Return to Transcripts main page


London Subway Marks 150 Years; Syrian Refugees Must Deal with Winter's Chill; Prisoner Swap in Syria; Dispute over Chavez Inauguration; India Gang Rape Trial Raises Awareness of Violence Against Women in the Country

Aired January 9, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.


STOUT (voice-over): Now Venezuela could be on the verge of a constitutional crisis as President Chavez is too sick to attend his scheduled inauguration.

Also escaping war but facing severe new challenges: the desperate plight of Syria's refugees.

And what it takes to stand out: the highlights so far from the Consumer Electronics Show.



STOUT: In Syria, hundreds of thousands of refugees are risking everything they have to escape the horrors of war. But many are facing a new danger. Now bitter winter temperatures are adding to the misery in makeshift camps inside Syria and in neighboring countries.

A heavy snowstorm blanketed camps in Turkey and Lebanon and has ushered in the coldest weather of the season. Refugees living in tents further south in Jordan are bracing for temperatures below freezing.

The U.N. says more than half a million refugees have already fled Syria and that number includes thousands and thousands of children. Photojournalist Joe Duran has witnessed their suffering first-hand. And let's listen to what he heard in a refugee camp along the Syrian-Turkish border.


NOUR (from captions): My name is Nour. I am 8 years old. We were in Azaz when the fighter jet bombed the bus station two times. We then fled to the countryside. The jet then bombed the rebels. We got scared.

So we went to Ras al-Ain. Then we came here and stayed in the camp. They demolished the houses and many people died in Azaz. The rebels and Assad army came and they both fought with stones. Then all these problems happened. I can't remember anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): There is no God but God and Mohammad is the prophet of God.

MUSTAFA (from captions): My name is Mustafa and I'm 12 years old. We were sleeping on the roof. A helicopter came, maybe two, so we went downstairs as they started shooting at it using heavy machine guns.

We went downstairs and the helicopter began shooting at the neighborhood. A few people were hurting, including me and some members of my family. We then went to Aleppo. They took me by ambulance to Aleppo and operated on my ear.

So we couldn't stay there any longer. My father came here the day before yesterday and set up the tent. We arrived today.


STOUT: Syria's children, so young and so scarred by this war. And the worst may yet to come for thousands of refugees.

Mari Ramos joins me now from the World Weather Center for more.

And, Mari, the conditions out there are getting pretty brutal.

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they are. You know, (inaudible) Kristie, when we say that, you know, the worst can be yet to come, in terms of weather, there's a lot of different reasons for this.

The first thing is that there does not appear to be any kind of a solution for the current situation that they're in. As a matter of fact, more people are piling into these refugee camps along the Turkey-Syria border and also as we head south over near Jordan.

As when we talk about the climate here, the reason (inaudible) we're going to talk about the immediate forecast in just a moment. But the longer term, these are the wettest months of the year. They have about 20- 30 days of frost and they usually happen right now, January-February.

So we're headed into the coldest time of year with average lows usually closer to 2 degrees, which is right above freezing. But right now we're seeing temperatures that are in some cases much colder than that. And this is normally when the rain happens, when the snow happens.

And since we have so much cold air in place, we usually will fall down in the form of rain. It's coming down very cold rain is coming down as either very, very cold rain or in the form of snow. And this is -- this is critical. I want to show you a video that we have. This one is from Jordan. And this is from a refugee camp there.

How long do you think people can survive in these kinds of conditions? How long could you survive? This is -- this is a pretty serious situation. Look at all of the water that's inside their tents right now.

That little boy is wearing Crocs or what appear to be Crocs, those sandals. And the water is cold. The temperature's hovering above freezing, even in the daytime. At night, they can go below freezing and in some cases have even had snow. This water's not going anywhere right now. And I think even tomorrow we'll get somewhat drier weather.

This is a very precarious situation, a humanitarian crisis indeed. Notice the temperatures across the region right now. In Amman, we're right at 4 degrees. So we went up a degree or two since that I last spoke to you.

But as we head farther to the north, the temperatures do get a bit colder here. Amman, when you factor in the wind, it feels like -2. So that just gives you an example. Farther north, it feels more like -5. And as you head up into the mountains here, you can see all these blues right in there, that's where those temperatures are kind of hovering just north of Aleppo.

This is what the area of low pressure looks like, Kristie. You can see it picking up moisture from the Mediterranean Sea, dumping it across these areas with so much cold air in place. The mix of rain and snow will continue, very windy as well and extremely cold for this time of year. Under normal circumstances, this will be a big deal. Right now, of course, with the situation there it makes it even worse. Back to you.

