tv CNN Newsroom CNN December 17, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PST
2013. go to cn.com/why i are for year in review. >> you're going to see 20 of the biggest news stories and we would like you to choose ten for us because we're lazy. rumts will be announced online and tv december 30, 9:00 a.m. eastern. number one story right now, the new pope francis. >> thanks for watching "around the world." "cnn newsroom" starts right now. have a good afternoon. right now the heads of tech companies are meeting with president obama over at the white house. nsa surveillance and health care are both on the agenda. right now, the compromise budget deal is moving forward after clearing a keel procedural hurdle in the senate. we'll break down today's vote and preview the final vote expected tomorrow. and right now, people are lining up across the united states for a chance to win $636 million. that's the grand prize in tonight's megamillions lottery.
hello, i'm wolf blitzer reporting from washington. we start with the heads of some of the country's top tech.cans speaking with the president. they're trying to air their that are concerns over the nsa's surveillance programs. google, apple, twitter, yahoo! facebook, at&t some of the names represented over at the white house, all of them deeply concerned with what the nsa has been doing and how it's impacting their bottom line. joining us senior white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, we just learned a key microsoft executive has been tapped by the president to come in and help with the obamacare website. >> that's right. wolf, starting with the change, the big change at health care.cov, kurt delbene who is an executive, a top executive over the an microsoft, he's going to be taking over the job of really leading the effort to make sure
healthcare.gov is running smoothly. the white house has said it's running better than it was october 1st but they still have additional features to roll out over time, spanish language feature, also that small business feature. they want to roll out those efforts at healthcare.gov and delbene takes over for jeffrey zients who has been in the fire for the last couple months working out kinks with the website. it has been a rather coordinated move by this white housen an microsoft. it's interesting to note, wolf, that microsoft and the white house and the department of health and human services, they were ready to go when this announcement was made with quotes from bill gates praising delbene and saying he'll do a good job in the new role leading up health care.gone. as for the tech executive meeting, a very impressive list of companies here. from all appearances that meeting is still on going. jay carney said in just the last
few minutes during the white house press briefing this meeting is still on going. if you do the math, that's two hours that this meeting has been going on here at the white house. not all of that time with the president, but wolf, there was a light moment at the beginning of that meeting between the president and these tech executives when the president said that he would like to have an advanced copy of the second season of "house of cards" and wondering if any he of the executives brought it with them, specifically the head of netflix. there were a lot of laughs all captured by a press pool camera in the room. then the camera was escorted from the room and they got down to the business at hand which is obviously big concerns among the tech executives with what's going on at the nsa. they just sent a letter to the president last week laying out their concerns saying really the balance has shifted too far to the state when it comes to the privacy concerns of americans that use all of these web sites, wolf. >> any reaction from the white house to that federal judge's ruling yesterday na at least
some of the nsa surveillance programs may be unconstitutional? >> at this point, no. jay carney was asked about that at the top of this press briefing. and not surprisingly, wolf, he again punted over to the department of justice which did release that will brief statement saying yesterday that they believe that the bulk phone record collection that is going on at the nsa that is at the heart of that federal judge's ruling yesterday who said that that is likely unconstitutional, the department of justice saying that they believe that that activity is constitutional and jay carney reiterated that and pointed to the fact that the president's review group that is looking at n subpoena a surveillancen activities has produced that report, that report went to the president. the white house is reviewing it and the report will be released sometime in january along with what the president plans to do to reign in the nsa if that is even decided on at all. >> jim, thank you. while leaders from companies like google anya who have certainly criticized the nsa,
they have also come under fire for tracking users. let's bring inning cnn money tech correspondent laurie segall. tell us how internet companies track users. >> hey, wolf. essentially they use little bits of code called cookies that track what you're doing and why they do that is because these companies, they make money off of advertising. so if they know what you're looking at, they can actually go and target an ad to you personally. you know, but oftentimes they'll say this. these companies end up having a lot more information than we know they have than they said they had. a lot of examples, google had a supplement over its street view car. they were collecting info off of people's wi-fi networks. they came under fire for that. also facebook, google, twitter, all three.cans have had ftc settlements over privacy violations. so they're all getting audited over the years. so you know, silicon valley needs washington and washington needs silicon valley but this is an ongoing discussion.
