Return to Transcripts main page
Turkey Opens Tunnel Connecting Europe-Asia; U.S. Congress Weighs NSA Spying Procedure; Colombian Mother Accused Of Selling Daughters' Virginities; Woman Removed From Health.gov Splash Page; Hurricane Sandy Anniversary
Aired October 29, 2013 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.
How much did the U.S. President know about alleged NSA spying on world leaders?
New details emerge about the deadly car crash in Tienanmen Square in Beijing.
And a tunnel to connect two continents. We're live at the opening of a tunnel under the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.
Top U.S. intelligence officials are set to get grilled about the government surveillance programs. The hearing on Capitol Hill comes amid widespread anger abroad and questions at home about President Barack Obama knew and when. The latest sticky issue, allegations the National Security Agency, or the NSA, spied on world leaders.
Well, new intelligence documents have just been declassified under the direction of President Obama. He has ordered a complete review of foreign intelligence gathering. Jim Sciutto reports.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONENT (voice-over): President Obama would not confirm the NSA was spying on the phone calls of U.S. allies like Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But in an interview with the new cable network Fusion, he both defended U.S. intelligence activities...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The national security operations generally have one purpose and that is to make sure that the American people are safe.
SCIUTTO: ...and he conceded that maybe they've gone too far.
OBAMA: I'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing.
SCIUTTO: Senior administration officials tell CNN President Obama did not know about the NSA surveillance of Merkel and other allies until earlier this year. And when he found out, he ordered a stop to some of the programs.
But the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community, Dianne Feinstein, usually an ally of the White House, says that's not good enough and wants a, quote, "total review of all U.S. intelligence programs."
European lawmakers are in Washington this week, pressing the case for limits. The head of the E.U. delegation told me E.U. citizens find spying disturbing.
CLAUDE MORAES, CHAIR OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CIVIL LIBERTIES DELEGATION: They feel very uneasy. They don't know why it's happening, why our strongest ally is doing it.
SCIUTTO: Amid reports the U.S. surveillance of leaders of allies began back in 2002, well before the Obama administration. Here's one explanation former Vice President Cheney gave CNN's Jake Tapper.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We are vulnerable as was shown on 9/11. And you never know what you're going to need when you need it. The fact is we do collect a lot of intelligence, without speaking about any particular target or group of targets. That intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, to our conduct for foreign policy to defense matters, economic matters, and I'm a strong supporter of it.
SCIUTTO: Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.
RAJPAL: Well, Germany is sending intelligence officials to Washington to demand answer. Meantime, the German interior minister suggests there could be legal consequences for anyone found to be involved in the surveillance of Chancellor Merkel's phone. Diana Magnay shows us where the spying may have occurred.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That windowless section at the top of the U.S. embassy right in the heart of Berlin is where NSA and CIA agents, an elite unit called the special collection services, are supposed to have carried out surveillance on the German government quarters.
And let me just give you a sense of how close they were. There is the Reichstag, the German government building, through those trees is the German chancellor's office. And it is, of course, the allegation that the U.S. spied on her personal mobile phone since 2002. So three years before she was even made chancellor that has made the German people so very angry.
And this is of course a country that remembers and is very sensitive to any charges of spying. This is the Brandenberg Gate. It was here that the wall ran between East and West Germany. And as a citizen of the former East Germany, when Angela Merkel says that friends do not spy on one another she's talking from bitter experience.
I spoke to some people earlier to find out what they thought of these spying allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't find it that surprising. Did you? In a way it was kind of natural that this would -- that this was happening too, I guess.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think spying has always happened. And everyone is affected by it. I think it's important that people learn from what we found out and draw consequences to protect themselves better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine you are married with a man. And over the time, you come into -- you get information that you listen to (inaudible). What would you think? You have a relationship that is based on trust.
MAGNAY: The German people had very high hopes of the Obama presidency. Here in Berlin itself at the Zeigerzoiler (ph) when he came to speak before he was elected, huge crowds came to listen to him. But the German people have been disappointed. They've watched the U.S. shutdown with incredulity. And now this.
Angela Merkel has spoken of trust that has been broken. It will take a long time for that trust to be rebuilt.
Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.
RAJPAL: Details of the NSA surveillance programs came from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor. The journalist who first reported on them, Glenn Greenwald, recently sat down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Find out what he told her later here on News Stream.
