Return to Transcripts main page


Oscar Pistorius' Defense Rips Prosecutor's Evidence; Russian Government Angry Over Adopted Boys Death; Daniel Day-Lewis Favorite To Make History At Oscars; Syrian Regime Ups Scud Missile Use

Aired February 20, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


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

Now still no bail decision for Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius. we are live in Pretoria with all the new details that emerged about his alleged crime in today's court session.

Plus, China's military slams the report linking the government to hackers when an American cyber security firm shines a spotlight on Shanghai.

And is this the new Playstation controller? I'll show you what he console is expected to feature before Sony unveils it.

Now Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing has been a adjourned until Thursday after a dramatic day of testimony in South Africa today. Now we have learned a lot more about the police case against the international sports star. A police investigator has been describing the scene at Pistorius' home on the day of the alleged crime. And Pistorius' defense team has steadily tried to counter a host of allegations presented by the prosecution.

Now Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the death of his model girlfriend on Valentine's Day.

Robyn Curnow joins us now from outside the Pretoria courtroom with the details live. And Robyn, we got some very concrete details emerging from the scene of the murder. What can you tell us?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think just generally the court just wrapped up its work for today. This is some of the legal council walking past me. And I think what is crucial out of today's arguments is that the lead investigator in the police investigation appears to have been quite discredited by Oscar Pistorius' defense team. Their case appears to have been weakened by Oscar Pistorius' defense team attacking them like a bull dog, according to my producer who was inside the courtroom watching the events.

And what is also crucial about this is that Oscar Pistorius is looking more confident, it appears. He's no longer hunched over, crying, sobbing. He's sitting up straight.

And why is this? A number of key issues we heard today -- this evidence of testosterone allegedly being found in Oscar Pistorius' house, well his defense team poo pooing that, saying listen, has it been tested? What -- do you know what the substance is? And the investigating officer saying no, not yet. I just read the label. Pistorius' team saying, you know, this is just a herbal medication.

Again, also a lot of arguments over this allegation that there was loud fighting, that there was, you know, problems hours before the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. And Pistorius' team coming out and saying, you know, was this a neighbor? Who was this witness? And it seems like the witnesses were living in a house at least a few hundred meters away from Pistorius' house. So they weren't next door.

It's those kinds of things have also really punched holes in the state's case.

Also, significantly, suggestions of perhaps police bungling in many ways. The investigator admitting that he didn't wear protective shoe covers when he went in to Pistorius' home, effectively contaminating the crime scene. Just one of the many riveting details coming out in court here today.

LU STOUT: Yeah, very riveting details. What you mentioned just then, the police investigation being seen as discredited by some, also the defense. Oscar Pistorius himself and his body language coming across as a bit more confident today.

Now he does face a very serious charge, that premeditated murder charge. He also faces additional charges. What can you tell us about that? And also the likelihood, what we're waiting for, whether or not he'll be granted bail.

CURNOW: OK. Well, final arguments are going to happen tomorrow -- tomorrow morning. So we'll get a sense tomorrow on whether the magistrate has been swayed by either side or whether he'll get bail.

Just an addition about those extra charges, the state earlier on in today's evidence said they would bring extra charges because they found unlicensed ammunition in a safe. Again, though, indications of some sort of police bungling, because they apparently gave this ammunition to lawyers and the next day asked them to give it back. They didn't photograph it. And according to Oscar's defense this wasn't his ammunition, it was his fathers.

So, you know, in terms of the case that they were trying to build up it was constantly sort of beaten down by Pistorius' team.

Also, remember, Oscar's defense all along has been that this was just a tragic misunderstanding, that he shot his girlfriend thinking she was an intruder, while she was in the bathroom. And according to the defense, the autopsy indicated that her bladder was empty. You know, consistent with his story that she was in the bathroom and that she had woken up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Also, crucially, the investigating officer saying he couldn't find any inconsistency in Oscar Pistorius' version. So let's see what the magistrate has to say about this tomorrow, but I think no doubt friends and family of Oscar Pistorius might be feeling a lot more confident, a lot more positive after the days events.

LU STOUT: Yeah. You know, this case, it is just so dramatic, and yet the trial it hasn't even started yet, right? I mean, when is the full trial expected here?

CURNOW: We don't know. And I mean, the South African legal system works very slowly, but no doubt a high profile case like this many people believe will be speeded up. But I mean, best case scenario a few months, six months.

So if Oscar Pistorius doesn't get bail he faces the prospect of being behind bars for at least six months. And remember, of course, that there are no special facilities for people with disabilities in South African prisons. You know, he has prosthetics. And of course a variety of, you know, additional needs.

So, this would be quite a thing for him. So this is why his family and his defense are, you know, really trying to break down the state's case the he should be locked away for the next six months until that trial date is set.

