the government there is going to be tested for a long time. And this is part of that.

SAVIDGE: But Nate admits sometimes he has doubts.

WATKINS: Unfortunately, my inclination is now that doesn't feel so much like it's worth it. But I hesitate to say that, because knowing the sacrifice that it takes and what's, you know, been spent.

SAVIDGE: Adam has no doubts, saying the Marines fought gallantly.

MATHES: And courageously for other people to enjoy the possibility of self-determination. And that's never a waste of time.

SAVIDGE: Which is why Adam says he and other Marines will be watching closely what happens next.

MATHES: Part of me is actually very excited to see how the people of Fallujah and Ramadi and al Anbar, the people we lived with and grew close to, even as we were fighting, to see how they actually stand up and determine for themselves how the future will be written.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


MALVEAUX: And my co-anchor, Michael Holmes, spent a lot of time in Iraq, covering the U.S.-led war. He also was at the Kuwaiti border when the last troops left Iraq back in December of 2011.

Now he is back in Baghdad to see what has changed over the last two years. And Michael joins us.

First of all, Michael, it's good to see you. It's a relief. We miss you here. It's good to see that you're safe. Explain to us. You've written a piece, and you say you believe the situation now is worse than it was for Iraqis when you were there the last time. Can you explain why? MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I think that's right. You know, Suz, it's very sad, really.

When the Americans left back in December of 2003, which was the last time I was here, there was at least some sort of sense of optimism, but maybe the Iraqi government could move forward in a positive way.

Well, I'll tell you what. I'll give you an example. When we came in a couple days ago, there were more checkpoints, more security presence than there were back in 2011. The sense of, I don't know, apprehension around Baghdad and elsewhere in the country is really -- you can taste it.

And one other example, the last two or three hours, I can tell you, we have just been taking toll. Four car bombs have gone off in and around Baghdad in the last two or three hours. Our death toll at the moment is 11 with 52 wounded. That's almost certain to go up as hospitals deal with the casualties.

There are two police also in that number and six wounded who were attacked at a checkpoint by armed men. So that just gives you some sense. That's in the last three hours.

So, yeah, things do have a sense of apprehension here.

MALVEAUX: And, Michael, explain to us. You've been talking to the Iraqis here.

We know what the big picture here is, the divide between the Sunnis, once represented by Saddam Hussein, and now the Shia majority, now under power under Nouri al-Maliki.

What do the Iraqis tell you what's happening in their country? Do they have a sense things are falling apart, tearing apart at the seams?

HOLMES: You know, it's not melodramatic to say that. I've talked to a lot of Iraqis who worry about just that, that it's all going to fall apart along those sectarian lines.

When Nouri al-Maliki was elected back in 2006, he promised to be inclusive of Sunnis, promised to be inclusive. Now, it got worse and worse and worse.

The day the Americans left, in fact, they put out an arrest warrant for the vice president, a Sunni, and he fled the country and was sentenced to death in absentia.

Sunnis feel totally disenfranchised by this government, cut out of the process altogether, alienated. They feel they do not have a say.

Nouri al-Maliki says what's happening in Anbar is a fight against terror, a fight against al Qaeda and Fallujah and elsewhere in that province. And to a degree, that is true. Those elements are there.

But Sunnis say it's disingenuous, it's a smokescreen. It's to hide what is a grassroots rebellion, if you like, against being cut out of the system.

And they say that if they're not brought back into the fold, given some sort of meaningful concession by this government, this is going to get only worse and worse. And that's not good for Iraq and it's not good for the region and it's not good for American interests, quite frankly.

MALVEAUX: Yeah. It certainly is not.

Michael, just got to say, it is good to see you and to know that you are safe. Please continue to take good care of yourself and the crew there. You're doing an excellent job, and we, of course, will be following this on a daily basis. Thank you, Michael.

One man, trying to survive, survives a deadly ambush in Afghanistan. Now his story is on the big screen.

The lone survivor sits down with our own Jake Tapper. The conversation about the war is one that you've got to see.


MALVEAUX: This was a military operation that went wrong, in just about every way possible.

Now the movie version of the Navy SEAL mission called "Lone Survivor," number one in the box office, making more than $38 million in its opening weekend.

Now, the SEALs were supposed to find out whether or not a senior Taliban target was inside Afghanistan, but what happened, they were ambushed by Taliban forces.

The only one of them, Marcus Luttrell, survived. "Lone Survivor" is now based on the book Luttrell wrote about the whole ordeal.

Our own Jake Tapper sat down to talk with Luttrell and Mark Wahlberg, who plays him in the movie.

Take a listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE LEAD": Marcus, it must have been a difficult decision to let them make a movie. How close is it to what happened?

