Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Vote Count Show Clean Bill Would Pass; International Community Urges Budget, Debt Ceiling Resolution; China and Japan Concerned About Debt Ceiling; Saudi Gets 8 Years for Killing Daughter; Maersk Alabama Crew

Aired October 8, 2013 - 12:30   ET




The president and the House speaker are talking. Mr. Obama called John Boehner this morning, but they seem to be having the same old conversation.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: So the stalemate over the partial government shutdown is still on.

Meanwhile, we are looking a new reality in the House of Representatives now. Now we've tallied the votes there, and there are enough, when you add it all up, to pass a bill that would reopen the government without preconditions.

HOLMES: Yeah, now here is how it adds up.

There are a total of 432 members with three House seats vacant. Divide that, the magic number is 216.

We've actually revised from the beginning of the program. We've now learned that there are 18 Republicans who would vote for a clean c.r. That goes with the 200 Democrats.

GORANI: Right. But not enough House members are willing to force the speaker, John Boehner, to bring it to a vote.

Boehner says he is not drawing a line in the sand on this shutdown, but he's also not budging from his position that the shutdown is essentially not his fault, not his party's fault.

HOLMES: Yeah, now the U.S. starts defaulting on its debts, or potentially defaulting, nine days from now if Congress doesn't raise that all-important debt ceiling.

Guess what? China and Japan are warning, yeah, raise it


SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: China is now complaining about the fiscal integrity of the United States of America, because we are arriving at a point in a few days, we are not going to pay our bills. This is America.


HOLMES: Check out these international headlines, and these are not actually the worst of them.

You've got the U.K.'s "Independent" newspaper saying, "China to the U.S., get your fiscal house in order."

GORANI: And in "The Guardian," "China warns Washington over U.S. fiscal impasse."

HOLMES: Alison Kosik, joining us now.

Alison, China and Japan are concerned about the U.S. financial impasse for one reason. They are holding most of the foreign debt.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. They are allowed to complain, right? China complaining, you can understand that.

China and Japan are our biggest creditors, so, yeah, they want to get paid. You know, you look at who holds our debt. China holds $1.3 trillion of our debt. They invest in the U.S. They buy our debt.

That debt accrues interest and guess what? We have to pay that interest.

Now, China and Japan, they want to make sure this happens, but with every day that passes, default becomes more likely, so you've got China's vice finance minister speaking out today, asking that the U.S. take steps to revolve in a timely way the debt ceiling.

This is actually the first official response coming from China, and we're hearing similar words from Japanese officials as well.

Michael and Hala?

GORANI: All right, Alison Kosik. Well, one question, what happens to these countries -- before we let you go -- if the United States does default on its debt?

KOSIK: That's a good question because analysts say what would happen is you'd see these effects felt sooner rather than later.

In fact, the latest warning is coming from the IMF's research director. Listen to this.


OLIVIER BLANCHARD, IMF ECONOMIC COUNSELOR: The effects of any failure to repay the debt would be felt right away, leading to potentially major disruptions in financial markets, both in the United States and abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: Now we don't know for sure or what's going to happen because the fact of the matter is the U.S. has never defaulted ever before, and analysts expect that the global economies would take a hit.

You would see stock markets around the globe fall. You'd look at the value of the dollar. That would drop, so global investors have to invest elsewhere. And you'd see it putting pressure on other currencies as well.

Here's a caveat, though. Many analysts, they're still optimistic. They think that Congress is going to raise it in time.

But, look, the clock is ticking. October 17th is next week.

Michael and Hala?

HOLMES: Also, the damage done as well.

Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

Yeah, the damage done, even if they do raise it, here we have gone through a another couple of weeks of uncertainty, and the outside looking in on the U.S. is saying, are you guys going to do this every year?

GORANI: Right.

Well, some people have said after Vladimir Putin lectured America on political freedom. Now you have China and Japan telling America how to run its economy.

You have a lot of people outside the U.S. telling the U.S. how to run its business. It'll be interesting to see reaction.

And also coming up, we are live from Detroit where people are sounding off about this government shutdown.

HOLMES: Yeah, there message for Washington is clear. We'll have that next for you.

Stay with us here on AROUND THE WORLD.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. It is 12:39 p.m. Eastern. We are watching two live events in Washington right now.

A Senate lunch is getting started, Democrats and Republicans breaking bread together. We'll let you know if any news comes out of that gathering.

Also in a few minutes, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte will hold a news conference on that capture of that al Qaeda operative, Abu Anas al Libi, by American forces in Libya.

We will monitor it and bring you any breaking news. Michael?

All right, Michael?

HOLMES: And President Obama says, quote, "The longer this goes on. the worst it will be."

Now naturally he's talking about the partial government shutdown. Americans coast-to-coast want to know when the politicians are going to stop fighting and fix this mess. What has been your message to Washington?