STOUT: That's right. Again, refugees in this area, no heat, no water, a very dire situation. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

And meanwhile, inside Syria, a Turkish charity says a prisoner exchange is underway in Damascus. The humanitarian relief foundation or IHH says thousands of Syrian and Turkish captives and 40 Iranians are involved.

Now Ivan Watson joins me now live from CNN's Istanbul bureau.

And Ivan, this is a massive prisoner swap. Tell us more.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it's being hailed as the biggest of the conflict thus far, Kristie, with the Syrian rebels as well as this Turkish charity, IHH, which is on the ground in Damascus, helping broker the prisoner swap.

They are telling us that more than 2,100 Syrian civilians are being exchanged for 48 Iranian citizens who have been in rebel custody and that is taking place at different locations around Damascus, actually as we speak, according to Syrian rebel spokesmen. Some of the people being released include more than 70 Syrian women and children were pulled by a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army.

He says among those being released from government custody are the four so-called bride activists. These are four women who were arrested in November for protesting against the violence, against the government in wedding dresses in downtown Damascus. They include Rima Aldali (ph), Kimda Azawur (ph), Muvna Azawur (ph) and Brua Azafar (ph).

That is according to a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army. Now they have been exchanged, this massive number of people, for 48 Iranian citizens who were captured last August by the rebels in Damascus. The Iranian government demanded the release, of course, and said that they were Shiite pilgrims going to visit a Shiite holy site in Damascus.

The rebels have responded by claiming that these Iranian citizens included members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard corps. We're not hearing about the release of any Syrian soldiers or officer, loyalists, in return for these more than 2,100 Syrian prisoners, civilians who've been released.

Also Turkey's IHH is telling us that there are some Turkish citizens among those being released by the government and that this is a deal that was brokered in conjunction with Qatar, Kristie.

STOUT: And Ivan, the mathematics of this prisoner swap, we have thousands of Iranians for 48 Syrians. How is the Syrian opposition framing that?

WATSON: Let's just swap this. It's thousands of Syrians for 48 Iranians. And they are trumpeting this as a victory. A spokesman for the FSA telling us, look, this proves that you cannot negotiate with the government of Bashar al-Assad.

You have to use force to get our prisoners back. And they've gone one step further. They're trying to spin this to say, look, Bashar al-Assad cares more about Iranian prisoners, citizens of the Syrian government's close ally, Iran, than he does care about the thousands of loyalist soldiers and officers that are currently believed to be in rebel custody.

We've seen some quotes coming from Syrian government officials, claiming that no deal was involved in this prisoner swap. It will be very interesting to hear from some of the people who have been in Syrian government custody for months, potentially, to hear how they say they were treated during their time in government custody.

And it'll also be very interesting to see how the Iranians will be speaking as they return presumably to their homeland after being released enduring months of custody in the hands of the Syrian rebels, Kristie.

STOUT: And Ivan, also the brutal weather that's been hitting the Syrian refugee camps in the region, hitting them hard. It's also affecting the battlefield. What can you tell us?

WATSON: That's right. As you can see behind me there, there's been a snowstorm in Istanbul. Imagine if you're living out without cover in a refugee camp along the border or in a -- in a Syrian city with no electricity or heat right now.

The conditions are very difficult. And that has not stopped Syrian rebels from pressing their offensive, their ongoing siege against one, a strategic Syrian government helicopter base in the north of the country near the city of Idlib in Taftanaz.

We've been talking to activists on the ground who are claiming that the rebel fighters have actually gotten into that Syrian helicopter base, one that I'd see actually in the past, and that the fighting has been very fierce; it has involved the deaths of at least two rebel fighters as well as at least one Syrian civilian in the nearby town of Inish (ph), killed by artillery or some kind of an airstrike.

The Syrian rebels are also claiming that they've captured tanks and even aircraft as they press their assault on one of the last key Syrian government military installations in the north of the country, which is largely controlled by the Syrian armed opposition, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Ivan Watson there, reporting on the latest in the fighting inside Syria as well as that huge prisoner swap. Thank you, Ivan.

Now Venezuelans are wondering who will run their country after tomorrow. Hugo Chavez has been president since 1999 and he is scheduled to begin his third six-year term on Thursday. But he is too ill to renew his oath of office. His supporters say Mr. Chavez can postpone the inauguration. But his opponents argue that that is against the constitution.

And that creates quite a conundrum in Caracas. Let's go live now to the Venezuelan capital. Paula Newton is there and she joins us now.

