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Syrian Government Agrees To Let Women, Children Leave Homs; Olympic Torch Heads To Dagestan; Stanislas Wawrinka On Improbable Australian Open Win; Wedding Dresses At Zaatari Refugee Camp; 56th Grammy Recap; Another Cold Blast For U.S. Northeast

Aired January 27, 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.

As we edge closer to the start of the Winter Games, the Olympic torch arrives in the restive region of Dagestan.

A wedding shop in a refugee camp -- how Syrians who fled the civil war are trying to bring a sense of normalcy to their lives.

And the surprise winner of the Australian Open speaks to CNN.

Now we are 11 days from the start of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. But as Olympic athletes start to arrive, new terror threats have surfaced.

Now Russia says the games will be safe, but militants are vowing more violence.

Now Dagestan is at the heart of southern Russia's Islamic insurgency. And a short time ago, the Olympic torch made its way through the capital of Makhachkala. But that event happened amid extremely tight security.

Now it sits more than 630 kilometers from Sochi, but officials are clearly concerned about the threats made by militants.

Let's take you now live to Makhachkala. Our Nick Paton Walsh is there and he joins me now.

And Nick, as the torch moves through Makhachkala today, what kind of security have you seen there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a remarkable scene. I mean, most expect Olympic parades to be people lining the streets waving flags. This was tight security. Nobody really saw the torch, flown secretly into the airport, whisked along the highway to the main stadium here where people have been bussed in, including journalists, taken on very tight cordon through police checkpoints, bussed with a police escort to the stadium where there was, fair to say, a festive atmosphere despite the terrible weather.


WALSH: The festive atmosphere here inside this stadium, that's not reflected by what we've seen in the town itself. the torch came here in a maximum security convoy from the airport. Nobody there to film it as it came in. And inside this stadium is where the parade's happened.

Outside, checkpoints, the police locking down the city for one simple reason, this is hotbed of the Islamist insurgency in southern Russian and where the threats against the games have been made by militants.

Today, we've seen an estimated 13,000 crowd gather inside here, but they were all bussed in on coaches as well from around the area.

Tightly organized, tightly controlled, high security. That gives you an idea of how seriously the threat is taken by the Russian government itself and ordinary people in the town around not involved, not the normal parade you expect for an Olympic torch of people lining the streets and waving it through.

Everything inside here, everything under tight security, that's what people are worried about in Sochi, the threat that emanates from here even though we're far to the east of southern Russia, well away from where the games will actually be held.


WALSH: Now we've seen new threats emerge in the past few days online from the same group that claimed the Volgograd bombings very late last year, Vilayat of Dagestan.

There is a lengthy statement in which they said that they have sighted a Koranic justification for the deaths of women and children, the violence they've been guilty of. And also said they'd chosen Volgograd in those attacks because some of the kind of heavy-handed riot police known as Omon (ph) here in Russia that work in this area had in fact come from Volgograd.

So, the threats appear online, that's not where they're going to cause damage, obviously, it'll be on the ground here that militants will have to make good on their threats to engulf the games in flames. Today, in Dagestan we've seen no violence, really, of any note so far as far as reports go to this point.

So they have successfully brought the torch through here, but at significant cost, the maximum security depriving most locals of participating at all in this celebration. And almost surreal atmosphere of a very isolated parade going through a stadium and then being whisked out again immediately afterward.

The threat remains there, though. And I think many people will see today's tight security as a sign exactly how worried the Kremlin must be about violence in Southern Russia -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Nick, as you mentioned a new terrorist threat today adding to all the others, a threat from the black widows to the group behind the December bombings. Which group poses the greatest threat to the games?

WALSH: Well, I mean, it's only really one group behind this. And they're (inaudible) Kafkaz Emirate, the Caucuses Emirate -- (inaudible) depending on which translation you choose to speak. But they're not really a kind of a (inaudible) structure. They have a leader, Dokka Umarov. He's a Chechen. A lengthy, long-time leader of that group since Shamil Basayev, the man behind the Dubrovka Theater siege and the hostage crisis at the Beslan School was killed in 2006.

But they don't really, let's say, work under a hierarchy in some degrees. They follow the ideology and branding of the Kafkaz Emirate (ph), but many of the groups they're autonomous. They are young guys, maybe as little as 10, perhaps even three of them getting together planning these particular attacks. And that's, I think, the concern that while in the past there was more of a structure that the Russian security services could peck away at or pursue, we're now talking about people with autonomy who don't often expect to live very long, many of these recruits when they sign up to the Caucuses groups who operate around Dagestan here simply seek to die, according to many analysts. So it's a very nihilistic choice.

