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Pope Talks Women, Abortion, Homosexuality; Bus Crash in Italy; Spain Train Crash; Glitz, Glamour, and Gem Thieves in Cannes; Mideast Peace Talks to Resume Today; Building Collapse in South Philly

Aired July 29, 2013 - 12:00   ET


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: A tragic end to a religious retreat. A bus full of Catholic pilgrimage slammed into almost a dozen cars. People plunging off a bridge in southern Italy. The devastating new developments, next.

MICHAEL HOMES, CNN ANCHOR: And this hour President Obama meeting with his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Could this be meeting about the passing of the baton?

COREN: Then they walk the streets at night selling their services. Now a group of prostitutes in Mexico want to share their stories and they're going to journalism school to do just that.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Anna Coren sitting in for Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: The Australian takeover is complete. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

We are going to start this out with Pope Francis and what was a really remarkable event on his plane. Just a couple of hours ago, on the plane to Italy from Brazil, the pope basically an open book, answering reporter questions about all sorts of controversial issues.

COREN: Homosexuality, abortion, the role of women in the church. Nothing was off limits. Let's take a listen.


POPE FRANCIS (through translator): If a person is gay and accepts the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge them?


HOLMES: Our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, was on that plane, lucky you, and joins us now from Rome.

John, I mean this really was extraordinary. He touched on just about every hot button issue facing the Catholic Church. So what was your reaction? Was this jaw-dropping even for an expert like you?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, listen, Michael, I would tell you, I was aboard the papal plane today, but I was certainly not bored on the papal plane today. This was actually a mesmerizing experience.

I mean it brought to mind, for me, the early days of John Paul II, when he would do this kind of thing all the time. He would come back to the press compartment, exchange in these kind of free-wheeling, spontaneous exchanges with people. John Paul, actually, would usually do these in five or six languages. Which, by the way, Michael, in addition to being informative, also made you feel like an idiot because you didn't speak all the tongues that the pope did.

Francis today used just Italian and Spanish. But, yes, it was remarkable. It was an hour and 20 minute, completely unscripted, unfiltered exchange. No question was off limits. And as you say, we touched on all the hot button issues about the Catholic Church. Of course the one that's making waves today is the pope's remarkably tolerant line on gays, and in particular gays in the priesthood. It was a remarkable news day on the Vatican beat.

COREN: John, Pope Benedict XVI, he would have never have done anything quite like this. You know, as you say, nothing was off limits. He discussed the role of women. Do you think this signals perhaps a change in tone on that issue?

ALLEN: Well, Anna, I think you're absolutely right. What we've got here is a change in tone rather than a change in teaching. I mean on all the hot button questions that came up, abortion, homosexuality and also women, Francis did not signal any substantive change in the doctrine or the discipline of the Catholic Church. On women for example, he affirmed that woman's ordination to the priesthood is off the table. He said John Paul made that definitive.

But he also went on to say that he wants women to play much more important roles in the church and he also wants a new theology of women. That is a new reflection on where women stand in the plan of God. I mean that is certainly breathtakingly new in terms of tone. And I think fundamentally what we have going on here is the emergence of the kind of people's pope. A pope who wants to be the pope of everyone, not just those who show up for mass on Sunday morning, but the atheist of the world, the gays, the feminists, everyone out there it seems that Francis has a message of love, respect and welcome for them.

HOLMES: It's a very different papacy. John Allen, always a pleasure to see you.

I was talking to John earlier, by the way, and he said that he's already being approached to write a book about this pope, a guy whose only been in the job for a few months.

COREN: Yes, incredible.

HOLMES: Extraordinary.

COREN: Could you imagine being down at Copacabana Beach on Sunday? Three million people. I mean he's a rock star.

HOLMES: He is a rock star. He's out and about and you'll see him walking down the streets of Rome, I'm sure.

All right, moving on.

COREN: Moving on indeed.

Well, firefighters are on the scene of a building collapse in Philadelphia right now. We are looking, I believe, at live pictures. Our affiliate KYW reports that there are injuries, but at this point we don't know for certain how many. The thing is in south Philadelphia in what appears to be a residential area. We are certainly working to get more information. We'll keep you updated on any new developments.