And Paula, how can this political crisis play out?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should know more in 15 or 20 minutes, Kristie. The head of the Supreme Court here will give a press conference. We expect to hear from her and hear what she says.

Given the fact that (inaudible) pretty close ally of the government, we do expect her to say that, in fact, yes, Hugo Chavez can remain president, that his second term will start automatically and that swearing- in will happen in front of that Supreme Court whenever he is healthy enough to return.

We often hear those same (inaudible) thing. They're saying unconstitutional. What's interesting here is, Kristie, is that they asked for this clarification from the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court may indeed just send up rubber stamping what Hugo Chavez's allies, what his government partners have already said. I want you to listen now, though, Kristie, to the debate in the national assembly late yesterday. And it got quite heated between the opposition (inaudible) supporters. Take a listen.


ALFREDO RAMOS, OPPOSITION LAWMAKER (through translator): Nobody is to blame for the illness of the president. This is something to do with destiny. And sadly he can no longer be the president of the republic. So there must be a call for a new electoral process in Venezuela.

On the contrary, those who are governing, if they depart from what is established in the constitution, then they will no longer have legitimacy and legality in front.

JOSE AVILA, PRO-CHAVEZ LAWMAKER (through translator): The constitution establishes that if the president cannot be inaugurated in front of a national assembly, he can do it in front of the Supreme Court. And it doesn't say how or when. Now we have to wait and see what the Supreme Court says.


NEWTON: So we are waiting to hear what the Supreme Court says right now in the next few minutes. After that, we have a government press conference with the vice president, the (inaudible) who is now in charge. Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor will speak in the mid-afternoon.

(Inaudible) expected to say that he will take the reins of this country, of this government if Hugo Chavez makes it back in the next few weeks he will be able to be sworn in in front of the Supreme Court.

Having said this, Kristie, a lot of uncertainty here. And it doesn't matter if you're an opponent of the government or a supporter of the government right now, people are tense waiting to see what will happen next, Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. And as you wait to find out how this constitutional conflict plays out, what do we know? What do we really know about the health and the condition of Hugo Chavez?

NEWTON: You know, Kristie, what was interesting yesterday was having that transparency finally some clarity, somebody say, look, this man is not getting here for the swearing-in. That seemed to leave people much more unsettled. They know he really wanted to make it here, that he would have made it here if he could have.

That means if he could have been flown with nurses and doctors, Kristie, he would have made it here. I think it underscored for a lot of Venezuelans that, indeed, the president is fighting for his life and considering he was this leader here who really in total handled everything, everything from the oil production to what was going on in schools, people are nervous about the future of this country.

And I have to add, Kristie, that the economy right now is limping along. And people here are really suffering though not extreme shortages, but some shortages right now, and rampant inflation. Day-to-day life is becoming much more difficult.

STOUT: So much uncertainty there in Venezuela.

Paula Newton joining us live from Caracas, thank you very much for that.

And as Paula just mentioned, the president of Venezuela's Supreme Court is scheduled to speak in less than 30 minutes from now. And that could clear up some of the confusion in Caracas. And we'll bring you that president to you live when in happens.

Right now you're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up next, the struggles of women living in India. Many say that they are on guard and often in fear.

And a CNN exclusive, Egypt's president speaks to Wolf Blitzer about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Also what's new in Las Vegas. We'll bring you the hottest gadgets from the (inaudible) Consumer Electronics Show.




STOUT: Welcome back. Now heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over what India says took place in the disputed region of Kashmir on Tuesday, now India's foreign secretary summoned the Pakistani high commissioner and lodged a strong protest. And New Delhi says Pakistani troops crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir and killed two soldiers.

The Indian government says both bodies were subjected to, quote, "barbaric and inhuman mutilation." And Pakistan's military denies the accusations and says India is trying to deflect attention from a border clash in Kashmir on Sunday with a Pakistani soldier dead.

India and Pakistan, they have been at odds over Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947. And they fought two full-scale wars over the issue. The territory is divided by a 720-kilometer line of control. And there's been a cease-fire in Kashmir since 2003. But it's been violated by both countries repeatedly since then.

And in India, the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman last month has sparked outrage and protests around the world. The woman later died of her injuries. And the attack has heightened awareness about sexual violence and gender bias in India. Sumnima Udas has more.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-five-year-old Summajit (ph) cradles her 1-month-old baby girl. Her name is Kushi (ph). In Hindi, that means happiness.

Kushi (ph) would not have been alive had her mother given into pressure from some relatives and neighbors.

SUMMAJIT (PH), INDIAN MOTHER (through translator): They would cry and yell. What are you doing, giving birth to a girl? Push her off the roof of this building. Kill her! Why are you keeping her?

