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Taliban Peace Talks; Syria Denies Using Force; Bargaining With Beijing; Tropical Cyclone Giovanna Slams Madagascar; Rangers FC Owes $77 Million In Back Taxes

Aired February 14, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And we begin with a CNN exclusive. The Taliban say they do not want to negotiate with Afghan president Hamid Karzai's government.

New video out of Syria appears to show government security sweeping through the town of Daraa.

And tensions remain high across the Strait of Hormuz. We'll take you live on board an aircraft carrier patrolling the crucial body of water.

And how education helps children in Vietnam stay clear of predators. Our CNN "Freedom Project" investigation continues.

And we begin with a CNN exclusive. CNN has received an e-mail from the Taliban which they say they have no intention of talking with Afghan president Hamid Karzai's government because they see it as a puppet of the United States. The Taliban spokesman says they prefer speaking with the U.S., and he claims that meetings have already taken place with U.S. representatives.

Let's get more now on this from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He joins us now live from the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

And Nick, the Taliban, they refuse to talk to Karzai. Just how damaging is this to efforts to negotiate a peace in Afghanistan?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is basically the central condition that the Americans have been trying to impose since they began this process of trying to jump-start peace talks in the last year or so. They're absolutely key. They wanted this to be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process.

Now, of course, if the Taliban are saying they have no desire to speak to the Karzai administration, that is potentially very damaging to the entire process. The Americans are saying that's one thing to be between Afghans.

Let's also listen to some of the language the Taliban used against the Karzai administration, really showing how little respect they have for them and the light they want to paint them in. The e-mail they sent to us, it says, "The Karzai government is a puppet and unauthorized, and meeting with them would not be beneficial in resolving this issue. The issue is who's powerful and who's got the powerful to make a decision and who hasn't. Everyone around the world knows that the one who has authority in opposition to the Mujahideen" -- that's the Taliban -- "is America."

Now, that's really key at the end of the day, because Hillary Clinton, downwards in the U.S. administration, has pushed this process forward on the condition that the Afghan would be effectively the key interlocutor over the Taliban. The Taliban are saying they want nothing to do with that, Kristie, so this is potentially very damaging indeed.

STOUT: Yes, the Taliban flexing its muscle with this e-mail message.

Now, in recent months, you have reported inside Afghanistan on the number of attacks on civilians, on NATO troops. What is the Taliban saying in this e-mail about the killing and about the violence?

WALSH: Well, one of the key conditions the Americans have put forward at the beginning of this, this process to continue -- remember, there's a lot of steps each side wants to see from the other to build confidence, to show they're capable of delivering -- one of the things the Americans have asked for is some kind of statement in which they would "renounce international terrorism" in some form or another. Now, the Taliban e-mail is clear that they do not consider that to be something they can do, and they kind of pick apart the definition of the word "terrorism," saying at the end of the day, they're waging a jihad, but it's legitimate.

But they make one key potential concession which might allow a statement to come forward which could allow this process to move, which they say they have no desire to hurt civilians. That's in keeping with previous statements, although I have to point out that, apparently, according to many surveys, about three-quarters of civilian deaths in Afghanistan are caused by Taliban action.

But this really, I think, falls apart on a different issue. It's the fact they don't want to talk to the Afghans. This process has been marred by shifting sands from the beginning.

At first, the Afghan government were upset with the Americans because they hadn't included them at the very beginning of this peace initiative. Then the Afghan government said they wanted to get on board with the process, but now the Taliban are saying, actually, it isn't the Afghans we want to talk to at all, it's the Americans. They have the military, they have the cash.

This is really falling apart before it's even begun -- Kristie.

STOUT: The Taliban spokesman saying in that e-mail that you received exclusively it has no desire to speak to Karzai or to Kabul, but it also revealed key conditions for talks if they take place. What are these conditions?

WALSH: Well, these are things which they have hinted at before, but it's interesting to have them in such blunt terms from this authoritative spokesman sending us an e-mail. They want to see sanctions lifted against them or their key personnel in place by the U.N., as we know. They wanted to see an office put up in Qatar from which they could have "an address" for many people to begin these conversations. And also, they want to see some of their formal officials, some of their potential big figures being released from captivity in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

That's a big ask, frankly, of the Americans. It's going to face a lot of opposition on Capitol Hill and in Washington. But at the end of the day, these seem to be the red lines the Taliban are putting down at this very early stage if these peace talks are to move forward at all -- Kristie.

