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Greek Workers Protest Government's Austerity Program As EU Leaders Convene To Discuss The Debt Problems Of Several Euro Zone Countries

Aired February 10, 2010 - 12:00:00   ET


STAN GRANT, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, PRISM (voice over): As government workers go on strike in Greece, EU leaders ponder whether they should help bailout a member of the state's failing economy.

And in our "Prism Segment", can you stop a suicide bomber? We'll take a look at some of the methods countries around the world are using to fight terrorism.

Plus, we'll take you to a unique beauty pageant in the Arabian Gulf where there isn't a swimsuit contest and all of the contestants competing for much more than a tiara.

From CNN Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, this is PRISM, where we take a story and put it under the PRISM, and look at it from multiple perspectives. I'm Stan Grant.

Greek government workers took to the streets Wednesday. Protesting wage cuts and other measure intended to fix the country's burgeoning debt crisis. Journalists Nicole Itano joins me now on the phone from Athens with the latest.

Nicole, give us a sense of the size of these protests?

NICOLE ITANO, JOURNALIST: Well, there were several thousand workers who came out today. It probably wasn't as big as unions had hoped, perhaps partly because of the drizzley weather.

That said, if you talk to union officials they say the point was not just the strike but that this is going to be the beginning of what they see as several weeks or possibly even months of protests.

GRANT: Nicole, let's look at what the grievances are here. Obviously, there is going to have to be some very tough measures in Greece to deal with this debt crisis. But concern that people are going to be adversely affected by this?

ITANO: I think that is the main complaint of the people who are out on the streets today. They feel that the austerity measures are going to fall disproportionately on poorer people, on working people who already pay a very high percentage of Greek-of Greece's tax burden. And so what they are saying is that it shouldn't be them, it shouldn't be the workers, it shouldn't be the poorer people who pay. Instead the rallying cry that I heard again, and again, was it is the bankers, it was the rich who got us into this problem in the first place. And it is them who should pay.

GRANT: That is certainly a common story, throughout the world Nicole. Thank you very much for that. Nicole Itano joining us on the line there from Athens.

Well, some background now on Greece's debt crisis. EU officials say Greece's government has overspent and fudged their financial figures for years. The government in Athens recently revealed that last year's budget deficit was three times bigger than previously estimated. In fact, the budget deficit now equals 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Investors fear that Greece could soon default on its debts. Greece may need a bailout or loan form other Euro Zone countries to pay back the $74 billion in loans due this year.

And the country's prime minister is now proposing deep budget cuts, a wage freeze for government workers and tax increases to bring down its massive deficit.

So, is there really a danger of Greece defaulting on its debts? Let's look beyond its borders now. What is at stake for the rest of the Euro Zone? Our Jim Boulden has been studying this. He joins me now from CNN London.

And, Jim, already there is talk of perhaps this being a domino effect, even Greece pulling out of the euro.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, there has been a lot of speculation over the last week of what Greece might do. But you know, there is really little chance that that is going to happen. What is very likely to happen is some kind of solidarity statement from European Union, the big governments, France, Germany, and the U.K. Some kind of- people using the term "bailout", but they are not going to use that term. Some sort of firewall, loan guarantees could be one of them that we might hear about in the next couple of days especially with the meeting in Brussels tomorrow, something to calm the markets down.

You have seen just in the last few days, Stan, the markets actually rebounding because of talk that they are not going to cut Greece loose, because that would be devastating for the euro. And there would be a contagion factor, worries that you would have problems with debt resurfacing in Italy, in Spain, in Portugal.

But the side of this is of course that as these governments take steps to cut their debts you get protestors. So, the other worry is could the governments actually back down with the people hitting the streets as we have already seen in Ireland, as we are seeing now in Greece. So there is a double worry there.

GRANT: That, Jim, is a crucial question because any bailout is not going to come with any-with no strings attached. What do you think is going to be expected from Greece.

BOULDEN: Well, last week the European Union agreed to Greece's plan. And then Greece put out this plan and we get people hitting the streets. So, the plan has already been formulated, so European Union didn't love it but they said it is a step in the right direction. You have got to remember if you are going to be a member of the European Union you have to keep your budget deficit to about 3 percent of DGP. You have got countries like the U.K. over 12 percent, Greece over 12; others bubbling just below 10 percent. And, so all of them are going to have to do this.