And of course it's very hard to stop militants who have no fear of death at all and in fact actively seek it, because some observers say the corruption, the lack of social opportunity here, makes many feel life is a punishment and the reward they seek for the acts of violence they'll perpetrate is going to the afterlife where they'll see paradise. That's what they believe, but that of course just compounds and fuels the danger of what Russian security services face here and ordinary Russians as these games approach, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Nick Paton Walsh there live in Makhachkala reporting on the terror threat and the security response there.

Now as mentioned, security will be extremely tight in Sochi. Now Olympic organizers tell CNN that only authorized people will be allowed in this three kilometer zone around the Olympic site. It's commonly referred to as the ring of steel.

Ivan Watson has more on the heightened alert.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over the weekend, a new warning from terrorists in Dagestan, a region plagued by Islamist insurgents promising more attacks like this recent bombing in Russia. They're not specifically mentioning the Sochi games.

As Olympic athletes begin to arrive, the U.S. State Department issued another warning last week, urging American athletes not to wear their uniforms outside the game's ring of steel.

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this.

WATSON: In the event of an attack, U.S. officials say they have contingency plans at the ready, helicopters on standby on two wars in the Black Sea. And c-17 transport aircraft in Germany could be on the scene in two hours. But Russian officials hope these emergency plans won't be needed, assuring their security forces will be vigilant.

SERGEY KISLYAK, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I'm absolutely certain because we are doing everything that is needed in order to make sure it is going to be safe, and it will be as safe as any other Olympics that can be held currently in the world.

WATSON: But others, like U.S. Congressman Peter King said on ABC's "This Week" he can't give that same promise.

REP. PETER KING, CHAIRMAN OF HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: I cannot give them 100 percent guarantee. The fact is, that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics, probably more than any we've had in our past.

WATSON: The U.S. continues to offer counterterrorism expertise to Russia with IED detection software, jamming equipment, and war ships at the ready. All Russia needs is to give the green light.

HAGEL: Whatever we can do, we want to do to help, but right now there has been no request from the Russian government.


LU STOUT: Now some U.S. officials have complained that Russia has not been totally candid regarding intelligence sharing. Ivan Watson joins me now from Sochi. and Ivan, the U.S. is making these contingency plans without a full security briefing from Russia, in their words. So just how safe is Sochi?

WATSON: Well, we certainly know that there are tens of thousands of Russian security personnel that have been brought in, accompanied by, according to reports, hundreds of Cossacks wearing fur hats and swords.

In addition to that, we've seen in the last couple of hours naval exercises taking place. Over my shoulder, Farhad Shadravan (ph) going to show here in the waters of the Black Sea right off of the Olympic park what locals say is a naval vessel, one of two that we've seen patrolling here in waters just off the Olympic Park. We're going to show how close the park is where the big white dome of Fisht Stadium recently constructed, that's going to be where the opening and closing ceremonies are to be held. And further to the right, you can see that burning fire there, that's the flame of what is supposed to be the Olympic torch.

Of course, as you've just heard from our own Nick Paton Walsh officially the Olympic torch is in Makhachkala in Dagestan hundreds of kilometers of the east of here, but they seem to be trying out the flame here in the sprawling Olympic Park, all of this constructed in recent years to the tune of, by some estimates $50 billion, including an amusement park with a roller coaster that hasn't quite been completed yet, hasn't been opened yet. And Farhad (ph) is going to keep panning to the right past a lot of these dormitories, hotels, buildings that have all been built, an entire city as part of these Olympics.

There's some controversy about them and the cost of this, allegations of graft that the Russian government has denied. And of course up in the distance, the mountains that ring around Sochi and Adler (ph), the town we're in where the Olympics are going to be held, that you can see have snow-capped peaks right now. There was some concern that here in Sochi a - - one of the warmest parts of Russia, that there might not be enough snow. But fortunately we've seen snow up in those mountains that bodes well for the upcoming Olympics, about 11 days away.

As for the security concerns, the Russians are not taking chances. One of the measures locals tell us about is that any car not registered from Sochi, from any other Russian city, is effectively banned on the streets of this city since January 7. And if you didn't get out of your city with your car with license plates from another city after January 7 you basically can't move on these roads. That's one of the measures the Russians are taking to try to ensure the safety of these Winter Olympics -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Ivan, it's incredible from your vantage point we can see there is snow in Sochi, there is accommodation, there is this ship on patrol off the shore just behind you, but meanwhile Ivan you've also been talking to city officials there about the gay community in Sochi, what did they tell you?

