CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

NEWS STREAM

U.S. Warns Syrians Against Chemical Weapon Use; Super Typhoon Bopha Rumbles Through Southern Philippines; Three Dutch Youth Footballers Arrested for Murdering Linesman; Rebel Troops Hold a Military Base Near Aleppo

Aired December 4, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Now more misery for the Philippines as Typhoon Bopha arrives out of season destroying properties and taking lives.

Now President Obama has a warning to Syria, use chemical weapons on your people and U.S. will take action.

And the Duchess of Cambridge spends a second day in hospital as the latest in line to the throne makes his or her presence felt months before making a debut.

Now with the crisis in the Philippines have taken in the immense toll in the past year. And that record is set to worsen with Typhoon Bopha making landfall on the southern island of Mendenau at dawn on Tuesday. Now the storm brought heavy rain and strong winds, lifting roofs and downing trees. Already, authorities report 27 people have been killed and a national highway has been blocked by a landslide. The typhoon's path will take it over remote areas of the Philippines where villages are possibly unprepared for the havoc a typhoon can deliver.

Now for the latest, I'm joined now by CNN's Liz Neisloss. She is in the capital Manila. And Liz, this powerful storm, it's taking more lives today. But has it cleared Mendenau yet?

LIZ NEISLOSS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, we believe it has cleared Mendenau. And the storm seems to be heading on a northwest path, keeping well south of the Manila. It has left more than two dozen dead.

The storm has weakened slightly, Kristie, but the winds are still quite intense reaching 160 kilometers an hour with gusts up to 200 kilometers an hour. And the danger now also is intense rainfall. This is potentially bringing storm surges along the coast. And this also means flash flooding and landslides. And Kristie, this is a country quite prone to landslides.

Philippine President Aquino is warning the population take this storm seriously - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, so the nation on alert for flash floods and landslides.

What is the feeling there on the ground inside the Philippines? Is there fear about what could come next? Or is there a sigh of relief?

NEISLOSS: Well, here in the capital city it's pretty much business as usual. This is a country that sees as many as 20 typhoons a year, but several of them, Kristie, every year are deadly. And alst year, in December, a storm, a very deadly typhoon left 1,500 people dead. The difference, though, this time is the country seems quite prepared. The government has talked about prepositioning, over a million dollars of food, aid supplies, other relief aid, and more than 55,000 people went to evacuation centers - Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Liz Neisloss reporting for us live from Manila, thank you.

Now there's so many questions about this storm. Is it even still considered a super typhoon? Let's bring in Mari Ramos for more. She joins us from the world weather center - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, it's no longer a super typhoon because it has weakened somewhat, but as Liz was telling us there, it is still a very powerful storm. And you know when Manila, it is - this is unusual, because it barely got any rain from this storm. Most of the action is to the south.

Let's go ahead and talk, first of all, a little bit about what is a super typhoon anyway. A super typhoon would be a tropical cyclone that has winds in excess of 241 kilometers per hour. If we were talking about a storm in the Americas, a hurricane, which is the same thing as a typhoon, that would equal a category 4 hurricane here in the Atlantic basin. Just kind of put it in perspective. That would be a powerful storm.

But Super Typhoon Bopha peaked at 256 kilometers per hour. Well, that brings it up a notched, that would be equal to a category 5 storm here in the Atlantic, which we see referred to so many times. So yes, this was a super typhoon even as it made landfall.

That brings a whole other set of problems. This is the first time that we've had, the second time that we've had a super typhoon this close to the equator. The last time was actually - we had a typhoon in 2001 Vamai at 1.5 degrees north, that's the farthest south we've ever had a typhoon.

So this is a pretty significant storm in itself. Usually close to the equator you don't have enough spin, enough coriolis to actually be able to get the spin to create a tropical cyclone this intense. And this is the strongest typhoon to ever hit Mendenau since records have been kept. And it is the first time that we have a typhoon in December since 2008.

