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U.S. Money Woes a Global Concern; A Mystery Arrives on Wings; Nelson Mandela's Family Talks about His Condition

Aired December 28, 2012 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL": And the family of Nelson Mandela is speaking out.


ZAZIWE MANAWAY, GRANDDAUGHTER OF NELSON MANDELA: Our grandfather is great. He's doing very well.


MALVEAUX: After rumors that Mandela was close to death, family members now setting the record straight.


MALVEAUX: The granddaughter of Nelson Mandela says he is alert and that he's doing well. The former South African president is at home after spending 18 days in the hospital. He was treated for a lung infection and underwent gallstone surgery.

Nadia Bilchik talked exclusively to two of his granddaughters earlier today.

Nadia, great to see you. What did they tell you about how he is doing?

NADIA BILCHIK, EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Well, yes, I spoke to Swazi Diamini and Zaziwe Manaway this morning and they had seen their grandfather just this week.

And here's what they had to say about his condition.


MANAWAY: He's sitting up and he was waving at the kids and he was smiling at the kids. He's very alert and he's very aware of what's going on. So, yeah, he's doing extremely well. He's doing very well.

ZAMASWAZI DIAMINI, GRANDDAUGHTER OF NELSON MANDELA: It's important for people to remember that, you know, he is 95, after all, and that, you know, once in a while he needs, you know, medical care and medical attention.

And you know, we're very grateful because, you know, he's surrounded by the best medical team. You know, he's very well taken care of and he's very comfortable, and he's very happy.


MALVEAUX: So, Nadia, it's really -- it's rare that we actually get a chance to see his granddaughters.

I imagine that they wanted to talk to you -- you have a relationship them -- but that they really wanted to get out there the truth because there were so many rumors that were swirling around their grandfather's deterioration.

BILCHIK: So many rumors, Suzanne. I can't tell you how many times I've been called and said, have you heard Mandela's dead? Which was not true.

And I asked them about the speculation that he was being released from hospital because there was nothing more that could be done.

So, here was their response to those rumors and speculation.


MANAWAY: It's important for people to remember that, you know, he is 95, after all. And that, you know, once in a while, he needs, you know, medical care, medical attention.

And you know, we're very grateful because, you know, he's surrounded by the best medical team. You know, he's very well taken care of and he's very comfortable, and he's very happy.


MALVEAUX: Nadia, it's very clear their love for their grandfather.

I had an opportunity just a couple months ago to visit South Africa and to talk with a lot of people and it seems as if people still, to this day, feel that he is really the father and the leader of the country in some ways.

Did the granddaughters talk about what their country might be look after he is gone?

BILCHIK: And you're so right about this global reference and real global icon and treasure.

But I did say to them, what happens when your grandfather is no longer physically with us? And they said that South Africa will be fine.

I mean, there will be enormous amounts of mourning and it will be great loss, but he's been responsible for creating a country stable enough to cope with his loss and that the younger generation, which included people like the granddaughters, would carry his torch.

So, Suzanne, I hope I'm sitting on the couch with you again on July 18th for his 95th birthday.

MALVEAUX: That would be very nice. I would certainly hope that happens.

Nadia, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BILCHIK: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: And if you want to see more, tune into CNN's "Early Start Weekend" for Nadia's full interview with Mandela's granddaughters. That's tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

And a U.S. Army general whose temper earned him the name "Stormin' Norman" has died. General Norman Schwarzkopf was one of the most celebrated military leaders in the post-Vietnam era.

He led coalition forces pushing Iraq out of Kuwait back in 1991's "Operation Desert Storm."

The retired general died yesterday in Tampa, Florida. President Obama says the country has lost an American original. He was 78-years-old.

In the Philippines, at least 11 people are dead after a tropical cyclone slammed the central part of the country. The storm brought heavy flooding, landslides, as well. Two people are still missing.

Now, earlier this month, more than 1,000 died when a typhoon swept through that very same area.

The Florida man known as the "Dinosaur Smuggler" could face 17 years in prison. Eric Prokopi pleaded guilty to illegally buying and selling dinosaur skeletons and then slipping them by U.S. customs.

Sentencing is scheduled for April. The bones are being returned to their countries of origin.

And this is the most-watched singing contest in Europe. It's got the glitz. It's got the glamour, but ...


PADDY O'CONNELL, FORMER EUROVISION COMMENTATOR: It costs to perform and it costs to stage it and what do you get back? Bluntly, you get a bunch of hoopla and a few pom-poms.


MALVEAUX: Wow. With some European countries on the verge of bankruptcy, many feel participating in the contest, well, strikes the wrong chord.


MALVEAUX: The tax increases and the across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect in just four days are not just causing concern here in the United States. What happens here, a major effect across the global economy.

I want to bring in our Richard Quest from London to talk a little bit about the fiscal cliff, the fiasco, as well as the debt ceiling debacle.

Richard, how is this playing out?

We understand Richard is not here. We're going to talk to Richard a little bit after about this.

"Eurovision," a singing competition, it's a lot like "American Idol" here in the United States. It's popular, trendy, everybody's watching it. It launched the careers of Abba and Celine Dion, just to name a few.