STOUT: Nick Paton Walsh with the story.

Thank you very much, indeed.

Now, intense rocket fire is pounding the city of Homs in what activists are calling the heaviest shelling in five days. The opposition says six people have been killed there today, and people in Syria tell CNN that they fear the country is heading toward full-blown war.

This footage shows explosions in the besieged neighborhood of Baba Amr in Homs. CNN cannot verify the authenticity of these YouTube images. And security forces are also said to be sweeping the city of Daraa in tanks and making numerous arrests.

And this baby's crying, it shows the human cost as the conflict rages on. This 5-month-old boy was apparently injured by shrapnel when he was playing at home.


STOUT: In Hama, these anti-government protesters, they appear undeterred by the continued bloodshed as they chant, "God bless the Free Army!"

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights describes the violence as an ongoing onslaught, and speaking before the General Assembly on Monday, Navi Pillay said it appears likely that the Syrian government has committed crimes against humanity.


NAVI PILLAY, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The risk of humanitarian crisis throughout Syria is rising. The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force.


STOUT: In response, Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, has called her criticism "illegitimate" and complained of an unprecedented campaign to incite the opposition.

Now, Syrian authorities deny that they are using tanks and artillery in Homs, despite evidence to the contrary.

Bill Neely reports from Damascus.


BILL NEELY, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice-over): It's the music they fear, the sound of a revolution gaining ground. They were burying one of Syria's top-ranking army officers, assassinated outside his home. The grief of his relatives matched by the anxiety of his comrades. No one is sure who will be next.

Seven soldiers were buried here, many killed in Homs, the scene of a brutal assault by Syria's army on civilian areas. They're bringing in fresh coffins. They know their battle against the uprising isn't won.

FAISAL MEKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We have suffered great losses, great human losses.

NEELY: He means troops, not civilians. Under the gaze of President Assad, Syria's front men are defiant, denying that the army is bombarding Homs.

MEKDAD: The government is dealing very softly with them. We don't want to harm innocent civilians.

NEELY (on camera): How can you justify using tanks and artillery against civilian areas in Homs?

MEKDAD: This is absolutely incorrect.

NEELY: You have not used tanks?

MEKDAD: No. Absolutely not.

NEELY: There are pictures of tanks, both video pictures and satellite images, of tanks in Homs.

MEKDAD: I think you know how such I mages are being fabricated.

NEELY: You are not firing on civilian areas in Homs?

MEKDAD: Absolutely not.

NEELY: Are you winning this war, this conflict?

MEKDAD: Absolutely. We shall win it.

NEELY (voice-over): It's a world turned upside-down. He denounced fellow Arabs called the West hysterical and Syria's rebels drug addicts and criminals.

MEKDAD: Some drug addicts.

NEELY: This is the sound of the revolution, not far from where the ministers spoke. It's a peaceful protest, as most in Syria still are. Tonight, it's protected from attack by the rebel Free Syrian Army. "Assad," they cry, "your days are numbered!"

(on camera): The tanks and artillery used by Syria's army against the uprising. Syria has not deterred these people, nor the snipers that regularly fire on protests like this. In fact, they say the dead of this uprising inspire them, and they tell me they simply will not give up.

(voice-over): They are young, many are women. All want their president to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have a rifle. Probably, if I had one, I'd probably go and fight. But this is the best we can do.

The world should do something. The world should say something, at least. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make the blood stop, please.

Even if it costs me my life, there's no way on earth we're going to go back to the way we were before.

NEELY: They burn the flag of Russia, which arms Syria's regime.

This conflict is deepening. Defiance and death mar both sides. A clash that can only have one winner.


STOUT: Now, for the most part, the Syrian government has restricted access by Western journalists. But Arwa Damon is also inside the country. And for her safety, we cannot disclose her exact location.

Now, she says people in Syria are under immense pressure.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an incredibly intense situation here, and it's also incredibly emotional. Anger is running at an all-time high, as is frustration and desperation. People that we've been talking to, every single one of them has some sort of horrific nightmare story, and some of them are still too afraid to publicly talk about it with their names attached to it.

One man who we met, he had four members of his family executed as government forces he said were raiding his village. And he wanted to tell the story, he wanted to put out the images of loved ones, but he was afraid because he said, at the same time, his uncle had been detained.


