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CNN NEWSROOM

Austerity Hinders European Growth; Egypt Votes for New Constitution; Officials Call For Calm in India; Gladiator's Tomb In Trouble; A Celtic Christmas

Aired December 24, 2012 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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SPEC. KARL PAGE, U.S. ARMY: Hey, it's me, Specialist Page. You know me as Karl. Hey, Mom. I'm stationed here in (Inaudible), Germany, saying a shoutout to all of my family in Trenton, New Jersey, I miss you all, I love you all. And if you missed, it's your fault. Sorry. (Inaudible) watched it. Bye-bye.

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SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for your service, Karl. We love you, too.

Hey, if you're looking for Santa, NORAD, it's tracking Santa and his route. Where is he going? Where is he now? Let's take a look. OK. So far -- oh, there he goes. Up with the reindeer. He's spotted over India right now, over India. NORAD claiming that he's flying over the Taj Mahal first, then he hits the Himalayas, Bangladesh. And of course, where's he headed next?

Well, he's going to be going around the globe, Africa, Europe and to the United States. You can check in with noradsanta.org for the latest on tracking Santa. I hope you were nice and not naughty. All right.

Looking at the malls you would never think that America's economy was suffering, but there was no mistaking what was happening across Europe this year. Governments drastically cutting social programs to save money. Well, it was meant to help; actually hurt by spreading the recession. Here's Richard Quest in London.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Suzanne, the story of Europe in 2012 was very much the austerity, the gut-wrenching, grinding austerity. Some countries like Greece faced multi-year recession and slowdown, unemployment at over 25 percent, youth unemployment over 50 percent.

But what we saw was the recession expanding. Spain, Italy, the U.K., all found austerity taking its toll even more as unemployment continued to rise in some of those countries. Even the large country, the economic powerhouse Germany, found itself slowing down.

And the root cause of it all was an inability of the European governments to come to policies that would get growth started again. Towards the middle and end of the year they did, but the tale was still there. Very much austerity again and again.

And perhaps if there was only one change that took place as we moved into the fall and into the winter, it was the realization that most of these countries could take no more austerity. Social welfare having been cut, health care having been cut, unemployment being up, growth virtually nonexistent.

Now the talk is not of more austerity, but how to get growth started again across the continent. Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Richard.

Christmas, of course, a time of giving, but there are many struggling families in Boston, they couldn't even afford to give their children he anything. So this year for almost six decades help came not in Santa's sleigh but in a big, brown box.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear Globe Santa, I am writing for your help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As with many other Americans, the economy is tough and times are very difficult financially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard being homeless with nowhere it to live, no income or place to make them a Christmas or buy presents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The holiday season is usually very tough for our family.

MIKE ROSSI, GLOBE SANTA SUPERVISOR: Making packages for the Globe Santa Foundation. On one side we keep all the boys' toys; on this side, girls' toys. We got 30 people working for me today. All these packages are going out to children in the Boston area, where the families are, you know, facing difficult times during this economy. We'll send out about 32,000 packages.

BILL CONNOLLY, E.D., GLOBE SANTA FUND: Globe Santa is the holiday gift assistance program started by "The Boston Globe" in 1956. We've seen a number of families that are writing to Globe Santa for the first time because they've been on unemployment for the last 18 months or longer.

The economy over the last five years has had a major impact on how many gifts that we have and putting together each year and that, of course, has put the stress on the donors who we rely on.

We've been able to sustain this program. It takes a number of people who care about those in the community who can't afford to have their holiday gifts and their presents to make sure Christmas is enjoyed by all.

ROSSI: But we've all had tough times. This gives us a chance to give back to the community and just let them know that there are people out there that care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please help my kids have a good Christmas. God bless you.

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MALVEAUX: That's nice.

The unofficial results are in. But the fight over Egypt's constitution did not end at the voting booth. Opposition groups fought in the streets. Now they are taking their battle to court.

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MALVEAUX: It's an election that affects the future of Egypt and the stability of the Middle East and North Africa. Egyptians went to the polls over the weekend, and preliminary results show that 64 percent voted in favor of the new constitution. But Egypt's leading opposition party is appealing the results of these latest votes.

Ian Lee is reporting from Cairo.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, while we're expecting the official results for Egypt's constitution referendum out soon, the battle over the constitution is far from over. The National Salvation Front -- and this is the umbrella organization for the opposition -- has filed two legal challenges.