oftentimes silicon valley is asking for forgiveness and not permission, wolf. >> so answer this because i guess a lot of folks are wondering these big tech companies, they seem to get a free pass. they're tracking a lot of users. people just sort of accept that as business as a normal business practice. but the government is getting hammered for the nsa kind of surveillance. there seems to be a disconnect to a certain degree. >> it's a good point. but you got to remember that most of these services are free. a lot of people use these services understanding and knowing that maybe they'd give up a little privacy. maybe they're served ads and that's how this, would. so it's a well-known fact that gmail scans what you're talking about to see what kind i have ads they can serve up. if you're talking about going on vacation, you might see an add for kayak or travellosity. there's a big difference between that and having a government program looking at that. that's why you're hearing this
sentiment. >> the laurie segall reporting for us, thank you. the notorious leaker edward snowden is living in rauchia right now but his political asylum there could end next summer. he's actively shopping for another place to live. his first choice may be brazil. a letter posted online to the brazilian people today suggest a deal. in effect, he's saying give me asylum and i'll help sulfite u.s. spying on your country. could be a shrewd move. brazilians have been outraged by the nsa's surveillance of their cell phone communications although the letter was directed at brazil, the wording implies the same deal for any country willing to take him in. we'll see how that part of the story unfolds. we're also learning at least one federal agency came under cyber attack during october's partial government shutdown. an investigation by the center for public integrity found hackers in china were able to access the website of the federal election commission.
spokesmen for the non-profit watchdog group says the attack crashes the servers and no one was there to fix it. >> it came as the fec hlts absolutely no regular employees actually serving at the agency because of the government shutdown. it was one of the agencies that actually went completely dark during the government shutdown. only had the commissioners themselves manning the doors, manning the systems and they are not i.t. experts about by any stretch of the imagination. >> the fec website maintains public financial records on federal elections. the compromise budget deal that sailed through the house of representatives clears a major hurdle in the senate and moves a step closer to final approval. earlier today, the senate voted 67-33 on a procedural move to move the bill forward. 12 republicans joined all 53 democrats and two independences in the vote to break a gop filibuster. the fill now needs a simple majority to win final passage.
our chief congressional correspondent dana bash is following all the developments up on capitol hill. we expect that final vote tomorrow, dana, is that right? >> that's correct, we expect it tomorrow and we expect it to pass pretty easily given the vote count you just laid out. definitely will be some differences, some republicans, for example, voting no. and some democrats voting no on the actual measure itself whereas this was more of a procedural measure, but regardless, we expect it to pass very easily into it will pass certainly only needs 50 votes if it's a tie. >> the haven't would break the tie in favor. so it needs 51 votes. but let's talk about the major objections. what are they? >> well, there are several. let's just stick to the republican side for now because that was the only negative we saw on then particular procedural vote. number one, we are seeing republican after republican come to the senate floor this afternoon after this vote saying that they thought that it did not do enough to cut spending,
in facts, just the opposite. it didn't do enough to address the debt and deficit. just maybe just the opposite. and maybe one of the biggest and loudest criticisms of this measure is the fact as you and i have discussed that there as you see there, there is a reduction of military retiree benefits. but what is maybe most interesting, are wolf and this may be a political subplot is of all the republicans up for re-election next year, those who have primary challenges all of them will end up voting no on this because of their concern about the threat from the right. >> lindsey graham often is willing to make a vote like this a bipartisan vote, his friend john mccain voting in favor, even lindsey graham of south carolina will vote against it presumably, voted against overcoming the procedural hurdle. let's talk about the 113th congress. is it on pace to be one of the
least productive in history in terms of the number of laws that have been enacted? >> absolutely hands down it is on pace to do so. look at the numbers. you can see them starkly. right now, are 57 bills have been enacted into law, and that just pales in comparison to what we've seen in congresses past. we're only one near into the congress, congresses are two years long. there's 57 again next year, it won't come close to what has been done in the past. what are some of the major things left undone? first and foremost, the basic responsibility of congress which is to fund the government pass 12 spending bills. none has passed. we expect them to pass one big one when congress comes back, a farm bill which they have a couple of years, but it is absolutely will critical for so many farmers out there, it also addresses food stamps and milk prices. you name it, and they have been negotiating for so long, not
done. of course, the unemployment benefit extension for that 1.3 million americans is why some democrats may in fact, bolt tomorrow on the budget deal. you and i have discussed this before, as well, that just because going backing to that 57 number, just because it is such a low number doesn't mean that all -- that it's that unproductive. meaning you have a lot of people who have come here, been elected by constituents to stop bad laws from going through. and they believe that that is a productive way to spend their time, are not just sending bills to the president's desk. >> good point. thanks very much, dana, for that. so $1 million spent to build a bus stop, just one of the items in this year's waste book as it's called highlighting $30 billion in wasteful spending supposedly. we're going to tell you about some of the items when we come back. stick with innovation.
