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Kerry: Progress In Mideast Peace Talks

Aired January 6, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now, it's time for the money lead.

Finally, a corporate comeback story where a little guy gets a piece of the pie. Hourly workers for Ford, G.M. and Chrysler are on tap to get nearly $18,000 in bonus pay this year. That's based on what's expected to be another banner year for the U.S. auto industry. According to "The Detroit News", the so-called Big Three will have more than $800 million in profit sharing to spread among 130,000 hourly workers. The impact on Detroit's economy alone is expected to be more than when the city hosted a Super Bowl back in 2006.

Many auto workers have not received a pay raise in a decade and bonuses got wiped out when the entry started to tank.

Some of you can now use your remote control during Super Bowl commercials for reasons other than muting the onslaught of ads. The retail chain H&M is launching a first of its kind commercial that lets you buy what you see right through your remote. The ads will be for soccer star, David Beckham's body wear clothing line. The so- called T-commerce will only be available to customers with Samsung smart TVs. That represents only about a fraction of expected Super Bowl viewers.

In national news, after weeks of legal battles and emotional pleas, the family of a brain dead teenager is declaring at least a partial victory. The 13-year-old girl has been released from the hospital but threatened to take Jahi McMath off life support and is moved to a long-term care facility. Jahi McMath was declared brain dead nearly a month ago. She suffered complications after tonsil surgery at children's hospital in Oakland.

And since then, the family has been fighting with the hospital over whether to pull the plug. Family members say they found a facility to provide long-term treatment for Jahi. Several doctors at children's hospital and independent medical examiners have all declared Jahi brain dead. Last week, the county coroner issued a death certificate in her name.

And the risk of sounding like Brian Fantana in the original "Anchorman," this is panda watch. I'm warning you now. If you have some kind of allergy to adorableness, it's about to reach dangerous levels. You've seen her grow on the National Zoo's panda camp. And now, four months after she was born, Bow-Bow is ready to meet her public. Visitors to the zoo can finally see the new panda cub in person on January 18th, but there are no guarantees. The zoo is warning everybody that Bow-Bow and her mom may not spend long periods in the exhibit, at least, in the early going. Pandas are such divas.

When we come back, John Kerry hoping to accomplish something his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, could not. Will the secretary of state personal plea lead to peace in the Middle East?

Plus, nothing says happy birthday like some retired basketball player, shooting hoops for year (ph) amusement. Dennis Rodman is back in his favorite vacation destination. What he's saying about this trip, ahead.


TAPPER: Everyone, welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now, it's time for our World Lead. Secretary of state, John Kerry, is on his way home from his a trip to Saudi Arabia, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. It's his 10th visit to Israel since becoming secretary of state, and Kerry now seems more optimistic about a deal for Mid East peace.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The path is becoming clearer. The puzzle is becoming more defined. And it is becoming more much apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are and what the options are with respect to those choices.


TAPPER: So, are we any closer to peace in the Middle East and while we're in the neighborhood, let's take a look at how al Qaeda is strengthening in the region and discuss what, if anything, the U.S. should be doing about it. Let's bring in Jeffrey Goldberg, columnist for "Bloomberg View." He also writes for "The Atlantic," of course. Jeffrey, thanks for being here. Secretary Kerry says the path is becoming clearer. How is it becoming clearer?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG VIEW: The weird thing about this is the path has always been clear. We've always known what the parameters of a peace deal would look like going back to Bill Clinton's days, right? So, the path is known. The question is the will of the two leaders, Netanyahu of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinians. The will and their political power to actually follow this path and that's what remains to be seen.

John Kerry is spending a lot of time -- was spending a lot of time not dealing with Syria and Iran and Iraq, by the way. He's spending a lot of time on this issue, an important issue, not the biggest crisis in the Middle East at the moment, but an important issue. Spending a lot of time on this, but there's no evidence yet that these leaders have the capacity or will to follow him down this path. TAPPER: And just in recent weeks, you know, you read the headlines and it's more settlements for Israel and Abbas refusing to say that Israel should be a Jewish state.

GOLDBERG: Right. It is Groundhog Day. There's a sign --


GOLDBERG: We're talking about the 67 lines be the lines and it's like it feels like we've had this conversation before because we have had this conversation before. I don't want to take away anything from this. It's important, and he's really doing -- I mean, he's putting a lot of energy into this. And so, he should get credit for that, but it's really -- I mean, he's taking a lot of risks and I'm not sure what the payoff is going to be.