In Beijing, authorities appear to be investigating Monday's deadly car crash in Tienanmen Square as something more than an accident. A Jeep plowed into crowds at the famous site. Three people inside the car and two tourists were killed. 38 people were injured. A hotel manager in Beijing tells CNN authorities are requesting assistance in the investigation of what they are calling a major incident.
Well, the police notice lists the names of four people believed to be ethnic Uighurs from Xinjiant Province. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have censored Internet of the crash.
Let's go to our David McKenzie now who joins us live from Beijing. David, there's a sense that they are trying to -- or the authorities are trying to control just how much information they have or that they're looking for.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And certainly it's not surprising that an incident of this nature, which happened at such a sensitive part of Beijing right in front of the Forbidden City across the road from Tienanmen Square, this Jeep plowing through a group of tourists, killing a number of people including the occupants of that Jeep in that ball of fire.
Just where it is and the significance, the symbolism of this to the Communist Party, that in and of itself, even it was just an accident, would be deeply embarrassing to officials.
But right after that incident, as media -- social media posts started ticking through with photographs from witnesses, there was clearly an orchestrated push by the authorities here to take those out of the system, to delete them, also to delete any mention of this in Chinese media that didn't tow the official party line.
Now that new evidence that you talked about, which we have learned here from a hotel manager in Beijing suggests that police are looking for a suspect who -- a Uighur ethnic minority originating from Xinjiang, that's a province in far western China that's often had troubles between that minority and the dominant Han ethnic group here in China.
Now that is at this stage what we know.
It does appear to be that this could have been an orchestrated attack. And if that is true, certainly very significant and very unusual for an event like this to take place in tightly controlled Beijing.
RAJPAL: David, why are authorities controlling the information so much at this point?
MCKENZIE: Well, they're controlling the information because they can, that's the bottom line. The Chinese government, the Communist Party, rules the air waves, the Internet and any other media here in China. They own all of state media to one degree or another. So certainly when something sensitive happens of any nature, they have the power and the man power, some 2 million people believed to be employed, or used to monitor and censor the Internet. They have the capacity and they definitely have the need from their perspective.
Those images posted on social media of the Jeep ablaze under the image of the image of Chairman Mao, the very symbol, you know, the center of Communist Party symbolism, is as I said a big loss of face for Communist Party leaders. And this just comes only a couple of weeks before a major party meeting right in that vicinity that state media announced just today. So both the fact that this could have been a major breakdown in security in the capital and just the symbolism of this means that they have been very ready and willing to use that power to censor this news as it comes through.
RAJPAL: David, thank you. David McKenzie there live for us from Beijing.
We've got some news just coming in to CNN this hour. A Russian dancer on trial for an acid attack on this man pleads not guilty. We'll bring you more on the drama at the Bolshoi Ballet when we go live to Moscow in just a few minutes.
And a mother accused of selling the virginity of her 12 daughters. We'll have that. Stay with us.
RAJPAL: You're watching News Stream.
And this is a visual version of all the stories we've got in the show today. In just a little while we'll go live to Moscow for the very latest on the trial of that ballet dancer we've been talking about, accused of an acid attack on the Bolshoi's artistic director. He pleaded not guilty just a short time ago.
But first, CNN has gained exclusive access to a new report that says the number of terror attacks around the world soared last year. And the trend is expected to continue. Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence has more on that grim forecast.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESONDENT (voice-over): It's not your imagination. Terrorists are launching more attacks like this deadly assault on a Nairobi mall. And it's likely the world will see even more violence next year.
CNN obtained exclusive access to an upcoming report from Stark (ph), a group that tracks terrorism around the world. It found there were 69 percent more terrorist attacks in 2012 than the year before. There was an 89 percent jump in deaths. And with well over 5,000 attacks in June of this year, the future looks even deadlier.
DANIEL BENJAMIN, FORMER COMMISSIONER FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, STATE DEPARTMENT: And I expect we'll see that reflected in even more violence in 2013 and even higher numbers.
LAWRENCE: Dan Benjamin was the terrorism coordinator at the State Department. He says many of today's militant groups judge success by the number of people killed, including civilians.
BENJAMIN: The old red lines, the old barriers are all gone.