HOLMES: Well, a couple of other big stories we're following for you right now. Let's look at Spain. Fallout from last week's horrible train crash there. The driver now charged officially with 79 counts of homicide. Reckless behavior the warrant says. Now, that's for each of the people who died, of course.

COREN: Well, our Karl Penhaul is following that story from Santiago de Compostela in Spain. And we'll go live to Karl in just a moment. But first -

HOLMES: Yes, another tragedy. This one in southern Italy. At least 38 people are dead. This after a bus plunged off a bridge and into a ravine last night. This happened just east of Naples in the Avellino province.

COREN: Well, police say the bus slammed into 11 cars before it fell off the bridge. The passengers on the bus were coming back from a weekend visit to a Catholic shrine.

HOLMES: Yes, Barbie Nadeau joins us now from Rome.

The investigation, of course, just getting underway, but already hearing reports like there were no skid marks. I mean what are people saying so far?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, apparently there were absolutely no signs whatsoever that this bus driver tried to stop the huge bus from - it slamming into 11 cars and then breaking through the guardrail and basically flying 30 meters into this ravine where it landed. It broke apart. It was - it looked like it was shredded in many ways.

There were 10 people who survived the accident, but they are facing very serious, serious injuries. Many of them just, you know, holding onto life by a breath right now.

Tomorrow, of course, there will be a massive funeral in the little suburb outside of Naples. The bodies have been transported back to that area and the mayor of that town spoke today. Just absolutely devastated, that these families, these very simple, working-class families that had taken probably their only summer vacation to this place to worship, Padre Pio, a very important saint in the south of Italy, to have it end so tragically. Now, the town mourns tomorrow that the loss of so many people in this tiny community. COREN: Barbie, it's extraordinary that anybody really survived that crash considering how far the bus fell. Are any of those survivors speaking out?

NADEAU: No. So far we've got people on life support, people with missing limbs, people who are facing paralysis and other really just devastating ailments and injuries from this accident.

You know, there were also 10 people who were injured in the cars that the bus hit up on the upper highway before it careen and went off that overpass. Those people, too, are in hospitals. Those people have been talking out a little bit, saying how the bus just hit them, just knocked them out of the way as if they were toys, before it really went out of control.

But again, no apparent skid marks on the side of the road before that bus went over the edge and that's really the focal point of the investigation right now.

HOLMES: What a terrible, terrible incident.

Barbie Nadeau, thanks so much.

COREN: Well now to the latest on the deadly train crash in Spain. A memorial service for the victim of last Wednesday's crash gets underway next hour.

HOLMES: Yes. An American woman from Texas was among the 79 people killed. Myrta Fariza was on her way to a catholic festival when she was killed in that wreck, like so many other people were. Her husband was injured. Now, the other American who died was a woman from Virginia. Fariza's son-in-law says the family, understandably, is devastated.


BRIAN BUERKETT, VICTIM'S SON-IN-LAW: One of the best women I've ever met. A great mother. A beautiful person inside and out. A wonderful soul. She's been an amazing person to everyone that she's ever come in contact with.


COREN: Well, the driver of the train now faces homicide charges. Well, our Karl Penhaul joins us now from Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Karl, what do we know about the driver and those charges that he's now facing?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me just set the scene a little for you first, Anna. The bells are now beginning to toll for the call to mass for this memorial mass. We're expecting the prime minister to arrive shortly, along with members of Spain's royal family.

This really is the official event, but it must be said that in the days since the train crash last Wednesday, well-wishers have been leaving their own tribute to the victims over there by the cathedral railings. There are dozens of lighted candles. There are flowers that have been pushed through the railings in memory of the 79 who died. And, also, there are a lot of wooden sticks placed against the railing. That's significant because this square, this cathedral, this journey's end for thousands of pilgrims who come to Santiago de Compostela each other. And, of course, today is symbolic journey's end for train 151, the train that crashed last Wednesday. Those victims, as I say, in a little over an hour now, will be remembered in this memorial mass.

But as far as the train driver is concerned, yes, around midnight last night he left the courts here in Santiago de Compostela. The judge has now charged him with 79 counts of reckless homicide in relation to that accident. But the judge did give him conditional release. He must now come to court once a week to report. His passport has been withdrawn to prevent him traveling from outside the country. And as you might imagine, his train driver's license has also been suspended while investigations continue, Anna.