STOUT: And on the military front, opposition rebels tell Arwa that they are facing steep challenges.


DAMON: And all of them are telling us that they're really in a defensive posture at this stage. Yes, there are a few occasions where they're able to carry out offensive operations, but by and large, the weaponry that they have at their disposal, which is mostly AK-47s, other type of light weaponry, rocket-propelled grenades, at best, it's really no match for the Syrian security forces, not by any stretch of the imagination. This is very much a one-sided battle.

They say that at best, they can try to protect the population and try to pose (ph) government forces to lessen (ph) the challenge as they try to enter a neighborhood to perhaps give residents in one particular area enough time to get away. And that is why we hear a lot of them really imploring the international community to provide them with some sort of military support. In an ideal world, they would want to see a no-fly zone, but at this point they're saying if only someone would send in any sort of weapons that would at least giver them a chance against the government forces.

Of course, that being said, one must also note that even those members of the Free Syrian Army, even civilians who have picked up weapons, continuously talk about how reluctant they were and how reluctant they are to do so, fully aware of what the consequences are going to be for Syria down the road, because everyone we've been talking to, Isha, believe that the country is headed towards or already is a full-blown war. And recovering from that is going to be incredibly challenging.


STOUT: Arwa Damon, reporting from inside Syria.

Now, let's take a look at live pictures that are coming out of Syria right now. And let's bring up an image of the skyline of Homs.

And we will continue to keep an eye on these pictures. At the moment, no activity, but we will continue to monitor any developments there at the flash point Syrian city.

Let's go to Bahrain next.

Demonstrators are trying to mark the first anniversary of pro-democracy protests there. And on the outskirts of the capital, Manama, on Monday, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the crowd from marching to the Pearl Roundabout. Now, it served as a focal point of huge anti- government demonstrations last year. Security forces demolished the iconic Pearl structure during their crackdown on those protests.

And police in Bahrain have reportedly stepped up security in the area. An opposition group has released these images, and here you can see a veiled woman walking by a cloud of smoke.

There were calls for continued demonstrations at the square. Activists are unhappy with Bahrain's Sunni monarchy. The country is mostly Shiite.

You'll remember that authorities violently put down last year's uprising. A commission set up by the king accused police of using excessive force against civilians, and he called for cohesion ahead of today's anniversary.

You are watching NEWS STREAM, live from Hong Kong.

And coming up, an unlikely Valentine's Day rendezvous. But could there be little love in the air when China and the U.S. get down to business?

And how the war against poverty and child trafficking is being fought with pen and paper.


STOUT: As Valentine's Days go, this one probably will not be the coziest. Now, Xi Jinping, the man primed to take leadership of China later this year, is in Washington to meet U.S. President Barack Obama.

On his five-day American trip, Vice President Xi will make his mark on what historically has been a difficult diplomatic relationship. And given Mr. Obama's tough new stance on Chinese trade practices, you can probably expect a tough audience.

The same is true for cash-strapped EU leaders who are in Beijing to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. They presented their case for financial aid. While Beijing says it wants to help, China's government may be persuading that its most important (INAUDIBLE) will return any financial favors.

Now, China has never been more important to Western leaders, but President Obama is under intense domestic pressure not to pander to Beijing at a crucial time in his leadership.

White House Correspondent Dan Lothian will have the view from the U.S. Capitol, but let's start in Beijing, with CNN's Eunice Yoon. She's standing by.

And Eunice, what is Xi Jinping hoping to achieve in Washington?

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, this trip really gives Xi the opportunity to burnish his credentials with Americans, but also to burnish his credentials with the people back home. Xi, as you had just mentioned, is expected to become the next president of China, and there are a lot of people here who are watching to see how well he manages the relationship with, arguably, the most influential country in the world.

Now, President Obama, when he meets Mr. Xi, is going to be meeting a very business-savvy man. As governor of Fujian Province, which is a province that's in the south of the country and is known to be part of the manufacturing heartland, Mr. Xi was known to be a man who championed private enterprise. He actively courted outside investment, and a lot of people here say that he really does appreciate the importance of international partnerships.

Now, I've managed to speak to some businesspeople who have been in private meetings with him, and they say that he is also very confident. He's well versed in economics and trade, which should serve him well in his discussions with President Obama, and also should serve him well when he takes over in this country and manages that transition of an economy which has seen years and years of nearly guaranteed fast-pace economic growth to an economy that now is going to be slower, but hopefully see more sustainable rates of growth.

