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Oil Platform Accident in the Persian Gulf; Malala on the Road to Recovery; Fixing Scandal Rocks Soccer World; Castro Makes Surprise Appearance

Aired February 4, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL, where we take you around the world in 60 minutes.

Let's talk about New Orleans now. Of course. They are trying to explain the power outage -- there it goes -- at the Super Bowl early in the game's third quarter. Half of the dome went dark.

And in the Persian Gulf, a $40 million oil platform goes down in seconds. Have a look at this. The Australian "Herald-Sun" newspaper reports it was an engineering rig in Iran's oil fields. The accident happening last Wednesday, but the video only surfacing just now. All the workers on the rig actually managed to swim to safety we are told.

In the United Kingdom, doctors say the Pakistani teen activist shot in the head by the Taliban is doing well, some good news, this coming after five hours of surgery over the weekend, and they say she won't need any more operations.

This really is an extraordinary story. Malala Yousufzai became an international symbol of courage after she was attacked for her crusade to educate Pakistani girls. Doctors say they are pleased with the progress Malala is making and we'll actually hear from her in just a minute.

But, first, we want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, good to see you, first of all.

You are, of course, a neurosurgeon. You have done these types of surgeries before, sometimes in the battlefield, as I recall. Explain for us what was involved in replacing this piece of missing bone in her skull because the most extraordinary thing to is you've got this girl shot in the head. She was so eloquent and so erudite in how she was speaking. Tell us how they did this.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it is extraordinary, I think, on many different levels.

There are all sorts of different types of injuries and, certainly, neurosurgeons want to know exactly what happened to the brain, what exactly the type of injury was, and tat makes a difference in terms of all of the types of operations. Take a look. You always have to look from the front and you also have to look from the side to really get an idea of what the bullet, when she was shot at point blank range, what it did.

So, we know it was on the left side of her head, but look over there, as well, Michael, important to sort of see that trajectory. It goes right by the ear, and you can see over there, the part of the skull that was removed.

Now, you may say to yourself, why was that part of the skull removed? The bullet trajectory seems further forward. The issue of what happens a lot of times, Michael, is that there is swelling of the brain in response to the injury. The brain just gets angry and swollen, so taking out some of that bone there -- again, as you mentioned, it happens in battlefields a lot of times -- that just provides some more room for the brain.

And, now, the operation they are talking about, Michael -- I think we have a picture as well -- is literally taking a piece of titanium and sort of covering up that area of the skull. You see it there. It looks just like that. The skin will go over that, and at the end of the operation, she should -- you wouldn't be able to see any of this. And she'd just have a normal sort of curvature to her head, once again, as a result of that.

But it is pretty extraordinary. It could have been a lot worse in terms of where that bullet went, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, and I mentioned just how eloquent she was. Let's play some tape of her speaking.


MALALA YOUSUFZAI, PAKISTANI TEEN ACTIVIST: It was that kind of success now that they have removed everything from me and I can also walk a little bit, I can talk, and I am feeling better. And it doesn't seem that I had a very big operation. It seems that just a little bit anesthetic injection just for five hours, and then I wake up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but it was five hours. It was not a small procedure, but you look remarkably good for it.

YOUSUFZAI: But it was very nice because there is no drainage system. I think everything is fine. It's better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. Good. And what's -- what are you looking forward to next?

YOUSUFZAI: I think I would just get better very soon.


HOLMES: She is just extraordinary, Sanjay. English is her second language. Let's also remember that. We mentioned, though, the recovery thing, her hearing, apparently, she's deaf in one ear and we see the bit of a droop in the mouth. I think that's nerve damage. Would that be -- is that correct?

GUPTA: That's right. If you look again and sort of follow what that bullet specifically did, there's a part around the ear, that's responsible not only for hearing, but also for the facial function, in this case, on the left side. So, you notice that, Michael, a little bit of dripping on the left side. They have done an operation to try to improve that function. It can take months for it to get better.

She also, because of the hearing issue, is going to have a hearing implant, specifically -- take a look. That's what it looks like. It's not going to give her 100 percent return of hearing, but having hearing in both the left and right ear is going to be a significant improvement for her just in terms of her activities of daily living.

But think about it again, Michael, and I guess you are alluding to this as well. This is a girl shot point blank. Left side of the brain which is the side of the brain that typically controls speech, controls the strength on the right side of the body. And she has made a pretty significant recovery now with this final operation being performed.

HOLMES: I just think it's amazing. And she continues to be the activist that she was that led to the shooting in the first place. But what is next on the road to recovery here? She just looks like she is doing so well. What happens now?

GUPTA: Yeah. I think if there is any weakness on the, again, the other side of the body, left side of the brain controls right side of the body, so there might be rehab there.

You heard her speech sounds very good. They'll probably work on improving the strength on the left side of her face so that when you look at her, her face is moving more symmetrically. But that's all -- you know, that's all -- that's not measured in hours and days. That's measured in weeks and I'm sure that will continue to improve. I'm sure she wants to get out of the hospital and just start living her life again.

