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Top Tech 2013; Van Smashes Into Ga. Dept of Revenue to Steal ATM; Piranha Attack Swimmers in Argentina; Salvation Army Worker Finds Donated Wedding Ring; Batman Collection Named by Guinness As World's Largest; Cold Weather Continues; Top International Stories of 2013; Kerry Meets Snoop; New Cowboy QB Donates Game Salary to His High School

Aired December 27, 2013 - 15:30   ET


CHRISTINA WARREN, SENIOR TECH ANALYST, MASHABLE.COM: The iPhone 5s with the Touch I.D. fingerprint sensor is amazing. The iPad Air is thinner than ever, and the new Mac Pro is just a phenomenal piece of engineering.


WARREN: So, I'm going to say that Apple really won this year.



BRETT LARSON, HOST, TECHBYTES: I'm going to disagree slightly with the assertion.

I agree that they've had some great things. I think it's kind of a hit or miss with Apple.

I feel like they're kind of starting to lose the game that they started. I mean, they created the whole concept of all of us carrying around tablets or at least made them cool, but I feel like they're starting to lose to the competition.

The Surface 2 sold out. The Amazon Kindle has just as nice a display as the --

WARREN: The Surface 2 sold out because they cut the price $500. Come on, guys.

PHILLIPS: All right, go ahead.

SCOTT STEINBERG, CEO TECHSAVVY GLOBAL: There's also the bigger picture, too, right?

It doesn't matter if you're buying from Apple, Sony, Samsung, smartphones and tablets as a whole have grown exponentially, so the irony is we talk about not having a p.c. in every house.

The argument you can make to counter that is actually that smartphones and tablets are computers. They're just packaged a little more portably and more user friendly, so they really are in every house and in every pocket.

PHILLIPS: So, Scott, what was your favorite, then?

STEINBERG: My favorite was the growing sense of practicality as well as performance.

So, we saw in 2013 how more and more gadgets have become much easier to use. They've got much more practical, everyday, useful features and everybody is doubling down on power and performance.

But as we saw even with Apple and other manufacturers, it's not always about the latest and greatest. It's about what's the most useful.

PHILLIPS: All right, so, Scott, what do you think was the least useful, then?

STEINBERG: Well, I think a lot of -- boy, way to put me out there, yes.

Some of these connected TVs, actually I'm going to put them on the line and say a lot of the connected TVs because surveys were saying people actually were not using most of the features.

They were streaming Netflix, they were listening to Pandora, but everything else went by the wayside.

And, of course, all these advancements were heavily marketed, cost millions, but I don't think they weren't a lot of practical. Not a lot of people were using them.

PHILLIPS: OK, Brett, how about you?

LARSON: I want to speak quickly to what Scott said about the smart TVs. I think the other problem is what we're seeing is people are using things that give them good content.

So they're using Netflix and they're Pandora because those are two entertainment things.

I'm not a fan of major league baseball, so I'm not going to use the MLB plug-in on a smart TV, but I may watch some Amazon original programming on the Amazon Prime streaming app.

I think we dismiss a lot of technology for its not being very practical, but what we're really saying is it's just a conduit to provide entertainment or content, and when it's not used properly, then people -- then it's just going to die by the wayside.

Like Beta, there was no content on Beta, which is why VHS won. It's a very -- you don't have to look too far back.

PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh. I go all the back to three-quarter, so that's a whole other discussion, shows how old I am.

STEINBERG: Interesting you brought that up, because that was another big loser this year, was physical media. It's streaming everything. Music, movies, books, games, you can get it all digitally now.

I wouldn't necessarily want to be in the business. I know music has been right- sizing itself somewhat, but I'm not sure I would want to be in the business of selling CDs or DVDs at this point.

PHILLIPS: OK, bold prediction for 2014? Christina?

WARREN: I think that the wearables are going to go mainstream. I think they're finally going to get attractive.

And I think we might see a comeback with physical media only because 4K is going to be a big tax on broadband and people might have to buy Blu-ray to watch that content on their TVs.


STEINBERG: I'm going to say it's going to come down to as far as winners go, not necessarily the most performance oriented, but the most practical.

It's not necessarily about the technology, but the human elements, how we use it, who offers the most affordable and practical everyday convenient features.


LARSON: I think we'll see big changes in privacy. People are becoming concerned with what the NSA can see and do with our stuff.