COREN: Karl, we appreciate the reporting there. Thank you very much. We will watch for the live memorial for the victims of that crash. As we said, it's coming up at the top of the hour.

And, Michael, in some of the local press, the police are saying that the driver admitted to being careless in his driving.


COREN: And that he wished he had died.

HOLMES: He had been killed in the accident.


HOLMES: Just horrible for those people there. And we'll keep an eye on that memorial as it continues.

Meanwhile, coming up, an armed robbery in Cannes in France results in a jewelry heist worth more than, wait for it, $130 million. How this is the third time this type of crime has gone down in that star- studded city.

COREN: And a South African chef is told he's too obese to live in New Zealand. But wait until you see what this guy looks like and you be the judge.

HOLMES: You're watching AROUND THE WORLD right here on CNN. We'll be right back. Do stay with us.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Firefighters still on the scene of that building collapse we mentioned in Philadelphia. Our affiliate there, KYW, reporting there are injuries. KYW saying at least seven people injured after the collapse of a home. We don't know for certain the extent of those injuries. Now, apparently what happened was one row house collapsed. You can see it there, actually. And then some of the homes surrounding it partially collapsed as well.

The scene again, South Philly in what appears to be very much a residential area. And the cause not clear at the moment. But here is what one witness is saying about the collapse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was laying in bed and what happened was is I just jumped up and then I went outside. My mom said a house collapsed. So I threw on my shoes, ran down there and I helped three people out of the house. You know, and you smell slight gas, but it was hard of hard not to, you know, go in there and help them out.


HOLMES: And this is the 400 block, by the way, of Daly Street. We're working on getting you more information. We'll keep you updated on any developments.

COREN: Well, glitz, glamour and one spectacular jewel heist in Cannes. Or if you're Australian, Cannes.

HOLMES: A bit shaky. Cannes, Cannes, yes.

COREN: France authorities say an armed robber got away with more than $130 million worth of gems from a posh hotel on the French Riviera yesterday. Well, as CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports, it's the third such heist around the city of Cannes since May.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a story straight out of a Hitchcock film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Filmed on the beautiful French Riviera.

MCLAUGHLIN: One man walks into a hotel in Cannes, France, and walks out with $53 million worth of diamond jewelry.

GRACE KELLY, ACTRESS, "TO CATCH A THIEF": Diamonds, the only thing in the world you can't resist.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Carlton Hotel, the setting for the iconic movie "To Catch a Thief," was the sight of one of Europe's biggest jewelry heists Sunday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a gun, and nobody stopped him. I don't know. There was nobody around. Then they just gave him $40 million worth of jewelry. It's just incredible.

MCLAUGHLIN: Police say a robber whose face was covered by a hat and scarf threatened to shoot exhibitors and guests during a hold-up.

Cannes, home of the international film festival, is known for its glitz and glamour, but lately it's become a magnet for jewelry theft. In May a $2.6 million necklace belonging to jeweler de Grisogono was taken from a hotel party. Later that same month, over a million dollars worth of jewels were stolen from safe in the Novotel Hotel.

This latest heist comes just two days after a member of the notorious "Pink Panther" jewel thief gang escaped from a Swiss prison. However, it's too soon to say if there's any link to this incident. Authorities this morning are looking through surveillance footage of the crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diamonds are like cash. They're the most concentrated form of wealth on the face of the Earth. So they can be very influential in acquiring weapons, in acquiring drugs or anything that we want to keep out of society.


MCLAUGHLIN: And we just -- prosecutors in Nice just confirming to CNN they revised the figures, the estimate for that jewelry theft, from $53 million to $136 million in jewel theft. They also added that they believe that this man had no accomplice, that he was acting alone and that he was carrying with him a semiautomatic pistol.

So far more questions than answers when it comes to how this happened and why security around that kind of jewelry was so lax, Michael.

HOLMES: I was going to see that it seems ridiculous really. I mean, you've got a hundred-and-something million dollars worth of diamonds sitting and a guy walks in with a handgun and walks out with $136 million worth. What is -- what's the security like now because there is still jewelry on display there, isn't there?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's one of the things I found incredible as I walked through the lobby of the Carlton Hotel and it didn't look like anything had happened.

