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North Korea -- Secretive and Repressive; Sochi Olympics May Be Most Expensive in History; Navy Chopper Crashes Off Virginia Coast; Hunt for Poachers; Testing Cyber Attacks

Aired January 8, 2014 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And we know that at least five people were on board. That is all we know at this time. U.S. Navy helicopter down, this is off the coast of Virginia.

As soon as we have more details, we're going to get back to you, and let you know the condition of those folks aboard.

Millions of you on Twitter and Facebook, other social media sites, still reacting to this story, Dennis Rodman's rant, his visit to North Korea.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: No, no, no! I don't give a (inaudible)!

I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here! Look at them!


MALVEAUX: That outburst during a CNN exclusive interview with Chris Cuomo.

Rodman's repeated visits to North Korea have a lot of folks questioning, what is going on inside of North Korea?

Very reclusive, communist country, these are some of the things happening there -- a mother being forced to drown her own baby; a prison camp inmate compelled to eat rats and lizards just to survive

These are just a couple of the atrocities documented by a U.N. inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea.

Want to bring in our Georgetown University professor, Victor Cha, joining us from Washington, also former director of Asian affairs at the White House.

Professor, thanks for joining us once again. We have been talking about this all week, and you testified before the human rights committee about these atrocities that take place.

A lot of people don't understand. They don't realize what's taking place inside that country, because it's so reclusive.

Open the window. Pull back the curtain. Tell us.

PROFESSOR VICTOR CHA, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Sure, Suzanne. There are no societies in the world, except North Korea, where every ounce of freedom is completely squeezed out of the country.

The stories you told are about prison camps. They have gulags in North Korea where people say one thing bad about the leadership are thrown into these gulags.

There a terrible food shortage in the country because the country has mismanaged the country.

And there is no freedom of expression to speak, no right to congregate.

The images we see of Rodman at the basketball game, those people look happy, because they're the elite in Pyongyang. They're the party members, military members.

But outside of Pyongyang, in a population of 22 million, there are many other people that have in absolutely horrible conditions.

MALVEAUX: Can you put it into perspective for us, when you talk about the elite?

How many people make up the elite? Is it five percent, one percent, those people who actually live well.

CHA: The people who live well in this city -- we're talking maybe in the city of Pyongyang, a couple of million, within the elite, the real elite, even a smaller number.

This is, again, out of a population of 20 million, 22 million people.

There is, according to U.N. world food estimates, a 1.3 million metric ton shortfall of food in North Korea every year.

And you have an entire generation of North Korean children that are growing up stunted, both physically and mentally challenged, because of basic malnutrition.

MALVEAUX: What can be done?

CHA: Well, I think this U.N. Commission on Inquiries, one of the things -- raising awareness about the problem, I think, is one of the ways to address the issue.

Again, the society is so closed, it's hard to actually do something in the country.

The other is that the North Korean human rights problem in many ways is nameless and faceless. We don't know the names, the stories of these individuals who suffer.

In the case of China, for example, we have named cases of human rights abuses. Kenneth Bae, the American, is one example of a named case.

But in general, the human rights problem is a statistic. We read and hear about it, but it's not personalized.

And one of the things this commission can do is raise awareness and get people to understand, these are real human beings that are suffering.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

And, Professor, I covered former President Bush. He said there were few people that he hated, that he actually hated.

But he said that Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, was one of them, because he let his own people starve while he was living a very rich life.

What do you suppose the son is trying to do here? Is he trying to brandish a reputation, get that kind of infamy?

CHA: Well, you know, the -- perhaps the most disappointing thing about the son's rule in the year that we have seen is this guy is supposed to be educated outside of North Korea.

He's supposed to be educated in Switzerland, but we haven't seen one solid piece of evidence of economic reform to -- for the country.

In the meantime, he's hosting basketball games. He's building ski resorts. You know, he's visiting amusement parks, all these things.

You know, literally he's fiddling while Rome is burning, and that is not a good omen of the future for the country.

MALVEAUX: All right. Professor Cha, thank you. Appreciate it.

And, of course, we'll talk about what, if anything, was accomplished by this Rodman trip to the basketball game, certainly later in the week. Thank you, Professor.

The Winter Olympics, about to put Sochi, Russia on the map, but how do these games turn into the most expensive ever?

The price tag is billions more than the Summer Olympics in Beijing and London. That story, up next.


MALVEAUX: Countdown to the Winter Olympics is on. The games open in Sochi, Russia, in less than a month, and given two terror attacks, authorities are not taking any chances when it comes to security.

