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AROUND THE WORLD
Obama To Deliver State of the Union Tomorrow; Iranians on Nuke Deal; Rome for Women; Australia's Shark Cull
Aired January 27, 2014 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Welcome back.
President Obama, delivering his State of the Union address tomorrow, he's going to be laying out his plans for the year ahead, things like, I guess, immigration reform, something he's been wanting to do for a while, also the jobs issue and raising the minimum wage.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And the White House also says the president is going to use more of his executive powers, rely less on Congress to try to get some stuff done.
And as the new game plan coming from the president's job approval that has been taking a beating, our latest CNN poll of polls showing 51 percent disapprove of how the president is handling his job.
HOLMES: Yeah, 44 percent approve. That is up just a little bit. In November, after the fallout from the government shutdown, 55 percent disapproved of his performance.
MALVEAUX: So want to bring in our Wolf Blitzer from Washington. And, Wolf, let's talk about Tuesday night's address, setting the stage for this so-called new game plan, if you will, really trying to get around Congress to get some stuff done through executive orders or these kind of public/private partnerships.
Do we think that is the kind of message here that's going to resonate with voters and say, OK, at least for the next two years he is going to accomplish something on the agenda?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": He's going to try to do that. He's already tried to do certain things through executive orders, signing orders without getting congressional authorization, congressional approval. I'm sure he's going to do a lot more of that.
But there are limits what you can do, limits as far as the U.S. constitution as far as the law is concerned. Also, you know, on some of these issues, he really does need Congress to weigh in and pass legislation in order to get the situation under control.
Look, there are a lot of differences, but there are some openings, including some potential modest reforms as far as immigration reform is concerned right now. The administration won't get everything they want, including, let's say, a pathway to citizenship for some 12 million illegal immigrants here in the United States.
But they might be able to get something going. I think there are some Republicans, including the House speaker, John Boehner, willing to work on it.
If they're willing to settle for something as opposed to nothing, may not be perfect from either's perspective, it will be something. That's one area that I think the president might be able to get something done.
HOLMES: Interesting, your take on this, too, Wolf, and on that same issue.
You know, one of the reasons he's looking to these executive orders, and the go-around, if you like, Congress won't pass anything that he puts forward, the Republican-controlled House.
Is there anymore of a climate in Washington to allow him to get some? Or is it still a no?
BLITZER: I was sort of encouraged when they did pass this budget that the House and the Senate went ahead and passed a two-year budget so there would be no more government shutdowns, at least over the next two years.
Let's see what happens in February. By the end of February, they have to raise the nation's debt ceiling. The president says just do it, just raise the nation's debt ceiling, don't attach any conditions.
He says he's not going to pay ransom to the Congress because Republicans would like to use that to get some concessions from the administration.
Let's see if they can do that without causing another crisis that potentially could result in another downgrading of America's credit standing around the world right now. That will be a significant test.
I wouldn't go -- I don't think they're going to get a lot done as far as comprehensive tax reform or gun control, some of the other issues he raised a year ago in the State of the Union address.
There's going to be strong divisions, especially during this congressional midterm election year.
MALVEAUX: All right. Wolf, very interesting, the fact, too, you're going to have three Republican responses, an official response, alternate response, tea party.
When we have more time, we'll get into all of the details regarding that, but really a party that is split when it comes to how they're even going to respond to the president's message --
MALVEAUX: -- tomorrow night, and Wolf Blitzer is going to be all over this. HOLMES: All over it.
Wolf, good to see you.
BLITZER: Welcome back, Michael. Good to have you back.
HOLMES: Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate that, my friend.
A reminder, too, you can watch President Obama's speech Tuesday, right here on CNN.
The coverage of the State of the Union, live from Washington with Wolf and all of the team there in D.C., that's 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
MALVEAUX: Also, I'm going to be in the critical state of Iowa on Tuesday.
HOLMES: You are, too, aren't you? You're out and about.
MALVEAUX: That is right.
We're going to be talking to voters in Des Moines, all about what they want to hear from the president, and also if they have actually heard what they want to hear, if they're satisfied in -- that he's going to get something done the next two years.
