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Blatter, Platini to Appeal FIFA Ban; Vegas Crash Investigation; Air France Finds No Explosives in Suspicious Device; India Court Rejects Plea to Stop Rapist's Release; Big Oops! at Miss Universe; Israel, Hezbollah Exchange Fire after Militant's Death; New "Star Wars" Film Breaks Box Office Records; "Star Wars" Mania Taking Over Marketplace. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 21, 2015 - 10:00:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hello and welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

We start with an embattled FIFA president, Sepp Blatter vowing to fight back after he was banned from football for eight years. FIFA's

ethics committee slapped the same ban on UEFA president Michel Platini, finding both men had demonstrated an abusive execution of their positions.

Blatter says he's being treated like a punching ball and is promising to appeal.


SEPP BLATTER, FIFA HEAD: I'm still the president. Even suspended I am the president. The president must be relieved of his duties and

otherwise you cannot elect another president. I am not ashamed. I regret but I'm not ashamed. I am ashamed if you go in depths what has been

presented and how all this has been done.


KINKADE: The pair were punished over a $2 million payment made by Platini and approved by Blatter in 2011.

"WORLD SPORT's" Alex Thomas is following the story from London and joins us now.

Alex, Sepp Blatter seemed quite defiant today. He did apologize but not for his behavior. He seems to feel sorry for himself.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure he feels sorry for himself, Lynda. I think he feels persecuted. And there was some of the

old fire in Sepp Blatter that we have not seen for sometime. At moments he looked rather doddery (ph) in the wake of the arrest back in May, just days

before he was reelected for a fifth term as FIFA president.

Those raids undertaken on a luxury hotel, where FIFA officials were staying, by the Swiss police. But on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department

-- and let's not forget it was the criminal investigations in America and Switzerland that have made FIFA, the governing body for the planet's most

popular sport, become embroiled in the biggest ri in its 111-year history.

And for many, Blatter is the face of that crisis. Although, as you saw from that clip there, he still remains defiant, protests his innocence,

can't understand why FIFA's ethics committee have come to this conclusion.

There is a certain irony, Lynda, that Blatter has been convicted now by the ethics committee that he himself created back in 2011 as a reaction

to some of the criticism from outside as people were looking closely, more closely at FIFA and what was going on in the executive committee.

This small group of mainly men -- now there are one or two women on it -- that were taking all the decisions at the top of global football.

KINKADE: Yes, it is quite ironic indeed. And Blatter, of course, is saying he's going to fight, not just speaking for him but for FIFA.

What options does he have to appeal?

THOMAS: Well, they firstly have to go, both him and Michel Platini, to the FIFA appeals process. We're told that they can't leapfrog that step

and go straight to the court of arbitration for sport. Timing is more crucial to Platini than it is to Blatter. We have another FIFA

presidential election coming up at the end of February.

Platini was by far and away the front-runner for that election until he was suspended back in October provisionally for 90 days, now banned for

eight years. So for Platini, he needs to try and get through a FIFA appeals process, then go to court of arbitration for sports, maybe even the

Swiss civil courts. That's something that Blatter threatened if not Platini.

So a number of hurdles to get through before January the 26th. That's exactly one month before that election and that's the date when the list of

candidates for the FIFA presidency election has to be finalized. At the moment, Platini's name is not on that list so his football career is every

bit as much in the balance as Sepp Blatter's is -- Lynda.

KINKADE: So if not Platini, who is likely to take over as the head of FIFA?

THOMAS: Well, there's currently a list of five names, some that are slightly more recognized than others. And it does say something for the

state of world football that there's no one there that really leaps out at us. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the man on the left of your picture, is the

man that lost out to Sepp Blatter in the election back in May. Some thought he would take advantage of the arrest and the bad press to oust


As it was, the 209 national member associations voted Blatter back in. Jerome Champagne left FIFA in some -- under a bit of a cloud and is

painting himself as something of an independent candidate.

