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"Angry Birds" Used to Spy by NSA; Ukrainian Prime Minister and Cabinet Resigns; Obama Kept Word on Afghan War; Netanyahu Son Dating Non-Jewish Girl; Pope John Paul II's Blood Stolen

Aired January 28, 2014 - 12:30   ET



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CO-ANCHOR: All right. Here's something to think about the next time you're playing "Angry Birds" on your Smartphone.


PHILLIPS: Yeah, at work.

You think everybody around the world is really playing "Angry Birds"?

HOLMES: A lot are.

PHILLIPS: Apparently the NSA may have its eye on you.

HOLMES: Yeah, "Angry Birds" has been downloaded a billion times. So, yeah, it's out there.

But we digress. The spy agency, NSA, is reportedly trying to track people through things like mapping, like Google Maps, gaming, social- networking apps that so many of us use on our cell phones.

PHILLIPS: So we are finding out about this, actually, from documents that were leaked by a former NSA contractor, and you know him well, Edward Snowden.

We get more details now from Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: "Angry Birds", one of the most popular game applications, has been downloaded more than 1 billion times. But the next time you open it up, could the NSA be tracking you?

According to "The New York Times," the NSA is trying to collect and store user-data from apps. "The Times" says the classified program focuses on so-called leaky apps that spew everything from user's Smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: If you want to track what people are doing on the Internet, you have to move to apps. And I think that's what's driving NSA to track apps.

STARR: In response to the "Times" story, the NSA issued a statement saying, in part, "Any implication that the NSA's foreign intelligence collection is focused on the Smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true."

At the White House, more pushback.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not interested in the communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets.

STARR: The report is based on documents said to be leaked by Edward Snowden.

In one document, which could not be verified by CNN, the effort is described as a "golden nugget."

Information that could be collected includes location of users, networks to which they connect, Web sites visited, buddy lists and downloaded documents.

LEWIS: This would need really tight controls to make sure they weren't taking advantage of it.


PHILLIPS: Barbara Starr now joining us live from Washington. So, Barbara, has there been any reaction from the creators of "Angry Birds"?

STARR: Well, indeed, there has.

The company, which is based in Finland, issued a statement saying it is not providing user data to the U.S. government, the British government or any entities that might be, you know, spying, if you will, on who is playing "Angry Birds."

They are adamant that they are not doing that.

HOLMES: Barbara, quite apart from the NSA, I'm annoyed that an app is sending that -- or getting that information, anyway, from me, let alone the NSA.

Is there any way that you're hearing that people can protect themselves from spying eyes?

STARR: Well, look, I think the first thing is, I think we all understand, annoying as it is, the Internet has no right to real privacy, does it?

Anything you do on the internet can be observed, seen, perhaps by anyone from your employer, CNN, to, you know -- to the NSA.

So, I think in terms of government surveillance, it's quite a leap of faith at the moment. The NSA insists it's not collecting against American citizens. It's only against foreign intelligence targets, if you will, and that there are privacy rules govern if they inadvertently sweep up data on American citizens, they can't hold onto it, they can't use it.

But that may be a leap of faith for an awful lot of people that those rules are being obeyed.

HOLMES: Yeah, you got that right.

Barbara, good to see you, as always, Barbara Starr there.

I don't like the fact that any app is accessing contacts --

PHILLIPS: And then you start thinking about, OK, what apps do I have on my phone, how often do I use them, how many people use them?

We rethink everything now when it comes to the internet.

HOLMES: I only use the CNN News app.

PHILLIPS: Oh, of course.


All right, let's talk about Ukraine now, still a lot of activity there, violence, as well.

The prime minister has quit, but is that enough? A hated law is being tossed out.

We'll look into it when we come back.


PHILLIPS: The prime minister is out, the whole cabinet on the way out and a hated law tossed, it's been a pretty big day in Ukraine's capital.

HOLMES: Yeah, anti-government protesters who've been filling the capital square since November, maybe they're getting a little closer to the changes in the country's political system that they have been demanding.

They've been upset with the government's preference in leaning towards Russia on the economic side of things instead of the European Union, big disagreement on that.

More recently, a law was introduced that cracked down on the right to protest.

PHILLIPS: Our Diana Magnay is in Kiev.

So, what do you think? Do the protesters want more? Is the crisis close to over?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Unfortunately for their current president, it is certainly not close for over.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's good progress, say the people on the streets, but it's nowhere near enough.

They don't want just a few changes at the top. They want this whole political system in Ukraine to change so that it's more accountable, so that corruption is gone, so that it's not just run by a few powerful, rich people behind the current president.