And what is next with this storm? Where we can see it continuing to move now into the South China Sea. This is going to be a storm that we're going to talk about for days not only because what it's done across the southern Philippines, Kristie, but because on this track it's still going to bring some very heavy rain not just to the south, but now across the central Philippines and then eventually moving into the South China Sea. You know what that means, that means people in that side of the world now begin to watch what's going to happen with the storm in the next few days.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a very destructive storm. Mari Ramos there tracking it for us. Thank you.

Now, U.S. President Barack Obama has issued his strongest warning yet about action on Syria if President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons. Now a U.S. official tells CNN that chemicals are being mixed to create deadly sarin gas to use against rebels and civilians. But the Syrian foreign ministry says Syria will never use chemical weapons on Syrians, though it has threatened to use them against foreign forces if invaded.

Now here is what Mr. Obama says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is, and would be, totally unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: "The world is watching."

Now as Barbara Starr now reports, the United States says there is evidence of production of chemical weapons. And with opposition activists reporting 239 deaths in Syria on Monday alone, some fear this conflict is about to get deadlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Syrian chemical weapons site near Aleppo is just 10 miles from the latest fighting -- one of dozens of chemical weapons sites across Syria. At least one of these sites. U.S. officials say their latest intelligence shows Syrian forces, over the weekend, began mixing two chemicals needed to make deadly sarin gas, raising significant new concern that Bashar al-Assad may be preparing a gas attack.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've made our views very clear. This is a red line for the United States. I'm not going to telegraph, in any specifics, what we would do in the event of a -- credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur.

STARR: In response, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Syria will not use chemical weapons on its own people. But it has threatened to use them against foreign forces if invaded.

U.S. officials believe Assad has not yet ordered an attack, but is getting ready, possibly, for a limited strike. Intelligence suggests the regime might use artillery shells filled with sarin against opposition forces, hoping to roll back their advances.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You're hearing from me about our increased concern. You're hearing from me the fact that we are consulting with our allies and international partners, as well as the opposition, about this.

STARR: Assad faces world outrage if he attacks. Sarin, 500 times as deadly as cyanide, can kill in minutes. It's a nightmare scenario that has worried Syria's neighbors for months.

NASSER JUDEH, JORDAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We're right there. We're right next door. So whether they are used, by whichever party, especially if they fall into the wrong hands, we have to be prepared and we have to be vigilant to protect our own country. So this is something that is studied very, very carefully, over many months, not just today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now you heard Barbara Starr there. I mentioned that Sarin is 500 times as deadly as cyanide.

And here's what else we know about the substance. Now according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control it is a nerve agent first developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide. It is a clear, colorless, tasteless and odorless liquid that can evaporate into a gas. And people can be exposed to sarin by breathing it, touching it, or drinking it.

Now symptoms can appear within a few seconds of contact. With mild exposure these include watery eyes, nausea and sweating. But larger doses can cause convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure.

Now sarin is banned under the chemical weapons convention. Eight countries, including Syria, are not party to it.

Now you're watching News Stream, and coming up next we are with the Syrian rebels who have a stranglehold on a large military base. A CNN exclusive inside the battle for Aleppo.

Israel's plans for Jewish settlements in Jerusalem have been met with international criticism, but the government refuses to back down.

And the daily is dead. How the first newspaper for the iPad folded straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now you're looking at a visual rundown of all the stories in the show today. Now we've told you about the powerful typhoon that hit the Philippines and later we'll examine a report on shocking human rights abuses in Yemen. But first, we want to turn to the West Bank. And that is where Israel says it plans to build thousands of new homes. And it comes after the UN general assembly voted to upgrade the status of Palestinians last week.

Israeli media report that this also prompted Israel to withhold 120 million dollars of Palestinian tax money.

Now Israel's decision to fast track settlement development in the West Bank has been met with International criticism. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the plan, calling it an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution. The U.S., Germany and Russia have also criticized the move. And so far the six countries in red have summoned Israeli ambassadors to discuss the matter.

The Swedish foreign minister says the situation is dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL BILDT, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The situation in and around Gaza is unacceptable, it is unsustainable, and is a direct danger for the well being of people in the region and for peace in the region as a whole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now this is the area that Israel wants to develop: the East One, or E1, highlighted here, is 12 kilometers in size. It's located in the West Bank. This development would connect a major Jewish settlement to Jerusalem, essentially dividing the West Bank in two. It also cuts off access between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Now Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their state. But despite international pressure, Israel says it will not back down.

Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from the West Bank. And Fred, what have you been hearing there in terms of reaction to this settlement plan?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, I'm actually in one of those hotspots in that very settlement that is supposed to be expanded. It's called Maalu Adumin (ph). And I'm actually standing right in the center of it right now. And of course you'll hear different stories depending on which side you are on.

Earlier today I spoke to some Palestinians in a neighboring village. And they said if this plan goes through it would be absolutely catastrophic for them to get from one side of the West Bank to the other side of the West Bank. You mentioned that it would make it very difficult to get from the south of the West Bank to the north of the West Bank. And also, of course, into Jerusalem itself as well.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also is someone I spoke to earlier. He said if all of this goes through, if the settlement building in this area, in the area E1 goes through, it would effectively be the death of a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians because it would make it impossible for the Palestinians to get to what they perceive to be their new capital in East Jerusalem somewhere down the line. So they are certainly very negative about this.

But if you speak to folks here in the Maalu Adumin (ph) settlement they will say they don't understand what the fuss is about. They say that they believe that that land, E1, is Israeli government land, that there are still ways for the Palestinians to traverse those lands even if there is settlement construction in the E1 area. And that they believe that this is land that they have the right to build on, that they've been wanting to build on for a very, very long time.

However, they will also tell you they are not really sure whether or not the Israeli government is actually in effect going to go through with this or whether or not there are going to be further discussions and it will be prevented by the international community or by Israeli politicians themselves, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, the settlement plan just adding more to the tension and discord in the region. Fred Pleitgen joining us live. Thank you.

Now the charges are truly horrifying: crucifixion, public executions, amputations and floggings. Amnesty International says those are just some of the punishments committed by an al Qaeda affiliate in southern Yemen. Mohammed Jamjoom has the details. And some of the images in this report have been blurred. But a warning, the descriptions of what occurred are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Crucifixion in Yemen. Shocking punishment inflicted by al Qaeda fighters against a man they claimed was a spy for the U.S. His rotting body left hanging out in the open for days, a warning to anyone who might consider doing the same.

In another video, a prisoner bound and blind-folded is lead to a public square, convicted of spying on the terrorist group for Saudi Arabia. He is ready for execution.

GREGORY JOHNSEN, AUTHOR: As the United States and as Saudi Arabia have been very, very concerned about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula being able to sort of plot, plan and launch attacks from their hideouts in Yemen, the Saudis and the Americans have worked together to create these undercover agents.

JAMJOOM: For more than a year until June, al Qaeda and its affiliate Ansar al Sharia were in control of large parts of Abhiyan province in southern Yemen inflicting brutal punishments on those who hadn't fled.

Amnesty International says residents there experienced a human rights catastrophy.

CILINA NASR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: They committed horrific abuses. They set up courts, their own courts, and claimed to apply Islamic law.

JAMJOOM: In one extremely gruesome clip, the severed head of a woman is paraded through the streets. Her crime, sorcery.

Another graphic video shows a young man accused of theft. He says he was beaten and then...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After five days they gave me an injection and I slept. When I woke up, my hand was not there.

JAMJOOM: Here, he lies unconscious just before a man begins to amputate his hand.

Amnesty International says civilians were the victims of both sides.

NASR: The people of Abhiyan basically were subjected to oppression by Ansar al-Sharia and after that, they were subjected to additional violations by the Yemeni government forces and Ansar al-Sharia and they were caught in the middle of the conflict.

JAMJOOM: According to Amnesty International, intense aerial bombardment as well as the use of inappropriate battlefield weapons in residential areas further endangered a population already in peril.

Eventually, Ansar al-Sharia was driven out of Abhiyan, but few Yemenis believe it has gone away for good.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: A brutal report.

Now Mohammed al-Bashar (ph), a spokesman for Yemen's embassy in Washington tells CNN this, quote, "the Yemeni government will carefully examine the findings of Amnesty Inetnernational's most recent report. Sanaa continues to welcome the international community's support of the government's efforts to promote and protect human rights."