UDAS (voice-over): Summajit (ph) says she was under great pressure to abort all four of her daughters just because they were girls, an issue all too common in these parts of India.

(Inaudible) district in the state of Haryana (ph) has the lowest female-to-male child sex ratio in the country. Out of every thousand boys, there are only 774 girls here.

UDAS (voice-over): The main reason even the government acknowledges: sex-selective abortions. Now outlawed in India, but according to a 2011 study, 600,000 female fetuses are aborted every year in India.

SUMMAJIT (PH) (through translator): Why are they killing girls when they're still in the womb? It's a sin for which they'll have to be answerable to God, small, cute little girls like a doll. They kill her in the womb? It's a sin.

UDAS (voice-over): And the discrimination that begins in the womb continues throughout a girl's life.

SUMMAJIT (PH) (through translator): They send boys to good schools. They give them good food, nice clothes to wear. They treat them well. They say, oh, it's my son. The daughter, they say, get the cow dung. Sweep the floors. What will you do with an education?

UDAS (voice-over): Often seen as a burden, nearly half of India's girls are married off before the age of 18. Summajit (ph) says she was forced to marry a man 15 years older than her when she was just 12 years old. And a bride's family often is forced to give extravagant dowries even though the practice had been banned by the government.

SUMMAJIT (PH) (through translator): The daughter will be constantly harassed for not bringing sufficient dowry. She'll be taunted. The father will have to give something to his daughter one way or the other. Otherwise, she may be burned alive or killed.

UDAS (voice-over): Once married, many women are subjected to domestic violence. A 2012 UNICEF study found more than half of Indian adolescent males think it's justifiable for a man to beat his wife under certain circumstances.

KIRTI SINGH, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It's a vicious cycle. What happens is the cycle of discrimination and violence keeps on.

UDAS (voice-over): Outside the household, crimes against women in India are on the rise. In July 2012, a young student was molested and groped by a group of at least 18 men for 45 minutes. People watched and filmed the incident, but no one helped her.

Just 20 minutes from Jeje (ph), we find this woman, a mother of four, who was allegedly dragged from her home and raped by five men a month ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't know what time it was when they barged in, but they gagged me and dragged me from my bed to a corner in the cowshed. I could identify two of them. I didn't know who the other three were. Then they raped me. They took turns in raping me. When my children woke up, they ran away.

UDAS (voice-over): Police say one of the men she identified has been arrested; the other got away. In some ways, Indian women have made great strides. Literacy rates have gone up. Maternal mortality rates have gone down and millions of women have joined the workforce. Leaders like Sonia Gandhi are role models who show that women can rise to great heights. But they are the exception.

(Inaudible) foundation survey ranked India as the world's fourth most dangerous country for a woman, behind only Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan. Authorities acknowledge that action is needed. They say they're taking steps to try to better protect women.

RAJAN BHAGAT, NEW DELHI POLICE SPOKESMAN: (Inaudible) patrolling more (inaudible) police, more friendly towards complainants and we're taking a number of steps.

UDAS (voice-over): But women's rights' activists say when discrimination begins even before birth, change will not come easily -- Sumnima Udas, CNN, Jeje Haryana (ph), India.


STOUT: The challenges of being a woman in India. And you're watching NEWS STREAM. And up next after record hot temperatures and devastating wildfires, could Australia be headed for a much-needed respite?

We'll be back with Mari Ramos at the World Weather Center when we come back.





STOUT (voice-over): Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.


STOUT: And we're learning more about Google executive Eric Schmidt's trip to North Korea. Now let's bring up some video.


STOUT (voice-over): Here is one of his first stops in Pyongyang. He's at the computer lab at Kim Il-sung University. Now this says that Schmidt could be trying to encourage a more open North Korea. Remember, average citizens do not have access to the Internet there.

And Google has declined CNN's request for comment on the trip. And a spokeswoman says that the company does not comment on Eric Schmidt's personal travel.

While Google's Eric Schmidt is in North Korea, the eyes of the tech world are on Las Vegas. That is where thousands of new products are being shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show. And Dan Simon shows us what stood out to him.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In between the robotic cleaners and back massagers, the indestructible cell phone cases and ingenious smart pens, here are a few products that caught our eye at CES.

SIMON (voice-over): First up, the water-safe iPhone. Liquipel has a special coating that makes any phone or tablet immune to the hazards of H2O.

SAM WINKLER, LIQUIPEL: So, Liquipel is a nanocoating. It's a thousand times thinner than a human hair. So, it doesn't affect the look, it doesn't affect the feel and it doesn't affect the functionality.

