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Egyptians Arrest Suspected Terror Leader; Egypt's President Tries to Defuse Crisis; Latest on Deficit Reduction Deal; McAfee Wins Stay of Deportation; Woman Sued Over Online Review; Egypt's President Cancels Decree; NBA Star Talks About Cancer, Mortality; Funeral Today for World's Oldest Person
Aired December 8, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon, you're in the CNN Newsroom. We're going to get you up to speed on the day's headlines.
First up, a man is locked up in Egypt and there is an American connection. U.S. officials are working to figure out if the man played a part in the attack on the consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. The Egyptians say their suspect is the leader of a terror network. We're working our sources for you, so make sure you stay right there, live report in just a moment here on CNN.
Egypt's president could be backing off a power grab that led to a national crisis. Mohamed Morsi says, he is willing to change the decree that critics said would give him too much power. The offer may not be enough, though, to satisfy protesters furious with the president. Egyptian authority say, at least six people have died in recent clashes, we'll bring you live to Cairo just for a few minutes for the very latest on that.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are talking again. But that is about the only thing close to progress in efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff. President Obama used his weekly address who insists he is ready to make the tough decisions on spending cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I am willing to make more entitlement spending cuts on top of the one trillion in spending cuts I signed into law last year. But if we're serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy, and if we're serious about protecting middle class families then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates. That is one principle I wouldn't compromise on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Speaker john Boehner has a different view. He says the President needs to abandon what he called his "my way or the highway approach." In Boehner's words, if the President does that, a lot of things are possible.
Syrian rebels are battling army units around the capital. Activists say 26 people were killed just in the Damascus suburbs today, 29 more were killed around the country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and -- officials warning against the use of chemical weapons. The Syrian government said today, it would never use chemical weapons against its own people but it warns that so- called terrorists could use such weapons.
A Dallas Cowboys player has been killed and another has been arrested after an early morning car crash. Linebacker Jerry Brown, who is a member of the team's practice squad was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was riding in a car driven by Josh Brent, the Cowboys starting nose tackle. Brent has been arrested on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter. Police say, the player's Mercedes was traveling at high speed when it hit a curb, flipped and caught fire.
Same-sex couples are finally getting their day in court. This time, the U.S. Supreme Court just have decided to hear two constitutional challenges to federal and state laws, one case involves a federal defense of marriage act, or DOMA which denies federal benefits to same sex couples who are legally married in their own state. The other is a challenge to California's prop 8, which took away the right of same- sex marriage that had been previously approved by state courts.
It's our top story this hour, a man considered the leader of a terrorist network, is now in custody in Egypt. This is why we're paying attention to this man. U.S. officials believe his group had something to do with the attack in Libya that killed the American ambassador and three other U.S. citizens.
Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti is live in New York for us. Susan, you have been working your sources. What do we know so far about this terror suspect and the group he leads?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk about him. These investigators had this man on the radar for some time. And now he is being called a possible suspect in the Benghazi attacks. Muhammed Jamal Abu Ahmad was arrested by Egyptian authorities a couple of weeks ago, and remains in custody while the investigation goes on. U.S. authorities believe he may have been involved in the September 11 terror hit that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to a U.S. official.
Now, the FBI which has conducting the investigation has not been able to talk with him yet, the official would not comment Don on what lead them to him.
LEMON: What do we saw -- what do we know more about this guy?
CANDIOTTI: What we know is he is known there as a radical jihadist, forty-five years old, master's degree in Sharia law. And he's also believed to be the driving force behind a new terror group seeking to align itself with al-Qaeda, according to our sources. Now an Egyptian official says Abu Ahmad has denied any connection to the attack on the U.S. consulate or affiliation with al-Qaeda. He is also believed to be connected to a heavily armed terror cell that was rated in October in Egypt when five were arrested.
LEMON: So, Susan, he's certainly not the only suspect. Is the FBI making progress?
