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Carnival Ships Have Month of Problems; Stock Market Dips; Samsung Unveils Galaxy S5; Palestinians Concerned over Makeup of New Israeli Government; International Forces United to Fight Piracy

Aired March 15, 2013 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Hello, everyone. We'd like to welcome our viewers both here in the United States, also right around the world.

Let's begin in Syria. You see there huge crowds turning out today to mark the second anniversary of the start of the Syrian civil war. In Damascus, also in Aleppo, people chanting "Syria is free," even though the war shows little sign of ending. More than 70,000 people are dead. More than a million, 1.1 million, are refugees in the uprising against Syria's president.

WHITFIELD: At the Vatican, the new pope met with all the catholic cardinals this morning, including those who were too old to take part in his election conclave. Dressed in white, as you see there, Francis shared words of encouragement with the cardinals. He urged them to pass on their experience to younger generations saying, quote, "wisdom is like a good bottle of wine and we must give it to the young people."

HOLMES: And now we want to turn to a PR disaster that just keeps getting worse for Carnival Cruise Lines. Yes, another Carnival --

WHITFIELD: I know. Hard to believe.

HOLMES: Yes, really. I mean we're losing count now, three -- is having problems. This is the second one in just two days.

WHITFIELD: And this one is the Legend cruise ship that's having technical issues that are affecting its speed apparently. Because of that, a scheduled stop in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean is being scrapped and the boat is headed back to port in Tampa, Florida.

HOLMES: Yes, and this, of course, comes just a day after Carnival's Dream ship got stuck at port in St. Maarten. An emergency generator in that case giving out, causing a few bathrooms to overflow, elevators to stop working.

WHITFIELD: Those passengers are being given partial refunds and are being flown back to Florida today. Maybe to the relief of some, maybe to the anguish of others. HOLMES: It's just amazing. Who can forget last month's Carnival Triumph disaster? Thousands of passengers stuck on board. You'll remember that crippled ship. Horrible conditions for days on end. Again, overflowing toilets, human waste apparently running down the walls between decks, passengers in long lines for little food in stifling heart.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

HOLMES: Remember that one.

WHITFIELD: All right. We do remember that one.

Cristina Puig joins us now from Carnival's headquarters near Miami.

Cristina, Carnival going into damage control now, offering refunds and even incentives to try to get people to come back. What kind of reaction are they getting?

CRISTINA PUIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fredricka. What I can tell you is that they have been very responsive to our inquiries and they're taking to social media to get their message out. For example, they've posted statements on FaceBook about what's happened with the Legend, what's happened with the Dream and what they're doing to try to rectify the situation. And, as you mentioned, they're also offering discounts, 50 percent discounts on a future cruise because obviously they want to bring these people back.

Fredricka and Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, and I just want to mention Jack Hickey, as a maritime lawyer, used to represent the cruise ship industry actually in lawsuits and this morning -- he's also representing passengers, by the way, and cruise employees. This morning on CNN's "Starting Point," he said that Carnival has major maintenance and customer service problems that it really needs to address. Have a listen.


JACK HICKEY, MARITIME TRIAL ATTORNEY: They could have gotten everybody off -- from the Triumph, they could have gotten everybody off in Cozumel or Progresso, Mexico, and flown them back. But they took a risk and they said, well, we'll just have everybody stay on. We'll save some money flying them back. We'll have everybody stay on. And then they realized, whoa, everybody's covering this. I mean, frankly, I think that's what happened. And so, yes, I think you have to contrast this whole situation because it really is comparable.


HOLMES: So, Cristina, how is Carnival then dealing with these problems and the potential damage to its reputation? As you touched on there, they're being very open. And that's pretty much what I think most damage control PR companies say to do, get out there, be open.

PUIG: Absolutely, Michael. Ironically, it was Tuesday when Carnival's CEO, Gerry Cahill, informed us that they were conducting a comprehensive review of their entire fleet. And when we asked them more specifically what exactly was being done, they said the following in a statement. "Immediately after Carnival Triumph arrived safely in Mobile, we assembled an expert team from across the company, as well as outside experts in the areas of fire, marine, technical and electrical systems to complete a fleet-wide assessment in the areas of fire prevention, detection and suppression, engine and power redundancies and emergency power generation and services."

So they are absolutely trying their best to recover from this fiasco, to say the least.

Fredricka. Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Cristina Puig, thanks so much. Appreciate that.

WHITFIELD: All right, we're going to go to the New York Stock Exchange because we've seen, you know, a record of high.

HOLMES: Yes, 10 days.

WHITFIELD: For like 10 days straight.


