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UNICEF Embarks On Largest Vaccination Campaign Ever; China's Jade Rabbit Rover Successfully Lands On Moon; Ukraine Inches Its Way Towards EU Trade Deal; Arsenal-Bayern Munich Juiciest Matchup In Today's Champion's League Draw; Rare Snow Creates Unique Challenges For Refugees In Syria; A Look Back At Peter O'Toole's Iconic Career

Aired December 16, 2013 - 8:00:00   ET


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

Now protesters keep up the pressure in Kiev as Ukraine's president prepares to travel to Moscow.

Plus, sounding the alarm for Syria's refugees. The United Nations believes more than 4 million people will be seeking safety from the war by this time next year.

And China pulls of a feat only two other nations have achieved. Now its lunar rover is exploring the moon.

And we begin with the crisis in Ukraine. Anti-government rallies continue in Kiev ahead of a meeting on Tuesday between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents on a key trade deal. Let's bring up live pictures of these anti-government rallies taking place this day in the Ukrainian capital. And the protesters there, they fear that Ukraine is aligning its interests with Russia instead of the European Union.

Now meanwhile, the EU has put the breaks on any trade agreement with Ukraine, saying that Kiev has not shown that it is committed to sign the deal.


CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: I don't believe that the crisis in Ukraine should have a negative impact on our relations with Russia. It does mean, though, that we have to look very seriously about the way in which countries make their decisions and are entitled to make their decisions.


LU STOUT: Now the government's diplomatic U-turn away from the European Union sparked the recent protests. And they have steadily grown bigger and more violent and are drawing international condemnation.

Now CNN's Diana Magnay is in Kiev. She joins us now with the very latest. And Diana, is Kiev ignoring the will of the protesters or out in force again this day and moving closer to Russia?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, who knows. As has been the case over the last years of his presidency, Mr. Yanukovych, if he could have his way, would like to play both sides, one against the other. The trouble is now that tactic doesn't really seem to be working and those steps that he made towards European integration over the last few months meant that Russia basically put a bit of a squeeze on exports to Russia, et. Cetera, which have contributed to the economic crisis which Ukraine now finds itself in

So, he is going to Russia tomorrow to speak with Vladimir Putin and to discuss various trade deals that the country has with one another, the prime minister saying also that he will try and negotiate a better price of gas for Ukraine. That doesn't mean that he will necessarily be going full steam ahead with the Russian plans for a customs union.

But there are fears that that will actually be what is going on behind the scenes, certainly fears from the people here on the street.

Actually, Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief said today that the door was still open if Ukraine were serious about the path of European integration and it does appear as though Mr. Yanukovych has been telling politicians, western politicians, for example, Senator John McCain who was here yesterday, that he's still committed to a path that would bring Ukraine closer to Europe.

So this sort of cherry-picking on both sides is obviously the kind of strategy that he wants. Again, the question is how far Mr. Putin will allow him to go down there?

And Kristie, earlier today I was just in this square talking to Yevhenia Tymoshenko who is the daughter, of course, of the imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. She was there surrounded by her bodyguards. Let's just take a listen to that interview.


MAGNAY: So how is your mother bearing up? She's just come off another hunger strike.

YEVHENIA TYMOSHENKO, DAUGHTER OF YULIA TYMOSHENKO: Of course she feels much weaker after 12, 14 days actually of hunger strike. And after my dad (ph) asked her to stop, she stopped. But, you know, first she saw that we are getting some victory slowly, step by step. But, you know, government is giving in and trying to as much as we can to hear the people and to fulfill the demands, although still half measures, though.

MAGNAY: How much of a toll does this take on you personally?

TYMOSHENKO: Well, you know, for two-and-a-half years now authorities tried to break her with like really several types of psychological pressure. One is from the outside, you know continuing to put forward some accusations which have no basis, legal basis and put it for the media. So -- but people believe it of course less and less giving that they now see the true face of the regime and authorities.

So -- and of course the pressure that she's always under constant video surveillance and audio surveillance inside with, you know, she's never alone there.

MAGNAY: How much hope do you have that this demonstration will change things here in Ukraine?

TYMOSHENKO: Very much, you know, because you know even compared to Orange Revolution there are many more people here. They are united. They are standing now for their future and for the future of their children. They're not here for political leaders or, you know, to fight politics. They're here to fight for their life and they have enough of the regime, you know, taking away their liberties, taking away their businesses, you know.