CANDIOTTI: You know, Don, it is hard to tell. We do know from our sources that they're talking to, a lot of different people. We also know this that the FBI at hope for example to question a Tunisian suspect by the name of Ali Ani al-Harzi. But after finally getting him face to face, al-Harzi refused to speak. Now, that is just one suspect of course, Abu Ahmad, we don't know -- he is another one, but we don't know what role he may have played, and five others in his alleged terror cell, what they have to do, if anything at all with the Benghazi attacks. So, we hope to learn more about it in the coming days.
LEMON: Have FBI agents been able to get access to this guy?
CANDIOTTI: No, they're still trying to do that. In fact, they have had trouble with getting access to others in other countries. There is always difficulty in helping out the United States in many of these investigations because of the impression it might leave with some of the countries over there. But they have been working on it and continue to do that. I am sure a lot of pressure will be brought to bear.
LEMON: I appreciate your reporting, thank you very much. Susan Candiotti in New York for us.
And Egypt's president is learning how difficult democracy can be. Protesters took to the streets by the thousands after Mohamed Morsi issued a decree giving him more powers. Now, the President is offering to change that decree and possibly restores calm to Egypt.
CNN's Reza Sayah joins me now from Cairo with more. Reza, what's like now in Cairo?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, things are calm. And all eyes are on a press conference taking place at the presidential palace, some of the top political figures, in Egypt, holding that press conference after important meetings at the presidential palace. And we're going to see if there is some sort of breakthrough on this impasse. But for the second day in a row, we're seeing signs that maybe, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is bowing to some pressure being applied by the opposition and he's making moves that it could be viewed by the opposition as concessions.
You will recall last month, the President made a set of decrees that gave him additional powers and made him immune by the judiciary until a parliament was formed. Tonight, according to an official who was at these meetings, at the palace, the President is now willing to amend one of those controversial decrees, that's article six, which says the President may take necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution. It is seemingly a vague decree that essentially says, the President can do whatever he wants until the parliament is formed.
And you will recall last night, the President made a statement saying, he is willing to postpone the nationwide referendum on the draft's constitution scheduled for next Saturday, December 15th. Again, as we speak, there is a press conference going on, top political figures in Egypt. And now he's seeing the results to this meeting, could they make these offers by the president's official? Will it be positively received by the opposition leaders? Is there some sort of breakthrough to this impasse? We'll going to keep a close eye on this press conference and bring you the developments.
LEMON: Well, those are a lot of questions, and one that I want answered now if you can. Do you think that this latest offer by Morsi will be enough to end the protests?
SAYAH: Well, Don, here is the thing, there is so much mistrust on both sides that even when the President made these apparent offers, last night, the day before. Some members of the opposition are convinced that these are just ploys by the president. But I think what is going to be key is how the opposition leaders react to the president. Whatever decisions he makes in the next few hours. We'll see if they see it as a concession. And we'll see if they get together and talk about this. They have not done it yet.
LEMON: Because Reza, it is all about trust. I mean, because they really -- I don't know if there is anything he can do to make them trust him. Because they view him as a pawn for the Muslim Brotherhood, am I correct?
SAYAH: Yes, look, these two sides do not like one another. They don't trust one another. They believe that this a critical time for post-revolution Egypt. They know that whoever is at the helm of this government moving forward will do a lot in shaping Egypt in their vision. Both sides want to be at that helm, and that is why this fight is continuing -- Don.
LEMON: Reza Sayah, thank you very much, Reza. On to other news now, here in the United States it is hard to find signs of progress in Washington as Republicans and President Barack Obama tried to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. The public rhetoric has really changed in recent days. But what's not being said is also important. What is not being said is also important.
Here is CNN senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The House Speaker ended the week with a progress report, none.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When it comes to the fiscal cliff that is threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the White House has wasted another week.
BASH: He and the President spoke by phone, only once all week, and it didn't produce much. BOEHNER: Just more of the same, it is time for the President to be serious, to come back to us with a counter offer.
