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Massive Storm Causes Closures, Flight Delays In Eastern U.S.; Ferrari Fans Hold Vigil For Michael Schumacher; Colorado Begins Selling Marijuana; Family Fights To Keep Daughter On Ventilator; South Sudanese Still Wary Of Going Home

Aired January 3, 2014 - 8:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

A massive snow storm blankets the U.S. east coast, temporarily closing New York's JFK airport.

Fans of racing legend Michael Schumacher holds a vigil outside his hospital on this, his birthday. He remains in a stable, but critical condition after a skiing accident.

And new revelations on the U.S. National Security Agency's reported plans to defeat advanced encryption.

Millions of people in the United States and Canada are waking up to extreme winter weather. And if you're trying to travel to either area today, it likely won't be easy.

Heavy snow has been falling in the northeastern United States. It's not expected to ease up for a couple of more hours. And forecasters are saying that when the storm is over, all conditions will be bitterly cold.

Here's a live look at air traffic over North America right now from Now while it may look pretty busy, more than 1,500 flights have already been canceled this Friday alone. That's according to tracks cancellations due to weather and mechanical problems.

New York's John F. Kennedy airport has suspended flights due to zero visibility, but Newark and LaGuardia are experiencing more cancellations.

And as Chicago travelers are still struggling to get in and out of O'Hare airport.

Let's take a look at Washington, D.C. now shall we? Federal agencies are open, despite the ice and arctic air. But many area schools are closed.

Class has also been canceled in Boston, Massachusetts. More than 60 centimeters of snow have fallen in some parts of the state, some part of the state. And that's two feet.

People have been advised to stay off the roads during these blizzard conditions, but CNN's Laurie Segal braved the elements to show us how hard hit Cape Cod is.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The snow continuing to pile up here on Cape Cod, as fierce winds, frigid temps and coastal flooding threaten residents of the beach front homes. Eastern Massachusetts is expected to be among the hardest hit with blizzard warnings in effect in some areas through the morning. But it's not just the snow that's a concern. Limited visibility is making driving conditions treacherous.

We're on the road, about 6:00 p.m. We're about an hour and a half away from Cape Cod and we're seeing the first signs of the storm. You can see the ice forming on our wind shield right here, temperatures dropping rapidly. We just passed two accidents, another car pulled over trying to scrape that ice from their windshield.

Into the night, crews out in full force plowing roads, emergency services on call.

CAPTAIN MARK HIGGANS, CHATHAM FIRE DEPARTMENT: Stay inside and stay safe. Don't be on the roadways unless it's necessary.

SEGALL: Sparks flying off power lines and crews are on the ready to respond to outages when the storm passes. As much as two feet of snow could accumulate overnight with wind chills dropping well below zero and winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour.

Right now I'm holding up our wind meter. We're looking at gusts of winds up to 20 miles per hour. It's only expected to get worse. That's why you see the streets are empty. Everybody is at home weathering the storm.

As you can see, conditions have worsened. I have the wind meter right here. You can see the gusts of wind blowing. Right now we're looking at 20 miles per hour. It's been higher and conditions just continue to worsen.


RAJPAL: Laurie Segall reporting there.

Well, let's get you more now on these extreme winter weather conditions. Let's take you live now to the Midwestern United States and CNN's Ted Rowlands joins us now from Chicago, Illinois.

Good morning to you, Ted. 7:00 am for you where you are. How is it looking where you are?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very cold, Monita, very cold. Right now, we have one of these big thermometers and we're almost 10 below zero. Here's the 10 below zero Fahrenheit level. We're at about 8 according to this. And it feels even colder when you add in the wind chill.

Check out this t-shirt standing on end. Hard as a rock, very crispy. It is cold. And you add the wind chill and it is downright not only uncomfortable, but dangerous. And that's the big concern keeping people inside during this cold spell.

We're going to have another day of it here. There will be a day and a half respite where the temperatures will rise. And then much of the United States goes into a deep freeze. We're talking about temperatures 20 below zero without the wind chill. Really, very dangerous. People are being urged to -- if you have to be outside, to bundle up and don't stay outside for very wrong. Kids are being -- parents are being urged to make sure their kids don't go out with exposed skin, because of the risk of frost bite.

Bottom line is, the snow we had for the last two days was enjoyable for many people. This cold I don't is enjoyable to anyone, it is darn right freezing.

RAJPAL: Yeah, it's only nice when you're inside with a cup of tea or a cup of coffee there and watching some good movies.

