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Dan Brown's Newest Novel; Christian Wins Discrimination Suit; Extra Cell Towers For Inauguration; Key Democrat Voices Support For Hagel; A Daily Struggle For Food; Obama's Next Four Years; Deaf Twins Euthanized; Coca-Cola: Obesity "Concerns All Of Us"
Aired January 15, 2013 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hides a message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did this to himself in his own blood?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A code.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a message. Your grandfather left you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He left us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only he can break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, if you've been suffering withdrawals from mystery and intrigue via novelist Dan Brown, relief is on the way. The "Da Vinci Code's" author's latest release, simply entitled "Inferno" is set to hit book shelves on May 14th.
The novel will feature the return of renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdone, set in Italy. It centers on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literacy piece is "Dante's Inferno" thus the title there.
A top European court ruled a British woman suffered religious discrimination when British Airways told her not to wear a cross over her uniform at work. Nadia Eweida was first sent home then offered another position when she refused to hide her cross. She says it all came down to fairness.
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NADIA EWEIDA, SUED FOR RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION: Because why should I be made to feel ashamed for wearing my cross, being told off for exercising what I thought was a civil liberty of manifesting my faith, expression my faith, by wearing the Christian cross and other colleagues around me expressing their faith with wearing Hijabs, why so me?
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BALDWIN: We should note the court's ruling is not legally binding in Britain. But the country is legally obligated to take it into account, they say.
The president's inauguration starts in just five days. Along with security and staff, do you know who else is preparing? Cell phone providers, just think of all the tweets and the Instagrams and the phone calls that will be happening this weekend in Washington, putting up extra cell towers around the National Mall.
Adding power to the ones already there, of course, to handle said calls and photos and videos that people will no doubt be sending, including myself. Be sure to watch CNN, of course, for the two-day event. Our live coverage of the inauguration begins Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
President Obama's pick for defense secretary just got a huge endorsement. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says he supports Chuck Hagel after a 90-minute meeting at the White House. Critics, though, blasting some of Hagel's past comments including the one in which Hagel said, quote, "The Jewish lobby has intimidated lawmakers on Israel." Schumer, who is Jewish, says he will vote for Hagel's confirmation after Hagel clarified his remarks.
Venezuela's vice president expected to deliver a state of the nation speech today standing in for President Hugo Chavez who is still in Cuba, recovering, and continuing to get those cancer treatments.
But a lot of Venezuelans are just focused on finding everyday essentials, talking about eggs and flour, even toilet paper, very tough to come by, in many stores in Venezuela right now.
Alejandra Oraa from CNN Espanol joins me. Welcome back.
ALEJANDRA ORAA, CNN EN ESPANOL: Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Hearing about the shortages, when did this start?
ORAA: Well, the central bank reported that the shortage increased at the fastest pace in the last three years after President Chavez announced that he was going to travel to Cuba to receive cancer treatment.
However, it is important to emphasize that President Chavez has yet to come back to Venezuela after the treatment and has not been seen in public since December 9th. After his announcement, the prices have skyrocketed.
I think it is about an increase of 5.7 percent, only in the month of December, and in 2012, it is at 20.1 percent.
BALDWIN: Why? Who is raising the prices? How can they do that? Are there checks and balances?
ORAA: Well, the government and the private companies are blaming each other. Venezuela is pointing fingers everywhere. We have the government that is blaming the private companies of hoarding the products to destabilize the country and possibly provoke a coup because of what is happening --
BALDWIN: A coup?
ORAA: -- with the government of President Chavez. Yes. But then we have the private companies in the opposition that are blaming the government for not providing a stable capital control and limiting the dollars to Venezuelans and other companies so they could purchase out of Venezuela.
BALDWIN: Is this nationwide? Is this just Caracas? Where is this?
ORAA: It is mostly happening in Caracas, but it is also throughout the whole country. It has a lot to do with inflation. But also there is something we have to talk about, which is the price regulation that the government created last year. Let me show you an example.
Talk about milk production. Milk producers, they can only receive 3.6, equal to 84 cents per liter when selling their milk. However, the cost of production, it is 4.13, which is 96 cents. So on average milk producers lose 12 to 13 cents every time they sell something. So you do the math. They don't want to keep making food.
BALDWIN: What about these -- what are they called Arapas?
ORAA: Yes, it's our national dish.