And so, you know, you can see here very educated, very accomplished people who gathered here and organized themselves.


MAGNAY: Yulia Tymoshenko, Kristie, is serving a seven year jail sentence for convicted of abuse of power, charges that her daughter denies. And of course her case is now with the European Court of Human Rights.

But it's interesting, even though behind me you'll see her picture up on -- and often in this protest, it's not as though she is a huge figurehead under which the people here rally. In fact, it's not as though they're rallying behind any particular opposition figure. This is much more of a grassroots demonstration where the sort of amorphous demands that they have are that we want a better life, that we want a Ukraine where our children have more opportunities, where there is a rule of law, where there is better governance and that reflects more the European values than the values they believe Russia and their president represent, Krisite.

LU STOUT: All right. Diana Magnay reporting live for us and providing some valuable insight into this anti-government rallies underway still there in Kiev. Thank you, Diana.

Now moving on from the legacy of Nelson Mandela isn't easy. But it is start with a day of national reconciliation. A nine meter bronze statue of the late president was unveiled today in Pretoria. It is on the lawn of the Union Buildings where Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black president back in 1994.

Now South African President Jacob Zuma who was at the unveiling had these words for those struggling to move on.


JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: There should now be no more tears. We must celebrate Madiba and take forward his legacy. He should live in our hearts and inspire us to do something good every single day to honor his memory.


MAGNAY: And the unveiling of the statue, it comes a day after Mandela's body was laid to rest in his home village of Qunu.

Now CNN's Arwa Damon shows us how South Africans from different walks of life said goodbye to Madiba.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the hills, overlooking Mandela`s childhood home and burial sight, a truly unique moment. Zulus and traditional warrior (inaudible) drove seven hours to bid farewell to the hero that transformed that nation. Chants and dances reserved for a chief.

ENOCK MAGWNYANE: ...Madiba is a chief. (inaudible) you must do it as our country.

DAMON: This is really quite incredible. It`s almost surreal. Traditional Zulu song and chants, the audio of that blending with the marching band that we can hear from the speakers in front of the screen as Mandela`s coffin is being moved towards its final resting place.

The people gathered somber, silent as they watched. Some choosing to stand alone. And with the final gun salute, the reality that Mandela`s gone, for some overwhelming. Beauty Mkuna traveled 12 hours to be here.

BEAUTY MKUNA: Well, upset to know people where at least even if he was no longer in public whatever, but at least we were happy that he was still alive.

DAMON: Others emotional, but glad he can finally rest in peace. And among all, a profound sense of gratitude for all Mandela sacrificed and stood for.

MKUNA: (inaudible). It means that there is no more. He is gone for good. We don`t know whether South Africa will be the same like it was yesterday.

DAMON: Mandela has finally returned home. The country united as it says good-bye. And now it must leave up to (inaudible) his legacy.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Qunu, South Africa.


LU STOUT: Now coming up right here on News Stream, a major campaign to vaccinate Syrian refugees against polio.

Also ahead, we'll look at whether the status of women in India has improved in the years since a brutal gang rape provoked world outrage against sexual violence.

And right this minute, a lunar rover is exploring the moon. More on China's historic accomplishment coming right up.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

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

Now I've already told you about Ukraine where protesters and the government remain locked in a standoff.

And later, we'll look at the plight of Syria's refugees as UN warns there could be more than 4 million in need by the end of next year.

But now, let's turn to India where women's rights activists plan protests to mark a somber anniversary.

Now one year ago, a brutal rape case, it shocked all of India and the world. A woman gang raped by a group of men in a bus later died of her injuries.

Now this case, it highlighted violence against women in India. But as Sumnima Udas reports, despite a new law, it is still going on unchecked.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One year ago, these were the scenes in India's capital, tens of thousands on the streets to demand better protection for women.

Amongst the crowds, 24-year-old Apoorva Mohan. She helped set up a Facebook page, Movement for Change, urging people to come out and protest.

One year on, I asked Mohan if anything has changed.

APOORVA MOHAN, STUDENT: In terms of laws, yes. In terms of, you know, the police's reaction to what these things, their responds this, yes, they're more sensitive towards these issues now. But socially, I don't think so.

