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Iraq Descending Into Sectarian Conflict; Riding In Driverless Car; Dennis Rodman Lashes Out At Critics; Polar Vortex Descends On U.S.; Leading Women: Cherie Blair; Moose Chasing; Kung Fu Movie Legend Run Run Shaw Dies At 107

Aired January 7, 2014 - 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 as fighting intensifies in Iraq, the U.S.steps up to support the Iraqi government.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman lashes out at critics of his trip to North Korea in a CNN exclusive interview.

And my riding in a driverless car isn't as smooth as you might imagine.

Now I'm going to show support for the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The U.S. is stepping up its military shipments to Iraq. Now fighting in Anbar Province west of Baghdad has created concern that there is a rising insurgency. This is a major challenge to the Shia majority government. The U.S. Vice Presidnet Joe Biden says it is a shared fight against al Qaeda linked militants.

Now the conflict has stirred memories of the fighting during the Iraq War. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson reports long lasting sectarian tensions are still brewing.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iraqi security forces under attack, a soldier in the dirt wounded at the roadside. Amid the chaos, there's a call for backup.


ROBERTSON: Just half an hour's drive west of Iraq's capital in al Anbar Province, Sunnis are turning on the Shia dominated government.


ROBERTSON: "We will fight all those connected to this sectarian government," this tribesman shouts.

Over the weekend, fighting flared in the two main cities Ramadi and Fallujah. Iraq's government responded with troops and air strikes again what it calls al Qaeda terrorists. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry promised support, but no troops.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground. This is their fight. But we're going to help them in their fight.

ROBERTSON: But how much of this fight is political conflict, the country's Sunni minority marginalized by the Shia majority, and how much is resurgent al Qaeda is unclear. For sure, al Qaeda is exploiting Sunni anger. Under the name ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, formally al Qaeda in Iraq, they've been boasting their success in al Anbar recently with propaganda videos like this, not to mention making significant territorial gains in neighboring Syria, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.

Whatever the causes, Iraq's prime minister is accusing al Anbar's Sunnis of siding with al Qaeda. Issuing an ultimatum, put down your guns or face the army.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ, (through translator): I'm calling on those who are deluding themselves to reconsider. They have been involved without knowing and supporting al Qaeda projects.

ROBERTSON: Fallujah has a history of resistance. In a massive offensive in 2004, U.S. forces tries unsuccessfully to completely crush the city's insurgents. The group reemerged. Al Qaeda got a hold.

It was only in 2007 when al Anbar's tribes joined U.S. forces that al Qaeda were finally pushed out. Today, as families flee al Anbar and the government seems poised for a major offensive, the stakes for stability and potential civil war seem as high as they've ever been.


LU STOUT: Nwo for now the government has instructed troops not to strike residential neighborhoods in the city of Fallujah. And for more, let's go live to Nic Robertson. He's standing by in Jerusalem. And Nic, the United States is insisting no new troops on the ground. John Kerry, we heard from him, he said that this is their fight. But they're offering military support.

I mean, is that the right approach to assist Iraq and to keep al Qaeda at bay there?

ROBERTSON: Well, they're getting political support as well. Vice President Joe Biden called Nouri al-Maliiki to discuss the situation with him as well as calling other Iraqi leaders. But we are seeing the United States, and we heard it from the White House yesterday, saying that it will accelerate deliveries of weapons supplies already agreed and even perhaps provide additional things like hellfire missiles as well as the drones that are already being prepared to be sold to the Iraqi government.

Is this the right way to go? Certainly from the United States' point of view, it has a long relationship now in terms of weapons sales to the Iraqi government. And really what you would hear U.S. officials say to that is well it very much depends on how the Iraqi government uses those weapons systems and how it deals with its problems.

If the root of this problem is really a political issue, as some people say, between the Sunni minority in the country and Shia majority, then a politcial compromise more than military weapons is going to do the job in the end. But certainly if al Qaeda is the real threat and they, al Qaeda, continues to grow as we've seen them do in the region at the moment and they certainly want to, then you're going to need those sort of advanced technological weapons, drones, Hellfires, to take them on in certain areas.

But again, these are weapons systems and military methodology if you will that we've seen in some parts of the world that will only be exploited by groups like al Qaeda when there's collateral casualties -- collateral damage, civilian casualties.

So there is no simple answer to that question? Is it the right way, if you will?

LU STOUT: Yeah, military support in the form of Hellfire missiles and drones are on the way as well as political support, as you point out, from the United States. But you mentioned just then the need for political compromise. Looking from the perspective of the Iraqi government, are they willing to offer that?