But, now, the radio show which is paid for by the countries that participate in it is now in trouble and the economy is to blame.

Here's Issa Suarez (ph).


ISSA SUAREZ (PH), CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cheesy music, kitsch costumes and national stereotypes, for 58 years, the "Eurovision Song Contest" has united Europeans in a celebration of music and at times laughter.

But as countries struggle to meet budget targets, frills are starting to take a back seat.

Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina say they're pulling out of the competition in Malmo, Sweden, because they can't afford to win.

The Czech Republic and Greece are also reported to want out.

O'CONNELL: It costs to perform, and it costs to stage it and what do you get back? Bluntly, you get a bunch of hoopla and a few pom-poms. It can be very uplifting when the times are good. Greece won it in 2005.

But is it appropriate for the Greeks to pump billions or millions in to send an act this year?

I think austerity is one reason, but I think also the tone is another. Is it right to be celebrating in spandex when your people are out on the streets?

SUAREZ (PH): Looking at some of the countries' economic scorecards, it's hardly surprising. Greece is aware that taking part could be an issue, especially as its economy is expected to drop beyond (INAUDIBLE) to minus-4.5 percent next year.

Portugal, meanwhile, is expected to shrink 1.8 percent and Poland and Slovakia have decided to spend their money on other projects. That's despite projecting positive growth for 2013.

It reportedly costs around $160,000 to take part. And if you win, some countries spend big to host the lavish event. For some national broadcasters, this is reason enough to pull out. O'CONNELL: The cost of staging has been mounting in recent years. Russia put on the "Beijing of song." It was like the Chinese Olympics.

Azerbaijan, last year, pumped out their national output in gas to the stage. They were competing to show off to Europe, look what we're like from the east, a former Soviet Republic.

SUAREZ (PH): There's a lesson to be learned from previous "Eurovision" winners. In budgets and costumes, less is often more.

Issa Suarez (ph), CNN, London.


MALVEAUX: All right. I want to go back to Richard Quest in London to talk a little about the fiscal cliff and the global impact if we end up going off of it.

Richard, I want to ask you first, are you one of those fans of "Eurovision," that show we just saw there?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": You -- of course! It's part of -- it's in the DNA of Europeans to hate, detest and loathe it and love it at the same time and do all the right (INAUDIBLE).

On another occasion when we haven't got more serious matters to deal with, I will happily give you a couple of renditions of famous Euros.

MALVEAUX: Yes, please.

Now, tell us what's going on, though, because clearly a lot of folks are worried about the fiscal cliff, whether or not we're going to go over it and this is a global issue.

QUEST: Absolutely. The fiscal cliff will affect the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy affects the global economy. "A" equals "B" equals "C," and you see how it happens.

Now the -- but there's another one as well. And this is what you've got. You've also got the debt ceiling debacle, which is nestling and now a cloud is coming in. Starting with the fiscal cliff. It is so complicated and confusing, Boehner saying the Senate must go first. Harry Reid saying the U.S. is going over the cliff. Consumer confidence numbers are down. Markets are roiled. And it's not surprising people are worried.

But now factor in, as Tim Geithner said, that the debt ceiling would be reached by the end of the year, $16.4 trillion, extraordinarily measures. Now, what does extraordinary measures mean?

Suzanne, I'll tell you. It means literally robbing Peter to pay Paul. Shifting the money around so that you can actually keep paying the bills before you hit the ceiling. All in all, I can't remember an end of a year, Suzanne, when we've had two so serious issues affecting the U.S. economy all at the same time.

MALVEAUX: It is worrisome. I wonder, Richard, do we have any sense of how the markets, the global markets, are even reacting to the potential, the possibility that we'd go over the cliff?

QUEST: Yes. At the moment, it is quite clear they are holding their nose from the stench of politics, and they are believing that politicians will do the right thing.

I was talking to one U.S. Congressman today. In fact, you must have talked to Senators and Congressmen. And everybody says the same thing. In the final analysis, the right thing will be done. Both on the cliff and the ceiling.

The problem is, a lot of damage can and will be done before it takes place. And there's always the very real risk, as we saw last year in the ceiling crisis, as we saw with TARP three or four years ago when the House didn't pass it, there's always the risk of an accident on the way to the church, as they say. And you know what happens then. So put it all together and you end up with a very precarious situation at the time when the global economy --

MALVEAUX: Richard, let me ask you this.

QUEST: Yes. Yes.

MALVEAUX: Sure. Sure. Let me ask you this. What would happen if the U.S. -- if the credit rating was downgraded again? I mean how would -- how do you suppose European markets would respond?

QUEST: I think to -- I think it was Oscar Wilde, to use one famously from "Lady Windermere's Fan", to paraphrase it, "To lose one A is unfortunate. To lose two As, it would be regrettable." I'm sure some viewers will correct me exactly on that.

But it would seem -- to lose the first A was not that significant. It was basically the ratings agencies being grumbling and unpleasant, or at least one of them, S&P. If it came to losing a second one or a slight notch down or a plus or a minus or whatever --


QUEST: That would be sending a very serious tone. That would be saying, hang on. The U.S. potentially has a dysfunctionality in its budget process that even a real crisis can't deal with.