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rough and dry. along came gold bond, rich, absorbs quickly. legs look healed, healthy. gold bond. ultimate lotion, ultimate skin. $5 million for crystal stem wear, almost $300 million for a megablimp that flew only once. these are just a couple of the items from this year's so-called an waste book. oklahoma senator tom coburn is out with his annual report on wasteful government spending. in all, he highlights 100 examples that total, get this, $30 billion. tom foreman has been going through the list once and twice, three times. it looks sort of like a cartoon. >> and it is. it's sort of like the sears catalog of cynicism. we go through this every year. the number one item on coburn's holiday list is $400 million spent during the government shutdown for employees to do
nothing. now, he puts the blame for that will squarely on congress for allowing the shutdown but he says it was wasteful nonetheless. here's another one, the national guard spent 10 million on a promotion this will campaign tied to the man of steel movie hoping it would draw recruits. it said the guard should have spent the money supporting its current troops. $914,000 for the popular romance project. this is an effort by the national endocument of the humanities to look at our views on romance depicted in books, movies website and so on. there's a nasa project, $360,000 to pay people to lie in bed for weeks on end. i think they call that college in most plays to test for the effects of extended inactivity and weightlessness like they might experience are going to mars for example. to coburn it's 0 out of this world waste. the national institutes of health spent 325,000 on a study that seems to have concluded
that couples are happier when the wives calm down more quickly after a fight. i'm sure there is more to this, but i could have told them for about $1, wolf. >> that much? >> i would have done it for free. let's talk about the defenders of these programs. what do they say? >> well, you know what they say? there are real reasons for this and they think coburn's list every year unfairly inflames public sentiment about about spending in washington. they say there are real ways to explain this. one of the things they cite here is there was mass destruction of about $7 billion worth of weapons and vehicles that were taken over to fight the wars in afghanistan and iraq. essentially what the u.s. did is they wrestled with the idea and said it sounds terrible to destroy $7 million worth of equipment but bring diagnose home and refurbishing it would have cost more. that sort of thing is left out. more more quick example. coburn criticizes spending on
the implementation and proposing of obamacare calling it a plan nobody wants and a broken website. everybody would know that is partisan politics. he's a republican who doesn't like this program. of course, he sees that as waste, many other people would say it's not a waste at all. >> you say $7 billion? >> $7 billion. >> that they had in iraq and afghanistan that instead of bringing it loam or selling it out on to the open market, they distroyed all those thanks and vehicles? >> you know about military equipment like that. it takes tremendous upkeep. you can't he will sell it to an army that may not have the expertise or the parts. there's no point in doing that. you don't want it to fall in the wrong hands. yet, bringing it home and fixing it up, it becomes like an insurance company total ling your karsaying it's not there's no value to it, but the cost of getting that value is too much. >> a lot more stuff. >> we've got a whole day of looking at this. >> we'll see you later in the situation room".