LU STOUT: All right. Robyn Curnow joining us live from Pretoria, thank you.

Now this bail hearing, it will determine if Pistorius must await trial behind bars, as you heard just then. If he is denied bail, Pistorius will either remain at the police station where he's been held recently, or go to jail where he may be kept with convicted prisoners. And the court proceedings, it could go on for months.

Now the prominent U.S. attorney Robert Shapiro, he spoke to Piers Morgan about South Africa's judicial system.


ROBERT SHAPIRO, ATTORNEY: In South Africa there are no juries. So a judge is going to make the ultimate decision on this case as to whether or not the judge believes him. It's not a reasonable doubt case, as we would have in America, but simply his story. There's no other witnesses. There's going to be forensic evidence. There may be some other types of circumstantial evidence as to things that may have led up to this, but ultimately the judge is going to look him in the eye and say do I believe you?


LU STOUT: But the trial judge can ask former magistrates to help decide the verdice.

Now South Africa does not have a death penalty. And one activist group says that only one-third of men accused of murdering their partners are convicted.

Now let's go to China. The defense ministry says it has never backed any hacking activities, that in response to a report linking a secret Chinese military unit to a group of hackers. And Washington is working to boost its cyber defenses. Media reports say that the White House is moving to step up its response to China.

For now, administration officials say that the issue is being discussed with Beijing.


VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We've also regularly and repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest level with the Chinese government about cyber threat -- theft, including with senior Chinese officials and the military. We'll continue to do that. It comes up in virtually every meeting with have with Chinese officials.


LU STOUT: Now the report by cyber security firm Mandiant is shining a spotlight on Shanghai. And our David McKenzie is there.

Now David, this Mandiant report, again it linked the hacking to in fact one destination, or one source there, a high rise in Shanghai used by the military. How is the Chinese military responding to that? DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the Chinese military, Kristie, is coming down very hard against these allegations. They say they are baseless in terms of fact and in terms of legality, in their words. They are saying they've never backed any hacking in China.

You know, the rumors have been there for some time, some years now, in fact, Kristie, that the military in China had some involvement in hacking. The Mandiant group in Virginia, U.S., that put out this 60 page report took it much further saying that the military, in fact, a special unit of the military directly worked with civilian hackers out of Shanghai here in China.

We went to the building which is allegedly the center of this hacking syndicate, as it were. It's clear that it's some kind of military installation. As we approached the building, very quickly military officials came out, wanted to stop us, stop us filming. They demanded we give them some footage that we had shot and sent us on our way.

So certainly a very sensitive area, that's not uncommon in China to have installations like this in industrial parks of cities. But the question is, is it more than that? Is this a hacking consortium as it were, run by the Chinese government? That's the allegation by this U.S. company which China very much denies -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Also, David, what more have you learned about how the alleged hackers stole, again according to Mandiant, hundreds of terabytes of data from hundreds of organizations around the world?

MCKENZIE: Well, some of this is already established -- the modus operandi of hackers. They'll come in with an email into your inbox that looks normal. It might even come from someone you know from your company. And when you click on it it isn't actually from your company it's from the hacker posing as a colleague. By clicking on that, you're effectively inviting the hacker in to bring software into your company's server.

What's very interesting with this is these were multiyear hacks. They weren't just coming in, taking what they could, and leaving in a cyber sense, they were coming in, looking around, placing more software in there, being sometimes very patient and very targeted, according to Mandiant, going into aerospace, high tech, IT companies, some very strategic companies many in the U.S. and stealing terabytes of data as you describe.

They believe that such a coordinated attack that's highly organized, and they say linked to the Chinese government, because of this lengthy organized attack, not just individuals coming in and trying to steal information from other individuals -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, the scale of the alleged hacking and the involvement of the Chinese military, no less, makes this an extraordinary story.

David McKenzie reporting for us live from Shanghai, thank you.

Now separately, Apple says it has suffered a hacking attack. Now the firewall breech targeted employees of Apple. It happened when they visited a developer website that installed malware on their computer. And the company says this, we identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network. There was no evidence that any data left Apple.

Now Apple is just the latest high profile tech company to be hacked. Facebook and Twitter have also reported similar intrusions. Neither of those companies has pointed the finger, though, at China.

Now you are watching News Stream, and coming up next it's like something out of a movie: who stole $50 million worth of diamonds in Belgium?

Also Sony is set to unveil its new weapon in the race to build the world's best gaming console.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now in Syria, the state run news agency is reporting that two mortar rounds have hit a soccer stadium in Damascus, killing at least one player and wounding several others. Now the Homs-based team was training on the field when the strike happened.