SIMON (voice-over): Cost? About $60 per phone. Just send it to the company, they'll apply the chemical and send it back.

Next, ultra HDTV, the headliner at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

PHIL JONES, SONY: 4K Ultra HD is four times the resolution of a traditional HD TV, which means you can have a bigger TV in your room. You can sit closer to that TV, and that TV will be much, much, much clearer.

SIMON (voice-over): They are, in fact, stunning. Content, though, is limited. And the price for the big sets can go upwards of a whopping $20,000. Don't look for them just yet at Wal-Mart, but look for the price to come down in a few years.

We found this item to be a bit more affordable.

SIMON: If you're someone who likes to watch TV in bed, here's a product that might appeal to you. This is from Brookstone, and it's a pillow that has speakers inside and the selling point is, if you're listening to the TV, watching whatever show or movie you got on, you can listen to it without disturbing the person lying next to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it's going to be a terrific Father's Day gift. May even save a few marriages.

SIMON (voice-over): Finally, there was the Hapifork which might be able to save you a few pounds. The electronic utensil lets you know when you're eating too fast.

SIMON: If you're eating too fast, it's going to buzz or it's going to light up and tell you to slow down, right?

FABRICE BOUTAIN, HAPIFORK: Yes. You're going to have a gentle vibration.

SIMON (voice-over): At $99, it's being called the world's first smart fork.

BOUTAIN: So, that's why eating slowly is very important because you can lose weight, but also, your digestion is going to be much better.

SIMON: Another of the cutting edge exhibits that caught our eye at CES where 2,000 companies from all over the world are showing off their new products to the 150,000 people who came here to be dazzled -- Dan Simon, CNN, Las Vegas.


STOUT: Wow, so many gadgets to touch, feel and taste with.

Now another U.S. tech innovation may not be represented at this year's CES, but you can say that it operates on a higher plane. Now America's largest group of Franciscan friars has started offering what it likes to call faith at your fingertips. The friars of Holy Nate (ph) Province are encouraging believers to submit prayer requests via text.

Now cell phone users in the U.S. just need to text the word "PRAYER" free to 30644. They then receive a welcome message from the friars with the option to type in their prayer intention. And their requests are collated on a website and included in the group's twice-daily prayers and at mass as a nerd-based (ph) Father David Comportuna (ph) puts it, "If the pope can tweet, friars can text."

You're watching NEWS STREAM. And still ahead, more worries for Boeing. The aircraft maker's Dreamliner runs into more trouble and it's raising questions about the plane.




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


STOUT (voice-over): Venezuelan lawmakers are arguing over what happens now that President Hugo Chavez will not be able to attend his inauguration due to illness. (Inaudible) scheduled for Thursday. Mr. Chavez has not been seen in public since traveling to Cuba for cancer treatment in December.

Unrest has erupted among Syrians living in a tent city in Jordan following days of heavy rain which has left their refugee camp resembling a swamp. The Zaatari camp, temporarily home to about 45,000 people, is in need of medicine, blankets and warm clothes. The U.N. has denied media reports that say that there was rioting. But confirm that refugees have expressed discontent.

The Indian government says the bodies of two of its soldiers killed on Tuesday in the disputed territory of Kashmir were subjected to mutilation. New Delhi blames Pakistani troops for the killings and has summoned the Pakistani high commissioner to lodge a protest. Pakistan has denied the accusations.

Steven Spielberg's political drama "Lincoln" is leading the nominations of this year's BAFTAs. It is up for 10 awards, including Best Film. But it faces some strong competition from "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi" and "Argo." The awards, which take place next month in London, are seen as a strong indicator for success at the Oscars.


STOUT: Egypt's leader has invited Palestinian leaders of the rival Fatah and Hamas factions to meet in Cairo this week. President Mohammed Morsi discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Do you believe in a two-state solution that will allow Israel and Palestine to live side by side?

MOHAMMED MORSI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): The Palestinians have the full right, without any interference from anyone, to decide whatever they want for themselves. And now I'm looking forward and I'm working on achieving reconciliation between the Palestinians, between Fatah and the other factions, Hamas and others, to reach consensus.

And it's they who will decide. I support them in what they decide. They are -- they have the right. They own the right. It's only they who have the right to decide on their destiny. And, by the way, this is stated in the peace treaty. The Palestinians decide on what they want. I'll respect their decisions.

BLITZER (voice-over): Morsi told me he's invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo this week. A critical question that may be up for discussion: does Israel have a right to exist?