More than 30,000 police and other officers are going to be working the games to keep the athletes and the fans safe. Security, a new road, and a new railway are pushing the cost of the games above $50 billion.

That is about seven times more expensive than the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. It's about $10 billion more than China spent on the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

So the Sochi games could actually be the most expensive Olympics ever, but one valuable thing seems to be missing here. We're talking about star power. At least when we're talking about American athletes.

Lindsey Vonn, for instance, that was really disappointing, the gold medalist alpine skier supposed to be the American to watch, but she's says she's shot going to be able to go because, of course, her bad knee.

David Zirin is the sports editor for "The Nation" magazine. And so give us a sense, who should we watch now?

Or who do you think the breakout stars are going to be? Because I like Shani Davis, personally.

DAVID ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, "THE NATION": Shani Davis, the great speed skater, is someone everyone should watch.

I want people to remember the name Julia Mancuso. She's one of the great skiers this country has produced in the last generation, except she has always lived in the shadow of Lindsey Vonn.

Julia Mancuso has had a very difficult year, but she is what is known as a big game player, someone who shines when the lights are brightest. I think this might be Julia Mancuso's Olympics to shine.

Other folks to look out for, Shaun White, who is involved in the Extreme Games, the X-Games-style sports, something that really is like a niche operation, although very lucrative. It has a huge following. This might be Shaun White's opportunity to get into the mainstream.

But the name I'd really want people to remember is somebody who's 19- years-old. Her name is Sarah Hendrickson, and she is the best ski jumper in the world, arguably, male or female.

And this is the first time in history female ski jumping has been at the Olympics. This has been a longtime movement to get women, who historically have been some of the best ski jumpers on earth, actually able to compete at the Winter Games, and Sarah Hendrickson should be the star.

MALVEAUX: Wow, that's great.

Let's talk about why this thing is so expensive. It's unbelievable when you look at all the dollar signs, the figures, the zeros behind this.

How did it get so out of control?

ZIRIN: Every Winter Games combined does not cost as much as these games. The price tag is looking at $51 billion. The original bid was $12 billion.

In a short word, it's cronyism and corruption. Let me give one story here. The road, the train road, that was paved between the Olympic village and the top of the mountain where the skiing is taking place is costing $8.7 billion.

That's more than the entire Vancouver games. They could have paved that entire road with beluga caviar and it would have cost less than $8.7 billion.

And when you look at it, when you look at who got contracts, they're longtime friends of Putin.

These two brothers who are boyfriend friends of Putin -


ZIRIN: -- got $7 billion over the course of 21 government contracts.

So this is just cronyism and corruption, writ large, all over these games.

MALVEAUX: Who pays for all this?

ZIRIN: The Russia state is paying for it.

That's -- so when we look at statistics of things like education in Russia, literacy, hunger, people have to understand that this is where a lot of the resources in Russia are going right now.

MALVEAUX: It's a shame. Well, hopefully, security will be -- certainly be paid for and be tight.

But, yeah, it is a shame, all the waste, corruption that you're talking about.

Dave, appreciate your time, and, of course, we'll be following Olympics every step of the way.

We are following this, as well. The elephant population in Africa has been nearly wiped out because of poachers, and all this week, we've been looking at how the Congo is dealing with this very serious problem.

Next, our own Arwa Damon takes us along on an investigation into the illegal ivory trade.


MALVEAUX: Following up on a breaking news story here, we are learning that a U.S. Navy media representative is confirming now that it is an MH-53 helicopter that has gone down. This is off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. This is close to Fort Story, we're told.

There were five people on board at the time. They were on a routine mission.

Now, the Coast Guard is currently operating a search-and-rescue mission. This just in, the coast guard confirming that helicopter, that MH-53 helicopter, is down, and they are in search-and-rescue mode, hoping to find those five people on board.

A Chinese ship has arrived in the waters off the coast of Syria. Now, the ship's crew is working with crews from several other countries to help remove chemical weapons from Syria. The first batch was loaded on to a Danish ship. That happened yesterday. That was a week behind schedule. Now, the United Nations is overseeing the removal of the weapons, which eventually are going to be destroyed.

More than 60,000 people have fled their homes on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A volcano now is very actively erupting. It started rumbling back in September, but the mountain really started throwing ash and lava into the air just in the past couple of days. This particular volcano, it was dormant for several centuries before it just woke up about four years ago. So far, no reports of any injuries.