HOLMES: Yeah, yeah. It speaks to the abilities of those doctors and a lot of luck, too, of course in many ways, you colleagues.

Speaking of which, a bit of a congrats to you, my friend. I've always wondered if there's three of you because I don't know how you do all that you do and make the rest of us look rather pathetic and unproductive.

But tonight is the premiere of David E. Kelly's primetime medical drama. It's called "Monday Mornings." You're a writer on the series. It's based on your book, which you wrote in your spare 15 seconds a day.

Congrats on this, mate. It's tonight, TNT 10:00 Eastern. Are you happy?

GUPTA: I'm happy. Of course, I'm biased, but I think this is a wholly unique show. It's going to take people into a part of medicine they have never seen before, most people don't even know about.

And let me just say, Michael, it's a privilege to work, right? I mean, we -- I like working hard, and just being able to, in this case, create a show like this, I think might -- people will get something out of this.

HOLMES: I never fail to be impressed. If you're not writing papers or getting another qualification, you're writing a book or operating on somebody's brain or spending time talking to the likes of me.

GUPTA: Which I love. Any time.

HOLMES: You're amazing. Good to see you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

HOLMES: I've got to switch gears and talk about this. An Islamist cleric in Saudi Arabia -- listen to this -- says he beat his own daughter to death and he feels he was justified in doing it.

Mohammed Jamjoom and I are going to discuss this when we come back.


HOLMES: Outrage intensifying across Saudi Arabia over the case of a prominent cleric who admitted to beating his five-year-old daughter to death.

Mohammed Jamjoom has been digging into this story and joins us now from Beirut. Mohammed, first of all, this child died back in October. Tell us what happened and why the controversy now.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, five- year-old Lama Al-Ghamdi was admitted last April into a hospital in Riyadh. She had broken ribs, a crushed skull, extensive bruises and burns across her body.

Now, her mother tells us that she had been staying with her father when this happened and her mother, Syeda Mohammed Ali, accuses Lama's father of having tortured the girl and that these wounds led to her death some six months later.

Now, here's where this story takes a horrific twist. The father, Farhan Al-Ghamdi, we are told by activists, is a Saudi cleric, somebody who fancies himself a televangelist who goes on Saudi television stations, preaches tolerance and says that it's good for people to repent to God so that they can clear themselves of their sins.

Now, Lama's case has sparked an immense amount of outrage since news started trickling out the last couple months. There are many prominent women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia who have started a campaign called "I Am Lama," trying to remind people of the injustice they say that women face in Saudi Arabia, a country with a guardianship system where they say women have few rights. In this case, however, the father is being tried. We've spoken to the Saudi Human Rights Commission. That's a government-backed rights group. They intervened in this case. They are providing legal assistance to the mother.

There was a hearing yesterday. They say the father is still behind bars. They say that this assault wasn't just directed toward one Saudi girl but every little Saudi girl and that they are seeking the maximum penalty for the aggressor in this case.


HOLMES: Yeah. And, apparently, because he thought she wasn't a virgin, is that part of the angle of this, Mohammed?

JAMJOOM: That's one of the truly horrifying parts of this story. The mother told me that the father was obsessed with the fact that he didn't think five-year-old Lama was a virgin, that he repeatedly gave her what he called "virginity tests."

It's absolutely shocking and horrifying. It's causing outrage across Saudi Arabia.

And one of the interesting things about this case is the fact that word is getting out about it.

There were times in Saudi Arabia you would have cases of abuse directed at women where this kind of thing wouldn't be broadcast.

Now you have social media. You have women's rights activists. They are taking to Twitter. They are taking to YouTube. They are saying there needs to be recourse. That there needs to be advanced legislation in Saudi Arabia changing the laws so that women have more rights and so that people can bring cases against abusive husbands and fathers in the future.


HOLMES: Extraordinary story. Thanks so much, Mohammed Jamjoom, with that very disturbing case.

We're going to take a break here. We'll be right back here with NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL.


HOLMES: In New Orleans, the Super Bowl began with Alicia Keys giving a moving rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." Have a listen.


ALICIA KEYS, MUSICIAN (singing): Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: The 14 time Grammy winner played on a white grand piano in the middle of the field. Some of the players tearing up as they listened to her. Now, the audience cheered when a live picture was shown of soldiers from Camp Courage in Kabul, Afghanistan, who were listening to the national anthem and watched the game from there.

Well, the rest of the world loves soccer like Americans love their own brand of football. In fact, it's called football everywhere else in the world. So you can imagine the impact of learning that hundreds of international soccer matches may have been fixed. The European law enforcement agency, Europol, is investigating what is a huge corruption scandal. Don Riddell here with the details.

You know, Don, the thing about this is, the style of this has never been seen before. You've got hundreds of players and officials allegedly taking bribes from organized -- how does that happen? We're not talking about backyard pickup games either.