ROBERTSON: Certainly we can see at the moment the situation in Ramadi, we're told, is more stable than the situation in Fallujah. These two towns, both in al Anbar, both Sunni towns. Why is Ramadi more stable? The police, the tribes, the government there all working together. And there does seem to be an indication that the prime minister of Iraq has a good relationship with the governor of Ramadi and other leading figures in Ramadi.

But can that be extended so that the wider Sunni population feel less marginalized. And there are deep and long existing tensions. It goes back to Saddam Hussein, if you will, a Sunni and from the minority ruling the majority of Shias as a dictatorship. And of course a sense of coming back, of needing to reset that imbalance.

But if Nouri al-Maliki can find a political compromise, that will go a long way to helping address the problems and marginalize al Qaeda. But it's a very big ask at the moment, because he hasn't really shown that political intent that he's going to make those broad, large compromises. We haven't seen that yet, maybe the stakes are high enough for him to move in that direction, but we haven't seen that so far, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Nic Robertson reporting on what's tanding in the way of reaching an end to this growing insurgency in Iraq. Nic Robertson, thank you.

Now let's turn to North Korea where several former NBA players are preparing for a game on Wednesday. Now they're led by the eccentric basketball star Dennis Rodman who is now on his fourth trip to Pyongyang.

Now this exhibition match is planned for leader Kim Jong un's birthday.

Rodman has referred to Kim as, quote, an awesome guy and his friend for life.

Now the trip has attracted a lot of criticism. But the players insist that they are there for basketball, not politics. And from Pyongyang, they spoke to Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview for CNN's New Day.


CHARLES SMITH, FRM. NBA PLAYER: We are using basketball as a bridge for cultural exchange. And that's all about communication. We're not -- again, we're not here to deal with the politics. The date of the game is the date of the game. It was arranged that way.

CUOMO: Right.

SMITH: We're here to deal with people.

Now, let me give you a couple of examples. When we spoke to the North Korean players today through the translators, they asked us questions about professional basketball, they asked us questions about how we live, they asked us questions about the game.

We interacted with them. We represented our country in basketball in a way that we know that we should do and we are very professional about it. The fans afterwards said things like, we had no idea, you guys are retired, you guys are older, but your skill is superior and you taught us a lot. They thanked us for that. They thanked Dennis for putting this together. That's the joy that we get out of this, and that's what we're going to sit and that's what we're going to stay and that's what we're going to do.

CUOMO: And I wish you good luck and effectiveness. I wish you good luck and effectiveness in influencing the people there. I hope it's a good cultural exchange.

Dennis, let me end on this. You do have a relationship with this man. You've said it many times. We've seen it demonstrated...


CUOMO: ...for whatever reason.


CUOMO: Are you going to take an opportunity if you get it to speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae and say, let us know why this man is being held? That this is wrong, that he is sick. If you can help them, Dennis, will you take the opportunity?

RODMAN: Watch this. The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing, if you understand -- I got it guys (ph), if you understand what Kenneth Bae did.


RODMAN: Do you understand what he did --

CUOMO: What did he do? You tell me.

RODMAN: this country?

CUOMO: You tell me. What he do?

RODMAN: No, no, no, you tell me. Why is he held captive?

CUOMO: They haven't released any charges. They haven't released any reason.


SMITH: Listen.

RODMAN: Let me do this, I would love to speak on this.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

RODMAN: You know, you got 10 guys here -- 10 guys here that have left their families, left their families to help this country in a sports venture. Ten guys, all these guys here. Do anyone understand that?

CUOMO: We do. And we appreciate that. And we wish them well with cultural exchange.

RODMAN: No, no. I'm saying -- I don't give (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what the hell you think, I'm saying to you, look at these guys. Look at them!

CUOMO: Yes, Dennis, don't put it on them. Don't use them as an excuse for the behavior that you're putting on yourself. You just basically were saying that Kenneth Bae did something wrong. We don't even know what the charges are. Don't use these guys as a shield for you, Dennis.

SMITH: Listen. Listen. Listen.

RODMAN: Shield, I got it. Let me do this. Let me -- let me. I'm going to tell you one thing. People around the world -- around the world -- I'm going to do one thing. You guy behind the mic right now, we are the guys here do one thing.

