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Outrage Again Egyptian President Continues; Yasser Arafat's Body to Be Exhumed Tomorrow; Tips on Keeping Credit Card Debt in Check; Indiana Blast Being Investigated as Homicide; New Evidence Revealed in Casey Anthony Case.
Aired November 26, 2012 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Outrage against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi this hour shows no sign of dying down. Thousands of demonstrators are still in Cairo's Tahrir Square, venting opposition to Morsi's move, granting himself sweeping new powers. That triggered days of violent protests throughout the country. Some critics claim Morsi, who is Egypt's first freely elected president, is trying to establish a dictatorship. Morsi is meeting today with the country's highest judicial authority in a bid to defuse this crisis.
Reza Sayah is live in Cairo.
Reza, what's the situation right now?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, let's bring you up to speed. As we speak, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi meeting with Egypt's top judges, seven of them representing the Supreme Judicial Counsel. Of course, the judges locking horns with Mr. Morsi right after one of his decrees essentially disabled them. So they're talking. We're going to see what the outcome of that meeting is.
In the meantime, the leading factions, leading opposition factions continue to protest behind us in Tahrir Square. These factions that represent women's rights groups, youth groups, minorities, their position so far has been, we're not going to talk to Mr. Morsi until he reverses his decrees.
We spoke to one of Mr. Morsi's top advisers earlier today. We asked him if that was a possibility.
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SAYAH: What kind of concessions are you willing to make?
DR. ESSAM EL-ERIAN, VICE-CHAIRMAN, FREEDOM AND JUSTICE PARTY: This decision is up to the president for us.
BERMAN: Is it possible to rescind his decrees?
ERIAN: We have had a dialogue with our committees.
SAYAH: are you prepared to consider rescinding, adjusting some of these decrees?
ERIAN: Decree is up to the president and we are accepting it. We may have some reservations. But as a whole, we must take a step to forward, not to backward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: As you heard, we pressed him on the idea of maybe the president adjusting some of these decrees. In his position, as the president is willing to talk. The problem is the opposition factions will not talk until the district attorney decrees are reversed -- John?
BERMAN: Didn't budge, despite those tough questions.
Good job, Reza.
My question now, some protesters targeted the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party where Mohamed Morsi comes from. What's this about?
SAYAH: Certainly, that's the most violent of the incidents we've seen, is when the anti-Morsi protesters in several cities have targeted the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, we saw one of the only fatalities take place last night when protesters attacked one of the offices and that's when things get really out of hand. And many of these elements that are triggering this type of violence, John, these seem to be teenagers, 20-somethings, who seem to be out to create some trouble. And that's the big concern leading into tomorrow. Of course, you have competing protests scheduled. The Muslim Brotherhood with the one-million-man demonstration scheduled tomorrow. You also have these leading opposition factions who banded together and called for a one-million-man protest as well -- John?
BERMAN: In one of the most fascinating parts of this today is that this is all happening in Egypt while there are ceasefire talks going on in Cairo dealing with Hamas and Israel. What's the latest on that?
SAYAH: That's right. Of course, the ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis was declared last Wednesday. The fighting stopped but some of the details are yet to be hammered out. And that's what's happening in Cairo today, between the Israelis and the Palestinians with Egypt playing the role of mediator. These two sides have to work out a lot of very difficult topics. Among them, the economic blockade of Gaza, travel in the crossings, and then the alleged smuggling of illegal weapons into Gaza from Egyptian territory. A lot of tangled topics to tackle. History shows these are not easy issues to solve, but they're going to have a go at it with Egypt playing the role of mediator, John.
BERMAN: Thanks, Reza Sayah, in Cairo this morning. Great work today. Thanks, Reza . We're also following a remarkable story involving the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Beginning tomorrow, Arafat's body will be exhumed so investigators can figure out once and for all whether the head of the PLO had been poisoned.
CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports.
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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even eight years after Yasser Arafat's death, the circumstances remain a mystery. Was the Palestinian leader poisoned? A team of international scientists will try to find clues, working behind this, exhuming Arafat's body and taking samples for front sick analysis.