That said, though, where you are in Chicago people are quite used to these kind of cold weathers in the middle of winter. I mean, I'm from Toronto so we know that this is what we can expect. It doesn't mean it's enjoyable for any, but in terms of the kind of preparation, what have people done for that?

ROWLANDS: Getting supplies so that you can -- and getting some movies, getting some wood for the fire, those are preparations you make.

And, yes, we are used to the fact that we have to live with it. I don't know that anybody enjoys it and you truly get used to it. It is something you endure each winter for certain spells and you just hope it doesn't last too long. But right now we're going through one, one of those deep freezes.

RAJPAL: What about travel there, Ted? Chicago, O'Hare Airport is one of the nation's busiest. Give us an idea of what kind of impact this is having on travelers.

ROWLANDS: A huge impact the last few days. The nor'easter that is hitting the east coast of the United States right now was in the central midsection of the U.S. over the past few days and it dumped about a foot of snow at O'Hare. We had thousands of canceled flights and more than 1,000 just yesterday alone. The day before we had nearly 1,000 at O'Hare.

The ripple effect from that has caused issues across the board for folks not only in the U.S., but internationally. O'Hare, of course, is an international hub. Today, in O'Hare, things are moving because the snow has stopped. It's just uncomfortable, but now at least they can move those planes through and get those passengers who are stranded onto their destinations.

All right, Ted, thank you very much. We appreciate you braving those cold temperatures for us to be out there for that live shot. Again, good morning to you and thank you very much for being there. Ted Rowlands there in a very cold Chicago, Illinois.

And just to give you an idea of, again, just how pretty it can be, I guess, glass half full and all, the White House certainly lived up to its name with nice bit of snow over the building there in Washington.

Now check forecast a little bit later on in the show. Samantha Moore will be at the world weather center with that. And of course we'll take you live to LaGuardia Airport for the very latest on travel delays there.

Switching gears now, South Sudan's army is closing in on the city of Bor. A military spokesman tells CNN that troops are just 20 kilometers outside of the city, which has been under the control of rebel forces. In Ethiopia, peace talks are underway between South Sudanese government delegates and opposition rebel groups. They hope to thrash out conditions for a cease-fire. And that would bring and end to weeks of ethnic fighting.

Violent clashes in South Sudan have escalated since they began in mid-December. The UN says more than 1,000 people have been killed and about 200,000 displaced. There are fears the world's newest country is being pushed to the brink of civil war.

The United States has now announced it will pull out more staff from its embassy in Juba out of security concerns for the staff.

UN forces meanwhile are trying to restore a sense of calm in the capital. But as Arwa Damon found out during a ride along with troops. It isn't an easy thing to accomplish.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Prior to the recent outbreak in fighting, the United Nations was not patrolling like this in the streets of the capital Juba, nor was it in most parts of the country. In fact, the United Nations was seriously considering refocusing its mission, focusing more on development. That is how optimistic people were about the prospects for this country. But now that has all changed.

TOBY LANZER, DEP. SPECIAL REP. OF THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: So our focus was really shifting in line with the situation we thought prevailed and that we were seeing in South Sudan. And it is almost unimaginable what has struck this country during the past three weeks.

DAMON: We're hearing towards one of the neighborhoods that saw some of the worst violence. We were down there a few days ago, and it was almost completely deserted. Part of the aim of these patrols is not just securing the local civilian population, but also trying to rebuild a sense of confidence amongst people, that it is safe enough for them to go back home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know that there's no problem.

OK. Thank you, my brother. OK?


Everything is OK. Everyone can go back.

DAMON: The neighborhood down the road does still remain fairly deserted, but out here we are seeing more open shops, more activity in the streets and member of the UN team trying to engage the population.

These types of interactions are especially critical at a time like this.

LANZER: There are sharp wounds that have been opened and I think it will take some time to heal the ruptures that exist, but again it depends on what we're talking about and where. There really are differences across the country and just as things unraveled very quickly it is possible that things can come together again. I have to be a believer in that as well.

DAMON: This is one of the UN compounds in the capital. And even though the situation outside its gates is relatively speaking fairly safe, even those who do leave the compound during the day tend to come back at night. But the main issue for the UN is not necessarily protecting those civilians that have managed to seek sanctuary within its various bases across the country, the key issue is that tens of thousands of civilians who have not made it to UN bases who are believed to be hiding out in remote corners of the country out in the bush, without access to proper food, clean water or medical care.

And the longer this drags on, the more dire the situation for the civilians will become.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Juba.


RAJPAL: Still to come here on News Stream, key court hearings today in the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery. Her family is fighting to keep her on a ventilator. Stay with us for that.


RAJPAL: Ariel Sharon's condition is slowly getting worse. Doctors now say his vital organs are failing. Here's what hospital officials had to say earlier today.


ZEEV ROTSTEIN, DIRECTOR, SHEBA HOSPITAL: During the last 24 hours, his condition deteriorated slowly, but we see it upon his lab results and about the clinical, I would say, vital signs.


RAJPAL: Well, the former Israeli prime minister has been in a coma for eight years after suffering a massive stroke in 2006. The 85-year- old remains in critical condition. Close family members are at his bedside.

In the United States, the battle over 13-year-old Jahi McMath continues. Two court hearings are set to take place over what has become an extremely controversial issue. Jahi is on a ventilator in hospital, but doctors say she is brain dead and want to take her off the machines keeping her heart beating. Her family is challenging that. And as Randi Kaye reports, they are not giving up hope.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The surgery sounded simple enough: remove Jahi McMath's tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue so the 13- year-old would sleep better. Jahi began bleeding heavily from her nose and mouth, then went into cardiac arrest.

On December 12, Jahi's doctors told her family she's brain dead.

NAILAH WINKFIELD, JAHI MCMATH'S MOTHER: How could she be dead and her heart beats. She has blood flowing through her system and she responds to my touch and my voice. How can she, how can a dead person do that?

KAYE: That is the question at the center of this heartbreaking case. Is Jahi alive, as her family believes, or is she dead as doctors at Children's hospital in Oakland, California declared? Jahi is still connected to a ventilator. And her mother has told reporters she has video of her daughter moving.

But the hospital spokesman says it's quite common for muscles to move even when someone is deceased. He said it is not a sign of life in the body of Jahi McMath.

The hospital wants to remove Jahi from the ventilator saying it has no legal or ethical obligation to continue to treat a deceased person.

An independent physician and a judge all agree with Jahi's doctors that she is brain dead, yet her family is fighting the hospital's decision to remove the young girl from ventilator machines keeping her heart beating.

SAM SINGER, SPOKESMAN, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF OAKLAND: Jahi McMath is deceased. There is no amount of hope, there is no medical instruments on this planet that will bring her back. To suggest anything otherwise is beyond misleading.

KAYE: Still, the girl's mother is so convinced Jahi can recover with proper treatment, that she's hoping to transfer her to another facility that will care for her.

They're in discussions with New Beginning's Community Center in Medford, New York and with an unnamed facility in Arizona.

WINKFIELD: The doctors think they know everything, but if they knew everything then my daughter wouldn't be brain dead right now.

KAYE: The family of Terri Schiavo, who was taken off life support in 2005 after a prolonged period in a vegetative state, has joined the fight in support of Jahi's family. Schiavo's brother says the brain death diagnosis was made too quickly.

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: What's the rush? I mean, the brain -- the brain has been injured and there's -- it just might be given some time that this young girl might be in a position to improve. And that's what the family is asking for.

KAYE: A California judge had ruled Jahi was to be taken off the ventilator last Monday at 5:00 pm. But when the moment came, that same judge gave the family more time to work out a deal with the hospital.

WINKFIELD: As a parent, who wants to know that they in the time that their child would die? Think about that, if somebody told you on this day at this time your child is going to die.

KAYE: The rallies in support of Jahi's family continue. But a new deadline looms. The girl's family has until January 7, Tuesday next week, to come to an agreement with the hospital otherwise Jahi McMath's doctors will be legally allowed to remove the 13-year-old from her ventilator.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.



RAJPAL: You are watching News Stream. And this is a visual version of all the stories that we've got in the show today.

We began with the giant snow storm on the U.S. east coast. A little later, we'll bring you the very latest allegations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. But now we've got a bizarre story out of the U.S. for you, a fugitive banker declared legally dead a year ago has gone from the grave to a Georgia courtroom. Aubrey Lee Price vanished in 2012, reportedly leaving behind a suicide note and what police say was a trail of multimillion dollar fraud. Price was captured on Tuesday.

CNN's David Mattingly takes it up from there.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The FBI never believed Georgia banker Aubrey Lee Price really went through with a plan to kill himself, but for a year-and-a-half investigators had no body and no clue where he could be. The elaborate hoax fell apart New Year's Eve when police in Georgia stopped the now long dark haired and bearded Price for driving with windows too darkly tinted.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Would you have recognized this guy?