Now this past September, President Hadi established a committee to investigate human rights violations, and only a few hours ago Yemen officially adopted the Paris principles which provide guidelines on the protection of children during armed conflict.

Now Amnesty International's full report, that could be seen on its website.

Now you're watching News Stream. We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

It has been a tough year for Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp newspapers, but we're not talking about the UK hacking inquiry that lead to the closure of the century old News of the World. Now this time, it's a digital newspaper that's folding. The Daily launched in February 2011 as the first tablet only daily newspaper. The big gamble was whether or not people would pay for its content. At the time, Murdoch sounded confident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP CEO: Ambitions are very big, but our costs are very low. So if you talk about success financially, it's really a pretty low figure. It would be running at a cost of less than half a million dollars a week and that's without any subscribers or without any advertising.

So we're very confident of the finances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: But now, Murdoch says his bold experiment in digital publishing did not pay off. The News Corp CEO acknowledged that The Daily failed to attract a big enough audience. Even before the launch, industry watchers were pointing out that Murdoch had stumbled in new media before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL LAMONICA, AUTHOR, INSIDE RUPERT'S BRAIN: Some of the experiments that he's - some of the risks that he's taken, particularly with regards to digital media, have not really worked out. He bought MySpace at a time when everyone thought that MySpace was this untouchable social networking leader. And it's obvious now that that's no longer the case. Facebook has more than eclipsed MySpace. MySpace is an also ran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Murdoch is quite active on another social media site: Twitter. But so far we haven't seen him weigh in on The Daily's demise.

Now The Daily posted this good-bye message to its subscribers, letting them know the last issue would be out on December 15. But The Daily sounded more upbeat on its blog. It reads, "don't worry, we won't abandon our dear Tumblr followers. We have way too much fun on here."

We'll have to wait and see how that turns out.

Now youth sports, they are supposed to teach kids about teamwork, respect and fun. Well, one youth football match in The Netherlands was anything but. Now here's Amanda Davies with the tragic details - Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie, really sickening story that's making the main sporting headlines today, and that's three youth team footballers have been arrested and charged with murder after the death of a Dutch linesman at an amateur game in Holland. The players are 15 and 16 year olds.

41 year old Richard Nieuvenhuizen died in hospital on Monday afternoon after being attacked following a match between Buitenboys and the Amsterdam based side Nieuw Sloten on Sunday. The players were from Nieuw Sloten. And the club has issued a statement offering their help to the police investigation saying "violence should not be on the football field and certainly not against referees, linesman, and all those others who volunteer each year to over a million amateur footballers. We must do everything possible to illuminate these excesses."

On a slightly more positive note, the Tottenham Hotspur fan who was stabbed in Rome ahead of Spur's Europa League match against Latvio (ph) two weeks ago has been released from hospital. Ashley Mills was left fighting for his life after a group of Tottenham supporters were set upon in a bar. He suffered a stab wound to the head and a gash in his right side. But he says he's still going to go to as many games as he can.

Well, it's the final round of matches at the European Champion's League group stage this week. Just three places are left in the round of 16. And whilst Real Madrid have already qualified, the focus of their match against Ajax has been very much centered on the manager Jose Mourinho. The Special One is refusing to comment after new reports suggesting he could leave Spanish football at the end of the season.

Real are struggling in the defense of their Spanish title, but have already qualified out of Group D with a game to spare. And speaking on the eve of their match, Mourinho wouldn't confirm or deny if he's spoken to his club president Florentino Perez about his future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE MOURINHO, REAL MADRID MANAGER (through translator): Ask him. I don't have to say when I spoke with the president. I don't have to say what we spoke about. My relationship with him is very good. I've already said it. And I don't have to repeat it. I'm not going to add to this situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIES: Interesting stories doing the rounds here in England today about the meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson and possibly a move to Manchester United, but purely speculation of course.

Just before I go, jockey Frankie Dettori is set to learn his fate for failing a doping test on Wednesday. The Italian disciplinary hearing at French racing's governing body has been concluded on Tuesday morning. Detorri is thought to be at risk of a six month worldwide ban after failing a test at LongChamps (ph) in September. His lift to Christopher Stewart- Moore said the hearing was sympathetic, but that they won't be making a statement until after the verdict from France Galop.

