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Ukraine Signs $20 billion Economic Package With Russia; Top Five Tech Quotes Of 2013; NASA Prepares Emergency Spacewalk To Repair Failed Cooling Pump; Indian Government Retaliates Over Treatment of Diplomat In U.S.; Ethnic Tensions Continue In South Sudan

Aired December 18, 2013 - 8:00   ET


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

Now tensions rise between India and the U.S. over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in Washington.

The CNN Freedom Project's fight against human trafficking takes us to South Korea.

And we'll tell you what Marissa Mayer said to land on Nick Thompson's top tech quotes of the year.

Now the Indian government is retaliating against the United States over the arrest and detention of an Indian consular official in New York. Now the deputy consul general was arrested on visa fraud charges last week, creating a diplomatic uproar between Washington and New Delhi.

Now the outrage has been building with the Indian government describing the 39-year-old woman's treatment by the American justice system as barbaric. The U.S. police say that her treatment was standard procedure.

For more on the steps being taken against American officials in New Delhi and the background of this case, let's go live to CNN's Mallika Kapur. She joins us from New Delhi. And Mallika, first the woman at the center of all this, what exactly happened to her? What's next for her?

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, we have learned in the last couple of hours that she has been moved to India's permanent mission in New York. Now this is an important step, because there has been a lot of debate over just how much immunity she did have while she worked at the Indian consulate in New York. And it turns out she had limited immunity. And that's quite a standard thing for people working at a consulate.

But by moving her to the permanent mission in New York, India's permanent mission in New York, the government is hoping to secure her full immunity. And by doing that, what it means is that she will not be able to be arrested against. And that'll just prevent her, you know, further humiliation, further embarrassment.

So the Indian government doing whatever they can to make sure that she doesn't go through what she's been subjected to over the last couple of days. So as of now, we believe she has been transferred to India's permanent issue in New York.

Of course the government would ideally like to just bring her back to India, but they can't do that, because she had to surrender her passport when she was arrested -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now New Delhi has reacted quite angrily to this case, in particular to how she was treated. She was detained. She was strip searched. But how is New Delhi retaliating?

KAPUR: Good point. It is retaliating. And it's basically saying that we are going to give U.S. consulate staff in India the same privileges that our staff gets in the United States and nothing beyond that. So they have asked the consulate staff in New Delhi, in Calcutta, in Mumbai and in Chennai, the major cities in India to surrender their identity cards. And that means they're basically cutting down some of the privileges that went with these identity cards. For example, you know, access to lounges in the airports, that's one of the privileges that they're going to have to give up.

They've also removed some of the barriers, concrete barriers outside the U.S. embassy here in New Delhi. They insist that none of the security for U.S. diplomats has been scaled back, but one of the measures they've taken is to remove these concrete barriers, because that, too, was extended to the U.S. embassy as an extended courtesy, as a special courtesy. So they've done away with that.

And we had U.S. lawmakers here in town in New Delhi, but some leading Indian politicians refused to meet them, giving them quite a snub.

So that's how New Delhi has been retaliating -- you know, kind of a tit- for-tat game at the moment with the U.S.

LU STOUT: And the case has also drawn concern from human rights groups. They're concerned about the alleged treatment of the diplomat's housekeeper. What have you learned on this front?

KAPUR: Yes. Human rights groups have started talking about that. You know, it has to be said, of course, you know with this -- with all this talk about the treatment that she was subjected to and the media attention on that, the public attention of that, there really hasn't been that much attention paid to the actual charges itself.

But the charges against this top diplomat, this diplomat in New York are serious, you know, visa fraud. She said to have agreed to pay her helper the minimum wage of $9.75 an hour in New York, which is the minimum wage there, but she's alleged to have been paying her only about a third of that, around $3.31. So visa fraud, underpaying the nanny, these are serious charges. And if she's found guilty of them, then she could face a prison sentence to up to 15 years.

But, you know, attention really hasn't been put on that matter. It is a very serious offense, no doubt.

But over here, it has been overshadowed by -- you know, by the attention being placed on how she was humiliated, how she was treated and India is reacting very angrily to tahat.

LU STOUT: It is, indeed, a multifaceted story. Mallika Kapur reporting for us live from New Delhi, thank you.

Now Africa's newest nation, South Sudan, is facing a crisis. Now the country's government says 500 people have been killed in violent clashes, hundreds were wounded when fighting between rival army factions broke out on Sunday. At least 15,000 people are now taking shelter at UN compounds in the capital of Juba.

