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Pope Criticizes Vatican Bureaucracy; North Korea Threatens Cyber Attacks against U.S.; Peshmerga Say ISIS Pushed Back from Sinjar; German Author Meets with ISIS Fighters; New York Mourns Slain Police Officers; Russian Government Blocks Facebook Page

Aired December 22, 2014 - 11:00   ET



ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST (voice-over): Pope Francis gets frank and delivers a stinging attack on Vatican insiders in his Christmas message.

The Catholic leader is known for being outspoken. We're live in Rome to see how his message went down.

Also ahead: CNN gets an exclusive look inside the ISIS terror group in Syria and Iraq. A German author spent 10 days with the group. We'll bring

you his story.

And as this former blogger prepares for sentencing in Russia, his supporter turn on Facebook, accusing it of giving into censorship. We'll tell you

why in just a moment.


SESAY: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Isha Sesay.

We start with Pope Francis, who has just delivered a blistering critique on the Vatican bureaucracy. In his annual Christmas address, the pope accused

Vatican leaders of suffering from 15 illnesses. The list included what he referred to as "the terrorism of gossip."

The pope also accused many Vatican bureaucrats of "feeling immortal" and superior to others.

And he warned that not addressing these issues could lead to, in his words, "spiritual Alzheimer's disease."

Joining me now is CNN senior Vatican analyst and associate editor for "The Boston Globe," John Allen. He is live in Rome.

John, good to have you with us on this day. A stinging rebuke, pre- Christmas from Pope Francis. I've just got to ask you, how sure were you that the pope would publicly issue such a tongue-lashing at this time of


JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Isha, I don't think the shock is the tongue-lashing. What Pope Francis said today was entirely

consistent with things he said during the more than 20 months of his papacy. This is a pope, after all, for whom complaints about clericalism,

that is these exaggerated pretensions to power and privilege of members of the clerical caste has become one of defining rhetorical themes of his


You may remember last year he talked about clericalism as a kind of a leprosy. And he also complained that too many people in the Vatican seem

to think they're still living in a royal court. So in that sense the content of this address was not surprising.

I suppose the occasion was more surprising because typically this speech to the Roman curia, that is the upper echelons of the Vatican, is sort of a

pope's State of the Union speech. He typically uses it to look back on the year that's just closed and look ahead to the one that's coming.

And so the fact that he would instead choose to use this high-profile occasion to, in a sense, take his own top aides to the woodshed, that was

probably more of a surprise.

And I can tell you for sure, having spoken to several senior Vatican officials today, while on the one hand, no one anymore is surprised by this

kind of language from the pope, this didn't exactly fill some of these guys with holiday cheer -- Isha.

SESAY: Didn't fill them with holiday cheer; is there anything in particular that they took particular umbrage to?

You did mention that we have heard some of this before. But talk to me about what it is that really irked them.

ALLEN: Well, I think fundamentally there would be some in the Vatican who would say, look, we know that these problems that you just ticked off are

there. That is, we know that there is careerism; we know that there are some arrogant types. We know there are some people who are drunk on their

own magnificence and so on.

But the question would be is that all that's there? Is there anything positive you have to say about your own team?

And bear in mind, the problem that Francis faces is that he is an outsider who was elected on a reform mandate. And so he wants to make clear he

intends to shake up the place.

On the other hand, eventually he's going to need some of these people to implement whatever reform he wants to pursue. I think the question is are

some inside the system going to be so demoralized by the pope's rhetoric that they're not going to be there for him when he really needs them.

And I think those are the kinds of questions today, Isha, that are being raised.

SESAY: Do you think the pope cares?

It's interesting that he has gone on such an assault at this time of year, to say using this address to provide this tongue-lashing, take these guys

to the woodshed, so to speak.

He must know that this will have an impact going forward. So you have to ask what does it say about him? Does he care?

