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Congress Continues NSA Hearings; Palestinians Celebrate Release Of Prisoners; Western Pacific Typhoon Season Sees Busiest October Since 1995, China Calls Tiananmen Square Car Crash Terrorist Attack

Aired October 30, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper defends U.S. spying operations as he and other top officials testify on Capitol Hill.

Chinese police are now calling Monday's car crash in Tiananmen Square a terrorist attack.

We join border patrol as they watch the seas for migrants making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean into Europe.

German officials will press the United States about allegations of spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel. A senior delegation from Berlin is in Washington now and due to meet national security officials at the White House.

U.S. surveillance operations are raising concerns across the European Union.

But the top U.S. intelligence official says that tracking foreign leaders, even allies, is in his words a fundamental given. Director of national intelligence James Clapper and the head of the National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Jim Sciutto has more on that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, it was incredible to see the heads of the most secretive organizations in the U.S. speaking out publicly and openly defending surveillance both at home and abroad.

Two big headlines here. First, they said emphatically that the White House knew of the spying, though they added the president might not have known of specific targets. And they fought back against the story line that the U.S. is the only country in the business of spying on its allies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO (voice-over): After enduring weeks of accusations of spying overreach --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want our 4th Amendment back.

SCIUTTO: And even some more in the hearing room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to say for the last time that the gentleman all the way on the left would be removed.

SCUITTO: U.S. intelligence chiefs pushed back arguing that allies spy on allies.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Have the allies of the United States ever during the course of that time engaged in anything you would qualify as an espionage act targeted at the United States of America?

GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Yes, they have, Chairman.

ROGERS: That would be consistent with most of our allies, let's just pick a place, the European Union?

ALEXANDER: Yes, it would, Chairman.

ROGERS: And this is ongoing today, this didn't stop two years ago or last year or maybe last week to the best of your knowledge?

ALEXANDER: To the best of my knowledge.

SCIUTTO: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper granted that no one's hands are clean, admitting the U.S. spies on its allies as well including their leaders.

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's one of the first things I learned in intel school in 1963 that this is a fundamental given in the intelligence business is leadership intentions no matter what level you're talking about. That can be military leaders as well.

SCIUTTO: Still, that argument didn't satisfy some on the committee who questioned the value of angering America's closest friends for minimal intelligence gain.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's a policy decision ultimately for us to make, is it worth the risk? Is it worth the risk of that blow-back in light of the information that we gather?

SCIUTTO: The intel chiefs emphatically denied reports of NSA surveillance of millions of calls in France and Spain, stories they call, quote, "completely false."

ALEXANDER: To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Our European allies are still now satisfied with that defense. I met last night with the vice president of the European parliament who said a serious trust deficit remains. And that that is likely to have real consequences, including on a major trade agreement the two sides are discussing right now -- Pauline.

CHIOU: That's Jim Sciutto there. Many thanks to him.

Well, eavesdropping is a highly sensitive issue in Germany. And the NSA spying allegations have brought back very bad memories from the past. Diana Magnay explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: NSA field station Berlin Toefelsburg (ph), a relic of U.S. espionage in the forests around Berlin, now a canvas for graffiti artists and backdrop for some the best kite flying in the German capital.

(on camera): From this vantage point right on top of the tiny island that was West Berlin every which direction you looked was east to the eastern bloc. This was one of the most important surveillance posts of the Cold War.

(voice-over): Now, if the allegations made in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine are true, the United States has used an even more conspicuous location from which to gather intelligence, though this time on its friends. That's its own embassy roof, a stone's throw from government quarters.

Germany's interior minister has promised to expel any U.S. diplomat proven complicit in spying operations, including alleged eavesdropping on the chancellor's personal mobile phone.

HANS-PETER FRIEDRICH, GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We will first of all, of course, try to clarify the entire situation, especially how the spying occurred and what happened technically. The question also arose whether it came from the embassy. If we find the culprits, and if we can identify them, they must live with the legal consequences. And if they are diplomats, they must leave the country. We will see.

MAGNAY: Germans are especially sensitive to the dangers of state surveillance and the destructive nature of a society which spies on itself. The federal commission for the Stasi records, the secret police force of the former East Germany, understands perhaps better than most why intelligence gathering needs controls.