BASH: But what may have been most notable was what Boehner did not say. He did not repeat his demand to keep taxes cuts for the wealthy in place, the biggest issue that divides them, instead when asked, he said this.
BOEHNER: There are a lot of things that are possible to put the revenue, that the President seeks on the table. But none of it's going to be possible if the President insists on his position, insists on my way, or the highway.
BASH: Aides Boehner and the President who are doing the negotiating are tight-lipped. But others Congressional sources suggest some possible compromise scenarios on the thorny tax rate issue. One, instead of raising the current tax rate for the wealthy from 35 percent to the pre-Bush era tax rate of 39.6 percent, as the president wants, pick a middle ground in between, say 37 percent.
Another, since Republicans are so concerned about small businesses getting hit by increased rates, follow a bipartisan Senate proposal from democrat Claire McCaskill and republican Susan Collins, now endorsed by republican Olympia Snowe as well to protect small businesses from higher rates. Republicans privately well aware, they're losing the public opinion battle of a raising rates for the wealthy. All week, Boehner tried to turn it around by making the President look unreasonable.
BOEHNER: The President has adopted a deliberate strategy to slow-walk our economy right to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
BASH: Republican Ron Bonjean and democrat Jim Manley were top congressional aides for years on opposite sides of many high stakes negotiations.
RON BONJEAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When you have a very slow negotiation, you have to fill the public space up with communication, with images about what your leaders are standing for.
BASH: But Manley, the democrat says, from the President's perspective, this time is different.
JIM MANLEY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The President and his team who finally came to the realization that they can't negotiate with hostage-takers, and that they've learned their lesson from the limit debacle last year.
BASH: The speaker says over and over, he is waiting for the President to give him a counter offer, but democratic source say, they don't expect that to happen until Republicans say that they're willing to give at least a little bit on those tax rates for the wealthy. The Speaker put out a statement after his press conference saying his opposition to raising those rates has not and will not changed. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
LEMON: All right, Dana. Thank you very much.
And still ahead, the mission continues, unique program for soldiers returning from war helps turn them from veterans to citizen leaders in their home communities.
And we take you into the war zone for an exclusive look from the families caught between the front lines in Syria.
LEMON: Gaza is celebrating 25 years since the creation of Hamas with a first visit by the terrorist group's long-time leader. For this rally, Khaled Mesha traveled to the Palestinian territory Hamas has governed since 2007. The Hamas leader called for the liberation of Palestine, and said his group wouldn't give up and -- to Israel. The U.S. has listed him as a terrorist since 2003.
According Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the violence situation in Syria is only getting worse. In the 21 month conflict, more than 40,000 lives have been lost.
CNN's Arwa Damon is risking her own life to bring us stories from the ground. Here's her latest report on just how bad things are getting for locals who are still trying to live their lives in the middle of a war zone.
ARWA DAMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It is hard to fully absorb the scale of the devastation here, how entire buildings seem to have folded down upon themselves. And then one continues to see traces of the lives of the civilians that called these buildings home, like the clothing that is just hanging right there. Or children's books, like this one, the pages of it that we picked up from the rubble. But this conflict can be surreal. Just a couple of blocks away, the local barber shop is open, as are a handful of other stores. Women crowd around us, eager to talk but not be filmed. Both sides have hurt us. Wronged us, one says.
Basic supplies are available here although prices have skyrocketed. Bread, bread, we want it so badly. It is like a drug, this woman tells us. If someone has breakfast, they can't afford dinner. Please, have mercy, they begged. On the street, we meet four boys. They ask if we think it is safe enough for them to go back home. They talk of tanks firing, and seeing other children lose limbs. They say, what they have witnessed has made them all decide to be doctors. To save the victims of war.
LEMON: All right, thank you very much, that was CNN's Arwa Damon reporting from war-torn Aleppo, Syria. Assault on soldiers may result in their attackers being released from duty and back into society, often times without prosecution, we'll discuss this disturbing situation straight ahead, but first this.