And all of that starts with change at the very top, they said to me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): It's positive. The prime minister has volunteered to resign, and the repressive laws are being canceled.

What the opposition has to do now is put full pressure on the ruling party.

MAGNAY: So the president said that an amnesty would be called, if everybody leaves the square.

Are you going to leave the square?



MAGNAY: What would make you leave the square?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the president go away.

MAGNAY: So you want new elections, and until there are new elections, you'll stay?



MAGNAY: They want the president to go away, Kyra.

Tomorrow the parliament will discuss whether to provide an amnesty for the more than 200 or so who have been detained over the course of this it two months of protests.

But, as I said, those people who have been out there in the cold, it's minus-10 at the moment, for more than two months, they won't leave until they feel their demands are being met, that the three opposition leaders, who are currently negotiating with the government, have really fought for something they have been standing out here for, and that is a better, more accountable government, something that's closer to democracy, which they really don't feel they have now.


HOLMES: Noble aims, Diana, but you hit on something there in your answer there. You said the three protest leaders. This is not a united front, is it?

MAGNAY: It's not a united front. Their demands have changed as the situations change, and you have three leaders at the top, many of whom -- who have disagreed with each other at points over this time.

And especially over the last week, we have seen quite a lot of violence on the streets, violence that at least the government says the opposition can't really control.

Do they have the crowd at their, you know, beck and call? Can they control the crowd? That is the big question.

Does the crowd feel that the opposition are capable of negotiating on their behalf? Well, since they said they were going to sit and discuss with the president a political way out of this crisis, the streets of Kiev have been relatively calm, even though we have seen the unrest spread to various other cities across the country, especially in the east, Michael, which was a traditional pro-Russian, pro-government stronghold.

Huge concern to the president that the unrest has been spreading to this extent.

HOLMES: Yeah, a lot at stake there in the heart of Europe, too.

Diana, as always, thanks, Diana Magnay who's been there covering that story for some time now.

Let's go AROUND THE WORLD now to Brazil. That's where the president there, Dilma Rousseff, calling for an emergency security meeting.

PHILLIPS: It's the violence that prompted that security meeting. People are taking to the streets. They're angry about the cost of the upcoming soccer World Cup.

After Sunday's protests, one young man is actually in critical condition after being shot by police, dozens of others filing complaints now of police brutality.

That country is extremely concerned that the bad publicity could prompt more people to join in future protests against the World Cup.


Let's go to Afghanistan now. New developments in the dispute over dozens of prisoners that the NATO-led coalition calls dangerous insurgents. The Afghan government issuing formal orders to release 37 prisoners from what used to be the main American prison in Afghanistan.

PHILLIPS: Well, the U.S. says that there's enough evidence to prosecute the men now. Afghan President Karzai argues that the prison is now a Taliban-making factory and it actually should be shut down.

HOLMES: President Obama pledging to raise the minimum wage tonight in his State of the Union Address, but will it be a promise he can keep? PHILLIPS: It can be difficult to keep promises made during these big speeches, as we know, but there is one that the president seems to have kept from last year's State of the Union. Let's go ahead and bring back our CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Winding down the long war in Afghanistan has been a huge concern for many Americans.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I can announce that over the next year another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

FOREMAN: And so far, so good on that pledge. There were 68,000 troops there last January. There are about 38,000 now. And everything is on track for the war to be basically over by year's end. Some American troops may stay to advise and support the Afghans, but we can call this a promise kept.


HOLMES: Tom Foreman there. Thanks, Tom.

Now, as a reminder, you can watch President Obama's speech right here tonight on CNN. Our coverage of the State of the Union live from Washington, 7:00 p.m. eastern.

PHILLIPS: Well, Israel's prime minister taking a bit of heat over who his son is dating.

HOLMES: Yes, apparently one of the Netanyahu boys is dating a girl who isn't Jewish. We're going to take you to Jerusalem to see how that story is unfolding in Israel, next.


HOLMES: All right, now a romance that's getting a lot of attention in Israel, not all of it positive. That's fair to say. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 23-year-old son reportedly dating that young lady there, who happens to be a 25-year-old Norwegian woman.

PHILLIPS: The issue isn't the two-year age difference, by the way. Folks are upset because she's not Jewish.

Let's get straight to Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem.

So, Ben, you look at these comments from the ultra-orthodox Jews and they are pretty harsh. I mean this one quote coming from a member of parliament saying, "any Jew who wants to maintain his roots, wants to see his son marry a Jewish girl. There's no shortage of beautiful, successful girls without sowing in the fields of others."

