Return to Transcripts main page


Britain To Propose U.N. Resolution Against Syria At Security Council; Crews Work To Protect Sequoias From Wildfire In California; CNN Heroes: Blair Brettschneider; Preview Of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons; U.S. Commemorates 50th Anniversary Of March On Washington

Aired August 28, 2013 - 08:00   ET


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

Now we go inside the Damascus suburb that was allegedly attacked by chemical weapons.

How one Indian child suffering from a rare condition got help from Norway.

And 50 years on, Americans prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King's dream of equality for all.

After days of what seemed like a quickening pace toward international military action in Syria, we are seeing signs of a possible slowdown in the momentum. Now Britain will take a draft resolution to the United Nations security council in the coming hours condemning the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. And France has scheduled an emergency parliamentary session for next Wednesday.

Now a UN team is still gathering evidence on the ground in Damascus. And the UN Arab League's special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warns that any military response must first be approved by the UN security council.


LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: I do know that this -- the President Obama and the American administration are not known to be trigger happy. What they will decide, I don't know. But sadly international law is very clear. The security council has to be brought in.


LU STOUT: Now Russia and China both sit on the UN security council and would most likely block any resolution authorizing military action against Syria. Iran is also warning that U.S. intervention in the conflict would be a disaster for the region. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted on Wednesday that it, quote, "means nothing but warmonger and acts like a spark in a stockpile."

Now Chris Lawrence looks at Washington's options.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest warning to Syria comes directly from the White House.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children, should and must be held accountable.

LAWRENCE: Another sign to expect action, U.S. officials all but telling U.N. inspectors -- get out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's clear the security situation isn't safe for the team in Syria.

LAWRENCE: The defense secretary told the BBC, U.S. ships are positioned, preparations complete.


LAWRENCE: And a defense official tells CNN if the president chooses the most limited option, it could be over in two to three days. Cruise missiles could target Syria's weapons launchers and command and control facilities but that's it.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The options we are considering are not about regime change.

LAWRENCE: And that some say could backfire on the White House.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It may give Bashar Al Assad a propaganda advantage by saying he was able to resist the United States' attacks.

LAWRENCE: The administration continues to accuse Bashar Al Assad of gassing his own people.

BIDEN: There is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons.

LAWRENCE: But so far, they've offered no hard evidence.

CARNEY: The intelligence community is working on an assessment.

LAWRENCE: U.S. officials tell CNN that assessment includes forensic evidence that chemical weapons were used and satellite images of activity at chemical weapons depots and intercepted communications of Syrian forces.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: Now, NATO ambassadors are expected to discuss Syria at their regular Wednesday meeting. And British security officials are hashing out their options ahead of Thursday's parliamentary debate on possible action.

Now the UK is also taking a draft resolution on Syria to the UN security council later today.

For more on that, Matthew Chance joins me now live from Downing Street. And Matthew why is Britain seeking UN authorization for military action?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well that's a very good question. Obviously UN authorization for some kind of military action would give it a legitimacy that it wouldn't otherwise had. But of course it's almost inevitable that any UN resolution, whether it's proposed by Britain or not, that advocates the possible use of military force inside Syria, is going to be vetoed by the Russians and probably by the Chinese as well.

The wording of the resolution isn't quite clear, but basically it's going to ask for a condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and it's also going to ask for the authorizing of necessary measures to protect civilians. That's obviously code words for the use of western military force to bomb those targets that we understand have already been identified -- command and control targets related to the deployment of chemical weapons.

There's a parliamentary debate going to staged here on Thursday evening local time. It's going to be voted on as well, this motion about British involvement in Syria and military action in Syria. There are going to be a lot of MP's that will want to see Britain going through the normal diplomatic channels, going to the United Nations, to seek approval there at least before they are comfortable with the idea of Britain going into Syria, Britain accompanying its allies the United States and France as well in any kind of, you know, sort of pinpoint surgical strikes, or limited strikes rather against the governments or government installations inside Syria.

So this is an attempt, it seems, by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, to show that he's doing everything possible to try and, you know, kind of legitimize as much as possible this -- these upcoming potential military strikes, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, we're still waiting to hear back for a confirmation from that UN weapons inspection team on the ground in Syria. But the UK, like the U.S., they already have their answer. They believe that the Syrian regime is behind the chemical attack that took place last week, the reporting attack.

What are they basing that decision on?