BALDWIN: What is that?
ORAA: It is basically a flour tortilla. It's made with a flour called "Arinapan" that was created in Venezuela and it is the national dish of Venezuela. It's often out of stock in all the supermarkets. However, when they do have it in the markets, one of the things that they have to do is that they have to limit the purchases.
So a household is only allowed to buy two bags of the flour per day or, I mean, per week. And if they don't do it, they're going to get a sanction. But each bag is approximately $10 to $13. You could get exactly the same flour in the United States here in any supermarket for under $3. So now the national dish is one of the most expensive ones in the country and pretty hard to find.
BALDWIN: So this will continue on and we just don't know how long and people are hurting and paying way too much it sounds like for all these things. Alejandra Oraa, thank you so much for telling us what is happening right now in Venezuela.
Coming up next here, we're going to look at what is to come over the president's next four years, including whether he targets Wall Street. Speaking of, let's take a quick look at the Dow. There is the outside of the -- let's look at the numbers. Here we go.
It is down 7 points as I cheat and look at the big board, 7 points at 13,499. You can always check the latest numbers, go to cnnmoney.com. Back in a moment.
BALDWIN: When President Obama stepped into office, he faced a global financial crisis. When term number two begins, his next battle will be making sure another financial meltdown doesn't happen. Alison Kosik has more.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The challenge, prevent another meltdown to the financial system. How? Reform the way Wall Street does business, but the debate over Wall Street reform comes down to paperwork, regulation.
President Obama wants a lot of it. He says we need new rules and regulations put in place during his first term to hold Wall Street and the big banks accountable and protect consumer and the U.S. economy.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: After all we have been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid off construction worker keep his home.
KOSIK: Republicans in Congress want to cut Obama era and even Bush era regulations, which they dismiss as unnecessary red tape. Two laws are at issue here, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.
Dodd-frank is the signature financial reform of President Obama's first term. It set up the consumer Financial Protection Bureau to write new rules to prevent fraud and unfair lending practices. It also put limits on banks deemed too big to fail by monitoring threats and stopping another financial crisis.
Sarbanes-Oxley was a response to a different crisis, the Enron accounting scandal of the early 2000s. The law set up stricter public accounting rules for companies of all sizes. Critics say it drives up costs for smaller businesses and restricts growth.
So what does it mean for small businesses, for the big banks? Well, we spoke to a community banker here in New York City. He works with small businesses lending them money. He also deals with regulators.
MOSES KRAUSZ, CEO, THE BERKSHIRE BANK: The political wording is a different story. But at the end of the day, when we sit down on the table, and try to refine and define a bill, and bring it forward, there is a lot of agreement between the two sides. It is just a question if we believe that if you don't bring back businesses, by lending them money, it is not going to happen. The economy will not change.
KOSIK: On the other hand, Krausz agrees small businesses need to be treated differently.
KRAUSZ: You can't apply the same rules to a megacompany and then you apply it to a small company. It can't be. There has to be a balanced kind of focus, which would help smaller entities of smaller financial institutions to save costs.
KOSIK: It's true. Regulations cost time and money and smaller businesses have less of both to spend. President Obama wants time for his reforms to take full effect and for the CFPB to continue writing rules and protecting consumers.
Republicans are opposed on ideological grounds. They want to streamline government, not create more bureaucracy to police business. With Obama's election to a second term, the president has the upper hand for now. Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.
BALDWIN: Alison, thank you.
Two brothers about to go blind decide to end their lives together. And what doctors do next stirring up the debate over the right to die. Hala Gorani is going to join me. She is going to tell the story, and the fallout now worldwide. Back after this.
BALDWIN: In Belgium, identical twin brothers born deaf find out they're going blind at the age of 45. Not willing to spend their lives without hearing and without seeing, Mark and Eddie, tell their doctors they want to die.
And you know what, their doctors agree. And after saying goodbye to one another, both men are given lethal injections. Keep in mind here in the U.S., even in extreme cases, euthanasia is highly divisive.
In fact, in 2001, this Gallup poll here found that doctor-assisted suicide was the most controversial of all social issues, dividing the country more than the issue of abortion. You see the numbers, 48 percent say it's morally wrong, 45 percent say it's morally acceptable.