UDAS: Economic growth in the past two decades has prompted about a quarter of the country's women to leave their homes and join the workforce, often rejecting traditional attire for western ware, taking public transportation, staying out late. Indian women have never been so empowered, but some things are harder to change.

Traveling by public transportation should be safe. There's so many people around you. But often, majority of women here -- and they'll tell you -- harassment is a daily issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come behind us and they kind of try to grind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They touch our asses. They stand behind us and they push us. And they like to keep hands in there.

UDAS: Mohan has given up on public buses and is taking freewheeler taxis instead.

It seems quite safe. What can really happen in an (inaudible) rickshaw?

MOHAN: Just in case you don't know where you're going. You're going to some place you haven't been before. The other rickshaw guy could take you anywhere. I usually take the (inaudible) license plate number of the older rickshaw. I text it to my friends or maybe my family.

UDAS: On the street, never a stress free experience.

MOHAN: There are guys and there are men who would literally just like more or less like undressing you with their eyes.

UDAS: So you're always on your toes. You always have to be...

MOHAN: You're always on your toes. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, you know. It's -- it just goes without saying that you're going to go out and you know you're going to come back with some incident.

UDAS: She has numerous stories to tell of abuse. An elderly man grabbing her thighs on the bus, a group of boys in a car chasing her as she ran for her life. She's been carrying a pocket knife in her bag ever since.

And the instances of groping, too many to count.

MOHAN: There are all these girls, you know, who have their breasts grabbed in public places, somebody wants to come and pinch you and (inaudible) very, very rude comment to you.

You become under confident, then. You know, you feel -- yeah, you tend to lose -- you think you lost your self-esteem and all.

UDAS: The change that's needed is cultural, they say. And in the centuries old patriarchal society, that's not easily done.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


LU STOUT: And there you just heard from a young Indian woman who says that she has feared for her safety and sometimes fears every day.

Now Divya Iyer is a senior researcher for Amnesty International India. And she told us awareness is increasing in India, but legal reform is slow.


DIVYA IYER, SENIOR RESEARCHER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: There is a lot that still needs to be done. The legal reforms are still incomplete.

So there were three recommendations made by the justice (inaudible) committee right after this gruesome incident which hasn't been taken into account. So rape within marriage, which is marital rape, is still not criminalized in this country. Police reform, incentivizing them to deal with survivors of any kind of sexual violence, that hasn't happening. Investigations are still not done in a prompt and fair manner. And most importantly the barriers to prosecute armed forces and security forces, that has still not been removed, which means the continuing (inaudible) of human rights violations and violence against women has not been recognized or dealt with in an effective manner to tackle this endemic problem that this country is facing.


LU STOUT: And that was Dyvia Iyer from Amnesty International. She says attitudes and legal restrictions need to improve before there was real change for women in India.

Now still, our correspondent in New Delhi says India has experienced something of an awakening. Sumnima Udas writes, "I have met some incredibly strong women fighting against all odds in a society which often places less value on women."

You can read the rest at

You're watching News Stream. And coming up next, the Jade Rabbit has landed on the moon. Find out what this accomplishment means for China.


LU STOUT: Oh, the light show is on here in Hong Kong. Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

Now China's political landscape is going through a change never seen before. According to the New York Times, Communist Party leaders have authorized a corruption probe against this man, Zhou Yongkang. Now he is the former head of the country's domestic security agencies. It is the first time such a high level official has been the focus of a formal corruption investigation.

Now Zhou was also a member of the last politburo standing committee. On the committee is the Communist Party's very top rung of power. And the man who is leading the charge against Zhou is also in this photo, he's none other than the current president Xi Jinping.

Now the report indicates the Zhou was once allied with the politician Bo Xilai who was jailed in September for corruption and abuse of power.

Now meanwhile, China's space program is celebrating yet another success. Its moon rover, the so-called Jade Rabbit, it rolled onto the lunar surface after its first successful landing in nearly four decades. Ivan Watson has more from Beijing.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover is now exploring the moon. This vehicle detached itself from the larger Chang'e-3 lunar probe in the early hours Sunday Beijing time.

Now the probe itself made a historic soft unmanned landing on the moon Saturday night Beijing time. And it now puts China as the third country to accomplish this technological feat coming after the U.S. and Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It landed on the moon. Chang'e-3 is on the moon.

WATSON: And we saw scenes of scientists from China's space agency celebrating, embracing each other at the moment that that lunar probe made its successful landing on the moon.

