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U.S. Halts Drone Strikes in Pakistan; MLK, Jr.'s Heirs Fight Over His Bible, Nobel Prize; Stray Dogs Poisoned; Pope John Paul II's Notes Published

Aired February 5, 2014 - 12:30   ET




SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The U.S. military has been cutting back on drone strikes in Pakistan.

According to "The Washington Post," the Pakistani government asked the Obama administration to stop the attacks while officials are in peace talks with the Taliban.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Yeah, but no U.S. officials will confirm to CNN that that is the reason why.

One report says the last reported strike was on Christmas Day, of course, more than a month ago now.

Let's go to Wolf Blitzer in Washington. You talked recently, Wolf, with Pakistan's national security adviser about this very topic.

What did you hear, especially since just yesterday, talks between Pakistan and the Taliban were aborted because the government didn't show up.

What's behind all of this?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Yeah, some of the Taliban leaders apparently failed to show up.

So, it's a huge issue in Pakistan, these U.S. drone strikes. Based out of Afghanistan, they go over the border into Pakistan, and they look for targets, presumably al-Qaeda-related targets, others who are hostile to the United States.

The U.S. has been doing it for a long time. In fact, President Obama has intensified the drone strikes since he took office over the number of strikes that President Bush did.

The other day, back at the end of January, Pakistan's new national security adviser came to Washington, Sartaj Aziz, and I sat down with him right after his meeting with the secretary of state, John Kerry, in which he made a major push, a plea to the U.S., curtail those drone strikes.

Listen to this exchange.


SARTAJ AZIZ, PAKISTAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The damage from the drone strikes in terms of relations, in terms of the broader issues that are between us is far more than any benefit from one or two more targets.

In the case of those targets, give us the information and see whether we eliminate them, because the border issues are more important, which is to keep the lines of communication open, to try to bring about -- because this is publicly a very unpopular thing, and it's also counterproductive.

BLITZER: And you made that point to Secretary Kerry?

AZIZ: Yes.

BLITZER: You said, please, no more drone strikes. I don't know if you phrased it like that, but that's generally what you said?

AZIZ: I think so, and he was quite receptive.

BLITZER: Did he make any promises?

BLITZER: No, not yet. He said we'll consider it.


BLITZER: The Pakistani national security adviser then went on to meet with Susan Rice, with John Brennan over at the CIA, Chuck Hagel over at the Defense Department, making that same pitch.

And there has clearly been a slow down. I think the last one, as you point out, was right around Christmas.

U.S. officials say some of those targets that the U.S. has, there is a reduced number of targets.

But clearly the U.S. is very, very sensitive to the political fallout inside Pakistan. The U.S. is trying to improve relations with the new government in Pakistan, the first democratically elected government, shall we say, in Pakistan.

So it's obviously a very sensitive subject.

MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, talk about the politics inside Pakistan, as well, because it's extremely sensitive, as you mention, and the Obama administration really making sure that they're not dividing people there, because they -- there is some sort of kind of domestic interest of the country to distance themselves from the United States.

BLITZER: And this is really a critically important area.

Remember, bin Laden was found in Abbottabad right outside a military compound, a military training college in Pakistan. And the assumption is that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new leader of al- Qaeda, he's hiding someplace in Pakistan, as well. So, there's a lot going on.

The new government in Pakistan, the prime minister and the others, seem to be receptive to improving relations with the United States, given the fact the U.S. is withdrawing its troops, maybe all of its troops, from Afghanistan by the end of this year, may keep a residual force in Afghanistan if they can work out a deal.


There is a lot of potential there for real turmoil if it's not finessed properly, so I think they're sensitive to the internal political requirements of this Pakistani government for the U.S. to cut back on those drone strikes, especially since not all of those drone strikes have been perfectly targeted.

There have been civilians and military personnel killed by accidental strikes.

HOLMES: Yeah. One of the problems, of course, Pakistan faces, they can't control half of that area up there in Waziristan. They can't even send their own troops up there because of the Taliban control.