Infantino's kind of there in case Platini doesn't make the list. He represents UEFA, the largest of the most powerful of the confederation.

Sheikh Salman from Bahrain and Tokyo Sexwale is a South African business man and once spent time in prison at Robben Island alongside

Nelson Mandela. He's a bit of an outsider, Lynda. None of those men are really the most convincing person it has to be said to repair FIFA's

tattered image.

KINKADE: And it's a massive task ahead. Alex Thomas, thanks very much for bringing us up to date with all of that.

We're turning to the U.S. now where police in Las Vegas say a woman intentionally plowed her car into crowds of people on the city's iconic



KINKADE: At least one person was killed and more than 30 people were injured. And as our Stephanie Elam reports, the driver had a young child

in the car during the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a huge tragedy that's occurred on our strip.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive and deadly hit-and-run on the famous Las Vegas strip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have determined that this is an intentional act.

ELAM (voice-over): Police say a female driver in her 20s ran her vehicle up onto the sidewalk, bustling with tourists, twice, possibly three

times, plowing into nearly 40 people between Planet Hollywood and Paris Resort and Casino. The fatal incident unfolding while the Miss Universe

pageant was underway inside Planet Hollywood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's in the detention center right now. She's speaking to detectives.

ELAM (voice-over): The suspect, speeding off with a 3-year-old toddler inside, was quickly apprehended by police less than a mile away.

Investigators believe she's not a Las Vegas native but say this is not an act of terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The information I got is she may have been here for a short period of time but she's not from here, it's just a recent move


ELAM (voice-over): Shocked witnesses say pedestrians scrambled to stop the woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car rolled right in front of me. By the time I looked over to the right, all you could see was driving away and people

are like bouncing off the front of the car and you can hear people are punching the window trying to get apparently the child out of the back


She accelerated again and just kept mowing everyone down.

ELAM (voice-over): Investigators turning their attention to the vast amount of surveillance cameras outside the casinos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will comb through that footage to get a detailed idea of what occurred.

ELAM (voice-over): This as witnesses describe a horrific scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like she wasn't even trying to stop the car. She had both of her hands on the wheel and was looking straight

forward and there were men running after her, trying to stop the vehicle and they couldn't get to her. They were yelling, "Stop, stop." And she

just wasn't trying.


KINKADE: Stephanie Elam joins us now from Las Vegas.

And, Stephanie, as I mentioned earlier, this woman had a toddler in the car.

Do we know yet whether she was drunk or on drugs?

ELAM: What we know that police are checking, Lynda. They say that they're getting -- working to get her blood work so that they can check to

see if there were any controlled substances in her blood or if there is liquor involved. That's obviously where they would start this


But we did hear from someone, one of the officers, saying that she did not seem immediately deeply impaired. So it's another wrinkle of confusion

to this very bizarre story.

KINKADE: And one witness who spoke to CNN earlier said the driver had struck a number of children.

Do we know yet who was killed or the condition of those who were injured?

ELAM: Yes, we don't know yet who was killed. But we do know one child was taken to a hospital. We are also learning that five Canadians

were of those 37 people that were injured. And we do know that some of these people that were injured of those 37 were in critical condition.

And we also just learned now that there were four students from Pacific University in Oregon that were hurt. One was not taken to the

hospital. We also know that two of them have already been released. One remains in the hospital at this time. They are on the men's wrestling team

and they were here in town for a tournament.

So just starting to learn more and more about the people who just happened to be here at around 6:30 in the afternoon, early evening in Las

Vegas on Sunday.

KINKADE: Yes, so start with those victims.

Stephanie Elam, thanks so much for that update.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham is dropping out of the race for the White House. The South Carolina senator tells CNN he

has hit a wall. He sent out a message to his supporters less than an hour ago, thanking them for their backing but concluding that now is not his


Graham's campaign had struggled to gain traction. He barely registered in a recent CNN/ORC national poll.