Now, on a personal front as well, Mr. Xi is said to be much more personable and actually very charming, as compared to the current president, Hu Jintao. People have told me that he's a bit of a social scientist, that he has a reputation for really being able to relate to a lot of different people from different walks of life because he suffered under the cultural revolution. And he is said to have a little bit of a soft spot for the peasant class -- Kristie.

STOUT: Interesting view into his personality. Of course, the American people will have a better read of Xi Jinping during his five-day visit this week.

Let's go now to our Dan Lothian, who's live in Washington.

And Dan, when the U.S. president sits down with Xi Jinping, will it be a mood-setting visit, or does Mr. Obama have a specific agenda in mind?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it will be a little bit of both. I mean, obviously, this is a relationship-building opportunity, a chance for the president, the vice president and other administration officials to get a sense of Vice President Xi's vision for the future of China. He will not only make stops here at the White House, but also take in a lunch over at the State Department, stop in at the Pentagon, meet with some U.S. business leaders, also travel to Iowa, where he'll focus on agriculture, and then wrap up his trip out in California.

But there are some important issues and concerns that this administration has and other U.S. officials have as well. You have alluded to some of them already.

There's the issue of trade with China. There are human rights concerns. There is obviously a tricky situation between the United States and China when it comes to the U.S. growing influence, military influence, in particular, in the Asia-Pacific region.

And then, obviously, there's also the relationship, if you will, between China and Iran. And then China recently joining Russia in vetoing the U.N. resolution putting more pressure on Syria.

So these are obviously some concerns that the U.S. still has with China. Some, if not all of those, will be brought up during that meeting here at the White House with the vice president of the United States and the vice president of the United States as well.

STOUT: So trade, military buildup, Syria. A number of issues on the table.

Dan Lothian, joining us live from the White House.

Eunice Yoon, in Beijing.

Thank you to you both.

Now, while the U.S. is concerned about China's trade culture, Beijing is increasingly concerned about slowing demand from Europe. Chinese exports fell year on year in January, and Premier Wen Jiabao says he is ready to support EU leaders in stimulating a recovery.

The European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, are in Beijing with a view to building stronger financial ties.


WEN JIABAO, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): China is firm in supporting the EU side in dealing with the debt problems. We match our words with actions.

China supports the European spending fiscal discipline. We would hope the EU side will continue to send a clear, strong and positive message and signals to the outside.

China is ready to increase its participation in resolving the European debt problems. We are willing to conduct close communication and cooperation with the EU Side.


STOUT: Talks in Beijing have also extended to international action on Iran and Syria. Premier Wen says his priority in Syria is avoiding war and chaos.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we go on board a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz amid recent tensions with Iran in the region.

That's next here on CNN.


STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, in some cases, the only way to prevent a bombing is to find the explosive before it detonates. It's a dangerous and difficult task, but bomb clearance experts in Colombia have discovered that trained rats can be a powerful tool.

Rafael Romo has the story.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): At a base of the Colombian National Police, a new recruit is being trained. Today's mission for this four-legged trainee is to find the scent of an explosive device hidden underground, which it does in less than a minute. The white rat is showered with praise and a reward.

Though safer than a decade ago, Colombia is a country where landmines and car bombs are still a threat.

EDGAR RAMIREZ, COLOMBIAN NATIONAL POLICE (through translator): Colombia still faces conflicts such as guerrillas and criminal and paramilitary groups. There are many disputed territories because of the drug trade, or simply to take control, and many groups set up landmines in these territories.

ROMO: In the past, the Colombian police used bomb-sniffing dogs, but their weight would often trigger the explosives. That's not a problem for these rats, which weigh slightly less than a pound.

And according to the trainers, their sense of smell is just as good as a dog's. Rats have already been used in Mozambique to detect landmines. One disadvantage is their short life span.

RAMIREZ (through translator): These animals live only three to four years, which is a relatively short period of time from a human perspective. On the other hand, they're very prolific. They reproduce themselves exponentially in a very short time.

ROMO: So far, the rats have been trained to detect seven different kinds of explosives. In the process, they've become relaxed around humans and even get along with the cat that protects them from other predators.