MARCUS LUTTRELL, NAVY SEAL: I would say it's as close as you can possibly get without having to have killed some of these guys up on the mountain filming it.

The most important thing is whether or not the family members of the fallen appreciate what they saw on the film.

TAPPER: What do they think?

LUTTRELL: From my understanding, everything was positive, and that's all you can ask for.

TAPPER: One of the big questions that I have as somebody who covers the war in Afghanistan, did the American people want to hear these stories?

They're incredibly powerful. This movie is very, very compelling. Do they want to know about it?

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR, "LONE SURVIVOR": Well, they should know about it, they need to know about it and it's my job to get as many people into the theaters to see it as possible.

I've never felt more strongly about something that I've been a part of, never been more proud to be a part of a project like this.

It's the first time I've made a movie that was never about me as an actor or my performance. It was always about telling their story.

TAPPER: It's clear for Marcus Luttrell the battle that day almost a decade ago still cuts close to the bone today.

One of the emotions I felt while watching the film, is first of all, just the hopelessness of the situation, how horrific it was, and also just all that loss of life of these brave American men.

And I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself.

I don't want anymore senseless American death and at the same time, I know that there are bad people there and good people who need help. Was that intentional?

LUTTRELL: I don't know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness never really came into it. I mean, where did you see that? Because there was never a point where we felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that.

We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing until we were actually dead. That never came across in the battle and while we were fighting on the mountain. And it was just us against them.

TAPPER: Forget hopelessness. Just the sense of all these wonderful people who died. It seemed senseless.

I don't mean to disrespect in any way, but it seemed senseless, all these wonderful people who were killed, for an op that went wrong.

LUTTRELL: We spend our whole lives training to defend this country, and then we were sent over there by this country, so you're telling me that because we were over there doing what we were told by our country that it was senseless? My guys, what, they died for nothing?

TAPPER: No, I'm not saying that at all.

LUTTRELL: That's what you said, so let me just say that, yeah, it went bad for us over there. But that was our job. That's what we did. We didn't complain about it. We went out there and did what we did best. And at the end of it, we weren't standing, they were.

We were lucky. I was lucky and the rest of the guys, I mean, we fought as hard as we possibly could. We never felt sorry for ourselves while we were out there. This was the job. We were going after a high-value target. And, you know, it just got switched on us.

TAPPER: Maybe it's just the difference between what a civilian feels when he watches this versus what a soldier does.

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR, "LONE SURVIVOR": Absolutely. I mean, I completely agree. You know, but I don't think his opinion is never going to change. That's his job, you know. He feels like --

TAPPER: Oh, I respect it.

WAHLBERG: Oh, I know. I understand. I understand. I -- you know, and the more I - the more time I spend with Marcus, the more I really start to understand who they are and what they do for us. And it's pretty amazing.


MALVEAUX: A very passionate interview there.

There is some buzz Wahlberg could be up for an Oscar nomination for his role.

The State Department has now issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics. Just how safe is it going to be in Russia when those games begin?


MALVEAUX: A group of big-game hunters believes that the best way to save the endangered black rhino is to kill one of them. The Dallas Safari Club says it has auctioned off a black rhino hunt in Namibia for $350,000.

Now, the group says the money is going to go to the Namibian government to help stop poaching of the rare animals, which there are now only about 5,000 in the world. Namibia allows three black rhinos to be hunted each year. All of them are older bulls that no longer are breeding. A spokesman for the Dallas Safari Club says sacrificing an older animal is sometimes necessary for the herd.


BEN CARTER, DALLAS SAFARI CLUB: When you talk to the scientists about this, sometimes having to sacrifice an animal for the overall good of the herd and of the species is what you really are trying to do.


MALVEAUX: That reasoning did not convince a group of anti-hunting protesters who say that killing an endangered animal to save the species is, quote, "perverse." Pope Francis continuing to chart his own course as head of the Catholic Church. He baptized more than 30 infants on Sunday in an annual ceremony at the Sistine Chapel. Well, many of the babies, they were crying. They were a little restless, as you can imagine. Not lost on the pope. So he told the young mothers, go ahead, feed your children if they're hungry. Don't be intimidated by the holiness of the Sistine Chapel. The pope said that the sound of babies crying was, quote, the most beautiful choir. Nice.

The State Department now has issued a travel alert. This is to U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics. Large-scale public events, like the Olympics, are an attractive target for terrorists and the recent suicide bombings in Russia are causing concern. CNN's Nic Robertson reporting from Moscow says that more is being done to keep people safe in Sochi before the games begin.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just three weeks before the Olympic games kick off in Sochi, security remains a paramount concern after a string of attacks and terror arrests, the U.S. State Department issuing a travel alert over the weekend warning U.S. citizens planning to attend the games that they should remain attentive at all times, warning of possible acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage-takings.