LAWRENCE: Six of the seven deadliest groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, including Afghanistan's Taliban and Nigeria's Boko Haram, which is going after Christian targets. The targeting of other religions or Muslims of a different sect is driving the casualty rate higher.
BENJAMIN: It's much more like warfare, and it's warfare using the tools of terrorism.
LAWRENCE: But the violence is more concentrated than you might think. Three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan suffered more than half the attacks and the casualties.
And that really points out the flip side of some of those numbers: the danger to civilians in the United States, Western Europe, even parts of eastern Asia isn't nearly as high and may actually be declining.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.
RAJPAL: Two tweets by U.S. President Barack Obama were hijacked on Monday. The links on this tweet was supposed to send users to a Washington Post story, but for awhile on Monday it sent people to a video supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. How did that happen? Well, it's not because Twitter itself was hacked, instead a service that Obama's account uses to shorten links was compromised.
Now this is the address that appeared in Obama's tweets. And when you go to this address, it's supposed to translate this short address into this: the full address of the Washington Post story.
A link like this is too long to fit in a single tweet, so it is shortened, but the Syrian electronic army, as they're called, gained access to the short -- shortener and changed where it went. So while the link looked identical on the outside it actually sent users to another site entirely.
The links have been fixed and will now send users to the correct page.
Let's turn now to our top story and the U.S. surveillance scandal. Journalist Glenn Greenwald first reported details of the Secret programs. He spoke to our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She joins us now live from London.
Christiane, what more did he reveal about this?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I spoke to him yesterday just before all sorts of senior senators and leaders in the United States have decided that there must be some kind of review of the whole surveillance NSA system, particularly in the metadata, you know, collecting and sweeping up all this data, a lot of them from civilians.
So, he said to me, though, that the reason leaders in the U.S. and around the world are so angry about these leaks -- obviously Edward Snowden, formerly of the NSA, gave these stories to Glenn Greenwald, and together they worked on putting them out into the public, and he's saying that it's because that the U.S. and others tried to make every single spying effort related to terrorism.
Listen to what he told me.
GLENN GREENWALD, JOURNALIST: Ever since 9/11, British and American officials have screamed terrorism over and over and over every time they get caught doing bad things they shouldn't do from lying to the public about invading Iraq to setting up a worldwide torture regime to kidnapping people and taking them around the world to be tortured, they just want to put the population in fear by saying that terrorists will get you if you don't submit to whatever authority it is that we want to do. And that's all they're doing here. It's the same tactic they always used.
Let's just use common sense, every terrorist who is capable of tying their own shoes has long known that the U.S. government and the UK government are trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can. That isn't new. We didn't reveal anything to the terrorists that they didn't already know. What we revealed is that the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, it is those populations around the world who are really angry about all of this, because there have been just one revelation after the other showing that the U.S. says it's legal, but there are very angry people are about this mass collection of data: emails, you know, even going into contact books, even having the ability to monitor phones and all the rest of it.
Obviously there is a different opinion in various different parts of the world. Here in Britain, for instance, the prime minister staunchly defends a lot of this intelligence gathering saying that it makes us safer and the leakage makes us more -- less safe and makes this a more dangerous world.
But if, indeed, this political fallout, which is now affecting the president in the United States and senior members of the intelligence committees in the Senate and in the House, if they do now have a meaningful review of the NSA and not just some political fig leaf, well then for sure Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald will have changed the drawing board in that regard. So that's going to be very interesting to see what kind of a review and then what exactly it changes.
RAJPAL: The interesting thing about this story, Christiane, is that there seems to be two reactions to this story. There are those that are shocked by the fact that people have been -- that there's surveillance not just on citizens, but on political leaders specifically allies of the United States. And there are those who are not shocked. They say how can you be surprised by all of this.
I guess the question a lot of people will be asking, well, where is this anger coming from? Leaders of the allied countries can't be surprised that the Americans have been spying on them.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you say there are all sorts of different reactions. And many leaders do understand and it's taken for granted that this kind of surveillance and spying does go on.
When it's made public, then they have to account for it. And it's embarrassing for them and particularly it's embarrassing for them with their people, the populations are very angry.
Look what Dilma Rousseeff, the president of Brazil, when she found out that her emails were being snooped on, she was livid and canceled a state trip to the White House.
