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Suspect in Benghazi Attack Detained in Egypt; Typhoon Bopha Devastates the Philippines; Interview with Vatican Communications Adviser; In Focus: Amazon's Plans; The Life of Joe Gibbs; Endangered Cows Stage Comeback

Aired December 8, 2012 - 14:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Joe Johns. Fredricka Whitfield is off.

U.S. investigators are looking into whether a man detained in Egypt played a role in the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Egyptian authorities have detained Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmed. He's a well known jihadist, who was released from prison after the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Our Susan Candiotti is live in New York. Susan, what do we know about the arrest of this alleged terrorist suspect right now?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Joe. Well, Mohammed Jamal Abu Ahmed was picked up a couple of weeks ago in Egypt. U.S. authorities suspect that he may have been involved in that attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The U.S. source tells me the FBI, which is conducting the investigation, has not had access to him yet. The source says following the attack, Ahmed very quickly popped up on their radar, so they have been looking at him for some time. The official would not comment on what led them to him. Joe.

JOHNS: So what do we know about this guy? He's a radical, certainly, and he's been on the radar, but what more do we know about him?

CANDIOTTI: We know that he's 45 years old, masters degree in Sharia law. He's also believed to be the driving force behind a new terror group seeking to align itself with al Qaeda. This is according to both the U.S. and an Egyptian official. The Egyptian official says Abu Ahmed has denied any connection to the attack on the U.S. consulate or affiliation with al Qaeda, but he's also believed to be connected to a heavily armed terror cell that was raided in October in Egypt. Five people were arrested at that time.

JOHNS: Right, and probably not the only suspect, right? Is the FBI making any more progress in this?

CANDIOTTI: Well, it's hard to tell how this is going. We know they're looking at a lot of people. We also know that the FBI hoped to question, for example, a Tunisian suspect, Ali Aneel al-Harzi (ph). But after finally getting access to him, al-Harzi refused to speak. Now that's just one suspect. Abu Ahmed is obviously another. We don't know the role that those five others in that terror cell in Egypt may have played in all of this. Joe.

JOHNS: Susan Candiotti in New York, thank you for that.

And we should get more information about the Benghazi attack when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies at an open congressional hearing. Her testimony will follow the release of a report by the State Department's Accountability Review Board. The State Department has been under fire for its handling of the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

In Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi is pushing forward with talks that he hopes will end the political crisis in the country, but the opposition is calling for a boycott of the meeting. At least six people are dead after protests turned violent over the past several days. Anti-Morsi protesters are demonstrating against the president and the proposed new constitution. They say Morsi has given himself too much power, but the president says the powers are only temporary, and will become void once the new constitution is adopted.

A British hospital that employed a nurse who was fooled in a prank phone call is slamming the radio station's decision to air the hoax. The nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, apparently killed herself Friday after divulging confidential information about Prince William's pregnant wife to deejays from an Australian radio station. In a statement, King Edward VII Hospital said it was extremely foolish and appalling to make -- broadcast the call. Britain's royal family has also expressed sadness over the incident.

A VIP visitor today for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl critically wounded by the Taliban while on her way home from school back in October. Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, went to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, where Malala is recovering. According to a statement from his office, Mr. Zardari wanted to see the young girl's condition for himself and pay tribute to her, quote, "courage and steadfastness."

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is in the hospital. A government statement says he was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria today to undergo tests. It says Mandela is doing well, and the tests are just routine for someone his age. Mandela is 94 years old. We'll have a live report from Johannesburg, South Africa, next hour.

It's the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines in decades, but it's not over yet. People are faced with the task of rebuilding their lives. We'll look at how they're coping.


JOHNS: In the Philippines, the president has declared a national state of calamity while the search goes on for survivors of Typhoon Bopha. Officials say at least 459 people are dead while about the same number are thought to be injured. Another 532 people have been reported missing. All together, some 5 million people have been affected. Let's go now to Mindanao and talk to Arlo Ramos. He's part of the World Vision Organization's typhoon response team and one of our CNN i-reporters. Arlo, the pictures you took in the aftermath of the storm really caught our attention, showing some of them there. What can you tell us about life on the ground right now?

ARLO RAMOS, WORLD VISION ORGANIZATION: Yes, it's really kind of distressing to visit in this year. I saw very devastated environment along the way that we went to the area. We can see this (inaudible) trees all over, trees that were down. You can see along the way there were families in their makeshift tents. Just on the side of highway roads, because they have no choice. They were left homeless with this kind of typhoon.