CHANCE: Well, what they haven't done at this point is give any hard and fast evidence to support that claim that they've been making on both sides of the Atlantic. And in fact David Cameron yesterday said there wasn't 100 percent certainty, but he did make the point that the Syrian government with the regime with the vast majority of the chemical weapons. He said that they used chemical weapons on at least 10 occasions in the past. He also said they had the motive and the opportunity to use them on this occasion.

I wanted to go back to the initial point we were making, though, about the sort of drum beat heightening, the momentum building, for some kind of military action in Syria by western powers. We're seeing that distinctly slowed down now. We've got that parliamentary debate on Thursday in Britain with the vote at the end of it. The French also have set a date for their parliamentary debate on the fourth of September, so next Wednesday.

There's also that security council resolution being tabled by Britain, which is also going to potentially go at a relatively slow pace as well. And so it could me that that pace of that sort of proverbial drumbeat towards military action is slowing down somewhat.

Now recently we spoke to Mark Malloch Brown who is a former UN deputy secretary-general of the United Nations. And he said that's no bad thing. Take a listen.


MARK MALLOCH BROWN, FRM. UN DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL: The issue -- interesting twist to the story today is the announcement by the UK prime minister that they're going to seek a security council resolution to endorse this action, because that is as your correspondents have just been making clear, going to put this on a slower track. From my point of view, a much better track, that is doing it the right way by the book.


CHANCE: Yeah, a much better track that is at least showing that the British and their allies, the Americans and the French, are going through as I say those normal diplomatic channels to try and get authorization from the UN for a strike on Syria.

LU STOUT: All right. Matthew Chance reporting live from 10 Downing Street. Thank you.

And while the international community wrestles with the response to the suspected massacre, CNN has obtained some disturbing video footage from one of the areas in Damascus that was allegedly hit by chemical weapons.

Now a warning, Fred Pleitgen's exclusive report, it contains very disturbing images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A plowed over lot in the Damascus suburb of Zamalka. This is actually a mass grave, with the bodies of many of those killed in last week's alleged chemical weapons attack. There's very little space left as one resident shows us, and even that space might soon be occupied with many unidentified bodies in the local field hospital, a lot of them children.

The hospital staff says they're trying to find relatives so the corpses can be buried. Others are still recovering.

This man says he was trying to evacuate victims. "I was helping a lot of young women and children and three young men," he says. "I also evacuated two dead bodies. Then, there was another explosion. I couldn't breath. I had cramps and I couldn't see. The doctors helped me."

CNN has exclusively obtained this video from one of the journalists. One man tells the filmer how he survived, thanks to a homemade gas mask.

"When we came here, the people said we should make some gas masks. This is a plastic cup with cotton on the bottom, some coal and then cotton again. It helps a little bit."

Residents say the alleged chemical attack happened in the middle of the night, killing many in their sleep while others struggled to escape, like 6-year-old Abdul Hani (ph).

"After the chemicals hit, they woke us up and told us to put masks on," he says. "I told my dad I can't breathe. My father fainted and I fainted right after that. But we were found and taken to the emergency room."

It's still unclear who is behind the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Damascus suburbs. The opposition and the government are trading blame for the incident.

In an exclusive interview, Syria's information minister said the regime has never used chemical weapons.

"It the United States administration has proof that we used chemical weapons, then they should present this proof to the rest of the world," he says. "If they don't have this proof or evidence, then how are they going to stand up to American public opinion?"

The UN weapons inspectors were able to continue their mission on Wednesday heading to the Damascus suburbs while aware that time is of the essence and every moment lost will make it harder to find conclusive forensic evidence.


LU STOUT: And Fred Pleitgen reporting from inside Damascus there.

Now that UN weapons inspection team is now back surveying the outskirts of Damascus where the alleged chemical attacks took place. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is the only western TV correspondent there in the Syrian capital. He joins me now live with the very latest. And Fred, the UN weapons inspectors, they resume their work today. What's the latest?

PLEITGEN: Well, the latest that we're getting is that they are indeed in the northeastern suburbs of Damascus. There's been some video posted on social media by the opposition that seems to indicate that one of the places that they're actually visiting is exactly that suburb that we had in that report right there, the suburb of Zamalka.

Of course, they're going to be doing a lot of the same things that they did in the other place that they visited before. They're going to be taking samples. They're going to be speaking not just to doctors on the ground, but also of course to people who were potentially subject to this chemical weapons use, this alleged chemical weapons use. They say it's very valuable, of course, to get information from these people as to what exactly happened, when it happened, and of course especially what kind of effect all of this had on them, on their bodies. And so that's what the weapons inspectors are going to be doing out there.