ALLEN: Right. The pope is somebody who's been in leadership in the church since he was 36 years old. That's the age at which he was elected the

national leader of the Jesuit order in Argentina. So he clearly understands the dynamics of management in the Catholic Church.

I think clearly he does care about the morale of the people who work for him. But I suppose the takeaway from today's speech has to be that he

believes something more important is at stake here and that is he wants his papacy to represent a kind of comprehensive break with business as usual in

the Catholic Church. He thinks that there are decades, if not centuries, of accumulated patterns of doing things that he's trying to set aside and I

think he believes that kind of repeated shocks to the system are the only way to accomplish that.

And obviously the drama going forward, Isha, is going to be whether he's right, that is whether the people that he's addressing -- and increasingly,

bear in mind, these are people he has picked. Many of the senior leaders of the Vatican now are Francis nominees. Whether they're going to receive

the message and fall in line with the vision of the pope is directing. Or whether he's breeding a possibility of internal backlash and resistance

that, in the end, is going to prove to be a kind of impediment in implementing his own agenda. I'm not sure we know the answer to that


I think, however, what Francis is obviously gambling on is making clear where he wants to go, is more important to him than being worried about the

feelings he might hurt along the way.

SESAY: And as we round out 2014 and look to 2015, as you give that backdrop of the pope feeling that these sharp shocks are necessary, what is

your sense about the pace of reform? I'm asking you to look into a crystal ball a little bit here.

But the pace of reform in 2015 as he asks for these illnesses to be cured?

ALLEN: Well, first of all, Isha, I always say that Pope Francis ought to come with a warning label like a pack of cigarettes: caution --

predictions are hazardous to your health.

So predicting exactly what Francis is going to do in 2015 is dangerous. But that said, clearly 2015 is shaping up to be an enormously eventful

year. Francis has launched an ambitious program of internal Vatican reform that is set to come to fruition in early 2015.

He's going to be going to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January. He's going to the United States in September. In October, he's summoned another

summit of Catholic bishops from around the world to make some critical decisions about issues such as the place of gays and lesbians in the church

and whether divorce and remarried Catholics ought to be able to get communion.

So this is going to be a very tumultuous 12 months. And I think the clear message from today was heading into that, he wants to make sure that people

he's counting on to carry water for him understand what his expectations are rather than papering over what might be some divisions or confusion.

SESAY: It's going to be an interesting 12 months ahead. John Allen joining us there from Rome, John, always appreciated. Thank you.

Now China's foreign minister has condemned all forms of cyber attacks in the wake of the Sony hacking scandal. But Beijing stopped short of

offering the help sought by Washington to prevent future attacks.

North Korea strongly denies it's to blame for leaking a raft of sensitive documents from the movie studio. That's despite the incident coinciding

with the proposed release of the Sony film, "The Interview," depicting the fictional assassination of Kim Jong-un.

But the North Korean government has vowed to unleash cyber warfare on the U.S. in the wake of allegations against it. Today China stressed it would

not assist its ally in any such action.


HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): We resolutely oppose all forms of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.

Meanwhile, we also oppose any country or individual using other countries' domestic facilities to conduct cyber attacks on third-party nations. We

brought up many times the U.S. has determined North Korea used Chinese facilities to carry out the relevant cyber attacks. I think that before

making any conclusions, there has to be a full accounting of the facts and foundation.


SESAY: For its part, the U.S. is down playing the latest threats from North Korea.

Michelle Kosinski has the details from Honolulu where President Obama is vacationing.



MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea now openly threatening U.S. security, vowing, "Nothing is a more serious

miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target. Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the

White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism."

And even while denying responsibility for the Sony hacking, North Korea now promises escalation, saying the hackers are, quote, "sharpening bayonets to

do damage thousands of times greater."

