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Top 10 Science & Tech Breakthroughs of the Year; Anti-U.S. Adoption Bill Advances; Boy Changes Lives of Street Kids; Director Makes History

Aired December 26, 2012 - 12:30   ET



HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: And I would say that the unintended consequences of every day between now and the end of the month becomes harder and harder for people to make discretionary decisions, whether it's a Christmas present, a trip, an investment, all of these things are coupled with the level of uncertainty and the unintended consequences that are being produced.

And I would say one of three things are going to happen and this is nothing new. Other people have said it.

Either nothing is going to happen, which would be really disappointing. Either we're going to get a Band-Aid solution, which in my view would be equally discouraging because we haven't solved the problem.

Or, hopefully, the president and the Republican Congress will give America what they deserve which is a Christmas present and we could all get on with our lives and restore some degree of confidence in Washington.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does the solution have to include raising rates or, as Republicans argue, is closing loopholes and limiting deductions enough?

Because that's the line in the sand the president is drawing.

SCHULTZ: Yeah. Well, you know, we -- you and I have talked over the years about specific issues and I've -- I don't want to dodge the question.

I'm not a policymaker. I'm not a politician. I would frame it this way -- that, in any negotiation there has to be a degree of compromise and, in this situation, we obviously need incremental revenue and we also need to address entitlements.

And I think if people would get in the room and leave their ego behind and not be so skewed towards the party, but be so sensitive through the lens of the American people, we will have an agreement.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: He seems a little bit optimistic.

When we talk about the so-called fiscal cliff, we usually talk about billions, trillions of dollars here, but really we want to get a sense. What does it mean for your paycheck, for your personal finances?

Well, here's some consequences if there is no deal. One of the first places you might feel it is in your paycheck. Payroll tax holiday expires. That means $83 less per month if you make $50,000 a year.

Now, the Bush-era tax cuts expire and it's not clear what the tax rate would be, but the average household would see a tax increase of $3,500 a year. That is according to the Tax Policy Center.

So, what about the 2012 tax returns? Well, there would no fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax and that would delay tax filings.

As many as 100 million people might not be able to file their return until late March. That means tax refunds could also be delayed and some major tax credits would expire, as well, including the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

From a Mars landing to a deep water dive, scientific and technical breakthroughs this past year were amazing. Here's John Zarrella with a look at the top 10.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At number 10, a revolutionary camera called Lytro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's such a powerful technology breakthrough, that this will forever change how we take and experience pictures.

ZARRELLA: The camera captures the entire light field, allowing the picture's focus and perspective to be changed after it's been taken.

Number nine, NASA's Dawn spacecraft sent back staggering data about an asteroid called Vesta. It appears it went through stages of planetary evolution. It's one of a kind in the solar system.

CAROL RAYMOND, DAWN SCIENCE TEAM: What's clear to us is that Vesta appears to be the only intact proto-planet that's left.

ZARRELLA: Number eight, you may have heard the term "God particle." Scientists call it Higgs-Boson. The European nuclear research organization called CERN claims to have found it.

Why is it a big deal? Think Big Bang Theory.

MICHIO KAKU, PROFESSOR OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS: And this particle, we think, was, in fact -- a particle like this was the fuse that set off the explosion which created the universe.

ZARRELLA: Researchers found it after analyzing data from protons collisions generated by a particle accelerator. At seven, a leap of faith, Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking jump. Baumgartner broke the freefall record and the sound barrier, jumping from 128,000 feet in a revolutionary space suit.

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, SKYDIVER: I said, I know the whole world is watching now and I wish the world could see what I see.

ZARRELLA: Six, young children dying at an alarming rate in Cambodia and with an alarming speed. It was a medical mystery. Streptococcus, dengue and a pathogen called EV71 were unusually aggressive.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta was there when the mystery was solved.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They found that those organisms in conjunction with these kids getting steroids probably led to such an aggressive course.

ZARRELLA: Number five, SpaceX became the first commercial company to rendezvous and dock a spacecraft at the International Space Station. It marked a new beginning, private companies taking over for NASA, sending cargo and eventually humans to the station.

Number four, scientists found the Great Barrier Reef, the largest in the world, is in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half of the coral has disappeared over the last 27 years. That's a momentum change.

ZARRELLA: Scientists attribute much of the loss to storm damage.

At number three, we go to the pacific and the deepest part of any ocean in the world with famous film director and explorer, James Cameron.

First, test dives.