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: No. These are real games. I mean this -- we've known for some time that some games are fixed. And in some parts of the world, they're perhaps more likely to be fixed than others. But I think what is really surprising here is the number of games and where these games have been played. We're talking World Cup qualifiers, European championships qualifiers. These tournaments don't come any bigger and more prestigious than this. Champions league games, which is the top club competition in Europe. We're talking about 680 suspicious games involving 425 match officials, club officials, players, known criminals from some 15 countries around the world. I mean this is absolutely massive.

And just to put it into context. Rob Wainwright, who was giving these details earlier, he works for Europol, he's the director, he said, "it is clear to us, this is the biggest ever investigation into suspected match fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results, which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe. We have uncovered an extensive criminal network."

HOLMES: Integrity of football is sort of the key thing there because, you know, if you're going to ask the question, well, what could be the fallout from this? Once people start doubting results, that's it, isn't it?

RIDDELL: Yes. I mean, I've been to some games. I've seen some incredible turnarounds.


RIDDELL: Some incredible performances. And you're amazed by it. You are wowed by it. You will tell your grandchildren about those games once -- you know, one day in the future.

I mean take last night with the Super Bowl.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.

RIDDELL: San Francisco coming back in the third quarter, scoring 17 points. We all want to believe that's real. I'm sure it was. But once you start thinking, well, maybe not, then, you're not going to bother watching, you're not going to bother going to the games any more.

HOLMES: And who do they think is behind it, you know?

RIDDELL: Well, I mean, in this particular case --

HOLMES: To pull something off like that, either, and keep it quiet, but, yes.

RIDDELL: Well, you know, it's interesting. When you look at the amount of money that was -- that they apparently have made out of this, we're not talking about billions of dollars. It's kind of, you know, millions and low numbers of millions. But I guess, if you're just putting small bets on here or there, perhaps it's going to be a lot harder to get caught. But, I mean, it -- they're looking at an operation that's based in Singapore that has tentacles going absolutely everywhere.

HOLMES: Staggering stuff. Good to see you, Don.

RIDDELL: Yes, and you, Mike.

HOLMES: Don Riddell joining us here with some sporting news.

Well, here's some other news. He hasn't been out in public for more than a glimpse in years. But Fiddle Castro, well, he was out and about in Havana yesterday. We'll tell you why when we come back.


HOLMES: Well, guess who showed up to vote in Cuba's general election. Fidel Castro. Yes, him. The ailing revolutionary hasn't been seen in public since he made an extended appearance back in 2010. He's 86 years old now. And his health hasn't been all that great in recent years. So pretty significant that he's getting out again. Rafael Romo joins us now.

Rafael, he not only showed up, he had a message about the revolution, didn't he?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: That's right. Well, every time he appears, there is some message that is going to out.

HOLMES: Sometimes a long one.

ROMO: Sometimes a long one. But it is very significant because this time around he spoke for more than an hour. It was parliamentary elections in Cuba. And he just wanted to make a point that he is alive and well. You know, rumors always fly when it comes about Castro. But he wanted to make sure that he spoke directly to the people of Cuba. And when he was asked specifically by a reporter there what was his message to the people of Cuba, this is what he had to say.

(VIDEO CLIP) ROMO: And, of course, this is Fidel Castro speaking in Spanish, Michael. Let me just translate what he's saying. He says, "I'm sure that the people are truly revolutionary and have made great sacrifices. I don't have to prove it. History proved it. Fifty years of the blockade and they haven't been able to defeat us nor will they be able to." Of course referring to the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Trying to make a very direct point there in front of the Cuban people.

HOLMES: Yes, I think it's interesting too, of course, we talk about here a communist country, and yet they're out there having this big election. The candidates were all -- for parliament were all hand- picked by the communist party. You're going to come back (INAUDIBLE). What was the point?

ROMO: There was a lot of political maneuvering inside the communist party in Cuba. The end result doesn't really change how Cuba is going to be governed. But when it comes to the local elections, there could be a little bit of change and then who is in charge and who is not. But again, the communist party is going to be in charge.

And let me just read to you what a Cuban dissident, a very, very famous international blogger, Yoani Sanchez, said about the elections. She said, "what strange election in which there is no choice and all the candidates think the same." And then she goes on to call it an "electoral farce," just to give you an idea about how the dissidents feel about this election held yesterday in Cuba.

HOLMES: Yes. Eighty-six years old. So he's not a bad innings (ph) as we'd say in Australia. Good to see you, Rafael.

ROMO: Still going.

HOLMES: He's still going. Rafael Romo there.

All right. Well, he's said some weird stuff in the past. But now the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says he's ready to be the -- to see the first Iranian sent into space. We'll explain what he was on about when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

Now to Iran, where the president is saying, send me into space. A lot of people might agree with that. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he says he wants to be the first Iranian launched into orbit. He says he wants to make the trip to support his country's space program. Last week scientists in Iran did send a monkey into space. No comment.

That will do it for me. NEWSROOM