We have to go back to America and take the abuse -- do you have to take the abuse we're going to take? Do you, sir, let me know -- you're going to take the abuse, we're going to get it. But guess what though? One day, one day this door is going to open because these ten guys here, all of us, Christie, Vin, Dennis, Charles, all these guys -- I mean, everybody here, if we could just open the door just a little bit for people to come here and do one thing...

SMITH: And Dennis makes a great point. There are other Americans here on this trip. You have to understand that we're not alone. We're in passage with about 50 people. There are other Americans that have been to Korea, in and out of Korea, they're here on the tour. They're here with us. We've interacted with them as well. The key is you can bait Dennis or any others...


CUOMO: Charles -- Charles, that's not my intention.

SMITH: But that's not ...

CUOMO: That's not my intention...

SMITH: Let me finish.

CUOMO: Please?

SMITH: If that's not your intention, if that's not your intention, we're said numerous times that we're not here for any political aspects. We're not here to talk politics.


LU STOUT: Oh, highly charged exchange there. And clearly a visibly angry Dennis Rodman there. But the NBA is distancing itself from Rodman's endeavor. In fact, a statement from commissioner David Stern says the league would not support such a venture without approval from the U.S. State Department.

It goes on to say this, quote, "while though sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."

Now other critics are calling for a last minute cancellation of Wednesday game.

Now still to come right here on News Stream, a military issued gun is said to be among the poessions of a suspected poacher. CNN follows the trail of the illegal ivory trade in Africa.

And the widely chatised NSA appears set for sweeping reforms. We look at the options and ask whether it's enough to satisfy those ardent critics of mass spying.

And look, no hands. Hands free takes on a whole new meaning. We'll be live at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Stick around.


LU STOUT: Now in a special series this week, CNN is taking an exclusive look at the deadly ivory trade in the Republic of Congo. Now in part two, the rangers are hot on the trail of elephant poachers. And the chase takes an unexpected turn. Arwa Damon, along with photographer Peter Rudnan (ph) and producer Brent Swales (ph) join the hunt for the poachers.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Macha Eccelsteen (ph) isn't wasting any time. He wants to know if there's a more discreet way to get into position. It's the morning after his eco guards raiding an elephan poacher's camp in Odzala National Park. They found a cell phone left behind and they are using it to track down suspected poachers that shot at them and escaped the day before.

They are park rangers by necessity now turned investigators.

(on camera): And you don't think that the authorities will actually investigate properly and go after this guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They don't are interested in that.

DAMON (voice-over): Atal (ph) says corruption is rampant in the Congo.

(on camera): That's military issue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one, of course.

DAMON (voice-over): At times, they can't even trust themselves. This seized compass is just like those issued to the eco guards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must have contact, we surrender.

DAMON: We wanted to ask the government about the corruption claims. The minister responsible for forests conceded the government needs to clean up its act.

"Certainly, certainly," he told us. "Yes, it is true that there are accomplices to this illegal trading of wildlife. That is not easy."

He insists the government is committed to fighting corruption. But on this morning, the ecoguard unit is on its own and on the offensive.

Using the captured cell phone, they set up a meeting with an infamous bush meat trader whose number was on the phone. It's an ambush. He's cornered then interrogated.

It doesn't take him long to give up the name of the owner of the cellphone whom the ecoguards believe is one of the elephant poachers.

"They are just there. They live there. He's a young guy."

An hour later, the ecoguards pick up not one, but two men, brothers, an interrogate them back at the unit's checkpoint.

"The other rifle, where is it? You own which one," Acal (ph) demands.

"The .458," one brother responds.

He admits that they were at the camp, but claims they were just fishing. But refused to give up the names of those who shot at the ecoguards. And now the ecoguards will have to look for new leads.

But there have been some successes. In just the last four months, the unit arrested a trafficker ringleader, Islan Ngonjo (ph), better known as Pepito (ph).

(on camera): We're driving through Pepito's (ph) village right now, but we've been advised not to actually get out and shoot, because tensions are incredibly high between those who want to protect the part in Pepito's (ph) gang.

(voice-over): A few days after the two brothers were detained, the unit got a new lead and went after what they suspected was a third gang member. Escaping, he ran over an ecoguard station at this checkpoint. While the unit took the seriously injured guard to hospital, the ecoguard's camp was torched.

The government has promised a response. One week later, the ecoguards remain on their own.


LU STOUT: Now let's get more now from Arwa Damon. She joins me live from London. And Arwa, you know, we've seen the chase, these ecoguards on the hunt for the poachers, but has anyone actually been detained?