MORSI (through translator): The truth is, I have already answered this question before this many times. Israel is a U.N. member, so the question seems strange, because the party who needs a place and state are the Palestinians. I'm not discussing the bias of one party against the other, but I am talking about the real situation that exists now.

Israel is a member of the U.N. The ones who need a state and to have an entity and for this state to be a full-fledged member of the U.N. are the Palestinians. So that's why I'm talking about a reconciliation among Palestinians.

It is not possible to achieve peace and stability unless it is for everyone involved. So if the Palestinians continue suffering , if the Palestinians continue suffering from attacks, if the Palestinians remain without a state, if the Palestinians remain without a full acknowledgement from the whole world that they have full rights, this means peace will not be complete in the Middle East and the world.

What do we want for this world?

With came with a message of peace. We want peace. But we want real peace and a peace treaty. It is stated at the beginning of it that peace should be comprehensive and just. And this matter is known and it must happen. And it has not come true yet.

We want a comprehensive and just peace for this world.


STOUT: Mohammed Morsi there.

And Wolf also asks the Egyptian leader under what circumstances he'd be willing to meet directly with top Israeli leaders. And Mr. Morsi said once the Palestinians have their full rights, they can see what the Egyptian people want him to do.

Let's get more now on the extreme heat and the devastating bush fires in Australia. Just when will the blazes get under control? Will weather, the conditions, help in that matter?

Mari Ramos joins us now from the World Weather Center.


RAMOS: Oh, Kristie, we've already seen quite a change across Australia as far as the temperatures are concerned. It still has been a bit on the windy side. I want to show you a couple of things. First of all, let's go ahead and look at some of the current temperatures.

After midnight already and yesterday when we were talking the temperature in Sydney was about, what, (inaudible) 15-20 degree higher than it is right now, 20 degrees right now. The winds coming out of the east now, so a little bit more humidity coming in off the ocean as well. That's pretty important. But it's still a bit on the windy side, about 17 kph.

As we head to Melbourne we're also looking at temperatures that are relatively cooler than what you had a couple of days ago. The winds here out of the south, that southerly flow keeps things cool. But we're going to start to see a change here.

So already with these cooler temperatures, it has been a little bit better for firefighters battling these blazes, a little bit more humidity. At least we're not dealing with the record high temperatures that we had before. However, it is still pretty critical.

And I want to show you just this from New South Wales. This is from the New South Wales rural fire service. And what you're looking at over here is a -- the fires that are active right now. You can see that there are dozens of them. The blue means that there's advice regarding these fires. And there are no emergency warnings.

Emergency warnings, there's no red here, that would happen when a fire is particularly close to a town. So the two yellow ones means watch and act. Be ready. This one right here is called the Cobbler Road fire. This is about 11 kilometers west of a town called Yazd (ph). I'm sure I'm mispronouncing that.

Well, this is a scrub or grass fire and they say it's being controlled. Let's go ahead and roll the pictures because the pictures are from this fire. And this is what it looks like. This is what a controlled fire looks like. It's pretty scary stuff when you think about what they're having to deal with.

And this is after the cooler temperatures came through and the wind's not as strong as it -- as they were before. What we're going to see happen over the next couple of days is particularly along the coastal areas. The temperatures will remain fairly close to normal.

But as we head into some of these more interior parts, I think we're going to start to see the temperatures on the rise yet again. The wind's not as strong, not as hot as before, but still definitely a critical fire situation across many areas of southeastern Australia. Let's go ahead and check out your cities. (Inaudible).


RAMOS: You know, Kristie, I always get the question do you think we just have more extreme weather nowadays than we used to? And I have to say that, you know, generally the answer is yes. It does appear that we have extreme (inaudible) like what we were just talking about there in Australia.

There's a new study that came out and this is from the U.S., from NOAA right here in the U.S., in the National Weather Service. And it was a year of extremes here in the U.S. And we're talking about last, even though this year has already had its own things. But when we talk about 2012, it was the warmest year ever on record for the United States.

Now not only did we have a record warm spring, we had the second warmest summer ever recorded and the fourth warmest winter. As a matter of fact, that month of July was the hottest ever for the -- for the continental United States that had ever been recorded here in the U.S. So we did really have a season of extremes the entire year.

The other really amazing thing is that we had 10 or more days near or above 38 degrees Celsius. This is something extremely rare herein the U.S. and more than 99 million people were the ones to experience that. So we're talking about a huge chunk of a population here of the U.S. that had to deal with this extreme weather.