And we're going to be talking about 2016, of course.
HOLMES: You getting out and about. I'll hold down the fort.
MALVEAUX: It is cold-zero degrees.
HOLMES: It is cold. It'll be nice and warm here. I'll hold down the fort for you.
All right, now, let's move on.
The former U.N. chief, you remember Kofi Annan, he has led a high- powered team of elders, the Elders, as they are known, to talk nukes in Iran.
MALVEAUX: They are hoping to build on a new nuclear deal Tehran reached with the world
But what the Iranian people actually are saying about this, find out in a live report from Tehran.
MALVEAUX: The former head of the United Nations is leading a high- powered mission to Iran. This is Kofi Annan and several members of what is known as the Elders' Group.
HOLMES: They're trying to build on a recent nuclear deal that Iran reached with world leaders. Now, Kofi Annan and his team, they want to work toward a final nuclear settlement. Under the current agreement, the Iranians have stopped the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.
Now, in exchange, they get the lifting of some international sanctions.
MALVEAUX: We want to bring in our own Jim Sciutto, who's joining us live from the Iranian capital.
And, Jim, let's talk about a couple things here, because you have said, and many people have said, there are not a lot of folks who believe that potentially the six-month agreement with Iran is going to lead to some sort of comprehensive deal when it comes to the enrichment program.
The president, President Obama, is expected to talk about this in the State of the Union address tomorrow.
What do the people there in Iran, inside of Iran, what do they tell you they want from the United States, and are they even listening?
Do you think they will be engaged in what President Obama is going to say?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are definitely engaged in these negotiations and they lesson to the words that come out of the president's secretary of state, John Kerry, and the one thing that hits them here is the effect of the economic sanctions.
That's what affects not just the government and major businesses, but the lives of individuals here. It affects whether the planes that they fly on can get spare parts to make them safer. It affects whether they can get spare parts for their cars.
But one of the toughest ways it has affected them is on medical supplies. We went, earlier this week, to a cancer clinic here, because many of the best chemotherapy drugs are made in Europe and the U.S., and under the most recent sanctions, they can't be bought here. And that's meant that people suffering cancer can't get the best drugs to treat their disease.
We spoke to one woman, Nila. She's a mother of two young kids. She had ovarian cancer. Here's what she told us about the economic sanctions and how they affect her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NILA, IRANIAN MOTHER WITH OVARIAN CANCER: Due to the sanction on the country, there was a kind of, I don't know, participant for killing people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Saying there that in effect, the sanctions are killing people. Now, under this interim nuclear deal, one part of the sanctions relief affects medical supplies like chemotherapy drugs.
That means in the coming days and weeks, those drugs will be allowed to come back in here and make a real difference.
And that's really the issue, the kinds of issues, that grabs Iranians' attention. It's how these nuclear negotiations affect their lives individually, and they're hoping that over time, that relief will last.
HOLMES: Jim, a couple things, I'm interested in what they're saying about the secretary of state sort of seeming to reiterate that the military option is on the table.
But I'm curious, too, in your take on Iranians. It is a young population, a very "with-it: population, connected, in some ways very Western-leaning in their views, the young people.
I'm curious in your take on the people you've met.
SCIUTTO: You know, it's interesting. I was speaking to someone from the previous generation, someone who was a student during the time when the U.S. embassy was taken over in 1979, and he told us quietly that his children tell him that they blame him for the revolution, blame his generation for the revolution, wonder why their parents brought this international ostracization on Iran, if that's a word.
But you know what I'm saying, that they feel victimized. They look forward to a time when Iran is, in the words of a couple Iranians I've spoken to, is a normal country.
They can travel where they want to go. They can do business where they want to go. They can buy the kinds of things they need, whether it's chemotherapy drugs or the latest fashions, the latest cars.
That's the kind of future they want, and really for many young Iranians, as you say, it can't come soon enough.
HOLMES: Yeah. Really good insight, Jim. Good stuff. Thanks so much. Good to have you here, Jim Sciutto.
Very Western, trendy, Western-leaning young people.