"I consider it a painful necessity," the lead investigator says, "This is necessary to reach the truth in the death of President Yasser Arafat."
Arafat tied in 2004, after a short and severe illness. Doctors were never able to determine the cause of death. Even as his body was laid to rest, rumors began to circulate, Yasser Arafat might have been murdered.
A recent investigation found traces of the radioactive substance, Polonium, used in assassination attempts in the past on some of the Palestinian leader's belongings.
French authorities have launched a murder probable. Now, experts from France, Switzerland and Russia will examine Arafat's remains, also looking for a possible Polonium concentration.
(on camera): The exhumation process will only take a few hours. The samples will be independently analyzed in labs in Russia, Switzerland and France, and it's unclear when the first results will be made public.
(voice-over): In his lifetime, and even after his death, Yasser Arafat remains a towering figure for Palestinians. But despite wanting to know the circumstances behind his illness, not everyone agrees with the exhumation.
"I don't support the exhumation process," this man says, "because the opening of the grave is disrespectful and insulting."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no objection to exhuming him, as long as it is done by professionals and in full respect of the leader.
PLEITGEN: "Of course, I am against it," he says. "It is insulting to the martyr and to the Palestinian people."
The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of being behind any poisoning of Arafat, a claim the Israeli government refuses to comment on.
It's not clear if Polonium can still be traced on his remains eight years after the Palestinian leader's death. But if heightened levels are found, the next question for investigators would then be, who was behind Yasser Arafat's death.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Ramallah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Our thanks to Fred Pleitgen for that.
Elton John is adding a note of protest to his songs in China. The British singer dedicated his only concert in Beijing yesterday to Chinese artist and critic, Aw Weiwei. The two met earlier in the day. Aw was detained for 81 days last year without being charged. He has also had battles with tax officials who fined him more than $2 million for alleged tax evasion.
BERMAN: So it's practically become a holiday tradition of its own, waking up from a turkey coma and heading out to shop for the Black Friday weekend deals. And, of course, today, after all, it's CyberMonday. So much to buy! But seriously, be careful. Holiday expenses, they really add up. Since Thursday, 247 million shoppers have spent -- get this -- $59.1 billion. Yes, that is a record with AB. 13 percent increase from $52.4 billion last year. And, according to MacAfee Security, online holiday shopping alone is expected to climb about 12 percent this year to $96 billion.
Alison Kosik is here with a few tips on keeping your credit card debt in check.
Alison, is it possible?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Of course, it's possible. Even with Americans expected to spend well over $1 billion just today online for CyberMonday. With all the deals you can get online today, shoppers, of course, they're reaching for their credit cards. But you really have to be careful.
According to TransUnion, the average credit card debt rose about 5 percent in the third quarter, compared to last year. That's almost $5,000 of debt per borrower. And the rate of credit card delinquencies, that went up, as well.
But what can you do if you get in over your head? We spoke with the Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, founder of askthemoneycoach.com, and she says the first thing you want to do is build savings into your budget. Is so it may sound strange, but she says you need to build a cushion, even when you're climbing out of debt. Unexpected things will happen to us all, and with a little bit extra in your emergency fund, you won't end up deeper in the hole.
Lynnette also says, make your own rules. Think about your own weaknesses and how you got into debt in the first place. Then set goals to attack those trouble spots. It could mean making bigger monthly payments or sticking to cash when you shop for clothes.
And finally use a debt management service. Professionals can help you consolidate your debts, lower your interest rates and work out a better repayment plan. So some things to think about as you go online, John, today and surf until your heart's content.
BERMAN: Alison, so important to get out of debt if you can.
Alison Kosik, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
To learn more about keeping your debt in check, visit CNNmoney.com.
And some history in the making last night in London. A return to the Stone Age, as in Rolling Stones. On stage at the O2 Arena for the first of five 50th -- that's right, 50th anniversary converts. Mick, Keith, and the gang, well into their 60s now, and still going strong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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BERMAN: That song is seven years older than I am. Speculation is rampant that the handful of anniversary shows in London and the New York area might turn into a full-fledged tour. So stay tuned.