Now the UN says food and medicine supplies are running low and the city's two main hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

Now South Sudan's government says it now has full control of the situation and has ordered people back to work. But speaking earlier to CNN from Juba, the UN spokesman Joseph Contreras said the unrest is not over.


JOSEPH CONTRERAS, ACTING UN SOUTH SUDAN SPOKESMAN: Information minister asked government employees, for example, to return to work. I am not in a position to really characterize the political situation here, but the crisis is not over. It's a very, very fluid situation. So I don't think the country is out of the woods yet.


LU STOUT: Now tensions have been high in South Sudan since President Salva Kiir sacked his cabinet in July. Now the government says its forces stepped in to stop an attempted coup.

Now Ralitsa Vassileva has more.


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Government tanks rolled through South Sudan's capital a day after gunfire erupted in the streets. Dozens of soldiers and some civilians have reportedly been killed in two days of fighting. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir went on state TV Monday to announce his security forces have stopped what it called an attempted coup.

SALVA KIIR MAYARDIT, SOUTH SUDAN PRESIDENT: Your government is in full control of the security situation in Juba.

VASSILEVA: Tensions have been running high in Africa's newest nation since the president sacked his entire cabinet in July. He blamed soldiers loyal to his former vice president Riek Machar for starting the fighting. The two men are political rivals and hail from different ethnic groups.

Now an estimated 10,000 civilians are camped out to two UN compounds in Juba seeking safety from the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are many, many people who have run away. And there are also people who have been killed. Now there is a woman who has a baby who was shot in the back and died.

VASSILEVA: There are fears the fighting could reignite ethnic tensions in the country. UN officials are calling on both sides to show restraint and refrain from more violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Sudan deserves to see peace, stability prevail. Nobody wants to return to a situation of the past of insecurity.

VASSILEVA: For now, the government has declared a dusk to dawn curfew. And the U.S. and British embassies are warning their citizens to stay indoors.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.


LU STOUT: Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up, what is in the deal between Russia and Ukraine? Now protesters in Kiev say there is more happening behind closed doors than has been revealed. And they want details.

In South Korea, forced to sell their bodies in these dark bars, we'll learn about the plight of Filipino women forced into prostitution.

Also, basketball diplomat Dennis Rodman makes another trip to the hermit kingdom. And this time he's got an entourage behind him.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot could soon be out of jail. Now Russian lawmakers have approved an amnesty bill that lawyers say is set to free the two women. They were imprisoned for two years for hooliganism over a protest in a cathedral against President Vladimir Putin.

Now the amnesty bill is also likely to see the prosecution of 30 Greenpeace crew members over an Arctic protest abandoned. A final vote on the bill is yet to be taken.

Now Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says his country has managed to avoid bankruptcy and social collapse thanks to a deal with Russia.

Now under it, Moscow will buy $15 billion of Ukrainian debt and slash natural gas prices for its neighbor.


MYKOLA AZAROV, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yesterday, a really historic development occurred. After three-and-a-half years of Ukraine buying gas under the control, which day by day was bleeding our economy dry, the president of Ukraine has managed to put an end to the history of treason, the national interests for which some political forces, which are also provoking instability in the country today, are responsible.


LU STOUT: Now despite a fresh warning from Mr. Yanukovych against anyone destabilizing the country, protesters are still occupying Kiev's Independence Square. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she regrets Mr. Yanukovych's decision to turn down an accord with the European Union, but the offer remains.

Now CNN's Diana Magnay is in Kiev. And she talks about some of the questions raised from the deal.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: $15 billion and a 30 percent discount on gas prices and no conditions Mr. Putin says. For the many sectors of the Ukrainian economy, which depend heavily on the Russian market this is a huge relief. Their exports coming under extreme pressure from the Russian government in recent months.

But for the protesters in the square, this all sounds very suspicious. They're asking what conditions were agreed in secret between the two presidents. What compromise their independence has been made on their behalf, and what a key national interests such as its gas transportation system have been handed over, at least in part, to Russia.

The question is what happens now? The protesters will stay in the square, the government shows no sign that it's listening to them. And the economy is back on track for now. But this is a very different deal to the one that the IMF would have offered. Theirs would have imposed strict austerity measures and some very exacting conditions on the Ukrainians in the hope that that would set the economy on the path to long-term health.

This deal struck between Mr. Putin and Mr. Yanukovych looks like a very risky investment for Mr. Putin and could be construed as a risk taken on for political mastery of this former Soviet State.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Kiev.