Montana, Oregon, and Washington State are the only states in the country that permit some form of doctor-assisted suicide. But in Belgium, doctor-assisted suicide is not uncommon. In fact, it is one of several countries where euthanasia is legal.
CNN International's Hala Gorani joins me. And wow, when you read about this story, and you and I were talking at commercial break, they're not in pain, they're not dying, in fact, the brother, the family knew this decision, the brother came out and talked about why they chose to end their lives, what did he say?
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically they are twins, 45, you mentioned that they were born deaf. And the distress they said they would feel not to be able to see each other, not to be able to hear each other, would cause them the kind of insufferable pain they weren't willing to live with.
BALDWIN: And the family understood that. GORANI: The family understood it. And a doctor administered a lethal injection and euthanized the 45-year-old men who as you said were not in pain, were not dying. Talk about a divisive issue here, euthanasia, even when a patient is going through pain, people will argue give them pain medication.
It is not our right as caregivers or as doctors who have taken the hypocratic oath to administer lethal injections and kill their patients. And this case it happened on December 14th in Belgium where euthanasia is legal.
BALDWIN: Where it is legal. We looked further to find the requirements. There are requirements. These are the requirements we could find for people who want to tend their lives. Patient must be an adult. Patient must be capable of making a judgment. Wish to die must be voluntary, overwhelming and repeated. Now apparently lawmakers in Belgium, they are expanding those rules to potentially include children.
GORANI: Right. And this has been legal since 2002, you're talking about euthanasia in Belgium. Yes, this is a question because, look, obviously the quality of life when you're deaf and blind is very much reduced.
You have to adapt, but some people reacted online and also as a result of this story, for instance, a Canadian, 33-year-old, partially blind activist with Ushers Syndrome said she was able to regain some form of quality of life by using tactile sign language.
BALDWIN: She could turn her life around.
GORANI: So she could turn her life around. But I do think that in the case of these twins, perhaps, the idea was that people who live, have lived together their whole lives. They were cobblers, and at this point say my life without my other half will become intolerable, not being able to hear, not being able to see, they made their case, their family understood, and a doctor was willing to administer lethal injection.
BALDWIN: What a story. Let us know what you think about it. We're both on Twitter. I'd just be curious to see what people think. Hala, thank you very much.
Critics here, critics are fired up over Coca-Cola's new obesity ad saying it is too much, too soon, the ad could hurt Coca-Cola's brand. But my next guest says not so fast. He says Coke didn't have a choice to release the ad. Find out why next.
BALDWIN: Coca-Cola has launched a new ad campaign and really it is unlike anything you have seen before. Look.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For over 125 years, we have been bringing people together. Today, we would like people to come together on something that concern all of us, obesity, the long-term health of our families, and the countries at stake. As the nation's leading beverage company, we can play an important role.
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BALDWIN: You heard right. Coca-Cola using the "O" word, obesity, for years the iconic brand has been a lightning rod for health advocates who singled out sugary softdrinks as a primary cause of obesity. But Coca-Cola says, not the problem. And with these new ads it hopes to convince consumers that Coca-Cola is part of the solution to the obesity epidemic.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here and we also have Peter Shankman here, who is going to talk more advertising and the PR of all of this. So gentlemen, welcome to both of you.
Sanjay, let me just begin with why did they do this? Are they feeling the heat?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably a little bit. Yes, I mean, I think that's got to be part of it. Certainly, you're hearing it from the mayor of New York, the Center for Science and the public interest.
So a lot of people are quick to point to sugary drinks and say, this is a large part of the problem. And not only just sugary drinks, but they point to Coke a lot, you don't hear as much about the other manufacturers of these sugary drinks.
BALDWIN: Let's talk sugar. See the sugar you have here?
GUPTA: Most people you ask them off the top, how many calories do you think are in a can of sugary Coke, most people don't really know the answer. It is 140 calories, that's the amount, facts are important here.
But it's also nine teaspoons, just over nine teaspoons of sugar. It is a fair amount when you look at it like that. But, again, this is -- this is what has been around for some time. So sort of looking at the same product with a little bit of a different lens.
BALDWIN: OK, hang on. Peter Shankman what is this damage control for Coca-Cola?
PETER SHANKMAN, BRANDING AND SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT: It really is. They're trying to get out in front of a problem. If you can imagine the guy who created the four-wheel for Coca-Cola thinking that one day that his product would be likened to cigarettes, it really is amazing.