(on camera): Officials for the Colombian National Police say they expect to take the bomb-sniffing rats into the field in the second half of this year. They also say they've been able to successfully train about 70 rats in the last four years since the project began and have been able to learn a lot about how the rodents can help them clear fields full of landmines in the Colombian countryside.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


STOUT: Next on NEWS STREAM, this school is helping lift children out of poverty and protect them from the threat posed by human traffickers. The CNN "Freedom Project" highlights one small group making a big difference.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

Syrian opposition activists say six people have been killed in the violence so far today and that the besieged city of Homs is experiencing the heaviest shelling in five days. Meanwhile, people inside Syria tell CNN they believe their country was heading towards full blown war.

China's vice president Xi Jinping is in Washington for a five day tour of the U.S. He's expected to meet with President Barack Obama in just a few hours. And this is a closely watched visit as Xi is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as China's president.

Now jailed since 2005, the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatata is out on bail in Britain, but with severe limits on his movements. European court on human rights stopped Britain from deporting him to his native Jordan because he might be tortured there. Now Britain has three months to deport Qatata or free him outright.

Police in Thailand are investigating a series of bomb blasts in the capital Bangkok this Tuesday. Officers are tracing a possible link to attacks in Israel and Georgia on Monday, which Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on Iran. An Iranian ID was found at the scene of the bombings during which one of the attacks lost a leg.

Now the CNN Freedom Project is shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, but it only takes a few people to fight this evil and to force change.

On Monday, we introduced you to a community of Cambodian refugees living in a Vietnamese garbage dump. And this is the only home that they have ever known. Now they wear and eat what they find in the trash. And the children in particular face a danger worse than extreme poverty. Human traffickers take advantage of this desperate group.

Now the Catalyst Foundation works in the southern corner of Vietnam to protect these children. Now the nearest town is called Rach Gia. And Natalie Allen shows us how the war against child traffickers is being fought with books and pencils.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is southern Vietnam, lush countryside at the heart of the Mekong Delta with rice fields as far as the eye can see. This is where generations of families earn a modest living, but I've come here on a humanitarian trip to help those who earn far less, families who work not far from these fields, but worlds away.

I was shocked to learn that this garbage dump is the only home for three generations of Cambodians who fled the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.

CAROLINE NGUYEN TICCARO-PARKER, CATALYST FOUNDATION: She started at our school two weeks ago.

ALLEN: Caroline Nguyen Ticcaro-Parker came here from the U.S. a few years ago as a volunteer and stumbled on this place and these people.

TICARRO-PARKER: No one in the larger community was counting them as human beings. They were nobodies.

ALLEN: They have no access to food or clean water. Home is a shelter made of string and scraps.

Caroline was just telling me that this family which lives here, this, right here, is their kitchen. A lot of them eat and drink what they find here at the dump. She's encouraging them to at least try and cook some of their food.

The poverty is crushing, making these already vulnerable people easy prey for human traffickers. And the children are most at risk.

That's why Caroline opened the school, Catalyst, to educate kids about the dangers of human trafficking, especially girls.

Like Ha (ph), school was her favorite place. She's featured in the first brochure. She was asked what was hope? He answer, hope is my school. But her hope was dashed on the last day of school in May 2010. As she was walking home with her brother, the men, believed to be traffickers, started chasing them.

TICARRO-PARKER: As they were being chased, she fell into the river and she drowned. The sad thing is that we taught them to run. So it was - - so they did what we told them to do, but we lost her anyway.

ALLEN: These children live with the threat of child traffickers every day. They grab them off the streets. They trick parents into selling them, offering jobs that don't exist. Caroline says within education, they have a chance.

TICARRO-PARKER: When we first met the kids, there was a lot of blank stares. If you asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up. They were like, what does that mean? I mean, they had no concept of anything beyond what they saw today.

ALLEN: Family pressure to make money forces many to drop out, like these two girls who spend their nights working at the dump and spend their days alone on the streets selling lottery tickets.

How far are they walking into town to do this?

TICARRO-PARKER: It takes them two to three hours to get into town from where they live at the dump.

ALLEN: And they're headed back now to the dump because they need to work there?

TICARRO-PARKER: 4:00 the first garbage truck comes in for the day.

ALLEN: They like to come back to the school just to visit, a resting place before heading out on the streets again.

TICARR-PARKER: In rural Vietnam, I think is very traditional. It's around age 11, 12 the girls have to start thinking about who they're going to marry and be married by 14 or 15.