More on all those stories coming up, including a bit of a debate, Kristie, about whether referees get enough protection and who needs to stand up and take responsibility for discipline in football.

LU STOUT: Indeed. A lot of watch, a lot to report. Amanda Davies there, thank you.

And you're watching News Stream. And coming up next, we look into the difficulties as Syrian refugees face in Lebanon as the winter sets in. And Iran says it has captured an unmanned American drone. The United States Tehran may have one, but it isn't theirs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT (voice-over): Now officials say a typhoon has claimed at least 27 lives and destroyed homes as it storms across the southern Philippines. The typhoon also caused a landslide and has blocked a major highway.

Almost 60,000 people have sought refuge in shelters.

Tuesday is the first day of campaigning in Japan's national election. And right now the polls show the opposition Liberal Democratic Party in the lead. Japan has seen its prime minister change six times in the last six years.

In Egypt, protesters plan to march on the presidential palace as the nation's highest judicial body has agreed to oversee President Mohammed Morsi's constitutional referendum set to take place December the 15th. While some judges oppose the move, the Supreme Judicial Council has agreed to oversee the vote.

Now U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Syria that the use of chemical weapons would be totally unacceptable and would require America to act. News official tells CNN that there are worrying signs that Syria is mixing chemicals designed to produce deadly sarin gas. Syria has said that it would never use chemical warfare against its own people, but it might if attacked by foreign forces.

And in the latest fighting, Syrian television reports that mortar rounds have landed in a school in the Damascus countryside, killing eight students.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: For now, chemical weapons are not in play in Syria and more traditional siege tactics are dominating areas of the conflict zone. One military base near the northern city of Aleppo has been overrun by rebels with the weakening band of government troops trapped inside. Arwa Damon brings us this exclusive report from the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Close to Aleppo, the rebels have a stranglehold on a sprawling military base.

There's a red gate that's right next to a stone wall, and then right behind it is the wall that is the outer perimeter of the military academy. It's less than 100 meters away, some 330 feet.

We quickly move to another vantage point in a building next door. Ayee Sedlan (ph) commands the Lions of Aleppo Battalion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language)

DAMON (voice-over): "It's clashes," he says nonchalantly.

Sedlan (ph) used to be a tailor. Since the uprising began, he's been wounded four times and detained three. The rebels don't have binoculars, so he uses a camera to zoom into the base and show us government positions.

You can see a sandbag fighting position on the roof of one of the buildings inside.

Fighting has been fierce, but the rebels are confident they have the upper hand.

Sedlan (ph) uses a pool table to map out where government units are. In all, three rebels brigades are surrounding the base, plus a militant Islamist group.

"The Nusra front has this part, the most dangerous. It's the road to Aleppo," Sedlan (ph) says.

"Once we finish the Mossad Academy, the direct route to the north will be open," he adds.

So far, 250 soldiers at the base have defected since the uprising began, the majority joining rebel ranks. But some 450 remain inside. Air drops of food often miss their target. The rebels have shot out the water supply.

There used to be a sniper that was on top of the water tower, who would take shots at them. And there's some bullet holes in the glass here.

"They own the night, but we own the day," Sedlan (ph) boasts. He says the rebels could easily overrun the base, but they want to give others a chance to defect. They've even punched holes in the walls of the perimeter.

Jamal (ph), a defected soldier, says the senior officers are just looking after themselves. He and the others here, some of whom don't want to appear on camera, fled together. They were trainers on the base.

Around the perimeter, it's something of a human shield, Abu Jasef (ph) says. There isn't a single point that doesn't have a soldier on it. There are only 2-3 meters between each. The soldiers have stockpiles of artillery. But Jamal (ph) says their options are dwindling.

"They have reached a point where they think they can't go back. They have reached a dead end. Slowly, they are weakening," he says.

This is not the first base in northern Syria to come under siege. In at least this area, the Free Syrian Army is gaining the upper hand in a grim war of attrition -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Aleppo Province.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And the horrors of war not limited to Syria itself. Refugees escaping over the border to Lebanon may avoid the guns and the bombings, but they can't escape the extremes of winter just taking a grip across the region. And a shortfall in charity contributions means that young refugees are more vulnerable than ever.

Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from Beirut. And, Nick, describe the conditions you've seen for Syrian refugees there in Lebanon.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to say, we're in a valley in Lebanon where even though winter's not set in, as the sun went down, the temperatures dropped radically.

And you see young children really living in half-built houses, trying to eke out a life in communities that are really struggling to absorb thousands of refugees, in one case nearly a third of its own population. Save the Children warning today of a $200 million shortfall for the most needy just as winter begins to set in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH (voice-over): Smokes close to all they have here, Syrians who often walked 18 hours to Lebanon's valleys to seek shelter in the half- built corners of Assal (ph) get a break from their government shelling, but little room for living. This isn't fit for 21 people in summer; in winter, it's deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "At night the rains come inside from the walls," he says, adding the landowner wants to evict them. But they would rather go back home to intense shelling near the city of Homs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): It is now down to the fact that (inaudible) under shelling is better than the life here. It is cold and we don't have the things we need. We all sleep next to one another, but we are not warm at night. We have nothing.

WALSH: Lebanon has been absorbing refugees for nearly two years now; winter is setting in and fighting's picking up around Damascus, sending more people across the border. The country simply can't take any more, so people are having to live in places like this.

WALSH (voice-over): The war across the hills has swallowed Assal (ph) whole. Ten thousand refugees for a town of 27,000, packed into every spare building, less and less welcome.

Now rebels are advancing. This fighter is less afraid to explain he's here for medical treatment and will soon rejoin the looming battle for Damascus, where both sides are rushing fighters.

"Ten days ago the movement was Damascus began," he says, "now 7,000 regime troops have gone there. The capsule's important to us. We want to get him in the palace where he is. God willing, we will be in his palace within a month."

But this new impetus will not stop the terrified coming. This family fled the bombarded Damascus suburb of Daraa hours earlier, too scared to show their faces and of what made them finally flee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Mostly, the missiles that dropped and the MiG plane that was overhead striking with cluster bombs, those two things.

And I saw that people left and the seats were empty and the homes were empty. I was afraid of the massacre a few months ago, and realized we could not stay. It was a very disciplined decision to leave my home. I never wanted to, ever.

WALSH (voice-over): There's little for them here, it soon becomes clear. A local administration running out of makeshift homes for them and heating fuel for others, treating hacking coughs and skin diseases even before the ice sets in, when they will weigh up the horror they left behind with the emptiness they fled to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: So the fear also is this looming humanitarian crisis just as the conflict seems to gather new impetus as there appears to be. So we're here today, NATO about to agree to stage Patriot missiles on the border with Syria. That could add an international dimension to this conflict that they insist they're not there for an offensive reason, and increasing signs of tension around Damascus, Kristie.

STOUT: And also back inside Syria, the U.N. is preparing to evacuate staff from the country. Why is that?

WALSH: They say it's because of the growing tension around Damascus. Now if the U.N. observer mission has been in our back foot for quite some time now, but what's important about it is the message it sends. It's saying that the international community can no longer consider the capital to be a safe environment to work from.

And the other messages to that effect as well. We saw the face effectively of the Syrian regime, Jihad Makdissi, the part the country recently activist saying he went to Beirut, then to London, suggestions he, in fact, defected. And he's supposed to give a statement later on.

But the psychological blow of that, the man who's the foreign ministry spokesperson for so long, giving the Syrian point of view to the world deciding to leave at this point, things like that and the Patriot missiles and the looming crisis around the capital surely must be playing on the minds of the inner circle around Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Kristie.

STOUT: Definitely. Nick Paton Walsh reporting on the Syrian regime and the refugees, thank you.

Now let's return to our top story this hour, Typhoon Bopha, which has killed at least 27 people in the Philippines. Mari Ramos has more. She joins us once again from the World Weather Center.

Mari?

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kristie, when I came in this morning, the death toll was at three, and now we're up to 27. This is, unfortunately, a situation where we are -- and officials are just starting to get to some of those hardest-hit areas that -- where roadways have been cut off by the high water, by very heavy rain, by mudslides in many cases.