WENDY CROSS, FRAUD VICTIM: Yes. No, every time I see that shot, it doesn't get old how shocking it is.

MATTING: Wendy Cross is among more than 100 people allegedly defrauded by Price in a $40 million investment scheme. A federal complaint says Price confessed in a 22-page letter that he "falsified statements with false returns," in order to conceal more than $20 million in investor losses.

CROSS: It was my life savings. So, yes, it was devastating.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Cross lost $300,000. It put her food truck business in jeopardy and left her financially ruined. A risk she never suspected she was taking.

CROSS: It was a clean-cut, soft-spoken guy that seemed extremely professional and, you know, that's how I knew him.

MATTINGLY: In 2012, law enforcement said Price told his family he was going to Latin America, but instead flew to Key West, bought diving weights and a ferry ticket to make it look like he jumped overboard and drowned. Security cameras caught him taking his last steps before he disappeared.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Did you believe he was dead?

CROSS: I never once thought that he was dead.


CROSS: Well, I saw the footage of him on the ferry in Key West and he had a backpack and a suitcase with him.

MATTINGLY: An attorney representing victims says Price was declared legally dead last year. Now in the flesh and very much alive, Price was in federal court for his first appearance, shackled and flanked by marshalls, he faces charges of fraud.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


RAJPAL: Police carried out a massive drug bust in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. They seized nearly three metric tons of crystal meth. The raids targeted a village said to be a major supplier of the drug. In fact, an anti-drug official said that over the last three years a third of all the crystal meth in China came from this one village.

Authorities say a fifth of all households in the village are involved in the drug trade.


GUO SHAOBO, GUANGDONG PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU (through translator): 20 percent of households in the village are directly or indirectly involved in drug production. Drug production is managed by families between brothers, sisters and other relatives and has been industrialized in the village. Worse still, the criminals committed crimes, avoided investigations and violated the law with violence under the protection of village leaders, local police stations and township cadres.


RAJPAL: Well, the bust is part of what's being called thunder operations, a huge police crackdown on drug crimes.

You are watching News Stream. Coming up, thousands of flights canceled and extreme weather warnings in place across the northeastern United States. We'll bring you all the latest information that you need to know, especially if you are traveling.

And birthday wishes for Michael Schumacher who turns 45 today. Fans are holding a silent vigil outside the hospital for the racing legend who remains in a medically induced coma.


RAJPAL: I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. And you are watching News Stream. And these are the headlines that we are keeping an eye on for you.

In the U.S., thousands of flights have been canceled as a giant winter storm slams much of the northeast. New York's JFK airport was temporarily closed. It's expected to reopen shortly. More than 1,600 flights have fallen foul of the weather so far this Friday adding to 2,200 cancellations yesterday.

Here are some live pictures of the wintry conditions in New York. That's Columbus Circle in Central Park as seen from our bureau in New York.

Doctors say Ariel Sharon's health is slowly getting worse. The former Israeli prime minister remains in critical condition in hospital. He's been in a coma for eight years and doctors say his organs are failing. He is receiving treatment to counter a buildup of toxins in the blood.

South Sudan's army is closing in to recapture the rebel held town of Bor. The military spokesman has confirmed to CNN that troops are just 20 kilometers outside of the city. It comes as formal peace talks between the country's warring parties are underway in Ethiopia.

India's prime minister says he is going to step down. Manmohan Singh says he'll leave his post after the next election due in May. The 81-year-old Singh says it's time to hand the job to a new prime minister. Mr. Singh's party suffered a bruising defeat in regional elections last month.

Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher is spending his 45th birthday at a hospital in Grenoble in France. He remains in a medically induced coma after suffering head trauma in a skiing accident on Sunday. Ferrari fans are holding a silent vigil in front of the French hospital as a tribute to Schumacher's fight for his life.

Jim Boulden reports.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A global athlete who lived on the edge, now Michael Schumacher lay in this hospital in Grenoble, France in a medically induced coma since Sunday after a skiing accident in the French Alps.

Outside the hospital, maybe 100 journalists, a dozen or so TV satellite trucks. Few athletes could garner this much interest, but Formula One is a global sport, perhaps being a German whose best years were with Italy's team Ferrari adds to the interest from multiple European countries.

FEDERICA BALESTRIERI, ITALIAN JOURNALIST: For Italian supporters, Michael is like -- it was like Italian, you know, he was Italian. I mean, it's -- they loved -- he's beloved in Italy.

BOULDEN: The interest is so intense, Schumacher's manager confirms that earlier this week a journalist dressed as a Catholic priest attempted to enter Schumacher's room. She says the journalist failed.

In fact, other than two briefings by doctors earlier in the week, it's been left to his manager to update journalists, which she did on New Year's morning.

SABINE KEHM, MIACHEL SCHUMACHER'S MANAGER: Michael's condition has been supervised all night long very carefully. And his condition remains stable. Last afternoon, last night and also this morning. This is good news for the moment, and I repeat for the moment, because overall the situation is still critical. He remains in an artificial coma.

BOULDEN: Friday is Michael Schumacher's 45th birthday. His fans wait outside. His family by his bedside hoping this athlete known for his love of racing, of skydiving, of skiing can come back from the biggest challenge of his life.

Jim Boulden, CNN, Grenoble, France.


RAJPAL: More now on our top story and that monstrous storm system that's hitting the United States. Blizzard warnings are in effect in parts of New York, Massachusetts and Maine, but it's not just the northeast corner of the U.S. that's in the firing line of these extreme conditions. About a third of the nation, that's 100 million people in 22 states, are in the storm's path.

So let's get a little bit more on the strength and its direction, let's go to Samantha Moore at the world weather center with that -- Samantha.

SAMANTHA MOORE, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Well, Monita, we should continue to see some heavy snow the next couple of hours and then improvement, if you want to call it improvement, much colder air will be moving in, but at least the active snow storm will be starting to wind up in the next couple of hours.

But look at the amounts we have seen here across much of the Boston area. 37 centimeters of snow. Some reports just north of there in Topsfield (ph), closer to 60 centimeters with that blizzard warning is still in place.

Chicago picking up 31 centimeters and Newwark 22. 18 centimeters in New York City.

So this is what it looked like, the snow starting late yesterday evening and then continuing throughout the day. This is Columbus Circle, which is just on the south side there looking at the south side of Central Park earlier yesterday. We could see the skyline, but as the snow moved in, no more skyline covered with snow. And that's what people are waking up to this morning.

But not just the snow, there's incredibly cold temperatures and gusty winds.

Here's our nor'easter as it moves on through. Interesting look at this satellite picture. This is infrared technology so the satellite picking up temperatures and actually the air temperature cooling so much that you can actually see how cold it is here at the surface. And this is actually snow here in Michigan and into parts of Indiana showing up on the infrared satellite picture, because of those temperatures of the air now near the surface actually is cold as well up into space as cold as the cloud tops that are up some 20,000 feet or so.

So let's take a look at that radar, still coming down here right along the coast. But that will be wrapping up in the next few hours. So we have winter storm warnings in place and blizzard warnings here along the coast just north and to the south of Boston where that snow has really been coming down.

So here are the impacts we saw. On Thursday, over 2,000 flights canceled. Most of those cancellations were in Chicago, but like as we heard LaGuardia closed at the moment.

And as we click over to Flight Explorer, you can see here just how the flights have resumed here in the Chicago area. But notice in the northeast a lack of flight traffic. And that's because of some of the closures and the many cancellations that we have seen across the northeast.

So, more impact is expected throughout the day. Of course, we still are finishing our holiday travel. Many people didn't have to be back to work until next week. So still some lengthy delays, of course, in Boston and the New York area and even in D.C. as we head into the next few hours.

Halifax also being greatly impacted by this nor'easter with those incredibly gusty winds.

Here's the pattern as we head into the rest of the week. We're going to end up seeing that cold air move in. This is the coldest air that we've seen in many years across the northeast with these temperatures just kind of draw dropping here across parts of Ontario.

Thunder Bay, their low temperature down close to 40 below. And the average is 18 below. The average is bad enough. But this is really something as this cold air continues to funnel in out of Canada.

So, we'll continue, Monita. I did want to stress even though the snow will be ending, the winds are going to continue to be quite strong and blustery, so we'll continue to have some ground blizzard situation and that's just one of the wind blows the snow sideways, which limits our visibility. And our visibility has been greatly reduced, down to zero in some instances as this blizzard moved through. Back to you.

RAJPAL: Just in time for the weekend, eh, Sam?

MOORE: There you go. Lots to plan. Just bundle up.

RAJPAL: All right, yeah, seriously. Sam, thank you very much for that.

Well, as we've been mentioning airlines have canceled thousands of flights because of the storm. Let's bring in Pamela Brown, she joins us now live from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Pamela, how is it looking there with you? We're looking at, you know, over 1,000 flights that have been canceled?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. There are more than 1,600 flights canceled here in the U.S. just today. We're expecting that number to tick up as these conditions persist for the next couple of hours here at least.