LU STOUT: Now there has been a lot of controversy over Russia's recent anti-gay law. Now U.S. President Barack Obama said that he opposes boycotting the upcoming winter games in Sochi, but is sending Russia a message. Now the U.S. delegation to th games will include some openly gay athletes.

The White House says tennis legend Billy Jean King will be at the opening ceremonies as a member of the delegation.

Now two weeks later, openly gay hockey player Caitlin Cahow will attend the closing ceremonies as part of the U.S. delegation for the first time in more than a decade. No U.S. president, first lady, vice president or former president will be at the ceremonies.

Now, as we reported earlier here on News Stream, a cooling pump has failed on the International Space Station. So a space walk is in order to fix it. Let's get details now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, yeah, spacewalks are never an easy thing to do and especially these unplanned ones. It takes a long time for NASA to be able to figure stuff out like this.

And I want to show you some pictures of a spacewalk while we talk about this. But this is a previous spacewalk of course, but the new news that's coming out of this right now is that NASA is planning three spacewalks now, Kristie, happening within the next few days on December 21, 23 and if needed on December 25. That is to fix that fuel pump.

One of the challenges that they have in space is -- you know how if you're talking on your phone and it gets really hot, for example? Well, that's kind of the same thing -- or your laptop gets really hot? Kind of the same thing happens in space and they have to get rid of that heat that is produced by all of the equipment that they have on board. What they do with that is -- how they fix it, they have these ammonia pumps that circulate outside the station and help redistribute that heat back out into space. Those are the pumps that failed.

So, the two American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will probably have to do the spacewalk. And remember that they have to fix everything with the tools and with the equipment that they only have on board. And they happen to have a spare in this case.

And I want to show you something pretty cool from AstroRM, as we know. He is on the International Space Station. He's been tweeting about this experience. And then last week he says we're going to be pretty busy next week so we're not going to be tweeting as much and sending out these pretty pictures.

But he did send this picture out also. And in this one, he says, hey, where did I put my gloves? He's been pretty busy building his space so getting it ready for the spacewalks that are coming up.

It's good to know that they are all in good spirits. They are all safe and comfortable even though part of the station of the ISS is not being able to be used right now.

So thank you AstroRM for that picture -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, thank you for that. And it's incredible but not surprising to hear that they have a spare. Astronauts always, always very prepared.

Now Mari, take us out of orbit for a moment, what about more Earthly weather conditions?

RAMOS: Oh, yeah, there's a lot going on in the world of weather. Let me go ahead and go back to my -- the magic of TV right over here, back to our weather maps. And this is an area in Brazil. And I don't know if you've seen this video already, Kristie, but this is something amazing to be able to see. And you can hear in people's voices how scared they were when this happened.

We're going to ahead and head here into the state of Minas Gerais. You can see how much rain has been falling across this area. The name of the area is called Sardoa. And they had a landslide. This is an area that is no stranger to landslides. And the rescue personnel was already there to help people that were trapped by the first landslide. And that is when they were able to capture this on tape. Take a look.

You know, it's amazing, you see those trees just snapped like twigs. They say the landslide was over 100 meters long. It created a scar on that mountainside, clearly visible right there. The concern -- local media is saying that at least six people died between both landslides. You can see how quickly everything happened.

Two of the missing so far are rescue personnel according to local media that were there to help people that were trapped by the first landslide. So very serious and very tragic indeed in that situation happening in Brazil.

Fortunately, the rain, though, in that area coming to it and as it continues to move farther to the north.

One other thing that we've been talking about in South America -- let's go ahead and stay here -- is the heat. Look at that, it's only just after 10:00 in the morning in Buenes Aires. It's already 28 degrees. Crowded city with all those people -- temperatures have just been soaring over the last couple of days.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday not as hot as Monday and Tuesday. But then at the beginning of next we, you should start seeing temperatures kind of warm up to say the very least a little bit more than we'd like to with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day expected to be quite hot, maybe near record highs.

Very quickly for you, a little closer to home for you, Kristie. 11 degrees in Hong Kong right now. I hope you brought your jacket when you go home. It's going to be even chillier than that. 13 in Hanoi, 14 in Taipei, all of this having to do with this frigid air that's in place across much of East Asia.

Did you see Beijing? It's minus 8. The air quality not so good either.

We're getting a little bit of mixing in the atmosphere across the Korean Peninsula and then back over toward Japan. That area of low pressure is bringing some snow. Some of it will be heavy, some of you will have big travel delays.