Now one of the missions of this lunar probe, which is partial solar powered, it's a six wheeled vehicle weighing about 140 kilograms, one of its missions is to explore a part of the moon known as the Sinus Iridum, or the bay of rainbows. It's also tasked with looking beneath the surface of the moon using ground penetrating radar in part to search for possible valuable mineral deposits.

Now some experts tell CNN that they think the Chinese may be looking at the possibility of future prospecting and mining missions to the moon.

The Chinese acknowledge that their space program is decades behind the U.S. and Russia, for example, but this does seem to be a part of a much bigger strategy that also involves establishing China's own global positioning system of satellites around the Earth and also building its own manned space station.

And that's very significant, because if everything goes according to plan, when the International Space Station is decommissioned in 2020, in the subsequent decade it will be the Chinese that will have the only manned space station orbiting around the Earth.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Beijing.


LU STOUT: Now, the draw for the Champion's League last 16 revealed a number of heavyweight matchups. Amanda Davies joins us from London with more -- Amanda.


Yeah, it seems this is where things get really exciting, a real step in the direction of the final on May 24 in Lisbon.

And there really have been some Christmas crackers drawn out of the hat in neon.

The biggest matchup probably is the one we had to wait the longest for, the last two names out of the hat were those of the English Premier League leaders Arsenal and the defending champions Bayern Munich from Germany. It's a repeat of the tie that they played at this stage last year. Bayern obviously went on to win that in the three legs and then went on win the competition.

They're looking this year to become the first side to successfully defend their Champion's League crown and there's no doubt that with their star studded lineup. And now Pep Guardiola at the helm, they'll be a very tough prospect for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, but Wenger will be gearing his side up maybe using the R-word, revenge. And they're in a much stronger position this year than they were last time out. They've been strengthened by the likes of Per Mertesacker and Mezul Ozil coming into the side.

Another fantastic matchup is Manchester City playing in the knockout stages for the first time against the four-time winners Barcelona. They last won, of course, in 2011.

City are many people's dark horses this year. Yes, they've -- they're into uncharted territory. They've never been in the knockout stage before, but they've put in some fantastic performances under Manuel Pellegrini in recent time. They came back from two goals down to beat Bayern Munich 3-2 just last week. And they put in a thumping victory over Arsenal, the Premier League leaders, as I said, at the weekend.

So that's certainly one to get excited about.

Didier Drogba and Jose Mourinho will be reunited as well as Galatasaray against Chelsea.

Manchester United fans will be pretty pleased, they've been drawn against one of the weaker sides in the draw, that's the Greek champions Olympiakos.

But there are eight ties in all. They don't get underway on the pitch until February, Kristie, but there was a full rundown of all the fixtures and what to expect on the World Sport web site.

LU STOUT: And Amanda, another story you're closely watching, a high profile Premier League manager was sacked. What can you tell us?

DAVIES: Yeah, it's been a very busy morning here in the World Sport news room in London. And that is because Tottenham have parted company with their head coach Andre Villas-Boas. He had been under pressure, increasing pressure over the last few weeks, the last few months. And he saw his side stuffed, frankly, by Liverpool 5-0 on Sunday.

We understand that he was then summoned to meet the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. And whilst there had been some reports earlier in the week that AVB had survived one crisis meeting, this was the end. And Spurs released a statement a little bit earlier on saying the club can announce that an agreement has been reached with head coach Andre Villas-Boas for the termination of his services. The decision was by mutual consent and in the interests of all parties. We wish Andre well for the future.

The big question now, though, who will replace him? The club are giving nothing away, but the likes of Fabio Capello, Glenn Hoddle, Martin Jol all being talked about Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, two headlines in football there. Amanda Davies joining us live from London, thank you.

Now coming up, millions of Syrian refugees are escaping a deadly civil war. And we go live to neighboring Lebanon where there is an increasing humanitarian crisis in freezing cold refugee camps.

And more wild weather in the Middle East, major flooding has displaced thousands in Gaza. Stay with us.


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

As tens of thousands of demonstrators continue to protest in Ukraine, the country's prime minister says his government will sign a roadmap to better trade relations with Russia. It comes after the EU said it was putting a trade agreement with Ukraine on hold.

A horrifying bus accident has killed at least 18 people in the Philippines. Authorities say the bus tumbled off an elevated freeway in Manila and then fell onto a van. And the bus company's fleet has been suspended from running while an investigation is underway.