We know that they had to delay their mission yesterday because of security concerns. They wanted to give it extra time for preparedness. But now they are back on the ground. And we'll wait and see how long they managed to stay there before heading back to their hotel where they're staying, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And the military strike question, if there is a firm military response against the regime, Damascus has said that it will retaliate. But how?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. I've posed that question to several Syrian officials. And they will always say that they're not going to tell us how exactly the military is going to respond, because they say that is a military secret.

But to be frank, it doesn't really appear as though the Syrian military has much in the way of hardware that they'd be able to retaliate with. We know that their air force is largely outdated. Most of their aircraft are from the 1970s and 1980s.

The air defenses are apparently quite up to date, but still of course no match for the kind of airplanes that the United States and other countries have or even for cruise missiles. Of course that's one of the options that's on the table as well.

And then we need to always keep in mind that this is also a military that is stretched very thin at this point. It's fighting a fierce civil war on many fronts here in this country and certainly the last thing that the Syrian military needs at this point in time is another front against countries from the international community.

And one of the things I have to say is I've been here before when the Israelis struck a military site on the outskirts of Damascus that set a whole mountain on fire for several days. And back then you also saw a lot of rhetoric coming out of Damascus, but there wasn't any sort of response from them. So it's unclear this is a limited kind of strike whether or not we'd actually see any sort of response from Bashar al-Assad's forces, Kristie.

LU STOUT: OK. Fred Pleitgen reporting live from Damascus for us. Thank you.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up, doctors in India perform critical surgery on a baby girl suffering from a rare condition. I'll tell you how it was made possible.

The trial of Bo Xilai has drawn comparisons to another high profile political scandal. We'll get some personal perspectives from our Beijing bureau chief Jaime Florcruz.

And Japan upgrades the threat level of a toxic water leak at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Stay with us.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Let's return to the situation in Syria. In more than two years of civil war, over 100,000 people have been killed, millions have been displaced. And some are asking why it has taken a suspected chemical weapons attack to spur the United States and some international allies into a military response?

Well, here's Adam Schiff from the U.S. House intelligence committee speaking on CNN's The Situation Room about the so-called red line.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: That doesn't mean, though, that we can, in the face of chemical weapons attacks, sit still. The chemical weapons have always been viewed differently because of their terrifying impact ,ever since World War I.

And we have a core national security interest in making sure that those weapons do not become just another tool in the military tool box. Ultimately, if they do, they'll be used against us. And I think we have -- we have to act now. Otherwise, I think our credibility is very much at stake.


LU STOUT: Much at stake indeed.

So next moves.

Now Britain is taking a resolution to the UN security council, quote, condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad and authorizing -- and authorizing that attack.

And for some perspective on how that is likely to play out let's bring in CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. And Christiane, we have parliamentary meetings planned in the UK and France. We have, as just mentioned, Britain set to present a UN security council resolution.

Is it your thinking that the momentum, the so-called drum beat behind a potential military strike against Syria is slowing down?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it's incredibly difficult to judge that. And we really can't speculate on any timing.

As you know over the last couple of days there was a sense of very accelerated momentum. Now you're talking about perhaps security council resolutions, French parliament meeting, but nobody really knows, and we can't really tell, when such a thing will be authorized.

Obviously if the British are going to put a security council resolution on the table today, it's going to come up against some opposition, as you can imagine, from Russia and from Syria. And what the British are wanting is for the UN to authorize full protection of Syrian civilians from any kind of chemical attack.

At the same time, here in France and in other places, U.S. allies, where they may join the United States in any strike. Parliaments, national security cabinets, military and government are being called back from their summer recess.

Here in France, the president has said that France stands ready to punish those who, quote, took the vile decision to use gas against innocent civilians.

So what you really do have is U.S. allies standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States in what they plan as a punitive strike on Syria. That, we think, is for sure. We just don't know when it will happen, how long it will take, and precisely what targets.

There have been speculation that it could be Syrian military bases, Syrian fixed wing bases, various arms depots. Some have suggested even chemical weapons depots. That, of course, carries its own certain danger, depending on how those chemicals are indeed mixed and whether they would go into the air and cause additional poisoning of civilians.

But look, Kristie, this has happened in the past. There have been use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. The international community has acknowledged that. It happened a couple of months ago. We went through this before. And the U.S. and its allies decided not to take any military action. Nothing happened.