Tokyo, it's been on and off. Sometimes you're getting some heavy snowfall and sometimes it turns into rain. It just going to depend how warm it gets -- or how cold, I should say, it gets to be able to support that snowfall. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Yeah. I'm feeling a bit of the cold. It was a beautiful day earlier today in Hong Kong, but very cold. And you got a feel for our neighbors, our viewers watching further up north.

Mari Ramos there, thank you. Take care.

Now, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, he announced an additional $25 million of aid for the Philippines. He said this after touring Tacloban, one of the cities hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Now the storm, it left more than $6,000 people dead and extra funds brings Washington's aid tally to $87 million.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up next, they're known as Juicy Bars, a seemingly innocuous name aimed at attracting the soldiers who frequent them. But for the women working there who are pushed into prostitution, it is a living hell. Now CNN's Freedom Project heads to South Korea after the break.


LU STOUT: Now CNN's Freedom Project shines a spotlight on the problem of human trafficking around the world. In South Korea, it takes place in what are called Juicy Bars. Now the bars are set up next to U.S. military bases and staffed by mainly Filipino women. They complain of being forced into prostitution.

As Paula Hancocks reports, little is being done to help them.

Now this warning for you, her report contains some graphic language.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a Seoul shelter far from home, Jocelyn Diocares is making jewelry. One bracelet sells for $5, an attempt to make some money in a country that is being cruel to her.

Diocares was promised a job as a singer by a promoted in her native Philippines. She left behind a husband and children and went to South Korea. When she got here, she says she was forced to work in a so-called juicy bar.

These are bars close to U.S. military bases, staffed mainly by Filipino women. Servicemen have to by expensive drinks to talk to them. Diocares says if she didn't sell her quota of drinks, she had to make up the difference another way.

JOSELYN DIOCARES, FORMER JUICY BAR WORKER: They're going to buy us a drink and then they're going to ask can you go with me tonight, or can we go to a date, can we go to the hotel, or can you do handjob or a blowjob? They always ask that when they came in the club.

HANCOCKS: The American soldiers knew what they should ask for?

DIOCARES: Yeah. They know.

HANCOCKS: U.S. Congressman Chris Smith has been trying to help these women.

REP. CHRIS SMITH, (R) NEW JERSEY: Passports have often been taken. And frankly, and I've seen the tapes, if they try to get out they will be severely dealt with, including beatings and other terrible consequences. So they're there against their will. It is modern day slavery. And -- but for the cost of very expensive drink, you get the drink and unfortunately you get the exploitation of that woman.

HANCOCKS: Diocares says she escaped after a year-and-a-half with $40. Durabang (ph), a shelter dedicated to helping juicy girls got her passport back from the club owner and helped to start legal proceedings against the club.

The owner told CNN in a phone conversation the accusations are ridiculous. And what the women do with military personnel after work is their own business. He declined an on camera interview.

The U.S. military, known as U.S. Forces Korea, makes these sort of establishments off limits to troops if it finds evidence of prostitution or trafficking. It also carries out nightly military patrols around certain neighborhoods.

ANNOUNCER: Right now, young women are being lured to Korea.

HANCOCKS: Warnings air on the Armed Forces Network.

ANNOUNCER: Form of modern day slavery. Do not support human trafficking.

SMITH: The military commanders have to say this is a priority with my command. And that needs to be reflected right down the echelon, the pecking order, that we will not be exploiters of women.

HANCOCKS: The local goernment did not respond to our repoeated calls for comment, but the South Korean Justice Ministry says it is very difficult to track down those abusing the system.

The president of the Philippines, though, tells CNN he wants more done in South Korea and back home to protect these women.

BENIGNO AQUINO, PRESIDENT OF PHILIPPINES: Cooperation from those who patronize these establishments that they're going to be made off limits. On our end, there have been strict procedures. And unfortunately some of them have been trying to bypass the procedures.

HANCOCKS: Diocares has since returned to the Philippines, a trip intended to be a ticket out of poverty has just created painful memories.

How did you feel emotionally having to do this almost...

DIOCARES: It's like almost every night I was crying. I was always crying. And I always wish that I could go home and then finish my contract.

HANCOCKS: Diocares may have escaped the worst of her nightmares, others are still living theirs.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


LU STOUT: Now, one of the most notorious British criminals of the 20th Century, the great train robber Ronnie Biggs, has died. Now his publisher tells CNN that the 84-year-old's family says that Biggs passed away early on Wednesday. He earned his nickname from an infamous 1963 heist of the crime of the century. He was part of a professional gang with made off with what today would be almost $4 million after holding up a mail train traveling from Glasgow to London.

