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Putin Addresses Controversies; Tornado Survivor Speaks; American Escapes from Bolivia; App Claims to Analyze Voice

Aired December 19, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MALVEAUX: Of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in the headlines a lot lately. Crackdown on gay rights has prompted international criticism, and has had an impact on the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

HOLMES: Also the massive demonstrations in Ukraine we've been reporting on, from protesters who want less Russian influence in the country and of course his country granting asylum to a man the U.S. government desperately would like back, Edward Snowden.

MALVEAUX: Putin addressed a lot of the controversies today. This was a marathon news conference. Here's what he says about why he opposed western values even as Russia is banning so-called gay propaganda. Here's how he explained it.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): It's not important for me to criticize western values. What is important -- to defend our society, it's not about criticizing anyone. It's about protecting us from rather aggressive behavior.


MALVEAUX: Jill Dougherty, one who pressed Putin on that question, she's with us, joining us from Moscow. Jill, you had one of those seats there among many to talk and really to confront Putin. What was that like? Tell us about this event to begin with. This is rather rare.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's huge. It's his annual news conference, a gigantic hall, there were some 300 - more than 300 journalists. You have to be prepared to sit there for four hours, actually you're there for five, because of security one- hour in advance. It's a very long thing.

He gets through -- the estimate was -- I don't think I actually timed it, but the estimate was he would be answering about 100 questions. It may be true. So he got into a lot of issues, as you can imagine. But one of the more interesting ones was he said that he kind of envies Barack Obama for being able to look at all of that information, let's say spy on all of that NSC information but ended up defending the use of it. Here's how -- what he said about that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PUTIN: My relations to Obama following Snowden, I envy him because he can do this and there will be nothing for him because of this. But there's nothing specific to be pleased about or to be upset about. Everything has always been like this, first of all. Spying has always gone on since ancient times.


DOUGHERTY: So actually another part he had there was to really say that most of the spying that's done is used for anti-terrorist activities, which is interesting because he ends up, at least somewhat, defending Barack Obama. And he also got in, in fact the first question into Ukraine, the demonstrations, et cetera, and he made the point that Russia is a good brotherly friend of Ukraine and that's why they're helping them out with these loans. Let's listen to him.


PUTIN: Ukraine is in a difficult situation today, both economically, socially, and politically. The situation came about during a result of a number of circumstances and causes. And if we really speak about the fact they're being a brotherly nation, brotherly country, then we need to act as we do with our close relatives and to help Ukraine in this difficult situation.


DOUGHERTY: Now, of course, the people who've been demonstrating would say they're not helping. They're actually trying to yank Ukraine back into the embrace of Russia, and there was a very interesting moment there where he kind of hinted that Ukraine isn't really ready for the European Union. So there are a lot of messages coming from that, too. It was fascinating, I have to say, four hours of listening to Vladimir Putin on all sorts of subjects, domestic and international.

HOLMES: It's extraordinary, the access, four hours, 100 questions. It's amazing. When it comes to the -- what's described as the anti- gay law, although it's really a lack -- I think a law against promoting gay, do you think he's upset that the White House is sending, you know, basically, snubbing Sochi in a way and sending a delegation that includes prominent gay athletes or do you think he doesn't care?

DOUGHERTY: Well, certainly he didn't say that he was, but I think the problem would be, you know, it is a problem if you have gay people who are there calling attention, which Billie Jean King, et cetera, calling attention to the fact that there is this law that President Putin, on the other hand says, won't be enforced at the Olympics. It's a very strange situation because nobody knows how it will be enforced, whether it will be enforced, et cetera. So it's a reminder of something that he probably doesn't want to get into.

HOLMES: Yes. Fair enough. Jill, good to have you again. Our longtime former Moscow correspondent, back on familiar turf there. Jill Dougherty, thanks.

MALVEAUX: Good to see you. An extraordinary event, too, think about hundreds of reporters for four, five hours, very different than our own system. Jill, you know, endured that to get a question in.

HOLMES: She loved it.

MALVEAUX: Makes you appreciate our system.

We're going to focus on some extraordinary people. They are all a part of a CNN SPECIAL REPORT tonight. HLN's Robin Meade, she's going to join us straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: This year, we have seen deadly storms, floods, tornadoes, the type of devastation that changes lives forever. Anderson Cooper and Robin Meade are putting the spotlight on some extraordinary people.