You know, this is what happens when Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, came out and said, you know, we're banning super large sized softdrinks because they do impact obesity, which they do. Coca-cola is taking that pre-emptive step and saying we have 650 types of drinks and 180 of them are dietetic. And you have to make the right choices. What they're doing is they're throwing the ball back in the consumer's court and they are saying, yes, we make regular Coke, but we also make diet Coke and we also make water. They're giving those options and they're getting ahead of it and saying we do have these options.
BALDWIN: On that point, on the diet softdrinks, are those OK as well? I mean, people talk about the fake sugar and everything else in there?
GUPTA: There is five different sort of FDA-approved artificial sweeteners. It's hard to lump them altogether. Some have been around a lot longer than others. There are a couple of natural sweeteners, right, so natural non-caloric sweeteners, which you know, I think are gaining a lot of attention as well.
They are more expensive, but I think for adults for the most part, they're safe there have been studies done. I mean, there was a cancer concern some time ago. I don't think that's a real scientific concern now. But let me say, one other thing about this whole point, they're also getting out in front and saying, look, let's look at how our consumption of sugary drinks has --
BALDWIN: It has gone down, hasn't it?
GUPTA: It's gone down, yet obesity has gone up. So some of this is damage control, but some of this is saying, you know, let's look at over the last 30, 40 years what happened in this country.
BALDWIN: So people are drinking less of the stuff, but getting larger.
GUPTA: Yes. It makes a couple of points. One is that there is a lot of sugar in our diets. Some from sugar drinks and we absorb this faster than any other sugar source, like fruit or anything else, but we get sugar in a lot of other foods.
We get it in breads. We get it in sauces. We get in places that are considered hidden sources of sugar. So if you watch that ad carefully, which I did, there is a couple of different messages in there that I think they're trying to get across.
BALDWIN: Peter Shankman, back to you because, you know, you hear from folks who are very critical of Coca-Cola, CSPI for one example, and they're saying -- Center for Science and the Public Interest, the soda industry is under siege and for good reason.
The new advertising campaign not a meaningful contribution toward addressing obesity, but I wanted to pull some of the numbers when it comes to you. Profits, right? I mean, Coca-Cola, highly profitable, 48.2 billion last year, this year, $50 billion so really under siege?
SHANKMAN: Well, they're not under siege per se. It's not like they're going bankrupt over this and Dr. Gupta is a 100 percent right. You know, Coca-Cola makes a lot of sugary drinks, so does Pepsi and so does everyone else, but they're not the only culprit in this war. You know, this is a world we live in, McDonald's and Wendy's and fast food. You go and order a diet Coke to go along with your double Big Mac and extra large fries. It really doesn't make that much of a difference.
To single out Coca-Cola, was it smart of Coke to do this, yes, they're taking the first step, is there a lot of work to be done, without question.
BALDWIN: You mentioned Pepsi. Quickly, the last time you and I spoke, it was about Beyonce's big deal with Pepsi, right?
SHANKMAN: She's getting a little heat about this.
BALDWIN: She is.
SHANKMAN: Some heat coming down.
BALDWIN: Do you think that's fair. Health advocates saying giving some of the proceeds, if you're hawking this company, Pepsi, give some of the proceeds to diabetes research and the hospitals, really?
SHANKMAN: You know, well, again, it's $50 million deal and she's not making $50 million out of it. It is not like they're writing her a check that she's going to go donate.
Would it be a bad thing for her to do some diabetes related PSA spots? It would be a good thing. But keep in mind, you know, no one is going to complain about the Pepsi halftime show when she's up on stage shaking and singing. There is middle ground there.
BALDWIN: Peter Shankman, Dr. Gupta, thank you very much.
SHANKMAN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Good chat. Thanks, guys.
Still ahead here, a fatal attraction murder, trial in Arizona, newly released interrogation tapes poking major holes in the defendant's story. We're on that case.
Plus, 18 human heads found in Chicago's O'Hare Airport. That's all you get. That story is next.
BALDWIN: A gruesome find in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, 18 human heads. The medical examiner's office says the severed heads, which were wrapped in plastic arrived from Italy. They say the heads were bound for a research facility, that it was a mix-up in paperwork in delaying the shipment's final delivery. The police are ruling out foul play.