Wolf, appreciate it. Thanks so much, Wolf Blitzer there.

MALVEAUX: And later today in "THE SITUATION ROOM," Wolf Blitzer is going to talk with Mitt Romney about something that's on voters' minds, whether or not he's going to run in 2016.

And, also, as head of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, what does Mitt Romney think about the security situation in Sochi?

That's at 5:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

HOLMES: And CNN has just learned a little bit about John Kerry's plans in politics. Apparently, he doesn't have any after this gig.

MALVEAUX: Secretary of State telling our Jake Tapper that he's going to be out of politics in 2016, even though he's got his peers, like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, likely thinking about another shot, another run for the presidency.

Kerry says the State Department is his last political stop, then he's done.

Well, do we believe him? I don't know. They all say that.

HOLMES: Well, you can listen yourself.

MALVEAUX: Exclusive.

HOLMES: Yes, exclusive interview coming up on "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

MALVEAUX: And kudos from the White House over a decision today by CVS's pharmacies to stop selling tobacco.

The drugstore chain said that the new policy will take effect by October, even though it has cost the company $2 billion a year in what they would have made, lost sales.

HOLMES: Yeah, President Obama sent out a statement almost immediately that said in part, "Congratulate and thank the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors and all those who help make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country."

Also the first lady sent out a tweet that said, "Thanks CVS Extra. Now we can all breathe easier and our families can live healthier."

MALVEAUX: The big question, whether or not other chains will follow CVS's lead.

Walgreens says it has been evaluating tobacco products in its stores for a while, so we're just going to have to wait and see if that happens.

HOLMES: Extraordinary that in a place where you get your prescriptions and your health stuff, they sell cigarettes --

MALVEAUX: Right there.

HOLMES: Right there.

MALVEAUX: Right next to it.


MALVEAUX: And a lot of siblings fight over parents' things, but when you're talking about the children of a civil rights icon that fight certainly gets much more complicated.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter and sons are fighting over national treasures. That story, up ahead.



HOLM ES: They are the living legacies of an American icon, the children of Martin Luther King, Jr., but as his daughter Bernice says, quote, "He must be turning over in his grave right now."

MALVEAUX: Bernice's two brothers, Martin III and Dexter, they're trying to force her to hand over their father's Nobel Peace Prize and his Bible, the one President Obama used when he was sworn in for his second term, and this is the same one that she actually showed me when we interviewed her at the King Center, taking it out of a casing.

She is putting up a fight now. She says her brothers want to sell these items, and it's really complicated, because we're not just talking about family heirlooms. These are the heirlooms of the 20th century world history.

Want to bring in our Victor Blackwell in Atlanta to talk about the court case, the lawsuit.

Where does it go from here?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On paper, this is the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., versus Bernice King, but essentially, it's brothers versus sister.

King III and Dexter King say that Bernice King has this 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, the medal, and the Bible, King's traveling Bible.

However they say it is in her personal possession, they belong to the estate and the estate wants them back.

Why? King, Bernice King says that the brothers want to sell them.

And you held this Bible.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, this is something -- she took it out of a case, and you can page by page go through it. There is some inscriptions on it, as well. It is amazing.

But you're saying that now this is not -- it's in her possession. Nobody knows where this is.

BLACKWELL: She says in a statement she released after this complaint was filed that she has them in a safe and secure place and she's refusing to turn them over.

She released a lengthy statement. I want to read just two sentences and you can get the passion from just these two sentences.

And she writes, "As a minister of the gospel, the thought of selling my daddy's Bible troubles my mind, vexes my spirit and weighs on my soul.

"The thought of profiting from the sale of the Peace Prize Medal, which my father accepted 50 years ago this year on behalf of the greatest demonstration of peace this nation has ever seen is spiritually violent, unconscionable, historically negligent and outright morally reprehensible."

And if the allegation is true -- there is no mention of selling these items in the complaint by Dexter and King III.