And then the other problem is if you make too many stringent cuts you get protests. You might cut off growth just as you are coming out of recession. So it is a very fine balancing act. And that is why you have seen the stock markets, the bond markets, and the currency markets really, really worried about this.

GRANT: Jim, appreciate your analysis there. Jim Boulden joining us live there from London.

Well, after a lengthy court battle new details are emerging on the alleged torture of a British resident once held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The British government fought to keep the information on Benya Mohammed (ph) secret, claiming its release would harm the U.K.'s relationship with the U.S. But a British appeals court ruled today that the report should be published. It shows Mohammed was subjected to ongoing sleep deprivation and other cruel degrading treatment. He spent seven years in U.S. custody before being cleared of all charges.

A suicide bomber killed 18 people in Northwestern Pakistan today. The attack happened in Waziristan (ph), in the country's Khyber agency. A government official says the attacker walked up to a police vehicle and blew himself up. Most of the victims were police officers.

Iran appears to be cracking down reformists ahead of tomorrow's planned protest. The demonstrations are meant to coincide with a major holiday, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. According to opposition web sites, and Reporters Without Borders, at least eight journalists have been arrested this week.

Well, more than 150 bodies have been pulled from deep snow after a series of avalanches buried a mountain pass in Northern Afghanistan. Frederik Pleitgen joins us live from Kabul with more on that-Frederik.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Stan. Yes, the authorities here in Kabul and all of Afghanistan believe that there are still people actually trapped in their cars, submerged under the snow on that very high mountain pass, the Salang Pass, there, which was really a very important, vital artery coming out of Kabul and going into the north of Afghanistan.

There is a rescue mission that is underway and usually during the night hours, which is basically since a couple of hours ago, that rescue mission usually has to be suspended for the simple reason that helicopters can't really fly in the dark here, in Afghanistan, because it is so dangerous up in those mountains.

But there is a big rescue mission still underway. There are bulldozers working there. There are Afghan army troops working there. They said, last time we contacted them, which was just a short while ago, they believe that as many as 13 cars are still submerged under those masses of the snow in Salang Pass. They believe people are still trapped in those vehicles. And certainly, they say, that hope is pretty much running out for those people still trapped in those vehicles, Stan.

GRANT: Fred, as NATO and Afghan forces are now planning this joint operation against the Taliban, this is a reminder that you are not just fighting the Taliban. That in many cases you are fighting the elements and the terrain that you have to deal with in Afghanistan as well.

PLEITGEN: Absolutely. That is always a factor here in Afghanistan, the terrain, those high mountains, especially now in the winter time. You know, avalanches are nothing seldom here in the winter. What we have seen in the past couple of days, especially in the northern part of Afghanistan, is snow and then heavy rain. And that is what many believe triggered this avalanche.

There is some criticism, actually, of the government here in Kabul, as to why that road on that mountain pass was actually open at this time. And they are simply saying that the weather there changes so fast that it is really, really hard to adapt to those conditions and that, of course, is something that doesn't only go for civilian disaster like this one it is also something that the militaries have to take into account all the time. And if you look at a place like Helmand where that big offensive is about to take place, or will take place in the next coming days, as NATO says. Weather always plays a factor or plays a role there as well.

So, certainly that is something that makes life very difficult right now. And it is making life very difficult for those helicopter crews, for those ground crews, who are trying to get those people out of those vehicles. And certainly something that is being watched very, very closely here, at how the weather will develop in the coming days for that rescue effort, Stan.

GRANT: Fred, thank you. Fred Pleitgen joining live there, from Kabul.

Well, still digging out from the last monster snow storm Washington joins a half dozen other major U.S. metropolitan areas placed under a new blizzard warning. Mari Ramos brings us more from the international weather center.

MARI RAMOS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Stan, what a mess and we are starting to get word that airports are-well, they are open, airlines are not actually flying in or out, so they are no flights coming in or out of major airports, which is Dulles and Reagan, in the Washington, D.C. area.

Now, I want to show you first of all, where we have these blizzard warnings. When you talk about a blizzard you are talking about winds that will be at least 56 kilometers per hour. It has to be ongoing for at least three hours-and it is going to be a lot longer in this case-and you have to have that blowing snow, and you have to have visibility less than 400 meters. So this is significant. It is almost a total white out, where you can't see in front of your face. Major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, as we head over to Washington, D.C. and as far south as Asheville, South (sic) Carolina.