We were warned by the head of the Free Syrian Army General Idriss that is nothing happens -- Saddam Hussein -- no, Bashar Assad will do it again. And in fact this is what seems to have happened. And now the question is what exactly will the response be. Most people think it will be limited and punitive.

And what consequence will that have? Will it stop Bashar Assad? Or will it just be a slap on the wrist that he can survive and continue to prosecute the war -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And also, another question, what would be the immediate response from Bashar al-Assad in the event of a military strike? How would Syria retaliate? How would its supporters respond?

AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing. Obviously Iran, which is a major supporter, has said no attack should happen. It would be a disaster. The Russians, which also support Syria, say don't do it. This is going to be a disaster.

But people believe that if it's a limited attack, neither Iran nor Hezbollah nor the usual sort of Syrian regime allies will respond. If it's a much broader attack, which nobody thinks it will be. This is not signaled as a regime changing attack by the U.S. and its allies, but more of a punitive strike, as we've seen in the past decades under Saddam Hussein's Iraq, as we saw in Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda blew up the U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. Those were small scale, one or two day, punitive attacks.

If this happens, it's probably unlikely that there will be a response from Syrian allies.

However, Syria's foreign minister, Syrian officials have said, if we come under attack, we have two choices. One is to surrender, which we're not going to do. The other is to fight on, which we will do.

They are obviously putting the public face of continuing to fight if, indeed, they do come under attack.

But it does seem that it is, at least at this point, a done deal. Details being worked out.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel while he was still in east Asia basically has said that the U.S. stands ready to go, military forces are positioned offshore, off shore Syria. And they can do it.

And we understand, as I've said, the British and the French at least are ready to go in as well in with air strikes or cruise missile strikes in support of the U.S.

LU STOUT: All right. Christiane Amanpour reporting live for us, thank you very much indeed.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up after the break, we will be taking a look at two of China's most famous trials. Our Beijing bureau chief compares the trial of Bo Xilai to that of China's notorious gang of four in the early 1980s.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong you are back watching News Stream.

Now the former high flying Chinese politician Bo Xilai is awaiting word from the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan. His five day trial, it wrapped up on Monday. No date has been announced for the verdict.

Now the closely watched proceedings have been compared to another high profile trial, the gang of four led by this woman, Jiang Qing. They were taken to court in 1981. She was the widow of Mao Zedong.

Now the gang of four was charged with heinous crimes including an attempt to pull off an armed rebellion.

Now their trial transfixed the country. And it was the first major assignment for Jaime Florcruz as a foreign correspondent in China. He's now our Beijing bureau chief. And he joins us now live from Beijing.

Now Jaime, how does covering the trial of Bo Xilai remind you of when you covered the trial of the gang of four in China.

JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, most trials were explosive, sensational trials, political shows, and they were kind of the trials of the century separated by 30 years. And I was fortunate to cover both.

Now in 1981, a gang of four trial. Jiang Qing was featured. And that's why there was a lot of controversy, sensational intrigue and that's because Jiang Qing was Chairman Mao's widow and an ex-actress. She used the court as their theater.

And I remember watching her in court defiantly defending herself from charges of treason. She said famously that "I am Chairman Mao's dog. Whomever he told me to bite, I bit." And that's how she defended herself.

Now Bo Xilai himself is likewise a very colorful and defiant defendant, it turned out. He was forceful. He was -- he showed a sharp mind, logical mind, and gift of the gab, and that's why it was -- that's what made this trial similarly very interesting and worth the wait -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, so much color in both trials. And Jaime, as a China base journalist how do you bridge the difference between the official narrative and the truth, what actually took place in a courtroom?

FLORCRUZ: Well, in both cases the authorities provided copious transcripts or coverage. But we also knew that what we were getting through the official channels were only part of the truth. So we had to seek out independent, reliable sources to fill the blanks, get the context and get the whole picture. It was not easy -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: I can only imagine.

Now in the end, in the gang of four trial in the early 1980s Madam Mao, she was sentenced to death, later committed to life imprisonment. But what kind of sentence do you anticipate for Bo Xilai?

FLORCRUZ: Well, many analysts here are wondering if -- whether Bo Xilai would actually get a fair verdict after all, and that was a verdict that is based on evidence, based on the court proceedings and not on political considerations.

And the problem is the Chinese have this unofficial principle, leniency for those who confess and severity for those who resist.