ALLEN: If not, parents often kick them out of home or sell them to traffickers. But the school is helping prevent that from happening. In 2006, before the school opened, Caroline says more than 37 girls were sold to traffickers by parents at this dump. In 2011, only four were sold.

And Catalyst gets help from local officials who at first wouldn't acknowledge a problem with child trafficking, but they want to attract tourists so they turn to Caroline for help.

TICARRO-PARKER: They've been actually quite wonderful in a way. They've given us land for free on 150 year lease. When there's kidnappers we can call the provincial government and say send out your police on our behalf and help us find those girls.

ALLEN: One small school raising awareness for an entire community.

TICARRO-PARKER: Over the last year-and-a-half the boys and girls have been happy. They want to be singers, they want to be teachers, and doctors, and architects. Some have a career in mind.

ALLEN: Suddenly they have hope for a future that will take them far away from here.


LU STOUT: Now Natalie Allen filed that report. And she joins us now live from CNN Center.

And Natalie, the Catalyst Foundation is inspiring children and keeping them safe with that one school. Can you tell us more about this group?

ALLEN: Right, Kristie, Catalyst is quite small, but it's committed to ending trafficking in this small community in the Mekong Delta. The foundation has a staff of one in the United States. You met Caroline, the founder, in our story. And a very small team in Vietnam. They have a social worker, three teachers and three assists, those are the teachers there who help out in the community.

The school has two classrooms. It's built to hold 87 students, but today they have 212 students and almost 100 from the larger community on the waiting list.

In addition to teaching the children how to read, which we mentioned, the school gives its students, Kristie, cell phones. And here's why, in 2008 four girls were kidnapped, but they had a cell phone and they were able to make a call without the traffickers knowing. And because they could read, they told the school where they were, they could read the signs. And local authorities were able to rescue them. Good ending.

LU STOUT: That's right. That's how they arm these children so they can protect themselves.

Natalie you went there to Vietnam with volunteers from around the world to help those children.

ALLEN: That's right. The Catalyst Foundation wanted a safe, clean place for the children to play.


ALLEN: If you're a child who lives on a dump, this is your playground. Despite filthy conditions, the ground covered with garbage, the children being children just want to play.

TICARRO-PARKER: The kids would all come here and climb up this little pole and bounce on the bags and call it a playground.

ALLEN: I come to Vietnam with an adventure philanthropy group called Road Monkey. We've already biked for a week in the country, that's the adventure part. Now we're in the Mekong Delta to build support, the philanthropy part. In just a few days we'll transform this empty plot of sand next to the school into the first real playground the children of the dump have ever seen.


ALLEN: So we'll show you the playground tomorrow. Children came from all over town when it was finished. And we'll show you the smiles on their faces right here on NEWS STREAM tomorrow. I have to tell you, Kristie, if you get a chance to build a playground for some very poor children in a developing country you should do it. It's very good for the soul.

LU STOUT: I can't wait to see what you built. Of course, we'll be airing that tomorrow right here on NEWS STREAM. Natalie, thank you and take care.

Now still ahead here on the program, two big British football clubs, they are facing tough financial times. We'll tell you why Rangers and Portsmouth are heading for administration the latter for the second time in two years.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now two big British football clubs and two financial nightmares, Rangers and Portsmouth have both started administration proceedings that could put their futures at risk.

Let's look at how it came to this.

Now Rangers, they are based at IBROX Park in the Scottish city of Glasgow, have been engaged in a tax dispute with the UK government for several months. Now they've been told they owe at least $77 million, and it could be much more. And the 140 year old club could enter administration within days.

And here is why that is surprising, Rangers have more league titles than any club on the planet, 54 in total. And the popularity is huge, regularly filling 51,000 seats in one of the UK's biggest football stadiums. Now they're expected to survive in some form, but administration will cost them 10 league points. And the tax department has promised to appeal its tax claim repeatedly if necessary.

Now English championship side Portsmouth has now applied to enter administration following the lead of its parent company in November. And staff and players haven't been paid since Christmas.

Now the surprise here is that they were meant to be on the mend, having been bailed out only two years ago. They, too, face a 10 point league deduction, but the club's financial adviser say that there is interest from buyers.

Now as far as the rest of the sport's headlines are concerned, a high profile football relationship has been on the rocks for months, but there could be a reconciliation on Valentine's Day. Pedro Pinto is in London, he's got the details -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, it's true. You know, there's no love lost between Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini, but they're looking to bury the hatchet today as they hold crisis meetings at Manchester City. And what better day to do that than on Valentine's Day. The striker, who was in exile in Argentina after a rift with the Italian manager last year, has flown back to England and wants to be readmitted into the squad.