And in Aleppo, opposition activists say that government troops are firing scud missiles into crowded neighborhoods there. Now this is purportedly the aftermath of a scud missile attack on Monday. You can see the residents digging through the rubble. They're looking for bodies, they're looking for survivors. Activists say at least 50 people, including around 20 children, were killed.

And this official says that this is just one of at least eight scuds fired into the city since Friday. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this video.

Now CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in neighboring Turkey. He joins us now live from Istanbul.

Ivan, again this report and that video, scuds slamming Aleppo. What more can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What activists are claiming that this was a scud that hit this densely populated and poor neighborhood called Jabul Badra (ph) around 10:00 pm Monday night. As of today, two days later, volunteers are still digging through the rubble, still trying to look for missing loved one.

Activists from the Aleppo media center telling us that at least 63 dead bodies have been documented and identified, more than 90 bodies found in all amid the rubble of -- and you can see the damage there. It looks like the entire neighborhood has been nuked by this massive explosion that took place there.

And what we're hearing from U.S. officials as well as from Turkish officials is that the Syrian government has dramatically ramped up scud missile use even in the last couple of days with U.S. officials saying at least eight scuds were fired between Friday and Tuesday, the last couple of days. Turkish officials saying that they've counted more than 40 scuds fired, surface-to-surface missiles, from the direction of the Syrian capital Damascus towards Aleppo. As far as I know, this has been the deadliest scud strike, suspected scud strike so far.

In the past, these scuds have hit in empty farm fields, but as you can see the devastation here suggesting a much bigger and much more terrifying and bloody and deadly strike.

LU STOUT: Indeed, just looking at the video just then the rubble and the sheer destruction caused in the aftermath of the scud missile attacks. And when we hear the word scud, I mean scud missiles, they were notorious during Gulf War I. I mean, they're not apparently being used in Syria. Where are they from? And how did the regime get their hands on them?

WATSON: Well, these are most likely old Soviet era munitions. Syria was long time ally -- Col War ally of the Soviet Union.

Some analysts are arguing the reason that the government is relying more and more on scud missiles is because not only are their ground troops increasingly being restricted in their areas of operations, particularly in the north of the country which is largely dominated by rebels right now, but also because it's becoming more dangerous for Syrian helicopters and war planes to continue to operate in these areas. The rebels have shown more and more success at bringing down these aircraft.

On top of that, this scud missile, if it was in fact a scud missile, it struck not far from the Aleppo International Airport and adjoining military air base in the northeast of Aleppo, which has been encircled by Syrian rebels there laying siege to that airport which is still under Syrian government control. This massive blast occurred not far from there. And in fact Tuesday night -- I was talking to activists in this area via Skype, and I actually heard a direct hit from a Syrian warplane that fired a missile at a building that the activists were in during our Skype conversation. Fortunately, nobody was injured, nobody was hurt, but that gives you a sense of how intense the fighting is right now close to this rebel siege of this strategic airport in the east of the city right now -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, the firing of scuds a very alarming development and serious escalation in this conflict. Ivan Watson reporting for us, thank you.

Now let's go over here. And next to me you can see just a visual rundown of all the stories we're covering on the show today. And we've laid out the latest arguments from the South African bail hearing where athlete Oscar Pistorius stands charged with murdering his girlfriend. And now to a daring heist near the diamond capital of the world.

Now a highly professional robbery in Belgium has left heads spinning at Brussels Airport and the nearby Antwerp diamond center. Millions of dollars in cut and uncut diamonds were just snatched from the cargo hold of a plane as it sat on the tarmac. Now CNN's senior international correspondent Dan Rivers has the story.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It required chutzpah, inside knowledge and some very fast driving. One of the biggest gem heists ever, and the question is, who did it?

Who would dare to steal $50 million worth of diamonds from a supposedly super secure European airports?

(on camera): It all sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster a rather unbelievable Hollywood blockbuster. The sheer audacity of this heist is breathtaking. They simply drove into Brussels International Airport, flashed their guns and drove off with tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds and all without a shot being fired.

(voice-over): At 7:47 local time Monday night, the gang cut through a perimeter fence near a building site and drove parallel to the busy runway in two cars. They knew where to go, stopping a Swiss airliner holding three people at gunpoint, stealing bags of uncut diamonds that had been unloaded from a brinks security truck.

JAN VAN DER CRUYSSE, BRUSSELS AIRPORT SPOKESMAN: They have returned to the car, and sped off again, left the airport perimeter exactly 11 minutes after they have entered. The operation at the airport has taken exactly 3 minutes. So this was a very quick hit and run, very well organized.