MALVEAUX: And it's fascinating --
HOLMES: Very educated.
MALVEAUX: -- the divide.
HOLMES: Particularly in the cities.
You get outside the capital, and a little bit more conservative, but in the city, very, very "with-it" generation, young generation, yeah.
MALVEAUX: In Ukraine, protesters leave the justice ministry after a warning that a state emergency would be declared if they did not.
Anti-government demonstrators, they've smashed their way into that building last night. One protester says they complied in order to avoid more difficulties in negotiations with the government.
HOLMES: Yes, a violent political crisis has been escalating in Ukraine for weeks now, mainly in the capital Kiev, but now elsewhere, as well. The opposition pushing for the president, Yanukovych, to resign, along with other concessions they would like, as well.
MALVEAUX: Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It has been 69 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. Survivors held a ceremony this morning at the former Nazi concentration camp. They were joined by an unprecedented delegation of more than 60 Israeli lawmakers.
HOLMES: Yes, a huge turnout that included the U.S. House majority leader, Eric Cantor. He was there also to remember the some 1.5 million victims who were executed there alone.
MALVEAUX: And Pope Francis talking about the role of women in the church. Could he be opening or at least cracking the door open for women in the priesthood? We're going to take a look at that, up next.
MALVEAUX: Pope Francis has surprised Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
MALVEAUX: Again, yes. The story keeps giving here.
MALVEAUX: Well, you know, initially he talked about not judging gay people and then his modest lifestyle, which attracted a lot of attention. And, of course, he was defending the poor. But it's something that he actually said over the weekend about women that's got folks talking.
HOLMES: Yes, is indeed. Here's what he told an Italian women's group. He said that he is happy to see, I'm quoting here now, "many women share some pastoral responsibilities with priests in looking after persons, families and groups." And he also said that he hoped to see "the spaces for a more diffuse and incisive presence in the church expanded."
Well, what does it all mean? Senior Vatican analyst John Allen is just the man to explain it. He's not saying women priests. Let's get that straight, right?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Oh, absolutely, Michael and Suzanne. I mean I think in many ways it is easier to say what this doesn't mean than what it does. Pope Francis, on a variety of different occasions, has said that the door to women priests was closed under John Paul II and it's going to stay shut on his watch. In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper, "La Stampa", he also said that he is not open to the idea of women cardinals. In fact, he said, anyone who is calling for a woman cardinal suffers from what he called "clericalism," meaning that they think that the only way to be important in the Catholic Church is to be a member of the clergy. So those options are off the table.
However, he clearly is calling for expanded roles for women in any way that doesn't involve a Roman collar. That is, doesn't involve making them a member of the clergy. So let me give you, Michael and Suzanne, a couple for instances. One possibility is that Pope Francis could name a woman, for example, to be his top spokesperson. In effect, the most visible figure in the Catholic Church after the pope himself.
Another possibility, he is currently working on restructuring Vatican finances. He could name a woman to run the office in the Vatican that is in charge of its money management, which is, in Catholic life, a pretty consequential job. And so I think those are the kind of things he has in mind when he talks about trying to expand roles for women in the church, Michael and Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And, so, John, he also says, "the presence of women in a domestic setting turns out to be so necessary for the transmission to future generations of solid moral principles and the very transmission of the faith" here. So, Michael and I are, you know, kind of debating, is this patronizing or is this something that's real?
HOLMES: Old-school, isn't it, John?
ALLEN: Well, look, I mean, I think it is utterly real in the sense that -- and I speak now as somebody who grew up catholic. I mean I will tell you that my mom was the central figure in my own sense of what the church was all about. And so I think Francis, in that sense, has his finger on what ordinary people in the Catholic Church experience all of the time.
But it's clear in this speech - and, by the way, I was at that meeting with the (INAUDIBLE), the Italian women center where Francis made these remarks. It was utterly clear to me that he was saying that this role that women play as mothers and as the primary educators in the faith for children should not come at the expense of women also playing important roles in the church and in the society outside the church.
Because he was also talking about the importance of promoting women as is critically important figures in the roles of politics and finance and so on and linking that to the importance of them playing visible leadership roles in the church. So I think in his mind this is not an either/or, it's a both/and.
