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Kim Jong-un's Aunt Still Alive; Rodman Going to North Korea to Train Basketball Team; Yank Barry, Evander Holyfield Help Syrian Refugees; After Gang Rape, Indian Laws Have Changed, Not Attitudes; Yemen Lawmakers Demand End to Drone Strikes; Pop Star Joins Ukraine Protests; Up Close with China's Pandas

Aired December 16, 2013 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: We've got more political news -- move, rather, North Korea.

Remember the uncle that the leader Kim Jong-un had executed last week? Well, the uncle's wife appears to be alive and well, still involved in the government. She is Kim Jong-un's aunt, the sister of his late father, Kim Jong-Il. Now, the country's official media reports that she has been named to a state committee. She is OK.

Meanwhile, a former NBA star, basketball star, Dennis Rodman, is going ahead with a return trip to North Korea despite the deadly, political maneuvering. He's going to be training North Korea's basketball team, and Rodman says that he considers the North Korean leader a friend.

John Kerry, he has gone back to the waterways of Vietnam. Forty-four years ago, he was patrolling down them as a young naval officer. Well, this time he was there to deliver a message about the growing threat of climate change. The water levels along the Mekong Delta are said to be dropping. Now, that could threaten millions of people down stream in Cambodia and Vietnam. The secretary of state is in Hanoi today to talk with government officials about releasing political prisoners.

And former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield is actually joining the fight for Syrian refugees. His mission took him to Bulgaria with a Canadian philanthropist. That is Yank Barry.

Our Atika Shubert, she caught up with both of them at a refugee camp where those tempers are flaring.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Holyfield has faced plenty of opponents in the ring, but nothing like this, hundreds of Syrian refugees angry at camp conditions in Bulgaria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe you can help them to make conditions more satisfactory.

YANK BARRY, CANADIAN PHILANTHROPIST: We're doing that. We're working very closely. Evander and I are seeing the prime minister on Tuesday. SHUBERT: Together with his friend and financier, Yank Barry, they plan to deliver food aid and help resettle some families in a home supplied by Barry's charity, Global Village. But Yank's recent aid mission wasn't supposed to be like this.

BARRY: Wait a second. Hold it. Time out. Time out.

We got here 15 minutes ago, OK? So have a little bit of patience before I lose my patience and we leave with our vans with the food and we don't take anybody.

SHUBERT: They held out their thumbs, chanting, Fingerprint. Their way of demanding to be documented as refugees and then released from the camp.

BARRY: I wouldn't refuse food when I was hungry. We're not here trying to intimidate them. We're trying to help them. So if they can't handle it, let's go. So, now, you're coming to Sophia to your new life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. Merci.

SHUBERT: So a quick change of plans; they sneak two families out and meet them at a nearby gas station. Barry has offered to place them in a converted hotel with other Syrian refugees for up to a year. But he also has more ambitious plans. He told us he would be meeting Bashar al-Assad within a few weeks.

BARRY: We know he's killed some of his own people. But so did Mubarak. So did Gadhafi. You know, so did Saddam.

SHUBERT: Why do you think you might have more success than other people in reaching out to Assad?

BARRY: I know he loves "Louis, Louis," so it's my song. I sang it. I'll sing it to him. I'm going with Evander and possibly Mike, Mike Tyson. He's a big boxing fan. We're not politically involved.

SHUBERT: It's dark by the time they reach their new home. Inside, this family, resettled here weeks before, the first recipients of Global Village aid. When the new arrivals walk through the door, a flood of tears as Muhammad recognizes his brother Noor (ph). He hasn't seen him in nearly a year.

BARRY: Your heart skips a beat. I was crying probably as much as he was. I saw Evander had a tear in his eye. Hard to have a guy like Evander have a tear in his eye.

EVANDER HOLYFIELD, FORMER BOXER: At some point in time when you leave this earth, they won't be asking about how many championships I won.

They'll say, What did you do for the least of them? You know what I'm saying?

I can say, all right, this is what -- I was in Bulgaria.

SHUBERT: Tank Barry says he is already looking for another hotel to house more refugees.

But with so many needing help, they may not be able to reach as many as they hoped.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Amamni (ph) on the Bulgarian-Turkish boarder.


MALVEAUX: It's India's most dangerous city for women. A gang rape there shocked the entire world.