Now given Bo Xilai's defiant stance, his refusal to confess or admit guilt, the question perhaps is just how severe his verdict will be -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Questions about the fairness of the severity which is expected of the final verdict. What will be at the heart of it? I mean, will this be a message about the Communist Party's fight against corruption? Or is it really a message about the internal fighting inside the party?

FLORCRUZ: Well, the authorities are saying that this is a show of China's determination to fight corruption, that this is a showcase of their fight against corruption. But it's hard to imagine that this is not a part of the political infighting. Bo, after all, is -- given his background, his background as a princeling and given his senior positions in the party until his downfall, he is a very controversial figure inside the communist party. He made a lot of enemies inside the party. And perhaps that's why there is this dragged out process to get him tried. And people are now just waiting for the verdict.

The authorities are eager to get this behind them, to turn the next page so they could focus on the very tough challenges that they are now facing -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right, including economic reform and the big meeting that planned for November later this year.

Jaime Florcruz, thank you so much. And when the verdict comes out in the Bo Xilai trial, I look forward to speaking to you again.

Now, you can read more of Jaime's analysis right here on our website. Just go to You could also find a timeline of Bo Xilai's downfall, a dramatic tail of murder, betrayal and corruption.

Now, you're watching News Stream. And after this break, an act of kindness from halfway around the world saves the life of an Indian baby suffering a terrible condition.

And Americans mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream Speech."


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

Now a UN team is still gathering evidence in Damascus, but Britain is set to take a resolution to the UN security council condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack. Now British lawmakers will debate possible military action on Thursday. France has scheduled an emergency parliamentary session for next week.

Now a string of bombings in and around Baghdad have killed at least 32 people, dozens more were wounded. Now today's attacks reportedly targeted mostly Shia neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital.

A huge wildfire is still raging in the U.S. state of California. It has reached the edge of a large reservoir that provides drinking water for more than two million people in San Francisco. It's also spreading further inside Yosemite National Park.

Now we want to tell you about an anonymous donation that changed this baby girl's life. Now she suffers from a disorder that caused her head to swell several times its normal size. But her parents did not have enough money for treatment until they were given a helping hand from Norway.

Sunmima Udas shares this moving story. But a warning, you will find some of these images hard to watch.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After numerous doctors visits, medical assessments and surgeries, 18-month-old Roona Begum is getting a chance of getting the little baby she really is, remarkable considering soon after birth in a remote village of northeastern India, doctors gave her just a few months of survival.

It's still painful, but sitting on her mother's lap, seeing her face, or simple things Roona could not do until now.

Roona is diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a disorder causing fluid to build up in the brain.

ABDUL RAHMAN, ROONA BEGUM'S FATHER (through translator): Day by day, her head started growing larger. It became very difficult for us to carry her.

UDAS: Her parents couldn't afford to treat her, but thanks to an outpouring of goodwill halfway across the globe and a leading private hospital in New Delhi, Roona is now in a much better place.

This is Roona four months ago. At 94 centimeters, the circumference of her head was almost triple that of a normal baby.

There were 10 liters of excess fluid inside her brain, the skin so stretched, pulling her eyelids over her eyes, making it impossible for Roona to see.

Neurosurgeon Sandeep Vaishya has treated hundreds of babies with hydrocephalus before, but he's never seen anything like this.

SANDEEP VAISHYA, CHIEF NEUROSURGEON, FORTIS HOSPITAL: I just feel so sorry for the baby that she -- it was actually a pitiful sight. The only way the father could hold the child was by holding on the side of her head and just lifting her up.

UDAS: Standard treatment for hydrocephalus is a cerebral shunt, inserting hollow tube into the brain draining the fluid into another part of the body.

Doctors have been draining out the excess fluid from little Roona Begum's head for days, but this is the main surgery.

Vaishya appears calm, but he admits the risks in this case are high.

VAISHYA: You have to (inaudible) into it. And the head is so big that you can't take a (inaudible). And the skin is so papery thin.

UDAS: There were times when they almost lost her, Vaishya later tells us. But Roona pulled through and is now ready to go home.

VAISHYA: You can see she's much more playful, she's moving her hand all around. She holds toys. She cries a lot.

UDAS: Did you ever think it would be this successful?

VAISHYA: (inaudible) no. We never expected that we could reduce it to this size, or she would improve to this extent.

UDAS: We traveled to Roona's village to see how she's coping.

(on camera): We're seeing baby Roona after five surgeries now. And her parents say she's almost 10 kilos lighter. And she's become the joy of this village.