DAMON: Well, Kristie, the minister of forest economy himself when we saw him afterwards in the capital Brazzaville pledged that those who carried out this attack would be captured and held accountable. And nothing at this stage has happened.

The man who was on the motorcycle who ran over the ecoguard was put in prison. His court date was put -- his court date has not yet been announced.

But at the same time the ministry had promised even the European Union that funds African park's project in Odzala, its management of Odzala, the European Union had been promised that something would be done, that there would be some sort of a massive operation to try to hunt down these poachers, but also tried to focus on the village where a lot of threats are emenating from and trying to decrease that slightly. And nothing to date has happened and that's really part of the problem.

LU STOUT: Wow, so many promised, but simply not enough accountability. Arwa Damon reporting for us, thank you.

Now, Asia is one of the largest markets in the world for ivory. And the ecoguards is set up to make sure that the ivory doesn't leave that corner of Africa. But even with ample evidence, can they stop it?

Well, this exclusive series, again it's called Tracking the Ivory Trade, it continues tomorrow.

You could also go to our website to learn more about the ivory trade and Arwa's investigation. Just scroll through this gallery of the ecoguard team, just 76 of them protect an area that's more than 13,000 square kilometers. You can find it at

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up, limiting the NSA. How the Obama administration could reign in intelligence gathering at the agency. We'll look at the options.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching News Stream.

Now President Barack Obama will start the new year considering reforms to the National Security Agency after last year's damaging spying revelations.

Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching News Stream.

Now President Barack Obama will start the new year considering reforms to the National Security Agency after last year's damaging spying revelations.

Now Jim Sciutto reports on how the White House might reign in the NSA's surveillance powers.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a presidential speech planned this month, the administration is preparing a series of reforms to put the NSA under tighter control.

One possible reform would put a public advocate on the secret intelligence court known as the FISA court, where now judges only hear from government lawyers. Another would move telephone metadata from government hands back to the private sector. A congressional source tells CNN one additional prospect would be for the FISA court, located inside this D.C., federal courthouse, to approve searches of the metadata by the NSA and FBI on a case-by-case basis, with the FBI director able to grant quicker approval in emergencies.

Still, critics say that even these changes would leave the government collecting massive amounts of data unnecessarily.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We can't continue to refer to ourselves as a -- quote, unquote -- "free country" when the United States government is collecting information on virtually every telephone call made in America, getting into people's e-mails, focusing on the Web sites that certain people are visiting.

SCIUTTO: Sanders says he may be one of those people. He sent a letter to the NSA director, General Keith Alexander, asking -- quote -- "one very simple question. Has the NSA spied or is the NSA currently spying on members of Congress or other American elected officials?"

The NSA's only answer so far, that members of Congress have -- quote -- "the same privacy protections as all Americans."

Senator Rand Paul, another ardent critic of mass NSA spying, now wants to take the NSA to court with a class-action lawsuit.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: A class-action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of participants really beats home and brings to the forefront the idea that this is a generalized warrant and it should be considered unconstitutional.

SCIUTTO: A senior administration official has given CNN more details on where the White House stands, first, on transfering phone metadata back to telecommunications firms. This official says they have heard that the firms themselves have some, quote, "significant concerns about holding the data."

And one more recommendation from the panel had been to require a federal judge to approve each use of so-called national security letters, a kind of subpeona for access to phone and other personal records. But this offical says some agencies have concerns this would raise the bar for intelligence investigations above that for criminal ones.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: Now, still to come here on News Stream, a look at some of the hottest offerings and memorable moments from the start of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Plus, a deep freeze continues to spread across parts of the U.S. We'll bring you the latest on the dangerously cold temperatures there as well as a world weather update next.


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

Now the U.S. is speeding up deliveries of missiles, drones and other military supplies to Iraq. That's intended to help the Iraqi government as it battles militants in Anbar Province, some of them linked to al Qaeda. The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki by phone on Monday to express support.

Now reports from Turkey say the government has sacked or reassigned 350 police officers in the capital Ankara. The firings started last month after police detained dozens of suspects linked to the government in an anti-corruption probe. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the corruption investigation saying that it is aimed at toppling his government.

Now talks between the government of South Sudan and rebel forces have resumed in Ethiopia. They're trying to work toward a ceasefire agreement. Now one report says that the rebels are demanding the government release certain people it has detained. Officials say more than 1,000 people have been killed since violence erupted last month.

Now it is day one of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is an annual event that highlights the future of high tech gadgets. And among the goods on display, we've got the latest driverless cars. Samuel Burke takes us along for a ride.