A NAVY Seal leaves the service, but he still feels a call to serve, now he is helping other vets find a mission at home. His story is today's Welcome Home segment.
ERIC GREITENS, FORMER NAVY SEAL OFFICER: For me being in the military was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Because I was working with incredible men and women, dedicated to serving a purpose that was larger than themselves. When I served, I did four deployments overseas. In 2007, I came back from a last deployment in Iraq, I've been serving there as a commander from the al-Qaeda targeting cell.
And when I came home, I went to Bethesda naval hospital to visit with some recently return wounded marines. I asked each of the veterans if you can't return to the military, what else would you like to do? And every single one of them told me that they wanted to continue to serve. When I left the hospital that day, I called two of my friends and we agreed to do something about it. So, they put in the money from disability checks, I contributed my combat pay from Iraq. And we used that to set up the mission continues.
We worked with returning veterans to set up opportunities for them to do six months of intensive service and leadership fellowship in their community. And we helped them make a transition from being a veteran to being a citizen leader again here at home.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about returning post- September 11th veterans is that everyone is coming back injured and that they're all struggling. And there is this perception that it is an at-risk population. In fact, this is an incredible generation of veterans who are coming home and that's how we need to see them, not as problems but as assets.
These are men and women who wanted to make a contribution, that is why they joined the military. I think the right question to ask a returning veteran is, how do you want to continue to serve?
LEMON: A new documentary refers to it as the invisible war. The remarkably high number of rapes in the U.S. military. And despite the Defense Department's zero tolerance policy, there were more than 3,000 military sexual assaults reported just last year. And given that, most sexual assaults are not reported depending on estimates, the actual number are probably closer to 19,000. Well, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saw the film and has directed military commanders to hand over all sexual assault investigations to higher ranking colonels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We got to train commanders to understand that when these complaints were brought, they've got to do their damnest to make sure that these people are brought to justice. That is the only way we're going to try to prevent this in the future is to show that people can't get away with it. This place operates by command authority and it has to begin at the top. And the message has to go down to the bottom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the numbers don't lie, government stats show one in five, one in five female soldiers is raped by fellow servicemen.
Joining me is psychologist Wendy Walsh. Wendy, the documentary is called "The Invisible War." And is in theaters now. You saw it. You know, most people in the military are serving and doing the right thing. We just saw a story about that. But you saw in this, you know, you saw, talked about these vicious attacks, these criminal assaults. A lot of victims have said the military labels them as crazy.
WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: Oh absolutely, because you know, the military handles their problems from within. And the down side for these women who are victims of rape, besides having post traumatic stress disorder, a double dose of it from combat and rape trauma is they can't reach through civilian channels to get criminal prosecution. They can only go to their commanding officer, except thankfully Leon Panetta has moved it a step up to the colonels. But even going to the commanding officer, keep in mind, that commanding officer might be a drinking buddy of their perpetuator, or the perpetuator themselves. And Don, we shouldn't discount the fact that men are also raped in the military. But the vast majority are female victims. And the Pentagon is starting to realize that this is a real problem.
LEMON: Yes, yes, there are long-term effects on these victims. Watch this clip from the documentary, and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When he comes up and hugs me, sometimes I will cringe, and I just want him to, you like, he'll feel it. And then he gets mad because he didn't -- like why aren't you hugging me back, or whatever?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I still do that. There are times --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And like him grabbing my hips.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I didn't understand, you know, why, because it is like I'm your husband, why? And I don't fully understand now.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I see it in my dreams, that is what you don't get. I don't want to talk about stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: How are victims supposed to deal with things like PTSD and rape?
WALSH: Well, in fact, the example that you saw just there of that young veteran. She was unable to get health benefits through the VA because she was discharged, of course, because she was raped and couldn't continue to serve. So yes, they -- with private agencies, if you go to notinvisible.com. There are all kind of ways you can help. You can watch "The Invisible War" on iTunes, or you can download it on iTunes or watch it on Netflix. But this is really important to think about, Don. Think of this.