And in the evacuation tent there, we saw these (inaudible) patient survivors, and (inaudible) crying. I remember I came to talk with this 49-year-old woman. She said that in her 49 years of existence, she never experienced this kind of strong winds that hit them during that time when Typhoon Bopha came to the Philippines.

JOHNS: The devastation is just amazing. The flooding is now over. And what's the biggest concern at this point? I would assume one of the issues, at least, is drinking water.

RAMOS: Yes, that's true. The (inaudible) about this, they were left homeless, and right now, access to drinking water is so difficult. And they terribly (ph) need right now drinking water and food to eat for them to (inaudible). As well for those who are staying in the evacuation tents, they really need this (inaudible) for their comfort.

JOHNS: We do know, and I said that about 5 million people have been affected. Several hundred dead and missing. What about the response? How is the response going on right now?

RAMOS: All right. The local government right now is on its search and retrieval operation. However, there are just some areas which are very difficult to reach, because at this time, the roads are destroyed and (inaudible) along the way. However, the local government is speeding up their search and rescue and retrieval operations in this area. And also, (inaudible) mission is meeting with the local government and other partners with the area and can provide (inaudible) survivors.

JOHNS: You are part of a response team. And we know that in crises like this, it's the responders who have personal challenges of their own. How are the responders reacting to this and coping with it all?

RAMOS: Yes, actually, working in the humanitarian aid or working emergency response is really a tough job. It's really difficult to see the people's faces where they are very emotional. There were those who were crying. You know, what makes me feel right now is just do whatever I can do, do the best I can do in order to serve the people, to be able to help with these people who are in great need. So that's the most -- the best thing that you can see them somehow, when World Vision -- when World Vision came into the area, they just smile and say thanks to you. JOHNS: Arlo Ramos in Mindanao, Philippines, thanks so much for your reporting. One of our i-reporters there. Stay safe.

A quiet neighborhood in Kansas City has something no one else does. An Internet connection that is 100 times faster than anywhere else in the country.


JOHNS: The economy is looking up for one Midwestern community. That's because Google chose it to launch a new high-speed Internet technology that's transforming the landscape for local businesses. Tom Foreman has details in this "Building Up America" report.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the bustling heart of Kansas City, the pioneer spirit is burning brightly. Entrepreneurs trading ideas, exploring concepts, and much of it revolves around a handful of houses on a few beaten up blocks, where some small Internet start-ups are drawing national attention.

MIKE FARMER, CEO, LEAP2: I can go local.

FOREMAN: Mike Farmer is the CEO of Leap2, a company with a highly advances mobile search app.

FARMER: People stop by the office every day from either Boston, San Francisco, or Denver. It's just fascinating.

FOREMAN: That must feel pretty good.

FARMER: Yes, it does.

FOREMAN: One big reason the companies are clustering here is that Google chose this neighborhood to launch its much-anticipated super- high-speed Internet connection, 100 times faster than most Internet links. Google Fiber allows massive video, data, and graphic files to move with astonishing feed, permitting development of whole new applications.

Under the plan, within the next two years, large sections of Kansas City on both the Kansas and Missouri sides will be wired.

This is exactly what you guys wanted.

CARLOS CASAS, FIELD MANAGER, GOOGLE FIBER: Exactly. That's exactly it. We want local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the faster speeds that Google Fiber will bring, and develop. You know, the sky is the limit.

FOREMAN: And how high is that? Even the tech wizards aren't sure.

MATTHEW MARCUS, CTO & CO-FOUNDER, LOCAL RUCKUS: You know, we've been asked that question a few times. And the truthful answer is we don't know yet, because now we have a new technology that no one else has in the nation, and it can take our business to a new height that we didn't even dream of.

FOREMAN: The practical effects are easier to predict. Better property values, more reasons for investment, for top talent to come, and stay.

How much impact can all of this have on your city?

MAYOR JOE REARDON, KANSAS CITY, KANSAS: I think at the end of the day, if you ask any mayor growing that small business, finding an entrepreneur willing to take a risk and do that in your community, is going to grow jobs and ultimately grow the economy.

FOREMAN: For now, dreams are driving wild out on the Silicon Prairie.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Kansas City, Kansas.


JOHNS: The Dalai Lama, the future archbishop of Canterbury, and the pope will soon have one more thing in common. The pope joins them in a common practice. That story coming up next.


JOHNS: More than a billion people follow the pope spiritually. Now they can also follow him virtually. That's because he's officially joined Twitter. The pope is set to send his first tweet next Wednesday, December 13th. Earlier, I spoke to Greg Burke, who is senior communications adviser for the Vatican. I asked him what kind of response the pope is getting so far.