Now at least 25 people have been killed in a string of attacks across Iraq. Several car and roadside bombs exploded in Baghdad. Eight Iraqi police officers and soldiers were killed in attacks north of the Iraqi capital. Now similar violence killed 21 people on Sunday.

And in Syria, an opposition group says at least 83 people have been killed in air raids on the city of Aleppo. And it says 27 children are among the dead. Now this happened after government forces dropped bombs on several neighborhoods.

Now the UN refugee agency says more than 2 million Syria's have now fled the civil war. And that number is predicted to rise to a staggering 4 million by the end of next year. Now Syrian refugees are living in neighboring countries like Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. Almost 850,000 have settled in Lebanon.

And in the face of a brutal winter storm, aid agencies are trying to reach Syrian families in Lebanon. A major campaign is also underway to vaccinate refugee children against polio.

Now CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom joins me live from Arsal in eastern Lebanon where many refugees are living in grim conditions. And Mohammed, just how are the refugees there coping especially with the brutal cold?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, the misery for these refugees is only increasing by the day. In fact, by the hour.

Now we're at a makeshift refugee camp here in Arsal. In just this small area, there are at least 3,200 people as far as what the refugees here are telling me. It grows every day. Lebanon is a country that does not allow for the construction of official camps. There are only these makeshift camps, ramshackle tents. You see overcrowding all the time. And that allows for the spread of diseases.

Now just a few days ago, we were with UNICEF and the Lebanese health ministry as they have started inoculating children in Lebanon against polio. Polio is a disease that has reemerged in Syria just in the last two months. There have been 17 cases of children being paralyzed. It only takes one case appearing here for it to spread. There is a lot of concern.

Here's our report.


JAMJOOM: As conflict spills over, viruses spread quicker than violence.

In surroundings even dirtier than the war they escaped, these Syrian refugee children face another potential agony: polio. Highly contagious and potentially deadly, the crippling and incurable disease recently reemerged in Syria paralyzing children.

Aid workers knew they had to act fast.


JAMJOOM: They're concerned enough that they're going tent to tent. This is the largest immunization program against polio in the Middle East.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization are attempting to vaccinate as many as 23 million children both inside and outside Syria. Neighboring Lebanon is particularly at risk.


JAMJOOM: It houses the highest concerntration of refugees. More than 800,000 Syrians registered in this tiny country so far.

DR. ZEIN EL DINE SAAD, LEBANESE MINISTRY OF HEALTH: There are new families are escaping from the war in Syria and coming over there. We are afraid just one of these cases are affected by a virus, by this polio virus.

JAMJOOM: In a camp like this, sewage, there's trash everywhere, it's unsanitary. That makes it easier for the virus to transmit, right?

SAAD: Yes, yes. Of course. Of course.

JAMJOOM: Here, children routinely wade through filth.

And in makeshift refugee camps like this one, the conditions are absolutely appalling. Here, they're essentially living in an open sewer. There is trash and human waste all around. It is hard enough trying to walk through this camp let alone actually trying to live here.

Doctors say it's not just polio they're at risk of getting, that they could easily contract anything from hepatitis to scabies to the mumps.

I asked 12-year-old Maria if her family fears they'll get sick.

"Of course we're worried," she says. "We're all crowded together here. If one person gets sick, they'll definitely spread it to everybody else here too."

The medics wrap up as the weather worsens. Winter is at hand. The cold only exacerbating the misery.

Parents who worry about polio now also wonder how they'll shield their families from the elements.

But the children keep playing. No matter how young they are, for them the harshest possible existence is almost expected.


JAMJOOM: Kristie, one of the mothers at that campsite who didn't want to appear on camera with us the other day, she came to me after we were filming and she said, look, we're enduring so much right now, how is it we're also having to worry about a disease that we thought was eradicated decades ago. She said how much more are we expected to take?

And she told me this as she was tearing up. It really was a heartbreaking moment. And it really put so much into perspective as far as the horrible plight that these hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees here in Lebanon are dealing with -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right we're talking about mothers, children, I mean, scores of refugees struggling to survive such grim conditions there. And meanwhile, we have learned, Mohammed, that the number of Syrian refugees will rise quite dramatically by the end of 2014. What is the UN saying about that?