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Do you think this was an act of war by North Korea?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly,

very expensive. We take it very seriously.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): But that characterization, not as cyber war or even terror but vandalism has launched the president's critics here at home.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: This is a manifestation of a new form of warfare. When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose

censorship on the world, and especially the United States of America, it's more than vandalism. And we need to react and react vigorously.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): What America can do and when is a question, possible sanctions against the already strapped regime's economy, its banks

or military. The U.S. has now reached out to China when asked for cooperation. But what exactly that would look like, U.S. officials

declined to say. What has been stated in no uncertain terms at the highest levels is that options against North Korea are being weighed as we speak.

OBAMA: They caused a lot of damage and we will respond. We will respond proportionally and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we


KOSINSKI: So while this is all going on, today, in an unprecedented move, the U.N. Security Council will take on North Korea's dismal human rights

record, one the U.S. ambassador calls systemic and one of the worst in the world. They'll be looking at possible referral to the International

Criminal Court for crimes against humanity -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, Honolulu.


SESAY: Now it's one of the focal points in the fight against ISIS. Kurdish fighters push forward in Iraq's northern town of Sinjar and have

taken back about three-quarters of it. The Peshmerga launched an operation last week in an attempt to liberate the area. Islamic militants have had

control of Sinjar since August.

The Kurdish fighters have had to help all the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, which intensified over the last few weeks.

For more on the situation in Sinjar, let's go to journalist Sofia Barbarani. She joins us via Skype from the northern town of Erbil.

Sofia, thanks for joining us. Describe for us the situation at present on Mt. Sinjar.

SOFIA BARBARANI, JOURNALIST: Mt. Sinjar is -- there's certainly a sense of victory. The Peshmerga forces -- I was there yesterday and there were

convoys of Peshmerga forces heading up to the mountains, very jubilant, very happy and victorious. Kurdish flags being waved around. So there's

definitely a sense the morale is certainly very high. This was reiterated by the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani during a press conference on the

mountain. He said the -- that the morale is very high and this is in great contrast to a very low morale right now within the Islamic State because of

this very swift takeover of land in -- on top of the mountain and in around Sinjar area.

SESAY: All right. So jubilant amongst the fighters themselves, but what about those displaced Yazidis who have been on Mt. Sinjar for months now?

Are they now looking to return to their homes?

BARBARANI: Well, there are still many families up on the mountain. Many of them will not be able to return home anytime soon. A lot of the towns

around Sinjar Mountain, which are primarily Yazidi population, are still mined. They still haven't been completely cleared.

I spoke to a number of people that are living within makeshift camps on top of the mountain. Many of them explained that some of their family members

had, in fact, returned to grab possessions, to get some food to bring up.

And unfortunately, they've been crushed under the weight of their own homes, because a lot of homes -- and this is typical Islamic State way of

going about things -- they leave TNT within the houses; they leave booby traps. So these people go back in hope of getting their possessions and

are crushed under the homes.

Having said that, a large number of the people that I spoke to of these Yazidis that are living on the mountain and having been living there since

August, don't want to go back. The mountain is very symbolic for the Yazidi minority in Iraq. They have gone through a lot of -- well,

basically, what they call the 74 genocides. And each time they have fled to the mountain. So they believe that staying on the mountain does help


It is the only -- one of the men I spoke to said, "Sinjar Mountain is the only safe haven for us. We will remain here until things down there are

completely changed. And we will remain here because we want to fight for our land."

So they are choosing a lot, if not most of them, are choosing to remain on top of the mountain right now.

SESAY: And to say, as someone who was there on Mt. Sinjar, I've got to ask you what conditions are like as these people say, at least some of the say

they're going to stay there.

What are conditions like in terms of food, in terms of shelter?

BARBARANI: Well, now that these two paths have been opened up by the Kurdish military, the Peshmerga, it is certainly easier for aid material to

be getting in. So when I was on my way there, I saw a number of trucks heading up, a number of aid organizations bringing up food, bringing up

blankets, bringing up aid for the winter.