Not only does this bring higher costs, higher medical care, there's just so many things higher -- food costs. We had the terrible drought across the central U.S. that was a big deal. Some other extremes that happened, it was the most -- the second most extreme year on record here in the U.S. We had the flood levels across the Midwest.

We had the drought, remember, more than 60 percent of the country was in a drought in the middle of July. The terrible things that happened to the corn crop or that we talked about all that all of last year.

And then there were the wildfires, similar to what we're seeing right now in Australia, very hot and very dry conditions particularly in the western portion of the U.S., though burned more than 3.7 million hectares. That's a very significant as well. And then who could forget superstorm Sandy, another extreme, extreme weather event. It seems to be almost like you say it is the new normal.

Back to you.

STOUT: Yes, we have these rising temperatures, more extreme weather events. We need to stay across and thanks to you, we will. Mari Ramos there. Thank you.

Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. And up next, a "WORLD SPORT" update is straight ahead as Lance Armstrong purportedly prepares to speak out about the doping scandal. Amanda Davies has that an more after the break.




STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And right here, this is a visual rundown of all the stories that we've been covering on the show. If you look at the column closest to me, we have brought you the latest from Venezuela as well as the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And now to the world of cycling.

And one of the most controversial figures in the world of sport is expected to tell his side of the story on American TV next week. Amanda Davies joins us now for more.

And, Amanda, I know that you just can't wait for this big interview.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie, yes. It's one of those moments. I think I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit how excited I am about it. I've invited the friends over, got the popcorn ready because January 17th very much is the date for your diary.

As far as I'm concerned, this is going to be one of those interviews that very much like the Tiger Woods interview, his first press conference after the sex scandal. But now Lance Armstrong is finally set to break his silence and talk on television about the doping scandal that's seen him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and is very much engulfed cycling in recent times.

The American is set to (inaudible) legendary U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Having always denied all doping allegations made against him, the Oprah network though have announced that the interview will, quote, "address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs."

It follows an article in "The New York Times" last week that reported that Armstrong was considering publicly admitting that he did dope. Well, the allegations just keep on coming against Armstrong, though.

The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, has told American TV's "60 Minutes" that Armstrong attempted to donate around $250,000 to the organization back in 2004. Tygart said he bowled over by what he described as a totally inappropriate offer, saying, "It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."

OK. Well, some football news and 41 South Korean players have been given worldwide lifetime bans by FIFA after a match-fixing scandal in the country's K League. They received lifetime domestic bans from the K League and the Korean Football Association after a domestic match-fixing investigation back in 2011.

But it's not just football with problems of match fixing in South Korea. This is part of a wider governmental project to tackle problems in professional volleyball and baseball as well.

But from match-fixing to football's continued battle against racism, in less than a week after Milan's walkoff was described as a watershed moment, the sport's governing body FIFA has announced that both Hungary and Bulgaria will play World Cup qualifying matches without a crowd as part of their punishment for racist behavior by fans.

Hungary's supporters have been found guilty of anti-Semitic chanting in a game against Israel last August as well as being forced to play the important fixture behind closed doors.

The football federation has been fined just over $40,000 and Bulgaria has been given a similar punishment after racist abuse was aimed at one of Denmark's black players during a match in October as well as their game in an empty stadium. Their football union has been ordered to pay a fine of more than $35,000.

And at the same time as this, Italy's football federation says that 4th Division (ph) (inaudible) Pro Patria will play one of their games without any fans present as punishment for that abusive chanting which forced Milan to walk off the pitch during last week (inaudible).

America's Dustin Johnson is up to world number 12 after getting the year off to a winning start, overcoming the rest of the field and the weather to claim victory in the season opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. He won by four shots.

Defending champion Steve Stricker started the day three shots off Johnson and racked up four birdies in his final round. But couldn't do quite enough. (Inaudible) second on -12 overall. Johnson didn't have it all his own way, though. It was (inaudible) unlucky 13 with a double bogey on that hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that just where that went in, right there where that little curve is on the bunker.

DAVIES: But he bounced back in style with an eagle at the very next hole to move -14. And he finished with a flourish as well, sinking a birdie putt at the 18th to claim his third straight win out of 54 holes (inaudible).

That's it for me for now, Kristie. Back to you.

STOUT: All right. Amanda Davies there, thank you.

Now before its debut, it was perhaps the world's most anticipated passenger plane. But there have been three incidents involving Boeing 787 Dreamliners this week, two of them in Boston. And that is raising larger safety concerns.

Sandra Endo has more.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fuel leaking from a Japan Airlines 787 Dreamliner as it was preparing to fly from Boston's Logan Airport to Tokyo with 181 passengers, an alert crew in another plane saw the leak and notified the control tower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, that Japan Air may know it, but they've got fuel or something spilling out the outboard left wing there quite a bit.