WATSON: Well, there has been no shortage of controversy about Russia and its law, which effectively bans what it describes as propaganda for the LGBT, the homosexual community. In an interview with BBC the mayor of Sochi was quoted effectively saying that we don't have members of that community here in Sochi.

Now we've spoken with a spokesman for the mayor of Sochi who claims that those comments that, quote, "was taken out of context." What the mayor really meant is that members of the LGBT community do not advertise their presence here in Sochi. They cannot be seen visually, as he put it, out on the streets, because that lifestyle isn't really accepted here in the Caucuses, one of the more socially conservative regions of the Russian Federation.

Of course, we know that there is, for example, at least one gay night club in Sochi, that members of all communities are welcome at. So, those statements being questioned at this time -- and of course Russia's position vis-a-vis its LGBT community and visitors are quite controversial. The Russian president has gone on record saying that gays, lesbians are welcome here, but that they need to respect the children of Russia and that's also come under criticism with some arguing why are you equating effectively pedophilia with being a homosexual. So we're probably not seeing the end of controversy around Russia's official position vis-a-vis its LGBT community any time soon -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Indeed, indeed. Thank you for giving us the very latest on that.

Ivan Watson on the story for us live from Sochi, thank you.

And we've got plenty more ahead this hour right here on News Stream. Now they have been trapped in the line of fire. And now Syria's government agrees to let women and children leave the besieged city of Homs, but what is actually happening on the ground?

France's former first lady Valerie Trierweiler leaves the country as news of her split from Francois Hollande is confirmed.

And Holiday nightmare on board a Caribbean cruise. Authorities investigating why hundreds of people got sick.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now a small step forward in Geneva peace talks on the Syrian civil war. Now the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says women and children could start leaving the city of Homs today. Now they have been trapped inside rebel held areas for months as government troops battled to regain control. But the Syrian government has now agreed to let them out. It says any male civilians who also want to leave would have to provide their names. And that demand is not likely to sit well with opposition groups.

Now let's go straight to Beirut. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is monitoring the situation in Syria. He joins me now. And Mohammed, the world is now watching. Will women and children be allowed to leave Homs?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, that's the real question right now, nobody yet knows. And despite the fact that there have been these talks going on now for a few days. And despite the fact that it looked like there was a breakthrough yesterday and a tentative agreement that women and children would be allowed by the regime to flee that hardest hit area of the old city in Homs. Today, we're not getting any indication that any type of evacuation has happened yet. It's been very difficult speaking with residents inside that quarter in Homs or getting a hold of opposition activists in that area either.

We've been told over the last few days that it is a dire and critical situation for them, for women, for children, for men as well that they're not getting the kind of aid that they need.

Some of the folks that we spoke with at the last 24 hours actually said that instead of just getting aid delivered, they wanted that siege to end. They wanted to be able to come and go from the city in safety. And they say that's been the biggest problem. They say that the regime soldiers have encircled that rebel held area for so many months. And because of that, there is so much suffering going on. Children aren't getting the kind of food supplies or the medical aid that they so desperately need right now.

Now there was a video that posted online in the last couple of days that really seems to speak to how desperate the situation is. In this video, you actually see a darkened classroom. There's a female teacher. She says that these are her students, that they live in Homs. They don't have electricity and she points to the students and she says any outsider who wants to know about what's going on only need look into the faces of these children and how desperate they are and that they really to get a help they haven't been able to get for so many months now, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, we are waiting to find out if this diplomatic breakthrough that took place in Geneva will turn into reality on the ground in Homs. We know that the Syria talks in Geneva, they continue today. Do you think that there will be other diplomatic breakthroughs in terms of, for example, a prisoner exchange or allowing aid to get into besieged areas like Homs?

JAMJOOM: These are all issues that are open for discussion, according to the diplomats that are in Geneva. The question is whether it will actually make any kind of impact on the ground in Syria. And so far what we're seeing as a result of these talks is that it really hasn't made any kind of a practical impact on the ground in Syria, in the hardest hit areas.

Despite the fact that you had the regime and the opposition in the same room for a small amount of time, despite the fact that you have Lakhdar Brahimi shuttling between both sides, both factions in the Syrian civil war, the fact of the matter is that in Syria, in the hardest hit areas across the country the people that we're speaking with say that the fighting is still going on, they are skeptical that any kind of a cease- fire can be reached. And they really doubt that this diplomacy that's been so heralded is going to lead to any kind of a breakthrough.