WHITFIELD: But apparently there's a dip in the Dow today. Alison Kosik is there for us.

Alison, what's happening?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka and Michael. You know, it's at that point where the bulls have sort of run out of steam. You're seeing investors kind of take a breather at this point after stocks have had a great run-up for the past, what, you know, 10 sessions. You know, the session is still young. You know, four more hours for, you know, stocks to maybe even turn around. So that very well could happen.

But, you know, we are still watching the Dow because it very well could turn around and hit that 11th record in a row. Also the S&P 500. That's within striking distance of its all-time high. The magic number for the S&P 500 is 1,565. Five points away. That would actually be a bigger deal than the Dow if the S&P 500 hits this record, even blows through that record because the S&P 500 isn't just 30 stocks like the Dow. It's 500 stocks. So what it is, is it's more representative of the health of the market.

Also, your mutual funds, they most likely track the S&P 500. So as we watch the S&P 500, although it's a little lower, overall it is -- it is, you know, moving at great strides these days. You'll be able to notice that if you take a look at your portfolios these days. If we do, in fact, see the S&P 500 hit that high of 1,565 or even go through it, some believe that that could wind up giving more momentum to the entire market as a whole to move higher. But then there are others who say, no, no, wait a minute, that could actually be the pullback because the market would be thinking that it finally hit that ceiling that investors had been waiting for. That could be the pullback point.

But at this moment, we are seeing stocks in the red. Not too much though. They've gained ground a little bit. They've come off their lows of the session.

Fredricka and Michael.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Alison Kosik. Keep us posted there at the New York Stock Exchange.

HOLMES: Couldn't last forever, could it?

WHITFIELD: But it was nice.

HOLMES: It was nice while it did.

WHITFIELD: Nice ride.


All right. Here's more of what we're working on for you this hour on AROUND THE WORLD.

Taking down pirates. They are a big problem off the coast of Africa. NATO training to stop them. We're going to take you out to sea to find out how that fight is going.

WHITFIELD: Plus, conservative Senator Rob Portman announces his support for same-sex marriage. A dramatic reversal after his own son comes out.

HOLMES: And, have a look at this phone. It can stop video if you looked away. (INAUDIBLE). Can it give Apple a run for its money? We'll have a look.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

It could be a breakthrough in the investigation of that deadly consulate attack in Libya.

HOLMES: Yes. Sources are telling CNN that Libya has detained that man there, Faraj al-Shibli. Libya even allowed the FBI to question him directly.

WHITFIELD: The suspect had recently returned from a trip to Pakistan. Four Americans, as you recall, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed when gunmen attacked the compound in Benghazi last September.

HOLMES: We've got an astounding discovery from London. Crews excavating an area for a subway line have unearthed the skeletons of 12 black death plague victims. WHITFIELD: That bacterial pandemic hit Europe in the 14th century killing about 25 million people, including almost half the population of London.

HOLMES: Yes. Experts suspect there may be thousands more skeletons at this burial site. Scientists are hoping that DNA tests will reveal some critical information about what actually caused the plague.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that is fascinating.

All right, and thanks to some bad weather, a three Soyuz capsule crew members are spending an extra day in space.

HOLMES: Yes, imagine calling the misses and saying, I'm going to be a day late. Sorry about that.

WHITFIELD: A little late.

HOLMES: Yes. Of course, they've been up there in the International Space Station since October. Freezing rain and fog over Kazakhstan delayed Thursday's homecoming for American Astronaut Kevin Ford and two Russian cosmonauts.

WHITFIELD: NASA says they'll land about 11 hours from now.

All right, some big news for you gadget lovers out there. Would you be included?

HOLMES: I am. Oh, yes.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, then you --

HOLMES: Total geek. Literally a doctor (ph) --

WHITFIELD: You're probably going to salivate over this one.

HOLMES: Yes, I am.

WHITFIELD: And I'm talking about Samsung's Galaxy S4. It's here.

HOLMES: Very interested in this. I've been an iPhone guy myself, but this is the latest competition for the iPhone. It was unveiled last night in New York. Some analysts think it could be in the running for best smartphone of the year.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Our Zane Asher has had a chance to play around with this new phone.

All right, so tell us what you think of it? You're a gadget gal?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys. Well, you know, it has this whole eye scan feature that everyone was talking about, but it didn't actually live up to all the hype.


ASHER: I mean if you stare at the phone, you can scroll up and down by looking at it, but you still kind of have to tilt the phone.