BERMAN: Investigators now say the giant blast that turned a Massachusetts strip club into dust and debris Friday night was caused by human error. They say a utility worker punctured a high-pressure gas line by mistake. The explosion was so powerful, people as far away as 10 miles could feel it. And at least 21 people were hurt. Most of them were emergency responders.
Now to another gas explosion. This one, however, still a complete mystery. In Indianapolis, officials are about to start leveling homes damaged in that massive blast back on the 10th. This completely took out five homes, damaged at least 80 more, and this killed two people in the process. Investigators are looking at it as a homicide investigation now. They think the explosion came from a home that was intentionally filled with gas.
One of the damaged homes belongs to Mavlis Baier. She's on the phone with us now.
Mavlis, I have to ask you some of your neighbors are about to have demolition orders delivered to them. Do you know the status of your own home?
MAVLIS BAIER, HOMEOWNER (voice-over): Right now, they're saying it's structurally safe. Now, when my contractor gets in there and starts tearing off all the drywall that's cracked and all that, it might not be. I mean, that's for them to decide, once they get in there.
BERMAN: Now, your daughter also lives in the neighborhood. Her house, I understand, didn't fare so well.
BAIER: Her house is scheduled for demo.
BERMAN: That's amazing. She has nine kids?
BAIER: No, two.
BERMAN: Two kids. But they're lucky. They made it out OK?
BAIER: Yes, they did. A wall fell on them, but they made it out.
BERMAN: The walls fell in on them. What was that like? Did they tell you?
BAIER: No. Actually, they're not talking or discussing it. They don't want their kids -- you know, the kids don't understand what happened. Their kids are little. They have two. And so they're -- no. I mean, they didn't -- you know -- it shocked everybody. You don't know what's happening. It's just -- it happens and you just have to grab your stuff and go.
BERMAN: One of your neighbors, Janice Jarnigan (ph), sent us pictures of her place. Amazing pictures. You can see the fires lighting up right there. You said it's a miracle you and your family survived. What was it like that night -- what was it like the day that happened?
BAIER: Basically, I thought it was an earthquake at first until the explosion. I thought it was an earthquake. There was a rumble. Pictures started falling off the wall. And then a -- then, the explosion. And at first, I thought something in our house had went wrong. And then when we ran outside, we saw the lady's house who exploded. We saw it first in flames.
BERMAN: Now, you are not living in your house now. Where are you staying?
BAIER: I'm actually staying a friend's house who lives -- has owned a house has owned a house the next street over at the very end of the street. They have no damage. We can actually -- we're living in the neighborhood.
BERMAN: The pictures we're looking at here are still so stunning, so horrifying. It's not something that people go through every day. How have officials been from the town and how about the insurance company?
BAIER: OK. Our insurance company, they have been fabulous. They've been right on it. They got us a place to stay Sunday. They hurried up and found us a place to live because I have something that I do with my family the first Saturday at the Thanksgiving. As far as the officials, the policemen and the firemen have been fabulous as far as keeping people out. I mean, there's a lot of sightseers that want to se what happened, you know, and keeping us informed as to what's going on and when we can get in our house. I can't say enough about them because they have just been fabulous.
BERMAN: One of the really strange disturbing twists in all of this, amidst the incredibly disturbing pictures, is that this is now a homicide investigation. Two people were taken in for questioning, but they were not arrested, and police have been looking at this white van that was allegedly parked in the neighborhood that night before the explosion. Did you se anything suspicious that night? Do you know anything about this white van?
BAIER: I've seen a white van over there, over in that neighborhood. I had company that night, so usually I go out in the garage and we don't smoke in our home, and I go out and we opened the garage door. My mother was at my house. She's an elderly lady. And I didn't go out in the garage that much to smoke. And I definitely didn't go into the garage where I could see her, you know, at the door, so I just know what happened when it happened. It was, like -- the best way to explain it is you walk into a nightmare. I mean, you're wondering when you are going to wake up, when it's going to end.
BERMAN: Mavlis Baier, well, we certainly hope, for your sake, that this nightmare does end soon. We wish you the best of all holidays and we know that you will pull through this. Thanks for being with us.