Now Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but escaped and spent most of the rest of his life as a celebrity fugitive.

Now this is News Stream. And coming up next, they are angry over the NSA spying revelations. Now, U.S. President Barack Obama faces dozens of top tech CEOs in Washington.

And this woman, Marissa Mayer was at the meeting. All eyes have been on the new Yahoo boss this year, so just what did she say to make it on to our favorite tech quotes for 2013?


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

Now law enforcement officials in New York say that they were following standard procedure when they strip searched an Indian diplomat after her arrest on visa fraud charges. India is furious and is taking retaliatory steps, including removing the concrete security barriers outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

Reuters reports fresh fighting in South Sudan, but a minister for the government says unrest in the capital has now come to an end. Now the government says some 500 people have been killed and hundreds were wounded in the fighting in Juba since the weekend.

The UN says as many as 20,000 people are seeking refuge at its bases around the capital.

Ukraine's prime minister says the country was looking at bankruptcy and social collapse if it hadn't signed an economic pact with Russia. But one day after the deal was announced, thousands have come back onto the streets of Kiev to keep up protests against Russia's influence.

NASA says it will take three spacewalks over the next week to replace a coolant pump that's not working on the International Space Station. Now the problem has forced the crew to shut down some of the station's non- critical equipment. Each spacewalk will take two astronauts about six hours to complete.

Now basketball star Dennis Rodman is heading back to North Korea. This time, though, we might get a better look at what happens in the hermit kingdom, that's because Rodman is bringing along a documentary film crew.

Now for more, let's go straight to Anna Coren. She joins us live in Seoul -- Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, despite the political upheaval in North Korea, Dennis Rodman seems undeterred. He's going ahead with his third trip into the hermit kingdom in the wake of the execution of King Jong un's uncle.

Now Rodman is currently in Beijing. He travels to Pyongyang tomorrow with the world, no doubt, will be watching.


COREN (voice-over): With his piercings, tattoos and at times outlandish behavior, there's no denying former NBA star Dennis Rodman loves attracting attention.

And where he's heading, it's certain the world will be watching, as the 52- year-old makes his third visit into a country ruled by one of the world's most repressive regimes.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I want to bridge a gap with North Korea. That's all I want.

COREN: It comes at a time of dramatic political upheaval in North Korea.

Just last week, the country's young leader, Kim Jong-un had his uncle executed in what some experts believe is just the beginning of many more purges to come.

A power struggle is believed to be the reason why he had his mentor and second in command allegedly killed by machine gunfire. And with all the instability, it would appear that the supreme leader could use a good friend.

RODMAN: I'd call him my friend. He's my friend. If you hate my guts, hate my guts but he's my friend.

COREN: Rodman is traveling with a documentary crew, that will film him training the North Korean basketball team. They are preparing for an exhibition match in January, against a group of former pro basketball players to celebrate the birthday of Kim Jong-un, a die hard basketball fan.

Many are wondering whether Rodman will raise the issue of 45-year-old American missionary Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years prison in Pyongyang for what authority say was an attempt to overthrow the regime.

But Rodman says this trip isn't political, although in previous visits he has made himself available for basketball diplomacy, offering to be a mediator between his close friend Kim and U.S. President Barack Obama.

RODMAN: This guy wants to do one thing, have a conversation with you. That's it. So why, Obama, are you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman?


COREN: Now, Kristie, there are some people who'd obviously like Dennis Rodman to make this a political trip. A North Korean defector published an open letter in the Washington Post today calling on Rodman to raise the issue of human rights and make -- with Kim Jong un and make him hear the cries of his people. But, Kristie, I don't think we should be holding our breath for that.

LU STOUT: No. And questions also being raised about the timing of this trip. I mean, why is Rodman making this trip now right after the shocking execution of Kim Jong un's uncle?

COREN: Yeah, it's unusual, isn't it? But, you know, according to the people around Rodman, they say that this was scheduled, it had been planned for several months, that he's going in there to train the North Korean basketball team and that he'll be coming back in January to celebrate the birthday of Kim Jong un.

So it's interesting, isn't it? I don't know whether or not he's going to be meeting with Kim Jong un. There's no confirmation as to whether the two men will meet. But you can't imagine that they'd waste that opportunity.

We know that Dennis Rodman loves attention as does Kim Jong un. And certainly in the past, the most previous visit when Rodman has returned. He's talked about being a mediator and providing a bridge between North Korea and the United States. Obviously those two countries do not speak, because of North Korea's continuing desire to build a nuclear weapons program.