There is so much mistrust on both sides, both factions in the Syrian civil war that even getting them to go through confidence building measures has been very, very difficult. That's why you're not seeing any kind of aid really being delivered on the ground in places like Homs or places like Aleppo like now and that's why you're not seeing any kind of a cease-fire actually taking hold -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Mohammed Jamjoom reporting. Thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead, thousands of demonstrators march in pairs on what they call a day of anger against the French president, but that is just one of Francois Holland's problems. We'll give you the latest from Paris.


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

Now a day after French President Francois Hollande confirmed that he has split with long-term partner Valerie Trierweiler, France's former first lady has left Paris for India. Now she is now in Mumbai on a visit to support a charity. Now via Twitter, she said good-bye to staff at the presidential palace. Now she earlier spent several days in the hospital suffering from stress after a magazine reported that President Hollande was having an affair with a French actress for two years.

Now a senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is in Paris. He joins me now live. And Jim, now that the love affair saga is over, what next for President Hollande? I mean, this is a president who faces very low political approval ratings, a sagging economy and protesters on the streets of his country.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've got a lot of problems in front of them, and the least of it seems to have been taking care of his personal life, which he said was not a matter of public consumption anyway. But over the weekend, yes, he confirmed the breakoff of his relationship with Valerie Trierweiler. She went off to India, he went off to Turkey. He's in Turkey today. He's on a two day state visit trying to iron over some of the differences that have come up over the years. He's the first French president to visit Turkey in 22 years.

But he's not going to be here about three-and-a-half hours from now when the latest unemployment figures come out. And that's going to be something that I think will cause some fairly major political waves for him. President Hollande had promised all throughout 2013 that by the end of the year he would reverse the curve of unemployment that had been creeping upward throughout the year. He said by the end of the year it would go the other direction. And in fact it does not appear that that's going to happen by all accounts. In fact, the month of December, which is the one the statistics that we're waiting for, in fact, is going to show that in fact unemployment is going up.

The unemployment rate now something over 11 percent and about 25 percent for young people. So, that's one of his problems.

So we had the demonstration yesterday. It was sort of a days of rage kind of demonstration against President Hollande by groups of very diverse groups, including people that are against his stand on same-sex marriage, people that were against the high taxes and high unemployment. So just a lot of people lumped together who are out there protesting the president and saying that he should step down, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And now that Hollande is split with his partner, what is next for the role of first lady in France?

BITTERMANN: Well, I think it may be finished. There's been a lot of debate about that during this whole affair. And he's -- it appears now that he's going to continue on as a bachelor president. And as the whole idea of having a first lady is something that a lot of people say -- or at least you hear a lot of people talk about it, is something that's not that useful. It's not -- never been defined in the way it has been in the United States.

There were some commentators saying today, well wait a second, you know, it is -- there is a use in this role, because it kind of softens the edges for the president, the first lady can take on causes and roles in which the president may not feel most comfortable and that's all true.

But whether or not the state should be paying for that, whether or not its taxpayers should be paying for that is another question. So there may not be another first lady in France after this whole affair, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Jim Bittermann reporting live from Paris. Thank you, Jim.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead, an unsavory end to an island holiday for hundreds of passengers. We have more on the Caribbean cruise gone wrong.

Plus, we have more on that dramatic grand slam finale at the Australian Open. And hear what Stanislas Wawrinka had to say after beating the world number one Rafael Nadal.


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

Now the United States says it will have two warships in the Black Sea as a security measure ahead of the Winter Olympics. Now the games in Sochi southern Russia open in 11 days. The Olympic torch is on its way there. And just a few hours ago it stopped off in the troubled Russian Republic of Dagestan.

Ukraine's justice minister has warned anti-government protesters occupying her ministry that she will call for a state of emergency if they don't leave. Outside the capital there are reports of protesters have seized municipal buildings in other towns.

Peace talks into ending Syria's civil war continue today in Geneva, Switzerland. And discussions are set to focus on calls for a transitional government.

Over the weekend, the Syrian regime agreed to let women and children leave the besieged city of Homs.