DAGMAR HOVESTADT, FEDERAL COMMISSION FOR STASI RECORDS: We have a very direct historical link to what it means if a state does not respect the boundaries of privacy and the rights of its own citizens. So the shadow of the past kind of lingers always when something as seemingly not so dramatic to an American, like a wiretapping of a cellphone, happens.

MAGNAY: Delegates from the European parliament are already in D.C. demanding an explanation. Germany's top intelligence officers are set to follow trying to establish a mechanism whereby intelligence agencies operate within acceptable international frameworks whilst holding to account counterparts who have reportedly failed to keep faith with their allies.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHIOU: Speaking of the Cold War, Russia has rejected reports that it attempted to spy on G20 leaders. An Italian newspaper says delegates at last month's summit in St. Petersburg were given USB drives and phone charges. It's claimed that the devices were capable of stealing data. But a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin denies that saying the allegation is an attempt to shift focus away from the U.S. surveillance scandal.

Some of the newspaper sources say the claim could be a trap to embarrass the Russians. Remember, Moscow granted asylum to the very man who leaked information about the U.S. spying program.

Now we want to update you on Monday's deadly crash in Beijing. Chinese police are now calling it a terrorist attack and say they have detained five suspects.

The crash happened in Tiananmen Square. All three people inside the vehicle died. Two tourists on the street were killed and 40 others were injured.

Let's go live now to Beijing for more on these new developments. David McKenzie is standing by.

David what have you learned about the people in that car?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police are saying that the people in the car were a person called Usman Hassan (ph), that suggests he may be of Uighur origin if he is Chinese. His wife and his mother were in that Jeep which plowed through tourists right outside The Forbidden City opposite Tiananmen Square on Monday and then caught alight.

What the police are saying was this was an orchestrated act. They say it's carefully planned, organized and premeditated. And that's a quote from Beijing police. They believe that this was a suicide attack of some kind saying that they've found after the incident a gasoline tank, matches, as well as a flag with some religious or extremist, as they put it, wording on that flag.

They've also, as you described, arrested five people with the cooperation of the Xinjiang police, that's the police or the province in the far west where the Uighur minority group is based.

We can't draw too many conclusions from that, but what we can tell now is that the government is acknowledging that this is a security breach, that this is a terrorist attack and certainly a major security breach right in the middle of downtown Beijing -- Pauline.

CHIOU: So, David, officials are describing this as an orchestrated attack. This is basically being called a suicide attack. So is that unprecedented for Beijing?

MCKENZIE: They are not calling it a suicide attack. I must be clear with that. But obviously if you combine the fact that three people drove into that area with a gasoline tank that they clearly ignited in some way, one can draw the conclusion that it is a suicide attack, though officials are not giving that specific wording.

Yes, it's extremely significant. There hasn't been an attempted attack, or attack like this for some years here in China. In 2009, some petitioners try to drive nearby that spot and did set themselves alight.

If this does appear to be some kind of orchestrated and organized attack, then it will be a major security breach. And certainly Chinese authorities will appear to be suggesting that this was organized. They say they raided a temporary location, as they call it, here in Beijing where they found other paraphernalia as well as more extremist religious details, according to them, in this temporary residence.

So, yes, it's very significant. This doesn't happen in Beijing with such a strong security apparatus throughout the city, particularly in the area of Tiananmen Square, which is obviously infamous for the 1989 crackdown on student protesters. It's the most symbolic and sensitive spot here in Beijing and certainly this terrorist attack as they are describing it, very significant indeed -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Right, Tiananmen Square being a very iconic, historic area. What is it like right now there at the scene of the attack?

MCKENZIE: It's mostly back to normal. Tourists are moving around, going into the Forbidden City, also on Tiananmen Square itself. It's back to normal.

Though there does appear, from what I've seen, more security in the area and more police, plain clothes, for sure, and certainly there are more uniform police in the area. But this area is always very heavily guarded and heavily policed, given the fact of the symbolism you describe as well as the fact that the equivalent of China's parliamentary buildings are right nearby. This all comes just weeks before -- no, sorry, under a week -- in fact, exactly a week before a major meeting of Communist Party leaders here in Beijing and certainly the -- given that, this will be a deeply embarrassing incident.

But now some days after this attack they are acknowledging that it's a terrorist attack.

We cannot independently get this from sources other than the police here in Beijing which has posted it on its official social media page -- Pauline.

CHIOU: All right, David, thank you very much for the latest details on that fatal incident from Monday at Tiananmen Square.