(voice-over): Her head is now down to 58 centimeters. Curious visitors keep dropping by, Fatima and Abdul Rahman still unaware who helped pay for Roona's treatments.

We introduced them to Jonas Borshkervink (ph) who lives over 4,000 miles away in Norway.

(on camera): She's a feisty little child.

Hi, Roona.

(voice-over): Jonas and another student, Natalie Krantz (ph) put up Roona's pictures on a crowdfunding website in April. In four months, they raised $60,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask them how they see their future (inaudible) Roona Begum.

UDAS (on camera): They hope that she will be healthy like a normal child, that she would be able to go to school.

(voice-over): It's too early to tell if Roona will ever be completely normal. Many operations still lie ahead. But the signs thus far are promising.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, Tripera (ph), India.


LU STOUT: Such a moving story. Healing and hope for a baby girl in India. We wish her the very best.

Now in the United States it has been some 50 years since Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to a crowd in Washington. Now that dream was racial equality in America. And the speech, it was a crucial moment in American history, helping to build momentum for the passage of the Civil Rights Act. And since then, there have been great strides in reducing social inequality, but today there are also still calls for more to be done, including from the U.S. president himself.

Now Barack Obama is scheduled to speak as part of the anniversary celebration that will happen at the Lincoln Memorial.

Don Lemon is there. He joins us now live -- Don.


It is a big day planned here in the nation's capital here in the United States, Washington, D.C. As you said, the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the keynote speech, so to speak, but there will be some other big names, including Oprah Winfrey, two former presidents and one of the speakers who is here 50 years ago.


LEMON: Fifty years ago today. about a quarter million people marched on the National Mall on Washington to demand change. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sharing his dream for America from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His indelible words a watershed moment in the civil rights movement.

Today, thousand will gather once again to commemorate those now-famous words that forever changed our country.

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D) GEORGIA: Our country is better, and we are better people. We still have a distance to go.

LEMON: That distance front and center today and the nation's first black president will add his vision as the marquee speaker at the anniversary celebration. President Obama acknowledges that, while a lot of progress has been made, King would not be satisfied.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have not made as much progress as the civil and social progress that we've made, and that it's not enough just to have a black president.

LEMON: There are renewed calls for addressing socioeconomic and racial disparities. The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin drew many to the streets across the country in protest. The president reacting with personal candor.

OBAMA: There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

LEMON: This from a president criticized by some in the black community for not being more outspoken about race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I'd like to see him be more passionate about race questions.

LEMON: Last week in New York, Mr. Obama may have given a glimpse into his address today honoring the civil rights leader.

OBAMA: Each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate and that's a great victory that we should all be very proud of.

LEMON: Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will be there as well, so will actor Jamie Foxx and media mogul Oprah Winfrey who credits King for much of her success.

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: It is because of Dr. King and all those who worked with him that I stand and because of them I have a voice that can be heard.


LEMON: And Oprah will be starting the services off here on the Mall. But before these festivities start there is a service at the (inaudible) Baptist Church in Northwest Washington, an African-American church here in the nation's capital -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Oprah will be speaking first. But later on, we'll be hearing from the U.S. President Barack Obama. He'll be making an address today. Don, how personal do you think his speech will be?

LEMON: I think it'll be really personal, because Oprah, the president, they credit a lot of their accomplishment obviously to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to the march on Washington which was really for jobs and for freedom.

So I think it's going to be extremely personal. The president has not shied away from giving personal accounts, as you heard in the story talking about the disparities between races and him as an African-American, being followed around in stores, so to speak.

So the president will give a personal account. And it's expected to be really personal, but he will also not just talk about himself, obviously, but look to the future and how to achieve Dr. King's dream from here on.

LU STOUT: Don Lemon reporting live for us from Washington. Thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up, in the United States that wildfire in California is growing. Thousands of structures are threatened and so is San Francisco's water supply. We'll have the latest.


LU STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching News Stream. And you're looking at a visual version of all the stories we have in the show today.

Now our first 20 minutes focused on the situation in Syria. And later in the show, we'll take a lighter turn and we'll talk about a game that was made by a filmmaker.

But now to the fire raging in one of California's most famous national parks.

Now this major wildfire is now burning its way into the record books. It is now the seventh largest blaze in California's history. Now the so- called Rim Fire has wiped out almost 750 square kilometers in just 11 days. And as of last night, the fire still only 20 percent contained.