Last year in 2011 alone, there were 3200 reported rape or sex offenders in the military. Only 175 served any kind of jail time within the military. That means the rest of them were either given a light sentence or they were ignored. Or they were discharged into society. Now, the average sex offender, we know this, has about 10 victims in their lifetime. So the military has to stand up and look at this issue. Because it is a big one for all of us.
LEMON: Thank you, Wendy, I really appreciate it. Thank you.
On the run in Central America, software pioneer John McAfee has a new place to hide out, but it may not be for too long.
Plus, new information about the shooting death of a popular rapper, 15 years after his murder.
LEMON: Just about half past the hour right now, let's get a look at your headlines on CNN.
A well-known Islamic militant, the leader of a terror network, locked up in Egypt and there is an American connection. The FBI is working to figure out what role, if any, the man played in the attack on the consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. So far, U.S. officials have not had any access to the terror suspect.
Egypt's president maybe backing off a power grab that infuriated many people. An official says Mohamed Morsi is willing to change a decree that critics said would give him too much authority. One opposition leader is urging a boycott of talks aimed at ending the unrest that has that left at least six people dead.
A Dallas Cowboys player has been killed and another has been arrested after early morning car crash. Linebacker, Jerry Brown, who is a member of the team's practice squad, was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was riding in the car that was driven by Josh Brent, the Cowboy's starting nose tackle. Brent has been arrested on suspicion of intoxication, manslaughter. Police say the player's Mercedes was traveling at high speeds when it hit a curb, flipped and caught fire.
South Africa's beloved Nelson Mandela is getting tests at a hospital. But the country's president says there is no cause for alarm. He says the 94-year-old Mandela is getting treatments consistent with his age. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his long battle against racial segregation in South Africa. The Nobel Laureate later became his nation's first black president.
An autopsy report has finally been released for the rapper, notorious B.I.G, 15 years after he was mysteriously gunned down. The Los Angeles coroner's office released the 23-page report yesterday showing he suffered four gunshot wounds, one of which was fatal. His real name was Christopher Wallace. He was killed in a drive-by attack on L.A.'s Wiltshire Boulevard in 1997. Nobody has been arrested in that attack.
Software pioneer John McAfee will be allowed to stay in Guatemala, at least for now. A judge has granted him a stay of deportation to Belize where authorities want to question him about the killing of a neighbor last month. He will remain in the detention center in Guatemala until his immigration case is heard in court.
CNN's Martin Savidge sat down with John McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala City.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just came from having an interview with Telesforo Guerra, the attorney for John McAfee. He says that at midday today he was able to get a stay from a judge that will allow John McAfee to remain here in Guatemala, at least for the foreseeable future. It could be up to a month or more. And it will allow his case of asylum to be heard by a judge. He said the decision by the government is a political one that is not valid, the attorney claims. It must be determined by law.
When you told John, what did he say?
TELESFORO GUERRA, JOHN MACAFEE'S ATTORNEY: He was very happy. He said well, I can -- I can confer, I can trust in the Guatemala laws, in what you are doing. I told him, I will continue, I will continue until we get special protection for you.
SAVIDGE: For now, John McAfee remains in isolation on the third floor of this containment facility. His attorney hopes him can get him out of here sometime next week. But he won't be allowed to leave the country.
Eventually, when it is all cleared up, John McAfee says there is really one more place he wants to go, back home to the United States.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Guatemala City.
LEMON: Thank you, Martin.
Ever give an on-line review of a service or product? If you're too harsh, it could get you into big legal trouble, big legal trouble. We'll discuss the possible legal precedent that could have an impact on free speech.
