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Security Tightens around the World on New Year's Eve; Iraqi Forces Working to Secure Ramadi; Cosby Arraigned on Felony Sexual Assault Charges; Missouri Grapples with Record Winter Flooding; U.S. President Appears on Comedy Web Series; Canadian Illusionist Defies Death. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 31, 2015 - 10:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): These are live pictures from Seoul, where the clock has just struck midnight, welcoming in 2016.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): Well, people there are braving a chilly night. The tradition, as you can see in South Korea, is for a specially chosen

assistant to ring a bell 33 times. The crowds out there in full force. It is a chilly night, as I said.

Meanwhile, there are New Year's celebrations across the globe, happening with each passing hour.

Happy New Year and welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Well, Sydney also welcomed in 2016 just a couple of hours ago.

And look at those, with massive fireworks over the Harbor Bridge.

Sydney really knows how to do it.

But also look at these celebrations earlier in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fabulous. Well, the celebrations continue. And the New Year is ushered in across the globe.

In Paris, it's more a time for reflection and resilience as the city scales back New Year's celebrations. It's just seven weeks since 130 people were

killed in terror attacks there. Thousands of police and soldiers will protect people going to public events.

But, unlike last year's New Year's celebrations, there will be no fireworks display on the Champs-Elysees. Also a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe will

be shortened.

And Brussels canceled its annual fireworks display and other events after police thwarted an alleged New Year's terror plot. And a city remains on

high alert. CNN's Nic Robertson has more from Brussels.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Just hours away here now from the New Year's Eve celebrations, the terror investigations

continue. Seven more properties searched by the authorities here. Six people detained.

Information, as well, that the man detained in a terror investigation, a terror arrest late on Wednesday, he's now being charged with terrorist

murder and participation in a terrorist organization. This in connection with the Paris terror attacks.

Also two men arrested here earlier in the week, planning a terror attack right here in the Grand Place, in the center of Brussels. Those men now

being charged with threatening a terrorist attack, participation in a terrorist organization.

One of those two men, we're told by officials here, is a leader within that terrorist organization, that he is a recruitment figure within that

terrorist organization here, the prime minister describing the situation here now. The terror situation is something that is changing hour by hour.

Certainly that can be seen in these latest arrests, these latest detentions, the searches that continue. The decision being taken here in

Brussels right now to cancel the firework display that would normally go ahead, traditional part of the celebrations to see in the New Year here.

The prime minister also saying that, right now, that terrorists are more prudent, more professional than they have been in the past. The mayor says

he feels it is not safe to allow people to gather in large numbers for that fireworks display.

So, right now, the expectation here in Brussels, this evening, the celebrations to see in the New Year, somewhat more muted and low-key than

they would have been in the past and the prime minister describing the situation at large.

He says that Europe is at a new stage in its history, that European nations need to do more to tackle this terror threat -- Nic Robertson, CNN,

Brussels, Belgium.


CURNOW: Thanks to Nic for that report.

U.S. authorities are also tightening security in high-profile places, including New York's Times Square. CNN's Miguel Marquez is there and he

gave us a look at the preparations for the big celebration.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two magnetometers you'll have to go through just to get to one of these lovely little pens. They'll have 65 of

these gates, these pens, gated pens set up throughout this very tight area.

Right up there is where that famous ball drops. There will be a million, perhaps more than a million people packed in here. New York police say

that they will protect it from the land, from the sea, from the air, and even underground by -- in the subways. Six thousand cops just to protect

this area of the city.

The mayor says the city is ready.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is going to be a very, very safe place. Times Square on New Year's Eve is going to be one of the

safest places in the country --


DE BLASIO: -- because of the huge concentration of police resources and a lot of security measures you will see. And a lot of security measures that

you won't see that that will help keep people safe.


MARQUEZ: Now the biggest security apparatus ever for this event and that will be obvious to people here in terms of the number of bomb-sniffing

dogs, chemical detectors, radiation detectors and cameras, thousands of cameras.

So seen and unseen ways to protect not only this area but areas throughout and different venues throughout New York City. All those parties and

celebrations that used to be just that now potential soft targets after San Bernardino and Paris, the attacks there.


CURNOW: OK, thanks to Miguel for that.

Well, you can ring in the New Year with us right here at CNN. Watch New Year's Eve live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. The festivities

begin at 8:00 pm Eastern time.

You can also watch our Richard Quest handle a really tougher time (INAUDIBLE) starting at 2016 in Rio de Janeiro's famous Copacabana. Yes,

you do want to join us for has.

Well, turning to a story that's going to dominate the next year, the fight against ISIS.

In Iraq, coalition forces are keeping pressure on the militants around the Iraqi city of Ramadi while Iraqi troops continue their work on the ground

to secure the city. Let's bring in Nima Elbagir in Baghdad. She's been speaking to some of the families who were rescued from the fighting in


Hi, there, Nima.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. Well, for many of the families, as happy and as relieved as they are to have escaped ISIS, many

of them are thinking not only of some of their number who are still in Ramadi, some of these families were divided during that rescue attempt, but

also what, if anything, they'll have to attend to, given how desolated the city has been by this offensive.