When you are looking there, at that picture, that is live picture. You can barely make it out, that is the U.S. capitol building in Washington, D.C., completely covered in snow. The winds there have been howling at about 50 kilometers per hour, so far. And the snow still keeps coming down. They have had the snowiest conditions ever recorded in Washington, D.C.

All of this happening with these strings of areas of low pressure that come in through this area in the West Coast. We have seen all the problems with the flooding here across southern parts of California. And all of the moisture coming in here from the Pacific. El Nino still playing a role in all of this. Those areas of low pressure plow across the southern plains, through the southeast. And once they get up to the Northeast, we start calling them Nor'easters, Stan. That is when those areas of low pressure just blast them when it comes to energy. They pick up the energy here from the relatively warm Atlantic Ocean, because of the Gulf Stream. And they just blow up. They are very windy, they dump very heavy snow fall. And this is the situation that we are seeing yet again, this time around.

What is going to happen well all of this will continue moving through this area over night, tonight. And into Wednesday (sic) we should get better conditions as we head through the day tomorrow, but of course, playing catch up with all of those people stranded at airports. Back to you.

GRANT: Mari, thank you very much for that. Extraordinary image, wasn't it? I mean, you could not see anything of the capitol building.


GRANT: Unbelievable.

Well, the man accused of taking part in last year's deadly bombings in Indonesia could face a death sentence, if convicted. Through the PRISM tonight, we look at whether deterrence works when it comes to acts of terror.

Plus, when it comes to figure and form, who is the fairest of them all? We'll show you the camels going for the crown.


GRANT: The trial of a man accused in last year's suicide bombings of two luxury hotels in Indonesia is underway. The twin suicide blasts at the J.W. Marriot and the Ritz Carlton Hotels in Jakarta killed seven people and wounded dozens more. The Islamic militant accused of taking part in the attacks is facing multiple death sentences if he is convicted. Is the prospect of a death sentence a deterrent to an accused terrorist? Well, through the PRISM this evening, does deterrence work against terrorism?

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, at Stanford University, outlines five main pillars for deterring terrorists. One is direct military deterrence toward the terrorists leadership. Another threatening the institutionalized assets of the host country, or deterrence via hosts states, pressuring the host population, or deterrence via the populace. Covert human influence operations, also known as SIOPS (ph). And pressuring the terrorist organizations patron entities. Terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel:


SAJJAN GOHEL, TERRORISM EXPERT: All measures that are taken are controversial. They don't necessarily win the public support or morale of the country that they are targeting. What they are designed to keep their own country safe. So, on the one hand, it is designed to ensure that perhaps acts of violence are reduced. But at the same time it also potentially increases more hatred for one particular country.


GRANT: Well, terrorists didn't just emerge on September 11, 2001, although terror groups have become more visible and more ambitious about their goals since then. From London, International Security Correspondent Paula Newton looks at what the counter-terrorism community has learned about what works and what doesn't.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INT'L. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): During the Cold War deterrent seemed so simple. Mutually assured destruction kept rational countries in line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at war and I am a soldier-

NEWTON: In the age of suicide terrorism can an irrational individual be deterred? The conventional wisdom is, no. As one American official put it after 9/11 those who use suicide as a sacrament are unlikely to ever be deterred.

(On camera): That may be true, but the experience here in Britain has proven that deterrence by denial can and does deter terrorists. After the London bombing here in 2005, a tactical strategy of hardening targets and beefing up security, actually denying terrorists their targets, has kept this country safe.

(Voice over): Denial means increasing the risk of failure for a terrorist.

MICHAEL CLARKE, DIRECTOR, RUSI: One of the things that a lot of terrorists fear is real dishonor. And so, yes, they can be deterred by the prospect of dishonor and failure, even if they don't value their lives, they may well value their reputation.

NEWTON: Airports, airplanes, long a favorite target are now more and more hardened targets.

(On camera): In terms of deterrence, this is one of the prime strategies, ever more sophisticated techniques, for screening. It means that terrorists are unlikely to risk failure and won't attempt an attack.

(voice over): