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North Korea Opens Ski Resort; Doctors Remove Hematoma From Michael Schumacher's Brain; Deadline Looms To End South Sudan Violence; Leading Women: Diezani Alison-Madueke

Aired December 31, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


CROWD: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Happy New Year!


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Got to start the year with a little bit of AC/DC. I say hello everyone. I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

A deadline approaches for South Sudan's warring factions to negotiate.

Doctors say racing legend Michael Schumacher is showing a slight improvement, but say his life is still in danger after a skiing accident.

And a powerful cyclone batters Australia's northern coast.

Fighting continues on the ground in South Sudan, but today there's hope there could soon be peace talks to end some two weeks of deadly clashes in the troubled nation. East African countries had set a ceasefire deadline for today, asking President Salva Kiir and rival Riek Machar to negotiate. Wire services are reporting now that both sides have agreed to attend talks in Ethiopia's capital.

Despite that, the Sudan People's Liberation Army says there's been heavy fighting in Bor today. The town in the center of the country has been a flashpoint for violence this month. The government regained control of Bor last week, but the army had warned about 20,000 members of an ethnic militia were marching toward the town.

Well, keep in mind leaders Kiir and Machar are longtime rivals and come from different tribal groups, but the president has told CNN's Arwa Damon that he is willing to talk to the rebels.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hauntingly abandoned and utterly desolate, there's hardly a soul in sight. This old woman says she was too weak to run, can barely stand and doesn't have much energy to talk. Others decided to risk staying as violence first erupted mid-month.

(on camera): The bulk of the fighting in this particular neighborhood took place further down the road, but it sent this entire community, the vast majority of it, fleeing.

(voice-over): Most of those who fled are now here, at a UN compound turned refugee town just a short distance from their homes, one of the results of a power struggle between current President Salva Kiir and the man he's accused of attempting a coup, his long-time rival and former Vice President Riek Machar.

East African mediators have given both sides until Tuesday to stop fighting and start talking or face consequences.

The president, though, says he's willing to negotiate.

SALVA KIIR, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH SUDAN: We are going to talk and then if they don't accept the talking, we will fight.

When we brought solution with the Sudan government, when we were rebels, we were fighting. It took us a very long time us a very long time. At the end, we accepted to negotiate.

DAMON: No one here wants to see a battle that's that protracted or bloody, but South Sudan has a history of politics taking on an ethnic dimension. And tensions between Kiir's Dinka ethnic group and Machar's Nuer are easily exploited.


DAMON: This government minister and other influential Nuers spent all morning calling leaders of the so-called White Army, ethnic Nuers loyal to Machar, trying to convince them not to be drawn into the conflict.

PAUL: And we explain it to them that the issue was a political issue, it is not a tribal issue. And we are not supporting Riek Machar. As you see us here, we are not supporting Riek Machar, we are loyal to the system.

DAMON: It's a system this young nation is struggling to protect.

This Nuer family returned to pick up a few belongings and head back to the UN camp.

Daniel Atim, their neighbor, is a Dinka. He says he's trying to convince them it's safe enough to stay.

DANIEL ATIM, RESIDENT: Only have my ambitions, I have my dreams. I cannot let all my dreams go because I want to fight for someone. It doesn't make sense. I have to know first what am I fighting for? For example, our parents were fighting for independence from the Arabs. They were fighting because they want us to be independent. They want us to be (inaudible) of speech, of religion, of other things. So it was a very good reason to fight. And it was a good reason to die.

DAMON: This country already paid a price for its independence, now it's simply trying to survive.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Juba.


RAJPAL: Doctors say Michael Schumacher has shown a slight improvement in his condition, but added that he is not out of danger yet. The Formula One racing legend underwent a second operation Monday night at Grenoble University hospital to reduce pressure in his brain. The 44-year-old suffered a severe head trauma Sunday in a skiing accident in the French Alps. Schumacher remains in a medically induced coma to combat brain swelling.

Well, Schumacher is being treated at Grenoble University hospital as we have been saying. And our Jim Boulden is there following every detail and development on his condition.

Jim, what are the doctors saying today?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Monita, this was the second procedure for Michael Schumacher. And it took place last night. The way the doctors described it was that there was an easing in the pressure of the brain in his skull. And that allowed them to do this procedure to remove a hematoma, to remove a bruise.

They did find other hematoma -- and bruises as well. So they're being very cautious. They're saying slight improvement. They're not using the word optimistic, it's very important to point that out. But they did say that they were able to see some improvement.

Let's hear from Jacquiline Hubert who runs the hospital here. And this is how she described last night.


JACQUELINE HUBERT, DIRECTOR GENERAL, GRENOBLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL (through translator): During late in the night, a new brain scan was carried out showing an improvement. The scan made it possible to offer the family a new surgical intervention in order to reduce the intercranial pressure. This intervention took place during this night. A new scan was carried out this morning. It shows radiological signs of a slight improvement.


BOULDEN: Monita, the doctors say it's now in a critical situation, because they've done this procedure and they need to see hour by hour if there's any improvement and what else they can do. They did consult with the family about this procedure that took place late last night to make them understand it was not a simple procedure, but they did think it was important for him to do that.

He remains in a medical induced coma, by the way, Monita.

RAJPAL: Jim, is any more light being shed on the accident that caused this trauma itself, what actually happened on Sunday afternoon?

BOULDEN: Yeah, we've heard a lot more now about the accident, because his manager, Sabine, came here to the hospital in Grenoble. And she was able to brief us afterwards. And she gave us some of the detail, including -- she was not there, but she spoke to other people, including Michael Schumacher's son.

Let's listen to how she described what has been told to her that led up to this accident.


SABINE KEHM, SCHUMACHER'S MANAGER: I have spoken with the people who have been there, because Michael was not only with his son, he has been with friends. And they all told me the same, that Michael was not even at high speed, it was -- that was why they didn't understand it initially that it was so severe. Everybody was extremely shocked about the severeness when they went there.


BOULDEN: And Monita, Sabine is very close to the Schumacher family. I asked her if she had seen Michael. She refused to say whether she had seen him or not. We were trying to get a sense of what she thought, and she was very clear she was not going to comment on the family and how they're doing or how the family is reacting.

She also wanted to make it very clear that the doctors are not using the term optimistic -- Monita.

RAJPAL: All right. Very difficult time indeed for those close to him.

All right, Jim, thank you very much for that. Jim Boulden reporting to us there from Grenoble University Hospital there in France.

Now you are watching News Stream on this New Year's Eve. And still to come on the show, it's been one of the biggest stories of 2013, the NSA spying scandal. Now new claims the U.S. agency used an elite hacking team to spy on its targets.

Plus, residents in remote western Australia are surveying the damage after a powerful storm tore through their town. We'll get an update on Cyclone Christine just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely incredible. It was never...



RAJPAL: Celebrations continue there in Sydney. As you're seeing there, those people marking the new year. We are some twelve-and-a-half minutes into 2014 there for you in Sydney, Australia.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden created an international uproar when he exposed the U.S. secret surveillance program. Now the German news magazine Der Spiegel is offering new revelations on a reported elite unit of NSA hackers.

Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A typical error message from Microsoft telling you of a bug in your computer. Many of us get them all the time. But for some users, that error message may be a way into their computer, or an elite unit inside the NSA.

MATTHEW AID, AUTHOR: This is NSA's hacking organization. It's 1,600 men and women, military and civilians, average age mid-20s, maybe early 30s. So it's a very young, very tech savvy organization.

TODD: The unit is called Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. New details of its activities are reported in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which cites internal NSA documents. The magazine says some of the hackers are based in this building in San Antonio.

Aside from getting into a computer through an error message, Der Spiegel says TAO hackers can access so-called cookies, those tags that pop up showing a computer's favorite websites. And they can redirect users to a dummy page on a site like LinkedIn or Facebook. It looks like a real page, but its' a fake one controlled by the NSA.

(on camera): This is a dummy Facebook page. When you go there, what does the NSA want to find out?

MICHAEL SUTTON, ZACALER, INC: One would be to simply intercept and sniff your traffic. For example, I would be logging into this page and they would be able to see -- now they have my username and password, get into my account and help them in other attacks.

But in this particular scenario, what they really want to do is infect my machine.

TODD: The unit doesn't do just remote hacking, according to Der Spiegel, TAO operatives physically intercept computers being delivered to plant spyware on them and even infiltrate offices to plant their own monitor cables and USB plugs onto targeted computers to collect data.

(voice-over): An NSA official told CBS's "60 Minutes" the agency was concerned enough about the connecting cables on Edward Snowden's computers that it removed those cables after he leaked NSA documents.

According to Der Spiegel, this NSA hacking unit targets potential terrorists, foreign security agencies and corporations.

SUTTON: From an eavesdropping perspective, this is a goldmine. If I can own your computer, if I can gain access to it and gain a foothold into it, now I have access to all of your secrets.

TODD: In response to the Der Spiegel report, the NSA said Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. TAO's work is in support of foreign intelligence collection.

Der Spiegel says the NSA's hackers work with the CIA and FBI to fly some places and use operatives to physically place spyware on computers and other apparatus. The CIA wouldn't comment. The FBI would only say any tools it uses in investigations are legal.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


RAJPAL: Thousands of police officers are investigating two deadly bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd, Russia. The suspected suicide attacks happened Sunday and Monday, hitting the city's main railway station and a crowded commuter bus. Dozens of people have been detained.

In a strongly worded statement, the International Olympic Committee condemned the attacks as despicable and cowardly. President Thomas Bach added he remains confident Russian authorities will keep the upcoming games in Sochi safe and secure.

Moscow has stepped up security across the country. And the U.S. is also offering full support to the Russian government in its Olympic preparations.

Well, passengers on board a Russian research ship trapped in the Antarctic ice will have to wait at least one more day for the weather to clear before they can be airlifted to safety by a rescue helicopter. The ship has not moved in a week since getting stuck in thick ice on Christmas Day.

And of course weather playing a huge role in their rescue operations. And also weather playing a huge role in people planning on doing things tonight to mark the new year. Mari Ramos is at the world weather center with all of that for us, Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, yeah. Monita, let's get right to it. A lot of ground to cover here.

Let's go ahead and start with the location of this ship near Antarctica. This is the relative location of the ship. And you see the coast of Antarctica here.

Look at all this moisture that is just trailing in. We had high pressure before and that was keeping things relatively quiet. Now, that high pressure has moved away and it opens up the door for these weather systems to come on through.

But look, behind that, there's another one coming in. But they'll get somewhat of a break in between these two weather systems.

Now I've got to tell you, forecasting the weather for this part of the world is difficult, to say the least. There's not a lot of data, there's not a lot of information that comes in. And things change very, very quickly.

So when and if that rescue happens, it's going to happen very quickly. They're going to be monitoring those localized weather patterns there. And see whenever they get a break in the wind, in particular, and the precipitation they'll be able to fly out and start taking people off the ship onto a barge. And then from the barge onto another ship where they would be safe and sound.

So the next weather system looks like it will be staying away. So maybe -- maybe just tomorrow they'll be able to get a break.

Tuesday, as you can see, we're expecting rain. But Wednesday and Thursday look a bit quieter compared to what they've had in the last 24 hours.

A bit quieter also for you in Port Hedland and off the northwest coast of Australia after Tropical Cyclone Christine made landfall. You can see the storm kind of moving farther to the south spreading rain across this area. And this video shows us what it looked like when it made landfall.

Winds howling to more than 170 kilometers per hour. At least 7,000 homes were left without power, mostly downed trees, downed powerlines. No reports of deaths or severe injuries fortunately with this storm. Flooding will be a concern. This is an area very big in mining across northwestern Australia. And after rain pulls through there, we could see some problems with the way they're able to do their work, because they'll have to probably stop down until the rain passes.

If you come back over to the weather map we're getting now to festivities.

Let's start in Beijing, minus 2 and clear for your New Year's Eve forecast. Though happy new year wherever you are. I know some of you back in Australia already celebrating the new year.

Tokyo, we'll probably be around 6 degrees, clear skies, light wind. Not too bad at 6, right?

In Hong Kong, Monita, for you guys if you're going to head outside, 14 degrees, clear skies also there. You don't have to wear -- maybe a light jacket if you're going to be outside for a long time.

Like the weather in Johannesburg, 16 degrees, winds generally light. So also a clear night for you there.

Wouldn't you love to be in Cairo for new years? 12 degrees the temperature right around midnight, so you still have a couple of -- a few hours to go, I should say.

I like to -- this picture from Moscow. Minus 1, partly cloudy skies. This may be one of the warmer New Year's Eve you've had in a very long time. Temperatures continue to be across Eastern Europe -- even though it's been a little soggy -- all the way back over into Moscow, temperatures are above the average for this time of year and that has kept things pretty nice. Even Paris, 7 degrees. That's actually a bit on the warm side for this time of year, Monita.

And of course I have to finish with New York City, it's going to be freezing there. But I think people will still head out. Minus 2 is pretty cold for this time of year in New York with the wind chill of minus 6.

Back to you.

RAJPAL: Mari, two hours and 40 minutes, that's my appointment with a glass of champagne.

RAMOS: Yeah, happy new year.

RAJPAL: Mari, thank you very much for that. And happy new year to you if we don't see you before then.

Now if ski resorts are your ideal holiday destination, there's a new one on the map, North Korea. State television has released photographs of leader Kim Jung un visiting a recently completed luxury ski resort. He took a ride on a lift at the Masik Pass Ski Resort. North Korean media reports say Kim, who was educated in Switzerland, gave instructions on how to build the facility. Earlier this year, a tour company said the resort would be open to foreign tourists.

I wonder if he let us take photographs?

Anyway, still to come here on News Stream, she's become an influential figure in the Nigerian government and it's helping shape energy policy around the world. We'll introduce you to this week's leading woman next.


RAJPAL: She's making her way in a male dominated industry, meet Nigeria's oil minister in this week's Leading Women series. We profiled Diezani Alison-Madueke, OPEC's first female minister.


DIEZANI ALISON-MADUEKE, NIGERIAN OIL MINISTER: Each of us will find our own path to opportunity and seize it when we get there.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Diezani Alison-Madueke at a conference in London featuring women in government.

ALISON-MADUEKE: These are the ingredients of self-preparation.

ANDERSON: Oil minister of Nigeria since 2010, she's one of a small number of female cabinet ministers and a familiar face on the international circuit. Her role as a minister of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries, or OPEC, also puts her in the spotlight.

ALISON-MADUEKE: Well, heading up the country's delegation to OPEC means, of course, that Nigeria has a major voice in the oil producing and exporting countries forum.

ANDERSON: Alison-Madueke's connection to the oil industry runs deep.

ALISON-MADUEKE: I was born into the oil sector.

ANDERSON: Growing up, her father worked for what is now Royal Dutch Shell.

ALSISON-MADUEKE: My father was (inaudible) by Shell BT (ph). It was in a colonial scholarship that he went to England, because he was brilliant and came back and got that position.

I actually entered the oil and gas sector from, should I say, the back door. I studied architecture and then went on to an MBA at Cambridge and I came into the oil and gas sector to do civil construction oversight so to speak. I came back and got into Shell on my own merit, worked my way up from a low position.

I spent 17 years in Shell Petroleum.

ANDERSON: During that time, she rose to become Shell's first female executive director in Nigeria.

AISON-MADUEKE: Every step of the way, you were literally the only woman, you know, leading units or leading teams. And it therefore means that you are working very much in a male environment, a male dominated environment. And you have to begin to fashion the ways and means yourself.

I did have to fight for my own corner. There are no easy ways to get to the top. And I do try to tell young people that. If there is an apparent shortcut to the top, it is the wrong cut. You know, it will certainly not be sustainable.

ANDERSON: While Alison-Madueke touts her accomplishments, she's not been free of controversy. She's facing accusations of corruption, which she vehemently denies. She knows she faces some skepticism as her country's petroleum minister, but says she wants to make a positive impact.

ALISON-MADUEKE: And it is my every waking concern that in the period we are in office, a posterity will bear us out that reaches the ordinary Nigerian and cuts across every sector of our economy as actually achieved and made (ph).


RAJPAL: That is News Stream. I'm Monita Rajpal. The news continues here at CNN. We'll bring you the latest headlines in just a moment.