Angela Merkel has been, you know, less publicly angry, but nonetheless called directly to President Obama and said, you know, if this is true and you are tapping my mobile phone, this would really be a breach of trust between us.
But the populations are very angry because they don't see why they should be spied on. People are amazed because you remember when President Obama just before he was elected he went to Europe and he had these amazing, huge speeches with hundreds of thousands of people turn up to see him, because he talked about restoring America's trust, about being the anti-Bush hero and that's what people thought of him as. Now they're saying, hang on a second, they're all the same. All American presidents just do the same thing.
So that's part of it as well.
And then you've got the other part of it which is not only is it public and the leaders have to respond to it.
But, in the past they might have cut the U.S. some slack, because the U.S. does so much of the heavy lifting, does so much of the burden sharing in all sorts of activities and projects around the world from military to civilian.
Now, under the Obama administration, there's a feeling that the U.S. is pulling back. And so it's not even doing that. And therefore there's, you know, less goodwill around the world at the moment for the U.S., particularly in times like this when leaders are now forced to defend themselves and their honor, so to speak.
RAJPAL: Christiane, I'm curious to know if Glenn Greenwald, if he talked about if indeed this review does take place and it's done so in a -- I guess in an interesting way where something does come out of it, does he talk about whether or not Edward Snowden might consider going back to the United States?
AMANPOUR: No, he didn't. And he doesn't get into that, to be very frank. All I asked him was about, you know, the amount of information they have. And I think this is what is very concerning, certainly the U.S. intelligence community are very concerned about what hasn't been made public, but has been, you know, has been sort of swept up by Edward Snowden.
So, they're waiting to see what other shoes drop.
Glenn Greenwald told me that actually they've been quite responsible. In his view, they've put out about 250 items whereas he said they have thousands and thousands and thousands of items.
So, you know, there's a real tug of war going on here between making all of this public and between governments and intelligence community who says that it shouldn't all be made public, because otherwise we can't conduct the very important business of primarily keeping ourselves safe.
But don't forget, a lot of this espionage, if you like, is not just about terrorism, it is about commercial, about business, about all sorts of economic and other issues as well.
RAJPAL: All right, Christiane, thank you very much for that. Christiane Amanpour there live for us from London.
And of course you can watch all of Christiane's conversation with Glenn Greenwald on our website. Find out why he believes the U.S. needs more investigative journalism, that's at CNN.com/Amanpour.
You're watching News Stream. This mother is accused of the unthinkable in Columbia. Police say she sold her daughter's virginity.
RAJPAL: A mother in Colombia is accused of selling the virginity of her 12 daughters. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Did you force your daughters into prostitution, a reporter has asked. No, my darling, the woman answered through tears. Margarita Zapata, a 45-year- old mother of 14, who police say did the unthinkable, selling the virginity of 12 daughters. It was one of those daughters who reported the woman to Colombian police. The girl is now 16, but police say her mother sold her to a man who she was 12. Two years later, she gave birth to a son.
COLONEL CAMILO CABAL, BOGOTA METROPOLITAN POLICE (through translator): As soon as her daughters turned 12 years old this mother contacted men of means so that they would go to her house and there for anywhere between $160 and $210, she gave them her daughters so they would have sex with them. She would offer their virginity.
ROMO: A 51-year-old man was also arrested along with Zapata. Police said he fathered the baby with the girl who reported her mother to the authorities, a girl who is now with a Colombian child protection agency.
CABAL (through translator): This is a crime that according to Colombian law is classified as rape of a 14-year-old. That's what the man faces. The woman, this mother, is facing charges of sexual exploitation and sexual trafficking for profit.
ROMO: At the Carolina neighborhood in Bogota where the suspect and her children lived, residents expressed their disgust.
JORGE OSORIO, NEIGHBOR (through translator): This is something I never would have imagined. I still can't believe this case. This is one of those things in life that are unforgivable.
ROMO: Investigators say some of the older daughters who were forced to drink alcohol and do drugs ended up working as prostitutes and can't be found. Of the women's 14 children, three are in the custody of the government's child protection agency, the two youngest ones, an 11-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, as well as a 16-year-old who reported her mother to police.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
RAJPAL: You're watching News Stream. Still to come, a message of inclusiveness from Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the country's Winter Olympics amid the controversy over the country's anti-gay propaganda law.