TAPPER: And let's talk about the other issues he's not paying as much attention to. As you pointed out, Secretary Kerry, made some comments on this trip about the surge of violence we've seen in Iraq fighting with insurgents in Fallujah and Ramadi, places where Americans shed blood and lost their lives fighting for those places. Take a listen to what Secretary Kerry said.


KERRY: This is a fight that belong to the Iraqis. That is exactly what the president and the world decided some time ago when we left Iraq. So, we are not obviously contemplating returning. We're not contemplating putting boots on the ground.


TAPPER: I want to get your response to that, but also, this is what the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said when asked about a similar topic.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've heard members of Congress suggest this, but if members were suggesting that there should be American troops fighting and dying in Fallujah today, they should say so. The president doesn't believe that.


TAPPER: I'm sorry, I should have warned you about Carney's beard before I run to that --

GOLDBERG: You know, I shaved the beard this morning. I didn't know. I would have kept it.

TAPPER: But more seriously, they're asked about Kerry or Carney, they're asked about what's going on, this total deterioration.


TAPPER: And they say, oh, you want to send in U.S. troops.

GOLDBERG: Well, here's the thing. I mean, sure, no one wants to send in U.S. troops. But, if Iraq becomes a place where there are al Qaeda safe havens and if those safe havens are used the way they used to be used in Afghanistan to plot attacks against American targets, well, then, I mean, conditions will determine what America does in this case. That's why I said this is so important.

I mean, you have a situation which Iraq has become, you know, part of it has become a proxy for Iran, part of it is turned over to al Qaeda now. You know, do we want to go in there, of course, not. But if al Qaeda established safe havens, well, that's a direct national security interest to the United States to prevent that. So, to say we don't want boots on the ground, that's fine. But, I mean, what happens if we come back to a situation where Iraq becomes, in some ways, what Afghanistan used to be.

TAPPER: The other big question, of course, is the other big news from Secretary Kerry is he said Iran could, perhaps, quote, "Contribute from the sidelines when it comes to looking for a solution in Syria." What do you make of that?

GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, Iran has been contributing to this conflict for quite some time.

TAPPER: Not the way we want.

GOLDBERG: Not the way we want. I mean, Iran is the key ally, supporter of the Syrian regime. I mean, one thing that Kerry is doing is acknowledging reality that Iran is a major player here. But, this is again, kind of ceding to Iran. You know, we acknowledge that you are a major player in this and that we are looking for a negotiated settlement. Of course, what Iran is going to demand is something that the Obama administration says it doesn't want, which is Assad to remain in power in some form.

I mean, this this whole thing is going to blow up. And again, it's another example of one of the many places where the Middle East is disintegrating that John Kerry could be paying more attention to. He's paying a lot of attention to all of these things once he's got five balls in the air. But it's amazing the pace at which things are disintegrating.

TAPPER: All right. Jeffrey Goldberg, columnist from "Bloomberg View," thank you so much.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

TAPPER: When we come back, all the tech gadgets you'll need in 2014 and cars that don't need you at all. We'll go to Vegas next for the latest from the consumer electronic show.

And "Saturday Night Live" no longer has to rely on guest stars to play the first lady. SNL responding to criticism that no black women are in the cast. Well, we'll meet the new cast member who will change that in the pop culture lead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In other national news, entertainment addicts have the Oscars, sports fans have the Super Bowl, but for techies, geeks, and gadget junkies, it doesn't get much bigger than the Annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Companies from around the world are gathering in Sin City this week to dazzle us with their new inventions and state-of-the-art gizmos.

Will this be the year where somebody finally unveils a star track style transporter? Fingers crossed. Time to beam up Brian Tong, senior editor and host of who is live from Las Vegas. First things first, Brian, are they yet selling phones that sound like Scarlet Johansson?

BRIAN TONG, SENIOR EDITOR/HOST OF CNET: I'm working on that, actually. So, you know, once my company finishes that up, I'll make sure you get the first one if that's what you want, Jake. I can do that for you, all right?

TAPPER: I appreciate it. You say wearable technology is going to be all the rage this year. What do you mean by that wearable technology?