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's first of all point out that, Kyra, that the prime minister himself doesn't seem to mind the relationship. In fact, when he was in Davos, Switzerland, recently, he met with his Norwegian counterpart and bragged and joked about the relationship.

But, it's true, for some here in Israel, it is not a joking matter. There are many people who are opposed to what they call assimilation, intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. And, of course, one of these groups that's pushing this agenda has called on the prime minister himself to try to prevent, in their words, their relationship.

But it's important to keep in mind that Prime Minister Netanyahu himself was married from 1981 to 1984 to a non-Jewish woman. And on this matter, he simply isn't commenting.

HOLMES: And how much is it political? Because it really is -- it's more of the right wing ultra-religious groups that are complaining, not your -- you know, the man on the street, if you like. His son is becoming more politically active, is that true, and is that what's upset some?

WEDEMAN: Well, there are many bigger fish in the sea of Israeli politics than 25-year-old Yair Netanyahu. I really think it's just the symbolism of it all and really it's gone down very badly with some elements of Israeli society. But most Israelis you speak to sort of shrug it off with a laugh and say, well, good for him. It's not -- it's really only the ultra-orthodox religious elements that find this offensive. Most Israelis simply don't.

PHILLIPS: So, Ben, you mention Netanyahu's second wife. She was British-born. But she converted to Judaism. So let's say his son falls in love with this beautiful young Norwegian.

HOLMES: We're pushing him into marriage here.

PHILLIPS: Well, no, I'm just -- I'm just - I'm putting it out there. Let's say they fall in love. They want to get married. And she converts. Does this all go away?

WEDEMAN: Well, it would. In fact, this young Norwegian woman's older sister, apparently, has already converted to Judaism, and lives in Israel. So, certainly, that would be one way to avoid this issue going any further. But let's not forget that this relationship began just apparently, according to the Israeli media, this past summer, and let's not jump to conclusions.

PHILLIPS: They're so young.

HOLMES: Oh, they're so --

PHILLIPS: With our background, our advice would be wait as long as you can.

HOLMES: Wait, wait, wait.

Ben Wedeman. Good to see you, Ben. Thanks for that.

Don't do it. Wait. PHILLIPS: Wait. Hold off.

HOLMES: All right, now, who would steal the blood of Pope John Paul II? Investigators trying to track down the blood, and the thieves. We've got more of that coming up.


PHILLIPS: Tell you what, this is a big talker right now in Italy. Who stole the blood of Pope John Paul II?

HOLMES: And what would you, as a thief, want to do with it? There's an intense search under way, to say the least. Here's CNN's Atika Shubert.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Italian police say thieves have broken into a church and stolen a vial containing the blood of Pope John Paul II. Apparently it happened on Saturday in the Abutso (ph) region of Italy.

Police launched a major search operation involving sniffer dogs and dozens of officers, but few clues were found. Police believe the theft was commissioned because no other items of value were taken, but they have also said it would be difficult to sell the vial and they're not really sure what the thieves were planning to do with it. Now, the Catholic Church is due to make Pope John Paul II a saint in April.


PHILLIPS: Well, a new discovery is raising a flood of questions about Noah's Ark.

HOLMES: Get it?

PHILLIPS: We knew that was -

HOLMES: Yes, that that had to come.


HOLMES: Yes, a British scholar has recently decoded a tablet that dates back 4,000 years. It tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. Familiar?

PHILLIPS: And it even includes the famous phrase, "two by two," describing how the animals came into the ark. But there is one apparently major difference, the ark, in this version, is round.


IRVING FINKEL, CURATOR, BRITISH MUSEUM: So anyone who's read their Bible knows that Noah's Ark was a kind of oblong-shaped craft. And anybody who ever grew up in any kind of normal house knows what Noah's Ark really looks like, which is a boat with a high front and a high stern with a little house in the middle. Everybody knows both of those images. And I don't think anybody had ever had the idea that the ark, in its original form, so to speak, might have been a round vessel.



HOLMES: Hmmm. Curious.

PHILLIPS: Well, experts say that neither version of Noah's ark, by the way, is right or wrong. They both are appropriate to the culture that produced them and both are theology, not history.

HOLMES: Let's remember that.

All right, thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. Good to have you here.

PHILLIPS: Great to be here.

HOLMES: Be back tomorrow?

PHILLIPS: Yes, I am. And then Suzanne will be back after that. She's covering State of the Union.

HOLMES: Brianna Keilar's up next with CNN NEWSROOM.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, hours ahead of his State of the Union Address, President Obama announces he'll go it alone to launch one of his priorities, but Republicans say not so fast.