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U.N. Grants Palestine Observer State Status; Explosion in Arizona Rocks Social Security Administration Building; "Grooming" Gangs Target Girls; Boehner Speaks About White House Deal

Aired November 30, 2012 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: It was an historic vote. The United Nations general assembly overwhelmingly backing a resolution to upgrade the status of Palestinians, so why is the U.S. government dead set against this?

We're going to show you why.


MALVEAUX: Celebrations, Palestinians partying late into the night after winning a status upgrade at the United Nations. The Palestinians see the U.N. vote as an important step towards statehood. The celebrations we can see here, this is the West Bank.

Now, this comes on the heels of eight-days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. That is where Hamas rules that Palestinian territory. So, the conflict there between Israel and Hamas had nothing to do with yesterday's vote at the U.N. where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won his bid for the upgrade here.

And here's how the vote came down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The voting has been completed. Please lock the machine.


MALVEAUX: A hundred-thirty-eight countries voted yeses and there were only nine noes.

I want to bring in my colleague, Jim Clancy. You and I have been talking about this the last couple of days anticipating that this was going to happen here. This was a big blow to the United States and Israel that warned, look, don't go there, don't do this. And we heard from the ambassador, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, immediately after the vote. I want you to see what she said.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it.

Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed.


MALVEAUX: So, explain this to us, Jim. How is it that all these other countries, she's saying, you know, got it wrong here, that there's something that they're that the United States is right here?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Mrs. Rice is correct. Ms. Rice is correct in terms of it's not going to be a sea change on the ground. But what about if you were to fuel the hopes of the Palestinians? What if you were to inject some life into the peace process? Then you would have a cause for hope.

You know, it could be a foregone conclusion, including Stephen Wald (ph) at Harvard who noted, 95 percent of the world voted here not for Mahmoud Abbas. They voted for two-state solution, essentially on the 1967 borders. They voted for that vision.

It was the United States, Israel, and a smattering of very small countries ...

MALVEAUX: So what --

CLANCY: ... plus Canada.

MALVEAUX: --does this mean practically for the Palestinian people? What does this do? Does this give them any power? Does it move this process forward for them for statehood?

CLANCY: Well, I was talking with some Israelis today, some pro- Israeli analysts. They make it clear that the point of concern here is over membership in the International -- the ICC, the International Criminal Court. They could bring Israeli politicians and military people to book for what they consider to be war crimes committed during the occupation, confiscation of land, settlements on the West Bank. And if they were to do that, then those generals, then those political figures wouldn't be able to travel.

Now, that's a big, you know, point for the Israeli side. They're concerned about that. But you have to remember that if the Palestinians do that, they, too, have their feet held to the fire for the use of violence.

MALVEAUX: So, the Israelis say they're not going to be speaking with the -- that this doesn't mean anything, right? That the Palestinians, they have to renounce violence, that there's a whole host of requirements that they have to meet before they get to the negotiating table.

CLANCY: Palestinians say, you know, we have been ignored for the past 20 years during this whole Oslo Peace Conference, this peace process. We've had -- seen nothing but settlement building which they thought was really barred under Oslo. It was just the U.S. interpretation in support of the Israelis that allowed them to continue the settlements.

And, so the Palestinians say how should this set us back? It can't set us back any more than we already are. We have no talks right now. There's a lot of people and they all voted in the U.N. yesterday who want to see something done. They want all of this mess to end.

MALVEAUX: How big a blow is this to the United States? I mean, Is it an embarrassment to the Obama administration that was very adamant about this? You had Secretary Clinton who warned Abbas not to do this.

CLANCY: The U.S. isn't going to break with Israel. We both know that. Right or wrong, the U.S. isn't going to break with Israel, and so they were there to support the, and we expected that. At the same time, there has to be a long, hard think about how to push this process forward, a two-state solution.

MALVEAUX: All right. Jim Clancy, thank you. Appreciate it.

We've got breaking news. An explosion just outside, rocking the Social Security Administration building. This is in Casa Grande, Arizona. This is -- rather, Casa Grande, Arizona. It's halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. You're looking at pictures. This is from our affiliate KPHO.

We are told that this blast was caused by a device that actually detonated at the rear of this building. That is according to the local police department. It happened around 8:15 in the morning. You're taking a look at some of the aerials here around this building. This is a building that actually houses many and several other downtown businesses. We understand that those businesses have been evacuated.

Now, so far there are no reports of anybody being injured. We don't know what type of device this is. It's not been yet determined. There is an investigation that is going on there, but you can see some of the damage there as we take a look at the black coloring outside of the wall there from where that explosion actually occurred.

This is Casa Grande, Arizona, a building that housed several different businesses and no injuries were reported. As soon as we get more details, obviously, we'll go back to this.