Well, coming up this hour on News Stream, a disease not seen in Syria for more than a decade returns to the country. Health officials confirm several cases of polio in Children.

Jubilant scenes in the West Bank where Israel has released a group of Palestinian prisoners.

And we go on patrol with European immigration officials trying to stop the steady influx of migrant boats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHIOU: You're watching News Stream.

And you're looking at a visual version of all the stories we've got in the show today.

We started with the U.S. intelligence chief defending the NSA's actions. A little later in the show, we'll tell you why this website is the center of a very heated debate in the U.S.

But now to Syria where 2,000 people have been allowed to leave a besieged suburb of the capital of Damascus. Thanks to a rare agreement brokered with the help of the Red Crescent, food and medical supplies were scarce in this area. And some children were reported to be suffering from starvation.

In the meantime, the UN-Arab League envoy met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has more on both of these stories from CNN Beirut.

Mohammed, first let's start with what's going on in the suburb of Damascus. What can you tell us about this evacuation?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Pauline, residents of (inaudible), which is this suburb of Damascus you were talking about, they have been living in horrible conditions for months, approximately nine months that there's been a siege on that area, because rebels had tried to control the area.

There are reports that had been emerging from there have been truly horrific, that children were starving to death, that people were possibly eating grass, that perhaps Fatwas had been issued to allow Muslim residents of the area to eat dogs or cats, which is usually prohibited because food supplies were so scarce.

We've heard in the last -- in the last few hours, that that siege has been lifted, possibly due to some type of agreement, ceasefire being brokered with the help of the Syrian Red Crescent, that the military allowed thousands of residents to flee from that area. Where they're going exactly now we don't know, but the hope is to be able to deliver them medical supplies and much needed food supplies to help with the starvation that so many of the residents in that area have been encountering and that children have been suffering from as well.

In the meantime, some more bad news when it comes to Syria. Just yesterday it was announced by the World Health Organization that there have been at least 10cases diagnosed of polio. There's a polio outbreak in Der Azur (ph) in Syria. The last time there was a polio outbreak there was 1999.

Different aid groups are trying to ratchet up immunization programs within Syria and within neighboring countries to Syria to make sure that it doesn't spread -- Pauline.

CHIOU: So, we're seeing the effects pile on after two years of fighting there.

And let's talk about the peace efforts to try to stop this fighting. There's been another push today to get Assad to the negotiating table for peace talks. What will it take to get both sides, the Assad regime and the opposition to actually meet in Geneva?

JAMJOOM: Yeah, that's the key question, because even though there's a lot of international pressure being put on both sides in Syria's civil war to try to come to the negotiating table, no firm date has yet been set for these Geneva II peace conference. It's supposed to happen in late November, but it is still not confirmed.

Now today we have news that the joint UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He arrived in Damascus yesterday. Today, just a short while ago Syrian state television announcing that in fact the two men have met.

The word that has emerged from this meeting is that Lakhdar Brahimi briefed President al-Assad about his efforts, his regional tour to try to get these talks off the ground and make sure that they happen in late November as originally scheduled. Mr. al-Assad for his part reiterated that nothing is going to happen until countries that are supporting the rebels and giving them military aid and military equipment cease from doing so.

So, still a big question mark hovering over these talks. In the last week, we've heard more and more opposition groups, including 19 different Islamist rebel brigades in Syria say that they will not participate in the talks. We've heard the main opposition group in Syria state that they would not participate in the talks if President Bashar al-Assad clings to power.

And we've also heard an interview last week from President Bashar al- Assad stating that he might possibly consider running for the presidency of Syria again in 2014.

So this is not going to be an easy road to these talks that are supposed to take place in late November in Syria. But there is so much pressure from so many different groups to try to make sure that some type of political solution can be affected to end this brutal civil war that's been raging for more than two years in Syria and that has so far killed well over 100,000 people -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah. And those preconditions are definitely a sticking point to try to get both sides to the table.

Mohammed, thank you very much. Mohammed Jamjoom there following the situation from neighboring Beirut.

And as Mohammed was saying, the World Heath Organization says that there are 10 confirmed cases of polio in children in the city of Der Azur (ph). It's the first outbreak of the disease there since 1999. And as Atika Shubert reports, most of the victims are toddlers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The war in Syria doesn't just kill with bombs and bullets, the violence has now put hundreds of thousands of Syrian children at risk for a nightmare disease that was thought to have been virtually eradicated long ago -- polio.