Plus, the world's first sea tunnel linking two continents. We'll tell you where it is. And we'll take you there live after the break.
RAJPAL: I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong and you're watching News Stream. These are the headlines. America's top spy chiefs will be facing questions in congress later today. The director of the national intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency will be grilled over allegations the NSA spied on leaders in Europe and elsewhere.
Police in China are investigating a car crash in Tienanmen Square that killed five people and injured many more. On Monday, a Jeep drove into a crowd before catching fire, killing the driver and passengers as well as two tourists. It's not clear at this point if the crash was an accident or a deliberate act.
The captain of the Costa Concordia has returned to court in Italy. Francesco Schettino faces charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. A Moldovan woman who was with him on the bridge at the time of the crash is due to testify today. Schettino could get up to 20 years in jail if he's convicted.
It's a year ago since Superstorm Sandy tore across the east coast of the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. At least 180 people were killed during the super storm. Sandy caused flooding an billions of dollars of damage. Many of the affected areas are still being rebuilt.
In just 100 days, the Russian city of Sochi will host the Winter Olympics, but preparations have been largely overshadowed by controversy over the country's anti-gay propaganda law. It borrows distribution of information to minors that promotes same-sex relationships. Some advocacy groups have called for a boycott of the games. President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, met with international Olympic committee president Thomas Bach in Sochi on Monday. And Mr. Putin made clear that everyone is welcome at the games.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (voice-over): We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi regardless of nationality, race, or sexual orientation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Well, some Russian government officials have said previously, however, that the controversial anti-gay propaganda law would be enforced.
Let's take you to Moscow now where the famed Bolshoi Ballet company is at the center of a drama unfolding off stage and in the courtroom. Here you see Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, the victim of a vicious acid attack in January. Star dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko and two other men are standing trial accused of masterminding that attack.
Well, today, the defendants entered their pleas. And CNN's Phil Black joins us now from outside the court in Moscow with more on that -- Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monita, three men, as you say, are on trial together in this case. One of them, the Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, he's the one that's accused of organizing this, of burying the grudge against the artistic director Sergei Filin. Yuri Zarutsky is the man accused of actually throwing the acid into Filin's face. And a third man, Andrei Lipatov is accused of acting as Zarutsky's driver on that night.
Now today, it was a relatively brief start to this trial, but the charges were read to all three men and they were asked to respond to them.
Pavel Dmitrichenko said he was not guilty, said he wasn't part of this attack. So, too, the man who was accused of being the drier, Andre Lipatov, but Yuri Zarutsky who is the man who is accused of actually throwing the acid, he said he was guilty, but he went on to say that he acted alone and the other two were not involved.
As I say, a relatively brief first day to this trial. The court was adjourned. And it will resume again on Thursday, Monita.
RAJPAL: Phil, tell us a little bit more about Sergei Filin now. How he's doing. The status of his health.
BLACK: He spent most of the year in Germany receiving treatment for his eyes, because his vision suffered terribly as a result of that acid attack. He's undergone multiple surgeries, more than 20, we are told. He returned to Moscow a short time ago still wearing dark sunglasses. His vision has to a significant extent been restored in one eye, we're told, about 80 percent. The other eye, not so much, around 10 percent.
So he still needs to undergo further treatment, further surgeries. And there is still a real question mark over whether he will be able to fully resume his job as the artistic director of the Bolshoi, but he has very much said it is his intention to make a recovery to the point where he is able to do so, Monita.
RAJPAL: The Russians take great pride in their arts and culture, specifically the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow there. What kind of impact has this kind of, I guess, this case had on the public right now? Are they really interested? Have they been following it?
BLACK: Oh, absolutely. Huge interest. Such a salacious story. And as you say, right at the very heart of this country's most iconic cultural institution, a brand that really says artistic excellence around the world, something...
RAJPAL: All right, we do apologize, we seem to have lost communications there with our Phil Black, but he was there reporting to us from Moscow.
Let's move on now, shall we? And they call it the world game, but football often divides rival nations more than it units them. In Iran, however, an American is helping to coach the national football team. And as Reza Sayah tells us, his experience has given him hope for better relations between the two countries.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): June 18th, Iran's national football team scores a 1-0 win against South Korea. For only the fourth time, Iran qualifies for the World Cup. The win sparks frenzied celebrations on the field, in the streets of Tehran, and among those celebrating.