And don't forget, you can stay connected. You can watch CNN live on your computer. You can do it from work. Go to CNN.com/tv.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Marketing firm, RealtyTrac, reports one in three homes sold in the third quarter sold short. That is when you sell a house for less than you owe on it and the bank agrees to absorb the loss. Right now, you don't owe taxes on the forgiven debt. On the other side of the fiscal cliff, you do. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act gives homeowners a tax break on unpaid mortgage debt. It expires on December 31st, unless Congress acts.
DAREN BLOMQUIST, VICE PRESIDENT, REALTYTRAC: The average amount that homeowners are short in a short sale is $95,000. And if this tax break goes away as part of the so-called fiscal cliff, those homeowners could be taxed on that $95,000 as additional income starting in 2013.
ROMANS: How much homeowners will owe in taxes on that amount depends on the tax bracket they're in. But on average, it would be about $20,000 to $25,000.
The banks have an extra incentive to sell short and absorb the loss. Under the National Mortgage Settlement Act that went into affect earlier this year, the nation's biggest lenders get a credit for short sales as a form of foreclosure relief. Foreclosures also sell on average for $30,000 less than homes sold via short sale. So as we nearing the fiscal cliff, you can expect short sales even more as homeowners look to avoid getting hit with bank taxes and banks get stuck with foreclosed properties.
If we go over the cliff, the tax bill homeowners face with a short sale may be steep enough to walk away instead. And that would push the foreclosure rates higher for 2013.
For "Smart is the New Rich," I'm Christine Romans.
LEMON: Thank you, Christine.
All right, so pay attention to this because it would affect you. Many of us rely on them, on-line reviews of businesses and products. But did you ever think that giving a negative review would give you in trouble? A D.C. contracting firm is suing a woman for $750,000 for her scathing review posted online. Jane Perez says she hired the firm to do some work on her house and complained after claiming there was damage to the property -- sloppy paint, stained carpet. There you go. A toilet seal that needed to be replaced. But a judge has sided with the contractor, Chris Deets (ph).
Karen Conte is here in Atlanta.
Thank you for joining us. So good to have you hear.
KAREN CONTE, PARTNER, BEERMANN LAW: Good to see you and finally meet you in person.
LEMON: Yes --
CONTE: Much better looking in person, I have to say.
LEMON: Oh, So are you.
Oh, gosh, we all love each other.
CONTE: Yes, until after the show.
OK, listen, I spoke with him yesterday. He said the picture of the carpet -- he said that was not his. That was before he replaced the carpet. He is suing for Internet defamation, claiming he lost thousands in business because of her review. So where did a person's First Amendment right end and liability begin?
CONTE: Well, you can yell "fire" in a theater but there's a penalty for that. You can threaten people. You can but you get penalized. Here, we have defamation. Defamation is libel, which is written. Slander is oral. In this case, it's written because it's on the Internet. You can't say false statements of fact that cause damage. So no matter what goes on here, she has to say the right thing. She has to say the truth. And the truth is absolute defense.
LEMON: Was this his only recourse? Couldn't he just gone on and written a response to the response? Was this his only recourse?
CONTE: No. Sure, he could have another response, ask for it to be retracted, which is probably what you want to do in the first place. Just ask for them to take it down, because a lawsuit is very, very expensive. And who knows, at the end of the day, if there will be money to pay for it?
LEMON: What does he need to do to succeed in this lawsuit?
CONTE: He has to prove it is true or that it's opinion. So opinions can't be defamation. I can say Don Lemon is a jerk, and that is my opinion. But if I said Don Lemon is a convicted felon, and that's not true, that defamation.
LEMON: There would be a lot of people out there that would say that's absolutely true.
(LAUGHTER) I want to read a statement we got from Perez's attorney. She said she would abide by the judge's ruling, saying this, "Lawsuits of this nature can have a chilling effect on free speech, since their intent is to use a lawsuit and the process of expensive legal fees to intimidate customers who have had bad experiences from sharing those with others."
So what kind of precedent does it set?