Look at some of these rainfall totals. Borongan they had 123 millimeters of rain. And that's well to the north of where the storm made landfall. Davao, this is pretty interesting. And if you're there, love to hear from you. Send me a tweet or go to iReport.com and let us know how you are doing.

Three hundred 20 millimeters of rain in just a period of three hours, normally for the entire month of December, you get about 110 millimeters of rain. This is why these storms can be so deadly for so many across these areas, because the rain comes down very heavily. People are not accustomed to it.

On top of that you have the wind, the threat for flooding, the mudslides and now that the storm has started to move out, back into the sea here, we can see a strengthening again. But look at that, still now winds close to 175 kph.

This is the track; it's expected to take, that means as we head into the weekend, those of you across southeastern China and maybe into Southeast Asia, need to pay attention to what's going to happen with this storm as it moves away from the Philippines and into the South China Sea. We will, of course, keep you posted on this developing story.

Other parts of Asia, which is kind of a contrast to what's been happening here with the tropical weather, let's go ahead and roll the pictures, because there's a lot of stuff I want to talk to you guys about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAMOS (voice-over): Look at this. This is in China. And Szechuan, this is the first -- they're calling it the first big fog so far this season. And this happens when the temperatures, there's a lot of humidity in the air, the temperatures drop very quickly, visibility ends up at zero. You can't go through there.

It's extremely dangerous and that grounds not only public transport, but any kind of a trade that is expected to go through those mountains. That's not going to happen. And let's go ahead and roll the other set of pictures and I'll leave you with these before we head to break.

You can see this is Dalian, big delays also here because of ice and snow, especially at the airports, the ice seeing really slows things down. Visibility is another huge problem. The train, though, the high-speed train actually seems to be doing pretty well in spite of all of the snow. They said they have special tracks there to melt the snow.

We are going to take a break right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMOS: And NEWS STREAM, don't go away, more news in just a moment.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

STOUT: Welcome back. And before the break, we showed you the wintry conditions inside China. And a bit later, I'll bring you good news from Britain, where William and Kate are expecting their first child. But now, I want to introduce you to the first of this month's leading women.

Now Grace Lieblein is the president and managing director of General Motors Brazil. She is a trailblazer of the business world. And she's seen the company through some of its best and most challenging times. Felicia Taylor has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In one of the world's largest cities, the footprint of the world's second biggest car company, General Motors. The U.S. automaker is once again solvent after nearly going under in 2009. Back then, this executive was also feeling the pain of the crisis gripping the company.

TAYLOR: What was it like to face that enormous problem?

GRACE LIEBLEIN, PRESIDENT AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, GENERAL MOTORS BRAZIL: It was daunting to start.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

TAYLOR (voice-over): She ultimately weathered the economic storm.

LIEBLEIN: Let's check on that. Yes, yes. Yes.

Lieblein seems tailor-made for her job, a Latina who is at ease leading her team, walking the plant or celebrating a new launch. In a 30- year-plus career at GM, she's gone from trainee to president. Her journey began when she was 18. Her passion for the brand even earlier.

LIEBLEIN: My father worked for General Motors as well. I mean, I think I have gas in my veins.

TAYLOR (voice-over): The driving force behind General Motors in Brazil is Grace Lieblein.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

TAYLOR (voice-over): Sao Paulo's commercial centers, upscale shops and vibrant nightlife make the city attractive. With all that also comes its notorious traffic jams. One thousand new cars hit the roads every day in Sao Paulo. Among them, GM cars.

Grace Lieblein is in charge of GM's Brazil operation, overseeing a workforce of more than 23,000. It's shortly after 8:00 am and Lieblein is leaving for work.

LIEBLEIN: (Inaudible).

TAYLOR (voice-over): Her driver and security by her side.

The day's busy agenda starts in the car.

LIEBLEIN: It pretty much takes the whole ride into work, about 40 minutes, catching up on emails before I hit my office, which is a great way to start the day.