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm being chauffeured around Las Vegas not in the back of a limousine going down the famous strip, I'm actually in the back of a car where the man behind the wheel isn't even touching the wheel.

What exactly is the car doing when you don't have your hands on the wheel?

BJORN GIESLER, PROJECT LEAD, AUDI PILOTLESS DRIVING PROGRAM: It's using its outside sensors to form a picture of what's happening on the road right now. So it's looking at the cars, it's looking at the lines, it's looking at road boundaries. And it's basing its decisions following the car in front.

BURKE: I think it would take awhile before I just trusted it.

GIESLER: If it cannot follow or if it's in anyway unclear it's asking me to take over, which I just did.

BURKE: It kind of reminds me of Bewitched, that American series about the housewife witch, because I see your hands there not touching anything and the steering wheel is moving back and forth. So it really makes me feel like there's some type of magic going on.

GIESLER: Yeah, I'm sorry I just can't wiggle my nose the way Nicole Kidman can.

BURKE: It's not so black and white. I think we think of a car with a driver or a car without a driver, this is kind of like an airplane that uses a pilot, but sometimes it goes into autopilot.

GIESLER: You can just say, hey, I don't want to drive right now, just take over and if I want to be back in the driver's seat, I'll just grab the wheel and go.

BURKE: In the state of Nevada, an amateur like me isn't allowed to drive a driverless car just yet. But maybe in a few years, I can get in here and let my hands rest.

This is what the technology was looking like at last year's CES, right?

GIESLER: Exactly.

BURKE: And now it's looking like that.

GIESLER: It's what is inside here, exactly.

We have in the car different sensors that we're using in the front on the rear. We just see on the mirror the camera. We have this eye here.

BURKE: So I just took a spin in one of these. It wasn't 100 percent smooth. It wasn't just driverless technology. You need a driver behind the wheel. There was some sudden stops. What's the biggest challenge right now to get it to that next phase where you need the driver less?

GIESLER: You know there's challenges we're talking about. First of all is the situations that you find outside, which when you drive and you're used to driver -- for you it's pretty simple. But if you look through sensors, the world is different.

BURKE: If you had to sell it to me right now, if you had to, how much would you charge me with all that technology that you crammed in here?

GIESLER: We don't talk about prices currently, you know.


LU STOUT: And Samuel joins me now live from Las Vegas. And Samuel, I mean, tell me more about the experience riding in that driverless car, just how did it feel?

BURKE: I'll be perfectly honest, Kristie, it was very nerve racking. At times, the car didn't know exactly where to go, because it doesn't change lanes yet, so it was just kind of following the car in front of it. And then at one point the driver wanted to close his eyes to show how the car will stop when it thinks that you're asleep and it stopped so suddenly that the producer with the cameraman behind me came uncomfortably close to our car. I thought we were going to crash for a second.

So this technology is very interesting, but it's not quite there yet.

And Kristie, you and I might as well drop the word driverless. It's not driverless, it's just for small stretches will allow you to take your hands off the wheel.

LU STOUT: Yeah, so it just occasionally it auto-pilot, right, but still a white knuckle ride for you.

Now you definitely need nerves of steel to be in there, but do you need a special driver's license to drive or ride in a driverless car?

BURKE: It's not necessarily a special driver's license. And it depends where you are in the world, even state to state here in the United States. In Nevada, you actually have to have two engineers from the car company and they have to prove that they've already driven 50,000 miles somewhere else, because you can't drive until you have those 50,000 miles.

Here in Nevada, I was really stunned by the amount of bureaucracy that people have to go through to drive these so-called driverless cars here in Nevada, much more regulation than you would need for a typical car.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it seems that the laws or the legal system needs to catch up with the emerging technology.

Now Samuel, there's a host of other car announcements due at CES this week. What else are you looking forward to?

BURKE: Yeah, you don't usually think of CES as a place for a car show, but actually kind of turned into that here. Google made what many people think is a very important announcement saying that the Android operating system, which Google owns, is going to be available in cars like GM, Audi like the car I was driving, Hyundai, and various other cars. So they're trying to get their operating system into the screens so that you can run apps in your car, maybe even getting their maps into these cars so that these driverless cars know where they're going.

So I think that was a very important announcement. And you see they're trying to get ahead of Apple there and get their system to dominate the automobile industry.

LU STOUT: All right.

And one more question for you, got to talk about wearables, the big trend, the battle for the wrist. And apparently it's splitting up into two distinct directions. Tell me about it.