And passengers are really have to take this in strike. In fact, we found several passengers sleeping on cots upstairs here at LaGuardia airport. Take a look at this picture that we have.

We've learned from an official here at the airport t hat they pulled these cots out from a warehouse and set them up for these passengers, many of them who have been stranded here since last night and will likely be here throughout the day.

There are about 180 cots set up, we were told. So that really gives you an idea of what the situation is like here at LaGuardia Airport and at other major hubs in the northeast and Mid West. We're seeing a lot of the delays at Newark Airport as well, around 300 at last check as well as Chicago O'Hare airport, Boston Logan, there are limited flights going in and out of there. And JFK airport, a major hub here in New York still has halted operations for the -- until around 9:30 this morning. So just about another hour or so at least. But of course that could change, because this is a fluid situation with the weather conditions -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Pamela, are you seeing more and more people coming to the airport now, or are you sensing that they are heeding advice of the news and the airlines who say stay at home, check your flight and then come when you know that you're flight is going to depart?

BROWN: Well, we are seeing a few more people. In fact, at the ticket counter behind me, though, if you look at that, there really aren't many passengers at all. Normally, that would be packed this time of the morning.

So, I think that's an indication that people are calling ahead to their airlines and changing their flights. And also, Monita, airlines are working with passengers. We're told American, United are just a couple of the airlines that are actually waving that change fee. So making it easier for passengers to change their flights to perhaps another day this weekend.

So, a bit of good news there.

RAJPAL: All right, Pamela, thank you very much for that. Pamela Brown there live for us at LaGuardia in New York.

Coming up next here on News Stream, hero or traitor? The debate over NSA leaker Snowden heats up. Hear from the journalist who first reported the spying story.


RAJPAL: Welcome back.

Let's turn now to the latest revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency. The Washington Post says the NSA is trying to build a powerful quantum computer that could break nearly every encryption tool, that's according to documents provided by Edward Snowden. But the Post says the documents suggest the NSA is no closer to a breakthrough than scientists working on the same thing.

This report comes just after two prominent newspapers called on the U.S. government to grant Snowden clemency. Jake Tapper spoke to two journalists about this issue.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Joining me now is Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist for First Look Media. He broke scoop after scoop on the NSA using information that Snowden gave to him. Also with me here in studio Ruth Marcus, columnist for "The Washington Post," who just wrote a piece calling Snowden a, quote, "insufferable whistle- blower."

Ruth, I'm going to start with you. The Times board also writes, "When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government."

Do you agree with The Times that Snowden should get some form of clemency?


In fact, I think he should have -- if he really believes in the Constitution as I wrote, he should have stuck around, tested the constitutional system, taken his punishment, argued that he was justified in the leaks that he did. He didn't. He just turned tail and fled the country.

TAPPER: Glenn, I'm sure you want to respond to that.

GLENN GREENWALD, FIRST LOOK MEDIA: I want to say two things. I think Ruth Marcus' argument exemplifies everything that's really horrible about the D.C. media.

First of all, what she said is just completely factually false. If he had stayed in the United States, as Daniel Ellsberg, widely considered to be a hero by most Americans, argued in "The Washington Post," he would have been barred from making the very argument that she just said he should have made.

Under the Espionage Act, you're not allowed to come into court and say I was justified in disclosing this information. There is no whistle- blower exception in the Espionage Act, which is why whistle- blowers don't get justice in the United States.

But I think the really important point is that people in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law. Ruth Marcus was one of the leaders in 2008 saying that Bush officials that torture people shouldn't be prosecuted, they should be protected. She praised and protected FBI agents in the '70s who entered people's homes without warnings and were criminally prosecuted. She said they shouldn't have been prosecuted.

That's what people in Washington do. They would never call on someone like James Clapper, who got caught lying to Congress, which is a felony, to be prosecuted. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal like Edward Snowden. It's not about the rule of law.


MARCUS: Well, first of all, actually, I don't think -- I think James Clapper lied to Congress and I don't think that he should be in office, and I wrote a column saying exactly that.

But let's get back to...


GREENWALD: Should he be prosecuted? Should he be prosecuted?


GREENWALD: Just answer that. Should James Clapper be prosecuted? You just said the rule of law...


MARCUS: You know what? I let you make your point. Why don't you let me make my point, OK?


GREENWALD: Just answer that question. Answer that question.

MARCUS: No, I don't actually need to answer that question because then we're going to get involved in a whole conversation about what the exact elements of perjury are.