RIVERS: The diamonds were being transported from Antwerp to Zurich. Antwerp is the world's diamond capital. The $200 million of the stones are transported through this airport each day. Traders here say they feared damage to their status as a world hub could be significant amid rising concerns over security. But experts say the mastermind of this heist will be tough to uncover.

HARRY LEVY, DIAMOND TRADER: I imagine whoever commissioned the heist would keep as far distance as he can as far as identification is concerned between himself and the people who actually carried out the robbery.

RIVERS: The thieves were reportedly dressed in uniforms to make them look official. With Europe's open borders, they could have driven to any one of two dozen European countries by now with the loot that's extremely difficult to trace.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Brussels.


LU STOUT: Now the stolen gems are a mixture of rough and polished stones, essentially diamonds that look like dirty, glassy gravel, and the sparkling beauties you admire through shop windows.

Now security experts say finding these diamonds quickly will be critical.


DONALD PALMIERI, CHAIRMAN, GEMPRINT: These types of materials tend to get fenced very quickly. And so what we want to prevent is the rough diamonds from getting cut and polished, because if that happens then there will be no way to detect them from the original rough. Right now we can assume that they've been photographed, they've been measured, they've been weighed, and they have been classified as to the quality of the rough diamond that it is.


LU STOUT: And this is not the first time Antwerp has been targeted. In 2003, thieves made off with the contents of more than 100 safes at the diamond center. Those gems were never recovered.

Now, it was supposed to be a match of two European titans, but Tuesday's Champion's League clash between Arsenal and Bayern Munich turned out to be a one-sided affair. Alex Thomas has all that, plus a preview of Wednesday's big match next.


LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream. And let's turn our attention now to sport and an intriguing Champion's League match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Alex Thomas is in London with more -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, hi, Kristie, while Porto secured 1-0 win over Malaga, the headline game on Tuesday evening went Bayern Munich's way. And that means there's no easing of the pressure on Arsenal manager Aresene Wenger. Bayern, last season's runner's up and runaway leaders in Germany's Bundisliga at the moment raced into an early 2-0 lead. Goals from Tony Cross and Thomas Muller. Arsenal pulled one back through Lukas Podolski, but Bayern scored again before the end through Mario Mandzukic. It leaves the German club in prime position to reach the quarterfinals.


JUPP HEYNCKES, BAYERN MUNICH MANAGER (through translator): We scored three goals in an away game. I think that's quite good. Arsenal allowed us quite a few things in their defense, but we showed very good form. We're in astonishing form. And our quality is that we can punish even the smallest mistakes of our opponents.

ARSENE WENGER, ARSENAL MANAGER: (inaudible) will be extremely difficult against a team of that quality. You know, we didn't play two finals in the last three years for -- without that quality that we have seen tonight. We have to give our best there and to hope that everything will go fine and hope that until the second leg we have built up our confidence a bit more.


THOMAS: Now the Champions League round of 16 first leg games wrap up later on Wednesday. Galatasaray take on Schalke and AC Milan hosts Barcelona. Those last two teams have won the competition 11 times between them.

Milan, though, will be weakened, because they can't select January signing Mario Balotelli. He's ineligible having already played for Manchester City earlier on the tournament. Barca beat Milan on their way to the semifinals last season. Their star man is, of course, four time world player of the year Lionel Messi. And he's aiming to score for a 15th successive game.

Now the world's top golfers face a slightly different challenge this week at the WGC Accenture World Match Play tournament. It's a head-to-head format instead of the usual four rounds of stroke play. So the action gets underway a day earlier than normal.

Tiger Woods faces Charles Howell III in the opening round in Arizona having warmed up for the event by playing with U.S. President Barack Obama.


TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Yeah, he calls up and say hey Tiger you want to play?



No, it -- obviously there is a process that's involved. And I was invited to play. And it was an invitation that certainly you don't turn down. And especially being -- he's an avid golfer and so am I. So we went out there and we had just a great round of golf with Ron and Jim and it was a good day.


THOMAS: Yeah, Tiger Woods keen to point out he was playing alongside Barack Obama, not against him.

Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: Yeah, very good to point out. Alex Thomas there, thank you.

You're watching News Stream. And still ahead, the death of a little boy, it's causing friction between the U.S. and Russia. We'll explain with a live report from Moscow in just a moment.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream and these are your world headlines.

Now court has adjourned again in South Africa, without a bail decision for athlete Oscar Pistorius. Now the hearing will resume with final arguments on Thursday. The defense team spent Wednesday countering a host of allegations presented by the prosecution. Pistorius is charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Now David Cameron and his aids are defending the British prime minister's decision not to apologize for a massacre by British troops in India in 1919. Cameron visited the place where it happened in the city of Amritsar and expressed regret, but stopped short of a public apology. Now hundreds died when troops fired on a crowd of unarmed protesters 94 years ago.