Now, one year later, we're going to take you back to New Delhi to see if anything has changed for women in that country.


MALVEAUX: Vigils and protests were held in India today to mark the first anniversary of a deadly gang rape that made international headlines. Indians have demanded that the government make the streets safer for women, but as Sumnima Udas tells us, it is one thing to change laws. It is entirely a different thing to change attitudes.

Here's the back story from New Delhi.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One year ago -- these were the scenes in India's capital, tens of thousands on the streets to demand better protection for women.

Amongst the crowds, 24-year-old Apoorva Mohan. She helped set up a Facebook page, Movement for Change, urging people to come out and protest.

One year on, I asked Mohan if anything has changed.

APOORVA MOHAN, STUDENT: In terms of laws, yes. In terms of you know, the police's reaction to these things, their response towards this, yes, they're more sensitive towards these issues now. But socially, I don't think so.

UDAS: Economic growth in the past two the decades has prompted about a quarter of the country's women to leave their homes and join the workforce, often rejecting traditional attire for Western wear, taking public transportation, staying out late.

Indian women have never been so empowered, but some things are harder to change. Traveling by public transportation should be safe. There's so many people around you. But ask the majority women here, and they'll tell you, harassment is a daily issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come behind us and they kind of tried to grind us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They stand behind us and they push us. And they like they keep hands, here and there. UDAS: Mohan has given up on public buses and is taking three-wheeler taxis instead. It seems quite safe. What could really happen in a (inaudible)?

MOHAN: Just in case you don't know where you're going, you're going to some place you haven't been before, the rickshaw guy could take you anywhere. I usually take down the license plate number of the rickshaw. I text it to my friend or maybe my family.

UDAS: On the streets, never a stress-free experience.

MOHAN: There are guys and there are men who would literally just -- it's more or less like undressing you with their eyes.

UDAS: So you're always on your toes?

MOHAN: You're always on your toes. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, you know? It just goes without saying you're going to go out and you're going to come backing with some incident.

UDAS: She has numerous stories to tell of abuse, an elderly man grabbing her thighs on the bus, a group of boys in a car chasing her as she ran for her life. She's been carrying a pocketknife in her bag ever since.

And the instances of groping, too many to count.

MOHAN: There's girls who have had their breasts grabbed in public places or somebody just wants to come and pinch you (inaudible). You become under-confident and you feel -- you tend to -- you think -- (inaudible)

UDAS: The change that's needed is cultural, they say, and in the centuries old patriarchal society, that's not easily done.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


MALVEAUX: That's a brave young woman.

Lawmakers in Yemen are demanding an end now to U.S. drone strikes. Now, this comes after an attack on a wedding party that killed 14 people, wounded 22 others. This is happened last week, but the U.S. government has not commented on that strike, but Yemen's government said it was a mistake. Drone strikes are part of a joint U.S.-Yemeni campaign against al Qaeda.

And thousands of people in Ukraine, they are demanding a change from their government. We've seen them protest, day after day. But one protester really stands out. Coming up, how a pop singer is lending her famous voice to the movement.


MALVEAUX: In Ukraine, the president has decided to sign a trade deal with Russia. The two countries plan to approve this on Tuesday. Now, this announcement comes despite all the protests in the streets at these government buildings. A lot of people believe that it should have been signed with the E.U. and it would open greater trade with the west. Well, after U.S. Senator John McCain paid a visit to Ukraine over the weekend, still the Ukrainian president going forward.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. To all Ukrainians, America stands with you.


MALVEAUX: We get more from CNN's Diana Magnay in Kiev, who tells us one demonstrator has added some star power to those protests.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the strains of the Beatles over Independence Square, this isn't a revolution yet. But music keeps spirits high even though alcohol is banned.

MAGNAY (on camera): One of the problems, if you will, about this huge demonstration, and this Sunday there are something like 200,000 people in this square, is that they don't have one single demand. But there is a single voice. She's called Ruslana. She's a Eurovision song contest winner and she's stood on that stage every night since this protest began.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Rushing students to shelter when riot police beat them with batons, calling more and more people to the square when police try to force their way in, and always with a midnight rendition of the national anthem. She gives us an impromptu performance.


