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CNN 10

North Korean "Shadow Army" Could Be Funding Leader`s Whims; "The Blue Heart of Europe" Teeming With River Life; Santa`s Helpers Cycling for a Good Cause. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired December 13, 2023 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: What`s up sunshine. I`m Coy Wire. Welcome to your CNN 10, especially on a #YourWordWednesday. Remember, keep your ears open

to see if your vocab word was chosen to help right today`s show, let`s go.

We start today on Capitol Hill, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a visit to Washington D.C. Why? Well, President Biden has

asked Congress to approve an emergency funding bill that would send around $60 billion in new support to Ukraine.

Ukraine has been locked in a war with Russia for almost 22 months now after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine for what

was called a special military operation.

The U.S. has already sent more than 110 billion in support to Ukraine, but the White House says those funds are almost completely gone and more is


Zelenskyy`s visit to the U.S. comes as efforts to approve more aid have stalled in Congress. Though, there is still bipartisan support to help

Ukraine, some Republicans have argued there is another growing crisis that is not receiving enough attention, an influx of illegal immigration at the

U.S. Southern border.

Some lawmakers want additional support along the border and tighter regulations for immigration. And their concerned U.S. national security

could be ignored while Congress focuses on Ukraine.

Immigration policies and border security have been particularly divisive issues. And that has continued as congressional negotiators have struggled

for weeks to come up with an agreement. Lawmakers are only scheduled to be in session through next week before the holidays. But if a deal is not

reached by then, some senators argue they should stay through the holidays to find a solution so that Ukraine can get the additional support they


Ten second trivia.

Pyongyang is the capital of what country?

North Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, or Singapore.

If you said North Korea, put your hands up. The capital Pyongyang is said to be the oldest city on the Korean Peninsula.

We now turn to North Korea, a country that has largely been isolated from most of the world through diplomatic and financial sanctions. Despite these

economic difficulties, North Korean Leader, Kim Jong Un has pushed his country toward developing a massive arsenal of weapons. Something the

country has been doing for many years.

But there are new questions as to how the nation is funding these expensive projects. And experts are looking into the possibility that a shadow army

of hackers is funding this military push. It is believed this complex organization of international criminals have stolen billions of dollars in

cryptocurrency over the last several years. CNN`s Will Ripley explains


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every North Korean missile test, every satellite launch, every nuclear test likely cost Kim Jong Un`s cash star

country, millions of dollars. Where does that money come from? How does Kim`s regime evade heavy sanctions advancing its nuclear end ballistic

missile programs at breakneck speed?

ANNE NEUBERGER, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We certainly believe that North Korean hacking of cryptocurrency around infrastructure around the

world is a major source of revenue for the regime.

RIPLEY: A staggering more than 3 billion in stolen crypto over the past five years. U.S. lawmakers say, a record $1.7 billion last year alone.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: So where does that money go? Straight into North Korea`s illegal nuclear program.

RIPLEY: An underground pipeline of illicit wealth fueling Kim`s nuclear ambitions, pumping payments into Pyongyang from places like Russia, China,

Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.

WARREN: Does that pose a threat to our national security?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does, Senator, yeah.

RIPLEY: The U.S. believes North Korea has a global shadow army secret operatives posing as I.T. professionals, government officials, freelance,

blockchain developers, even hiring Westerners to hide their connection to Pyongyang.

Spanish police arrested Alejandro Cao de Benos earlier this month, known as a special delegate for North Korea. The U.S. accuses him of helping North

Korean officials use tech for money laundering. He posted a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying, there is no extradition. The U.S.

accusation, besides being false does not exist in Spain.

