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Politics in 2014; New Laws Coming in 2014; New NSA Spying Revelations; Preview of CNN New Year's Eve Celebrations.

Aired December 31, 2013 - 11:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to move on to 2016. I know it's not even 2014 yet. The big question though is when or how will the next presidential race seep into this year?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, god. I mean, start your stopwatch right now. The way the presidential cycles work, you know you will see speculation until the midterms. And basically, the day after that, November 5th, you'll see candidates declare. Remember the Iowa caucuses are just a year. It opens seats on both sides. Republicans and Democrats will be competing intensely. And you'll see the leading contenders campaign heavily in 2014. Chris Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association, will be heavily involved in trying to gain pickups. And Hillary Clinton striding like a colossus over the Democratic field. But that race will be the day after the midterms are done.

BERMAN: You might see the Clintons or Christies campaigning hard in certain Congressional states like Iowa or New Hampshire just by coincidence.

AVLON: Yeah. Total coincidence. But they happen to be swing states as well. So it ups the ante in the intensity.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you for joining us. Thanks, and happy New Year to you and yours.

AVLON: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: The markets are set to close out 2013 with a bang. Here is a look at the big board right now. The Dow Jones is up 52 points today, over 16,550. Not bad. The S&P and Dow have both hit all-time highs this year. They're on track as the best gains in a year since 1997.

More trouble for Target, this time, with gift cards. They say some gift cards were not activated probably, meaning they might not work at checkout. But Target says it will honor the cards and it affects less than 1 percent of gift cards sold.

Is this, you're looking at right now, the work of aliens or very talented pranksters? Someone or something has created an elaborate crop circle in a California field. Two friends say they witnessed a strange burst of green light on the horizon Sunday night. Now crowds are gathering to see it all for themselves. The truth is out there.

So whether you're buying a new pet, lighting that cigarette near your baby, new laws may restrict what you do and where you do it. We'll have the LEGAL VIEW on these new laws, next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

The New Year means new laws. We've discussed the new marijuana law in Colorado. There are some 40,000 other new laws taking effect starting tomorrow that could have a big impact on you.

Rosa Flores gives us the highlights from the controversial to the quirky.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From flash-mob crackdowns --


FLORES: -- to pet lemon laws, 2014 will ring in 40,000 new state rules.

Here are the highs and lows. Smoking a reefer in Colorado is legal. Oh, but don't toss the butt of a cigarette in a public street in Illinois, it's considering littering. You could pay in cash or jail time. And don't even think about lighting one in a car with a child in Oregon. The Beaver State won't allow it.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First, we said, can you smoke in this part of the restaurant? Then we said, can you smoke outside? Then we said, can you smoke down the street. Then we said, can you move to another state? We do not like regular smokers. Meanwhile, when it comes to marijuana, it's fast becoming a legal substance in the United States.

FLORES: But now moms in Oregon can get away with this -- taking their placentas home from the hospital. If you're wondering, why do that in the first place, some experts think eating it has positive health benefits.

JOY GETMAN, OREGON MOTHER: As long as they're not giving it to other people to eat.


I suppose it's OK.

FLORES: And talking about health, no more tanning beds for some teens in Illinois and Oregon. You'll have to be 18 to tan in a salon in those places. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, what a happy girl.

FLORES: But you don't have to keep your new pet if it's sick. Illinois's new pet lemon law allows people to return a pet if an illness was not disclosed by the seller. In California, gender will no longer determine what bathroom children can use. It's gender identity that matters.

CEVALLOS: The student, who identifies as a different gender, may feel comfortable. What about all the other students? I think you'll see parents really revolting against this law.


FLORES: Serious moves could have serious consequences in Illinois. The maximum penalty doubled to six years prison time for organizing a violent flash mob using social media.

Rosa Flores, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Thanks to Rosa for that.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos; and HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

I want to start with the new law in California about gender identity.

We heard from you, Danny, in Rosa's piece.

But, Joey, I wonder if I could get your take on that.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: These legislatures have been very busy, John. Listen, give peace a chance. The reality is if that you're now a woman, you use the ladies' room. If you're now a man, you use the mens' room. It's all good. Legislatures have important and busy jobs to do. This was something that they figured they needed to do and so we respect the law as it's written and as it will be implemented.

BERMAN: Moving on to marijuana, Danny, you were noting that cigarette laws have become stricter and stricter. You can't smoke hardly anywhere anymore. But marijuana, we're starting to see it become legal in Colorado and Washington and probably in other states soon. Why the dichotomy there, do you think?

CEVALLOS: The same with alcohol. Alcohol is legal in your home, but you can't walk around on the street with a Solo cup. When it comes to tobacco, there are many different places you can and cannot smoke. And marijuana can be ingested a number of different ways beyond just smoking. There is very little rhyme or reason except that it's based on our history and traditions. Make no mistake about it, they're the only reason alcohol is so much more legal than marijuana and other controlled substances. Believe me, if cocaine appeared in the Bible, we would have legalized cocaine, but it does not. Therefore, we don't have it legal. It goes to our history and traditions, but ultimately, very schizophrenic approach to controlled substances.