The last time polio was detected in Syria was more than a decade ago in 1999. The World Health Organization confirmed on Tuesday 10 cases of polio inside Syria and said there could be more.

The WHO says before the civil war broke out, 95 percent of Syria's children had been immunized against polio. In 2012, that dropped to 68 percent.

(on camera): Now an estimated half a million children in Syria are at risk. UNICEF put out a global appeal for Syria's immunization program.

MARIXIE MERCADO, SPOKESWOMAN, UNICEF: The conflict in Syria has caused immense displacement with millions of children on the move either inside the country or across boarders into neighboring countries and beyond. As a result, routine immunization systems, so critical to preventing childhood diseases, have been disrupted or broken down.

SHUBERT: For many, polio is a disease of the past, a highly infectious virus that attacks the nervous system. 1 in 200 infections leads to paralysis, usually in the legs. Up to 10 percent of victims die.

In many countries, polio has been virtually eradicated by mandatory vaccination programs. And Syria was one of them, but no longer.

UNICEF and the WHO are now struggling to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of children with the help of the Syrian ministry of health. But with so many children fleeing the violence and with so much of the country inaccessible because of the fighting, aid workers are racing against time to stop the virus before it spreads.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHIOU: You are watching News Stream. Coming up next, celebrations in the Palestinian territories as Israel frees more prisoners, but the release has angered some Israelis. We'll hear from both sides after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHIOU: On this Wednesday even, you're seeing some celebrations here. This is a live picture of ocean terminal where October Fest is going on on the Kowloon side of the Victoria harbor.

And there are also celebrations in the Palestinian territories, because Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners earlier today, most in the West Bank where jubilant crowds welcomed them home. Five of the prisoners were returned to Gaza.

The release is part of a U.S. brokered deal that paved the way for renewed peace talks with Palestinians. Matthew Chance takes a look at divided reaction in the region.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a heroes welcome for the Palestinian prisoners who have spent so long behind bars.

But for Israel, they're still murders. And these celebrations at the prison gates were (inaudible).

OK, some stones being thrown. And Israelis are shooting just flares and stun grenades in this direction. Over here you can see -- oh, oh -- we have -- I've just fallen over. We're fine. I'm just going to move back out of harm's way here.

But the joy was merely delayed.

In Ramallah, the released men embraced old friends and loved ones, praising the Palestinian president for securing their freedom.

ISRAR SAMRAN, RELEASED PRISONER (through translator): We thank god and the great efforts of our president for this deed. We know the price he had paid. We also thank him for his continuing great efforts to release all prisoners, especially those with life sentences.

CHANCE: Well, this is the moment that thousands of Palestinians here in the West Bank have been waiting for. We're in the presidential compound in the center of Ramallah. Up there on the stage are the 21 prisoners who were released from the Ofer prisoner earlier now greeted as heroes to the Palestinian cause.

The mood, of course, over in Israel is very, very different.

At this Israeli protest the day before, they held photographs of those killed by the men being released. Ronan Karamani (ph) was one victim, just 18 when he was abducted and killed 23 years ago. His brother Oded sees the release of his killers a betrayal.

ODED KARAMANI, VICTIM'S BROTHER: It made me feel like I got stabbed in my back. And they turned the knife and turned the knife.

CHANCE: It's an uncomfortable position for Israel's prime minister. Hardline members of his own cabinet are publicly opposed. As prime minister, he says, the prisoner release was his most difficult decision.

But among Palestinians now, there's a sense of victory and renewed hope that more of the thousands held in Israeli jails may soon be set free.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Ramallah in the West Bank.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHIOU: And still to come on News Stream, the Obamacare website has been heavily criticized. Now lawmakers want answers on the site plagued with problems.

And we go on patrol with border officials policing the seas in Europe. They're watching out for asylum seekers making the journey across the Mediterranean.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines. Chinese police are now calling Monday's car crash in the center of Beijing a terrorist attack and say they have detained five suspects. The crash happened in Tiananmen Square. All three people in the vehicle died. Two terrorists on the street were killed and 40 others were injured.

German intelligence officials are in Washington today to discuss allegations that the U.S. spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone communications for many years. On Tuesday, the heads of the U.S. intelligence services went to Capitol Hill to defend the way they collect information at home and abroad.