JAMJOOM: The UN us extremely concerned. And it's why they've launched today a new aid appeal, their biggest one yet. They're asking for over $6 billion in aid. And they say that will only help -- or give the minimum amount of help for the Syrian refugees.

It is a staggering number. You're talking even just about Lebanon. Lebanon is a tiny country of just 5 million people. This has the highest concentration of Syrian refugees. Already here there are over 800,000 of them here. And that's just the registered number. That number is expected to double by the end of next year as well.

It is a horrifying plight that they are suffering. There are winter conditions right now. Many areas blanketed in snow. The people that I've been speaking with here today in this area say that in the past week when they couldn't get aid delivered to them, they were having to use snow as the water that they would bathe in because they had no other clean water.

Many of the children we see here today, they are barefoot. They are just now getting delivered to them blankets and stoves so that they can heat up. Even that is not enough. And the UN is saying that with this appeal they want to make the world and the international community aware that much more help is needed for these people that are suffering just so, so much -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right.

I mean, more misery, more refugees, more -- much more help is needed. Mohammed Jamjoom reporting for us. Thank you very much indeed for that.

And there are many organizations offering supplies, shelter, medical care. You can help as well. Now we've compiled a list of charities on the Impact Your World website. You just go to You'll find it there.

Now, the storm bringing cold to Lebanon has caused flooding in Gaza. And the water has forced thousands of people from their homes. It's also threatening crops. Sara Sidner has more.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: In a place already blighted and bleak from years of war and a lack of resources, a winter storm is pushing people to the brink. In some of the tightly woven neighborhoods, several days of torrential rain have created rivers where there should be roads.

The Hamas government says more than 5,000 people have been forced from their homes in Gaza. Umiad (ph) and her six children fled to an overcrowded shelter. They had no choice but to abandon the room they all slept in and leave behind everything they had.

She says she came here because her house was destroyed, the roof fell in and water soaked the mattresses and blankets. There was no way to salvage things and dry out. The lone power plant was shut off last month, causing 12 hour blackouts into a fuel shortage.

On a tour of the destruction brought by the winter storm, a Hamas minister gets an earful as he approaches a farmer.

"I might freeze to death," the farmer yells.

The farmer is distraught because this storm has flooded his fields and frozen his crops, which means he will suffer a long, difficult year not just a hard winter.

He says he's totally ruined. There's nothing left. Not the greenhouse nor his fields of peas, carrots, cucumbers and potatoes, it's all completely destroyed he tells us.

Here, the blame game is an endless stream of slights Hamas lays at Israel's feet, but the blame goes both ways. An Israeli-Egyptian blockade that Israel says has been placed to curb the flow of weapons into Gaza is also slowing down the import of things such as fuel and building supplies.

On Friday, Israel opened a main crossing to allow in fuel and water pumps to help alleviate the flooding.

According to the UN agency there, the damage from the flood has created disaster zones in parts of Gaza. In a place that is always lacking, more help can't come soon enough.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


LU STOUT: Just terrible winter conditions affecting so many people around the world.

Let's get more now with a global weather forecast. Mari Ramos joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, you know, this is such a large storm system affecting very vulnerable areas. And as Sara was telling us, we are seeing problems with the flooding. We've seen problems with the temperatures and of course with the snow.

And you know we've been focusing on the refugees, but you've got to remember that the general population here across this part of the world has been suffering significantly from the winter cold.

Again, this morning, we had extremely cold temperatures. When you look at the -3 in Amman compared to their normal 6 degrees. So we're really looking at some very cold conditions indeed that are persisting across these areas and even though temperatures are starting to moderate a little bit. And I think the storm has moved on, we are still dealing with the after affects as we saw right now in parts of Gaza there.

I want to show you this, this is pretty interesting. This was taken earlier today, this picture from NASA. And what you're looking at here is the snow. And it's shaded a different color so that you're able to see it. And it's these areas right there, and all the way down even into the Sinai peninsula here in Africa. We're still seeing some snow cover.

Now, one of the things to remember with the snow cover right now like what you're seeing over here in portions of Israel and the West Bank and even back over in toward parts of Jordan and Syria and also as we head over into Lebanon, one of the things to remember is that all of this snow has to melt. As temperatures begin to warm up, this snow begins to melt and that could cause some significant flooding.