BERMAN: Can you both weigh in on the very idea of some 40,000 new laws coming into effect. What kind of challenges does this pose to you, as defense attorneys, when, all of a sudden, there are thousands and thousands of new things that we to deal with? Or is it new business?

JACKSON: It certainly poses a challenge to our individual practices in that perhaps we'll be busier. I think there will be a decision made by law enforcement as to what's going to be enforced and what is not. We saw that with the marijuana law in terms of the federal government, whether they opted to enforce or not to enforce. Though the legislatures enacted these measures, it's going to be up to law enforcement to decide where to allocate their resources most appropriately. That's what we're going to see.

BERMAN: Joey Jackson, Danny Cevallos, our thanks to both of you. Happy New Year.

JACKSON: Happy New Year. Pleasure. Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Now, this is a conspiracy that "X Files" fans would be proud of. According to a new report, the NSA is able to tap into your iPhone. We have the details for you coming up next.


BERMAN: Just when you thought the details of the NSA's spying program could not get any more unsettling, there is this little nugget. A day after the German magazine, "Der Spiegel" reporting that the NSA is installing spy wear on laptops ordered online. A security researcher warns the NSA can get access to just about all of your iPhone data through a program called Dropout Jeep. It's a software implant that can push or pull files from your phone remotely, including your contacts, voicemail, camera, pretty much everything it sounds like. You hear that, and you may wonder, hey, who are these people potentially spying on me anyway? You might be surprised to find out.

Brian Todd introduces us to the NSA's elite packing unit, Tailored Access Operations.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A typical error message from Microsoft telling you of a bug in your computer. Many of us get them all the time. But for some users, that error message may be a way into their computer for an elite unit inside the NSA.

MATTHEW AID, AUTHOR: This is NSA's hacking organization. It's 1,600 men and women, military and civilians, average age, mid-20s, early 30s. It's a very young, very tech-savvy organization.

TODD: The unit is called Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. New details of its operation are reported in the German magazine "Der Spiegel," which cites internal NSA documents. The magazine says some of the hackers are based in this building in San Antonio. Aside from getting in through an error message, TAO hackers can access cookies, those tags that pop up showing a computer's favorite websites. And they can redirect users to a dummy page on a site like LinkedIn or Facebook. It looks like a real page, but it's a fake one controlled by the NSA.

(on camera): This is a dummy Facebook page. When you go there, what does the NSA want to find out?

MICHAEL SUTTON, ZACALER, INC: One would be to simply intercept and sniff your traffic. For example, I would be logging into this page and they would be able to see, now they have my user name and password and get into my account and help them in other attacks. But in this scenario, what they want to do is infect my machine.

TODD (voice-over): The unit doesn't do just remote hacking. According to "Der Spiegel," TAO operatives physically intercept computers being delivered to plant spy wear and even infiltrate offices to plant their own monitor cables and USB plugs on targeted computers to collect data.

An NSA official told CBS's "60 Minutes," the agency was concerned enough about the connecting cables on Edward Snowden's computers that it removed them after he leaked NSA documents.

According to the magazine, this NSA hacking unit targets potential terrorists, foreign security agencies and corporations.

SUTTON: From an eavesdropping perspective, this is a gold mine. If I can own your computer, if I can gain access to your computer, now I have access to all of your secrets.

TODD: In response to the report, the NSA said, "Tailored Access Operations is unique and it's on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. TAO's work is in support of foreign intelligence collection."

"Der Spiegel" says the NSA's hackers work with the CIA and FBI to fly some places and use operatives to place spy wear on computers and other things. The CIA wouldn't comment. And the FBI would only say any tools it uses in investigations are legal.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Thanks to Brian for that report.

We're now about 12 hours away from the New Year here in New York and Times Square is the place to be. Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin preview the night's events after this quick break.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

You are looking live at times square right here in New York. This is the quiet before the big noisy for some people sloppy New Year's Eve celebration in New York tonight. You can catch it all here tonight on CNN.

Hosts, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, have a hint what you might expect.


ANDERSON COOPER, CO-HOST, CNN NEW YEAR'S EVE CELEBRATION: So what are we going to do on New Year's Eve?

KATHY GRIFFIN, CO-HOST, CNN NEW YEAR'S EVE CELEBRATION: I'm going to give you a pot brownie right at 9:00.

COOPER: No, that's not going to happen.

GRIFFIN: I also, by the way, have a written statement from my mother because every year, she is embarrassed by my behavior.

COOPER: Yeah, I know.

GRIFFIN: May I read it?


GRIFFIN: Dear Mr. Cooper, the Vanderbilts, Roosevelt's and the entire team at CNN, I am quite thrilled that my daughter, Kathleen Mary, was asked to join Mr. Bush Anderson Cooper, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus for the celebration.

BERMAN: They're not going to be on.