Just hours after a group of Palestinian prisoners was released from Israeli jails, Israel announced it will proceed with building 1,500 new homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians. The 26 Palestinians were freed under a deal to continue peace talks.

Afghan officials will travel to Pakistan to meet one of the founding members of the Taliban. The deal was struck in London on Tuesday during a meeting with British prime minister David Cameron and the Afghan and Pakistani leaders. No date has been announced yet.

U.S. President Barack Obama will promote his signature health care legislation today. His administration is under fire for the rocky rollout of Obamacare. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face tough questions from lawmakers about these problems when she appears at a hearing later today.

They center on the website Healthcare.gov. It's where people are supposed to go to sign up for health insurance. Remember, the law in the U.S. requires most Americans to have coverage by 2014, or they face a fine.

But this site has suffered multiple outages and other technical issues protecting people from submitting their applications.

And as you can see, it is currently unavailable.

Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost a full month before healthcare.gov went live CGI, the main contractor working on the site highlighted glaring problems, a confidential report obtained by CNN raised red flags like we don't have access to monitoring tools; not enough time in schedule to conduct adequate performance testing; and hub services are intermittently unavailable, meaning the site stops working at times, plainly stated warnings and yet they weren't passed on to President Obama. He didn't know there were problems until after the site launched .

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not before that, though, not before October 1st.

KEILAR: When embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before Congress today, she will point a finger at some of the private contractors her agency hired. A subset of those contracts for healthcare.gov have not met expectations she says in her prepared remarks, which she will deliver after yet another outage hit the site overnight. Last week, those very contractors pointed the finger at HHS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no role in the development of the website.

KEILAR: Tuesday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services in charge of implementing Obamacare told Americans who have struggled with the website that she's sorry.

MARILYN TAVENNER, CMS ADMINISTRATOR, HHS: I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should.

KEILAR: Republicans grilled Marilyn Tavenner about Americans on the individual insurance market who have seen their current coverage canceled or modified, more than a million so far by CNN's estimate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea?

KEILAR: As they pressed her for the number of Americans who have been able to enroll in Obamacare, she kept a script.

TAVENNER: We will have those numbers available mid-November, mid- November, mid-November, mid-November. We will have those numbers available mid-November.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: When you compare the prepared testimony of Marilyn Tavenner to what we're expecting to hear from Kathleen Sebelius today, because her remarks were released ahead of today's appearance, they are almost a word for word match.

Of course there's always a chance Sebelius could go off script. There is a question and answer period. What's unclear at this point is whether she will, like Tavenner did, apologize -- Pauline.

CHIOU: All right, Brianna, thank you very much. Brianna Keilar there in Washington.

Now earlier this month a boat carrying migrants from Africa capsized off the coast of Italy killing hundreds of people on board. Despite that tragedy, many continued to make this perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life.

Fred Pleitgen went on patrol with the European boarder agency Frontex and the Italian navy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take off from Sicily. We're on a Portuguese military plane flying for Frontex, the EU's border patrol mission. Past the Mount Etna volcano and out to sea, hunting for human trafficking boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the missions, we -- every week, we found three, four targets of interest.

PLEITGEN: We're not allowed to identify any of the crew members. People smuggling is big business, and they might become targets for criminal gangs. The plane uses modern radars and cameras to track suspicious ships and quickly finds several.

People are mostly smuggled in old, often unseaworthy fishing boats. The crew finds this empty rubber boat they believe might have been abandoned by migrants after they reached Europe's shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main goal is to detect targets of interest that Frontex gives us the coordinates about. We go there and we see, and then we transmit everything to Frontex.

PLEITGEN (on camera): This plane is equipped for border patrol activity, but it can also come to the rescue if there's a disaster involving a boat with migrants onboard. It can coordinate rescue activities and can even deploy life rafts for those who fall in the water.

(voice-over): And those search and rescue capabilities have been needed often in recent times, as waves of migrants boats, mostly from Northern Africa, try to make their way towards Europe and often get into trouble at sea.

Many survivors are brought here, to the Porticello Camp. Henry Linus is from Nigeria and says the ship he was on almost sank in a storm.

HENRY LINUS, NIGERIAN REFUGEE: No food, excrement inside the boat, vomiting everywhere. It was horrible.

PLEITGEN: Most of the people we spoke to said if they could start over, they wouldn't attempt the treacherous boat journey again.