The first one looks at the irregularities they say took place during the two days of voting. The second one attacks the constitutional referendum itself which they call illegal because they say it does not follow the specific guidelines previously set out.

We're expecting a ruling on these two cases this week. The opposition is also gearing up for parliamentary elections, which are supposed to take place within two months. In previous elections we've seen the opposition unorganized and divided. This time they say they're going to have a unified front to put as many people as possible in the new parliament so they can change the constitution.

While this -- we've seen this political crisis unfold, there's also been an economic crisis. Egypt's economy is in dire straits, and the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist allies are going to need to unite with the opposition if they're going to push through tough austerity measures which are going to be fairly unpopular.

Now the two sides don't seem like they're going to unite anytime soon, at least not until this parliamentary election. So the economy is just going to have to wait. Ian Lee, CNN, Cairo.

MALVEAUX: In India protesters are demanding more protection for women.

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MALVEAUX (voice-over): This is after a brutal rape aboard a bus. We're going to talk with one woman who lived in New Delhi and knows the dangers for women on public transportation.

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MALVEAUX: So earlier we told you about the violent protests over the weekend in India.

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MALVEAUX (voice-over): There are demonstrators who came out to support a 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped on a bus earlier this month. Doctors say that she is still in critical condition and needs help to breathe.

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MALVEAUX: I'm joined now by Seema Sirohi. She's a Washington-based journalist who specializes in foreign policy. She attended a university in New Delhi and has personally experienced what I understand is groping on public transportation.

Seema, tell us, first of all, what is the -- what is going on? What is happening there that you've got even over the last, you know, years or so, more than a tenfold increase in the past 40 years in India of this kind of violence against women.

SEEMA SIROHI, GATEWAY HOUSE: It's always been the case. It's not new as such. To be a woman in India is not an easy proposition. Every woman has experienced some kind of abuse on public transportation, lewd remarks on the streets if you're walking down. No matter how conservatively you're dressed, you're still, you know, open season for the men. There is just a lot of reasons why this happens. But patriarchal system is one, a lack of policing is another, and general treatment of women, which is not equal to men, even though it may be so under the law.

MALVEAUX: And, Seema, you say you personally have experienced this as well. Can you tell us about that?

SIROHI: Yes. I was a student at Delhi University. Had to take the public bus every day. And you just had to be extremely careful. If the bus was crowded, people would -- men would touch you, and you had to have your elbows out all the time. You just had to be prepared and extremely aware.

MALVEAUX: So, Seema, what kind of recourse do women have there? I mean you've got all these protestors out there. They are very angry. And you have this 23-year-old who was gang raped. What can be done?

SIROHI: Well, first of all, we have a lot of laws. They need to be implemented better. Police -- we have not enough policemen for the number of people we have on the streets, so we need more police. We need better policing, for one, and we also need to introspect about why women are treated that way in our society. And we need to reform ourselves also. We need to bring up our male children in a different way. MALVEAUX: You know, one of the things I notice when I look at these protests here is that there are men and women who are protesting. Young men and women who are protesting together. Do you think this is a generational thing? Do you see that there are some young men who understand the importance of equality for women and protecting women?

SIROHI: Of course. O course there are many, many men who are with women in this struggle, but there are also men who, including politicians, who tell women to stay indoors after dark or not wear this or not go out with men in the evening. Things like that. So -- but I'm very heartened by the fact that so many young students came out to protest, including lots of men. This is actually also a clash between modern India and the old India.

MALVEAUX: Very interesting. Seema Sirohi, thank you so much for bringing your perspective and obviously a story that we're going to be following very closely to see if that is actually effective, if there will be change coming from some of those mass protests that are occurring there. Thank you once again.

An economic crisis that could actually change history. And we're not even talking about the United States. We're talking about how Italy's hard times could shut down some of the country's famous tourist destinations.

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MALVEAUX: Not far from Vatican City, archaeologists have found the famous tomb of a famous roman general. It's a place they want to preserve, but there is not enough money to do it. Nobody knows if this important piece of history is even going to survive Italy's financial problems. Our Ben Wedeman, he has the story.

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Rome, dig and you're likely to find something very old. For the past six years, archaeologists have been working on this site north of the city. It was here that Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a roman general, was buried. He was the inspiration in part for the character played by Russell Crowe in the movie, "Gladiator." Crowe's character fought to keep the barbarians at bay in empire's (ph) frontiers (ph) and in the arena.