DAN GASPAR, ASSISTANT COACH, IRAN NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM: There was a lot of hugging and there was a lot of jumping.
SAYAH: American citizen, Dan Gasper, the Iranian team's assistant coach.
GASPAR: It was a bottle of emotions, and you know, after 90 minutes, that cork was released and just everything poured out.
SAYAH: For Gaspar, qualifying for the World Cup was vindication of his decision nearly three years ago to coach the national team of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country then locked in a bitter feud with Washington and one U.S. politicians often described as a rogue nation secretly building a nuclear bomb.
At some point, you have to go to you your wife say, honey, I'm going to Iran. What did she say to that?
GASPAR: She was shocked. She was concerned, as most of my friends and family members were.
SAYAH: But the Portuguese-American wanted to work with longtime friend and colleague, head coach, Carlos Kerosh (ph). He wanted a crack at the cup and he wanted to get to know Iran for himself.
GASPAR: My personality is one of adventure and curiosity. I want to experience a culture in a part of the world that I've never been.
SAYAH (on-camera): When Coach Gaspar first got to Iran back in 2011, he admits he was a little nervous, a little weary. So, he didn't go out and socialize much. Now that he knows Iran a little bit, he says what we often hear from visitors to Iran, what you see on TV doesn't exactly match reality.
GASPAR: When you listen to the news and you read the news, sometimes during commercials, I step away from my couch and I look out the balcony and it's not what I'm seeing and it's not what I'm reading and it's not what I'm hearing.
SAYAH (voice-over): Gaspar says meeting former President Ahmadinejad was just like meeting anyone else. Iranians, he says, are generous and peace-loving people who love their football team and their country. One of his biggest thrills is that Iran's qualification for the World Cup finals next year comes amid optimism that Tehran will improve relations with Washington as moderate President Hassan Rouhani tries to settle Iran's nuclear dispute with the west.
GASPAR: Right now, more than ever, there seems to be a lot of hope and optimism and a sense of energy that things will get better.
SAYAH: For now, Gaspar's focus remains the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a final destination in a remarkable journey.
GASPAR: If I listen to the experts and listen to my friends and family, I probably would have never been here in Iran. It's been part of my life for the last three years and during those three years have been some wonderful experiences and memories that are going to last a lifetime.
SAYAH: Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.
RAJPAL: You're watching News Stream. Still ahead, one year since Superstorm Sandy, the hardest hit areas are still on the mend. Stay with us for that.
RAJPAL: This week on Leading Women, we go to Sierre Leone with a woman who is working to improve the lives of children around the world. Jasmine Whitbread is CEO of Save the Children and she spoke to CNN's Becky Anderson.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: She's a defender of the poor.
JASMINE WHITBREAD, CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Wish you all the best with your futures.
ANDERSON: A crusader for children around the world
WHITBREAD: Children shouldn't be going to bed hungry. They shouldn't be missing out on a basic education. These things are not expensive. They're not hard to solve.
Education for children who have been...
ANDERSON: Jasmine Whitbread heads an international aid organization working in more than 120 countries. And the goal...
WHITBREAD: Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children. I want to get help, life saving aid to kids caught up in emergencies or in very poor countries to really challenge some of these fundamental wrongs that can't be allowed to continue into the 21st Century.
ANDERSON: Save the Children operates with a global staff of roughly 14,000. The organization says it reached 45 million children in 2012 through assistance, community activities and services.
How would you describe yourself as a manager?
WHITBREAD: I think that I've become a stronger manager and more of a leader since focusing more on where I'm trying to inspire people to get to. So it's more about helping to create the vision of where it is we want to get to and less in the detail I would say.
ANDERSON: And to rally and inspire her troops, Whitbread regularly leaves the London headquarters for site visits all over the world.
I'm very well, thank you very much for welcoming me here.
ANDERSON: We join her as she tours projects in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The needs are enormous.
WHITBREAD: So show me, where does the water come up to?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the water will come up to this level?
ANDERSON: She gets an update on the aftermath to the flood.
