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AROUND THE WORLD

Cyprus Races To Avert Debt Crisis; The Latest in Obama's Trip to the Middle East; Mexican Political Candidate Accused of Working in the Sex Trade

Aired March 22, 2013 - 12:00   ET

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


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

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for being with us. We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and indeed around the world.

WHITFIELD: Let's begin in Jordan. There, President Obama meets with King Abdullah as the president winds up his trip to the Middle East.

HOLMES: Yes, the two leaders are scheduled to hold a news conference. Actually that's meant to take place pretty soon. We'll be listening in, of course, and update you on the latest developments. Now Jordan, of course, an important strategic ally for the U.S. and partner in the region.

WHITFIELD: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today apologized to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza. You'll remember, eight Turks were killed in that attack.

HOLMES: Yes, the Israeli leader apparently phoned the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan, during a meeting with President Obama. This is a pretty significant development. And it comes from two senior administration officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu apologizing for what happened and admitting to operational mistakes. Apparently relations are going to be normalized now.

WHITFIELD: In Egypt, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood today. They through Molotov cocktails as police surrounded the building.

HOLMES: State-run Nile Television says supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, well they held a counterdemonstration. The police, you can see clearly there, acting as a buffer.

WHITFIELD: And big decisions, tough dilemmas. Cyprus says the next few hours will be crucial.

HOLMES: That's right. The island nation trying to save its very banking system. Now, lawmakers there are working on a new proposal to raise money for a bailout.

WHITFIELD: The deal can't come soon enough for Cypriots. Banks have been closed all week as Cyprus sorts out its financial mess. And for many people, the situation really is pretty dire.

HOLMES: Yes, think about it. What would you do if you didn't have any cash and you didn't have a credit card and you didn't have a debit card and things like that? Well, Nick Paton Walsh has a story now of a Russian maid in Cyprus caught up in this crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Olga, a Russian single mother who taught herself Greek just to get work in an upscale hotel, has always lived on a budget, but never like this. She has no ATM card, so closed banks mean there's no more money now for food. Here, how much is left in her purse for her family to live off.

OLGA, CYPRUS RESIDENT(through translator): Not even five euros. I took a loan from friends to get through the weekend, but I don't know when the banks open again. My son gets paid tomorrow with a check, but he can't cash it anywhere. We have money, but can't get at it. Maybe even for a week.

WALSH: Her eldest two have grown and work to pay for school, but little Elena (ph) always has questions.

OLGA: Mom, what will we do now, she asks. At school, even the little ones talk. She hears stuff in school and that's a problem. I can't put adult problems on a baby's shoulder. I explain, I say we can get through this. We will wait and something good, I believe, will come of this. I feel hopeless. Fear, not just for my future, but for the future of my children. What can we do?

WALSH (on camera): Across Nicosia there is that sense of despair. Streets like this that would normally be bustling, now barren and empty. So many Cypriots waking up to hear that the solutions their government offered the day before have now been cast aside.

WALSH (voice-over): During Thursday, queues grew at ATMs. Gas station asked only for cash. Shops stayed shuttered. Panic built. Olga says her 1,000 euro savings, a two-year's work for her, not something she can lose even 2 percent of.

OLGA: I feel like it's a million because I worked for it, sweat for it. I saved this money. I'm not scared. I'm not angry. It's desperation that grips your soul. A desperate situation. And you cannot find your way out.

WALSH: She jokes her life is like a fairy tale. It gets scarier the longer it goes on.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Nicosia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well, of course, world financial markets are waiting and watching all of this unfold.

WHITFIELD: We're watching very closely. We have reporters in Cyprus and here in the U.S. tracking the latest developments. Let's bring in our Jim Boulden, who is in Nicosia, and Zain Asher in New York.

So, Jim, you first. What is the latest about a plan?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (ph) Well, I wish I could tell you that plan b was being debated here in the parliament, but I just walked into the chamber itself to look and there's nobody in there. Six hours ago they were supposed to start to debate these bills to try to fix the financial system, but the talks are still going on behind the scenes. We still haven't heard whether Europe will agree to anything that Cyprus is trying to come up with. So plan b has not been agreed to. As we know, the money will be cut off from the banks on Monday. They're supposed to open again on Tuesday. There's still no plan. It's now the sun going down on Friday night. People are at the gate protesting to find out what parliament's going to do, guys, and they still don't have a plan that we can tell you about.

HOLMES: It's extraordinary.