But more than 1,500 years ago, Rome fell to the barbarians. And today, in this age of euro zone austerity, the stunning remains of that great empire, and the artifacts at this site, known as the "Gladiator's Tomb," are under threat from what some might say are barbarians of another kind, cost-cutting accountants and budget-slashing bureaucrats.

WEDEMAN (on camera): In the last two years, the budget to maintain Italy's archeological sites has been cut by at least 20 percent. As a result, some sites have been closed and projects canceled. Now, don't worry, the Coliseum will remain open, but some ancient treasures may literally be buried. WEDEMAN (voice-over): Daniela Rossi worked for several years at the "Gladiator's Tomb" and says if funds around soon found to maintain the site, it will be recovered with dirt.

DANIELA ROSSI, ARCHEOLOGIST (through translator): The most logical thing to do is to bury it again, she says. It will be up to our grandchildren to decide whether that will be temporary or permanent.

WEDEMAN: Russell Crowe has joined the fight to keep the site open, telling an Italian newspaper Italy must be a leader in preserving ancient heritage. An online petition called "Save the Gladiator's Tomb" has been started by American archaeologist Darius Arya to raise funds and put pressure on the authorities to keep the site open.

DARIUS ARYA, AMERICAN INST. FOR ROMAN CULTURE: This is part of bigger picture, which is Italy is a great country. Italy is a leader in cultural heritage, preservation. They do great work in Italy, and their experts go around the world. Here's your chance to say with this site, we're going to take a stand and we're going to defend this cultural heritage.

WEDEMAN: If not, the barbarians will see to it that it's covered up once again.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.

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MALVEAUX: All right. This is the final print edition of "Newsweek." It hits the stands today. The cover reflects the end of an era and the power of the digital revolution. This is a black and white photo showing the magazine's Manhattan office building as part of the New York City skyline. The headline reads #lastprintissue. "Newsweek" becomes an online only publication starting next month. We're going to miss that.

And they're not your average Christmas carols. We're going to show you how this group, Celtic Woman, is putting an Irish twist on traditional songs.

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MALVEAUX: The Irish music group Celtic Woman came together back in 2004 for what was supposed to be a one-night show. But the sound took off. Eight years later, (INAUDIBLE) multi-platinum albums, Celtic Woman is releasing its second Christmas album called "Home For Christmas." Our Jessica Dunn caught up with the women during their performance at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

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SUSAN MCFADDEN, SINGER, CELTIC WOMAN: It's very exciting to get to sort of feel our power that you have at the start of the show when the music starts, and it takes everybody on the journey.

I think all over the world I think, you know, there is that sort of common thread of Christmas is being with your family and celebrating being together.

Well, I would be happy to sing Christmas music every month of every year. I love it. It's just fantastic. It's very special when you get the opportunity to go into studio and record these amazing, amazing songs.

LISA LAMBE, SINGER, CELTIC WOMAN: Well, I feel a bit spoiled actually getting to very day, like for the last -- since the 28th of November, getting to perform Christmas music. It's -- I don't know. I don't think I could feel any more festive.

MAIREAD NESBITT, FIDDLER, CELTIC WOMAN: It is an honor bringing, you know, our brand of Celtic music, which is a mix of contemporary Celtic traditional and classical, to everybody.

JESSICA DUNN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you draw inspiration from fiddlers in other genres?

NESBITT: Absolutely. I think -- I think every -- we all draw inspiration from so many vocalists and musicians. And I myself, of course, love the Cajun music. I mean certainly in the beginning of the reel (ph) (INAUDIBLE), there's that dun, dun, dun. You know, it's a very Cajun start to it there.

LAMBE: The Irish are fantastic storytellers, so I think that always helps bring something to the table is the approach you take with telling the story. And if you get behind the words and tell the story, I think it makes it feel real and fresh and new.

CHLOE AGNEW, SINGER, CELTIC WOMAN: If people can come in, leave their worries and their troubles at the door and escape from it all for two hours, we all need that. You know, ye need it ourselves, to escape from the madness that can be our day-to-day lives now, and lose yourself in music that is from the heart. It's from the soul. And if people leave feeling better than when they came in, then our job is done.

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MALVEAUX: That's really sweet.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. This is a Christmas Eve edition of CNN NEWSROOM.

Want to get right to it. And I want to take a look here. Santa, there he is, the closing bell. Santa ringing the bell. He's got a lot of work to do, I know. He's got to get up on his sleigh and keep on going here. The fiscal cliff stalemate in Washington actually dragging down stocks