The coolest eye feature, guys, is the fact that you can actually pause a video just by looking away from it. And the video will start playing again when you look back at the screen. Pretty cool. But there were even better features than that. We got to play around with the phone at the Samsung unveiling last night. Take a look.


ASHER: I actually just took a picture with myself and my producer David was in the background. If I want to actually delete him from the photograph -- sorry, David -- all I have to do is tap on him like this and he's gone.

The device will simply use both cameras at the same time. So the front facing camera and the rear facing camera as well. So check this out. There you have it. There you've got me and my producer, David, in the same photograph.

And you can move through the photographs on your phone just by moving your finger over the sensors on the top of the camera.


HOLMES: Fred is going on here in the background, you don't want that.

WHITFIELD: I'm seeing problems up ahead. You can kind of superimpose people (ph).

HOLMES: Make people disappear.

WHITFIELD: Right, make them appear, disappear. It's making me feel a little uncomfortable. But go ahead, Zain.

HOLMES: She's not loving this.

WHITFIELD: No, but go ahead.

HOLMES: In fact -- the question is, what does it mean for the iPhone?

WHITFIELD: Everybody else will love it.

HOLMES: I mean I can't remember -- I could be wrong as I say this. I think Apple's up 34 percent, Samsung's up 25 percent of the market. That's the big question.

Oh, look, (INAUDIBLE).

ASHER: Yes, you know, that really is the million dollar question. It's hard to say at this point. Samsung is going to be a huge threat to Apple.

But let's take a look at the numbers. You can actually see on the chart there that the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the number three best selling phone in the last quarter of 2012. Also, Samsung's S4 has got a bigger screen than the iPhone 5. It also has a faster processor as well.

However, where I think Samsung might struggle could be in the usefulness of its features, OK. So being able to scroll through pictures without touching the screen is cool, but, really, you know, how useful is it? But that's going to be a lot of pressure on Apple to come up with something better some time this year.


HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Yes, Apple has the advantage too, of course, of having addicts. You know, people who are just locked into Apple products and that's that. Samsung's going (ph) to make that happen.

WHITFIELD: I think Samsung's got it too. Oh, yes.

HOLMES: Yes, you think?


HOLMES: All right. We're going to have dueling phones. (INAUDIBLE). I can see this now (INAUDIBLE).

All right, we're going to move on. International diplomacy now. President Obama says he believes Iran more than a year away from making a working nuclear weapon.

WHITFIELD: But he tells an Israeli news network that he won't give up trying to persuade the Iranians to stop their nuclear program.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're going to be doing is to continue to engage internationally with Iran, understanding that we've set up the toughest sanctions ever. It's having a significant effect. If we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting solution. But if not, I continue to keep all options on the table.


HOLMES: Yes, now the president is making his first trip to Israel as president in a few days, which itself has raised eyebrows over the last few years.

WHITFIELD: It has indeed, for many reasons. He'll actually be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but the White House says he's not bringing a new peace proposal with him.

HOLMES: Yeah. Our Sara Sidner is in Jerusalem.

Sara, it's a breakthrough day in Israel with a brand-new coalition government being firmed up, a lot of people on the Palestinian side are concerned about the makeup of that government.

Is Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama -- it's got to come up, the peace process. I mean, obviously, Iran will. SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The peace process is going to come up, and both sides, or all three sides, if you will, President Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, they all know that the peace process that the United States administration would like to talk tough about, and, also, would, of course, ultimately like to help solve.

But it is one of those issues that has gone on and on and own, very difficult to solve. Both sides have stuck very much in their corners when it comes to the peace process, accusing one another of not being -- trying to be a partner in the peace process. So, it's been a very difficult process to try and get restarted.

Remember, the last time there were talks was a couple -- more than three years ago, actually, at this point in time, about three years ago.

So, people are hoping that perhaps that process can get talked about, but you know that there are other very big and pressing issues. That is Iran. There is also a lot of talk about Syria.

So, we're expecting to hear something about Iran, something about Syria and certainly something about the Palestinian and Israeli peace process.

HOLMES: Speaking of which, the Palestinians are concerned because the makeup of the new coalition includes one or two parties who actually favor settlement expansion.

I had a chat with Hanan Ashwari yesterday on CNN international and I want to play just one piece of that and what she thinks about the relationship between the U.S. and its role in trying to broker some sort of -- I won't say peace, but some sort of (INAUDIBLE).


HANAN ASHWARI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: If he hasn't, by now, understood what it takes to make peace and to stand up to Israel rather than to constantly be thwarted by Israel, as we have seen, that hijacked American foreign policy -- because, right now, he's talking about Israeli security, he's talking about Iran, he's talking about Syria and then they might talk about the peace with the Palestinians.