GRIFFIN: I'm almost also happy that Santa Claus remains now and forever white. Oh, God. She watches FOX a lot. I've already begun toasting to your success by enjoying the finest of boxed wines. That's true. Please know I will never forgive myself if my daughter shames the Griffin name yet again. The only promise I make is I will certainly not be sober during your broadcast. Love, Maggie.

There's your beloved Maggie that you think is so charming

COOPER: I think she is charming. I think she's lovely. I find it hard to believe that you come from her.

GRIFFIN: Well, guess what.


GRIFFIN: She's here right now.

COOPER: No, really?


COOPER: Are you serious?



GRIFFIN: Look over there.

COOPER: Maggie, how is it going? MAGGIE GRIFFIN, MOTHER OF KATHY GRIFFIN: Hi, Anderson. How are you doing?

COOPER: I'm doing all right. I'm doing all right are you going to watch us on New Year's Eve?

MAGGIE GRIFFIN: Definitely, Anderson. She'll be a pillar of elegance that's for sure. She'll be doing no transactions.

GRIFFIN: Transactions?

MAGGIE GRIFFIN: Shenanigans.


GRIFFIN: I'm curious about the transactions. What does that mean?

MAGGIE GRIFFIN: As a mother, I can promise you that she'll be fully dressed at all times. Thank god. And she'll also not take the lord's name in vein.

COOPER: That's good.

MAGGIE GRIFFIN: Or attempt to disrobe him, attempt to disrobe Mr. Anderson, Mr. Cooper.

GRIFFIN: You don't have to call him Mr. Anderson, OK? That's all you need.


COOPER: Is she reading from the CNN contract that you were forced to sign? I hope so.

GRIFFIN: Yes. She is. And we had to put it in real big font and she's doing the best -- she doesn't normally read contracts.

COOPER: Let me just show, Kathy, a little bit of what I'm concerned about, given your past behavior? Let's show the clip from some of our years past.


COOPER: I'm here with, of course, Kathy Griffin.

GRIFFIN: I'm here with not Ryan Seacrest.

Let's throw some to the Jonas Brothers. You're frauds.

COOPER: You can't do that. You just threw something at the Jonas Brothers.

GRIFFIN: Yeah, I did.

COOPER: Wow, I almost wore this. I was this close.

GRIFFIN: It's not awkward at all.

COOPER: No, it's not awkward at all.


GRIFFIN: Sorry, hi, everybody. Take your hands off me. Honestly.

COOPER: Kathy was saying it's like the prom she never had.

GRIFFIN: That's right.

COOPER: I texted Kathy to sing to her happy Thanksgiving.

GRIFFIN: It was a really sweet text.

COOPER: You know what she texted back? Are you drunk?


ANDERSON: Seriously, I know that's your shtick and what you do, but I am really hoping this year just like, you know, just keep it clean. I mean, just do you remember thing but don't be tawdry. You know what I mean? I got a lot of tweets from people saying you went too far.

GRIFFIN: Tawdry. I didn't know it was the roaring is '20s.


I'll try not to be tawdry at the speakeasy. You know with Prohibition and all.

First of all, we're on from 9:00 till 12:30.

COOPER: That concerns me, as well.

GRIFFIN: By 12:00, you think I'm going to care anymore?

COOPER: That's what concerns me.

GRIFFIN: I'm -- Well, we should pick like a clean block. So maybe it's 9:15 to 9:30. I'm dressed and then the rest is just go time.


COOPER: Go time.


BERMAN: What could possibly go wrong? So tune in tonight for all of it. Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, more than three hours of all of this from the platform in Times Square. It will be live. It will it be hilarious. It will be something you will not want to miss. It all starts at 9:00 eastern right here on CNN.

So you might have heard the best time to buy a car is now at the end of the year. Well, wait until we show you the hottest cars on the market. You might need to cash in that 401K to buy some of them.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

The Tournament of Roses Association is defending its decision to allow a same-sex wedding during tomorrow's Rose Parade. This is after critics called it offensive. The couple will be married atop the AIDS Health Care Foundations float, celebrating victories in 2013 for gay marriage advocates. The couple says they're just excited to have 80 million of their closest friends at their wedding.

So car lovers get ready to drool. "CNN Money's" car expert has picked his hottest cars of 2013. This one is going to turn some heads. The Lamborghini Eventador for the low, low price of $400,000. Of course, that's nothing compared to the $4 million beauty right here, the Lamborghini Venino. Who comes up with these names? This is all a little much for you? How about the Aston Martin Vanquish? It's a dominating car for a cool $280,000. If futuristic is more to your taste, the Volkswagen X.L.1. It's a plug-in hybrid, eco-friendly. If you want more style, look at the McLaren M.P. 412C. A little something to ask Santa for next year.

Thanks for watching, everyone. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.


You can start popping the corks right now. We are bringing in the New Year, ringing in many parts of the world already, bringing you celebrations. Take a look at this. These are live pictures. This is from Bangkok, Thailand. Let's listen in. Here comes the countdown.