TONG: Yes. When we talk about wearables, really, we're starting off with some of those fitness bands that you've seen. You know, the job own up (ph), the Nike fuel band. We've started to see that kind of be a gateway where now big tech companies are like, OK, we're going to take these wristbands that people are wearing and seem to like and now start taking them to the next level, you know, to smart watches, you know, other types of kind of things that track your sleep patterns and even just like your heart rate.

That's one of the major themes here. Every company under the sun, small and large, are pushing the wearables on the consumer. We haven't really truly embraced it yet so we'll have to see if that catches on.

TAPPER: What kind of advances can we expect in this idea of smart technology?

TONG: Smart technology, when we talk about smart appliances, think about a crock pot or a toothbrush that can talk to your phone and control it remotely or get information from it. These are smart appliances. That's another initiative that's getting pushed out. The smart phone is the center to all of this. That's what you'll be able to use to check out when the crock pot is done or where your laundry is at. So this connected home or this idea of all these devices talking to each other through your phone, that's another big theme we're seeing.

TAPPER: So you have your smart phone and you press a few buttons and you're doing house work, but you're not even at your house or wake up and press a button and your coffee maker turns on?

TONG: Exactly. Even there's a product where I can go to my phone and change the temperature of my apartment so it's nice and warm when I come home. That's what we do with these products now. They are all connected to the internet and allow us to do a lot of things.

TAPPER: What have you heard about the latest and greatest in cars?

TONG: We have always talked about connected cars, you know, cars being able to bring in apps and data of that nature. Cars really in 2014 they kind of going to make this leap where some cars will have 4g chips kind of like the chip that you have in your phone to download data to get information. That's going to open it up because in the past they used a satellite link.

The data is going to get there faster and it's like having the same data on your phone and then you have things like Android coming out with cars so now our cars are really becoming more familiar with the devices that we use every day. It's going to give us more access. Maybe more distractions, but also give us more information and entertainment.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Tong, thanks so much. Have a blast out there.

TONG: I will. Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Plenty of movies have heroes and villains. What if the bad guys are a bunch of nuns? Critics have attacked it's unfair to the church. The star fights back right here on THE LEAD right after the break.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Pop Culture Lead now, celebrities from Beyonce to Michelle Obama might want to stay on their toes for the first time in seven years "Saturday Night Live" has added a black female cast member.

SNL has confirmed reports that comedienne, Sasheer Zamata, will join the cast when they return in two weeks. She is the first African-American cast member since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. The show has faced intense scrutiny over its lack of black female performers particularly since last year when cast member, Keenan Thompson, said he would no longer dress in drag to play female characters. Zamata trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. The same comedy troop that gave us current and former SNL stars like Horacio Sans and Kate McKenneth.

Let's see you start off the New Year with adorable cartoon characters or by getting the daylight scared out of you by evil spirits. Apparently a no brainer for movie goers who pushed Disney's "Frozen" back to the top of the Box Office. The movie which hit theatres a month ago took in more than $20 million in ticket sales. That was just enough to edge out the debut of "Paranormal Activity." It came in second with $18 million in earnings. Not bad considering the flick only took about $5 million to make.

It's a movie earning Oscar buzz. "Philomena" stars Judy Dench as an Irish woman who spends nearly 50 years searching for her son. One she had to give up when she was a toddler and she was an unwed teenager. He was adopted into the United States, the common practice in Ireland at the time and something of a scandal in Ireland. They refused to help her reconnect with her son. She crosses paths with a journalism who offers to help.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had a baby when she was a teen. She's kept it secret for 50 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought of him every day.


TAPPER: The movie is based off a true story written and documented in the book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee," which chronicles Philomena Lee's real life search for her son not knowing that he was looking for her too. He grew up in the U.S. to become a lawyer. I don't want to spoil anymore of the movie. There are many dramatic details that I'm not going to disclose for those who want to see the film.

Producer, writer and co-star of "Philomena," Steve Coogan, joins me now from New York City. Welcome, Mr. Coogan. Good to have you on the show. You're nominated for a Golden Globe for best screen play for "Philomena." Congratulations. The film has been widely well received.