Still to come at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, authorities in Paris detain an Air France passenger after a bomb scare diverted a flight to Kenya.

We'll have a live report just ahead.

Also Miss Colombia's crown is taken back after a reign of just minutes at the Miss Universe pageant. A live television blunder that's making

headlines today. We'll have that story, too.






NATO says a suicide bomber killed six of its service members in Afghanistan. The attack happened near the Bagram air base when a bomber on

a motorbike hit a joint NATO Afghan patrol. Reuters reports that the Taliban have claimed responsibility. The soldiers were part of the

Resolute Support mission. Six others were wounded.

French authorities have detained a passenger from the Air France flight that was diverted after a bomb scare on Sunday. The plane was

headed from Mauritius to Paris when it was forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya. Its passengers arrived in Paris today. David McKenzie is following

this story from Nairobi and joins us now.

David, I understand a male passenger has been detained, a former police officer.

What can you tell us?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The national police spokesperson in France is saying that this passenger was a retired

policeman from France, living in Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and that, in fact, this was the same passenger who alerted the crew to the

suspicious device but that his story didn't add up and that, in fact, they detained him on suspicion of causing this havoc and terrifying these more

than 450 passengers who had to make that emergency landing here in Kenya, all of them now back in France -- Lynda.

KINKADE: And David, authorities certainly took a very long time, over a day, to confirm that this was not a bomb.

So what exactly did they find?

What was this device made of?

MCKENZIE: Well, they had to be careful. Immediately the Kenyan authorities and the bomb squad boarded that plane as it landed here in

Mombasa early Sunday and they pulled that device off.

Now according to Air France, it was a box filled with papers with a timer on top, clearly made to look like some kind of explosive device. The

CEO of Air France said it was a nasty joke. He said that this was a terrible hoax of some kind and created this havoc for the airline, which is

dealing with hoaxes and threats like this very frequently in recent weeks - - Lynda.

KINKADE: That's right.

How many threats have they had in recent weeks?

MCKENZIE: Well, in more than a month they've had at least four. Several of them in the U.S., when calls were put into the airliners and

others saying that there was a bomb on board. Those flights had to divert. It's all in the wake, of course, the Paris attacks, this heightened sense

of tension with Air France, with traveling in general.

And of course, after that suspected --


MCKENZIE: -- bomb attack on that Russian airliner in Egypt, so certainly the Air France and others have to take these threats very

carefully, weighing them up with the disruption to their passengers.

And it will be costing them and the passengers both emotionally and of course heavily financially when they have to divert a plane like this,

landing in Kenya, send another plane to get all those passengers and then fly them eventually to Paris.

But at this stage it seems like this retired policeman is being questioned and detained for actually being the one who alerted the crew

that he possibly was the one in fact planted that hoax device -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Very strange developments there. But clearly a lot of people on edge. David McKenzie, thanks so much for joining us.

India's supreme court rejected an appeal that sought to stop the release of a man convicted of brutally raping a woman in 2012. The man was

17 at the time and India's juvenile laws prevent him from being held for more than three years.

Our Sumnima Udas joins us now from New Delhi with more on this.

Sumnima, we saw widespread protests at the time of this brutal rape and murder.

What's been the reaction since this rapist walked free?

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's definitely a lot of anger here, Lynda, real sense that even though the laws have been followed in

this case that justice has been denied.

A lot of people simply cannot fathom how this man, the youngest, and according to most of the reports here, the most brutal rapist out of the

six men, they can't understand how this man can be free after just serving three years in a correctional facility.

In fact, this is what the parents have been saying. They were just protesting a few hours ago, holding a candlelight vigil, they say they

understand that this is the law and that cannot be changed at this point -- or at least it cannot affect what happens to this particular rapist.

But still what kind of message this has sent to all of the women out there, the mothers, who are fighting for justice for their daughters, to

all of the women who are out there, who are suffering because of these kinds of laws.

So they say they will continue to fight as long as they can even though right now the laws are working against them.