Well, we sent Ted Rowlands to Detroit to find out. Ted, what did they tell you?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, we've been on the road for a week now, and it is impossible to overstate how absolutely disgusted the majority of the people we have talked to are with politicians on Capitol Hill.

We are asking them, what message would you send to Washington last night? We were at a cafe here in Detroit.

One of them said, you know what? It's partially our fault because we voted those people into office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't participate in certain elections, it turns out that you will have, you know -- I was about to use a bad word.

But you will have complete idiots elected who will do absolutely nothing but hold our government hostage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they should all get a life and get out and do the job right. If you can't do it, then you have to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's deplorable. I don't like it.

And I have a great issue with the idea of a career politician. It's the one thing that I think our Forefathers never contemplated, and it is what has brought our system down nick by nick, year by year, over the past 225 years to where we are at now.


ROWLANDS: And that's one of the recurring things we've heard is that people are disappointed with the system.

Instead of sending the best and brightest to Washington to represent different areas of the country, we're ending up sending people that are just spineless and ego maniacs that really don't have the constituents at heart.

And people are angry. And the longer this goes on, I can guarantee you they will get more disgusted.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's interesting. We had you on CNN International earlier. I've had tweets since your report the, people saying these people were spot on in what they were telling you.

Do they get more specific in who they blame? Do they blame John Boehner, the tea party, Congress, the president, who?

ROWLANDS: I think it's gotten past that point where people now are just disgusted and evaluating the whole system. How did we get here?

And you heard that guy talking about the Forefathers not envisioning career politicians.

They are disgusted by the behavior. I mean, the date was on everybody's calendar, and the fact the debt ceiling may now be in jeopardy, people are disgusted.

And you know what they are scared of? They're scared that they will actually come up with another 11th hour solution, and then they're going to have one of those disgusting news conferences, congratulating themselves.

It's really laughable, what people think of Washington right now around the country in all the cities we've been to over the last week.

HOLMES: And then maybe do it all again in a year or so.

Ted, thanks so much. It's fascinating, having you out there on the streets, listening. And Detroit already hard enough hit by the economy.


GORANI: Coming up, he killed his five-year-old daughter and many people wanted him sentenced to death, but he got a much, much lighter sentence in exchange for something called "blood money."

We'll explain this horrific story out of Saudi Arabia. next.


GORANI: Welcome back.

A self-described Saudi cleric, a man who preached peace, has been convicted of beating and torturing his own five-year-old daughter to death.

HOLMES: An extraordinary story. Many in Saudi Arabia questioning the eight-year sentence he was given. His is our Mohammed Jamjoom.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just five years old when she was beaten to death. Lama al-Ghamdi precious smile became a symbol of unspeakable brutality. After being beaten and tortured, she lingered in a hospital for months before succumbing to a crushed skull, broken ribs, and burns.

Lama's case quickly caused outrage throughout Saudi Arabia. Many shocked not just by what happened, but even more by who had been accused of doing it to her. Her father, Fayham al-Ghamdi, a self- styled Saudi cleric. Somebody known for preaching tolerance on TV. On Monday, a court found him guilty. Many thought he'd pay for the crime with his life. Instead, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and 600 lashes.

According to an official with a government backed rights group, al- Ghamdi was also ordered to pay restitution, what they call here blood money. In a conservative country where the death penalty is common, Saudi social media users were quick to express disgust. "What kind of verdict is this," tweeted one. "This is not justice," tweeted another.

Some pointed out what they call the travesty that killing Lama garnered al-Ghamdi a punishment similar to that received by a Saudi activist recently sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes, convicted of violating the nation's anti-cybercrime law by running an unauthorized web forum. Mohammed el-Mardi (ph), with Saudi Arabia's human rights commission, sold CNN al-Ghamdi might have been executed had Lama's mother not seeded (ph) her original request of the death money and asked for the blood money instead, which he added is her right under Saudi law. But given the memory of a tortured child, many Saudis now asking if those laws are applied fairly.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.


GORANI: A tragic story there.

HOLMES: Absolutely extraordinary stuff. Now, you've got to head off back down to CNN International for the iDesk down there, but thanks for being with us this morning.

GORANI: All right. It was great being with you.

HOLMES: Hala Gorani heading off. But I'll be back and we're going to have this, as well as other stuff.

A high seas hostage drama starring Tom Hanks as Richard Phillips, captain of the ship Maersk Alabama. Remember it was hijacked by Somali pirates back in '09? The captain was called a hero. The crew, though, says he was reckless. We'll get both sides of this when we come back.


HOLMES: Yes, remember this? It was a riveting story. You had Somali pirates seizing a ship with an American crew and the ship's heroic captain rises to the occasion. Well, that story is now a feature movie starring Tom Hanks.