Still, Tevez didn't have many kind words to say about Mancini in a TV interview back home before leaving Buenes Airies. He said the coach treated him, quote, "like a dog," end quote the night he refused to warm up to play in a Champion's League match in September in Munich.

At the time, City's manager said the striker would never play for the club again, but since then Mancini has opened the door to his return.


ROBERTO MANCINI, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: It's up to him. Carlos knows (INAUDIBLE). We are here. We didn't change city in these three months. We are there. Carlos knows. Carlos can train, can play if his condition is good.


PINTO: Mancini's Man City were surprisingly eliminated from the Champion's League before Christmas, but 16 other teams are resuming their quest to win the European Cup. Defending champions Barcelona have traveled to Germany. They face Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday. The Spanish giants are looking to atone for a shock league defeat to Osasuna, only the second loss of the season.

Leverkusen, who also lost in the Bundisliga over the weekend will be lining up without injured midfielder Michael Ballack.

Barca are bracing themselves for a physical challenge at the Bayer Arena which will be packed to the rafters for the visit of the reigning champions.

In the NBA, the old guard met the new on Monday night with the veteran Mavericks hosting the up and coming Clippers. It was a special occasion for the Caron Butler. He won this title with Dallas last season, but never picked up his championship ring because he signed with L.A. Well, he finally got it from Mav's owner Mark Cuban. Butler then showed the fans in Dallas what they've been missing. He scored a season high 23 points in this ball game.

We fast forward to the fourth quarter and the home team took a three point lead when Jason Kidd hit Shawn Marion for the lay-up. The score remained close down the stretch.

Black Griffin, he showed off his acrobatic skills, goes baseline, gets the dunk and the foul.

With less than a minute to go, Dirk Nowitzki doing what he does best, he nails a crucial jumper putting the Mavericks up by three.

A little later, Dallas had a two point lead and the ball, but they turn it over. That gave the Clippers a final chance to win or tie, but Butler can't connect from long range. Dallas hold on to win their fourth straight game 96-92.

And that is a quick look at the international sports headlines. Kristie, back to you.

LU STOUT: Pedro, thank you. Take care. You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back after the break.


LU STOUT: Now it was the most downloaded smartphone app last year. And it's played by millions of people every day. And today the video game Angry Birds is joining the social networking tool Facebook. The launch was held in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, which is said to be the world's Facebook connected city. Valentine's event has been hotly anticipated by fans of the game.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everyone loves this from my husband, my children, and including myself. I think this is the type of game that can be played by the whole family. We have our own strategies to attack the enemy. And the game comes in different forms.


LU STOUT: That toddler there definitely wearing the right t-shirt.

Now let's get a check of the global weather forecast with the latest on a tropical cyclone that's made landfall in Madagascar. Mari Ramos joins us now from the world weather center -- Mari.


Yeah, we're starting with the tropics this time around. I was telling you a bout this tropical cyclone yesterday. The name is Giovanna. And Giovanna is a very large storm.

I want to show you a picture of Giovanna yesterday as it was approaching Madagascar. There's the coast of Madagascar, look how large this weather system was. It had winds in excess of 250 kilometers per hour. And it was over 700 kilometers wide. You know what that means, right? That means that as it moves inland here, it's going to cause tremendous damage, not just because of the size, but also because of the speed of the winds. Just the eye alone would stretch over 50 kilometers.

Now the storm is a little different now on the satellite compared to what it looked like before, but it has caused very heavy rain. I'll show you the satellite in just a moment.

A couple of things I want to show you here, the darker colors, the purple and then back over toward the white, those are going to be the areas where there is the most rain. And this measurement that you're looking at here is from the last three days. So this is a satellite estimating how much rainfall actually fell. A lot of heavy rain across portions of southeastern Africa here. That's a concern as well, but not related to this tropical cyclone.

The tropical cyclone had been moving over the water. And just in the last 24 hours and brought this very heavy rain over the northern half of Madagascar. And you can see it there, including the capital that's had over 149 millimeters of rain just in the last 24 hours.

This is what it looks like on the satellite now. It continues to move, now exiting into the Mozambique Channel. Winds are down to 176 kilometers per hour, that's still pretty intense. We're expecting the storm to move back out to sea and then begin to intensify as it moves, possibly, to the southern coast of Mozambique.