Conditions are quite dire. The night -- I spent the night there. And it was certainly below zero. It was freezing temperatures. So it's not an

ideal situation. But whereas before these people relied heavily on two or three Iraqi helicopters to come by once in a while and drop off aid, now

they have these two paths that have been cleared out and people can actually get up there with vehicles.

SESAY: All right. Sofia Barbarani joining us there from the northern town of Erbil, Sofia, we appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting.

BARBARANI: Thank you.

SESAY: Still to come, a rare look into the inner workings of ISIS. We speak to a German author who spent a week with the militants -- that's


And is OPEC deliberately not cutting production to keep oil prices down? We put that question to the Saudi oil minister. That's in about 30 minutes

from now. Do stay with us.




SESAY (voice-over): Four years after kickstart of the Arab Spring, Tunisia has its first democratically elected president. Veteran politician Beji

Caid Essebsi won a majority of the vote in Sunday's runoff election. (INAUDIBLE) almost 56 percent of ballots against the 44 percent claimed by

outgoing interim president Moncef Marzouki. Marzouki initially refused to concede defeat to his 88-year-old rival, but the electoral commission has

declared the result.


And you're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back everyone.

For much of this year, ISIS has dominated the headlines. But it's been rare to get any glimpse inside the organization or the territory it holds.

Now we have an account from a German author who spent more than a week with ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. And as our Fred Pleitgen reports, the

author believes he is the first Western journalist to be allowed to visit the group.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an extremely rare glimpse into the inner workings of the most dangerous terrorist

organization in the world. German author Jurgen Todenhofer managed to visit ISIS territory both in Iraq and in Syria.

JURGEN TODENHOFER, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: They are only 1 percent. It's a 1 percent movement in the Islamic world. But this 1 percent movement has

the power of a nuclear tsunami. It's incredible.

I was so amazed. I was -- I couldn't understand it, this enthusiasm.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Todenhofer spent several days in Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, conquered by ISIS in June. He even visited the mosque

where ISIS had Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi give a speech earlier this year.

He also met with child soldiers.

TODENHOFER: How old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am 13.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Todenhofer even managed to get access to a Kurdish prisoner in the hands of the extremists.

TODENHOFER: What did they tell you? What will happen to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our captors said that we have Islamic State fighters imprisoned with the Kurdish regional government.

You are prisoners here and we will trade you back for our fighters. They didn't say they will kill or slaughter.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Todenhofer says people living in ISIS controlled areas are in fear of the harsh penalties for infringement of the stringent

laws. But there's also a sense of order and stability. According to Todenhofer, fighters say they often manage to defeat much larger armies

like the Iraqi military because they're not afraid to die.

TODENHOFER: It took you how many days to conquer Mosul?

Four days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We didn't 24 but we killed a score of them. So they got terrified and ran away. We don't retreat. We only

fight. In God Almighty we're victors. Those have reverted from Islam do not have a solid ideology so they ran away. They came to fight for the

tyrant, fight for money.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): During battle, he learned, many of the ISIS fighters wear suicide vests, willing to blow themselves up rather than be


In one interview, a senior ISIS fighter warns the U.S. and Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will conquer Europe someday. It's not a question of us wanting. We will. We'll kill 150 million,

We'll kill 150 million, 200 million, 500 million. We don't care about the number.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Atrocities ISIS has already committed suggest they're serious about their threats. This German author's visit to the

Islamic State shows a brutal, merciless group but also one that won't go away anytime soon -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Munich, Germany.


SESAY: Frightening in fact. We'll all bring you more on this story later today during the special edition of "AMANPOUR." Christiane sits down with

the man profiled in Frederik's piece, (INAUDIBLE) interview at 7:00 pm in London. That's 11:00 pm in Abu Dhabi.

Well, live from CNN Center, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, New York City is grieving the murder of two police officers. Which police are now

on high alert after the shooting.

Plus Facebook loses some friends after it's accused of helping Russia censor the Internet. More on that when we come back.