They call it "grooming." This is men offering young girls, 12-, 13- years old, alcohol and drugs in order to take advantage of them. One family's frightening story.


MALVEAUX: To the U.K., now, a disturbing story about gangs that target underage girls for sexual abuse. Nine men were in court today in Rochdale in Northern England in one alleged incident. According to a new report, these cases are on the rise with thousands of British children affected each year.

Atika Shubert speaks to the mother of one of these young victims. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When her 12-year-old daughter went from pink hair clips to flashy gold earrings and track suits, "Diane" says she thought it was just part of being a teenager.

She had started hanging out with the wrong group of girls, occasionally skipping class, but Diane didn't realize that her daughter was being targeted by a gang of men until police showed up at her door one night because one of her school friends had gone missing.

"Diane," not her real name, agreed to talk to CNN on the condition we do not reveal her face or voice.

"DIANE," MOTHER OF ABUSED TEEN: The police gave her a good talking-to and said -- explained exactly what a "groomer" was, that they would start off by giving them drinks and cigarettes, lifts in cars and things and possibly going on to giving them gifts, phone cards, things like that.

Obviously, these were men and my daughter was 13. It was just horrific to hear something like that and seeing your daughter stood there in pink, girly pajamas and what have you, tears rolling down her face. But then I just thought that was that, then that would be the end of it. It was just the beginning.

SHUBERT: A new report by Britain's Children's Commissioner says as many as 45 children a day are targeted by so-called "grooming gangs" in Britain.

Diane's daughter is just one example. Men would pick her up from school, then dump her outside the family home, incoherent from a mix of drugs and alcohol with stories of being passed around from man-to- man. She was 14-years old.

But her attempts to get help from police and social workers were ignored, she says.

DIANE: No support and, you know, what are these men, and I used to keep diaries with names of men, places where I knew they would be.

SHUBERT: Did you give this information to the police?

DIANE: Definitely, yes.

SHUBERT: And what happened to them?

DIANE: Nothing. They just said they would keep a log of it and just keep keeping diaries and that's all we used to get.

And then, once she got to the age of like 15, because it was on and off with my daughter, they just used to say to me, don't worry, once she gets to 16, they won't want her.

SHUBERT (voice-over): The gang that targeted Diane's daughter were mostly Asian men. Police data shows that nearly a third of reported grooming gangs are ethnically Asian. A disproportionate number considering that only 7 percent of Britain is Asian. But the vast majority of offenders are white British males. Diane feels there is a danger in focusing on only one ethnic profile.

DIANE: With my daughter, it was racially motivated because of the names they used to call her. They used to call her "white trash" and things like that. But I've heard of, you know, white people and other communities. It's, you know, it's not just one race.

SHUBERT: It only came to an end because her daughter became pregnant.

DIANE: One day, she went out, and they took her to another town. One of the guys kicked her in the stomach when they found out she was pregnant. That was the last time she ever went out. She stayed in from that day. She said, "that's it. I'm not going. They are not harming the baby."

SHUBERT: Her daughter had her baby and both now live at home with Diane, but she says the men who abused her daughter are still out there, and she fears still grooming other young girls.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


MALVEAUX: Just in a few minutes, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, he's going to respond to President Obama's latest comments over the stalemate on the fiscal cliff. We're going to bring it to you live as soon as he speaks.

We're going to take a quick break.


MALVEAUX: Let's go to Washington. House Speaker John Boehner speaking now, rejecting the president's initial proposal involving the fiscal cliff. Let's listen in.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: By the president in the coming days. Now, during the campaign, the president pledged to American people that he would seek a balanced approach to addressing the debt with a combination of new revenues and spending cuts. So the day after the election, I said the Republican majority would accept new revenue as part of a balanced approach that includes real spending cuts and reforms.

Now, the White House took three weeks to respond with any kind of a proposal. And much to my disappointment, it wasn't a serious one. Still, I'm willing to move forward in good faith. Our original framework still stands. Instead of raising tax rates, we can produce similar amount of revenue, reforming the tax code to close loopholes and lower tax rates. That's far better for the economy and the American people actually favor that approach by two to one. They favor it even more when we can also show them that real spending cuts will, in fact, reduce the deficit.

Now, there have been many conversations over the last couple of years that could inform a solution. And I hope the president will draw from those discussions and work with both parties to find common ground. Solving the fiscal cliff in a manner that addresses the true drivers of our debt and saves American jobs will be a great way for the president to start his second term. And for the good of our country and my colleagues, we're ready to work with the president to achieve those goals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, (INAUDIBLE) a couple things. First, on the issue of tax rate, are you willing to accept no deal that includes some increase in those top tax rates? And I'm also wondering, what are final deadline on this is and how much longer can the back and forth go? When do we really have to have a deal or framework for a deal?