But certainly, Kristie, many people, as you say, are asking about the timing of this trip. But I'm sure both these men will capitalize on the attention that they will be getting over the coming days.

LU STOUT: All right, Anna Coren joining us live from Seoul, thank you Anna.

Now, U.S. President Barack Obama has tried to reassure major tech companies that are concerned that their infrastructure is being used for spying by the National Security Agency. Now he met with industry leaders at the White House. And as CNN's Brianna Keilar now reports, the president seems continually on the defensive these days.


KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama spent two hours today with 15 leaders of the country's biggest high-tech companies, many of whom had backed his re-election. The president playing defense, explaining the disastrous rollout of and trying to ease concerns over the NSA spying scandal, which has touched many of their companies.

The president at one point joking with the CEO of the movie site Netflix, admiring the efficiency of the lead character in that company's hit online Washington drama, "House of Cards."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like Kevin Spacey. I was thinking, man, this guy is getting a lot of stuff done.

KEILAR: If Obama is envious of Spacey's character, because it's because he hasn't had much success this year. His approval rating above 50 percent this time last year is now near an all-time low, a steep dive in just 12 months. And a new poll shows more Americans trust Republicans over him to deal with the all important issue of the economy.

Critics on the left say the president also squandered the advantage Democrats had after the government shutdown with the administration's poor handling of Obamacare.

AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Where I see the president sort of ending up is in a place of meh. He's not really good, he's not really in a bad place. He's just sort of there. And it's not helping his party.

KEILAR: The White House, trying to change that narrative, continues retooling the president's staff, appointing a former Microsoft executive to oversee improvements to the health care website and reaching out to those high-tech executives behind closed doors. Advisers realize if he doesn't turn things around quickly, he could drag down fellow Democrats in next year's midterm elections.

WALTER: The only question now is whether it gets worse for him because then he loses control of Congress and is forced to spend his last two years in office just simply playing defense.

KEILAR: President Obama's second term approval ratings dip resembles the trajectory of George W. Bush whose ratings plummeted amid two wars. And the mid-term election that he faced in his second term, he saw Democrats take over both the House and the Senate. Certainly Presidnet Obama wants to avoid the reverse of that.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, The White House.


LU STOUT: Now let's go back to that summit of tech leaders. Now the U.S. President hosted it. And let's take a closer look at the guest list.

Now there were major CEOs like Apple's Tim Cook, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer was there, also Twitter's Dick Costello. But others may not have been chief executives, but are leaders within their company's like Google's Eric Schmidt, or Facebook's Cheryl Sandberg.

But then there were a few other companies represented that caught our eye like Netflix, the U.S. streaming video service, or Zynga, famous for social games on Facebook like Farmville, sharing a table with the U.S. president.

Now, coming up next, inspiring words and ambitious goals, the best tech quotes of 2013 and the memorable stories behind them. Stay with us.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now personalized ads online are nothing new, but you might be surprised to hear that the purchases you make in an actual real world store might be influencing what type of advertisements you might see in your Facebook feed. Now, in this CNN exclusive, Facebook reveals how and why it is using your offline data. Samuel Burke reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santa can still look into his magic snowball and see just what you're up to.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just like Santa Claus in the classic cartoon...


BURKE: ...big tech companies not only know what they're users are up to online, increasingly they know what they're doing offline.

Facebook is partnering with data collection firms that gather information from those customer loyalty cards used in many brick and mortar stores. Facebook's vice president of global marketing says the data is then used to create customized ads and deals to its more than 1 billion customers.

CAROLYN EVERSON, FACEBOOK VICE-PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL MARKETING: I'll give you a very real example. Let's say that I am a heavy snack user and I buy snacks and we now have the ability through about 50 percent of purchase card data in the United States to tell a snack manufacturer that here are the consumers that have purchased snacks and allow that marketer to target them with a very specific ad.

BURKE: How can Facebook guarantee that all this data is anonymous.

EVERSON: We have the data from let's say the grocery store, which is really purchase card data. We have that bucket of data. We have the Facebook data. Those two never shall meet in terms of us sharing specific Facebook information or them sharing very specific purchase information. So they would turn Samuel into a code that would never be identifiable as Samuel. You would be a set of characters.

BURKE: That procedure is called hashing. And despite this advance in securing information, privacy advocates are worried about tech companies collecting so much information.