SESAY: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour: in the rare look inside ISIS, a German author says the world is underestimating the

power of the group, despite its small size. The author spent more than a week with the militant group, visiting its territory held in both Iraq and


In Tunisia, politician Beji Caid Essebsi is set to become the country's next president. He beat outgoing president Moncef Marzouki in the runoff

with more than 55 percent of the vote. It's the country's first free presidential election.

Police in the Scottish city of Glasgow report a number of fatalities and injuries after a garbage truck plowed into pedestrians in the city center.

Rescue efforts are underway in George Square and people have been told to avoid the area. The police also say there's nothing to indicate that the

incident is terror related. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.

Pope Francis delivered a harsh critique of the Vatican bureaucracy in his annual Christmas speech. He accused many Vatican leaders of viewing

themselves as immortal. He also warned against feelings of superiority and a loss of compassion.

China's prime ministry has issued a statement condemning all cyber attacks and cyber terrorism in the wake of the Sony hacking scandal. Beijing's

ally, North Korea, has vowed to escalate hacking activity against the U.S. after the Obama administration accused Pyongyang of orchestrating the Sony

leaks. North Korea denies that claim.

Now New York City police are facing new threats as they struggle to cope with the loss of two of their own. Candles and flowers have been left in

the area near where two police officers were shot and killed in an ambush on Saturday. New York officials say the officers were targeted simply for

being cops.

Now police are trying to track down those behind a series of new online threats. Alexandra Field has been following the story. She joins us now

live from New York.

Alexandra, these are extremely tense times in New York.

What's the latest?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha, emotions are just incredibly raw. We're out here on the street corner where these two officers were

gunned down, unsuspectingly, defenselessly and right behind me you can see some of these police officers who've been trickling in this morning,

leaving flowers, lighting candles, trying to pay their respects.

This is a city that is stunned by what has happened here. People are still very much on edge. But more importantly, perhaps, the police department

remains on very high alert. They're making every effort possible to try and see if they can find any other credible threats that are out there and

trying to intercept those threats before something happens.


FIELD (voice-over): Officers on heightened alert following a new online threat. In Brooklyn, police are searching for an alleged gang member who

posted a threatening message toward officers on Facebook with a photo of a police vehicle.

And in Memphis, police questioned a 26-year-old man after he posted on Instagram #shootthepolice: "Two more going down tomorrow."

LOFTON: I didn't mean it like that. It got mixed up.

FIELD (voice-over): Investigators scour social media on the lookout for copycats after 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed two NYPD

officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, execution style Saturday afternoon. Police looking into more than 15 online threats, according to a law

enforcement official.


FIELD (voice-over): Family and loved ones mourning the loss of Officers Ramos and Liu at an evening vigil in Brooklyn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope and pray that we can reflect on this tragic loss of lives that have occurred.

FIELD (voice-over): Earlier Sunday, New York's commissioner and mayor attending mass at New York's historic St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the

congregation stood in applause for the slain policemen.

This a stark contrast from the NYPD turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference Saturday, angered about his support of the

protest for Eric Garner, the unarmed Staten Island man who died after an apparent chokehold by NYPD officers.

The shooter's onslaught began Saturday morning. He posted this ominous warning on Instagram, "I'm putting wings on pigs today," accused of

shooting his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore, the 28-year old then traveled to New York, murdering Ramos and Liu with his semiautomatic gun before taking

his own life.

The scene: horrific.

FIELD: When you walked up and you saw that (INAUDIBLE) car, what was going through your mind?

TANTANIA ALEXANDER, EMS RESPONDER: He had a family. So and you don't know if you're going to go in -- you don't know if you're going to make it to

your family's job. You put your life on the line every day for people.

FIELD (voice-over): Brinsley also posting before his rampage, "They take one of ours, let's take two of theirs." His postings make references to

Michael Brown and Eric Garner, according to police. Garner's mother, heartbroken all over again.

GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER'S MOTHER: We want him to not use Eric Garner's name for violence, because we are not about that. These two police officers

lost their lives senselessly.

FIELD (voice-over): Officer Ramos' son posted this message on Facebook, "This is the worst day of my life. Everyone says they hate cops, but they

are the people they call for help."

He writes, "I will never forget you. Rest in peace, Dad."


FIELD: Along with the efforts to ferret out any potential threats that could be found on social media, there are also a lot of physical steps that

are being taken to protect some of the 35,000 men and women who are part of the NYPD. And, again, so many of them gathering here to pay respects to

two of their own. Some of the steps are being taken, beef up security around (INAUDIBLE) also carrying that auxiliary officers. Those are

officers who are unarmed and help with lower level issues like traffic, are being taken off the streets, just a few of the steps that people are taking

out right now, Isha, trying to protect the men and women who protect the city.

SESAY: Yes, yes, indeed. Alexandra Field, we appreciate the reporting. Thank you so much.

Alexandra Field reporting from an extremely tense New York.

Now live from CNN Center, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, from the first female chief of the Federal Reserve to the launch of Apple Pay, 2014

has been an eventful year in the business world. We'll review some of the defining moments about 10 minutes from now.

Saudi Arabia is standing its ground, saying no to cutting production. We've got an interview with the Saudi oil minister -- that's next.




SESAY: You're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back, everyone.

Perhaps the biggest of the social media giants is being accused of giving into censorship in Russia. Facebook faces accusations of working with the

Russian government to block an event page.

This after the prosecutor general said that the page called for an unsanctioned mass event and asked Facebook to block it for Russia-based

users. And Facebook complied.

The event itself was a rally in support of anti-corruption blogger and opposition activist Alexei Navalny and is set for January the 15th; 13,000

people had said they would attend and a new page says even more are set to join the rally.

Well, Navalny himself has commented on the turn of events, ironically on Facebook, saying, quote, "Rather unpleasant and unexpected behavior from

Russian Facebook. I thought they would at least demand a court order rather than rush to block pages at the first request of the crooks from

Roskomnadzor." That's the Russian communications watchdog.

Well, we reached out to Facebook, but they wouldn't comment on the incident. Earlier today, I spoke to one of Russia's first bloggers, Anton

Nossik. He's a Russian digital expert. So I asked him if he was expecting this move by the government.


ANTON NOSSIK, FOUNDER, POMOGI.ORG: Well, it's a development has been long anticipated on one hand. And on the other hand, the moment it happened,

you are always caught off your guard because as long as it's (INAUDIBLE), you try to comfort yourself with the thought that it won't happen. But

finally, it's here.

SESAY: So break it down for us. Talk to me about the significance of this moment, what it means for Russian Internet freedom.

NOSSIK: Russian legislators, over the last few years, have said that (INAUDIBLE) laws that allow them to block Facebook, Twitter, Google and any

other (INAUDIBLE) service to users from Russia. Every time such a law is passed, people start talking about the perspective of those servers

actually being banned. But afterwards, it's not (INAUDIBLE) the direction we start believing that it will probably end its interpretation of the law

or maybe that law was not supposed to be put in effect, after all. And now there is this collision that was unforeseen, unexpected, came all of a

sudden on the weekend when actually major social platforms have been surfed without (INAUDIBLE), which actually requires Russian authorities to block

them within 72 hours in case of their non-compliance. And it is pretty obvious that they are not in the mood to comply and I believe they also

shouldn't comply, because the request for blocking is completely illegitimate.

SESAY: Some have commented on the speed with which Facebook complied, though, with the prosecutor general's demand.

How surprised were you by that?