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take a quick look at the markets right now, checking the big board. the dow down about 15 points right now. investors waiting to see what the federal reserve is going to do next. right now, it drops about $858 billion of financial stimulus into the economy each month. the fed wraps up a policy meeting tomorrow. it could indicate if they're going to start pulling back on that stimulus program.
could affect the markets. do you want to be as rich as some of the world's biggest stars? people like bono or mariah carey? all you have to do is win tonight's megamillions jackpot, collect the $636 million up for grabs. alison kosik is over at a 17 eleven on 42nd street in the manhattan. a huge amount of money. you're meeting a lot of people there waiting in line. what's going on as far as lottery fever in new york city is concerned? >> you can feel the energy, you can certainly sense the excitement. everybody, walking up for yeah, what is the ultimate fantasy. you put down your money, you put down numbers and say i'm going to win today. $636 million. that's what the jackpot is right now. but what's interesting as each person that walks in each and every store across this corrupt where there are lottos, that amount of jackpot is going to go higher and higher. if there's no winner of the jackpot tonight, the estimated value of that jackpot could go
up to $800 million by friday. if it rolls over yet again, the next drawing would be, would you believe, christmas eve and the jackpot then could be $1 billion, but you know what the odds are of winning? 1 in 25 million. that's not very good right there. we were kind of thinking, how do you show what those odds are? we put together kind of a visual here. here are tennessee $1 bills. this is easy. your chance of winning if ittern 1 in ten, i would. i can this. this is the winner. how long would the set of bills need to be if i was picking the winner from 259 million bills and if i laid out these bills end to end length wise, that would stretch around the world more than once and still have $1100 left over. that's what your odds are. not very good. that's why i say good luck at winning this game, wolf. >> some states don't have these lotteries. what's their decision?
ing why do they don't want them? >> that's an interesting question. the reason that the odds have gotten so tough have gotten so long is because the lotto officials in october changed the rules, meaning they made it so instead of choosing your five numbers between 1 and 56, now you choose between 1 and 85. then you've got the gold ball. you choose between 1 in 15 instead of 1 in 46. what that essentially means is you've got more numbers, more combinations. less of a chance to win. but you know what? you got to try it, right, wolf? >> and so but getting back to the issue of some states, they love the lotteries, this he provide funding for education, other purposes. some states don't want to have anything to do with these lotteries. what's the back and forth? >> yeah, i mean, there are some states that the don't have -- seven states don't have the lottos right now, one of them being mississippi, alabama, utah and wyoming. wyoming is going to start its lot tote next year because the
legislatures don't want to get into -- get involved in the religious beliefs of these states. so they're staying out of the lotto business. the funny thing is if you live in those states, you can still go across state lines and buy tickets. alaska and hawaii, no lottos there. they don't have to worry about going across state lines. ironically, nevada, there is no lotto in nevada, as well. this is a state that loves gambling but also doesn't want the competition of the money going to lotto and then the money going to other gambling sites. >> let me repeat. if you win the $636 million and you take a lump sum, how much did you say that lump sum would be that you would collect right away? >> with $636 million, your payout if you got the cash payout would be $341 million. >> so you get $341 million. i assume you've got to pay tax on that, right? >> i couldn't hear you, wolf. one more time. >> i assume you have to pay tax on the $341 million. >> that's after taxes.
>> after taxes. all right. so you walk away with $341 million which is not toot shabby obviously. >> 341, not too bad sfa alison kosik, thanks very much. president obama on the downslope running out of time to right his falling approval ratings. what's going on? the numbers are pretty bad right now, but can he turn things around? gloria br standing by. we'll break it down.