Greek schools, government offices, and most transport services are closed today because two of the country's biggest labor unions are on a 24 hour strike. Now police spokesman tells CNN that tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered in Syntagma Square in the Greek capital of Athens. They want the government to prioritize the rights of workers over the spending cuts demanded by the terms of its financial bailout.

Now the death of an adopted Russian boy in the U.S. is sparking tensions between Moscow and Washington. The three-year-old boy, shown here in his obituary photo, he died late last month in Texas. The county medical examiner's office describes his death as suspicious in nature.

Now a Russian foreign ministry official says that the child suffered injuries to his head and legs as well as his abdomen and internal organs. He says the wounds, quote, "could only be caused by strong blows."

Now no charges have been filed, but Child Protective Services says it is investigating allegations of physical abuse and neglect.

And this is the home in Gardendale, Texas where the boy died. He had lived there with his adoptive parents. And the only word from them has been on their answering machine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is a reporter or a news agency, we have no comment.


LU STOUT: No comment.

Now in December, Russia past a law banning adoptions of Russian children by Americans. And now one Russian governor is not waiting for that law to take effect. In fact, on Tuesday he halted all adoptions to foreigners in his region.

Now for more, Phil Black joins us now live from Moscow. And Phil, I mean, after the boy's death, Russia is opening up a murder inquiry. What's the latest on that?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. The peak investigative body in this country has opened up a criminal inquiry to see if it can determine if there are charges of murder to be answered here.

But there's been bit of a shift in the official Russian position over the last 24 hours or so. When Russia's children's rights commissioner first broke this story on his Twitter feed he used very strong language. He said the boy had been killed. He described it as a murder, went into some detail about the abuse, the violence and the drugs that this child had allegedly been forced to consume.

He gave a press conference today and he seemed to back away from some of that stronger language. He said that this was based upon the initial reports he had received from consular officials in the United States, but they now accept that this is a matter that is still being investigated, that no one has yet been charged, but that does not mean they will not be. And they do hope that someone will be punished severely for it.

While there has been a slight easing in some of the language in that sense, Russian officials are still very angry, they say, because the U.S. State Department did not tell them within 24 hours of this boy's death as they claim they should have done. Instead, they say they found out more than a month later, and only because Russian consular officials in the United States saw a media report about the child's death, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And this case, it comes at a very, very sensitive time. I mean, Russia just banned U.S. adoptions. So what does this mean for America's efforts to push through the more than 500 adoption cases in limbo? I mean, these involve families that you've interviewed?

BLACK: This has been a big issue over the last month or so. Initially when that deadline kicked in on the 1st of January, there were dozens of American families who thought they had officially completed the adoption process and should therefore be allowed to take home their children. They have all done so now, but it took something of a fight.

Still in limbo, though, are we've been told more than 500 other families who had begun the adoption process. And we're at various stages. And the adoption process is a long one, it often requires more than four visits to this country, lots of money, lots of effort, lots of families at various stages of that process who are still hoping, optimistically, that they may still be allowed, somehow to bring home the children they were hoping to adopt despite this adoption ban now being in place.

But certainly the view from the United States is that this latest case does not help them and their arguments and their position at all. And very much so the debate here, all the comments from officials here, have been that it proves that they should not be sending Russian children to be adopted, certainly not in the United States. And Russian officials, some of them now arguing very strongly, for a complete international adoption ban, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And tell us more about the reaction there in Russia not just from the politicians, but from the people. I mean, the boy's death stoked a lot of anger about the treatment of Russian children adopted in the U.S. What have you heard?

BLACK: It has. There's been a lot of media coverage here, saturation coverage, especially on state run media. Russian orphans who are mistreated in the United States have long been something of an emotional issue here. This adoption ban did not come about suddenly. It isn't something that the country has debated for some time that some critics say has been manipulated politically for some time.

And it is an issue that have effectively divided the population. Roughly 50 percent, depending upon which opinion poll you look at, show that 50 percent are in favor of the adoption ban, 50 percent now. We've had tens of thousands of people, Russians, on the streets protesting against the ban on U.S. adoption.

So very much a divisive issue. Critics believe that this issue is being used by some to drive a further wedge between U.S.-Russia relations, to try and force Russia on a divergent path from the west and in particular the United States. And they argue that as a result these children are being committed, thousands of them, potentially tens of thousands of them in the future, to an institutionalized childhood, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Phil Black reporting live from Moscow for us. Thank you.

The CNN Freedom Project documentary Death in the Desert exposed the plight of African refugees in the Sinai. Now human smugglers often prey on the refugees as they make their way to Israel. And now the German parliament's human rights committee is taking action. Frederik Pleitgen has that.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Slavery, torture, rape, and murder: the horrible plight of many African refugees at the mercy of Bedouin people smuggling gangs in Sinai, taken hostage while trying to make their way to Israel from sub-Saharan Africa.