On Saturday, five suspects possessing nearly five pounds of TNT and a hand-made explosive device were detained in a raid in southern Russia, less than 200 miles from Sochi.

RAY MEY, FORMER FBI AGENT: This event in particular is going to be very difficult because it's taking place in an area that we know to be a hot bed for terrorism.

ROBERTSON: Terror concerns are real. Just last month, surveillance cameras captured this powerful explosion inside the train station in nearby Volgograd. Islamist insurgents blamed for at least 34 deaths. The FBI and other federal security personnel are now on the ground, assisting Russia's security force, more than 37,000 strong.

MEY: They've asked for specific assistance in regard to most likely intelligence sharing, cyber threats, forensic evaluations as it relates to weapons of mass destruction.

ROBERTSON: The State Department is also alerting Americans about Russia's declared ban on any promotion of gay relationships to minors. Those traveling to the games who are found in violation of the law could face a fine of more than $3,000, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation. Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.


MALVEAUX: A small but historically prestigious group is helping now with Olympic security. They are called the Cossacks and military horsemen who once secured the borders for the Russian empire. Well, they are revered here for their bravery and pre-modern code of honor. They're often compared to cowboys in the United States or samurai in Japan. But their legacy is tainted by a history of vigilante-style violence, including campaigns against Turks, Jews and Muslims.

On a happier note, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey bringing the attitude, but they didn't steal the show exactly from last night's big winners. We're talking about the Golden Globes, up next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the envelope? OK.


MALVEAUX: I loved it. It was great. Lots of funny moments at last night's Golden Globes. Today, mantles across Hollywood, of course, filled with brand-new trophies. Our own Nischelle Turner's got a look at the big winners.


AMY POEHLER, HOST, GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS: A very good evening to everyone here in the room and to all the women and gay men watching at home.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you felt an earthquake in Beverly Hills last night, check your mantle. You might have won a Golden Globe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am absolutely shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am totally shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm sorry I'm shaking so much.

TURNER: "American Hustle" won the most gold, three in all. Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams for best comedy of musical actress, while best comedy actor went to the "Wolf of Wall Street" himself, Leonardo DiCaprio.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: I have no idea if I'm going to find something this interesting to do in the future. I can only cross my fingers and hope to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Golden Globe Award goes to "12 Years a Slave."

TURNER: Winners on the drama side, best movie, "12 Years a Slave," Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine," and both Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey for their transformational roles in the AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club."

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: This film was never about dying, it was always about living. With that I say, just keep. TURNER: Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" earned him the best director globe and one of the night's biggest laughs for host Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

TINA FEY, HOST, GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS: It's the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.

TURNER: It was an evening of two-fers (ph) for the man of TV. Michael Douglas won, as did his TV movie, "Behind the Candelabra."


TURNER: "Breaking Bad" won for best drama series, as did its star and five-time globe nominee Bryan Cranston.


TURNER: And the only winner of the night more stunned than the cast of comedy series "Brooklyn 99" was its star, Andy Samberg.


TURNER: And when she wasn't hosting or canoodling with U2's Bono, Poehler picked up her first Golden Globe Award, TV comedy actress.

POEHLER: I never win, so I can't believe I won.


MALVEAUX: Got to love it. That was a great evening.

Several stories caught our attention today. Photos, as well. Want you to take a look at these.

Thousands of people stripped down to their underwear. That's right. We're not kidding here. They are celebrating what they're calling no pants subway ride yesterday. This is - this is how it all looked. Commuters from London to Berlin to Hong Kong, all of them braving the cold weather without pants.

That's right. Over 60 countries around the world, that's right, 60 countries around the world participating in this event. It all started off as a prank. It was 13 years ago in nowhere but New York City -- that's right, not hard to imagine -- by an acting group called Improv Everywhere. Well, it's quite the movement there.

In Australia, adults and kids climb up walls and dangle off window sills off of a building in Sydney. Pretty incredible when you take a look at these pictures, right? Well, all of this appears as defying gravity. Not the case. They're actually on the floor. It's pretty cool when you take a look at this. This is called Merchants Store. It is an art piece, and it's designed to give the impression of hanging off the outside of a building upside down while really being safe on the ground. It's a pretty cool optical illusion there. And in Japan, today is coming of age day. Congratulations to all you all coming of age. It is a Japanese holiday to honor Japanese teens who turn 20 years old this year. Now, they are legally permitted to smoke, drink alcohol and vote. Well, good new day to them.

Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. Have a great afternoon.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, more trouble for Chris Christie. Federal officials are investigating whether he misused Sandy relief funds.