JAMES CAMERON, FILM DIRECTOR AND EXPLORER: Had about five major systems failures that prevented me from going on.

ZARRELLA: Finally, in a submersible called "Deep Sea Challenger," Cameron went down 35,000 feet.

Number two, melting ice. Scientists using satellite and aircraft data have found the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing three times as much ice as 20 years ago. Giant rifts appeared in places like Antarctic's Pine Island glacier. Combined, Antarctica and Greenland have contributed to one-fifth of all sea-level rise over the past 20 years.

And our number one is called "seven minutes of terror." The rover Curiosity survived a harrowing ride through the Martian atmosphere in a landing that had never before attempted, prompting an outpouring of emotion from the NASA team.

Curiosity is now roaming the landing site, hunting for signatures of past life, water, carbon, methane. If it finds any, Curiosity might well be our number one again next year.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


MALVEAUX: And join us Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern as my colleague, Don Lemon, counts down all the stories that captured our attention in 2012.

International adoptions can take years and thousands of dollars, but now Russia might leave a number of Americans in limbo. A bill passed by parliament would ban U.S. adoptions.


MALVEAUX: Americans trying to adopt children from Russia could soon be told crushing news. Those adoptions may not go through and here is why. A law banning all Americans from adopting in Russia has been approved by Russia's parliament. President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign it.

Now, the measure is considered a payback of sorts for an American law passed two weeks ago. Now, that law put financial reconstructions of Russians accused of human rights violations and bans them from traveling to the United States.

Joining us to talk about this from Boston, Adam Pertman. He is executive director for the Donaldson Adoption Institute. Adam, thanks for joining us.

I know that a lot of people are very emotional about this subject. Before we talk about it, I want to give our viewers a sense in what this means in terms of the overall impact.

The State Department says over the last 20 years Americans have adopted more than 60,000 children from Russia, more than any other country.

And they talk about the need, too. They say there are more than 650,000 orphans in Russia. In the United States, a little more than 58,000 children who are living either in group homes or state institutions.

So, Adam, what kind of impact could this have on families who either want to adopt or are in the process of adopting Russian children?

ADAM PERTMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE: Well, obviously, if what they say is going to happen really happens, those families are not going to be able to adopt the kids, even if all the legal processes already have been in place.

But much more important, let's focus on the children. What it means is those children will remain institutionalized, which is not a good place for any kid, rather than be in families.

MALVEAUX: Why is it that you have in Russia -- and there are some statistics say that special needs kids in Russian orphanages, as much as 9 percent of the 956 Russian children adopted last year, those children who have disabilities, why is it so difficult for them in their home country?

PERTMAN: Well, most countries other than the U.S. do not have an adoption culture. The U.S. adopts more children in all sorts of adoptions than the rest of the world combined.

So it's not part of -- blood ties are important in most countries. Our country's a little different. There are adoption cultures building in some countries, but Russia isn't there yet.

So, again, for the children who do not get homes, domestically or internationally -- homes are good -- for those who do not get homes as a result of this bill, they are going to remain in institutions where their prospects are dim.

MALVEAUX: But why do you say their prospects are dim? What is the life? What does life look like for a young Russian child in an orphanage?

PERTMAN: Well, again, it's not just Russia. Orphanages, institutions -- that's what they are -- are not good places for children. Children who live in institutional care, temporary care lose i.q. points every day. They suffer from developmental delays. They have psychological issues that develop as a result of institutionalization.

Kids -- this is research. Research shows this very clearly. It's research that shows that the sun is shining. Kids grow up well in families loved and tended to, not in institutions where they are among tens, hundreds, thousands of children being tended to by very, very few people.

MALVEAUX: Adam, explain to us what happened, what actually took place because we know there was quite a backlash of an American adoption here, if you will. It was back in 2010.

It really took a dramatic turn when Russians saw this woman from Tennessee who actually sent her adopted son back to Russia saying that he was violent, he was too difficult to handle.

A lot of people in Russia really thought that was very insensitive and, in some ways, look to this ban as something that is a good thing.

PERTMAN: Well, that is what got a lot of people's attention. It got worldwide attention. It was an aberration. It was a man bites dog story and I think people were justifiably horrified by it.

But the reaction has really been to something broader. There have been about 20, we think, children who have suffered great harm or even died in their adoptive families in the U.S., kids who are adopted from Russia and, so, this bill aims to say, we don't want that anymore. You're not taking care of our children.