If the allegation is true, it's important to note that the Nobel Organization says that once Ling was notified, Dr. King was notified, that he would win, he immediately announced that he would donate the $54,123 to the civil rights movement.

Even Dr. King himself did not profit from the Nobel Peace Prize.

HOLMES: What -- if it's not in the complaint, what are the brothers saying, or do we know? BLACKWELL: We've reached out to the brothers. We have reached out more than once to try and get a comment.

Are you indeed trying to sell the Nobel Prize Medal and the Bible. No response yet. No response.

But we know we will hear more tomorrow from Bernice King. She's holding a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, where she will, I guess, flesh out more of what her allegations are and why she is holding these items and refusing to turn them over.

MALVEAUX: It's very strange that the two brothers are not speaking, though, that there's nobody who's representing them to at least say what it is they're trying to do here.

We are really just seeing one side of this story.

BLACKWELL: Considering all of the emotion around Dr. King and especially these two items, you'd think that Dexter and King III would want to say something.

Thus far, they have not responded to our requests.

MALVEAUX: All right, we'll keep trying.

BLACKWELL: Certainly will.

MALVEAUX: Thank you. We really appreciate that.

HOLMES: Certainly some spats in the past with the family, but it does seem all very unseemly, doesn't it?

MALVEAUX: Dogs are dying in the streets of Sochi.

Is the Russian government trying to rid the city of stray animals ahead of the Winter Olympics by poisoning these dogs?

Well, that is the accusation from activists. We've got the details, up next.



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Outrage is growing over an apparent operation to exterminate stray dogs. This is ahead of the Winter Olympic games here. Animal rights activists, they are accusing Russian authorities of actually poisoning these dogs in Sochi.

Yes, the activists actually videotaped dogs that were convulsing and dying agonizing deaths in the streets. Ivan Watson is in Sochi with the details. Of course, some of these images, obviously, are difficult to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These images of dying animals are hard to watch, but they're examples gathered by activists in Sochi over the last two months of how they claim authorities have exterminated street dogs in Russia's Olympic city, by poisoning them. City authorities and animal rights activists are now wrestling with the question, what do you do with the large population of street animals in Sochi on the eve of the Olympics? Some volunteers have taken matters into their own hands, building a makeshift shelter on the edge of the city. Here, they donate time and money to feed and sterilize the dogs they love.

WATSON (on camera): Hi! This one's called Pufistic (ph) and she used to live by the hospital.


But the city authorities were going to gather up the street dogs there. So she's one of the stray dogs that were brought here to this basically donated shelter that volunteers have put up themselves with their own money to help Shiba (ph), to help protect them from basically being exterminated. (INAUDIBLE). Hey, guys.

WATSON (voice-over): Activist Dina Filippova says the culling of street animals in Sochi is not a new thing.

DINA FILIPPOVA, ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They kill dogs for many years.

WATSON: But she's also quick to admit, Sochi has a dog problem.

FILIPPOVA: There are huge amounts of stray dogs here. And authorities tried to control them as they can.

WATSON: Reports of the extermination of street animals in recent months have put city and Olympic authorities on the defensive. This week, the Sochi 2014 organizing committee announced, "all stray dogs that are found on the Olympic Park are collected by a professional veterinary contractor. All healthy animals are released following their health check."

As recently as last year, the Sochi city government hired a private company to dispose of street animals, but this week, a city official told CNN, he was now urging volunteers to take street dogs to a new government supported canine shelter. The volunteers here say shelters don't provide a long-term solution. They want a government-financed sterilization program and better laws to protect animals in Russia.

FILIPPOVA: In Russia, you can abuse animal and it's not a crime. You can buy or adopt an animal, and then release it on streets. It's not a crime.

WATSON: Perhaps the growing uproar over Sochi's Olympic dogs may prompt Moscow to take a long, hard look at protecting man's best friend.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Sochi, Russian.


MALVEAUX: We certainly hope they're protected. That's so sad.