CONTE: Well, I have to say most don't sue on these things. It's very expensive. You could spend tens of thousands. And listen, who wants to sue when now we all know this contractor's name. It has been published more now. Maybe a few people knew about it. Now we all know about it, so.
LEMON: $750,000, that is a lot of money for a review. If I'm at home and are watching this segment, before I hear about this lawsuit, before I go on a site, whatever it is, I will think twice before I post something.
CONTE: Well, you should, because even if you say something that is absolutely true, somebody can sue anyway. At the end of the day, you have two of three years of litigation, tens of thousands dollars. So even if you win, you have lost.
LEMON: Where are we going -- the Internet is sort of a free-for-all. You can do what you want. But this shows it is changing.
CONTE: It is changing. And it changes when somebody gets mad enough, and this guy is mad enough to do it.
LEMON: Can the web site be responsible for the posting?
CONTE: These lawsuits have largely unsuccessful. They basically waive -- when you sign on to these things, you waive all liability against them.
LEMON: Final question, what does a business do when a competitor or customer posts false statements on a web site? You go on there and go, well, somebody from the company wrote it.
CONTE: You send a cease-and-desist order. Tell them to stop doing it. Give me your proof. If it's true, give me your proof and let me see it. Now, threaten a lawsuit. And if you have to bring a lawsuit, maybe that's what you have to do.
LEMON: How is my former town, Chicago?
CONTE: It is so great there. And it's even warm.
LEMON: Thank you, Karen.
CONTE: Nice to see you.
LEMON: Appreciate it. Good seeing you in person.
He is a sports legend and the author of several best sellers. Ahead, former NBA great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, talks about his battle against cancer and his own mortality.
LEMON: OK, this is just in to CNN. We're just getting it in. Egypt's president has cancelled a controversial decree that set off deadly protests. Critics said the decree was little more than a power grab by the president. Egypt is preparing for a new referendum on the constitution.
Let's go now to CNN's Reza Sayah.
What do you know about this?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, still no reaction from opposition leaders. But it looks like Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has made at least one concession to the opposition. There were two red-button issues that really fired up and angered the opposition forces. One was a set of decrees the president announced last month that game him expanded powers until a parliament was formed. The other was the draft of the constitution that opposition factions said was pushed a panel that squeezed out the liberal and moderate voices. The opposition had demanded he cancel the controversial decrees and postpone the nationwide referendum on that draft.
Just about an hour ago, there was an announcement that the president has, indeed, cancelled the controversial decrees that gave him additional powers, the announcement that he made last month. However, the nationwide vote on the referendum on the constitution will apparently go on as scheduled on December 15th.
So clearly, one of the demands that the opposition had, apparently, the president has given in to that demand, cancelling, annulling the decrees. The nationwide referendum on the constitution, apparently still going on as scheduled on December 15th.
We'll see now how the opposition reacts, and if, if this announcement by the president will calm the conflict that we have been seeing unfold over the past couple of weeks -- Don?
LEMON: And, Reza, I'm just getting some information as well from the international desk. As you said, the plan referendum set for next Saturday, the 15th, will go forward. The constitutional assembly will be tasked with doing a new draft within six months of being formed.
And here is the one -- can you talk about this more. The cancellation of the presidential decree doesn't take force retroactively, so any decisions made under it will stand?
REZA: Yes, there is a lot to sort through here. And one of the points that I think you mentioned, the constitutional assembly will get back together. I think that is going to happen if there is a no- vote on this new draft of the constitution.
But the key is, those November 22nd declarations, the decrees that gave him additional powers, that made him immune from the judiciary, his position was he needs those additional powers to establish the democratic institutions, the parliament, the draft of the constitution. The opposition described it as a power group, his attempt to squeeze out the liberals and moderates. Tonight, he came out and said, the decrees you were angry about, I have annulled them. That was one of the demands. The other was postponing the referendum on the draft. That's still going on as planned, apparently.
So it will be interesting to see what opposition leaders say and how they react to this pretty important announcement -- Don?