Now hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled into neighboring Jordan to escape the war. And many are now housed in refugee camps. The biggest one, Zaatari, has become something of a small town with shops, schools and hospitals. Atika Shubert discovered one business that is helping residents reclaim a sense of the life they left behind.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can get anything you need on the Champs Elysees market street at the Zaatari refugee camp -- groceries, bicycles, even a wedding dress. The Alma Wedding Salon (ph) for women is open nearly every day from morning until night. Raweida Abu Zaid (ph) is the proud owner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: good luck dress, that one, because ever since I opened this shop it was my first.

SHUBERT: Really? How many weddings has this dress seen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot. (inaudible) for so many times.

SHUBERT: You lost track.


SHUBERT: I don't blame you. It's a beautiful dress.

Roweida (ph) has lived her for about a year-and-a-half. She fled the fighting in Daraa with her husband and two children. But she brought her skills as a hairdresser, borrowed some money and invested in several wedding dresses to open this salon.

She has four or five customers a day. No one wanted to be filmed, though, so we draped a scarf over the mirror to chat with Roweida (ph) as she worked.

How does it make women feel to be able to come into a place and have their makeup done just like they used to at home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Of course they feel like home. At first when they come here thinking about Syria things were much easier and much better. It's difficult.

SHUBERT: These are photos from one of Zaatari's most recent weddings. Roweida (ph) explains the sad reality behind these happy occasions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The problem is even if they were young their parents get them married, because they're afraid about the future as in Syria there are lot of rape incidents, there are a lot of sexually assaulted women that the parents have actually been worried about their children and wanted to get the girl married anyway, even if they were young.

SHUBERT: Many women in Zaatari politely declined to have their picture taken and refused to talk on camera. So I asked Roweida (ph) why is she so outspoken?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): After the revolution, I'm not afraid anymore, because all the people that have died for Syria. I don't them to die in vain.

SHUBERT: When Roweida (ph) is finished, she offers me a facial and some candid advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You have gray hair. You should dye it.

SHUBERT: I do. I know. I know.

You know my bosses keep telling me the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...respecting (inaudible)

SHUBERT: Got a facial in Zaatari.

Nothing can take away the pain of being a refugee. Roweida's (ph) wedding salon is one small way to reclaim a sense of normalcy and pride to the mothers and daughters that live here.

Atika Shubert, CNN, at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.


LU STOUT: Now the Japanese government has distanced itself from controversial remarks made by the new president of its national broadcaster NHK. Over the weekend, Katsuto Momii said the practice of forcing women to work in brothels during World War II was common and only wrong by today's standards.

Momii now says his comment about so-called comfort women was extremely inappropriate.

Now the issue is a sensitive one for neighboring countries.

Now here is what China's foreign ministry spokesman had to say.


QIN GANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): These words reflect that in Japan there has always been a force trying to play down or even deny its militaristic, aggressive history. It is in line with the Japanese leader who is making effort to reverse the history.


LU STOUT: Now one advocacy group says Japan forced about 200,000 women into sex slavery throughout East Asia, most were Korean. Now the Japanese government has formally apologized for the atrocities, but South Korea has urged Japan to deal directly with the victims.

Now the president of the United States is gearing up for his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday. In the speech, it traditionally outlines the president's plans for the year.

One of Barack Obama's senior advisers say it will be full of optimism. But he indicated it could ruffle some feathers as well.

And for more on what we can expect, let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar. And Brianna, what should we expect?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, in this key mid- term election year I think you're going to be seeing President Obama make the case that his vision and the vision of congressional Democrats is the way to move forward. This is a speech that has been really months in the making. CNN has learned that before Thanksgiving his aids first started working on this. And it really is a monumental task for President Obama tomorrow night really trying to salvage his presidency.


KEILAR: Obama's approval rating is slowly recovering, but he's still more unpopular than at any of his past State of the Union addresses, due in part to the botch rollout of his health care law. On Tuesday, he'll tout a new plan to narrow the gap between rich and poor, even if he has to go it alone.

PFEIFFER: He's not going to tell the American people that he's going to wait for Congress. He's is going to - he's going to move forward in areas like job training, education, manufacturing, on his own to try to restore opportunity for American families.

KEILAR: That means executive actions and public/private partnerships, trying to get something done in a key midterm election year facing an uncooperative Republican controlled House of Representatives.

PFEIFFER: This is supposed to be a year of action.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It sounds vaguely like a threat.

KEILAR: The go around Congress plan, already rejected by Republicans, who say Obama's abusing his executive power.

PAUL: I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country, where the checks and balance is.

KEILAR: The one major legislative item Obama has his eye on is immigration reform despite House Republican opposition to a comprehensive plan. It was one of Obama's big agenda items in last year's State of the Union but it stalled, along with expanding background checks on gun sales and increasing the minimum wage, which he will push for again Tuesday night.