Take a look at this, Robyn.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Sibling squabbles, some semblance of normal life. ELBAGIR: Just a day ago, these families were still inside Ramadi,

uncertain what the future would hold. Today they are tired, they're cold, but they're finally somewhat safe. These few hundred families, though, are

amongst the lucky ones.

Iraqi officials tell us that they believe there are still at least a thousand families still inside Ramadi being used, they say, by ISIS as

human shields to block off the eastern district of the city and slow the government's offensive.

This camp in Anbar Province was built to hold all of the families that they were hoping to rescue from inside Ramadi. For now, so many of these tents,

too many, Iraqi officials tell us, are standing empty. But they're hoping that soon they'll be rescuing more families and bring them back here.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Neda al-Zali (ph) says she and her six children watched as her husband stared down the militants, refusing to allow them to

take his family.

ELBAGIR: Neda (ph) says that her husband was taken away by ISIS fighters with a sword held to his neck. She said he managed to save them from being

amongst the families that were taken to the east of the city and used as human shields.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Neda's (ph) husband managed to escape ISIS but now, like many of the men evacuated from Ramadi, has been taken in for

government questioning. Until he returns, she says she won't believe their nightmare is truly over.

Night falls and the men gather around the fire. The winter nights are bitter and many fled with only the clothes on their backs. But for now, to

be here, to be safe, is enough.


ELBAGIR: Four or five days after the announcement of the liberation of Ramadi -- and, Robyn, fighting is still going on inside the city. Iraqi

officials tell us they are still trying to purge the remaining elements. And for families like Neda's (ph), that's going to be very difficult to

hear as they go into the New Year -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Indeed. Nima in Baghdad, thanks so much for that update.

Well, just ahead here at the IDESK, a once-beloved American icon is charged with felony sexual assault. We'll take a closer look at the case against

Bill Cosby. Plus;


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city, according to the mayor, has never seen water like this in its history. Forget '93, forget 1982. This

looks like it's going to be the worst of all.

CUMANI (voice-over): Evacuations, overflowing rivers and washed-out highways. The state of Missouri is dealing with record flooding. All the

details from CNN's Martin Savidge, that's next.





CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow, you're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK.

Bill Cosby's legacy is already damaged beyond repair but now this. On Wednesday the American comedian appeared in court on felony sexual assault

charges. Dozens of women have accused him of assault. Jean Casarez reports.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once America's beloved TV dad, now disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, arm in arm with his legal team,

stumbling as he arrives for his arraignment in Pennsylvania Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cosby, anything to say?

CASAREZ (voice-over): Facing criminal sexual assault charges for the first time. The 78-year old, released on a $1 million bail for three counts of

alleged aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand in 2004.

The Montgomery County D.A. filing the charges before the 12-year statute of limitations was set to expire in just weeks. Constand worked with Temple

University's athletic program and considered Cosby, 37 years her senior, a friend and mentor. She accuses Cosby of drugging, then assaulting her when

she visited his Pennsylvania home.

KEVIN STEELE, FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills that he provided to her and to drink wine.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In the complaint, Constand says Cosby told her the pills were herbal. After taking them she felt dizzy, nauseous, frozen,

paralyzed, but was aware of Cosby fondling her breasts and putting his hands into her pants.

Though she came forward in 2005, the district attorney did not file charges, citing lack of evidence. Constand filed a civil suit against

Cosby, forcing him to be deposed. He settled the suit with her, the terms of which were sealed.

In his own words, unsealed this July, and the original criminal case reopened. In it Cosby admits to giving women Quaaludes but never without

their knowledge. Constand, the first to publicly come forward accusing Cosby. Since then some 50 women have come --


CASAREZ (voice-over): -- forward with similar allegations over four decades, hoping now they may finally get justice.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: For many of my 29 client, seeing him criminally charged and having to face a trial is the best Christmas present that they

have ever received.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The comedian has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has yet to directly answer a question about the allegations.

BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: There's no response.

CASAREZ (voice-over): But in May he tells ABC News:

COSBY: I've never seen anything like this. And reality is the situation. And I -- I can't speak.

CASAREZ: In a statement, his attorneys called the charges, quote, "unjustified," and vowed that he will, quote, "be exonerated by a court of



CURNOW: Well, no start date has been set for Cosby's trial.

The Missouri Red Cross is opening shelters across the state for people forced to flee rising water. Thousands have been evacuated to higher

ground, as the state deals with record winter flooding. Martin Savidge reports now on efforts to keep a major highway open.


SAVIDGE: These are critical hours now, that we're heading into for this community of Arnold. It's located south of St. Louis. The Meramec River

is the problem. You can see the river. You shouldn't be able to see it quite this close.

The struggle right now is to keep Highway 61 open. MODOT, that's Missouri Department of Transportation, can't do much to stop the water. They are

just trying to make sure it is safe enough. Even as people transit that point, though, they are still getting wet. It's one of the few ways in or

out of town.