TAYLOR (voice-over): She's heading to Sao Caetano do Sul, where GM Brazil is headquartered. Lieblein sets the strategic direction of the business, drives production and sales to name just a few of the hats that she wears as president.

LIEBLEIN: (Inaudible).

TAYLOR: Tell me what it's like to work in the auto industry. I mean, this is traditionally thought of as a male-dominated arena.

LIEBLEIN: Right.

TAYLOR: But yet here is a woman who's taken over Brazil.

LIEBLEIN: You know, my mom instilled in me a belief that I could do anything. And so the interesting thing was when I decided to go into engineering and into the auto industry, it didn't feel odd to me.

TAYLOR (voice-over): On her docket this day, a launch celebration for the revamped Chevy Cobalt and recognition for a group of employees.

LIEBLEIN: (Inaudible).

TAYLOR (voice-over): There's also a meeting with top managers about an upcoming auto show.

LIEBLEIN: So we'll have one Cobalt or two?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have one.

LIEBLEIN: One. OK.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Before coming to Brazil last year to run the operation, Lieblein was president and managing director of GM Mexico, the first woman to serve in that role.

LIEBLEIN: I arrived in Mexico January 2009. The global financial crisis occurred; GM was on the --

(CROSSTALK)

TAYLOR: Yes, that couldn't have been easy to go through.

LIEBLEIN: No.

(LAUGHTER)

LIEBLEIN: GM was --

(CROSSTALK)

TAYLOR: -- government bailouts.

LIEBLEIN: Yes, exactly. And you know, pretty much in Mexico, we were, you know, sort of on our own. We had to stay liquid ourselves.

TAYLOR: So what's different about being a leader during times of crisis versus times of recovery?

LIEBLEIN: It's sometimes easier in times of crisis because in times of crisis, there's something to rally around. People understand that there's urgency.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

TAYLOR (voice-over): Fast forward to today. GM may have survived the financial meltdown, but the company 's economic picture is not all that rosy.

LIEBLEIN: So 2013, I think we're going to have stronger growth, not, you know, the 8-9 percent growth that this market has seen in the past, but you know, respectable growth.

TAYLOR (voice-over): In the coming weeks, find out more about Lieblein's work as we reveal a future model.

LIEBLEIN: What I'm going to do with this.

TAYLOR (voice-over): From life in Brazil and some important lessons she's learned.

LIEBLEIN: You know, one of the things that I always tell women is believe in yourself. You know, if you don't believe in yourself, it's going to be really hard to get others to believe in you.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Easier to lead in times of crisis, interesting. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up what to expect now that she is expecting, how the succession laws will affect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

STOUT: It's official: a Royal baby is on the way. Prince William and his wife, Catherine, have announced that they are expecting their first child. And the news has sparked a Royal baby frenzy.

Reporters are staking out the hospital where the Duchess is being treated for acute morning sickness. British newspapers are live blogging baby-related updates and "royal baby" started trending on Twitter within minutes of the official announcement.

And boy or girl, this Royal baby is destined for the throne. Here's Richard Quest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: This is the current line of succession. And Catherine and William's baby will redraw the line of succession. Now so far, it will go from Queen Elizabeth to Prince Charles to Prince William, to Harry and then after Harry, to Andrew and Beatrice.

Under the rules, of course, men always take precedence over women, even if the male child is born after the female child. But that's the line of succession as it stands at the moment.

The -- what happens now, of course, Baby Cambridge (inaudible) comes along and breaks that line of succession and now the line, of course, goes Charles, William and then down through William's heirs through Baby Cambridge.

Now -- and the interesting thing is the Cabinet office of the U.K. has confirmed that Baby Cambridge, boy or girl, will become the heir to the throne.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Well, love that moniker, Baby Cambridge.

Now before we go, let's take a good look at the Google home page today. And at the bottom, it says this, "Love the free and open Internet? Tell the world's governments to keep it that way."

Now this is Google's response to a gathering in Dubai this week of the International Telecommunications Union, bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a telecom treaty that was made back in 1988, some 24 years ago.

And according to leaked proposals, some participating states want to permit governments to justify censorship ban anonymity and cut off Internet access altogether. And that threat is behind Google's global call for an open and free Internet.

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

END