And all this week, CNN is reporting -- this is a horrible situation. This is the killing of thousands of elephants every year. And the problem is so bad that Central Africa has lost almost two-thirds of its elephants. Our own Arwa Damon, she went along for the hunt for the poachers in the Congo. And this time the guards made an important find, the discovery of some carved ivory not far from where they found an elephant slaughtered for its parts.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Evidence in hand, Mathieu Eckel has had enough. His eco-guards have just found a carved ivory ring while searching vehicles at their checkpoint right outside the Odzala National Park. The two passengers, Chinese nationals.

MATHIEU ECKEL, (ph): They are - they are coming from (INAUDIBLE), the camp where I made the search.

DAMON: He's referring to a Chinese road construction camp. A month ago, his rangers detained two Chinese men with ivory tusks who work there. Eckel went to the camp with the local prosecutor and found small pieces of ivory scattered on the ground. But rather than being allowed to search the buildings, his unit was told to leave.

DAMON (on camera): We spoke to the prosecutor who was with the eco- guard unit the day that they found the pieces of ivory. He refused to grant us an on-camera interview. We asked him why it was that they didn't conduct a broader search at that exact moment. He responded by saying it was because the translator was not on the premises and unless they were able to explain to the Chinese why they were searching the site, they would not be able to do so.

DAMON (voice-over): Eckel believes the camp runs an underground ivory carving workshop. But despite the accumulating evidence, no one has been able to search the camp. Now, with this carved ivory ring, Eckel has a new link to the (INAUDIBLE) camp, but he doesn't know who owns the ring, the Chinese worker or his boss, who speaks English. Both are cuffed and driven off to jail. On the way, more denials. ECKEL: Ask if he know about ivory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked him. He don't know.

DAMON: When they reach the jail, the Chinese camp manager and others are already waiting. Eckel makes one last attempt.

ECKEL: Maybe you will sleep in jail and you will understand.

DAMON: The English-speaking boss now says his employee is the owner of the illegal ivory. The worker signs a written confession in French, which he does not speak. But the Chinese are angry, and so is Eckel. To ease tensions and in what they say is a sign of good faith, the (INAUDIBLE) bosses agree to let Eckel search the camp the next day.

The U.N. says insatiable Asian demand for ivory has almost wiped out Africa's elephant population. According to the U.N. data, the illegal ivory trade has tripled since 1998. Here in the Congo especially, the government's minister for forest economy says there's been an increase in arrests and seizures.

"It's because of the increase in their activities," he tells us. "Why? Because of the international bosses. They are using all means necessary to access these resources through our people, our criminals."

The next morning, we join the eco-guards as they drive to the Chinese road construction camp. Off camera, the managers tell us they are not aware of any illegal activity in the camp and promise to report any illegal activity to Eckel. Minutes later, Eckel makes a find.


DAMON: "This white powder, what is it," he asks holding up a tool. They respond that it's to carve wood. Eckel isn't convinced. In the same spot where he found the ivory pieces a month ago, another small ivory fragment.

"This is ivory," he says.

If there was more evidence here, it's gone. And the fragments found are not enough to make a bust.

For the eco-guards, no arrests today, but they remain convinced that the pipeline remains wide open between this remote corner of Africa and the ivory markets of Asia.


MALVEAUX: Arwa Damon is joining us live from London.

Arwa, it's just an amazing, a fascinating series that you've been doing all week here. And it seems very frustrating for these folks who are trying desperately to convict or prosecute somebody who's responsible for poaching these elephants. And every step of the way, they seem to come against these barriers. Ultimately, I mean, do they end up finding people, do they prosecute people? It just looks like it's a very frustrating experience.

DAMON: It most certainly is, Suzanne. And people are actually very rarely prosecuted. We have been in touch with the African parks team and they told us that all of the Chinese, who were in jail, were released with no court date. Their passports weren't confiscated. And the African parks team suspects that they must have paid a pretty hefty bribe to be released from jail without any sort of prosecution whatsoever. And that's another big problem, of course, is this widespread, rampant corruption.

MALVEAUX: And what is behind this? I mean why is this so important? Why is it so valuable, these elephant ivory tusks, that they are killing these elephants over?

DAMON: Well, it's highly valued in the Asian markets, especially in China. We're talking about what's roughly estimated to be a $10 billion industry. What's happening in the Republic of Congo is simply a small piece of a much larger link between the elephants of Africa and the demand that the U.N. calls insatiable of Asian markets. It's something that keeps increasing every single year. In Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, for example, Suzanne, they're not only busting people with ivory tusks, but they also more recently busted an ivory trafficker who had an entire bag filled with carved pieces of ivory in it.

MALVEAUX: And, Arwa, tell us very quickly about part four of your series that we're airing tomorrow.