GREENWALD: It's a total double standard. That's a total double standard.


MARCUS: Let's talk about Edward Snowden, instead of calling people names and making accusations.

The fact is that look at the Ellsberg example. Yes, he wrote a very interesting column my newspaper, "The Washington Post," saying that he agreed with Snowden that Snowden should have fled.

But what did Ellsberg do? He came forward. He said he thought it was his responsibility as an American citizen, after actually he tried to get his information to the Senate and have the Senate reveal the information.

When that whistle-blowing didn't work, he took it to reporters. And so that's one big difference. And the second big difference is, he stuck around, came forward, said, fine, go ahead and prosecute me. The prosecution failed because his rights had been violated, but the system worked for him. Edward Snowden didn't give the system a chance to work for him.

TAPPER: Glenn, go ahead.

GREENWALD: First of all, why won't Ruth Marcus answer the question, should the top officials in the Obama administration, to which she's a loyalist, why shouldn't they after they got caught lying by the documents that Mr. Snowden came forward to publish -- remember, when I met him in Hong Kong, the first thing he said to me is, "I have documents proving that the top national security officials and the US Congress have been misleading the public, and lying to Congress," which is a crime. And he gave us the documents that showed the James Clapper lied when he denied that the US government was collecting data on millions of Americans.

Why won't she answer the question, should he be prosecuted for him having broken the law, just like she says Edward Snowden should be? And I'll tell you the answer: because people in Washington who are well- connected to the government like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them. They only believe that the law should be used to punish people and imprison people who don't have power in Washington or who expose the wrongdoing of American political officials.

And as far as Daniel Ellsberg is concerned, just go read what he wrote. He said the world is completely different now. The U.S. government does not allow whistleblowers like they allowed him to stay out of jail, to make their case to the public. If Edward Snowden came back to Washington before he was convicted of anything, he would be disappearing in prison and not be allowed to speak. I want to know the answer to that question, Ruth, should...


RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Why didn't Edward Snowden behave like Daniel Ellsberg and try to work through the system in order to try to get his information public? Daniel Ellsberg tried to work through the system...


MARCUS: No, he didn't. He went and complained a little bit to some of his co-workers at the NSA, he says. That's all that he did.

But let me give you an answer to the Clapper question because you seem to be focused on it, so fine, if you want to spend time doing that, we can do that. The answer to the Clapper question is -- absolutely, if federal prosecutors believe that they could make a case under the perjury statute which I know that you know as well as I do, Glenn, is a very difficult case to make that shows a knowing and material misrepresentation, then fine, go right ahead.

I don't happen to think that the criminal law is going to get you where you should go on the Clapper front, but I take a back seat to nobody in saying that I thought Clapper's testimony was false and that he should be ashamed of it and it's totally intolerable.


RAJPAL: Now remember, Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum for one year after he arrived there in June.

November will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. It brought an end to the Cold War, Communism versus capitalism, east versus west. CNN's documentary series explores the struggle that defined the second half of the 20th Century.

In the opening episode, we set the scene for a world on the brink.


KENNETH BRANAGH, ACTOR: September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on the aggressor too late to save Poland. Defeated, Poland was wiped off the map. Germany and Russia had conspired against her.

In eastern Poland, the Communist occupiers were supervised by Nikita Khruschev. They were taking over provinces once ruled by the czars.

The Nazi-Soviet pact left Stalin free to grab Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Baltic states were back under Russian domination.

Stalin had already outraged the world by invading Finland.

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Soviet Union is run by a dictatorship, a dictatorship as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world. It has allied itself with another dictatorship. And it has invaded a neighbor so infinitesimally small that it could do no conceivable possible harm to the Soviet Union.

BRANAGH: In 1940, Hitler struck west. By mid-1941 France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia and Greece had been added to his conquests.

Churchill's Britain held out alone.


RAJPAL: That was a sneak peak at the first of Cold War. Relive that pivotal time in history and hear the whole story from the people who lived it. CNN landmark series returns on Saturday. It airs at 7:00 pm right here in Hong Kong.

Coming up, it is cold in the U.S. So why are these people so happy to be lining up in the snow? Well, after the break we'll take a look at a controversial product that is now for sale in Colorado.


RAJPAL: Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has been speaking out for the first time since two of her former assistants were acquitted of fraud. Lawson had testified at the trial and she says her words were distorted. Now she says she's ready to put it all behind her.

CNN's Ana Cabrera reports.