NOSSIK: I was absolutely shocked by the fact of compliance but I explained that to myself by the fact that it is a weekend and that that decision has

been probably taken by some low-ranking support personnel who did not see the entirety of the picture because Facebook had the courage, is a

corporation from California bound by American law and not complied with the request to filter such a discussion. There is nothing illegal in

discussing the sentencing of Navalny (INAUDIBLE). There is nothing there that could justify blocking such discussion from Facebook viewpoint. So

Facebook acted against its own standards and against its own values. So I would (INAUDIBLE) that when Monday comes, and people on the West Coast wake

up and smell the coffee, they will reconsider and they will say that they will not comply the way Twitter did originally and that what happened,

(INAUDIBLE) now we already hear that Facebook is not going to comply (INAUDIBLE).

SESAY: What do you see as the future for the Facebooks, the Googles, the Twitters, in Russia? You talked about this legislation that's clearly a

restriction of space for these companies to operate in Russia.

I mean, ultimately, do you think they will end up being banned? Is that the ultimate goal of Putin and other legislators?

NOSSIK: Well, we should be certain of two things here. The general tendency which is for more and more censorship and less foreign presence on

the local Internet (INAUDIBLE).


SESAY: Blogger Anton Nossik speaking to me from Moscow just a short time ago about Facebook censorship in Russia.

Now the oil market has been tumbling since OPEC decided not to cut production last month. But Saudi Arabia's oil minister says there was no

conspiracy against non-OPEC members behind the move.

Ali al-Naimi spoke to our own John Defterios.


ALI AL-NAIMI, ENERGY MINISTER, SAUDI ARABIA: These rumors, or whoever generated them, is completely mistaken. I was the first minister to

welcome production and the addition of shale oil to the world in 2008-2009. Why? Because it would give better stability and assurance to the world

that peak oil, is a theory now that is there, but at that time, peak oil was a big deal.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: But we've moved in the opposite direction now. So is this price, around $60 a barrel, healthy for

long-term investment? Some would argue it's not. But Saudi Arabia and others get to hold onto their market share.

AL-NAIMI: Saudi Arabia, you know, we are going to continue to produce what we are producing. We are going to continue to welcome additional

production if customers come and ask for it. There is no effort against anyone in the international oil market. There are no conspiracies against

any country. And that is what I said in my speech. I wish somebody would take that translation and use it.

DEFTERIOS: Final point: if non-OPEC producers come forward and offer cuts at this stage, would OPEC step up to the table and do the same?

Or are you happy to leave production where it is?

AL-NAIMI: I think it's too late now.

DEFTERIOS: And why do you say that?

AL-NAIMI: If they want to cut production they are welcome. We are not going to cut and certainly Saudi Arabia isn't going to cut.

DEFTERIOS: And this is a position you'll hold for, what, the first six months of 2015?

AL-NAIMI: The position we will hold forever, not 2015.


SESAY: Saudi Arabia's oil minister there.

Now as 2015 fast approaches, CNN has been asking its reporters to give their take on the biggest stories they've covered this year. Major

business news has dominated headlines this year.

But which of them stood out the most? I sat down with Michael Holmes and a panel of colleagues to discuss whether Apple Pay has actually paid off.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: A lot of business buzz in 2014 and from a pretty wide spectrum, too, for the first time, for example, a woman became chair

of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Chinese company, Alibaba, had the biggest IPO in U.S. history. It seemed, however, that Apple, as it often does,

dominated the headlines for various reasons. It released, of course, the iPhone 6. Record sales and bought Beat Electronics for a mere $3 billion.

Also Apple CEO, Tim Cook, the first Fortune 500 CEO to come out publicly as gay.

Apple was all over the news.

I remember sitting in morning editorial meetings and you talking about this here at CNN, Apple Pay. Now I've got friends who are actually using it. A

lot of people are going, oh, what do you think about it? Next big thing, going to change the way we get rid of the wallet?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Google should get some credit. A lot of other phones have already had this technology. But when Apple does

something, it's big. We are going to have a cashless society. But we're just not there yet. What happens if the battery on your cell phone dies?