Zain, I want to bring you in now to talk about the markets. It's interesting the Europe markets were up earlier. I think they ended up on the day. The American markets, they seem to be shaking it off. But, you know, what would it take for that situation to change?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well basically if that situation would change, basically we'd have to see this rippling out to other countries. So if depositors in periphery countries, for example Spain, right, felt that their money wasn't safe and did a run on the bank, then obviously the global economy would be in jeopardy and that obviously includes U.S. markets. And, naturally, Europe is one of our biggest trading partners.

But for now, you know, investors don't seem to be too stressed. It is a very tiny country. It doesn't have the same impact as some place like France or Germany. Plus, you know, we have seen a huge rally in the stock market since the start of the year. Major averages up 7 to 10 percent. And, you know, it would take a lot to change that.

Michael.

HOLMES: You see it half a percent up on the day already. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Right. And, of course, big frustration. People can't get to their money from the banks. But then, Jim, maybe you have some encouragement. Any signs that perhaps banks will reopen as early as Tuesday perhaps?

BOULDEN: That can only happen if there's an agreement here to save the banks. The restructure, shutdown, whatever you want to call it and reorganize these banks and then Europe says, OK, we'll allow the European Central Bank -- think of that like the Federal Reserve, putting money into these banks just to keep them alive for a few more weeks. The Federal Reserve of the European Central Bank says, we will shut that money off come Monday night.

So it's really, really tight. People simply aren't able to do day-to- day operations because they can't get access to the money. As we were hearing earlier, taxi driver telling me they just want five or ten euros, no change, and they're rounding things up so they can get the bills in their hand. They're not going to be giving change because they need to keep that money as much as they can get their hands on.

HOLMES: All right. And, Zain, just finally, too, I mean from an American standpoint, we've got our Americans viewers with us, of course, what happens in Europe matters in the United States. Europe, the biggest trading partner. It all does -- it's all interconnected now.

ASHER: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, there are huge protests in the streets in Cyprus, just to show you just how riled up people are over there. But I just want to emphasize that this could never happen here in the U.S. Here, the FDIC insures deposits over (ph) $250,000. In Cyprus, they do have deposit guarantees as well, but they're willing to override that law because of the dire straits they're in.

Also in the U.S., you know, as banks get into trouble, the U.S. does have the authority to borrow money or literally print money to bail them out. In Cyprus, it's not that simple because they're part of the Eurozone. So they don't have that kind of economy. They have to lean on the shoulders of the ECB. So it does seem to be relatively contained over there.

WHITFIELD: All right, Zain, Jim, thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate it.

HOLMES: OK. Here's more of what we're working on this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

Got a Mexican politician we're going to show you now. She's saying she was not a call girl.

WHITFIELD: She only worked as a model and posed in lingerie as a favor for a friend, she says.

HOLMES: We're going to look at that.

Also, a nude baby picture of the universe from billions of years ago.

WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE). What scientists are learning from this very amazing photograph.

HOLMES: It is beautiful, isn't it.

WHITFIELD: Uh-huh.

HOLMES: And even the pope has to get things in order now that he's moved house.

WHITFIELD: One thing he can check off his list now, canceling his newspaper subscription.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Here are stories making news around the world right now.

WHITFIELD: U.S. officials now believe, after preliminary assessment, that chemical weapons were not used in Syria. Analysts say people may have been exposed to something like chlorine, but it doesn't look like there was anything in a weaponized form.

HOLMES: Yes, still don't know what's going on. The U.N. still going to investigate. A military official, meanwhile, telling CNN that the video you're seeing there of Syrians in hospital was reviewed. It does not appear to those people that the symptoms or treatments matched the use of chemical weapons. As I say, the United Nations still looking into this as well.

WHITFIELD: On to France now. A judge has put Nicholas Sarkozy under formal investigation for breach of trust. The former French president is accused of taking advantage of L'Oreal cosmetics heirs Liliane Bettencourt to help fund his 2007 campaign.

HOLMES: Indeed, on Thursday, the judge summoned Sarkozy to his office in Bordeaux. We got a picture there of him actually leaving the courthouse. He's in the back of the car. Sarkozy denies taking or asking for any illegal campaign funding from Bettencourt.

WHITFIELD: All right, the pope is making news for canceling his newspaper subscription. Something a lot of people can identify with, but he's the pope.

HOLMES: Yes, apparently. Yes, he is. And apparently what he did was he personally called the owner of a newspaper kiosk and said, stop the subscription. You know, at first the kiosk owner thought it was a joke, but then he realized he really was on the other end of the phone and said he broke down into tears of emotions.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's nice. I guess some subscriptions only you, the subscriber, can actually make the cancellation.