KINKADE: They certainly are. We can only hope that the Indian government does more to give them some justice. Sumnima Udas, thank you so


Still to come here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, confusion at the Miss Universe pageant after the wrong contestant is named. Find out what

happened and who really takes the crown.





KINKADE: Welcome back.

Pope Francis is battling the flu but he still managed to deliver his Christmas greeting to Vatican staff. He cited his illness in explaining

why he would sit for his speech rather than stand.

The pope stated current reform efforts will continue. The annual address is a state of the union of sorts, in which the pontiff details

where the Catholic Church is heading in the new year.

Well, American television host and comedian Steve Harvey has apologized after mistakenly crowning the wrong beauty queen at the Miss

Universe pageant on Sunday. It made for an extremely awkward situation on live TV. CNN's Boris Sanchez shows us what happened.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a brief moment Sunday night, Miss Colombia celebrated being crowned Miss Universe but her

reign lasted only a few minutes.

HARVEY: I have to apologize. The first runner-up is Colombia. Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey misreading his cue cards and naming the wrong contestant as the winner, the two women

awkwardly standing at the end of the stage, paralyzed by the snafu.

HARVEY: This is exactly what's on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake. It was on the card.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Miss Colombia stripped of her crown, stunned viewers watching as Miss Universe 2014 placed it on the head of winner,

Miss Philippines, the show abruptly cutting to credits, some of the other judges taking to social media. Judge Niecy Nash tweeting this video.

NIECY NASH, ACTOR, MISS UNIVERSE JUDGE: Oh, my god. This is crazy right now. It's pandemonium in here.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Harvey himself, tweeting after the show, saying, quote, "I would like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia

and Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible," even posting a picture with Miss Philippines backstage, saying he was able to apologize to

her and Miss Colombia personally, who tearfully also spoke out after the show.

MISS COLOMBIA: Everything happens for a reason. So I'm happy.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): But the newly crowned Miss Universe perfectly summing up the shocking turn of events.

MISS PHILIPPINES, MISS UNIVERSE: It's a very nontraditional crowning, isn't it. Yes, it's very 2015.


KINKADE: With more on this reaction, I want to bring in CNN Philippines anchor and correspondent, Mitzi Borromeo, who joins me on the

phone from Manila.

Mitzi, just give us a sense of the reaction there. I understand it must be quite a shock for people.

MITZI BORROMEO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Lynda, indeed. As we heard (INAUDIBLE) very 2015. Well, you can imagine the immediate reaction on

social media. Everybody has been chiming in on this.

I was watching this at the office. The TV was on and, of course, this is a huge deal for Filipinos. We're obsessed with beauty pageants. So

everybody was glued to the screen. Sighs of sadness when the initial announcement was made but suddenly I heard screams and then when Steve

Harvey made the -- corrected himself, everybody was just screaming. And this was the collective reaction in the country because we've been speaking

to people around the country, getting reactions on the street and everybody just so happy. This is an early Christmas present for us.

We're so used to bad news. We've been bombarded by storms left and right. One just left us. In fact, an interesting story on that. I heard

that (INAUDIBLE) almost didn't make it to her -- the U.S. because of our storm. We had a typhoon recently, Melor. And it stopped a lot of flights.

So almost didn't make it.

So her journey to this crown was not easy. Very prophetic how all of this happened. And everybody is so proud. The president sent his

congratulatory message, saying how she really showcased intelligence, excellence and beauty of the Philippines. So it's a very proud moment --


BORROMEO: -- for all of us. And we even talked to past Miss Universe winners. We've had two in the past. And it's been 42 years since then.

And the last winner, Miss Margie Moran (ph), she won in 1973.

She said it was of course anti-climatic because of what happened but she said she wasn't surprised at the win. She congratulated Pia on her

great performance and she said there's really no right answer to these questions. But it's how you answer and she says that how Pia answered

really just -- it was a winning performance, I guess you could say.