But, as you pointed out, 60,000 children have been adopted from Russia. We cannot excuse one, not one fatality, not one mistreatment of a child. But if that's what we want to do, we need to deal with that problem in isolation from the bigger issue of adopting children from Russia.

If you ban it altogether, that means the rest of those 60,000 stay in an institution. That, again, I have too keep coming back to the children. That's not good for anyone.

And, so, yes, attention was focused as a result of that case and many others and we need to deal with those problems and there is a bilateral treaty with Russia to deal with those problems. This is not the solution.

MALVEAUX: Adam, how do you respond to Russian officials who say that they are working on encouraging more domestic adoptions? Because you bring up the point that institutionalizing children is not necessarily a good thing, but that they want to encourage Russian families to adopt their own children. That that is their priority.

PERTMAN: I think it would be great. If they have a plan b, where all the kids who were coming here or to any other country. If there's a plan b to have them get real good families domestically, wonderful. Let's keep going. But there are, by some estimates, 700.000 to 750,000 children in orphanages and institutions in Russia. They don't have that many families stepping up. So if children are at the core of the issue, absolutely develop that adoption culture. But meanwhile, don't let the kids suffer in institutions. Get them into families somewhere.

MALVEAUX: All right, Adam Pertman, we appreciate your time. And we are going to be talking to a family tomorrow about this very issue that impacts them in a very personality way. Adam, thanks again. We appreciate it.

In India, barricades have now been taken down in New Delhi's main government district. Commuter trains, they're running again and the violent protests have ended. But water cannon trucks, riot police, they are still standing by in case demonstrations flare up light they did over the weekend. Now, what was that about? Well, the protests were over the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a public bus. Some protestors were calling for the death penalty for her attackers. Others want better protection for Indian women. The rape survivor is still in the hospital and doctors say her condition has improved only slightly.

Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi, has signed a decree that puts his country's new constitution now in effect. Now, voters approved the document, which was backed by the president and the Muslim Brotherhood by most two to one. Opponents say, though, however, that this is not going to protect the rights that Egyptians fought for in last year's revolution. And the U.S. State Department says the constitution needs more support across Egypt. Creating a new constitution is a key step in Egypt's transition to democracy. It also sets the stage for a new parliament to be formed.

China, one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it shows. Take a look at this. We are talking about a sleek, new high speed rail link. It is opening today. It is connecting Beijing, that is China's capital, with the country's bustling commercial center, Guangzhou. That is more than 1,400 miles to the south. That's roughly the same distance from Boston to Miami. Well, it is the world's longest high speed railway. It slashes the travel time. We're talking cutting it down from 22 hours to just eight. But the tickets, starting at $138, a little pricy for the average Chinese citizen. Some travelers say it's cheaper and faster to fly.

And a 13-year-old boy from the Philippines, he is one of the recipients of this year's International Children's Peace Prize. He took the horrible experience of being on the streets, turned it into an opportunity to help many others. We're going to show you his extraordinary journey.


MALVEAUX: The gift of giving. A boy in the Philippines says he's fortunate enough to knows what that feel like, even though he has faced extremely unfortunate circumstances in his own life. But one day his luck and his life completely changed. Take a look.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): At age five, Kesz Valdez was living on the streets of Cavite City, just outside Manila in the Philippines. He survived by savaging in the garbage dump and begging for money in the marketplace. He drank water from sewage canals and slept in an open tomb in the cemetery. A life without joy changed forever by a horrible accident that threatened to make it even worse.

KESZ VALDEZ, 2012 INTL. CHILDREN'S PEACE PRIZE WINNER: One evening, when I was waiting for the garbage truck to arrive, somebody pushed me into a pile of burning tires. My back and my arm got burned.

MALVEAUX: Though his recovery was punctuated by extreme pain, he calls this is baptism by fire. He was rescued by community activist Harnin Manalaysay, who became his guardian.

HARNIN MANALAYSAY, KESZ'S GUARDIAN: That day probably was the first day in his life that he felt loved, accepted, and cared for.

MALVEAUX: On his seventh birthday, Mr. Harnin helped Kesz obtain his birth certificate so he could attend school. But Kesz's special birthday wish was to give, not just receive.

VALDEZ: My birthday with is also to give children, street children, the things that I received. We started Hope Gifts, the gifts of hope, like the toys, the candies, and the sleep wears.