BOEHNER: Increasing tax rates draws money away from our economy that needs to be invested in our economy to put the American people back to work. It's the wrong approach. We're willing to put revenues on the table. But revenues that come from closing loopholes, getting rid of special interest deductions, and not raising rates. We think it's better for the economy, pure and simple.

And, secondly, the American people expect us to find common ground, to work together and to resolve this. And, frankly, sooner is better than later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've been doing this for a long time. You've had many high-profile negotiation that you've ended successfully. Can you just be candid here about where we are right now? The past 24 hours, is this the necessary public posturing that needs to go on to get an end game, or is there a serious stalemate right now?

BOEHNER: Well, there's a stalemate. Let's not kid ourselves. I'm not trying to make this more difficult. If you've watched me over the last three weeks, I've been very guarded in what I have to say, because I don't want to make it harder for me or the president or members of both parties to be able to find common ground. But when I come out the day after the election and make it clear that Republicans will put revenue on the table, I took a great risk. And then the White House spends three weeks trying to develop a proposal and they send one up here that calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, calls for a little -- not even $400 billion in cuts, and they want to have this extra spending that's actually greater than the amount they're willing to cut. I mean, it was not a serious proposal. And so right now we're almost nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you expect to speak to the president again? Are there any meetings scheduled between you and the president?

BOEHNER: Listen, there are a lot of ideas that have been put on the table. We've had conversations. And I'm sure we'll continue to have conversations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that the White House is trying to squeeze you? And, if so, will it work? BOEHNER: Well, listen, most of you know me pretty well. What you see is what you get. And while I may be affable and someone that can work with members of both parties, which I've demonstrated over the 22 years that I've been here, I'm also rather determined to solve our spending problem and to solve this looming debt crisis that is about to consume us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what is it that Republicans want exactly on entitlement reform? You keep saying the president needs to show the Democrats' hand on this. What do you want to do in terms of Medicare and how quickly do you want those implemented?

BOEHNER: Well, you can look at our budget from the last two years, and there are plenty of specific proposals, most of which were part of the conversation that the president and I had two years ago, or a year and a half ago. There have been discussions about many of those same issues this time. So there's a lot from the conversations that we've had to inform almost anybody the kind of proposals that we're looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But even though Ryan -- even the Paul Ryan plan on Medicare doesn't really take effect for years down the road. Do you want something more immediate?

BOEHNER: Well, I think the debt crisis that we face requires us to make serious decisions, and it requires us to make those decisions now. Thank you all.


MALVEAUX: House Speaker John Boehner essentially painting a rather pessimistic picture about negotiations going on with the White House and with the president over avoiding the fiscal cliff, saying the highlights here that there is a stalemate. Saying that this was not political posturing. Also saying that the White House offer was not a serious proposal, which is not considered a serious proposal. And, finally, that he says we are almost nowhere when it comes to the talks on the fiscal cliff.

We're going to have more details on just where they are. You've got 32 days or so before the possibility of these tax increases, as well as spending cuts, to go into effect. And it is this high stakes diplomacy, political posturing, as well as some real serious economic questions in terms of how this is going to impact all of us in the coming new year. We're going to have more on that after a quick break.


MALVEAUX: This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're following the latest developments in a fiscal cliff fight. I want to get right to it.

President Obama hitting the road today to push his plan for avoiding the fiscal cliff. Well, the president's taking his message now directly to the American people at a toy manufacturing company in Pennsylvania. Just the last hour or so, he urged workers to put pressure on Congress. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. Every family. Everybody here, you'll see your taxes go up on January 1st. I mean, I'm assuming that doesn't sound too good for you. That's sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas. That's a Scrooge Christmas.


MALVEAUX: So here's the president's plan. The president's proposal calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes. It includes $50 billion in new stimulus spending. It includes $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs to be worked out next year.

Now, Republicans, they're calling this plan completely unbalanced, unrealistic. We just saw House Speaker John Boehner saying it is time for the president to get serious in this battle over the fiscal cliff.

I want to bring in Dana Bash, who's there on The Hill covering all of this.

And we saw Speaker Boehner there essentially saying that this is not a serious plan from the president. Does he really believe that?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he really does believe that. And, you know, that was basically what my question was to him, Suzanne, because what I asked him was the fact that, you know, a lot of times what we have in this kind of situation is public posturing so that each leader in the negotiations can signal to their base that they're at least trying before they actually come to the table privately and figure out a deal. So I asked if that's what was going on here, posturing, or if we're in a serious stalemate. And his answer was, without taking a breath, serious stalemate. He said, let's not kid ourselves. That the proposal, as you said, that they got from the White House that you just laid out, they do not take seriously for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, it is the thing that they clash the most on philosophically, which is whether or not to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The president made clear again today, he's not backing down on that.