DAMON: Well, in that we're taking a look at this program that the African parks group has developed, trying to convince people to turn away from poaching and more towards protecting, especially the pigmy indigenous population, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Arwa Damon, thank you so much. Excellent, as always.

And this is related to the story. This is a landmark move. China just destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory. Now, authorities, they crushed hundreds of these carved ivory tusks. You see them there, the ornaments, the carvings. The ivory was reported to have come in shipments from Africa, intercepted by customs officers, and from carving factories and shops across China. So animal welfare groups, they say this is actually a powerful, symbolic act, showing that the Chinese government is at least concerned about the toll that ivory trafficking is taking on the elephant population.

Well, you use the gym to get in shape, right? Well, this cyber gym in Israel actually whips international companies into shape to keep them from becoming the victims of hacking. We're going to show you how they do it.


MALVEAUX: Actually, former computer hackers are helping put companies to the test to make sure they don't get taken down online. As Ian Lee reports, CyberGym exists in a country known for its government spying abilities. Watch.


BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEWSROOM": A hacker group has now taken down the Vatican's website.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a cyber-attack on a Justice Department website.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Chinese hackers attacked the Federal Election Commission.

MICHAEL HOLMES, ANCHOR, CNN'S "AROUND THE WORLD": Cyber-attacks against U.S. newspapers.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, CNN'S "AROUND THE WORLD": Somebody hacking into the private e-mails of the Bush family.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to CyberGym, a training ground for the defense of cyber-attacks, located on a non- script farm between Tel Aviv and Hifa (ph). It pits elite former hackers of Israel's intelligence community against cyber warriors of private companies who pay CyberGym for the training. Trainees practice over and over again on real-world scenarios, ranging from attacks by a lone wolf to complex terror and state actors.

OFIR HASON, CEO-CO-FOUNDER, CYBERGYM: We're trying to point out and cause the trainees to feel and to touch the damage that could occur from a cyber-threat.

LEE: The goal here isn't to learn how to stop an attack, but how to contain it, minimize the damage, and discover its origins.

NIR DAGAN, ISRAEL ELECTRIC CORPORATION TRAINEE: Tell me, I forget. Show me, I learn. Let me do it, I understand. And this is what we do here.

LEE: Today's trainees from Israel Electric Corporation take turns playing offense and defense.

LEE (on camera): This real-world scenario is preparing these computer experts for one of the most active battlefields on the planet. Israeli Electric Corporation receives between 6,000 to 8,000 attacks per day.

LEE (voice-over): Some advice from the experts, whose identities we're asked to conceal. The biggest mistake you can make online --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clicking the OK button without reading and understanding the windows.

LEE: And for large companies like Target and Snapchat, who've recently been in hackers' cross-hairs, this advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Invest in the training of personnel that are exposed to the critical systems and their security status would be much higher. LEE: The lesson taught here, a good defense comes from knowing a strong offense.

Ian Lee, CNN, Hudara (ph), Israel.


MALVEAUX: And this. Ralph Lauren's niece will have to pay a $2,000 fine after an ugly incident that took place on a plane. Jennifer Lauren pleaded guilty to abusive behavior while drunk on a Delta flight from Barcelona to New York. Now, the pilots made an unscheduled stop in Ireland, where she was arrested. Lauren pleaded guilty to two charges and authorities say the cost of the flight diversion Monday was more than $43,000.

Several stories, photos catching our attention today. Take a look at this.

This is in Scandinavia. Sky-watchers enjoying a spectacular show on Christmas, really amazing solar activity hitting an 11-year peak in December, making for a magical Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. A Norwegian photographer capturing the magnificent all year long, making it into a wonderful film.

In China, the official mascot of the 2014 World Cup being produced in a factory in Chong Chang (ph). It is a yellow armadillo called Fuleco, which comes from the Portuguese word for "football." The World Cup will be held in Brazil this June.

And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel making her first public appearance on crutches, as you see, after fracturing her pelvis from a ski accident. She met with about 100 children from all over Germany for a caroling concert. The chancellor joined the kids on stage and even got to help out a little bit with the singing.

And a former president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, didn't show up in court today to face charges of inciting murder. This was a letter read by the judge in court, said that the helicopter that was picking him up from prison couldn't take off because of bad weather. Well, the trial was then postponed until February 1st. Egyptian authorities have accused Morsi of ordering supporters to attack protesters after the guards refused to do it. Now Morsi, as you recall, was ousted by the military during widespread protests of his rule.

Thanks for watching "AROUND THE WORLD." CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. Have a good afternoon.