ENDO (voice-over): Then the control tower contacted the unsuspecting JAL pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Japan Air 7 heavy, we're going to send a fire engine truck out to your aircraft to make sure everything's OK, but it appears that there is fuel coming from your left wing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean a fuel leak from left wing?

ENDO (voice-over): It's the second of Boeing's marquee aircraft to face trouble in two days. On Monday, at the same Boston Airport, a different Japan Airline Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire. It involved batteries located in the belly of the plane, which provides electricity to the plane while on the ground.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fire, and in a statement, Boeing says it's working with investigators, adding, "Nothing we've seen in this case indicates a relationship with any previous 787 power system events."

Last month, a United Airlines Dreamliner flying from Houston to Newark diverted to New Orleans after the crew reported an electrical problem. In September, after federal inspectors forced inspections on all 787s in the air, inspectors found engine cracks on two different 787s.

United Airlines tells CNN they inspected their 787s overnight but were not willing to discuss what, if anything, they found -- Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.


STOUT: And the Dreamliner, it is not the only plane off to a rough start. In 2010, one of four engines on a Qantas Airbus A380 shutdown just minutes after takeoff . Part of the engine's covering actually came off while the plane was in the air. And just this last February, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered all Airbus A380 passenger jets to be checked for cracks in the wings.

Now here on NEWS STREAM, we like to bring you up to speed about cutting-edge technology. But today, we need to take a step back in time and show you the breakthrough that changed one of the world's greatest cities forever.



STOUT: It's expensive and some riders say it's time-consuming and inefficient. But it is impossible to imagine London without it. I'm talking about the Tube. The city's underground railway system, it turns 150 today. And while it's had its problems over the years, it changed the concept of urban transport forever. Nick Glass takes a ride.



NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of the tunnel, into the light at a top speed under central London, we're about 50 kilometers an hour. So many cities -- over 150 of them -- now have metro underground systems. We forget that London was the first in 1863.

It remains one of the busiest -- up to 4 million passengers a day -- the equivalent of roughly half London's population. But let's step back in time. Imagine it before the first tube map was drawn when so much transport was horse-drawn and the traffic congested. The solution was to dig just below the surface and bring in steam trains.

GLASS: This is, believe it or not, the only surviving steam engine of the London Underground of the 1860s. It dates from 1866 and it's known simply as No. 23. Just imagine what it was like to travel on it, all that smoke, all that sulfur, like breathing crocodile's breath, as one passenger put it.

GLASS (voice-over): This is substantially a Victorian Underground. The arch and some platforms of Baker Street are pretty much unchanged. The Underground system was launched by competing railway companies line by line. It was electrified in the early 1900s.

Strangely enough, the companies were unified, the system made whole by an American, the financier and convicted embezzler from Philadelphia, Charles Tyson Yerkes.

MIKE ASHWORTH, LONDON UNDERGROUND: An amazing almost crook in some respects is largely responsible for the development of large parts of London's tube network. We still say please move down inside the car, not carriage as you would hear elsewhere in British railways. And that goes back to that American influence in the early tube railways.

GLASS (voice-over): We all know the diagrammatic London tube map, a much imitated design classic. But the first version in 1931 wasn't even commissioned. Harry Beck, an electrical draftsman, dreamt it up in his spare time. Initially, the Underground wasn't keen.

SAM MULLINS, LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM: For many people, Londoners and visitors, it's become (inaudible) map. (Inaudible) London is the Underground map, even though (inaudible) river and I guess half the city in it. But we all kind of still use Harry Beck's map.


GLASS (voice-over): To mark its 150th birthday, the Underground is celebrating with a special poster exhibition. Of course, London has moaned about the tube, the overcrowding, the heat, the delays, much as they do about the weather. But they can't really get around quickly without it.

And the fact it, it's transformed the city, helped it spread and almost tripled its population in the last 150 years -- Nick Glass, CNN, London.


STOUT: Now it's worth remembering just how big the tube network is. There were 270 stations and over 400 kilometers of track.

And to put all of it into perspective, if all the lines of the London Underground were arranged in a straight line, it would be enough -- more than enough -- to take commuters from London to Paris. But we have to come back to how old the tube is and what the world was like back in 1863.

Now take a look at this. Now this is the world's first modern car. By the time it was introduced, the tube had been running for 23 years. And the tube, it started the same year that Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. America's Civil War raged for another two years; the tube has been running ever since.

And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. In fact, you've got "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" coming up next.