KEILAR: And he will be continuing his push, Kristie, in a road trip kind of campaign style series of events. He'll be going to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin and Tennessee following his state of the Union Address. That's how he'll be spending the remainder of his week after Tuesday night.

LU STOUT: And Brianna, you said in your report President Obama he faces a stalled agenda. So in this State of the Union Address and during this road trip if you will are we going to hear a president who will try to woe congress and the American people to bring them onside? Or will he be an imperial president, to use his executive powers to get what he wants?

KEILAR: I think you might be hearing some of the latter. And I think when you watch President Obama tomorrow night it's not going to be congress so much that he's trying to convince as it's going to be the American people. He's going to be trying to convince them that his vision is the way forward. He'll be trying to convince them that they ultimately want to keep Democrats in control of the Senate, because if that doesn't happen, Kristie, if Democrats lose the Senate to Republicans, President Obama is going to have a very difficult remaining two years in his presidency. He'll become a lame duck even sooner than he would otherwise.

So that's really the push he's going to be making convincing the American people that his way forward is the best and also trying to show them that he can get things accomplished. The promises that he made in his 2013 State of the Union Address he was able to deliver on almost none of it. So he's trying this time I think to get more creative with some public-private partnerships, trying -- we've seen him recently trying to really branch out to education leaders, businesses. He's really trying to do whatever he can.

The truth is, though, Kristie it's pretty limited what he has at his disposal.

LU STOUT: Yeah, the president up against so much. Really looking forward to this State of the Union Address happening tomorrow morning Asia time. Brianna Keilar joining us live from Washington, thank you so much for that.

Now a vacation on board this Royal Caribbean cruise ship has gone horribly wrong for hundreds of passengers on board. Their 10 day journey is being cut short after more than 600 people, including crew members, got sick with some sort of a stomach bug.

Now the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line says the cause of the outbreak is not clear.

Now the company plans to thoroughly sanitize the ship when it docks. And CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been covering the story. She joins me now. And Elizabeth just what happened on board this cruise ship?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Kristie, it started out small but then it got big. And this is unfortunately a very obvious reality of what can happen when you have a lot of people in a relatively small space.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another cruise ship cutting short its planned Caribbean Island hopping, a maritime version of the walk of shame. This one, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, now heading back to home port after hundreds of passengers and crew members fell ill due to a fast spreading virus whose origins remain a mystery. One passenger, Arnee Dodd, said her gastrointestinal symptoms came on suddenly.

ARNEE DODD, EXPLORER OF THE SEAS CRUISE PASSENGER (voice-over): It was vomiting and diarrhea. It - it almost had no warning. And there was like high fever, chills, aches, dehydration.

COHEN: By the next morning, she says the infirmary was packed with sick passengers.

DODD: As soon as I got down there the nurse walked out and looked at everyone and said if you're not sick you have to leave right now because this is spreading faster than we can contain it.

COHEN: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating why so many passengers got sick but the typical cause is norovirus.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, VANDERBILT MEDICAL CENTER: You have all those people in a confined space over a long period of time. And this is an easily transmissible virus -- person to person.

COHEN: Unfortunately this cruise ship scenario has happened before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were here with them two years ago -- the same thing. Ship was overrun with this sickness.

COHEN: Last year according to the CDC nine cruise ships reported illnesses among passengers, the year before that 16. Royal Caribbean said in a statement that once stopped the ship underwent an extensive and thorough sanitizing.

DODD: They were sanitizing the hallway, ceiling to floor nonstop for about 24 hours.

COHEN: And infected passengers and crew were advised to stay in their cabins until they were well for at least 24 hours.


COHEN: Now this particular ship received very high marks in its regular health inspections. And that really indicates, you know what, you can have a very clean ship, but if a sick person gets on it it doesn't necessarily matter -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: But this is quite an outbreak. I mean, more than 300 people fell ill. Do we know if they're responding well to treatment? Are they getting better?

COHEN: You know, they haven't commented on these patients in particular, but usually people survive just fine from noroviruses. I mean, it's very unpleasant to, you know, get through it, but at the end most people are fine.

The folks who they worry the most about are the very old or the very young or people who have some underlying immune problem.

LU STOUT: And for our viewers all over the world who are watching this and are no doubt thinking, you know, another cruise ship, another outbreak of illness. I mean, just how safe are cruise vacations?