Then you need your credit card. Look, at some point this is going to happen. Apple is kind of the last of the big first steps. But I'm sure it

will come a point where cash will -- people will look at it and say, what's that? Kind of like --


BURKE: You don't think so?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Cash remains king.


BURKE: You're so wrong, Richard.

Yes, it remains now, but not forever.

QUEST: What do you think --


BURKE: -- don't even use cash as it is before Apple --

QUEST: -- a penny anyway.


SESAY: It got quite rowdy. CNN is taking a closer look at the stories that captured our attention this year. Join us for "Defining Moments 2014"

as my colleagues and I discuss more on the events that moved us the most. That's coming up Thursday morning or Christmas Day at 8:00 in London, 9:00

in Berlin.

We're live from CNN Center. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, lottery players in Spain now know who hit the jackpot (INAUDIBLE) Madrid where a

lot of people have a reason to celebrate. Do stay with us.




SESAY: You're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back, everyone.

A judge has ordered Spain's Princess Cristina, the sister of King Felipe, to stand trial on two charges of tax fraud. The unprecedented case also

names the princess' husband and 15 others in a financial corruption scandal. The princess and her husband have both denied any wrongdoing.

Well, break out the champagne. Thousands of people in Spain are celebrating a bit of lottery luck. The winners of the world's biggest

Christmas lottery will now have a new haul of (INAUDIBLE) cash. The lottery called El Gordo or Fat One is worth billions. CNN's Al Goodman is

in Madrid, where there were several big winners and he joins me now.

Al, it would appear one middle class neighborhood in Madrid in particular has a special reason to be celebrating.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Isha. But let's start with me. I didn't win. You know, I bought last year a lottery ticket near my

office. This year I bought it in my neighborhood. This is not working out.

But for these people at this restaurant in this middle class neighborhood in Madrid, it has been a huge win because there are a lot of immigrants

who work here. We talked to a man from Africa who came to Spain without documentation eight years ago and he's just won on the order of 120,000

euros. There are people there from Eastern Europe, from South America and Spaniards there. The owners bought the tickets and distributed them. Now

that's very common that not just one person takes this nearly $3 billion, but it's spread far and wide in the big prize, the Fat One, El Gordo, but

also in much smaller prizes. And that's a lot of good news for this country, which is still pulling out of a long economic crisis -- Isha.

SESAY: Yes, Al, and I think it's worth underscoring that point, that given Spain's recent economic troubles, this money is needed now more than ever

and this makes this an even bigger draw.

GOODMAN: Indeed. And actually, in the deepest years of the economic crisis, lottery sales for these kinds of tickets, 20 euros here, actually

declined. But we heard from lottery officials today saying sales were up 4 percent or 5 percent this year. It seems just like about everybody has a

ticket. You buy it with family, friends, coworkers. And so that's why the joy is spread around.

Now just a few hours ago, this street was cut off as the lottery office just down here had sold to that restaurant and sold to several other places

on the street, right here in this neighborhood. A lot of joy and you're seeing this in other pockets of joy across the country.

SESAY: And Al, just very briefly, is it true that this has been going on uninterrupted since 1812? We're talking about a lot of history here.

GOODMAN: Including during Spain's three-year civil war, which won both sides, the right and the left, the republic and the Franco forces held

their own lotteries. That's how dear it was. And so it's been going on, according to historians, uninterrupted since all those years ago. And you

can really see why. There's a lot of fanfare, a lot of fun and some people actually win, even though, hey, I wasn't one of them.

SESAY: Yes, we know you didn't win, Al. You've made the point. Thank you so much. We're still wishing you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas. Thanks,

Al Goodman.

Now the team at CONNECT THE WORLD want to hear from you. Send us your reaction to any of the stories we've been coverage. You can write to us at or join the conversation on Twitter. You can tweet me @IshaSesayCNN.


SESAY (voice-over): I'm Isha Sesay and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching, everyone.