It's still too early to tell, though, what's going to happen with this storm. It is moving rather slowly. And it probably will intensify here across the Mozambique Channel. So definitely something to monitor. Still expecting some very heavy rainfall across some of these areas here.

I want to switch gears and take you to that -- first of all, let me go ahead and show you the areas that we're talking about, Kristie. We're going to head to the top of the world. Taylor Ward (ph) helping me out with this right over here. Let's go ahead and zoom in Taylor if we could into this areas.

There's Lhasa right over here. And we're going to take you down this road. And let's go ahead and move on to the next position. Right over here, this is one of the most difficult parts of this road to travel in. This is highway 318 -- 118, I should say. And I want to show you what it looks like covered in snow. Very difficult conditions.

It's been snowing very heavily across this area. It does snow here, but this last snow storm has caused a lot of damage over the region. They had to close down the highway. And they are just now beginning to get it back open. You can see the snow piled high. And when you're talking about such a narrow roadway like the one I just showed you here then you're really having to deal with -- beautiful scenery, but very treacherous conditions.

Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecast.

And it's still freezing cold across parts of Europe, but we're starting to see a little bit of an improvement. Kristie, again Russia waking up Moscow to minus 25, that's well below the average. But other cities are starting to moderate somewhat when it comes to their temperatures, especially in areas across the west. Remember I was showing you all of that purple on the map before? Well, that's all the way up here in Siberia now. We see a lot of blues and a lot of greens and that means temperatures that are relatively warmer than what we had before. You're definitely going to notice a difference across western Europe. Eastern Europe it'll take a little while longer, especially because we still have plenty of snow, so much snow that it's going to take a long time.

This picture is amazing, really up to the rooftop. Look at the house down there at the bottom of the screen. That's how much snow has been falling across this area. And you know what, there's more to come as we head through the next 24 -- probably the next two to three days, Kristie, so we'll be watching. Back to you.

LU STOUT: You know, the house has been buried by the snow. Incredible photo there. Mari, thank you.

Now one name was heard over and over again at Sunday nights Grammy awards -- Adele. She is 23. Her album is called 21. And she carried home six Grammys. Ayesha Durgahee brings us a look at the superstar's humble beginnings.



AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From day dreamer to diva, Adele has transformed herself into a music sensation taking America by storm and becoming the second female artist after Beyonce to scoop up six Grammys in one night.

ADELE, SINGER: Thank you so much. Thank you.

DURGAHEE: It's a career that could have ended just as she was hitting it big. Adele was sidelined after her vocal chords hemorrhaged, but in her first performance since undergoing vocal chord surgery in November she showed she was back.

Raised by her mother, and growing up here in Brickston (ph), Adele has been grounded from the very beginning breaking the stereotypes in a body conscious world that has made her an unlikely star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's like one of us. Like, she went through all the steps that we went in. And she's gone to America like she's English.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. And she's not conventional star, she's like made it purely on her talent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, girls like a bigger size like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...doesn't really care about it, does she?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because you know Karl Lagerfeld the -- he said that she's a bit too fat, but then she said that she was a good role model for younger people. So she just like gave a comeback that's really good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's not that many stars that come from around here that become that big in America. And she just went to like school just down the road from here.

DURGAHEE: At the age of just 23, Adele strikes a rare balance of being a role model with a clean image as well as entertaining and inspiring people with her music.

ANTHONY DECURTIS, ROLLING STONE: She's got this very nice kind of unpretentious quality about her. And I think people respond to that as well as to the singing as well as to the quality of the music. There's a sense of Adele, you know, being built to last in a way.

DURGAHEE: Adele has the poise and presence beyond her years to stand comfortably under the spotlight.

Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, London.


LU STOUT: And as many you probably are aware, Tuesday is Valentine's Day so how far did you go for your loved one today? Probably not as far as Caitlyn Trigger (ph). Now her boyfriend is Mike Kreeger (ph) the co- founder of the iPhone photo sharing app Instagram. And according to several reports, for Valentine's Day she built a web app for him. Lovestagram, it searches through pictures on Instagram that the two of them have taken and automatically it stitches them together in an album of your photos together.

Now bear in mind that Caitlyn (ph) didn't even know how to code when she started. And you can see that this is no ordinary Valentine. Very sweet story.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.