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once a day xarelto® means no regular blood monitoring -- no known dietary restrictions. for more information and savings options, call 1-888-xarelto or visit goxarelto.com. president obama has been sort of shaking up his inner circle a bit lately in an effort to get back on track. time will tell certainly if all of this, would. here's a look at the hole he's in right now. a new "washington post"/abc poll puts his approval rating at 43%, an 11-point drop in this poll over the past year. granted he's still way above congress's approval rating which sits at just 16%. who are those 16%? but this may be it the most telling number of all. when asked who do you trust to handle the main problems over the next few years, the president and the republicans in congress, they are ties at 41%. let's bring in our senior political analyst, gloria
borger. give us a little perspective on these latest numbers. >> first of all, obviously the affordable care act has had its impact. while we've had good economic news, most of the american public does not feel the impact on the economy that seems to be betting better. secondly, what we've seen and this it is again, as a result of the affordable care act is that people don't believe this president is as competent as they once thought he was, nor do they trust him as much as they did a year ago. and this -- there's another number in this "washington post" poll that was so interesting and important to me, which is that the president is really down on the question of who is able to protect the middle class. that has always been the president's calling card. it's what got him re-elected i would argue. that's why he may be talking about the wage gap right now. but if the public is really -- if those numbers are declining
for him, that's a real sign of a problem with his base and with democrats in general. >> here's another example of that exact point you're making. take a look at this, who do you trust a better job when it comes to the economy, the committee issue number one. back in december, a year ago, 2012 right after he was re-elected, obama had 54% to 36% for the republicans. but look at now, the republicans are actually ahead of the president with 41%, republicans 45%. what a complete shift in a year. >> a total shift. and you know, when you think eeb back to october reggie during the government shutdown, the democrats were riding high, and what scares the democrats right now as they head into the midterm elections, wolf, is that their generic numbers are not doing well. what that means is you ask the american bilk, who would you rather have run the country and the congress right now, would you rather have democrats or republicans? so right after the shutdown, the
democrats were up 8 points. people wanted democrats to run the congress. now, they're up a couple of points. so that's almost almost a parity. so you see that shift. that combined with the president's low ratings really gives democrats a lot of worry as they head into the midterm elections and historically, the president who's in the sixth year of his presidency, his party does not do well he anyway. >> especially if his job approval numbers are down, that's going to hurt democrats up for election or re-election. my sense is that obviously, the roll out of the website for the affordable care act was a disaster for the president, but also the repeated promises if you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan. if you like your doctor, you can keep -- the fact he hasn't been able to live up to those repeated pledges has undermined his credibility. >> that's where do you trust the president numbers come in. look, we don't know yet, if if the affordable care act six months down the road is working
really well, people like it, they feel like they're getting better health care, they feel like their rates are good, maybe a lot of this goes away. but right now, at this point, we don't know whether the promise, if you like your health care you can keep it, turns into another read my lips as we saw with the first george bush, so we don't know yet. that still has to play out. and a lot depends on this health care act and how it performs. >> the younger people, read my lips, no new taxes. we've got to remember. see you in the situation room later. they are common products we use every day. so and vitamins. but now there are concerns being raised about their use. we'll talk about that update you when we come back. [ male annou for every late night, every weekend worked, every idea sold... ♪ ...you deserve a cadillac, the fastest growing full-line luxury brand in the united states. including the all new 2014 cadillac cts,
>> the fda is putting out a challenge to the makers of antibacterial soaps and watches an, prove your products are safe and effective or change your labels. elizabeth cohen explains what's behind this latest development. >> you see them everywhere. these antibacterial soaps with killer claims but these labels might become a thing of the past. the food and drug administration says antibacterial soaps may actually be harmful. they could pose health risks such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects. the most common ingredient in antibacterial soaps trycally sin. >> there are some impacts that triclosan may have on the hormone system which could affect developing bodies like in children and infants. if it's not doing any good, why
are we putting this potentially harmful chemical in our homes. >> that's right. the fda says there's no evidence the soaps prevent illness better than plain old so and water. so the agency has put this demand on so manufacturers. prove that your antibacterial products are safe and bet better than rel so and if you can't, scrub off those claims. so manufacturers say they're up to the task. >> manufacturers have presented such data in the past. and with him this new proposed rule that's out, will have another opportunity to present newerer research that shows, again, a germ-killing benefit of antibacterial so and data that the does show that these sos are safe. >> the burden will be on them. elizabeth is joining us now. elizabeth, i want to shift also and get your perspective on this growing controversy over the
past 24 hours or multivitamins. there's a new you skiskt medical report suggesting they aren't at least as effective as we thought they they were. they might even be dangerous. give us the latest information about multivitamins. >> right. so these were studies that looked to wlf multivitamins helped fight dementia or heart attacks. basically the studies found they didn't. people take multivitamins for a multitude of reasons, no pun intended. so some people might say well, i take it because i think it makes me stronger or i think it might prevent me from getting a cold. the editorial writers at the annals of internal medicine said look, most supplements don't prevent chronic disease or death. their use is not justified and they should be avoid pd. at least these doctors think there's really no reason for anyone to it be taking a multienvironment. >> are they saying if you're taking a multivitamin, you should stop because it could hurt you? >> they're not going so far as to actually tell people what
they should do. whenever you're thinking about anything like this, you should you always talk to your doctor. some doctors we talked to said look, if i have a patient to has a terrible diet, why not go ahead, it could be a safety net for you. what you want to be careful about, if you're taking a multivitamin and other individual vitamins you want to make sure you're not doubling up because too much could hurt. >> you elizabeth cohen, who knew. i guess the changes are coming all around. thanks very much for that report. we also have new details that have come to light in last february's disastrous carnival cruise disaster in the gulf of mexico. company records show the ship was far behind in critical maintenance. we have a cnn investigation. that's coming up next. working of two young boys life could be hectic. angie's list saves me a lot of time. after reading all the reviews i know i'm making the right choice. online or on the phone, we help you hire right the first time. with honest reviews on over 720 local services.