So those places that are already flooded could really be in for a long term situation with flooding. Those rivers will be flooded. We're going to see valleys that are going to continue to see a lot of water, a lot of influx of water coming in. So that will be a huge concern across these areas.

And remember, we've had so much snowfall.

This is from Cyprus. You know, you wouldn't think to see conditions like this in Cyprus, so significant anyway, and happening so early in the year.

Of course, the images that we saw out of Jerusalem earlier because of the snowfall. And then of course the plight of the refugees, the Syrian refugees scattered all across the region. This is in Arsal where Mohammed Jamjoom was just reporting from a little while ago. There's still a lot of snow on the ground. That will begin to melt, creating some very slushy, wet, and very cold conditions. And when you look at the current temperatures even though it is slightly warmer than it had been, we're still dealing with temperatures that are well below the average and now 10 or 12 degrees like before, but about maybe five or six degrees below average for this time of year.

Talk about winter spreading across the region. Let's continue moving farther to the east across Asia. Let's go ahead and roll the video, please, from China. Because here we're dealing with not only very cold rain, but significant flooding across some areas.

Whenever you have these farmlands flooded, this takes a long time for people to be able to recover from that. And then you have this, the snow, Kristie this is in just well to the west of Hong Kong up in the mountains in Wenzhou province. And very difficult conditions for travelers there as well because of the ice and snow.

And come back over to the weather map. Cold, cold temperatures headed your way here across southern parts of China. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Icy and dangerous conditions in many corners of the world. Mari Ramos there. Thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still to come, could the idea of the United States granting amnesty to intelligence leaker Edward Snowden be real? We'll tell you what the National Security Agency has to say on that after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now U.S. President Barack Obama faces a tough task in the coming weeks. He is to decide how to reign in the spying powers of the U.S. government without jeopardizing security. Now this comes after a panel of outside officials made dozens of recommendations on surveillance reform.

And now another issue that has come up is possible amnesty for intelligence leaker Edward Snowden in exchange for documents that Snowden took from the NSA.

Now this idea was brought up by an official from the agency during an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes.

Now for more, CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now live from the Pentagon. And Barbara, what is the latest on this suggested amnesty deal?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kristie, already the White House has come out and said, no, their position has not changed. Edward Snowden remains charged with espionage and theft of government property and they plan to get him back and prosecute him. That's officially what's going on.

But in the 60 Minutes interview that aired here in the United States last night, a man named Brick Leggett (ph) who has been handling the damage assessment for the NSA, how much damage did Snowden cause, raised a lot of eyebrows when he said he would be willing to have a conversation, his words, with Snowden about the possibility of amnesty if he had some guarantees that all of Snowden's documents would come back to the NSA.

That is the problem, that's what's going to be very tough, that is possibly which -- what really makes this, of course, a nonstarter. Snowden's first stop in Hong Kong, the Chinese may have some documents. Now he is in Russia. The Russians may have some documents.

Snowden has said he has a lot still hidden away.

The NSA acknowledging it now estimates he took some 1.7 million classified documents. So, this is a massive problem.

The revelation that they might even be willing to have a conversation about Amnesty, even if it's not going to happen just goes to the point of really beginning to understand how damage Snowden caused and their concerns about it -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Barbara you're also closely monitoring the NSA review panel. What is the latest you're hearing on that?

STARR: Well, that report went to the White House on Friday. Officially the word is the White House is reviewing it and will have something to say, some more public discussion about it next month -- you know in the next couple of weeks.

But what we're really waiting for is to see what specific recommendations this outside panel has made to the president about controlling or limiting possibly some of the NSA's powers and authorities to conduct legal surveillance -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon. Thank you.

Now back in June, 19 firefighters died while battling a wildfire in the U.S. state of Arizona. And now a chilling audio recording of the final moments of the team called the Granite Mountain Hotshots ha been released. Now CNN's George Howell recounts the tragedy.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last picture of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a text firefighter Andrew Ashcraft sent his wife before the fire that killed him and 18 other firefighters. And now, for the first time, we're hearing the final communications from the Hot Shots to Granite 33, their support crew, just moments before fire swept through and left them with no way to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots we are in front of the flaming front.

HOWELL: Listen closely to the audio from an unidentified firefighter standing at a safe distance whose helmet camera caught the crew's last radio transmissions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): We've got fire right over here now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Bravo 33, Operations, you copy that on air to ground?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Air to ground16, Granite Mountain, Air Attack, how do you read?