The winner next year, the bold prediction, is whoever steps forward and says, your secrets are safe with us, park them here, they're going to win next year.

PHILLIPS: I tell you, all the gray areas with regard to the law, all the legal stuff we talked about because of social media and technology, it's crazy.

Brett, Christina, Scott, thanks, guys, so much.

Coming up, check this out. A van slams into the building at the Georgia department of revenue, but it was no accident. We're going to tell you what was going on.

Also, later, I'm going to speak with the founder of this Web site,

The mission? Helping children faced with serious medical issues by turning them into superheroes.

You won't want to miss it.


PHILLIPS: Some of the hottest stories in a flash, "Rapid Fire," let's roll it. Take a look at this amazing video from inside the Georgia department of revenue. A van smashes into the building, narrowly missing the security guard inside.

The suspects grabbed two ATMs. It took less than three minutes. Police found the getaway car and the ATMs.

In Argentina, a Christmas Day swim turned out bad. A swarm of flesh- eating piranha injured about 70 swimmers including some kids who may have lost fingers in the attack.

Locals said an isolated attack isn't that uncommon, but to have so many people attacked at once is unheard of.

And a Salvation Army bell ringer emptied her bucket to find coins and a letter. It asked the Salvation Army to find a couple that was in love, along with the letter, a diamond engagement ring and a wedding band.


JESSICA RIDDLE, SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGER: A lady walks up to the kettle and she had a wad of money and was trying to push it in.

We tried to help her, and she kind of didn't want any help. She didn't want us to see what was in the middle of the money.

We opened the kettle and I kind of looked through and there was a note that, when I opened the note, there were the wedding band set.


PHILLIPS: Now the Salvation Army is holding a contest to find a couple who can make use of the rings. The winners will be announced next month in time to celebrate Valentine's Day together.

It was a hobby that turned into an obsession and now it's a world record. Kevin Silva has packed his Batcave with Bat toys and other items. He said he started collecting the stuff piece by piece as a kid.

Now the Batcave, which is really just his basement, holds 2,500 pieces of Bat stuff. It sets a new Guinness World Record, too, and it's worth about $100,000.

Of course, superheroes are the good guys. They fight evil, but for some kids, the villain they're battling is a serious medical problem.

Now those kids have a way to become their own superhero and maybe get a little help in their fight. On, kids battling serious illness connect with kids just like them. They and their families can share stories, find comfort, maybe even help each other.

Jackie Waters created the site and joins me from Cincinnati, Ohio. First, tell us how you help turn the kids into mini superheroes.

I have seen the pictures and the Web site. It's been very cool.

JACKIE WATERS, FOUNDER, HELPYOURHERO.ORG: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Basically, what we do is with their parents' help, they can come on the site and we have a way for them to walk through how it works to see what superhero they would like to become.

They choose their superhero caricature, their own name, and they even name their nemesis.

Then we create a superheroes headquarters for them where they're able to share their real-life story as much as they like, and also to create their superhero story.

So it's really exciting to be able to give them an opportunity to be able to go into this, what we call hero-verse, this fictional place where they can go in and become the superhero and take on their nemesis, which is, of course, the medical condition.

PHILLIPS: What a creative way to work through this and have a therapeutic experience.

And this was all inspired through your sister, right? You recently lost her. Tell me about her and how your relationship led to this fabulous project.

WATERS: Well, she was diagnosed when she was seven months pregnant in 1991, and fortunately, she was able to deliver a healthy baby boy a month later.

And at the time, she was told that out of 15 documented cases, no one had survived the type of tumor, which is a rare brain cancer called (inaudible)

And when that happened, of course, you're devastated. This is before the Internet, but the doctor said don't go to the library, whatever you do. It's not good news.

So Tracy took on a belief that she was going to overcome this, you know, diagnosis and do whatever she had to. She had a newborn, Austin, and then a 3-year-old, Chaz, at home. And she had to take this on and, you know, with the belief she was going to beat it.

So at that time in 1991, we had seen so many people come forward and want to do anything they could to help Tracy and our family, so we began a journey, 22 years ago, of paying it forward.

Tracy said, how are we going to pay all these people back? I said, we're not, at the time, pay it forward wasn't a coined saying, but now it is. I said, We're going to pay back the people who need it.

Throughout her journey of this really rare cancer, she just kept the belief she was going to beat it.

Then when it came back in 2000, she actually said, I need to be made of steel. I need to take on this with a different perspective of I need to be strong for everybody else.