GREG BURKE, VATICAN SR. ADVISER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Some are very nice questions. One lady who obviously likes gardens says, what is your favorite place in the Vatican garden to pray? And then some other more serious things, you know, people saying what are you reading to prepare for Christmas? And another one I liked a lot, which I think probably a lot of parents can relate to, could you please pray for my children so that they return to the church? So there are all sorts of questions coming in.

In terms of what will be selected and what the pope will answer, I keep telling people, this is the pope. It's going to be a spiritual message.

JOHNS: You see the picture of that iPhone right now. So tell us, just how tech savvy is the pope? Is he an iPhone guy? Is he a Blackberry guy? Does it make a difference? Does he actually send e- mails?

BURKE: The pope -- I tell people, you know, they say does the pope have a computer? I said, that's sort of like asking if the pope has a car. He has several at his disposition, but he's normally not the one driving, OK? And unlike the rest of us, the pope is not looking down at his iPad during the meeting or the Blackberry doing that. He's a pen and paper guy very much, but he is a word guy. And he certainly does realize -- a word person, that doesn't sound very reverential, guy. He is a word person or a word pope. And I think appreciates Twitter because of that. He realizes this is a way to get the message out.

JOHNS: The pope is going to be tweeting in seven languages, I understand -- English, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic. Why include Arabic and why leave the Latin out?

BURKE: Well, why leave the Latin out? You know, that's a good question. And don't -- don't think it's out for good. We'll see what happens, because there are actually a lot more people in the Vatican who speak Latin than speak Arabic, but Arabic is an outreach, especially after the trip to Lebanon. Right before the trip to Lebanon, the pope had started doing something in his weekly audiences, a short thing in Arabic. And I think it's certainly also a shout-out, if you will, to the Christians, many of whom are living in difficult circumstances, Arab Christians in North Africa and other parts of the Mideast. So that's their -- other languages could be coming.

It's interesting, though, the biggest response is in English, and then a very, very big response in Spanish as well.

JOHNS: It's pretty clear that this sort of a social makeover for the Vatican, if you will. What are they going to do next?

BURKE: Who knows, you know? We have got some apps coming up in terms of people being able to connect on their tablets, on their smartphones right away with the Vatican all over. You know, any legitimate means, basically, that's it. This is old meeting new. We'll see how it works. I think it certainly can work. Twitter is certainly a way to get your message out all over the world, globally. The church is a global institution, as you have seen all the different languages, and it's a way to do it which is not real labor-intensive either. So we'll see.


JOHNS: And you know you can join the conversation on Twitter. Tweet @pontifex, using the hashtag @askpontifex. We'll be right back.


JOHNS: BYU basketball coach Dave Rose spent 20 years supporting the Coaches Versus Cancer basketball tournament. It was already a cause that was close to his heart, but it became much more personal when he suddenly became a cancer patient himself. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story in this week's "Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a cause that's close to his heart. And this year for the first time, Dave Rose got to take his BYU basketball team to the Coaches Versus Cancer classic tournament. What made it all the more poignant for him is the battle that he fought with pancreatic cancer that started three years ago.

DAVE ROSE, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: If we can do something to try to help raise awareness, help find a cure, it's personal to me. I understand how these people feel.

GUPTA: His symptoms came on suddenly, on an airplane, in fact, returning from a family vacation.

ROSE: I got really sick, to where I was lightheaded. I couldn't even actually sit up. So they laid me down. Moved some of the passengers, and then they brought oxygen, cleared the plane, and then brought the medics on, and carted me off the plane and took me to the hospital. I had 10 units of blood transfused, and they found the mass and then went ahead and removed it, and told me I had cancer. So that was the process. That was about a 48-hour process that really -- that changed our whole life.

GUPTA: The operation was a success. The doctors removed the tumor from Rose's pancreas along with his spleen. They also removed a blood clot that had developed after surgery. He was back on the court just two months after surgery. He continued to take his team to the NCAA tournament. He led the Cougars to their first appearance in the Sweet 16 in 30 years.

ROSE: When the guys leave here today, they'll feel different than when they came in.

All right, on the line. Good job, Boyd (ph). On the line.

GUPTA: Now three and a half years after the day he collapsed, Rose is still cancer-free.

ROSE: I feel like I've been given a second chance. There was a real possibility that my time here was going to be numbered, and now I feel like everything I get to do is really just a blessing for me, and that I really hope I can appreciate.

Go, go, go.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


JOHNS: And I'm Joe Johns. I'll be back in a half hour with more NEWSROOM. Tom Foreman's "In Focus" is after the break.