In fact, they still have jewelry cases out containing emeralds and sapphires. Although this particular exhibition, which was a Leviev exhibition, which is major global diamond house, it was supposed to be temporary. We're told that today that particular exhibition is closed, but there's still diamonds and sapphires in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel, Michael.

HOLMES: Unbelievable. Erin McLaughlin, we'll be watching you to see if you're wearing a necklace in the next day or so there in Cannes, or Cannes.

COREN: $136 million, what would you do with it?

HOLMES: I don't trust that McLaughlin, by the way.

COREN: No. No, those earrings were too sparkly.

All right, shifting gears, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators start talking today face-to-face in Washington, but will they find peace? Well, that's coming up on CNN's AROUND THE WORLD. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone, to AROUND THE WORLD.

We're going to continue to follow this. Firefighters on the scene of that building collapse that's still ongoing in Philadelphia right now. You see these pictures taken a little while ago by our affiliate, KYW, who are reporting, by the way, that there are injuries. According to their reports, seven people injured following this row house collapsing and then other houses neighboring partially collapsing as well.

This is South Philly, if you're familiar with the area. It's the 400 block of Daly Street. Still trying to get more information. There were witnesses who spoke to our affiliate, saying that one of injured was a child who actually had to be thrown from the home into the arms of a waiting firefighter, our affiliate being told that by a witness.

We're keeping an eye on it. If we get any more developments, we'll bring them to you immediately, of course.

COREN: All right, we don't know what's on the menu. but politics is almost certainly on the agenda as President Obama meets with Hillary Clinton over lunch this hour. This president is hosting his former secretary of state in the private dining room.

Clinton has been busy since she stepped down as the country's top diplomat with speaking engagements and women's empowerment events. She is a potential candidate in the 2016 presidential race, and today's lunch is certain to generate a lot of political (inaudible).

HOLMES: It is, isn't it? You can't sneak around Washington and not get noticed.

After decades now of on-again, off-again talks, years of stalemate, inertia, impotence, some would say, there is a faint glimmer of hope for the future of Middle East peace talks or at least talks about talks.

COREN: Israeli and Palestinian representatives meet in Washington tonight for those face -to-face talks. The meeting comes after the Israeli government approved the release of 104 Palestinian. Prime Minister Netanyahu called it a tough decision for the good of the country.

HOLMES: Let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. You know, Jill, I know that the secretary of state, John Kerry, he's been pushing hard to kick start this process, a lot harder than previous administrations, you'd have to say. He's been there half a dozen times, a lot of phone-calling, a lot of arm-twisting one imagines.

You know, when you've had both sides suffering inertia, and the U.S. being on the sidelines of late, what's the reason for thinking this will be one? JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mere fact that they are now, the two sides, sitting down, they will be here at the State Department tonight for a working dinner, the mere fact that they are together and that they have at least the beginning of a conversation going to -- on negotiations over these final status issues that have plagued secretaries of state and everybody else for years, that's significant.

Now, of course, what happens? Will it lead to something. Will there ultimately be, you know, some type of a reconciliation or an agreement? That is very hard to predict.

And listen to what Secretary of State John Kerry said this morning when he was here at the State Department introducing his new envoy, Martin Indyk.


SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Going forward, it's no secret that this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago. It's no secret therefore that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues. I think reasonable compromises has to be a keystone of all of this effort.


DOUGHERTY: And that's going to be the theme, definitely, Michael, reasonable compromises coming both from the Israelis, and they are represented by Tzipi Livni, the justice minister. and also Saeb Erekat. He is the representative for the Palestinians.

But, ultimately, as we talked with people, experts who really know the region, what they are saying is you're going to have to get involvement directly from the top, and that means Netanyahu, Abbas and President Obama.

HOLMES: All right, yeah, a lot of people looking on, hoping for some optimism, but a lot of pessimists out there as well. Hopefully, it's not the same old story.

Jill Dougherty, good to see you. Thanks so much.

COREN: Coming up, a South African chef is told he's too fat to live in New Zealand, why he's being denied a visa for being obese. (Inaudible).

That's coming up.

HOLMES: And they walk the streets at night. Now a group of prostitutes in Mexico want to share their stories and they're going to journalism school to do just that. We'll explain when we come back.