LEMON: Reza Sayah, thank you very much for this breaking news on CNN.
When we come back, basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, has a new mission.
LEMON: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball royalty, best-selling author, advocate for education and cancer survivor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREEM ABDUL JABBAR, FORMER PRO BASKETBALL PLAYER, AUTHOR, EDUCATION ADVOCATE & CANCER SURVIVOR: Well, I thought about my own mortality a number of times, especially since I've been diagnosed with leukemia. That's the first thing you think about. All of the sudden, you realize that there's a clock up there with your name on it and the clock is ticking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's a fascinating interview. That's not all we talked about. You don't want to miss my entire interview with him at 10:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.
Friends and family remember the world's oldest person at her funeral. Bessie Cooper was 116 years old when she died on Tuesday. She lived an amazing life. She loved politics and getting her hair done.
CNN's George Howell has more on her remarkable life.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She saw the turn of the century twice, living 116 years, the world's oldest person. Her 77-year-old son tells her story best. SYDNEY COOPER, SON OF BESS COOPER: She was a very, very good person. And she thought if she wanted to do it, she could do it. And she did most of the time.
HOWELL (on camera): Well into her hundreds.
COOPER: Yes, well into her hundreds. And she lived at home alone until she was 105, out in the country.
HOWELL (voice-over): Born in 1896, Cooper moved from Tennessee to Georgia to teach during World War I. And Sydney Cooper remembers she was very passionate about learning.
COOPER: She kept up with politics. Read the paper every day. And later, when TV came only, she'd watched the news on television.
HOWELL: She was also a pioneer in the women's suffrage movement.
COOPER: I think she understood that it was just not right that women could not vote, could not have a voice in this country, in this democracy that we have.
HOWELL (on camera): What was the event, out of all of those years, what was the biggest event that had the most impact on her?
COOPER: I think it would have been the Depression. That was a very difficult time. It taught her to be very frugal. They didn't waste anything.
HOWELL: Never in her life did Bess Cooper ever have a driver's license. So she never got the opportunity to drive over this bridge that was named after her just outside her hometown here in Georgia. She did, though, at one point, drive during a time when you didn't need a license. And the only car she ever drove, the Model T.
COOPER: The day after my father died, she was 68 years old, and she said she wanted to start driving again. He had let her drive. She lived in the country. My father had a car, of course, but we talked her out of it because we thought she was too old. I look back now, she was young.
HOWELL (voice-over): Bess Cooper died peacefully December 4, 2012.
COOPER: We got kind of tickled about the fact that she went -- it was just like she was getting ready to go. She went and got her hair fixed.
And she looked beautiful.
HOWELL (on camera): What would you say people could learn from her?
COOPER: I think to be positive in all aspects. Her philosophy was hard work and honesty will get you ahead. Be truthful and honest.
HOWELL (voice-over): George Howell, CNN, Monroe, Georgia.
LEMON: It is college football's biggest award and it will be presented tonight. And there could be a first.
And I want to show you this. Don't forget, where ever you go, you know, we go, too. You can watch CNN live on your computer at work or even on your Smartphone. Head to CNN.com/tv.
LEMON: There's nothing like $192 million, before taxes, that is, to cushion the potential fall off that fiscal cliff. An Arizona couple came forward with the second ticket from last month's massive Powerball drawing. They wanted to claim it before the first of the year and plan to start a foundation with the money. Good for them. Congratulations.
And, finally, it's Heisman time. The coveted trophy will be presented tonight in New York to the nation's best college football player. One of the finalists, Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel, is a freshman. No first-year player has ever won the award. The other finalist are Kansas State, quarterback, Colin Kline (ph), and Notre Dame linebacker, Mantai Toa (ph). Good luck to all of them and congratulations.
I want to tell you, thank you for all of your tweets. I had no idea that this would cause so much tension. It's just a bow tie, everyone.
I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here one hour from now.
"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins with Wolf Blitzer in just a moment here on CNN.