HOLMES: Yes. Yes. John, it's always good to have you there at the other end to explain all of this to us and break it down. He's a good man, that John Allen.
MALVEAUX: Yes, a good man.
HOLMES: Handy to have. Yes. Good to see you, my friend.
MALVEAUX: Sharks being hunted in Australia.
MALVEAUX: Yes, in Australia. The government says it's trying to protect people, but many people are demanding that the sharks be protected. We're going to talk to an expert up ahead.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Conservationists outraged that Australia is allowing sharks to be hunted and killed. Very specific in one state at the moment, but it's happening. It's a culling program that started and this after seven people have died in shark attacks. This is western Australia, my home state. They've had that many dead in, what, three years or so.
MALVEAUX: And authorities there insist that they're putting people first here. Alistair Dove is the director of research and conservation at the Georgia Aquarium.
So, explain this to us. Does it work? Does it not work here? I mean is there a legitimate cause in any circumstance for killing these sharks?
ALISTAIR DOVE, DIR., RESEARCH & CONSERVATION, GEORGIA AQUARIUM: No, basically, there isn't. There's no statistical evidence that culling sharks is going to do anything to reduce the number of shark incidents that happen. And they're so rare that even if - even if it did, your ability to detect it statistically would be pretty low. So it's really tilting at windmills. It's not helping.
HOLMES: It's the "Jaws" effect, isn't it? I mean and, you know, this is my home state. You're an Aussie. And, you know, you get a few shark attacks and everyone goes, sharks everywhere, do something, do something, when, in fact, it is pretty rare. And you see this as a knee-jerk thing.
DOVE: Yes, it's funny that you mentioned "Jaws," because it's just like the scene out of "Jaws" when they go out to get the monster that's causing the attacks (INAUDIBLE) and it's an equally dated approach to doing these things. There are much better ways with aerial patrols and spotting towers and judicious beach closures and things like that, that you can to that will help protect people a lot more than going out and indiscriminately killing sharks over a certain size.
MALVEAUX: Yes. And how do you do that? I mean how do you actually -- are you able to curb - you know, cull the population there and protect people? Because I bet you're if you're the - if you're the victim of a shark attack, you know, you're thinking differently.
DOVE: Sure. Yes. I mean it's really tragic for the people who have been victims of shark attacks. But you have to put it in context that this is eight people over the course of five years. Far more people die of lightning strikes. And, you know, this is equivalent to going out and trying to attack the clouds after a lightning strike and probably just about as effective.
HOLMES: And there has been a backlash against this, too, in Australia, too. There's a lot of conservationists that are up in arms. They're going out and they're taking the bait off these drum lines that are being dropped. I mean the reality, the chance of you catching the shark that did the attacking would be slim, right?
DOVE: It would be -- as vanishingly (ph) small as the chance of being attacked in the first place.
DOVE: So it really is probably biologically a waste of time. There are much better things that we could do with effort to try to educate people about how to interact with sharks in the ocean in a more safe fashion and to patrol the beaches in a better way than to go out and there and kill animals that are, you know, really under a tremendous amount of pressure already.
MALVEAUX: All right.
HOLMES: Under threat, yes, that's true. And, you know, as we were saying during the break before, I mean, we're not their choice of food, are we?
DOVE: No, we're not.
DAVE: They're really after fish and other - and marine mammals and surfers and swimmers in the shallow water is really not what they're after. But, unfortunately, they can't really tell the difference. They have to bite first and ask questions later.
MALVEAUX: All right, Alistair, thank you. Appreciate it.
HOLMES: Just hopefully they don't hit the femoral artery when they take that bite. But you're right, yes, you're absolutely right. Good to see you, Alistair.
DOVE: Nice to be here. Thank you.
HOLMES: Thank you so much.
MALVEAUX: (INAUDIBLE) I know you're a surfer, as well.
HOLMES: I saw a - I saw a tiger shark swim underneath me once. That was an adventure. All right, we've got to go. (INAUDIBLE).
MALVEAUX: Yes, we've got to go. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.