Mavlis Baier joining us from Indiana right now, the site of that just horrible gas explosion.
Damage to all the homes estimated to be more than $4 million. Both local and federal authorities are offering rewards totaling $11,000 for information that leads them to an arrest or a conviction.
BERMAN: Legal news now, and it's a bombshell from the Casey Anthony trial. Really a bomb that was never dropped. An Orlando, Florida, TV station reports that sheriff's department investigators found what could have been key evidence in the trial, but it never got to the prosecution. WKMG reports that police found a web search for a, quote, "fool proof suffocation" on Anthony's computer. It was on a separate browser and wasn't part of the initial computer investigation. Anthony, of course, was found not guilty of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter. She claimed the child had accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.
I want to bring in defense attorney and law professor, Joey Jackson.
Joey, you know, on the surface, this sounds big. Almost unbelievable.
JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Huge.
BERMAN: How could they have missed this? But I guess the question is if it hadn't been missed, if they had found this, if the prosecution had this in their hands, would it have changed the outcome?
JACKSON: John, I think this is what we call outcome determinative. How powerful would it have been for the prosecution to have evidence the day she went missing of a search that said "fool proof suffocation." I think it's a game changer. It's a huge miss on their part. John, even more importantly, the defense had this. How could the prosecution not?
BERMAN: That's right. Defense attorney, Jose Baez, said he knew about this all along and was actually waiting for it to come up. JACKSON: It never did. Exactly. So, interestingly enough, the question is asked, well, how could a defense attorney do that? Don't we share information? The answer is yes, but no. But here's what I mean. There's an obligation for what we call reciprocal discovery. If I have information, I have to give it to the prosecution so they're not sandbagged. If that witness doesn't testify, I have no obligation to turnover my information, and, therefore, it's fine. It's not an ethical violation.
BERMAN: So you would have needed a witness that knew about this web search.
JACKSON: If I were putting on an expert witness to testify as to the searches that were done, then that witness would have to disclose any reports that they wrote, anything that was written, anything that was prepared. You turn it over to the prosecution. If the witness is not otherwise testifying, then there's nothing for the district attorney or prosecutor to ask about. Therefore, not turning it over is fine.
BERMAN: So if you are the defense attorney watching this happen, you must be laughing the whole time. It's a murder trial. I shouldn't say landfalling, but still.
JACKSON: Interestingly enough, the other point is it's a one-sided system. I say that with caution. Say, for example, a defendant gets convicted. Evidence like this is discovered, right? Wow. We found the computer. There was a search from someone else. Guess what, it could afford them a new trial, right, if the evidence is there and then if there's a conviction, you appeal. But what happens here? The state doesn't get to reopen their case, so as a result, it says, you know what, you found it, a little bit too late. What can you do?
BERMAN: This is the way our justice system is set up.
JACKSON: Right. Right.
BERMAN: This type of evidence, these web searches is relatively new technology. What's going to happen with this type of thing going forward?
JACKSON: You know, I think it's powerful because it's like anything else. It just gives prosecutors another tool to prove their case, and so if you can have circumstantial evidence, it doesn't prove you do it, but, John, the suggestion is there and how powerful is that suggestion if you have something that says "fool proof suffocation," and then what was the prosecutor's theory here? It was that the duct tape suffocated her. That would have altered, I think, their whole approach to the case. And certainly you have to wonder whether it could have changed the outcome.
BERMAN: If you know you have it, which in this case you didn't. How does this not get communicated?
JACKSON: In this particular case what happened was the sheriff's department didn't alert the FBI and other law enforcement entities who were more adept at dealing with this issue than they were. They just took what they had and it could have been discovered had they asked for help. They didn't, and here we have it.
BERMAN: Joey Jackson, it's great to have you here. It seems like a big, epic miss.
JACKSON: Very much so. That's an understatement.
BERMAN: It's an understatement.
All right, guys. Thanks for watching NEWSROOM. INTERNATIONAL NEWSROOM starts right now.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're going around the world in 60 minutes.
Here's what's going on right now. Check it out. Protesters on the streets of Cairo for a fourth straight day. You can see the crowds there. Battle lines are now drawn.