NIGELLA LAWSON, CELEBRITY CHEF: I think you and I would be a very good fit.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nigella Lawson is back in the spotlight, but this time on her own terms. The reality show The Taste started its second season last night. The celebrity chef is likely hoping the public will remember her for her cooking career and forget about the drama surrounding her personal life through much of 2013.

BRIAN BALTHAZAR, EDTIOR, POPGOESTHEWEEK.COM: I think she's seizing this as an opportunity to show everyone that she's doing great and no better way to do it than by doing press and appearing on television.

CABRERA: Over the past few months, Lawson had more frequently been on the covers of tabloids than cookbooks, going through a very public divorce from her husband Charles Saatchi and equally public trial against two former personal assistants.

She spoke about the ordeals for the first time on Good Morning America.

LAWSON: To have not only your private life, but distortions of your private life put on display is mortifying.

CABRERA: Lawson's former personal assistants were acquitted of fraud charges in December. The trial itself was frequently overshadowed by the tawdry details of Lawson's own life. On the witness stand, she was forced into admitting she used cocaine several times.

Now she says the whole experience was mortifying.

LAWSON: The desire really was to protect my children as much as possible, but I wasn't alas always -- I couldn't do, but that's what I wanted to do. And actually, you know, since then I've eaten a lot of chocolate.

There was too much sweet.

CABRERA: Lawson says she's ready to move forward, leaving those unappetizing details in the past.

BALTHAZAR: I think is make or break time for Nigella. Now, she's really got to show that she's got it put together and that her reputation is intact. If she blows this, it could be irreparable.


RAJPAL: Nigella Lawson's show The Taste will premier in the UK next week.

Juicy Fruit, Sour Alien, all sound like the names of some kind of delicious confectionary, but this eager customer, shall we say, isn't ogling jars of candy. Jeanne Moos paid a visit to one store in Colorado that was among the first in the U.S. to sell a previously forbidden fruit.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's like going to the deli.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll help, who's next?

MOOS: But instead of half a pound of ham, it's an eighth of an ounce of pot, each type described lovingly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the euphoric high.

MOOS: Customers seemed euphoric even before smoking. Though a few on line hid from the cameras. All you have to do is show I.D. to prove you're over 21, then pay cash, 55 bucks or so with tax, for an eighth of an ounce that makes five to seven joints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a really nice, fruity, juicy fruit. Tastes very much like it smells.

MOOS: Customers were doing a lot of smelling, sniffing the bouquet as if it were a fine wine or a pungent cheese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an Afghani blend. Really nice. Bud structure on there.

MOOS: Appreciating Bud structure rather than ordering a Bud, weed has gone mainstream.

(On camera): The Denver pot, I mean "The Denver Post" even reviews pot.

(Voice-over): The paper has gone to pot with the Web site called "The Cannabist" and a marijuana editor who appeared on the "Colbert Report."

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Are you high right now? Are you high right now? You're not high now but do you smoke pot at all?

RICARDO BACA, MARIJUANA EDITOR, THE DENVER POST: I don't smoke pot. I do eat it, though.


MOOS: On the "Cannabist," you can use a handy map to find a pot store near you or learn about cooking with cannabis. The site has two reviewers who try strings like Granddaddy Purple and tell you how socked you'll get. "Initially the Granddaddy gave me a nice uptick of energy that had me pondering a walk with our Sheltie. I could string together the concepts like socks before shoes, but by the time I made it to the shoes, where had the socks gone?

(On camera): Now that it's legal, everyone is playing name that pot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hand me a green (inaudible), please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Strawberry Diesel. Great flavor, good energy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sour Alien. It's a cross of Sour Diesel and Alien Technology.

MOOS (voice-over): Even reporters can pronounce Golden Goat, but some of these names can get your goat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Babakush (ph). Is it Babakush or Babakush? Babakush. There's the experts.

MOOS: But if you're really nice to the clerks, maybe they'll sing it to you.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


RAJPAL: And finally, one of -- perhaps one of the strangest teamups in technology, well it's over. Blackberry and Alicia Keys have parted ways. The struggling smartphone maker named the singer their creative director last January. Now, Blackberry has confirmed that Keys' time at the company is over. Aside from appearing on stage at this Blackberry 10 launch event, Keys also backed a few company initiatives. But it's not clear how much she really did at Blackberry.

But there were signs that the relationship was falling apart. On Wednesday, Alicia Keys tweeted this happy new years message from her iPad.

And that is New Stream for this Friday, but the news continues right here on CNN. I'm Monita Rajpal. World Business Today is next.