TOM HANKS, ANCHOR, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": This is the Maersk Alabama. We are an unarmed freighter. We have a potential piracy situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": Copy, Alabama, you should alert your crew to get your -


HOLMES: Yes, wait a minute, though. The crew says the film gets it all wrong. Drew Griffin talked to both sides, trying to separate fact from Hollywood fiction.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT REPORTER (voice-over): As their captain was being lauded as a hero, the crew of the Maersk Alabama watched and bit their tongues. No more.

MIKE PERRY, CHIEF ENGINEER, MAERSK ALABAMA: We vowed we were going to take it to our grave. We weren't going to say anything. Then we hear this PR stuff coming out about him giving himself up and we said, and he's still on -- he's still a hostage. And we -- the whole crew is like, what? Because everybody's in shock.

GRIFFIN: Back in 2010, the Alabama's chief engineer, Mike Perry, told us he and most of the crew couldn't believe the story being painted about their captain, Captain Richard Phillips, that he had given himself up in exchange for the safety of his crew. Left out of the entire story, says Perry, is the captain's recklessness that steered the Maersk Alabama into pirate-infested waters. According to the crew members, Captain Phillips, on a voyage from Oman to Mombasa, Kenya, set a course to save money. That route would shorten the trip and, according to third engineer John Cronan, put the crew directly in harm's way.

JOHN CRONAN, THIRD ENGINEERING OFFICER, MAERSK ALABAMA: He was advised to change course by competent deck officers and he overruled them. Stay on course. Make our easy a (ph). Stay on the same course.

GRIFFIN: In a 2010 interview, Captain Richard Phillips told us he was not used to criticism. When CNN confronted him with these e-mails and his crews' concerns, he said it was the first time his judgment had been questioned.

GRIFFIN (on camera): The complaint is that there were specific e-mails sent to your ship stressing the need to go further out to sea.

CAPT. RICHARD PHILLIPS, MAERSK ALABAMA: Yes. So on something like that, we will deal with that in the arena that they wish, and that's the court. That's what this is based on.

GRIFFIN: Is it true?

PHILLIPS: Umm, there are warnings put out - I don't know what authorities he's talking about. He doesn't say.

GRIFFIN: Well, I have the e-mails.


GRIFFIN: You've seen the e-mails.

PHILLIPS: I haven't seen e-mails since I've been on the ship.

GRIFFIN: You got them, right? But you were warned to go further out to sea.

PHILLIPS: (INAUDIBLE) warned to stay clear of an area, yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The captain is now a witness in a contentious lawsuit between some of the crew and the shipping company. In a deposition just last year, Captain Phillips admitted he did indeed receive the e-mail warnings. He also admits he kept the warnings to himself. Asked by a plaintiff's attorney why he didn't move further offshore, Phillips testifies, "I don't believe 600 miles would make you safe. I didn't believe 1,200 miles would make you safe." Phillips told us much of the criticism is driven by human nature and by lawsuits filed by members of his crew. He also says the story itself was fueled by a press that wanted a hero, a captain who saved his crew, a good story and now a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": Four pirates on board. Four pirates.

PHILLIPS: The media got everything wrong. I don't know how I could control this when I'm in a lifeboat and the media is saying I gave myself up for it. In the book, if you read it -- have you read that book?

GRIFFIN (on camera): I did. I read it.

PHILLIPS: So you know I didn't give myself up. I was already a hostage by then.


HOLMES: Drew Griffin reporting there. The movie, by the way, hits the big screens on Friday. So, check it out and make up your own mind.

Coming up, how papers around the world are reacting to the government crisis in the United States. That's next on AROUND THE WORLD.


HOLMES: All right, got an update for you on the tragedy involved the cruise ship the Costa Concordia. Divers, of course, have been going through that ship since they set it upright and they have found, it appears, more human remains. The ship capsized, of course, after hitting rocks off Italy's Giglio Island last January. Thirty-two people died. Two of the bodies were never found. Now, these remains are possibly those of a missing crew member. They were found on the bridge. Other remains were found a week or two back. Now, as we say, the ship now sits upright after that history-making engineering project to lift it off its side. All right, the U.S. financial situation being monitored right around the world as we have been reporting here. I want to give you a sampling, though, of some of the international headlines. And these, in many ways, are the kind ones. Let's go to "The China Daily," of course in Hong Kong, the lead story "China calls on the U.S. to stay sovereign." China, of course, the biggest holder of U.S. debt, foreign holder any way.

In the Middle East, this headline in "The Gulf News," which is based in Dubai, "shutdown dims hope for retail." They're worried about the economy too. The paper says a big concern is that a prolonged government shutdown could severely hurt the economy and necessarily consumer spending and, therefore, annual growth.

And we got another front page from "The Independent" in the United Kingdom that I'll mention. It says it's all about the U.S. budget standoff and it says this. It says China's fears over the political deadlock, they're highlighted there. You can see that telling President Obama to "get a grip" and mentions that world markets are already jittery following the lack of progress on Capitol Hill.

All right, that will do it for me. Thanks for being with us today. CNN NEWSROOM with Wolf Blitzer starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.