WHITBREAD: So should the school be relocated to somewhere else?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the school to (inaudible) and get the fence around this school with some kind of retaining wall around -- the water will no longer stop us again.
WHITBREAD: All this rubbish here, which really is, you know, affecting the day to day life of everything -- whether it's the school or the clinics or anything that we see. It's all too easy in a remote city somewhere to imagine programs that are very neat and fit into logical frameworks and are focused on either water and sanitation or education or health and nutrition. And actually real life is much more messy than that.
ANDERSON: How does it stack up to other places where you have projects?
WHITBREAD: Sierra Leone is a special place, also, because of the energy of the people. There is a can-do attitude around it, so you do sense that Sierra Leone is on a journey somewhere. And we all know where we want to take it for children.
RAJPAL: Wow. To read more about inspiring women like Trend Micro's Eva Chen, log on to CNN.com/LeadingWomen.
And next week Kristie Lu Stout will speak to Thailand's first female prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
This is News Stream. Coming up, a world first. Two continents are now linked by an undersea railway tunnel. After the break, we'll take you live to the opening.
RAJPAL: Welcome back.
Well, two continents are about to be connected. It's a world first, a tunnel that links Europe and Asia. Every day, about 2 million people use bridges to cross the Bosphorus Strait to reach the two sides of Istanbul. Now, trains are starting to run linking east and west.
Well, the project has taken almost a decade to build and has had several delays. CNN's John Defterios is in Istanbul and joins us now. And John, we're about half an hour away from the official opening of this tunnel. How is the excitement building? How is it being viewed there?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, interestingly, we're on the Asian side (inaudible) which is the hometown of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. You can hear a call to prayer before his arrival here in the next 15, 20 minutes along with the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul and the Prime Minister of Japan Tenzo Abe.
This is a Turkish-Japanese consortia which built this historic link. It's part of a much bigger project, though, Monita. 76 kilometer rail network, the deepest tunnel of its kind costing $4.5 billion in total. And as you know this, this is 2 million that crossed the bridges are suggesting that the capacity of this rail network could handle up to 1.5 million.
But to do that, they have to get rail penetration of just 3 percent of the population in the city of 15 million, up to 25 to 27 percent. So a change happens it needs to happen, very ambitious project. They also plan a third airport here, a canal that will run in parallel to the Bosphorus Strait as well. And a third bridge.
So this is a big master plan by the prime minister. Whether he can pull all those off and whether those pieces of the puzzle come together -- a milestone (ph) is a date, but today the launch of this tunnel which has been in the works off and on as a design originally 150 years ago. So it's happening today. And the inaugural run on that rail by the prime minister will happen in the next 60 minutes or so.
RAJPAL: John, thank you very much for that. John Defterios there on the phone from Istanbul.
Well, one year ago today, deadly Superstorm Sandy slammed into the United States east coast after wrecking havoc in the Caribbean. Hard hit areas are still recovering. And the scars from Sandy remain. And you can find this gallery of before and after photos on our website.
As you can see, repairs on this damaged boardwalk are still underway. The super storm killed nearly 200 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of buildings. It knocked out power to millions of people for days.
Residents of Staten Island's Ocean Breeze neighborhood shared their stories with CNN.com. And you can find them in this special interactive part of our website.
And let's get a little bit more now on Sandy. Mari Ramos is at the world weather center. And Mari, we're looking on a year on. Give us a little bit more an idea of what there was and where we are today.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Let's go ahead and look at the pictures there. Let's go ahead and start with this one right here from Superstorm Sandy on the anniversary. It's hard to believe that it's been this long.
And this is a picture from October 28 when the storm was actually offshore. And you can see it there off the coast of the Carolinas. It's huge in comparison to the land. If you think how big the U.S. is, how large the storm was and how big of an area it was actually impacting.
Now I want you to see over here this next image. This is on October 29 right before the storm made landfall. Because of its size, not only did it impact coastal areas, but because it was also -- there was a lot of cold air coming in on that western side of the storm, it dumped some very heavy snowfall across huge, huge areas there of the central U.S.
In this picture, it's amazing, this if from Manhattan. And this is similar pictures like this that you'll find on that CNN.com, the site that you were talking about. And you can see it right over there. This is the -- during the storm and then of course after as that recovery goes on and on.