The abuses, even including organ theft, were brought to light into CNN Freedom Project documentaries and were at least in part what sparked German parliamentarian Annette Groth to take action.

ANNETTE GROTH, MEMBER OF GERMAN PARLIAMENT: I feel it's my duty, my responsibility to share this information, disseminate this information and to raise awareness of the public, of the Germans, of the German government.

PLEITGEN: Groth has put human trafficking and modern-day slavery in Sinai on the agenda of the German parliament's human rights committee, not the first time the member of the left wing party de Linke (ph) has pushed the issue.

In a response to a previous query, the German foreign ministry noted in late 2012 it contacted Egypt's ministry for health and population and requested that the authorities actively combat human and organ trafficking. So far, most efforts to help refugees who fall into the fangs of brutal people smugglers in Sinai are from the grass roots. Like the work of the Sinai based New Generation Foundation for Human Rights and its founder Hamdi al-Azzazi. And the anti-human trafficking network put in place by Bedouin sheiks to stop the kingpins from exploiting refugees.

But Annette Groth says it's time for Berlin to use its economic power to pressure Egyptian authorities.

GROTH: You have to clear off this and stop this trafficking and close the door to (inaudible) whatsoever. And this is possible. And then in an exchange, you know, I will, you know, give scholarships -- I'm not a military person so I won't say I will export arms, but other economic assistance.

PLEITGEN: Human rights groups estimate that thousands of African migrants have perished trying to make it to Israel in search of a better life. Now some German lawmakers are putting their plight on the parliament's agenda in the hope that this economically powerful nation will play a more active role fighting abuses in Sinai.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


LU STOUT: And you can go online to find out more about CNN's commitment to end human trafficking and to fight modern-day slavery. Just log on to for our latest reporting on this global concern and see what you can do to take a stand. The CNN Freedom Project at

Now time for a check of the global weather forecast and a winter storm in the southwest U.S. is definitely one to watch. Let's go to Mari Ramos at the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, this started a storm coming out of the Pacific. It's affected much of the west coast of the U.S., particularly in the areas of the south. So, for example, along the coast there, even as far south as San Diego they've had some rain. And then as soon as you start getting into some of those higher elevations a lot of snowfall coming down.

I want to show you some pictures a little farther up the coast, a little farther north, I should say, in Sacramento. There's just an example of what they've been having to deal with across the higher elevations.

So, yes, time to put the chain on the tires as you get -- as you go out -- the family dog doesn't seem to mind, though. It was kind of difficult and a lot of travel delays as it -- storm continues to develop.

If you come back over to the weather map I'll show you what else is going on. that's here across California as you can see, but notice across much of the southwest they're still also dealing with some pretty nasty weather and even some blizzard conditions as far south as New Mexico. The front stretches all the way down here across Texas and into northern parts of Mexico being affected as well.

And then here as we head into the lower plains, the southern plains, the threat for snow and even ice and maybe even some severe weather across parts of Texas. So this is a pretty big winter storm affecting millions of people across this entire region and on both sides of the border.

So the chance of some snow and icy conditions from Baja, California and also back over into Sorona, Chihuahua in Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico here on the other side of the border. And then as we head in through later today and tomorrow the heavy snowfall will be concentrated in this area here, even the potential for some icy conditions and the potential for severe weather.

So you still have a lot of the -- that kind of stuff to deal with there.

Switching gears and headed to the other side of the Atlantic -- and I told you it was going to be a lot colder today. You can see it right over here in your temperatures in London and in Paris. The coldest air still here across Central and Eastern Europe.

And this is going to be something, you know, to just keep an eye on. The colder air starting to funnel in. These beautiful days that you've had slowly coming to an end, unfortunately. The bright sunshine as those colder temperatures continue to creep in here across some of these areas. The highs on Thursday and Friday only about two degrees in London and about three degrees in Paris right around the freezing point in Berlin.

And we head to the tropics. And yes we've been talking about all of the rain that they've had across the Philippines. This city right here Dipolog. They've had about almost three to four times their average for the month of February in just a period of 24 hours. The rain has been tremendous across this region with that area of low pressure, tropical depression too, just kind of lingering to the south and enhancing all of the rainfall across the central and southern Philippines.

Here's what the storm looks like now. You can still see a lot of moisture over the Philippines. That center of that storm is actually way out here. We're not expecting it to develop into anything too serious anymore, but I told you -- I mean, if it does then it's bringing a lot of heavy rain across the region.

Kristie, back to you.