KINKADE: And Mitzi, I heard from one of my producers that your mother was a former Miss Philippines. Just describe what this sort of platform

does for someone in the Philippines.

BORROMEO: That's right. Yes, my mother was the first (INAUDIBLE) Miss Philippines -- that's the first one who received the Miss Universe

title, that was in 1964. And, boy, I mean, they were very proud. The beauty queen heritage goes on very much they live it to the present. And

this is something, once it's (INAUDIBLE) a platform because of course, as you see with the charities and all of the social development work that they

do, it really takes them around, exposes them to so many people.

She didn't win the crown but she went to Florida to compete. She met so many people and they get to really shine and of course make a difference

in people's lives. And I think this really -- she was so young. She was in her early 20s and for a woman like Pia and all these young woman, even

who have just made it to the actual contest is a big deal.

I mean, you're in your country, you represent all your people. So they have the chance to work with so many projects and it gives them more

work opportunities, opens so many doors. So you can imagine the excitement for Pia. I mean, already people are planning huge celebrations.

She's probably getting all sorts of contracts lined up for advertisements and probably more work coming her way and you can see the

excitement for her to be able to just do something, to be a good example, as she said, to the youth and definitely for the country and so for all of

us here, I remember my mother, every time when I was little, we would watch these competitions.

And she would write down her predictions. And that's the story of everybody here, people writing down their fearless predictions and this --

you know, for this win it's just -- I don't know people are just jumping for joy right now.

KINKADE: Fantastic news for the Philippines.


KINKADE: Oh, it's wonderful. Mitzi Borromeo, thank you so much for joining us.

BORROMEO: Thank you.

KINKADE: Excellent news there.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back after this. Stay with us.





KINKADE: Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Here are headlines.


KINKADE: Hezbollah in Lebanon says Israel will pay for an airstrike in Damascus on Sunday that killed militant Samir Qantar. So far Israel has

not commented but there's already been an exchange of rockets and mortar fire at the Lebanese-Israeli border. For the latest, Oren Liebermann joins

us now from Jerusalem.

Oren, just take us through what's happened since this militant was killed.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Samir Qantar was buried just a couple of hours ago. That funeral finished. In it, Hezbollah

promised that Israel will pay a heavy price. Now Israel, as you mentioned, hasn't commented, neither confirming nor denying the reports that it was an

Israeli airstrike in Damascus that killed Samir Qantar.

But Lebanese and Syrian media and Hezbollah blaming Israel. It is worth nothing here that the Free Syrian Army, Syrian rebels, posted a video

claiming responsibility for the strike that killed Qantar. But it seems whether that's true or not, Hezbollah will hold Israel responsible.

Now there were three rockets that came over last night from Southern Lebanon in Northern Israel. That is not the expected Hezbollah response

and Hezbollah has not claimed responsibility for those rockets.

Now Israel responded to that with artillery fire but there is the expectation that perhaps the Hezbollah response has not fully happened yet.

Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is scheduled to give a speech in a couple of hours. We'll see what he says there.

It is worth remembering what happened in January, which is the last reported exchange between Israel and Hezbollah, when a reported Israeli

strike killed six Hezbollah militants. The response from Hezbollah took a week and a half. It took 10 days. But when it came, it was coordinated,

it was precise, it was five anti-tank missiles that took out two Israeli troops and killed two Israeli soldiers. So that at this point, Lynda, is

what Israel is concerned about and preparing for, something along those lines.

KINKADE: And in terms of any sort of preparation, it just -- this just so happens to coincide with the fact that Israel has completed the

testing of a new missile system.

What can you tell us about it?

LIEBERMANN: That's the David Sling missile defense system. That's the medium range missile defense system. If you remember back to last

summer's Gaza war, it was the Iron Dome, the short-range missile defense system that made headlines. This is the longer range one.

Now that's significant because Israel's assessment is that Hezbollah has more advanced rockets and more advanced missiles, including these

medium range missiles. So if there is a massive escalation here and if this continues, this David Sling that just completed its testing today

could be a significant factor here -- Lynda.