Frontex's mission is to prevent illegal entry into the EU, but in many cases, it's become a mission to save lives, often involving not just planes but navy and coast guard ships as well.

(on camera): The Italian coast guard always has several of these rescue boats on standby. They can go extremely fast and can take on as many as 130 people in distress.

(voice-over): Italian coast guard officials say in previous years, the stream of migrants often stopped in the fall and winter months, but given the milder weather this year, there has been no letup.

"The most dangerous thing is when you see a boat that is made of really old wood," he says. "God knows how it has held together, and it can fall apart just by our ships coming close.

Andra Tssara is the coast guard commander in Porticello, Sicily, one of the busiest in Europe. He says overcrowded boats often make the rescue efforts even more dangerous. "The biggest danger is that an unstable boat capsizes," he says, "and the migrants can't swim and we need to proceed with a rescue in the water as well."

That's apparently what happened on October 3rd of this year, when people aboard an overloaded migrant boat moved around, trying to call for help. It capsized, and more than 300 drowned, most of them Eritreans.

Back in the camp, this man was supposed to be onboard that vessel. He took a different ship because the boat was overcrowded. Many people he knew perished in the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them had parents or wives or children on there. We were part of them, but fortunately, we were -- the boat was full and we were obliged to stay.

PLEITGEN: As we complete our Frontex flight, we pass the island Lampedusa, the destination many migrants coming from North Africa try to reach. A dangerous and sometimes deadly endeavor, which the EU can try to contain, but will probably never be able to stop.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHIOU: Now here's a look at some of the main routes used by migrants trying to reach Europe. According to Frontex, the most heavily trafficked is the eastern Mediterranean route right here where more than 37,000 people are said to have entered illegally this way in 2012, many of them Afghans, Syrian and Bangladeshi.

The so-called central Mediterranean route saw more than 10,000 migrants enter the EU via Italy.

Now this is the same route where hundreds of people recently died when their ship sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa. And the western Mediterranean route saw more than 6,000 illegal entries into Europe with migrants crossing into the Iberian Peninsula.

You are watching News Stream. And still ahead, surfing a wave up to 30 meters high. But some say this epic ride may not be all it seems. We'll wade into the controversy coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHIOU: Welcome back to News Stream.

In the world of extreme sports, this has to be one of the most dangerous: surfing a wave that could be up to 30 meters high. Some surfers are willing to risk it all for a world record.

The Atlantic storm on Monday helped create these monster waves off of Portugal. Take a look at that. You can see the surfer, Carlos Burle, speeding across the water. He spoke to Anderson Cooper about what it's like to ride these terrifying waves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLOS BURLE, SURFER: It's crazy, you know, because you're going so fast and you know that you can't fall and it's like -- it's like going down on a mountain that never ends, because wow the wave is very intense. And it's -- it's so hard for you to keep control in a situation like that. And I had my heart coming up out of my mouth all the time like you have to hold yourself, you have to hold yourself, you're not going to fall, you're not going to fall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHIOU: But there's a bit of controversy here, because surfer Laird Hamilton says Burle did fall. He spoke to my colleague Rosemary Church.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAIRD HAMILTON, SURFER: Well, as a big wave rider, you know, our objective is to be safe. And the whole thing about making the wave is to first catch it, right, and then after you catch it you want to complete the ride by riding into the safe spot where you finish the ride where you can be picked up by the jet ski rider in the jet ski rider in this case, or finish the ride where you can safely paddle away from the next wave coming.

But if you get hit by the wave after you've been riding it, that's -- we call that wiping out. And that's a failed attempt in -- you know, in the school that I went to.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So you say Burle failed at this attempt?

HAMILTON: Well, if he's claiming that he's ridden the biggest wave ever ridden, I'd say maybe he wiped out on the biggest wave ever ridden, but you know you cannot -- you can't expect to ride the biggest wave ever ridden and not finish the ride, at least that's my opinion, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHIOU: Burle is trying to have his feat ratified as a Guinness World Record.

Another surfer who was out with him on Monday is recovering in the hospital after being knocked unconscious by a big wave.

Well, football fans in the U.S. have been cheering for the Redskins since 1933, but the Washington-based NFL team is facing increasing backlash over its name, which critics say is racist.

The team owner defends the name and says most people do not find it offensive.

Well, the controversy will be front and center at a meeting between the NFL and a Native American group later today.

With more on this story, our Andy Scholes is live from CNN Center.