I'm like, Strong for everybody else? You know, you're the one going through this. She said no, I want to be strong for my boys, because they were older at the time, and all of us, all of her family and friends.

She put on some Superman pajamas and went in for her third brain surgery and said I'm made of steel, and nicknamed herself.

This is when Jennifer Lopez came out with her nickname of J. Lo, and Tracy heard her say that, and she's like, J. Lo? T-Si, so she became known as Superwoman T-Si.

Yeah, so, it was awesome. As hard as it is not to have her here, she was actually -- she, of course, is the inspiration behind Help Your Hero because we wanted to pay it forward in a big way for what somebody did for us.

But she's here with me all the time, and she's just made Help Your Hero to what we're even hoping to help so many people with what we have to offer.

PHILLIPS: Yeah. Her spirit is definitely working within you. That's for sure.

Jackie, what an absolutely amazing project. Thanks for inspiring us today. Really appreciate you, Jackie.

WATERS: No problem. Thank you for having us. We appreciate it.

And at Help Your Hero, we can't cure medical conditions, but we can cure the "how can I help my hero" condition.

PHILLIPS: You're doing it every day. Thanks, Jackie.

Next, hundreds of thousands of people have been without power for days, no sign of relief, and a new storm is about to make matters worse.

We'll update you, next.


PHILLIPS: Hundreds of thousands of people have been without power for days. Fourteen people are reported dead.

Jennifer Grey in the CNN Weather Center, is it showing any sign of letting up?

JENNIFER GREY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, temperatures are actually going to warm up briefly. There's only a couple days, though. We have a tiny window where temperatures will be above freezing in the north.

We have 38 in Detroit right now, and Syracuse hitting freezing at 32. Temperatures are going to stay just a little bit warmer for the next couple of days. Burlington finally hitting 36 by Saturday, but then on Sunday, back to 32.

We're also going to see temperatures in Maine hit 35, but then plunging again on Sunday at 25. So temperatures do get above freezing.

Detroit should stay above freezing all the way through Sunday. This is our next storm system that's already setting up and it's going to spread rain all across the Deep South, Saturday morning and then into Sunday morning.

You can see Atlanta right here, already under a flood watch for the weekend. And then it's going to ride up the mid-Atlantic, Sunday morning through Sunday afternoon.

You can see dumping quite a bit of rain across New York City, Boston. Good news, it looks like it's mainly going to be a rainmaker. We could see an icy mix, a little snow, but it's going to be confined to the northeast.

We could see quite a bit of snow across portions of Maine, but 2 to 5 inches in places like Vermont, New Hampshire, really not all that bad, so it looks like it's going to be mainly a rain event.

Around Atlanta, we could pick up 1 to 3 inches of rain, could see isolated amounts, even more, 1 to 2 inches in the Carolinas and across the Deep South, could see 2 to 3 inches of rain with this system.

So, as of today, though, really not much going on. We are seeing a little bit of lake effect snow still going on in upstate New York. That's really it.

We'll be tracking the system through the weekend, but the good news is it looks like it's mainly going to be rain.

PHILLIPS: All right, Jennifer, thanks.

Oscar Pistorius on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, the birth of a new baby royal, violence, political upheaval, and the word welcomes a new pope, just some of the top international stories of the year we're counting down for you, next.


PHILLIPS: 2013, the world welcomed a new British heir and said goodbye to a leader who inspired the world with his calm, courage and strength.

Those were just two of the top international stories that we witnessed altogether this year.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're getting word of a deadly shooting involving international sports icon Oscar Pistorius and his model girlfriend. HOLMES: The Olympian admits to shooting Reeva Steenkamp in his lavish South African home on Valentine's Day. But he says it was all an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oscar Pistorius appearing before the magistrate. He was clearly upset, at times sobbing, crying.

HOLMES: Pistorius, nicknamed "Blade Runner" for the prosthetic legs he uses for sprinting, was charged with premeditated murder. He's fighting that charge, saying he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Number nine, the royal announcement heard around the world --

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 p.m. local time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God save the queen.

HOLMES: The fountains of Trafalgar Square illuminated in blue light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new royal heir in the United Kingdom.

HOLMES: Baby George was born in July to Prince William and his wife, Kate.

Number eight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tens of thousands of people have poured out onto the streets in what is another demonstration against the government.