UNIDENTIFIED MALES (voice-over): Is Granite Mountain still in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALES (voice-over): Well they're in the safety zone. The black.

HOWELL: But they weren't in a safe zone. The crew descended down a ridge and found themselves cut off by fire. In the audio, you hear what appears to be miscommunication between the Hotshots and dispatch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Operations Bravo 33.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Air attack, Granite Mountain 7.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES (voice-over): This ain't good. No he's screaming.

HOWELL: The Hotshot team continues to call for air support, an air tanker to drop fire retardant on their location, but it never comes together. Their only bet now is to deploy their shelters, as this firefighter demonstrates, protective sleeping bag like shells made with fire resistant material. Listen now as they make that call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Yeah, I'm here with the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in a brush and I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters.

HOWELL: In the final few minutes of the audio, the command center informs the Hotshots that an aircraft is on the way, but it ends with the men trying unsuccessfully to reach the Hotshots on the radio. The worst firefighting tragedy since September 11th.

George Howell, CNN, Chicago.



LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the legendary actor Peter O'Toole has died at the age of 81. Now his publicist says he passed away peacefully in hospital after being ill for some time.

Now he was known to many simply as Lawrence of Arabia after he played the title role in the 1962 movie that boosted him into stardom.

Now CNN's Martin Savidge looks back on his life.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): He was one of the greats. Peter O'Toole was simply an icon who even towards at the end of his life continued to wow audiences with his screen presence. Born Peter Seamus O'Toole in Ireland in 1932, his adolescence was spent in England. He made his professional debut on the London stage in 1955. From the West end, O'Toole quickly transitioned from the stage to the silver screen.

PETER O'TOOLE, ACTOR: I have drunk from it.

SAVIDGE: His appearance in 1962s "Lawrence of Arabia" catapulted him to worldwide stardom and earned him his first Oscar nomination.

O'TOOLE: Why don't you take a picture?

SAVIDGE: Lawrence was the beginning of a spectacular string of successful films during the 1960s. Including another Oscar nominated performance opposite Katharine Hepburn in "The Lion in Winter."

O'TOOLE: If you oppose me I'll strike you anywhere I can.

SAVIDGE: Admittedly a heavy drinker his taste for alcohol not only threatened his career but also his life. He managed to give up the drink and mounted a comeback as a crazed director in "The Stunt Man."

O'TOOLE: Shut up. It stills me up, it stills you up.

SAVIDGE: A self-described entertainer by trade, O'Toole mocked his own image as an alcoholic over-the-hill matinee idol in "My Favorite Year," a performance that earned him his seventh Oscar nomination.

Though he made have some forgettable films through the '80s such as 1984s "Super Girl" O'Toole continued to work appearing in several made- for-TV films including "Joan of Arc."

O'TOOLE: I know a good deal about all of that, but this work is every bit as important as the other.

SAVIDGE: In 2003, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences honored the then 71-year-old actor with the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Initially he declined the accolade fearing that it would signal the end of his career.

O'TOOLE: I suppose fighting for love makes more sense than all the rest.

SAVIDGE: But O'Toole carried on returning to the desert sands where his career began with a turn in 2004's sword and sandals epic "Troy."

O'TOOLE: I've got you a job. Modeling.

SAVIDGE: His role as an out-of-work actor in his golden years who became obsessed with a much younger woman, in 2006's "Venus" earned him yet another best actor nomination. Further cementing his status as a legendary performer.

O'TOOLE: In terms of people that have gone, I've lost a few. In the last few years. And I miss them dreadfully, but they're not here. On we go.

SAVIDGE: Finally in July of 2012, O'Toole himself admitted that he could not go on in the acting business. He officially retired, giving the profession of, quote, "profoundly grateful farewell."

Peter O'Toole, an immortal on the screen, uniquely human off.


LU STOUT: And Peter O'Toole was nominated eight times for best actor at the Academy Awards, but he never won. Why is that? Well, he was always up against an acting all star. O'Toole missed out on Oscar for his role in Lawrence of Arabia. That was won by Gregory Beck for his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird.

O'Toole also lost to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, John Wayne in True Grit, Marlon Brandon as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Robert De Niro as Jack LaMotta in Raging Bull and Ben Kingsley in Gandhi, all classic Hollywood performances.

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