MALVEAUX: Kesz passed them out to those who share his plight. That was six years ago. Now he's got his own organization championing community children that he says has helped 10,000 street kids, supplying them with everything from toothbrushes, to sandals, to snacks. His efforts have won worldwide recognition. This past September, Kesz was awarded the International Children's Peace Prize by South Africa's archbishop Desmond Tutu. According to a study sanctioned by the group that handed out that award, more than 150,000 homeless children are living without families on the streets of Manila. Kesz presented the report to Philippines President Benigno Aquino.

Kesz was inspired by the work of Efren Penaflorida, who was chosen CNN's 2009 Hero of Year for bringing education it Manila's street children through his mobile push cart classrooms. Now Kesz hopes to be an inspiration to others.

VALDEZ: I am representing the children, the Filipino children, the street children, to give them hope.


MALVEAUX: He's one special boy.

You may also remember one of the 2011 nominees for the Children's Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was attacked by Taliban militants, for supporting girls' educational rights. Well, she is still recovering from that attack in a British hospital.

His film brings Santa Claus, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny to life on the big screen. We're going to talk to the director of "The Rise of the Guardians."


MALVEAUX: Peter Ramsey is making history on the big screen. He is the first African-American to direct a major animated film. And his holiday movie, "Rise of the Guardians," has earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Nischelle Turner talked to the director about his inspiring journey from south central L.A. to Hollywood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is, Jack Frost.



TURNER: You made your mark.

RAMSEY: Yes. And you kind of have to pinch yourself and look around and remember like, oh, my God, I'm working on those characters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Easter bunny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tooth fairy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprise. TURNER: These aren't your daddy's childhood heroes?

RAMSEY: No, they're not.

TURNER: I heard you describe Santa as a Hell's Angel with a heart of gold.

RAMSEY: That's him. That's him. He's not just this little, you know, jolly full of belly little guy. He lives at the North Pole. The toughest place in the world. This guy's an adventurer. All these guardians, they represent very specific things. You know, hope, dreams, memories, fun.

TURNER: The Peter Ramsey story.

RAMSEY: Well, you -- but it's everybody's story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be epic.

TURNER: Do you remember your first time going to the movies?

RAMSEY: I must have been around four years old. It was Disney's "Snow White." And I'm sure I fell asleep before it was over, but it was magic.

TURNER: Really?

RAMSEY: Magical, yes.

TURNER: That's what stuck with you?

RAMSEY: That really stuck with me. Just had these giant images coming at you on the -- from the screen and the emotion hits you. And I think that feeling, the emotion of it, is what really set me on the path.

TURNER: I know a lot of times it's hard to dream bigger than what you see every day.

RAMSEY: Yes. I had a head full of dreams. It was like how do you go the step of making those dreams into reality. Even though I grew up, you know, five, six miles away from Hollywood, I had no idea that real people make movies. There was no uncles who were actors or no, you know, directors or producers that we -- nothing like that.

TURNER: You were just the Ramseys from south central?

RAMSEY: We were just -- yes.

It's the North Pole. It's a place you've always tried to get into. It's a dream of yours.

HERBERT RAMSEY, FATHER: I think we both conveyed to him that he could do better than just people in the area that we were living.

PAULINE RAMSEY, MOTHER: He was always a busy, inquisitive kid. Wanted to ask questions all the times that I did not always know the answer. But we had books in the house.

H. RAMSEY: I knew he was going to be something special.

RAMSEY: Yes, yes. Oh, yes, that's great.

TURNER: I get the impression that the gravity of what you have achieved, being the first African-American filmmaker to direct a big budget animated film, didn't really set in at first.

RAMSEY: No, I don't think it did. It wasn't until there had been an article written about me in a newspaper, and I looked up and I saw the tears in my dad's eyes. And it all came back to me. It does kind of matter. It does --

TURNER: It's more than work.

RAMSEY: It's -- yes. I've been talking to a lot of kids at schools. And you can just see it. They'll never have that thing of saying, oh, nobody like me could do that. Nobody like me could do that. And that's the most rewarding thing of all.

TURNER: And now they say somebody like me did that.

RAMSEY: Exactly.


MALVEAUX: Ramsey will learn how his film fares in the Golden Globe race when the awards are handed out January 13th.

And it's the day after Christmas. We're going to take a look at a few things that people are doing today.

In the U.K. and many other parts of the world, people are celebrating Boxing Day. Much like Black Friday in the United States, retailers offer extreme discounts. Crowds of up people fill the streets and stores today hoping to take advantage of those sales.

Some brave folks in the Czech Republic took on a freezing river during their traditional Christmas swim. The temperature there, 46 degrees Fahrenheit.