So, Andy, exactly what's this all about?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Well, you know the nation's capital has a football team called the Washington Redskins. It's a very popular team. And there's been a growing movement over the last few months for the team to change its name.

Now the sports writers around the country, they've already said we're not going to use the name anymore. They're going to call the team Washington's football team.

Now, the team owner Daniel Snyder, he said all along, I will not change the name. He told the newspaper you can print that in all caps.

Now lately, he softened that stance. He's met with Roger Goodell just yesterday. Now according to Washington Post, this meeting wasn't about changing the name, it was actually just about dealing with the protesters who are of course doing all these movements for the team to change the name.

CHIOU: So, Andy, if it's such a big problem and we're seeing all these protests, why don't they just change the name and have it over with?

SCHOLES: Well, you know, the Redskins they've been the Redskins since the 1930s. And, you know, according to Forbes magazine they are the third most valuable franchise in the NFL. So changing the name means they'd have to change signs, memorabilia and all kinds of other things. And owner Daniel Snyder actually sent a letter to fans earlier this year. The name continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are and who we want to be in the years to come. So for a number of reasons, he says, he just does not want to change the name.

Many people think it's a matter of when not if it's going to happen, though.

CHIOU: Ah, OK.

Well, the loyal fans certainly don't want any change. I can understand that, since it goes back to 1933.

Andy, thank you very much. Andy Scholes there live from CNN Center.

Well, each week we are showcasing the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013. And you can vote for your favorite at CNNHeroes.com.

Today, we introduce you to Estella Pyfrom. The 76-year-old saw many children in her community being left behind without regular access to a computer, so she decided to use her own retirement savings to create a very innovative way to help bridge the digital divide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ESTELLA PYFROM, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: I grew up in the segregated south. I actually started picking beans at age six. But my father, I looked at him and say if you get a good education you can get a good job. So we knew that education was important.

In today's time, many of our children don't have computers at home. And low income families don't have transportation to get to where the computers are. Kids who don't have access to computers after school will be left behind.

My name is Estella Pyfrom. At age 71 I took my retirement savings to create a classroom to bring high tech learning to communities in need.

All right, everybody, let's get on board. Let's get on Estella's Green Bus.

Estella's Green Bus is a mobile learning center.

Are you ready to get on the computers?

CROWD: Yes.

PYFROM: We want to do what we can do to make things better for all, adults as well.

I see the bus as being able to bridge that gap between technology and (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She helps me by having one-on-one attention. And if I don't get it, she'll help me with it. I look forward to it a lot.

PYFROM: How are we doing here?

It's not just a bus, it's a movement. And we're going to go from neighborhood to neighborhood, keep making a difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHIOU: And she is certainly making a difference. Estella Pyfrom is just one of this year's top 10 CNN Heroes one of whom will become CNN Hero of the year and win $250,000 to further their work.

And you can help decide who will receive that honor by voting online and on your mobile device at CNN Heroes.com.

Well, coming up next on News Stream, world football president Sepp Blatter gets himself into hot water with some controversial comments again. So who did he offend? We'll tell you after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHIOU: The world's first Bitcoin ATM is now online. A machine that accepts cash for the virtual currency has opened outside a coffee shop in Vancouver Canada. You can take out cash if you already have Bitcoins by scanning a code on your smartphone. The ATM's owners hope to roll out several more of these machines across Canada by the end of the year.

And Bitcoins can be profitable. Four years ago, a Norwegian student spent a mere $26 on what was then the new virtual currency. He promptly forgot about it, but since then a media coverage has helped to raise the value of Bitcoins. When the student recently remembered his coins, he learned they were worth, get this, $885,000. Not a bad return for $26.

He cashed in some of them to buy an apartment. Great story there.

But no such luck for the folks in the Philippines, because another storm is headed for this area in what has been a very, very active season so far. Mari Ramos is live at the world weather center with more details - - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this has been a very active season indeed, Pauline. You know what, the thing is already we have above average situation here as far as tropical cyclones. This is the busiest place in the world anyway to see tropical cyclones. And, look at that, average to date across the entire western Pacific we've had normally we would see about 22 tropical cyclones. This year we've had 27 already, 27 named storms. Out of those, 14 of them have become typhoons.

Normally we see about 15 of them. So that's, you know, kind of evening out there. Four of them have become super typhoons out of those typhoons. And normally we'd get about three.