HOLMES: About a year after the Arab Spring ushered in Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi is then ousted in a military coup, many Egyptians, frustrated by what they saw as the slow pace of change and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

Number seven, after decades of distrust and a diplomatic gridlock, there's a thaw with Iran.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The phone call that's making history. President Obama called Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani.

HOLMES: And in November, a breakthrough in Geneva.

BLITZER: A deal has been reached, a deal involving Iran and six world powers.

HOLMES: The preliminary deal limits Iran's ability to work towards a nuclear weapon and loosens some international sanctions. Critics say it doesn't go far enough.

Number six --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All around us you hear the sounds of windows breaking. You hear the sounds of large objects falling and crashing to the floor. HOLMES: Typhoon Haiyan wiped out entire towns in the Philippines, one of the strongest storms to hit any country ever.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The smells in Tacloban are overwhelming, the smell of death, the smell of decay.

HOLMES: More than 5,000 people killed.

Number five, terror at a mall in Kenya, gunmen opened fire, killing dozens and taking many hostages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone here in Nairobi is on a razor's edge. I'm standing just a short distance away from the Westgate Mall that's under siege in its third day.

HOLMES: Surveillance cameras captured this chilling video of gunmen shooting their way through a supermarket in the mall and al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab in Somalia claims responsibility.

Number four, grief and gratitude as the world says good-bye to Nelson Mandela.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's now at peace.

HOLMES: The former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died at the age of 95.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind me you can see a crowd. They've been dancing and singing almost nonstop since the news came.

HOLMES: His life celebrated for ending apartheid and creating a democratic and inclusive South Africa. For 10 days, South Africans and dignitaries from around the world honored the man who taught the world about compassion, patience, reconciliation and freedom.

CURNOW: Now we see Nelson Mandela making that final journey.

HOLMES: Number three --

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A person who says he leaked top-secret information about a U.S. government surveillance program has emerged from the shadows and identified himself.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: My name is Ed Snowden.

HOLMES: The U.S. manhunt for Edward Snowden turns into an international game of cat and mouse.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The man who's been spilling U.S. intelligence secrets is on the move. But where is his final destination?

HOLMES: First Hong Kong lets him go then Russia refuses to extradite him. Snowden's leaks were a major embarrassment for the NSA, revealing the extent the agency was spying on Americans as well as international leaders and citizens.

Number two --

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The pope resigns, the leader of the Catholic Church stepping down at the end of the month.

HOLMES: Pope Benedict becomes the first head of the Catholic Church to resign in 600 years. The 86-year-old said it was because of poor health.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR The bell is ringing here in Rome -- the campanone, the big ring. That means one thing, John Allen. What does it mean?


HOLMES: The first pope elected from South America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The curtains are open. The cross bearer is coming out and there he is.

HOLMES: Dubbed "the people's pope", Francis has laid out a vision of a more inclusive Catholic Church, focusing on compassion for the poor and afflicted.

Number one, the civil war in Syria, more than two years of fighting, some 100,000 have been killed, more than 2 million are refugees --

In August, a chemical weapons attack kills hundreds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely horrifying. We've seen a video showing the bodies of lifeless children.

HOLMES: Syria denied responsibility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. is making the case for military intervention in Syria.

HOLMES: The U.S. on the brink of military action. But a last-minute deal brokered by Russia averted an international crisis. The agreement dismantles Syria's chemical arsenal but left Bashar al-Assad in power, a civil war raging and a civilian population still suffering.


PHILLIPS: Thank you so much, Michael Holmes.

You can also vote on the top 10 overall stories of 2013. Just go to for Year In Review.

You got to see these pictures, Secretary of state John Kerry, normally traveling the world, having very serious discussions internationally, making international headlines, meeting with world leaders.

Check this out, Kerry and Snoop Dogg. Apparently. the two met backstage at the Kennedy Center Honors. They fist bumped.

We have no idea what they're saying. I don't know. Maybe they had a little gin and juice.

Here's a story that we wanted to leave you with. Jon Kitna, last week at this time he was teaching math and coaching football at a Tacoma, Washington, high school.

But get this. He just got hired by the Dallas Cowboys. He's going to be the third-string emergency quarterback for the weekend's game. The team's starting quarterback was injured and can't play.

Great story, right? But here's what makes it even better. The 41-year- old says he's donating his entire $53,000 game check to the high school where he works. You've got to love it.

Joe Johns is filling in for Jake Tapper today on "THE LEAD." That starts right now.