MALVEAUX: All right.

QUEST: Now, we're a long way from that. And I'm not suggesting for one moment. But it's something to bear in mind as we go -- or as you go -- or we all go over the cliff.

MALVEAUX: Yes, holding our noses, hoping for a deal at least to avoid that.

Richard, thank you very much. We appreciate it. QUEST: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: They are unlikely heroes of World War II.


STEWART WARDROP, ROYAL PIGEON RACING ASSOCIATION: They were a corp (ph) of a million pigeons enlisted in the Second World War. All of them played a part in the war. And they saved many lives in some heroic acts. So it's a story that should be told, and it needs to be shouted.


MALVEAUX: And it's actually the skeleton of one pigeon that has created a mystery. It carried a secret message.


MALVEAUX: A real-life military mystery has historians scratching their heads in London today. They are all looking at a little piece of paper and a bird that died more than 70 years ago. Here's our Nic Robertson with the story.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The secret wartime coded message that seems tantalizingly close to being cracked.

COLIN HILL, PIGEON CURATOR, BLETCHLEY PARK: This one message has made more people interested in the pigeons during the war than anything we've ever had before.

ROBERTSON: Found by pensioner David Martin bricked up behind his fireplace. Attached to the leg of a dead pigeon.

DAVID MARTIN, MESSAGE FINDER: Well, what we've got here is the breast bone, which is the first piece that came down the chimney. We then had the pigeon's head. Then the last thing that came down was this one with a red capsule on it.

ROBERTSON: A World War II homing pigeon carrying a secret message that didn't make it home.

IAN STANDEN, BLETCHLEY PARK CEO: We made our own codes, and clearly they're still very good today.

ROBERTSON: A mystery wrapped in an enigma, shrouded by time.

JEREMY DAVIS, PIGEON FANCIER: The scientists really haven't quite worked it out, but they say some, you know, go by the sound of magnetic fields, even found their way back to the loft.

ROBERTSON: Jeremy Davis knows pigeons, raises them. DAVIS: And, basically, you know, they're athletes of the sky. With the wind behind them, they can get up to, you know, 90 miles an hour in some cases. But they usually average about 50 miles an hour.

ROBERTSON: Not just fast, but far. In a day flying six, seven, even 800 miles. But how the bird with the message went missing, anyone's guess.

DAVIS: Basically could have gone and rested on the chimney and then got blown down the chimney, you know. You know, it just sort of got a bit tired and slipped. Yes. It's either that or someone, you know, shot it off.

ROBERTSON: At the heart of Britain's wartime code breaking was Bletchley Park. Today, it's a museum.

STANDEN: Those sort of codes on a pigeon like that were probably from one or two sources. Either from an agent working behind enemy lines inside occupied Europe.

ROBERTSON: Or from front-line forces. Even bomber crews carried pigeons. Museum creator Colin Hill tells this story about one avian hero, Royal Blue.

HILL: He was on a Halifax bomber, went down in Holland, and he flew from Holland in about four hours back to England. And they sent a plane out and picked the four crew up.

WARDROP: They were a corp (ph) of a million pigeons enlisted in the Second World War. All of them played a part in the war. And they saved many lives in some heroic acts. So it's a story that should be told. And it needs to be shouted.

ROBERTSON: They didn't just carry messages, but film, too. Utterly indispensable, a vital part of the allied war machine.

HILL: All the D-day landings for the first four days were brought back with the pigeons because Churchill said no radio to be used.

ROBERTSON: Almost all messages were coded. This message, 27 blocks of five letters, may now be offering up some of its secrets. Canadian researchers say it was sent by a soldier dropped behind enemy lines. A sergeant start (ph) using a World War I code book reporting on German tank movements.

WARDROP: The latest -- the latest information. It, yes, has to be checked, however, as we understand the (INAUDIBLE) that actually sent the message died in 1944.

ROBERTSON: And that has lead to the realization the mystery message could have played a role in the war's most decisive battle, the D-Day landings. The more they learn, the more exciting the puzzle becomes.

HILL: If it came from the D-Day landings, which it looks like it did, yes, a lot of lives were lost there. So, yes, it could have been a very important message. ROBERTSON: But here, thanks to wartime code makers, firm answers run out. Britain's code-cracking experts today caution the Canadians may yet lack the right codes.

STANDEN: It's very likely that that sort of message we sent using a one-time pad or a code book. And so unless you can find the code book or the one-time pad, it's almost virtually impossible to break.

WARDROP: It was a message 70 years ago. It can't change anything. So that kind of aura of mystery, I think, it's just a nice way to end the story.

ROBERTSON: Still a mystery, but for how much longer?

Nic Robertson, CNN, Bletchley Park, England.


MALVEAUX: And when we return, a look at what is topping the global charts.



When it comes to Norway's music scene, here is what's topping the charts.


MALVEAUX: This is the group Swedish House Mafia with their hit "Don't You Worry Child." They're also topping the charts in their home country of Sweden. The video has more than 38 million views on YouTube.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. Want to get right to it.