BURKE: Yeah, so you can go one way or the other. Either you can do ones that are more fitness, like the one that I'm wearing here. This is called Fitbit. This one counts calories, it counts how much you move. It has a watch. It could eat into the other direction, because the other ones are the smart watches that will connect with your phone, but this one is already connecting with your phone. So I think companies like Samsung either have to make those other smartwatches more health driven, or these puppies are going to beat them out.

But you're seeing that a lot of people wearing these. We've even talked to somebody who lost almost 60 pounds wearing a device just like this.

Another one I want to show you, it's not quite wearable, but you take it with you, if you forget your keys a lot of places you might want to put tracker on your keys. This little device uses Bluetooth. And if you lose it, you just can push a button on your smartphone and then it will make a sound that you can -- you've heard it for a second there. There it goes. And so you can find out where your keys are.

Also, you can put another device they have in your wallet. I lose my wallet much more frequently than I lose my keys.

This one is 29 bucks, Kristie. Again, it connects with your smartphone. The other one is 24 bucks with your keys.

LU STOUT: I like that idea of a wallet tracker. And all those devices you're sharing with us, sleek, portable and functional. Wearables a trend. I defintely like. Samuel Burke joining us live at the site of CES Las Vegas. Thank you. Take care.

Now, there are a lot of high tech gadgets on display in Vegas right now, but it was a relatively low tech tool that tripped up the Transformers director Michael Bay. Just watch what happened during his appearance for Samsung.


MICHAEL BAY, FILM DIRECTOR: I try to take people on an emotional ride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the curve, how is it -- how do you think it's going to impact how viewers experience your movies?

BAY: Excuse me, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, ladies and gentleman, let's thank Michael Bay for joining us.


LU STOUT: A walk-off. You know, it was a very cringe worthy and uncomfortable moment there for the famous director. He later explained what happened on his blog. Basically, he blamed the teleprompter, which you see right here, the teleprompter got lost. That's when he went off script. And it threw him off. It's something that happens occasionally at live events and live TV.

Now, Michael Bay, he wrote this on his blog, quote, "wow. I just embarrassed myself at CES." He went on to say, "I guess live shows aren't my thing."

Now, Bay, he was there to bring attention to Samsung's new curved television. Now the company has been struggling with competition in the smartphone market. And Samsung says it is on track to report its first profit decline in more than two years. Fourth quarter sales also dropped.

Now Samsung's chairman has acknowledged the difficulties in his reported New Year's speech. Lee Kung-hee called on the company to end its focus on hardware. Now that would be a huge shift for the world's largest information technology company.

Now, turning now to now to the bitter and dangerous cold across much of the United States right now. The Midwest, Southeast, Northeast are all suffering temperatures well below average. Authorities say at least 15 people have been killed in weather related traffic accidents, or from exposure.

Now this big chill is being caused by what's known as a polar vortex. So what exactly is a polar vortex? Well, let's get the explainer from Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center -- Mari.


Yeah, this is a word that's kind of come up recently in the media. A lot of people talking about this polar vortex. And it sounds kind of scary. You don't want to get caught in the polar vortex, or get sucked in by the polar vortex, or you know, things like that.

Let me just go ahead and start from the beginning here. Let's talk about the temperatures. You see how all of this cold air is coming in from areas farther to the north. And it's just taking over across the U.S. These are some temperatures from just this morning. And you can see these bitterly cold temperatures well below the average. Minus 32 compared to minus 21 for the average.

So even though these places are pretty cold usually, we're still looking at temperatures well below the average. Even in New York City where the average is minus 3, it went down to minus 14. That was the same temperature here in Atlanta, which by the way I think is a new record, a new daily record for a low temperature for this time of year.

So, where does this cold air come from? Of course, it came from the poles, right? And we have the polar vortex.

What happens is there's something called the arctic oscillation. And it can be positive or it could be negative. When it's positive, it basically means that this cold air stays bottled up here in the arctic. We're talking about in the upper levels of the atmosphere.

So try to imagine this, this is the way I like to picture this, like say you have a jar and you have something in the jar, let's say you have perfume in the jar and you want to keep that perfume in your jar. If the lid is nice and tight, well all of that perfume stays bottled up in there. But if you begin to loosen up the lid of the jars that you have there, that perfume begins to smell, begins to kine of come out a little bit.