COHEN: Most cruise vacations go well. You know, this happens, although I would say that it's relatively unusual. And I think that before you go on a cruise you just want to think to yourself can I handle this if it does happen? I mean, go in with your eyes open. This does happen. You've got a lot of people in a small space. It doesn't -- you know, the cruise lines can be as aggressive as they want about cleaning, but still this can happen. And so if you're going to go on a cruise realize that and consider whether you still want to go.

LU STOUT: All right, Elizabeth Cohen there, thank you for your report. And thank you for your guidance.

Now, the first shark, it was killed this weekend in a controversial culling program in Australia. Now a spokesman for the Western Australian State Government said that a three meter tiger shark was caught and killed off the southwest coast.

Now the government says the cull is a way to curb fatal attacks. Seven people had been killed by sharks over the past three years. Now conservationists and activists say that the practice of using hooked lines, as you see here, attached to floating drums to catch the sharks before shooting them is inhumane. And they have promised to interfere with this program.

You're watching News Stream. And still to come, Roger Federer move over, there's another Swiss star climbing up the tennis ranks. Still to come, Stanislas Wawrinka speaks to CNN about his Australian Open victory over the world number one Rafael Nadal.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Google has snapped up yet another company. It has bought the software company DeepMind for a reported $400 million. Now DeepMind specializes in artificial intelligence. But the simple page here is all they have on the website. It says the first commercial applications of this technology are in simulations, ecommerce and games.

Now all this has led to speculation as to just where DeepMind might fit among Google's range of services. For instance, Google just bought Boston Dynamics, it's a company that makes the Big Dog robot. So perhaps DeepMind can help Google create smarter robots.

But it could also be used in smaller products. Now Google bought the maker of a smart thermostat just a couple of weeks ago. So DeepMind Software could be used to help the thermostats made by Nest learn how to be more efficient.

Or, it could be something else entirely.

Now one report says Facebook also tried to buy DeepMind. So perhaps the technology will show up in their social network Google+.

Now wherever DeepMind ends up within Google, it is safe to say there is no shortage of potential uses for its technology.

Now time now for a check of the global weather forecast. And yes there is another cold snap in the United States. Details now with Mari Ramos. She joins me from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Here we go again. You know, we were thinking just a little while ago Brandon and I chatting how much money people are spending just in trying to stay warm. You know, there were portions of the northeast where they had trouble bringing propane gas to some of those homes.

There's a lot of people that are relying right now on -- in this surge of electricity to try to stay warm across these areas.

A lot of people use heating oil also in these portions of the north and northeast.

And with another arctic blast that is coming down the pike now already affecting portions of the north. And rivaling the polar vortex situation that we had just a few weeks ago, I think this is really starting to take a toll on people's pocketbook much more so -- you know, as opposed to the only like their businesses and their health and everything else, people are really starting to suffer from this.

10 to 20 degrees below average for this time of year with this next piece of very cold weather that is making its way across the region.

Now, look at some of these temperatures. This is the wind chill across some of these areas. What we're expecting by Tuesday morning. Minus 43, Minus 39, that's what it feels like to the exposed skin. So in other words, if you're outside in Chicago, for example, and it feels like minus 37 at 6:00 in the morning when you take your kids to school it will only take about, what, 10, maybe 15 minutes for their skin, your children's skin to actually freeze or your own skin, any part of your body that is exposed.

That's why they have to close schools again across many areas of the north including in the Chicago area which is very unusual.

And minus 45 degrees below freezing -- that takes only about 5 minutes. So it's like literally like putting a piece of meat or a piece of chicken or something in the fridge in your house. And it will freeze almost immediately, because the temperatures here are so cold. It's that combination of that bitterly cold temperatures with the wind what makes it really, really bad across these areas.

And then, yes, there is more snow. We had one weather system come in. We had another clipper. And here comes number three. And all of this will again cause huge travel delays across this region.

The snow this time across the north and east, not expected to be as heavy as before. But check this out, Kristie, we're expecting snow in the snow with another area of low pressure that will be riding along this area here. And with all of this cold air in place -- Atlanta, we get snow every once in awhile, the city goes crazy, completely shuts down. But we're talking snow way to the south in places like New Orleans and maybe even Houston that had a snow day last week, they may get another one this week.

So, a lot going on here.

And of course, like I said, big cities in the northeast might again get a dusting of snow.