So there you see how kind of the season so far has been shaping up.

But the kicker here is that the important thing is that it's been October. October has been the month to talk about.

I want to show you this -- how active October has been. You see all the names here that you will remember. Sepat, Lekima, Francisco, Nari -- remember -- Danas, Fitow. All of these tropical cyclones that have been across this western Pacific basin and the newest one Krosa that you see it right here just to the east of the Philippines.

This is the busiest October since 1995.

One thing to remember is, though, that if Krosa, or when Krosa becomes a typhoon, and if it happens some time during the day tomorrow before the month ends over the next couple of days, well, we could end up with it's not just the busiest October since 1995, but the busiest October probably in the last 40 or 50 years. So we'll have to confirm that one for you tomorrow when and if Krosa becomes a typhoon.

And here you see it, it's still a tropical storm, which would be one - - kind of one step down from typhoon strength. Once those winds reach 120 kilometers per hour that's when it would become a typhoon. Right now, winds are 85 kilometers per hour.

You can see the storm continuing to move generally to the west- northwest and those outer bands already affecting portions here of the central Philippines. That's already you start to see that weather deteriorate overnight tonight and then by tomorrow, even though the center is still offshore, you'll get some very heavy rain associated with this weather system.

I stopped it right here so you can see that. Before landfall, we're thinking this storm will become a typhoon as it brushes, or possibly makes the landfall here. The northern tip of Luzon. Because it's a large storm, the rain will spread into areas farther to the south.

After that it moves into the South Chian Sea and once it's here you know someone is going to be affected by this, usually we end up seeing a landfall here across southeastern China or maybe southeast Asia. And it looks like that will be the trend as we head through the next few days as the storm continues to intensify.

So that's going to be something to watch.

There's the winds, you can see them raking across that northern portion of Luzon. And then the rain is my biggest concern, because of the threat for flooding and mudslides as we head into the mountains here. And notice even into areas farther to the south -- Manila, maybe you'll see maybe three to five centimeters of rainfall in the next couple of days, which is still significant.

Let's head to the U.S. I want to show you some picture here from the western U.S., from an area just outside of Tuscon. There were high wind warnings in place across much of the western U.S. yesterday. And when it's this dry, and of course this part of the world is very dry, you get dust storms. And look at this, this is the dust storm that formed on a highway. And unfortunately, tragic circumstances.

There were several car pileups. And you can see them right there. At least six of those big rigs, those huge trucks collided. And there were several smaller vehicles that were caught in between. At least three people were killed, more than 12 injuries reported. There were some warnings in place, or advisories in place for blowing sand and dust just outside of Phoenix, as you can see there. And we're looking at much better weather today. Hopefully those winds dying down.

You come back over to the weather map, that weather system has moved on, probably affecting the central portion of the U.S. Possibility for some severe weather there. So that will be our key focus in this part of the world.

Back to you.

CHIOU: OK. It's been a busy day in the weather center. Thank you very much, Mari, for the update there.

Well, it was arguably the most famous radio program in history. Today is the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' dramatization of the War of the Worlds. It went out on October 30, 1938, a radio chiller the night before Halloween. 80 percent of American homes at the time had a radio. And many tuned in to hear a series of bulletins on CBS.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At 20 minutes before 8:00 Central Time, Professor Farrow (ph), of the Mount Jennings Observatory (ph), Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars.

Now (inaudible) comes a special bulletin from Trenton, New Jersey. It is reported that at 8:50 pm a huge flaming object, believed to be a meteorite fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHIOU: Now, although the program started with the announcement that it was a fictional story, a lot of people missed that warning. Many listeners actually panicked at thinking Martians had really landed. Newspapers sensationalized the story hoping to win back advertisers that they had lost to the younger medium of radio.

The CBS and Welles were forced to issue an apology.

Well, they are among the two best footballers in the world, but when FIFA's president was asked to compared Lionel Messi with Christiano Ronaldo, he got himself into a bit of trouble. Here's a short part of Sepp Blatter's comparison.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT: One has more expenses for the hair dresser than the other, but that doesn't matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHIOU: Oh, that comment about Christiano Ronaldo having more haircare expenses than Messi didn't go down well and led to this apology from FIFA's president. He called the answer light-hearted and said he never meant to offend Ronaldo.

Well, that is News Stream, but the news continues right here at CNN. World Business Today is coming up next.

END