Now the fire is still growing. And it's encroaching deeper into the Yosemite National Park, marked in green on this map. And as you can see, it has reached the edge of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which provides drinking water to more than 2.5 million people in San Francisco.

And officials have said so far the city's water supply is in no immediate danger and remains good to drink.

Now we've got another map here of how far the fire has progressed since August 17. Now it started down at the northwest region marked in light red here on the map, and has since moved east and northwest, scene here in areas marked in the darker red colors on the map.

Now let's get the latest on this fast moving Rim Fire in northern California. Mari Ramos joins us now from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. I want to extend a little bit on that map you were showing us. That outline that you saw there in green, that is actually the edge of the Yosemite National Forest.

I want to show you that one more time. That would be this line that you see right there.

Now what firefighters are saying -- the fire commanders are saying in this area is that the threat still remains for that fire to continue spreading north and to the east. And that would bring it into these areas, into more into the -- farther, deeper, I should say into the areas here of the Yosemite National Park.

Also, back over here, there's also a chance for the fire to continue spreading northward. They've been able to -- it hasn't been spreading as quickly to areas to the south. There's a lot of different factors on this. One of it has to be with that north -- southerly component that the wind has maintained over the last few days. And that's now going to change too much.

One more thing I want to show you, one of the things that people have been talking about quite a bit, part of this -- the beauty of this park is these giant sequoia trees, these growths of trees that are in this area. As you can see, those are areas are farther to the south and have not been damaged by the fire.

Why do people care about these kind of trees so much? In case you're not familiar with the sequoias, they're trying to protect them by clearing the brush all around them. It's hard work, of course, and this is just part of what firefighters are trying to do as they prevent that fire from spreading.

These giant sequoia trees are some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world. They have a six to eight meter in diameter at times. They're the oldest known -- some of the oldest ones are about 3,500 years old. That makes it some of the oldest trees on our entire planet. That's why they are so special.

They're fire resistant bark, it's actually very thick. It's up to 60 centimeters thick and that helps protect them from the fire. They can get damaged from large fires, but usually they don't die. So that's why they're able to live so long, these very strong trees. So they're hoping that they can keep the fire away from just one of the areas that is a concern there for firefighters in that region.

Extreme fire behavior continues. What does that mean? These hot, dry conditions are expected to last even as we head into the weekend.

Air quality concerns are still a problem. We're not seeing too many changes. And actually tomorrow the wind is expected to have more of a westerly component and that could help spread the fire farther to the east as I was showing you in those pictures.

In the meantime, those temperatures, the hottest temperatures, are still in the central portion of the U.S. Those areas here will cross northern California -- will remain warm, just not record highs like we've had in other areas.

And the other side of the world -- and I want to update you on this, because there are some very large fires also burning on the Iberian Peninsula both in Portugal and Spain, as you can see from these images right in here.

Central and northern Portugal begin -- remains in that high fire risk. And that spreads as we head northward into this northeastern, or northwestern corner of Spain.

Look at this picture, Kristie, fighting the fire literally one bucket at a time. This woman in a village in Portugal carrying two buckets of water to try to help in the firefighting effort. You can see the smoke there in the background of that shot.

You know, this is an ongoing problem in different problems of the world. Not too far from there in Preveda (ph) in Spain they're also trying to battle wildfires there. We're not expecting any significant rain for you, unfortunately, across this part of the world either. We had a front that moved through. The winds got pretty gusty at times and that has not helped things out. And there is the risk for some severe weather moving into the western portions of the Mediterranean. Back to you.

LU STOUT: There's a battle against many blazes across the world this day. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now in Japan the radioactive water leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is now being classified as a level 3 serious incident, that is the gravest warning since the 2011 disaster there. More than 300 tons of contaminated water have already escaped from a faulty storage tank. And toxic groundwater has been leaking out into the Pacific ocean.

Now the plant operator Tepco has been criticized over the cleanup with Japan's industry minister comparing the company's efforts to a game of Wack-A-Mole. He says the government will step forward to take a larger role.

Now here is a closer look at the IAEA nuclear incident scale. It is designed to inform the international community about the severity of a nuclear threat. Now a level three signifies a series incident. It means workers can be exposed to radiation that is more than 10 times the annual acceptable limit. And they could suffer non-fatal health effects like burns from the radiation.

Now the most severe level is 7, which is a major accident. And there have only been two events classified as level 7: the nuclear crisis at Fukushima two years ago and the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant back in 1986.