KINKADE: OK. We will be listening for that speech in a couple hours from now. Oren Liebermann, thanks for joining us.

Well, this is the INTERNATIONAL DESK. We'll shift gears after the break. The new numbers are in and the new "Star Wars" movie set another

box office record. We'll have a live report just ahead.





KINKADE: Welcome back. The force is certainly with the new "Star Wars" movie, smashing box office records in its opening weekend.


KINKADE (voice-over): Disney says "The Force Awakens" grossed $528 million globally since opening last week, just topping "Jurassic World's"

debut earlier this year. "The Force Awakens" racked up a record of $247 million over the weekend in the U.S. and Canada, easily beating "Jurassic

World's" North American record.

CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins us now from New York.

Brian, I know people who have already seen this film twice. It seems the force is stronger than ever.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I know people have already seen it three times. And that's what Disney wants. They want

people to go back again and again and of course that will raise the ticket sales total even more.

You mentioned those totals, they came in about an hour ago and they're really remarkable because as Disney CEO Bob Iger said this morning, these

totals are even bigger than Disney was expecting. "Jurassic World" held the title of the biggest opening worldwide weekend ever, but now "Star

Wars" stealing that title with a new record and the movie hasn't even come out yet in China.

China is the number two movie market in the world, now behind the United States. It will come out there on January 9th. It will make even

more money then. But like you said, it's that repeat viewing that's also helping this movie and of course it's creating new fans as well as

satisfying the hardcore loyal fans that have been with the movie for decades already.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly got a very loyal fan base. And I understand more than half or almost half of the movie goers so far have seen this on

3D, paying more to see it 3D.

STELTER: Yes, there's a 3D factor and there's also the Imax factor. Movie theaters have invested a lot of money to make the experience of going

to the movies more satisfying, to have a more thrilling experience, the kind you cannot get at home.

And it is the conventional wisdom right now, right, that we're all watching movies on Netflix and on Amazon. We're all renting them on iTunes

and other services. The conventional wisdom is that people aren't going to theaters as much as they used to.

But for these big tentpole franchises, for these larger-than-life events you have to see with an audience, a communal audience, we still see

people are more than willing to pony up $10 or $15 or even $20 for tickets sometimes at the theater.


KINKADE: That's the cost of a basic ticket in Australia. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. Brian Stelter, thanks so much for joining us.

STELTER: Thank you.

KINKADE: Of course, whether or not you're a fan of "Star Wars," you would be hard pressed to avoid all the merchandising surrounding the new

film. Our Anna Stewart (ph) tells us how the marketplace is feeling with the force.


ANNA STEWART (PH), CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The force is strong with the latest "Star Wars" movie with record box office sales on

its opening weekend.

Disney is set to make $2.4 billion in ticket sales, according to (INAUDIBLE). That pales in comparison to the megabrand cashing in on

merchandise deals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've estimated "Star Wars" could generate $5 billion in global merchandise sales for Disney this year. For Disney in

terms of revenue, a 10 percent cut of that, which is a standard licensing fee for a studio film, will generate about $500 million for Disney.

STEWART (PH) (voice-over): And the branding really is everywhere. It found its way into your cereal.

And a trip to Subway could be, well, out of this world.

It's fairly easy for Disney to find some merchandising opportunities. This shop here in London is filled to the brim with everything from light

sabers, (INAUDIBLE) fancy dress, you can get your own personal droid.

Of course, for some of the other brands, finding a "Star Wars" tie-in is a little bit more of a challenge. So this year the ads have got


Take Cover Girl helping you channel a storm trooper look.

Or HP, which can help the biggest "Star Wars" geek get the girl of his dreams.

Possibly far-fetched but all these brands hope their efforts will pay off and win over the hearts of consumers -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


KINKADE: That does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Lynda Kinkade. "WORLD SPORT" with Rhiannon Jones is up next.