HOLMES: People who not only escaped death but also helped others. Robin joins us now to talk about the special that is airing, it's 10:00 eastern I believe. What are we going to see.

ROBIN MEADE, HLN HOST: Yeah, so 10:00 p.m. eastern tonight on CNN. It's about people who, within the past year, you've probably seen a news story about them because in a pinch they had to make an incredible decision that just became something extraordinary.

So, for example, I'm going to introduce you to somebody named Ladonna Cobb. You may have seen a little about her during those horrible tornadoes that happened in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20th. Ladonna had a choice that day; she was supposed to go to her house closing May 20th.

But instead, as a tornado was bearing down on the elementary school where she helps with her pre-k class, instead of darting out of the way with her own children, she kept thinking about the other kids, their parents aren't around, and they're in the path of this gargantuan tornado.


LADONNA COBB, TORNADO SURVIVOR: When he came in and he said, get out here now, I knew, my stomach dropped at that moment, just the look on his face and the tone of his voice, I knew something was really, really wrong. And when I came around that building and saw it, my heart just dropped.

MEADE: You actually saw the twister?

COBB: Oh, yes.

MEADE: What did you see?

COBB: It was enormous. I could see big, huge pieces of debris flying in the air. MEADE: Could you really?

COBB: Yes. It was -- I would say half a mile to a mile at the most away from us at that point.


MEADE: So that's just one of five different people. And in this special, we're going to relive some of the moments again with her, for example, as she reveals the unlikely decision that she made that many people think saved a lot of lives.

It's not the only person, like I said. We have five different people we're focusing on and what a tough thing to do because there are so many extraordinary people in our news stories for the year.

MALVEAUX: We are so proud of you guys for doing that, bringing those people to light. It's really, really incredible.

MEADE: One of the people, too, I don't know if we have time -


MEADE: Let me take over your show -



MALVEAUX: We will watch the special, we promise.

MEADE: Michael, Suzanne, thank you.

HOLMES: I have got the biggest "no" in my ear just then.


MALVEAUX: All right. We'll be watching, Robin.

MEADE: Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: 10:00 Eastern tonight.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Robin.

HOLMES: Good to see you, Robin.

No time, no time. All right, now, an American who was -- that's "Extraordinary People," you see it there, 10:00 Eastern.

All right, we're going to move on now to an American who was being held in Bolivia, now back in the United States. And, guess what, Bolivia's not so happy.

MALVEAUX: Did he escape on his own or did somebody actually help him? That story is up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: An American who was held for two years in Bolivia is now back in the United States. But the big question is, how did he get here?

HOLMES: Bolivian authorities accused Jacob Ostreicher of laundering drug money, then they put him in a notorious prison for a while, then they put him under house arrest.

MALVEAUX: Sean Penn even went to Bolivia to try and negotiate his release. Well now Bolivian officials are accusing the U.S. government of actually helping with the escape. CNN's Rafael Romo has the back story.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He arrived in the United States Monday morning.

ROMO: But how the American businessman returned to the U.S. is still a mystery. Ostreicher was arrested in June 2011 in Bolivia, where he was managing a rice business and accused of laundering drug money. In a CNN interview in May of 2012, Ostreicher's wife said the family was puzzled and dismayed by the accusations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The worst part is that he's an innocent man. He didn't do anything wrong. And he proved that innocence in a court of law.

ROMO: Last December, after spending 18 months in prison without being charged and with his health failing, he was put under house arrest. In an interview with CNN En Espanol, Ostreicher strongly denied the charges.

JACOB OSTREICHER: The reason this putting me in jail is because my associate in Switzerland is wanted for narco trafficking and (INAUDIBLE) has the evidence, without even the judge ever seeing any evidence.

ROMO: After Sean Penn, who took up the cause of Ostreicher's freedom, traveled to Bolivia a year ago and met with President Evo Morales.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: We are very honored and grateful that President Morales has received us.

ROMO: Penn told the Associated Press Ostreicher was extracted from the South American country in a "humanitarian operation" to free him "from the corrupt prosecution and imprisonment he was suffering in Bolivia." The State Department denied the U.S. government had anything to do with his escape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not aware of any involvement. Obviously we've been providing him consular access since his arrest in June 2011. We attended all of his court hearings.