Now many young people struggle to fit in in high school, but imagine the challenges faced by teenage refugees whose families have fled war and conflict to settle in the United States. Now this week's CNN Hero has made it her mission to help refugee girls in Chicago land on their feet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family come to America because we want a better life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you're going to go there?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the people in the family.

When I got to Chicago, they put me into the ninth grade. It's really hard the first day. You know, I'm totally lost.

BLAIR BRETTSCHNEIDER, YOUNG WONDER: It's hard enough to be a teenage girl in the United States, so it's even harder to be a refugee teenage girl.

My name is Blair Brettschneider and I help refugee girls find their place in America.

In my free time after work, I was tutoring different kids. One girl is really struggling.

How is it going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. Nice to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to do more, because I'm a girl, cook food for my family, go to the laundry, take care of my brothers.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: We started going on field trips. We talked about college. Everything started changing.

Were you going to sign up for classes?


BRETTSCHNEIDER: One of our biggest goals together was for her graduate from high school and be on a path to going to college. And she did. I thought this was really important. I'm sure there's other girls.


CROWD: (inaudible).


CROWD: Awesome!

BRETTSCHNEIDER: There are about 50 girls in our different programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you're making great progress. I'm so proud of you, you know.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: Our mentorship program matches refugee girls in high school with women mentors who work with them once a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have to write an essay, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I want to write about my life.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: You're walking down the street. They are just teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to have my own salon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One day I'm hoping to become a nurse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to become a doctor or a nurse.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: What I see is what all the girls can accomplish and everything that they can do successfully. That's really why all of us did this.



Now there's one more week left to nominate someone you think deserve to be recognized as a hero. Just go to and you can follow CNN Heroes on Facebook and on Twitter.

Now after the break, we'll show you one filmmaker's dream project, a game. We'll tell you the story behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now if you read the New York Times online today, you may have encountered this problem. Now the website went down on Tuesday. And some users are still unable to access it. Now The Times says the disruption was the result of an external attack on our domain name registrar. But what does that mean? Now the domain name system is what gets you to websites. So when it works you type and the domain name system translates that into this. Well, we'll bring up the IP address of the servers that host the New York Times website. And that's one way that you can still access the site.

Now if you type those numbers in your browser, you'll get this. And the only problem is most of those links don't work.

So The Times has put up this backup site instead.

Now the outage, it was blamed on the Syrian Electronic Army. Now this Twitter account claimed credit for the hack. The Syrian Electronic Army is a group of pro-regime hackers. It has aggressively targeted major news organizations. And those victims are said to include the BBC, CBS, and NPR.

Now it also claimed credit for this fake message posted on the Associated Press Twitter feed. Now it was nearly one day before AP's Twitter account was restored.

Now so far, the New York Times website has been down for around 15 hours.

Now, I want to show you a game that's been getting some rave reviews for doing things a little differently. It's called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And it tells its story without words, and something made all the more surprising because of the man who made it.


JOSEF FARES, FILMMAKER: My name is Josef Fares and I'm the creative and game director for a downloadable game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

The concept of the game is that you actually control two brothers in search of a cure to save their father. And the unique thing about it is that you control the brothers with one stick, so you use the big brother for the left stick and the little brother with the right stick. So you actually control them simultaneously.

What I'm most happy about with Brothers that people are getting is that, you know, that they're understanding the control is part of the experience itself, you know. And that was extremely important for me.

My normal profession is a film director. I done like six feature films before. So I've always had -- I'm a hardcore gamer. I all play games and want -- I had a dream of making games.

And actually I'm going to just been a lucky shot, because like three years ago I had a chance to make a demo of a game. And then I came up with this idea, so -- and then like, you know, two years ago I showed the demo to (inaudible). They really enjoyed it. And then I, you know, just paused my career, film career for awhile and went to this like -- I mean, this is a really passion project. I'll be working with this like 24 hours a day like every day for the last two years. So it means a lot to me.

When people tell me, like "if games are art are not, I think it's a very stupid question, because there's nothing to discuss there. Of course it is for me. But I also believe that in the future like maybe 20, 30 years you will have a greater impact from a game than you have from a movie, because at the end of the day you want to be -- you know, you want to be touched. You want to feel emotions. And I can't imagine, you know, being touched or feeling emotion would be stronger because you're interacting with what you're actually doing.

It feels like there's so many things to discover. And I mean I will make more games in the future. And hopefully I can show you more, you know, what I have in mind.


LU STOUT: I hope so. That is a stunning visual narrative.

And that is News Stream. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.