And here's part of what the problem is. This is, of course, one of the city parks. But there are other areas where there are at least dozens and

dozens of homes already now facing water. And then it is expected to get much worse. As you pointed out, this city, according to the mayor, has

never seen water like this in its history.

Forget '93, forget 1982, this looks like it's going to be the worst of all and they are hoping against hope that the water will begin to go down.

They think the crest will come around 1:00, maybe 4:00 in the afternoon.


Snow flurries in the forecast. They can't remember having flooding in the winter.


CURNOW: Martin Savidge reporting there.

Well, violent weather has led to a dangerous situation for oil workers in the North Sea. BP said helicopters evacuated employees off oil platforms

and onshore after a barge broke free of its anchor during a storm. It was feared the barge could hit nearby platforms. The danger in that area has

now passed.

But a rescue operation coordinator says it remained unmanned and out of control early Thursday. He said efforts to bring it under control were


Also, in the North Sea, bad weather led to the death of one person at an oil field near Bergen after a breaking wave hit an oil drill rig.

And 21 passengers have been hospitalized after extreme turbulence caused a Toronto-bound Air Canada flight to divert to Calgary Wednesday. As you can

see, none of the injuries were life-threatening but passengers were injured and were quite literally shaken. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My legs were shaking when it started. I was like -- I don't know, sort of felt like flying, like you're in midair and then you

just fell back down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fly a lot for work. It the was most turbulence I've ever felt. There was a pop can actually that landed on top of the

overhead, like the overhead compartment. It stayed up there. So we dropped quite a bit.


CURNOW: Scary. Well, Air Canada's chief operating officer praised the crew's handling of the incident and said an investigation is underway.

We'll have much more news after this short break. Stay with us.





CURNOW: This should make you smile.

U.S. President Barack Obama got a rather unusual visit at the White House recently.


CURNOW (voice-over): Now that's comedian Jerry Seinfeld, knocking at the window there. It was for an episode of Seinfeld's web series, "Comedians

in Cars Getting Coffee."

The show usually features A-list funny men and women, driving in high-end vehicles. But Mr. Obama made the cut. He is actually quite a funny guy

sometimes, isn't he. And he talked politics.

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: People you spend most of your time with, are they really smart?

Are they mostly headstrong, agenda-laden idiots?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know when you're dealing with Congress, it varies. You know, there are going to be some folks there

that are foolish.

SEINFELD: What sport is politics?

Is it chess?

Is it liar's poker?

OBAMA: That's interesting. That was a good question. It's probably most like football.

SEINFELD: Football?

OBAMA: Yes, because a lot of players, a lot of specialization, a lot of --


OBAMA: -- a lot of hitting.

SEINFELD: A lot of attrition.

OBAMA: A lot of attrition. But then, every once in a while, you'll see an opening.

SEINFELD: How many world leaders do you think are just completely out of their mind?

SEINFELD: A pretty sizable percent.


CURNOW: He did a good job, didn't he?

Now the episode was posted online Wednesday. The president has given other nontraditional interviews, often, though, to comedians. They seem to get

quite a lot out of him.

OK. In London 2016, it will begin with an extra thrill. Canadian illusionist Darcy Oake is planning his most difficult escape ever during

the city's annual New Year's parade. Check it out.



DARCY OAKE, CANADIAN ILLUSIONIST: It's dangerous and it's extremely risky and it frightens me, for sure.

Just looking at this thing makes me nervous.

It's a glass box but the bottom of the glass box is made of rubber. My head goes in through the rubber so once my head is inside, my wrists go

through the outside here and here and get locked in place there and over there.

Once I'm inside and this is filled with water, the whole thing is going to get raised up, way up into the air. And I have a single breath to pick all

three locks, open up the stocks and free myself from the box of water.

Ideally at two minutes, I'll be out. This has gone like legitimately horribly wrong -- in rehearsals, luckily -- two different times. But then

I was like on the brink of passing out.

The first thing that can go wrong is obviously drowning or taking in water in the box --


OAKE: -- running out of air. I only have a single hairpin to pick the locks. And because this thing gets raised up in the air if I drop the pin

there's no getting out.

This whole piece for the New Year's day parade needs to be done in about six minutes and that includes the breathing exercises as well. The people

everywhere, there's cameras everywhere. So it's going to be a challenge for me to actually just block everything out.

Just try to balance on that, like 20 feet up in the air, takes a lot of energy as well, which affects the, you know, the holding of your breath.

We're raising it up in the air, so even if something is to go wrong and there's a panic mode or some sort of, you know, catastrophe, nobody's even

going to be able to get to the apparatus to help me out.

Either way, depending on which way it goes, if I get out, that's a one-of- a-kind escape that, like, that's pretty epic. You know, as far as I'm concerned. If it goes horribly wrong, that's also pretty epic.


CURNOW: Madness, isn't it?

Anyway, thanks for watching. I'll be back in an hour and a half with more on New Year's security and celebrations. But first, I will be back with

the headlines in just a moment. So stick around for that.