This is another picture from the CNN, that you'll find similar ones on CNN.com. This is after -- this is in that Ocean Breeze neighborhood that you mentioned. And of, it's taken so long for so many people to continue their recovery. And what you have over here, this next image, it's amazing to see the destruction one of the biggest problems was that storm surge how it came in and it just took -- look at that, rows and rows of homes that were completely demolished. Of course the ones closest to the water were the worst.
This is Seaside Heights after the storm. And amazing recovery that has taken place along these areas now.
I think I have one more picture to show you from Sandy.
This one almost doesn't look real to me when I look at it, because of all of the destruction that you have on the -- on the shoreline there in that part that you normally people would -- you know, associate this with such fun times. And when you see so much destruction like this and that roller coaster in the middle of the water there, it was one of those iconic images. And this is the after of that recovery effort that continues in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
OK, let's go ahead and more on across the U.S. right now, much quieter weather fortunately. What we have is some wet weather moving across the western portion of the U.S., a lot of snowfall there. And something to monitor over the next couple of days -- Tuesday through today and even into Wednesday it's going to be the potential for some severe weather. But that's something we'll definitely keep watching. And we'll see how it turns out.
For now, let's go ahead and head back to you, Monita.
RAJPAL: All right. Mari, I'm sorry we didn't get to see you. We understand that we had some problems there with your camera, but we heard your lovely voice. So at least we had some of that. So we thank you very much with that. Mari Ramos at the world weather center.
Now if you've been following news from the U.S. you will have seen the political fight over Obamacare and the glitches associated with the website, but there has been a major change to this site. You may be able to see it. Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those twinkling eyes, that inviting smile. Well, you can wipe that smile off that Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Notice anything missing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That lady. Healthcare.gov underwent a facelift. Actually a un-facelift you might say.
MOOS: More like her face was lifted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her picture has now disappeared.
MOOS: Disappeared before we even got to identify it. "Where oh where has the Obamacare Web site girl gone?" Someone tweeted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe she's happy about it. Who knows?
MOOS: Flesh and blood replaced by soulless icons, the government says are meant to better guide those seeking insurance.
(On camera): We in the media were hot on tracking down Obamacare girl, but her trail stayed cold. I personally begged for her to reach out.
If this is you, call me.
Never heard from her.
(Voice-over): The "National Review" put her on its cover with the tagline "abandon hope, all who click here." The satirical Web site "The Onion" adjusted her eyes and captioned it, "People on healthcare.gov. stalk photos now visibly panicking." And the conservative blog Red State replaced her with a painting entitled "The Scream."
(On camera): It was almost spooky how prophetic "Saturday Night Live" turned out to be. During a skit making fun of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, "SNL: showed the homepage with Obamacare girl missing before it was known she'd been removed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Consider using our little rez Web site with simpler fonts and graphics.
MOOS: Now instead of being plastered over the shoulders of anchors, she's been plastered on a milk carton by a Republican group.
A fake Twitter account is sending out tweets in Obamacare girl's name. "Fire me before Sebelius," she tweets. "Oh, hell to the no." Does that sound like a mystery girl worthy of being serenaded by Roy Orbison?
Luckily for Obamacare girl she was already safely off the Web site. Secretary Sebelius called in tech support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I.T.? Can we get someone from I.T. in here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best day.
MOOS: CNN, New York.
RAJPAL: Well, if you're a Star Wars fan, you have to see this. 30 minutes of never before seen footage from Return of the Jedi has been posted on Facebook. A fan paid $700 on eBay for a rare Laserdisc that Lucasfilm used to test an editing system for the film. The unedited footage on the disc includes a blooper reel as well as rare behind the scenes clips, including this scene where the Jedi master Yoda is dying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YODA: The force is strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Well, so far the fan has posted nine videos on Facebook. Return of the Jedi was the third film in the Star Wars franchise, originally released in 1983.
Now before we go, the ultimate photo bomb, but the unwelcome guest in this photo opportunity really comes out of nowhere. Here's a couple of fisherman proudly displaying their catch when an enterprising sea lion just jumps up and helps himself. All these could do is laugh.
Catching that fish may have made for good a story, but the sea lion makes the story about how it got away even better.
And that is News Stream. The news continues here on CNN. I'm Monita Rajpal. World Business Today is next.