Well, that's kind of what happens here. In a positive phase, the cold air stays bottled up in the Arctic. When you have a negative face of the Arctic oscillation the winds get a little bit weaker and then you begin to see these pools of cold air start kind of escaping out of those areas where normally they would be.

What happens is the jet stream begins to dip farther to the south, that's what we have right here across the U.S. It happened last year, remember, across parts of the UK and northern parts of Europe. That cold air will spill into the lower latitudes creating these extremely cold temperatures.

This is not something new. This is not something that is just happening right now.

We did this here at CNN before where you track where the air comes from. And we use these models from NOAA. And we used it -- I don't know if you remember back then with Fukushima, remember, to track -- to see if there was any -- which way the air was moving, because people thought they were going to get radiation poisoning and that right after the Fukushima accident.

Well, we did this again with the air here. So the air here in Atlanta that we were breathing in yesterday, we did a backwards trajectory and followed the air backwards in time to see where that air came from. And about a week ago it was way up here in the northernmost latitudes in northern Canada and close to the Arctic Circle so that air that is normally way up here actually made its way, way down here. And that is why we have this extreme cold right now.

This is a 24 hour temperature change. It is warmer relatively in Minneapolis and Chicago than it was yesterday. But look at the east coast. New York is 28 degrees colder today than it was yesterday. And Atlanta is 11 degrees colder than it was yesterday.

What's going to happen, well, this air will eventually start making its way back north. And we are finally going to start to see temperatures that are going to be closer to average as we head into tomorrow and by the end of the week.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right, thank you for that update. And thank you so much for that explainer. I finally got it, ephiphany. The polar vortex explained thanks to a metaphor involving a bottle of perfume. Mari Ramos, we thank you.

Now, polar bears and penguins, they've been kept inside at the zoos in Chicago and Pittsburgh, but this deep freeze has brought out some wild weather enthusiasts. Stephani Elam joins me live from no doubt freezing cold Minneapolis. She joins me now.

Stephanie, how are you doing? How does it feel out there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's -- I keep trying to say that there's a better word than cold, I just don't know what that word is, Kristie. But it is so cold out here that there's a lot of things that aren't happening like a lot of kids not going to school.

But we did just see a guy go by on a unicycle. And apparently there's a lot more fun you can have out here too.


UNIDENTIFIELD MALE: They say it's about 20 below.

ELAM (voice-over): With this week's arctic blast, what may be one man's frozen tundra is another's winter wonder land. Despite the biting temps, a brave few are testing the elements. It's so cold that if you take boiling water and throw it into the sky it turns into snow just like this. Some are getting creative timing the 2 minutes it takes to freeze a wet t-shirt in Michigan...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it cold out here?

ELAM: And blowing bubbles into the brisk wintery air.


ELAM: Watch as the now frozen bubbles roll across the deck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look like cellophane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like just getting out and getting in the brisk cold. It reminds you that you're alive. That's what I like to think.

ELAM: OK. So and we are looking at you're alive, just look at your moustache.


ELAM: This cold spell even stunting the skeptics, proving you can freeze an egg if it's cold enough and a whole tray of ice cubes in less than 20 minutes. And while many sought the warmth of their vehicles and homes, one brave couple in Montreal, Canada didn't let the wintry weather freeze out their wedding plans. Thanks to a backup boiler and heavy jackets, they tied the not in minus 15 degree weather.


ELAM: And right now it is negative 27 degrees Celsius where I am standing in Minneapolis. But the worst seems to be behind the Twin Cities here as the big polar vortex heads east -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, good to hear that the worst is over. But the images of those frozen t-shirts, bubbles that turn into cellophane absolutely remarkable. Take care. Stephanie Elam there live in Minneapolis, thank you Stephanie.

Now in Montana, there is a moose on the loose. We'll catch up with two snowboarders on, you guessed it, a wild moose chase.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now this week's leading woman spent a decade in the political spotlight as UK's first lady now Cherie Blair is forging ahead as an advocate for women's rights.

Now the wife of the forrmer British prime minister Tony Blair sat down with our Becky Anderson.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's called home one of the most famous addresses in the world.

CHERIE BLAIR, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE: You kind of think you can just carry on as before. And then when you get into number 10 Downing Street you realize that of course that is not possible.

ANDERSON: Cherie Blair and her husband Tony Blair lived at 10 Downing Street while he was British prime minister from 1997 to 2007. Before becoming first lady, Blair was already a respected and high profile attorney in the United Kingdom. Still, she found the political spotlight daunting at times.