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but some cardinal executives in miami probably were not. internal maintenance documents reveal a ship that one attorney says was simply not sea worthy. cnn investigative correspondence drew griffin has the startling details. >> reporter: this is supposed to be the fun ship. and we were basically having to fend for ourself. >> tina rodriguez and her daughter isabel had planned this cruise for half a year. they would sail on the triumph and celebrate isabel's birthday. it was the trip of a lifetime until they will awoke to a fire alarm, smoke in their hallway, then days and days of misery. human waste was actually piling up just outside their door. >> just on our deck alone, there were the biohazard bags lined up across the floor. we're talking about raw sewage at just the ends of our deck alone. it was -- it was repulsive. >> it was, according to rodriguez, a nightmare. now, made even worse because of
these. the cruise line's own reports inspections and maintenance records detail the problem that had been developing on board the carnival "triumph" more than a year before rodriguez and her daughter were on board. houston attorney frank spagnoletti obtained the documents in his lawsuit against carnival. >> that ship never should have set sail in february. it was unsea worthy at the commencement of the voyage. these documents tell you that the company, and i'm saying to you the corporation back in miami, had knowledge of the fact that this vessel had a propensity for fires. that there were things that could have been, should have been, and weren't done in order to make sure that will fires didn't take place. >> the first trouble with triumph, diesel generator number six that ended up catching fire. starting a year before the cruise, it was overdue for maintenance out of compliance with the safety laws of the sea known as so las, according to
the ship's own engineer. over and over again, carnival's own maintenance reports say the same thing. diesel generator number six, overdue for maintenance. and during that same time period, carnival learned about another even more alarming safety problem in the engine room. fuel lines. a dangerous pattern of leaks had emerged on other carnival cruise ships. in fact, varn val coast at that time an leg gral caught fire because fuel leaked on to a hot spot and ignited. it would be the fult foreshadowing. consider this, carnival's own investigation shows the fire on board the costa allegra is believed to be caused about i a fuel leak on one of the generators, eerie little similar to what would start the fire on board the time up one year later. carnival says it is pro actively began investigating and found a different problem in a different type of fuel line. there have been nine incidents
resulting in fuel leaks associated with flexible fuel lines in just two years. and on january 2nd, carnival issues a compliance order giving ships two months to address the problem, to ensure installed for all diesel engines using the flexible fuel lines. mark jackson is the chief engineer. >> after that internal study, the company came out with a new policy to again shield all of the flanges and the hoses that were below the deck plates. >> but you didn't shield the one hose that wound up causing this tragedy. >> that hose was beneath the deck plates, and it was believed that the deck plates would act as that shield. in this case, it found that gap in the bilge plates and caused the fire. >> on february 7th with a diesel generator still in need of
overhaul and fuel line shields on some but not all of its flexible hoses, triumph set sail from galveston, texas. >> we were totally in compliance with all the rules and regulations. we had our regulating bodies on board the vessel less than two weeks prior, that had certified the ship safe to sail. obviously, you learn things on a situation, on incidents such as the triumph. >> three days later off the coast of mexico, fire breaks out in diesel generator number six when fuel sprays from a flexible fuel line, a line that was less than six months old. drew griffin, cnn, houston, texas. >> while the company insists what happened on the carnival triumph was just an accident, cardinal has dedicated $300 million in a fleet-wide safety upgrade, specifically focusing on detecting and preventing the very type of fire that crippled the carnival triumph earlier
this year. as for the passengers suing, carnival's lawyers say if they look at the fine print of their ticket, it would show them they have no case because carnival says it never guaranteed a safe trip, a seaworthy vessel, or even sanitary conditions. if you have an idea for a drew griffin story and cnn investigations to go to that story, go to cnn.com/investigations. we'll follow up. upheaval in north korea. there are now more questions today about the fate of kim jong-un's family members. all this while he awaits the arrival of his close friend, dennis rodman on the way to north korea. that's next. americans take care of business.