I want to switch gears and take you to another part of the world with a different problem. This is in Somerset in the UK. They have had tremendous flooding and the rivers are going down very, very slow. Again over the weekend there was another big storm system that moved through there. Look at those wind gusts on Sunday. We're seeing the wind starting to ease up and the rain also starting to ease up in some of these water- logged areas of the north and west. But we have had plenty of snowfall in areas farther to the south.

It's a beautiful picture from Brocken Mountain (ph) in Germany. It almost looks surreal, not even like a -- it looks like a Christmas card just amazing, beautiful image there.

And this picture, Kristie, this is White Tower of Thessaloniki in Greece. And yes they had snow at the White Tower, actually across the Thessaloniki yesterday. Maybe get a little dusting again today, temperatures are slightly better now.

But I want to leave you with these pictures from Romania where the snow has been very, very heavy, just an example of what they're dealing with across southeastern Europe with, again, another round of very heavy snowfall.

Now know what, it's not over yet. They had over 26 centimeters of snow. It looks like a lot more than that from those images. Roads were shut down, it just caught many people by surprise. It's the first big snowfall that they've had so far this entire season from the fall and winter months.

And look at this, if you come back over toward the weather map, still more expected across these areas here. You can see the heaviest snowfall now getting -- hugging, let's say, areas of the Black Sea.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: Wow, striking images of the heavy snow across Europe. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now up next, it is the biggest night in music, by now you probably heard all about the big winners at the Grammy's. Well, we'll bring you the moments you may have missed. So do stay with News Stream.


LU STOUT: Now Stanislas Wawrinka has jumped to world number three after winning the Australian Open on Sunday. The 28-year-old claimed his first Grand Slam title in a shock four set win over Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

Now Nadal had to push through a back injury after the first set, but seemed to rally later in the match. And Wawrinka talked with CNN about his victory.


STANISLAS WAWRINKA, 2014 AUSTRALIAN OPEN WINNER: I had to really take my time, to focus on each point, to take one of the point, because he broke me the game before. I was rushing out of the gate, but I had new balls. And I knew that it was all on me, you know, how my serve was good yesterday before the match point I took my time. I looked up at the crowd and tried to make a good point to win the last point, because that was the most important.

But, yeah, then -- you don't know really what's happening. I stopped to tell myself, oh, I just won a grand slam. It's just something amazing for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Australian Open grand slam champion, Olympic gold medalist, number three in the world, Swiss number one, which is the most special and what's next?

WAWRINKA: The Olympic will always be something special for me, because first it was my big victory with Roger, a good friend, playing for Switzerland. I'm always proud for play for Switzerland, for my country and that will be always something really special.

But if I had to say right now to -- I also to win the grand slam title. I never dream about that, never expect to be in that situation. And that's just crazy. And I'm really happy with that.


LU STOUT: And to put into perspective just how amazing his win is, of the last 35 grand slams, 34 were won by one of the big four -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Now, finally, when you see two robots on a red carpet in tuxedos, it's got to be time for the Grammys.

Now the French duo Daft Punk, they were the big winners, taking record of the year and album of the year. And as Nischelle Turner reports, this year music, it was all about the collaboration.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 56th Grammy Awards kicked off with music's power couple, Beyonce and Jay-Z, and ended with the marriage of 33 couples, including same-sex couples, in a star- studded wedding seen around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a moment, it's a moment.

TURNER: Officiated by Queen Latifah and Madonna as maid of honor.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis who took home their Grammy Award provided their hit song, "Same Love" as a backdrop for the ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that this is a very unique opportunity to sing our song about tolerance and acceptance and equal rights to the masses.

TURNER: The best new artist winners had competition. Newcomer 17- year-old Lorde stepped into the spotlight with the performance of "Royals" and then took home best song.

Pink soared above the crowd in a high flying act showing off her flexibility and vocals in an over-the-top performance.

Imagine (inaudible) electrifying act with Kendrick Lamar had Taylor at her chair, and the Twitter-verse buzzing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, the Grammys approached us and they said Kendrick had asked to perform with us. So we were already --


TURNER: It wasn't all about new artists. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr rocked the night with their anticipated reunion, but it was truly a lucky night for daft punk, who gave an all-star performance of their winning hit "Get Lucky," alongside Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder.

The electronic duo took home five Grammies including the biggest trophy of the night, Album of the Year.


LU STOUT: Nischelle Turner there.

And finally, some kind of sad news for you. China's moon rover apparently has broken down. Chinese officials say that the Jade Rabbit rover suffered a mechanical control abnormality. They say it was caused by the, quote, "complicated lunar surface environment."

Now scientists are trying to fix the problem.

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