MARC ROTENBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: We do believe that hashing and more generally the identification, which is a technique for anonymizing (ph), that is to remove the actual information of the user, is a good privacy tool. And we favor it. But we think it also has to be tested independently. And we can't rely on Facebook's representations about whether they're doing a good enough job.

BURKE: Facebook says their business depends on keeping user's data secure. And they believe they'll prefer seeing ads and coupons customized to their tastes and habits.

EVERSON: We firmly believe that the more relevant and useful the advertising can be that it's in service of the consumer.

BURKE: Maybe more importantly for Facebook, the people paying their bills, the advertisers, see this customization as the Holy Grail.

EVERSON: We want to be able to offer a marketer the opportunity to know precisely who they want to target to drive very specific business results. And that's incredibly valuable for them.

BURKE: Now Facebook's users will have to decide whether this type of data sharing is naughty or nice.

Samuel Burke, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: Facebook giving some rare insight into its strategy there.

And there have been some memorable quotes that have marked the top tech stories of 2013, some inspiring, some just plain baffling.

Now our regular tech contributor, he has some favorites. Nicholas Thompson is the editor of the New And he joins us now live from New York.

And Nick, we picked four from your list. And first we have a quote from the tech tycoon and visionary Elon Musk. He said, quote, "I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact."

Give us the context here.

NICK THOMPSON, NEW YORKER.COM: This was a quote from Elon Musk at South by Southwest this year. And the reason I picked it for my annual list here of tech quotes is I needed something from Musk. He had such an amazing year - - three companies that did extraordinarily well and then his hyperloop big dreaming plans. So Musk was up to lots of great stuff. And I love that quote.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it was a very ambitious and amazing year for Elon Musk.

Now next up, a line from Theodore Holm Nelson's eulogy for the legendary inventor Douglas Engelbart. He said, "so I don't just feel like I've lost my best friend, I feel like I've lost my best planet."

Remind us of just the incredible tech legacy Engelbart leaves behind.

THOMPSON: So Engelbart is remembered for all sorts of things. For example, helping to create the mouse. But what seemed to be at the core of his desire was to build software that allowed people to collaborate, to create methods in which people could use technology to work together to solve problems. And he was eventually sort of pushed out of the tech establishment.

So, what Theodore Holm Nelson was saying is, look, this is a guy who is trying to make tech serve us. And the way technology is built changes the way society works. And he was pushed out and that was a very bad thing.

LU STOUT: And he's the godfather of hypertext and the mouse. And of course there's that famous video, the mother of all demos, which I encourage everyone to go online and see.

Now also on your list, Nick, Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer trying to explain the roundly mocked new company logo. She said this, "straight lines don't exist in the human form and are extremely rare in nature. So..." then she goes on to say..."a human touch in the logo is that all the lines and forms have at least a slight curve."

What was she going on there about and how did that go down? I mean, what was the reaction to that like?

THOMPSON: So, I picked that quote, because it was just so crazily pretentious, right. We've changed our logo -- and they changed it in a way that really nobody liked. It was fine. It wasn't great. But like we modeled every letter after the shape of the human body. It was sort of so ridiculous. But you like the idea that people of tech are really thinking deep about fonts. But they came up with this?

LU STOUT: I know, it was incredible isn't it, because when she was at Google and looking after the front page it was the simplicity that users loved at the very beginning. And the Yahoo logo and that quote there was just so over thought and everything else.

THOMPSON: Absolutely.

LU STOUT: All right, one more quote from you. Not from you yourself, but picked from you. It's a very good one. This is the NSA memo that was seen all over the world and leaked, of course, by Edward Snowden. And it's right here this part right here, SSL added and removed here with the little smiley face emoticon written next to Google's cloud servers.

Now Google was not amused when they found out about this, right.

THOMPSON: No. This is why I believe that Google was meeting at the White House yesterday.

I mean, so clearly the biggest story of the year is the NSA. So if you're going to come for the list of tech quotes, put it on your website, you need to have -- number one, it needs to be something NSA related. And this was amazing, because clearly somebody at the NSA was just getting a good chuckle out of the fact that they had hacked into the most private of data from American companies that are totally essential to our economy and you can see why maybe the folks at Google and Yahoo and other technology companies were not so happy with the NSA over that.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And tech users around the world as well. Nick Thompson, New Thank you so much.

You can see your full list available online. It's on your Twitter feed, on mine as well. I just sent out a retweet. Thank you so much, Nick, and take care.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Kristie. See you.