BLAIR: For a start, of course, it was a lot more media scrutiny. On top of that, I'm used to speaking for myself. Suddenly I couldn't just speak for myself. I mean, my job is an advocate, but as the wife of the prime minister I'm supposed to be seen and not heard.

ANDERSON: Despite the limitations, her position also brought renewed purpose.

BLAIR: Suddenly, I had this opportunity to see for myself both just how privileged I was and also how much more could be done to help women across the world.

ANDERSON: Since leaving political life, Blair has continued to be a champion of women, setting up a foundation in 2008.

BLAIR: As late as 1928, the privy council in London overturned a ruling which said that women could not stand for parliament because they were not persons.

ANDERSON: The Cherie Blair Foundation, tell me about the aims of that foundation?

BLAIR: I could have just gone back to carrying on -- and I still am, of course, a lawyer. But I didn't want to lose that other side, which was very much about how we could help women in particular. It was perfectly clear to me that there was so much more that needed to be done in the developing world.

Hello, I'm Cherie Blair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Linda Deboe (ph).

ANDERSON: They have a number of projects including in Ghana.

BLAIR: In this world, I'm afraid money talks. And the woman who has her own money, who has financial independence can make choices.

So I wanted to do something that helps women set up and grow their own businesses. They will also change the lives of those around them and ultimately shape society for the better.

And so giving them the training and enabling them to see what they could do and that makes all the difference.

ANDERSON: What scares you?

BLAIR: I think what scares me is the ignorance in the world. I think so much of the oppression of women is based on some sort of fear about the power of females and you wonder sometimes, because across the world you see so many powerless females who have been deliberately held back because of some irrational fear where in fact we all know actually men and women flourish best when they're both given the opportunities to reach their dreams.


LU STOUT: Insight from Cherie Blair there.

You're watching News Stream. And still to come on the program, the death of a Hong Kong film legend. We remember Run Run Shaw, considered the father of the beloved Kung Fu genre. Don't go away.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, a truly remarkable scene for you this from a rodeo in Costa Rica. Just take a look at this video of this woman. She's trying and failing to outrun a bull. Contestants, they were trying to dodge the 450 kilogram bull at the festival. Fortunately, she was unhurt since people in the crowd did, after she was flung up, they did -- wow, manage to catch her.

Now from that bit of bull, to chasing a moose. And who better to tell the story but our very own Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you say when you see your buddy ahead of you snowboarding down a mountain chasing a moose.


MOOS: Charlie Rush and Hunter Lamereaux were snowboarding at White Fish Mountain Resort in Montana when they stumbled on the moose apparently at a loss for any words but those. The wild moose chase continued until suddenly, the moose stopped and turned at which pointed our intrepid cameraman wiped out. Charlie rush managed to rush by the moose.

But he says...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It runs at my friend. I see my friend crawling up and running as fast as he can.

MOOS: The moose took off. Hunter posted the video on his Facebook page with the caption, "Just chasing a moose while snowboarding, no big deal" but the (inaudible) National Forest Service thought it was a big enough deal to fine Charlie Rush $225.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have regulations about harassing wildlife. What they did fell under that.

MOOS: Charlie says they weren't harassing it. They were trying to get around it. He is debating whether to fight the fine to clear his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don't like how everyone is dissing on us and saying we are horrible people and jerks.

MOOS: He says he has never hurt an animal his entire life. That he won't hunt or fish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love moose. I never realized how big they were until I got that close to one.

MOOS: Moose are nothing to trifle with. The last time I did a moose story, a mother moose took on a truck. The driver gingerly tried to get around mom and her calves. She rammed the vehicle four times. That moose actually ended up chasing the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get out of here.

MOOS: Even when you hit a moose, did you actually have a hoof print on your face.


MOOS: The moral for our snowboarders. Don't mess with a moose. You could end up doing a face plant with moose tracks planted on your face.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.


LU STOUT: Oh, what a ride. What a clip there.

Now, before we go I want to mention the passing of a Hong Kong media mogul who definitely made a mark on world cinema. Now Run Run Shaw was 107 years old. He co-founded one of the world's largest film studioes Shaw Brothers. Now it has produced around 1,000 movies since 1958 and helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience.

Shaw was considered the kind of Kung Fu with movies like "Return of the One-Armed Swordsman" which you're looking at right here. Shaw studios were instrumental in building Asia's film industry.

Now they say others have copied the Shaw's martial arts magic ever since.

A generous philathropist, he also established the Shaw Prize. The international science award has become known as the Nobel of the East.

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