MAGNAY (on camera): And today we heard from the European Union that the agreement with the EU won't happen because they don't believe the Kiev government. Are you surprised?

RUSLANA, EUROVISION CONTEST WINNER: It doesn't matter because now we don't have government. It's disappeared.

MAGNAY: Disappeared, in fact, to Moscow, where President Yanukovych will meet Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Viewed here as a sign of his indifference to their desire for a sea change in the way that he runs this country. But surely he cannot be deaf to their determination for a better Ukraine.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Kiev.


MALVEAUX: And this, flooding in Gaza has forced some 5,000 people from their homes now. Many others are trapped inside their homes as water rises around them. Streets have been turned into rivers. Fields washed out. Sewage now backed up. The U.N. is calling Gaza a disaster area. This is from four days of torrential rains as powerful storms slammed many parts of the Middle East.

And there is as all-out effort to save pandas from extinction. We're going to take you to China to show you what they're doing.









UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neytiri calls me Skoun (ph). It means (INAUDIBLE).


MALVEAUX: Big news. If you loved "Avatar," director James Cameron says there's going to be three sequels. That's right. He's planning to go back to New Zealand, shoot all of them over a period of several months or so. Now, the government there is paying for a nice chunk of the filming costs. Cameron very excited. He is hoping to have the first sequel in theaters by this time in 2016 or so. The original "Avatar" is the highest grossing movie ever, nearly $3 billion worldwide. I loved that film. That was a great one. Good to see some sequels, as well.

And finally today, pandas. There's an all-out effort to save them from extinction. It is attracting visitors from all over to a panda breeding center in China. Ivan Watson has the story.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's cuter than a baby panda climbing a tree? How about a baby trying to talk to those baby pandas. This is the kind of pandemonium you get at the Panda Breeding Research Center in Chengdu, China.

WATSON (on camera): Hello there.

This little panda, her name is Mumu (ph). A little bit too cute for words right now getting this close to this little animal. She's one of the oldest of the 14 pandas born at this facility this summer. And the trainers say that she's one of their favorites because she's so active. WATSON (voice-over): Conservation groups, like the World Wildlife Fund, call China's effort to save the giant panda from extinction a success story. With breakthroughs in artificial insemination and the use of incubators, experts here have gotten much better at breeding and raising baby pandas.

WATSON (on camera): A mid-morning nap for this fellow.

WATSON (voice-over): The giant panda isn't exactly the most athletic creature in the animal kingdom. Unless you count eating bamboo and napping. But these large, arguably lazy animals definitely have charisma.



DELBENE: They're great. They live a great lifestyle. And you play all day, eat, sleep.

JACKSON: So they're very like a lovable creature and obviously they're extremely cute.

WATSON: The breeding center in Chengdu has become a panda theme park, attracting more than a million visitors a year. They travel in panda wagons and go home loaded with panda hats and ear muffs. Panda experts say their next big challenge is learning how to introduce captive pandas back into the wild. Because at this zoo, these normally solitary creatures have gotten accustomed to some pretty close human contact.

WATSON (on camera): So this is the highlight of the visit to this panda breeding center. For a donation, you get to sit next to one of these fuzzy animals, 15-month-old Momiao (ph), a female, who's chowing down on bamboo shoots dipped in honey. And you get to hug her.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Chengdu, China.


MALVEAUX: Oh, that's awesome. That's our war correspondent hugging a panda. You got to love it there. Adorable.

Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, supporters of that compromise budget deal are trying to round up votes. The agreement sailed through the House, but it faces a tougher time in the Senate. We're going to have the latest vote tally live from Capitol Hill.

Right now, the debate over amnesty for Edward Snowden. He said he'd come home if he got protection from prosecution. So what is the head of the NSA saying about the offer? We're going to tell you.

And right now, finals week back on at Harvard after a bomb scare this morning briefly shut down parts of the campus. With nerves still raw from the Boston Marathon bombings, university officials were taking no chances. We'll have a live update from Cambridge just ahead.

Hello. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

They say every vote counts and supporters of that compromise budget deal are counting every vote in the Senate right now. They expect the deal to pass, but the outcome is not necessarily completely guaranteed. The margin could even be razor thin. Among the Republicans who say they'll vote for the bill, Senator Susan Collins, Senator Ron Johnson, Senator John McCain.