LU STOUT: Now, to our weekly CNN Heroes segment. Now her name, Dr. Laura Stachel. She was one of the top 10 honorees this year. And she started her work in Nigeria, but she will travel to the Philippines this week to help with the ongoing relief effort there.

Now take a look at the hope and light that she's planning to bring to devastated communities.


DR. LAURA STACHEL, MEDICAL MARVEL: There's a traditional African saying, when you become pregnant that you have one foot in the grave. There are so many women dying in childbirth in many communities, pregnancy is feared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the last month recorded four women died from pregnancy complications.

STACHEL: When I went to Africa, I saw women one after another coming in with complications and didn't have adequate light to treat them. A lot of clinics don't have electricity. Midwives use kerosene lanterns, candles, use their cell phone to deliver babies. Once I witnessed the things I saw, I had to do something about it.

My name is Dr. Laura Statchel. I am helping provide a simple solar lighting source so that mothers and babies can be saved during childbirth. Hospitals and clinics receive the solar suitcase for free. The charge controller is very important. Solar suitcase provides medical quality lighting, charges cell phones, has a small battery charger for head lamps and for fetal Doppler that we include.

Perfect, that's it! Mothers are eager to come to the clinics. It shifted them around for the health care worker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to bring good changes.

STATCHEL: I really want a world where women and their families get to celebrate birth and I would love to be part of making that happen.



LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the Christmas season will be very merry for some lottery players in the United States. But CNN has found another big winner from the Megamillions draw. Now two tickets share the $636 million in prize money. One of the tickets was sold in a store in Atlanta.

Our Martin Savidge visited the owner at her shop.

Now Young Soo Lee was happy for the lottery winner, but she had no idea of her own good fortune for selling the ticket.


YOUNG SOO LEE, SHOP OWNER: Oh my gosh, I never handled (inaudible)...


LU STOUT: No Lee has owned the store for nine years and says that she will continue working despite her big win.

Now the next story is about a group of pint-sized heroes. They come from a poor remote village in Mexico Oaxaca state. But thanks to a special sports program, they are the toast of the nation. Rafael Romo tells us more about these barefoot champions.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are small in size, but big in spirit. Unknown only a year ago, these children are now Mexico's heroes.

SERGIO ZUNIGA, BASKETBALL COACH (through translator): They love basketball. They live for basketball. And having a ball in their hands is like having a prize to them. Facing a taller or stronger rival is a challenge and they love challenges.

ROMO: They're not only Mexico's basketball champions, but they've also won tournaments in countries like Argentina.

RIGOBERTO LOPEZ, TEAM MEMBER (through translator): It was a lot of fun and somewhat easy. We scored a lot more points than they did. They were taller than us, but we had the heart and talent to beat them.

ROMO: The Mexican president welcomed them at his mansion. And when they lost in the Dominican Republic, a team member apologized to their fans.

We caught up with them in Oaxaca, Mexico where they train.

These children are among the poorest of the Mexican poor. Shoes are a luxury in the remote mountain communities where they grew up. And they often play barefoot.

(through translator): What's easier, playing barefoot or with shoes?

MELQUIADES RAMIREZ, BASKETBALL PLAYER (through translator): Barefoot.

ROMO: Why?

RAMIREZ (through translator): Because I can move better, run faster and jump higher.

ROMO: At an exhibition game with the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City, the NBA players took their shoes off to honor the children. They are ethnic (inaudible) and some didn't speak Spanish before joining the sports program.

10-year-old Forlan Martinez (ph) says in broken Spanish that reading is helping him develop his language skills. Basketball has been the key to education, says one of their coaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They know it's not just about playing, but also about study. They must have good grades to stay in the program.

ROMO: There are 40 children participating in the program, 20 currently have scholarships to live, study and train here in the capital with funding from the state of Oaxaca. The other 20 are participating in the program back in their communities.

In their hometown, young men dream of migrating to the United States for a job, but not these children.

What is your dream? I ask Melquiades.

RAMIREZ (through translator): To be an engineer.

ROMO: Rafael Romo, CNN, Oaxaca, Mexico.


LU STOUT: And now from that inspiring story to -- well, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. You may recall that he's been in trouble for admitting to smoking crack cocaine. Now we have a new video of him dancing his cares away.


LU STOUT: You knew he would dance like that.

Now Ford and other city officials, they took a dance break on the council floor on Tuesday as a local jazz troupe played Christmas carol blues. The Toronto Sun says the dance off happened moments after Ford had an angry spat with the same city counselor he knocked into last month. People forget that.

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