HOLMES: Or literally --

WHITFIELD: You can't have someone call for you.

HOLMES: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: Even if you're the pope.

HOLMES: And when he was voted in, he went back to the hotel that the cardinals were staying at and paid his hotel bill in person, which was pretty cool as well.

WHITFIELD: He's totally hands on.

HOLMES: A man of the people.

WHITFIELD: All right.

President Barack Obama wrapping up his trip to Israel and visiting another important U.S. ally in the region. HOLMES: A very important ally. He's meeting right now, actually, with Jordan's King Abdullah. Jordan, a key military and intelligence partner of the U.S. We're listening in to the news conference that is expected to begin soon. And we'll bring you the latest developments.

WHITFIELD: Earlier today, the president visited cultural and religious sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

HOLMES: Yes, his last stops in Israel included a visit to the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. There he turned up the memorial flame that honors six million Jewish victims of Nazi death camps.

WHITFIELD: He says the memorial is a reminder of the horror, but also a symbol of hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And here alongside man's capacity for evil, we also are reminded of man's capacity for good. The rescuers, the righteous among nations who refuse to be bystanders. And in their noble acts of courage, we see how this place, this accounting of horror, is in the end a source of hope. For here we learn that we are never powerless. In our lives, we always have choices. To succumb to our worst instincts or to summon the better angels for our nature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, taking you now to Amman, Jordan. It's the last stop on the president's trip to the Middle East.

HOLMES: Yes, and as mentioned, Jordan, a close ally and importantly a strategic partner. You can see there why it is so important with its location between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Also Iraq and Syria on its borders.

WHITFIELD: Our Jessica Yellin is traveling with the president in Amman.

So, Jessica, with all the turmoil in the region, how important is it for the U.S. to shore up its relationship with Jordan?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka.

Well, you know, the U.S. does, as you said, have a strong relationship with Jordan. But what's needed here is a show of support for the king.

Jordan, as you say, shares a border with Syria, and for that reason has taken in close to 400,000 Syrian refugees since the conflict began there. That's about 7,000 a day.

Now, with fears of chemical weapons used, they clearly have an enormous interest in ending the crisis there. That will be on the agenda while the president is holding this talk with the king. King Abdullah is among the few royals still standing after the Arab Spring, but under enormous political pressure and economic pressure here.

I should point out it was made worse when, in an interview with a U.S. magazine, he described his own country's tribal leaders as dinosaurs.

He needs the president's support, especially financial support, and this visit by the U.S. president, by President Obama, really is a helpful one, should be for King Abdullah.

We'll see when they come out shortly, the president running slightly behind schedule because his helicopter was grounded by a dust storm, so he had to drive instead.

He started his visit here by apologizing for being late, Fredricka.

HOLMES: It was a heck of a sandstorm. Yes, he had to drive to Bethlehem.

Now, Jessica, you mentioned there, and it's an important point, that Jordan escaped the uprisings of the Arab Spring, but that, by no means, means it does not have its own disdain bubbling along underneath.

And, you know, a large Palestinian population, you've got the flood of refugees from Syria and, as you alluded to there, a very bad economy.

Yet they are crucial in terms of strategic alliances with the United States. How much pressure is King Abdullah under domestically? And what's the risk of that to the United States?

YELLIN: He's under, as you well know, enormous pressure from various factions in the country, including the fact that there's a large Palestinian population, a growing refugee population.

If there should be a chemical weapons attack in Syria, there is a very real fear that there could be a massive flood of many more refugees that would simply destabilize the country. They would not have the resources to handle it.

So I should point out this is a country with no oil. And they have strained resources. And they're getting less funding from other Arab states than they previously did before the Arab Spring rushed across this region.

So add that to the unrest post-Arab Spring and those fears I mention from Syria, these are very turbulent times for Jordan's king.

This is a crucial ally for the U.S. in the region, and also a peace partner with Israel. They have a peace treaty. And this country would be a crucial partner in any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian state.

So a very important partner for the U.S., as well. That's one reason the president was certain to make a stop here while he was in the area before returning home.

Michael?

HOLMES: And a lot bubbling along underneath. Yeah, it's in a tough neighborhood.

Jessica, good to see you there, Jessica Yellin.

YELLIN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right, this young lady we're about to tell you about, she's a beauty queen with such a very unique story, so much so that President Obama wanted to meet her in person in Israel.