HOLMES: that's a heart-breaker, isn't it?


Now, the private notes of Pope John Paul II, wanted to be burned. Well, he wanted them to be burned, are instead published in a new book. Next, why his closest aide felt compelled to ignore the instructions in the pope's will.



MALVEAUX: A U.N. report is slamming the Vatican's handling of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Now, this report accuses the church of protecting itself rather than the victims by transferring child sexual abusers from one parish to another and covering up the crimes.

HOLMES: Yes, it says that the Vatican should investigate complaints, along with law enforcement, and immediately remove all known or suspected abusers from its ranks. And, in fact, turn them over to the authorities.

Now, Pope John Paul II's most private thoughts have been published in a new book. And the problem is, he didn't want them published. Many in the Catholic community upset about this. Lisa Suarez now looks at why the pope's former secretary refused to follow instructions in his will.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This book is indeed extremely important.

LISA SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pope John Paul II's last will and testament calls for his personal notebooks to be burned, according to Catholic news agency. So why have his most private writings been published for all to read in a book released in Poland today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt that this is a priceless record.

SUAREZ: The publisher describes the book as a collection of the late pope's thoughts and meditations. Many Catholics, outraged, questioning the release of "I Am So Much in god's Hands." Pope John Paul's closest aide, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz turned over the letters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His thought was that these are important theological musings of a pope and that the world could benefit from reading them.

SUAREZ: Serving as pope for nearly three decades, Pope John Paul II died in 2005, revered by the faithful as the people's pope. Dziwisz, his confidante and former secretary for nearly 40 years, was given instruction to burn the private papers after the beloved pontiff's death. But instead, breaking one of the cardinal rules in the Catholic Church, Dziwisz disobeyed the beloved pope, because according to "The Catholic Reporter," he felt burning the documents would be a crime, and that he didn't have the courage to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So suddenly now, to have a group of works that has not been published before is significant.

SUAREZ: Translated writings from the Polish language book are circulating. He wrote, "and does the act of salvation amaze me more than any other everyday act? May it absorb me more and more."

In April, Pope John Paul II will be canonized a saint, placed on the fast track by Pope Benedict. Dziwisz says publishing the notes is a precious insight into the pope's soul.


HOLMES: The cardinal says only a select amount of the writings were published and others were burned, as the pope wished.

MALVEAUX: The cardinal says he's going to use his share of the profits, at least, from the book to complete a 13,000-square-foot complex being built in Poland in the pope's memory. So he's not going to be accused of profiting off of this, but we'll see.

HOLMES: Controversial stuff, though. Yes.

Now several stories caught our attention today, and photographs, too.

Let's start in that wonderful place, Australia. A Polish extreme cyclist hopping up more than 2,900 steps in an hour and 45 minutes to break his own world record. This happened in Melbourne.

MALVEAUX: Well, I guess that's what you guys do, huh?

HOLMES: Uh-huh.

MALVEAUX: His wife joined him on the climb, carrying their three- month-old daughter. Last March, the cyclist jumped over 2,700 steps in Shanghai. Despite being pregnant, wow, his wife was right there with him.


MALVEAUX: Pretty amazing.

HOLMES: Yes, that's what we do.

Now, in Ukraine, among the chaos and the protests that we've been reporting on in the capital, Kiev, love shining through. A protester proposing to his girlfriend while wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest. You romantic, you.

MALVEAUX: Maybe is this a good sign. The man professed his love using a megaphone, got down on one knee while his comrades lit smoke flairs around them. Yes, very romantic, yes.

HOLMES: Yes. And safe from a stray bullet.

In Japan, kindergarten parents dressed up in demon-like masks and costumes to scare their kids during an annual festival in Tokyo, because it's fun to do that.


MALVEAUX: The parents participating in this bean-throwing ceremony to drive away evil and bring good luck. More than 350 children attended the event to greet the coming of spring.

HOLMES: Once they recovered from being terrified, yes.

Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. "CNN NEWSROOM" starts right now.