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we may be in store for more saber rattling from north korea. a member of south korea's parliament says their northern neighbors may be ready for a fourth nuclear test, may be ready to launch another missile soon. yesterday the north dropped warning leaflets on the south korean island threatening to annihilate an army brigade stationed on the island. today marked a solemn anniversary. it's been two years since the death of the long-time leader kim jong-il.
joining us now is our own brian todd. he's been looking into this. he's gting ready, kim jong-un, to welcome his pal dennis rodman, the nba all-star who's on his way back for a second visit to north korea. what's going on here? >> yeah, more of the bizarre world of north korea. kim jong-un has just executed his uncle. he's purged other top officials. he's not meeting with any foreign dignitaries, not even his friends, the chinese. yet, here comes the worm, dennis rodman coming to north korea. probably getting there on thursday. what we're told is this is sponsored by an irish online betting company called patty power. they're the sole sponsor of this trip. this is all about basketball. he's going to go there to set up a basketball exhibition that rodman hopes will bring former nba players to north korea to have a basketball exhibition match with some north korean basketball players, possibly next month during kim jong-un's
birthday celebration. but we're told that politics will not come up on this visit. that's what we know right now. this is a visit to his old friend kim jong-un. his at least his second, possibly his third visit there. of course, it comes at a strange time. >> we also know there is an american, kenneth bae, a missionary, who's been held for a year in north korea. he's been arrested, convicted. is there a possibility -- i know that people are speculating given dennis rodman's statements over the last six months in favor of releasing kenneth bae, that the north koreans might let him leave with dennis rodman. that would be encouraging. >> there are analysts who say there could be a shot at this. everybody who you talk to from u.s. officials, they're not saying anything about it. they'll only say he's going there as a private citizen, we've got nothing to do with it. the sponsors are saying this is only about basketball. this is not about politics.
however, korea analysts say given dennis rodman's relationship with kim jong-un and the closest they've exhibited -- and remember, dennis rodman is the highest profile american ever to meet with him. there is a chance possibly he could advance bae's case, possibly bring him back. that's a long shot. >> he should at least raise the case and tell his pal, kim jon y -- jong-un, let this man go. >> he tweeted that. of course, nothing has happened. this could advance the case. >> a little of the dynamics within the family. what's going on? >> well, the speculation now turns to kim jong-un's aunt. this is the wife of the man who was just purged and executed. you'll see a picture of her there. according to "the new york times" on sunday, she appears to have survived this purge. she is a four-star general. she is the sister of kim jong-un's father. she appears to have survived this purge and appears to be safe for now. but again, not seen in some of
these recent pictures. we don't know what's happened to her. >> all right, brian. thank you. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. see you at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." "newsroom" continues right now with brooke baldwin. >> wolf, thank you so much. hi there. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me. we are getting news just into cnn. 14 people, passengers and a crew member, have been taken to the hospital after a ferry ran aground. this was in north carolina today. this is a 64-foot boat. came to a sudden stop, hurling people all across the cabin, crashing into tables. a lot of questions at the moment, including the fact it's very unclear why this ship ran aground in the first place. updates as soon as we get them. meantime, mega millions fever is growing by the hour as lottery players are lining up, looking for a ltl