Blacklisted by the U.S. as modern-day digital pirates, North Korean operatives are linked to ransomware attacks, targeting online gaming,

gambling, and banking industries. Even American hospitals, North Korea exploiting online vulnerabilities, using stolen money to mass-produce

missiles, funding the Kim family`s lavish lifestyle. Palaces, planes, yachts, and this armored Mercedes limousine carried on Kim`s private train

to that September summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The latest breach from North Korea`s notorious Andariel hacking group targeting South Korean defense firms and others. A year-long investigation

by South Korean police and the FBI exposing grave vulnerabilities in Seoul`s cybersecurity defenses. Around 250 sensitive files, 1.2 terabytes

of classified data stolen. A crime concealed through rented servers. A secretive trail of digital deception leading straight to the North Korean

capital. Breaching borders. Defying digital defenses. Threatening global stability.


WIRE: We turn now to Eastern Europe, specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina as we explore the planet, our shared home and shed light on how our actions

can impact natural spaces and what we can do to protect and nurture them. CNN`s Zain Asher takes us to a region known as the Blue Heart of Europe,

where several hydropower projects threaten this exquisite river system and the wildlife that calls it home.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the dense forest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a strip of blue green water carves its way from the

Dinaric Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

ULRICH EICHELMANN, CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR, SAVE THE BLUE HEART OF EUROPE: The Neretva is probably one of the most exceptional rivers in Europe. It looks

like pure wilderness.

ASHER (voice over): But this is changing. According to the Center of environment, a Bosnian NGO, more than 50 hydropower plants are proposed

along the rivers 140-mile length.

EICHELMANN: Dams destroy rivers completely. Because the impact is not only where the dam actually is, you impact everything upstream and everything


ASHER (voice over): This is why Ulrich Eichelmann together with more than 60 scientists converged on the banks of the Neretva in June as part of the

Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign. They`re on a mission to collect data on the rivers unique biodiversity and to build a case for why it

should be preserved.

EICHELMANN: We need to do more than ever before to save the last remnants of European beauty.

ASHER (voice over): For some scientists like Kurt Pinter, saving the river means waiting out into the crystal waters and discovering who lives in it.

But there is one species in particular he`s searching for.


very special and endemic trout which can only be found in the few rivers in this area.

ASHER (voice over): Already endangered, he fears the proposed dams could drive it to extinction. This could cause ripple effects across the

surrounding ecosystems. It`s a delicate balance between providing energy and protecting the environment. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, hydropower is a

key source of electricity, and it could help the country transition away from fossil fuels.

The campaign says it`s not against hydropower altogether. But it wants to implement No Go Zones in areas of key biodiversity.

EICHELMANN: When a small doses might be correct and healthy, if you take too much of it, it`s deadly.

ASHER (voice over): Recent history shows that nature can win. In March 2023 after several years of campaigning, the Vjosa, a river in the nearby Balkan

country of Albania was granted protection.

The Balkans is one of the few areas of Europe where free flowing natural river systems still exist. For scientists and conservationists alike, that

is reason enough to preserve them.

EICHELMANN: This we call it the blue heart, because it`s the last large area where we have this jewel, it`s like a gift to Europe, that these

rivers survive the decades of destruction. And on the Balkans, we have this one chance to keep this blue heart beating.


WIRE: Today`s story getting a 10 out of 10 cycle enthusiast, Santa slay, what? Most of them were not doniferous but they were all gathering for a

good Claus.

Yes, you heard me right, a group of Kris Kringle clad riders rocking the streets of Madison, Wisconsin for the Third Annual Santa Cycle Rampage.

Rampage, not sure that`s the name that would match this U tide pedaling you`re seeing here. The holly jolly event featured a festive four-to-five-

mile ride to benefit school safety programs. Talk about a jolly old journey.

All right, dad, joke alert. What kind of motorcycles does Santa ride? A Holly Davidson.

Ho-ho, thanks to all of you for following along @coywire on social.

Today`s word was submitted by Tiffany Ms. Eddie`s (ph) class at Cope Middle in Redlands, California. doniferous, an adjective meaning bearing gifts.

Well done.

Today`s shout out goes to Elida Middle School in Elida, Ohio, go bulldogs. And we have a shout out going to Red Lion Area High School in Red Lion

Pennsylvania, keep roaring you all.

I`m Coy Wire. Thanks for joining us today. I`ll see you right back here tomorrow. Have an awesome day.