HOLMES: Yeah. We're going to hear from the first Ethiopian-born Miss Israel coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. We're going to tell you now about a beauty queen with a story so compelling that President Obama asked to meet her.

WHITFIELD: They're from very different countries, different continents and decades apart in age, but they have a few things in common.

They both share a rather unusual, nontraditional kind of backgrounds and an unlikely rise to fame.

HOLMES: Yeah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearly 10 years after her arrival as an Ethiopian immigrant in the Holy Land, she gained worldwide attention when she was chosen as the first black Miss Israel.

The 21-year-old beauty queen served in the Israeli army and worked as a salesclerk in a clothing store before a friend entered her name in the contest.

Within a matter of weeks she was invited to an exclusive 120-seat gala dinner for Barack Obama in honor of his first visit to Israel as president.

YATYISH AYNAW, MISS ISREAL (via translator): I'm very excited to meet the two presidents, President Shimon Peres and President Obama.

They invited me because of an historical significance. For the first time an Ethiopian is representing Israel, and he is the first African- American ordered to lead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: she was ordered to live with her grandparents when she was 12. Obama has been one of her idols almost ever since.

AYNAW (via translator): I did a research project about him in high school, and I know he's a very powerful man, charismatic.

And he achieved a lot on his own by virtue of the fact he believed in himself and this stuck with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: as Miss Israel 2013, there will be ceremonies and appearances galore for her this year. And she will be a contestant for Miss Universe.

AYNAW (via translator): I was chosen, but because I made history as the first Ethiopian, I feel I have to prove myself. I don't want to disappoint people that chose me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She often talks of her previous life as a child walking barefoot in Ethiopia. And what she discovered in herself on her first visit back to her homeland.

AYNAW (via translator): I stood there as a girl who had finished the Israeli army as an officer and thought how much a person can go through in nine, 10 years.

I learned a new language and culture, I've been to good places. I enlisted and trained people and returned as a totally different person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the streets of Ethiopia to the presidential gala in Israel to the world stage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Stunning inside and out.

HOLMES: Yeah, she is, isn't she?

She was crowned just three weeks ago, too, by the way.

WHITFIELD: Yeah. And, of course, you'll be watching for her again once the Miss Universe pageant comes around, so remember the name, remember the face and the country in which she hales from.

HOLMES: Talk about another lady when we come back. She's actually running for office in Mexico.

WHITFIELD: But this politician isn't getting the kind of attention that she would prefer. She's actually accused ...

HOLMES: Yeah, of being an escort in Las Vegas. We'll tell you about it when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: On to Canada now, a massive pileup on a road outside of Edmonton, Alberta.

HOLMES: Yeah, dramatic stuff, a hundred people were hurt when car after car crashed into each other. You can see there, this all happening in blinding snow. WHITFIELD: Several 18-wheelers were also involved in that wreck, and more than 20 people had to be hospitalized.

HOLMES: Yeah, only one person, fortunately, suffering serious injuries.

WHITFIELD: What a mess.

All right. Heading now to South Korea where officials are doing an about-face on a key detail surrounding a cyber attack.

HOLMES: Yeah, remember just yesterday we were saying that South Korean officials had said that Wednesday's attack on 32,000 South Korean computers and servers came from inside China, but today they reversed that saying that after a detailed analysis they have concluded that it did not come from China.

WHITFIELD: Officials say the attack did come from a, quote, "foreign land," but they did not name the country.

HOLMES: Oh, this video's amazing. A man in Australia, a new father himself, says his instincts kicked in when a mom in a supermarket screamed that her baby wasn't breathing. He was checking out at the time.

Now, this guy was not formally trained in CPR. He'd done a couple of courses in school.

He came rushing to the child's aid, cleared her airway, listened to instructions from paramedics over the phone and, yes, happy ending, saved the child's life.

You see the father there in the red shirt who came in, as well. That's the guy there in that scene. Unbelievable story.

WHITFIELD: Remarkable timing.

HOLMES: Yeah, they all met up later, too.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right.

Let's turn now to Mexico and one politician's fight against allegations that she worked as an escort in Las Vegas.

HOLMES: Yeah, not the sort of allegation you want if you're running for office.

We're talking about Giselle Arellano, and she was banned from running for a state congressional seat after accusations went public.

While she admits to modeling lingerie, she says she was never an escort.

WHITFIELD: And she's taking her rivals to court to get her campaign back on track.

Rafael Romo has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: She's an aspiring Mexican politician. An entrepreneur, 33-year-old Giselle Arellano has become a celebrity almost overnight in her country, but not the way she'd like to be.