I saw it yesterday, very powerful. You do have some critics. "The New York Post's" Kyle Smith, perhaps chief among them. I want to read part of what he said and get you to respond. He said, quote, "The film doesn't mention that in 1952 Ireland both mother and child's life would have been utterly ruined by an out of wedlock birth and that the nuns are actually giving both a chance at a fresh start that both indeed in real life enjoy. This is a diabolical film straight up. What's your reaction to that kind of criticism?

STEVE COOGAN, CO-STAR AND WRITER, "PHILOMENA": Well, I think if "The New York Post" had given me a good critique, I would be more worried. I think Kyle makes two mistakes. One, he says that some of those homes provided somewhere for these destitute single mothers back in the 1950s and '60s. But the reason they were ostracized by their families and their communities was because of the very church that he claims to look after them. So the church may have been part of the solution, but they were also part of the problem. He doesn't mention that.

TAPPER: Because of Catholic dogma saying you shouldn't have out of wedlock sex.

COOGAN: Because of distorted Catholic dogma and distortion of the Catholic faith that let's those situations happen. And also to say it's an attack on Catholics, I think the problem with when you write for a tabloid. You have a reductive nature where it's either this or that. The film is quite nuanced. The end of the movie, Philomena Lee forgives the perpetrators of this misdemeanor against her. She shows her faith has dignity and in fact, if you were so inclined, the blue collar putting the smug liberal intellectual in his place. He's selective.

TAPPER: There's a criticism on the other side as well, especially abroad where it's raised a public discussion over what is without question a scandal over how adoptions were handled in Ireland in that era. Manics Flynn, a city counselor, says it lets the Ireland government off the hook too much and the scandal is present day because there's been no one paying their dues to paying their mothers. How do you respond to that criticism?

COOGAN: If you're getting it from both sides, you must be doing something right. I think that's valid. In the film you can only tell so much of the story and you can't go into all the political details of it. We were mindful of the fact we didn't -- the film is about something that happened to Philomena herself and how individuals deal with things -- actions against them. What we didn't want to do is get into the idea of finger wagging from the present day against misdeeds of the past. That's an easy thing to do.

We really didn't want to do that. We sort of steer away from that. It's more about how really it's a discussion about faith. It's about how you can be secular and nonreligious and you can love and respect people who have religious views. It's about tolerance more than anything.

TAPPER: I can understand why it's controversial, but it is a very well made and the story itself just the true story, I was amazed after seeing the film to go back and read up on the actual story, real read the actual book and find out how much is actually true. You were raised Catholic. You identify as an Atheist now, but you were raised Catholic. Your parents fostered children. You went to Catholic high school.

COOGAN: That's right.

TAPPER: What's been your own experience and as a lapsed, ormer Catholic has this been difficult for you with people criticizing it as anti-Catholic.

COOGAN: It was very important to me to, as I said, not to use a hammer to crack a nut. I do have issues with the Catholic Church, but I also re recognize that we can learn from religion. Even the secular people can learn from religion. Really no one has a monopoly on wisdom. I didn't have a bad experience. I had a good experience. I had a good education. The values I was given by my parents who are still very Catholic. They enabled me to write a film like this. It was important that although there were criticisms.

That's the institution of the church that people are simple faith and dignified in the movie. Philomena played by Judy Dench, shows at the end of the movie that there's something dignified and noble about living a simple, virtuous life. In some ways, the scandals that engulfed the church, some of the victims apart PR the direct victims of these scandals, the sex scandals in particular, some of the victims are those people who lived these quiet lives of simple faith who are forgotten in the melee. The film is a tribute to them as a criticism of parts of the church. TAPPER: Thank you so much. Good luck at the Golden Globes.

COOGAN: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: And the Sports Lead now, there are not the dream team. They would have made a sweet fantasy hoops team in 1997. Dennis Rodman arrived back in North Korea today. He came with a roster of former NBA stars for an exhibition game to celebrate his pal, Kim Jong-Un's birthday.


DENNIS RODMAN: We want to interact with him. He loves sports. I like the guy. The guy is awesome to me. That's about it. No more.


TAPPER: The team is made up of many guys who just like Rodman could ball back in the day and then ended up on reality TV like Cliff Robinson and Kenny Anderson who has seven kids by five women who blew through $63 million in career earnings. And Doug Christy who recently announced he and his wife were producing instructional pornography.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room."

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: All right, Jake. Thank you.