LU STOUT: All right, Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now Sony is expected to unveil the new Playstation later today, but pictures of the new console's controller have apparently leaked. We'll tell you what we know about the new Playstation.


LU STOUT: Now Sony is set to unveil the next Playstation in just a few hours from now. The electronics giant is hosting an event in New York where it's set to show off the fourth generation Playstation. The console, it hopes, will put the Playstation back on top of the gaming world.

Now for years, the fight between game consoles resembled an arms race, an all out battle to build the most powerful gaming machine on the market, that's a formula that worked for Sony when it followed up the original Playstation with the PS2. Now games, they looked much better and more complex and they came on DVDs instead of CDs.

Now the PS2 is one of the most successful consoles in history. So it's no surprise that they followed the same formula with the PS3. It's bigger, faster, it uses Blu-Rays instead of DVDs, but it failed to match the PS2, because Ninetendo changed the market with this: the Wii. Instead of creating a dramatically more powerful console, Nintendo focused on innovation and it produced a controller that could be swung like a sword or a tennis racket.

But that's not the only threat to Sony. Touchscreen devices like tablets with cheap games are also eating away at video game consoles.

So what is in the next Playstation? Well, the gaming blog Destroid says this is a leaked picture of the new Playstation's controller. And the picture, it contains clues about the console's capabilities. Take a look at this, the white strip up here, part of my scribbling, that's believed to be a light bar. And it will allow a camera to track where the controller is, giving it motion control similar to the Wii.

Now what's more interesting is this apparently blank section over here. And reports says that this part here is a touchpad and will allow you to use your fingers to interact with games similar to how you would on a touchscreen device with swipes, pinches and other gestures.

But it's one of the things that you can't see which might be the most interesting part of all. Now the Wall Street Journal says that the new Playstation will include a cloud gaming service, allowing it to stream games played on servers far away from the console itself.

Now the question now is whether gamers respond to features like that.

And let's put that question now to our regular contributor Nick Thompson. He's the editor of the He joins us now live from New York. Nick, good to see you.

Will the PS4 be a hit with modern gamers?

NICK THOMPSON, NEWYORKER.COM: The PS4 will definitely be a hit with the core audience of gamers who buy these consoles. The problem is, is that group is shrinking. So it looks like from what we know that the PS4 is going to be a fascinating, terrific device with all sorts of great new ways of interacting with games, but the question is whether it can actually start to capture some of the -- you know, the less hardcore gamers, the people who like to game on their iPhones, the people who like to play Farmville.

The gaming industry has really changed in the last few years. It's moved away from the console games and it's moved towards these much quieter games, less interactive games, you don't need to have as much attention to play or as much, you know, skill. And so whether Sony can figure out a way to break into that burgeoning market, the one part of the game sector that's growing with their console, is going to be a huge thing.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it can capture the interest of hardcore gamers, maybe other gamers, but also what about the general entertainment market? I mean, how will the PS4 compete not just as a gaming device, but also as a media console?

THOMPSON: Right. That's a huge thing, right.

What's happening right now is there's a big battle for our living rooms. And there are all kinds of set top boxes and all kind of devices that are going into our living rooms. And they're coming from all directions. Google is making them, Apple is making them, the cable companies are making them, the TV manufacturers are making them. Who knows what the most popular device in two years is going to be for controlling your television.

Now one thing that Sony has done a pretty good job of is building things like ability to get to Netflix and ability to watch Blu-Ray DVDs on your Playstation, so it's more than just a gaming console, it's something your family buys because the kids can play the games they want to play and because the parents have a great way of accessing Netflix or whatever they want to access to stream their media. So if the PS4 can be a great multi-person console, that gives it a whole other market that it can expand into.

However, that's really hard, because a lot of these set top boxes that other companies are selling cost basically nothing. So the PS4 is going to have to have some great integration with other Sony products, some great way that it uses the cloud, some great way that it allows for sharing and communication with your friends. We'll see -- we'll know a lot more about that tonight, but that is another -- another way that this product can be a success.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it has to display some sort of magic to be a competitive media center.

And let's talk about Sony itself, Nick. I mean, the company it's been in a freefall. Do you think this device, the PS4, do you think it could help bring about a turnaround for Sony?

THOMPSON: It could.

What's interesting about this device is this is the kind of the typical moment when Sony fails, right. When they have a device that's doing really well and then the world changes. Consoles were terrific. They were a great business five, 10 years ago, maybe four years ago. Now they're not.

What Sony traditionally does when everything changes is to stubbornly cling on to their old devices, to not figure out where things are going, to not evolve them to say, OK we're just going to keep selling these Walkmen, we're going to keep selling music in this old format, we're not going to adopt to the new ways of doing things.