If that's the case, then that would be really disastrous not just for Palestine/Israel, but also for the region.


WHITFIELD: And, Sara, also being underscored in this trip will be the relationship, or lack thereof perhaps, between Netanyahu and Obama. Some have kind of described it as being very cool.

The president says, however, it's not as tense as some people might think. How much pressure is there to show, I guess, these two appearing to be partners? SIDNER: I don't know if there's a lot of pressure when it comes to that because I think people's minds especially here are pretty much set on that very issue. They do believe these two men, personally speaking, don't like one another.

However, as the president said in that interview last night, he said, look, whether or not we have differences, which we do have differences, our policy with Israel has been very strong, and we have made that point over and over and over again.

The two countries have been able to have very strong ties despite any disagreements that perhaps the two leaders have with one another, that the country is going to be a strong partner with Israel and vice versa, and that is not going to change.

But certainly a lot of people, of course, the pundits especially, like to talk about this friction that sometimes comes up between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu. There was a point at which once -- I don't know if you remember it, but I'm sure you do -- where the president was talking to then-French President Sarkozy and he made a comment that made everybody go, oh!

So, it is one of those things that's kind of out there. But as far as the U.S. relationship with Israel, I think, over and over and over again, the administration has said that is very strong and not going to change.


HOLMES: Yeah, we look forward to that being reiterated by the president during his visit, very important visit, and much-anticipated in Israel.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Sara.

And that's also something we're going to talk to White House press secretary Jay Carney about. He'll be joining us in the next hour to talk about the trip that the president will be making to Israel, that just being one of the topics that we're going to discuss when he joins us in the 1:00 Eastern hour right here on CNN.

HOLMES: Indeed.

Well, the fight against piracy at sea. We're going to be talking about that, up close and in action.

WHITFIELD: And we take you on board a NATO ship in one of the busiest and most feared waterways in the world.

HOLMES: And, viewers in the United States, reminding you to watch CNN's new show, "The Lead With Jake Tapper."

WHITFIELD: Look forward to that. That's Monday afternoon, 4:00 Eastern time for our U.S. viewers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right. Now to a major menace on the high seas, especially in the waters off Somalia's coast. We're talking about piracy.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's a big problem. The Gulf of Aiden is one of the world's most dangerous shipping lanes, but international naval forces are now working and working together to try to deter attacks.

WHITFIELD: NATO is part of that effort. It's anti-piracy flagship is off Tanzania's coast right now.

And that's where we also find our Nima Elbagir. She's onboard the San Marco.

HOLMES: Yeah, Nima, we talked earlier on CNN International. You witnessed an exercise earlier today. This is all about training to try to get local navies in the area to sort things out and deal with this themselves.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Absolutely, Michael.

This operation, the fight against piracy, last year alone, cost the international community some $7 billion.

And although we are seeing results, the number of successful pirate attacks is tearing up exponentially. The issue becomes how sustainable is this in the long-term? How sustainable is it to constantly have to secure the waters -- well, one of the world's busiest waterways (INAUDIBLE) attacks of sort on the consumers?

So, one of the ways that NATO and other international coalitions operating in this area are looking into being able to continue their presence here is to try and involve those who have the most at stake, those whose waters the pirates have been hijacking to their hearts' content.

And one, of course, is the Tanzania navy and they've had some pretty good results, Michael.

The (INAUDIBLE) happened back in 2010 and, since then, since the beginning of this year, they've actually had no successful hijackings. And in fact, last weekend, they managed to bring the number of hostages held by hijackers down from 60 of a 2012 high of 212, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Nima Elbagir there on sea at that training exercise.

And, yes, sustainability is what it's all about. Got to get those navies up to speed so they can do it themselves.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely. They want to be able to see some results.

All right, imagine having to go to school in secret.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's what it's like for these kids in Syria after two years of war.


HOLMES: Welcome back to "Around the World." Here are some of the stories we're following for you now.

Let's start right now in North Korea where officials are blaming the U.S. and South Korea for what they're calling an intensive and persistent cyber attack.

WHITFIELD: Pyongyang says the attacks are happening on a daily basis and the U.S. and its allies should be held accountable.

It didn't say what action if any it planned to take, however.

HOLMES: Yeah, well, 10 days after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his body is heading to a museum in Caracas.

WHITFIELD: And these people right here are gathered in the streets where, at any moment, Chavez's body will be carried in a procession through the city.

The plan had been to embalm Chavez's body, but the government simply waited too long.

HOLMES: Yeah, they brought experts in from overseas and everything, but too late, apparently.