ROMO (on camera): Bolivian authorities also confirmed Ostreicher is no longer in their country. Justice Minister Cecilia Ayllon said Ostreicher took advantage of the fact that he was under house arrest to sneak across the border into Peru, where he took a flight to Los Angeles. Undoubtedly, she said, the fact that he escaped demonstrates that he participated in the crimes he was accused of.

ROMO (voice-over): Ostreicher and his family have repeatedly touted his innocence and said his detention in Bolivia without being formally charged was a violation of his human rights.


HOLMES: Rafael Romo joining us now.

Do we know where he is?

ROMO: Well, the Bolivians said he flew to Los Angeles. He lived in New York before he spent two and a half years in prison in Bolivia. And he also has family in New Jersey, but he has not appeared publicly yet.


HOLMES: What a mystery.


HOLMES: All right, thanks, Rafael.

MALVEAUX: Rafael, thank you. Appreciate it.

Well, when you're having a conversation with folks, right, you can't always tell on the phone what they're thinking or feeling.

HOLMES: Oh, I can tell what you're thinking.

MALVEAUX: I know. I think you can.

HOLMES: Yes. But guess what? There's an app for that. To track your ever changing - it's not yours, not yours, just people's ever changing mood.

MALVEAUX: We have that coming up next.


MALVEAUX: All right. You can hear my voice, see my facial expression. Maybe, just maybe, you can guess my mood based on how I'm speaking. Can you?

HOLMES: I guess your mood every day, in 30 seconds. But, listen, if you're one of those people who's a little tone deaf, you want to call it that, to reading other people's emotions, well, new apps on your mobile device might do it for you. CNN's Samuel Burke tried out one of them on the streets of New York. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You look deep into her eyes and see - actually, you have no idea what you see, but your mobile app will figure it out for you. To some, it's a frightening prospect. To others, a moment of truth. The brand-new generation of apps that analyze a person's voice and claim to tell you what they're really thinking. One firm is appropriately called Beyond Verbal.

DAN EMODI, VICE PRESIDENT, BEYOND VERBAL: The three basic things we do is we understand the speaker's mood, the speaker's attitude toward the subject he speaks about, and even the speaker's emotional decision making.

BURKE: So I decided to give it a try.

BURKE (on camera): This laptop was listening to my voice, processing it on this computer, sending it through an Internet connection and then bringing the results back here on to the laptop.


BURKE: Here are the results. It says, in primary mood, pain, vulnerability, the need to fight. And in my secondary mood, communication from disappointment and sensitivity.

BURKE (voice-over): Still not convinced?

BURKE (on camera): All right, let's go.

BURKE (voice-over): I decided to test out the app on the streets of New York.

BURKE (on camera): So, tell me about your job, what you do, and everything about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I work at Lily's Times Square (ph). It's a Victorian bar. My owner is like (INAUDIBLE). Everything is from like Ireland, south of France.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are active and action oriented and friendly, even flirting a little bit.

BURKE: So you think that's an accurate description of your -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's - yes, two thumbs up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your arrogance, eliminating the other. Great. Wow. OK.

BURKE: So it says goal oriented, constructive, communication.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That makes sense.

BURKE (voice-over): Beyond Verbal hopes other companies will adopt their technology. They suggest carmakers could use it to improve safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your car understands you're a little bit distracted, lowering your speed and keeping you and your family safe.

BURKE: Call centers dealing with the public are already using the software. Some may consider it intrusive, but Beyond Verbal says the app is not a lie detector test. And they admit, there are limits to what their software can reveal.

YUVAL MOR, CEO, BEYOND VERBAL: This is what my wife said, if you need this type of software in order to understand your wife better, you're in bad shape anyway.

BURKE: Maybe some voices are better left unanalyzed.

Samuel Burke, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: I think you have to have a good poker face or something. Have a good poker face, you can barely tell, right?

HOLMES: You - you do. I can - I can - I'm in your head. I can tell your mood.

MALVEAUX: Don't get the app.

HOLMES: Whether to stay away or -

MALVEAUX: You think you are. You think you're in my head.

HOLMES: All right, well, check it out if you like. I'm not buying into it. Anyway.

MALVEAUX: Yes, we'll see. We'll see if it works.

HOLMES: Yes. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD, though.

MALVEAUX: CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. Have a good afternoon.