So, Sony has kind of two paths here. They can do the sort of -- the standard, traditional Sony path which will be to make a PS4 which is iterative improvements on the PS3, and you saw the sales decline, you mentioned the sales decline from the PS2 to the PS3. And I think if they do that with the PS4 it will continue to decline.

Or they can try something really risky. They can try to reinvent what a gaming console is and what it means and then maybe it will completely bomb and all their sales will drop off, or maybe it will become a really successful device for Sony over the next decade.

So it's kind of a moment of truth for a company that's really struggled. But I want you to also note that in the last year it hasn't -- it's improved over the freefall it was previously in.

LU STOUT: An improvement, but will Sony have that turnaround because of the PS4? We shall see.

Nick Thompson, Thank you so much.

Now this again will be the fourth generation Playstation console, so you know, it's generally assumed that Sony will follow their naming convention by calling it the Playstation 4, but there is one reason why the new console may not take that name. Now this is She (ph) in my terrible Japanese. In Japan it is the character for death, but She (ph) is also one of the ways to say the number four. And the association for the character with death is why the number four is considered unlucky in many parts of Asia. So Sony might go ahead and call it the Playstation 4 anyway, but if they don't this could be one of the reasons why.

Now here is another number four, he was the number three. Actor Daniel Day Lewis, he looks set to snag his third leading actor Oscar. He would be the first man to do so. That's next on News Stream.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Hollywood is getting ready for the big night. The Academy Awards, it takes place on Sunday. And Daniel Day-Lewis is in the running for a record third best actor Oscar, this time for his work in Stephen Speilberg's film Lincoln.

Neil Curry reports that fellow actors and directors are lining up to sing his praises.


NEIL CURRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Daniel Day-Lewis first made his mark in film as a teenage vandal, scratching cars in John Schlesinger's 1971 film Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Ten years later, he portrayed another young thug confronting Ben Kingsley's Gandhi in a short cameo role in a film which collected no less than eight Oscars, a sign perhaps of things to come.

By the time he'd appeared in Stephen Fears drama My Beautiful Laundrette, he was already beginning to influence a generation of young actors.

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: When I was watching My Beautiful Laundrette and In The Name of the Father, My Left Foot I'm like, oh, acting has just gone to another whole level.

CURRY: In My Left Foot, Day-Lewis was cast as the Irishman Christie Brown who defied cerebral palsy to become an acclaimed artist and author. The actor famously chose to stay in character and in a wheelchair throughout filming to give an astonishing performance which won him his first Oscar in 1990.

JIM SHERIDAN, DIRECTOR: To me that was a moment of kind of clarity that he wasn't doing it like to be an actor, he was doing it to honor Christie Brown, you know what I mean, like to kind of go as far as he could to get into the soul of this character. That's what he's (inaudible). He can go all the way.

CURRY: Four years later, Sheridan directed Day-Lewis to another Oscar nomination as a man coerced into confessing to be an IRA bomber with the film In the Name of the Father.

SHERIDAN: Technically, I think he's probably the most gifted actor that ever lived.

CURRY: The plaudits and recognition kept on coming. There was another nomination for his performance in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York in 2003. And in this scene, his character, Bill the Butcher, directs his fury at another character Day-Lewis would come to play to similar acclaim a decade later, Abraham Lincoln.

But before that, there was to be another Academy Award in 2007 for a performance playing the ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's movie There Will Be Blood.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if I say I'm an oilman you will agree.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: He's completely committed to the art form. And I think that's so apparent in his work. He's also just been touched. He's got a gift.

DAY-LEWIS: And I fall in love with you every time.

KIDMAN: When there's a camera between us.

CURRY: Actress Nicole Kidman had the chance to observe the Day- Lewis technique during the making of the musical Nine.

KIDMAN: He's the perfect thing to study as an actor is to study the way Daniel works.

CURRY: The way he worked for Lincoln was to spend a year in preparation. But his director was happy to wait for a compelling performance.

DAY-LEWIS: It is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: He's not like a fisherman, he doesn't go fishing for a character, it either jumps into his net or it doesn't. And thank goodness Lincoln jumped into his net.

CURRY: And from fellow nominee Hugh Jackman, there was almost a humble acceptance that Day-Lewis would rewrite history on Oscar night.

JACKMAN: I met him at one of the award ceremonies. And I was all star struck. For me, like Brando did in the 50s, then DeNiro, he -- not only is he the best actor, he changed film acting.

CURRY: In 1957 the actor's father, a poet, Cecil Day-Lewis, marked the arrival of young Daniel by writing the Newborn with the prophetic lines, "this mortal of man I've held, what potency it has."

55 years later, such potency has become potential fulfilled.

Neil Curry, CNN.


LU STOUT: And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.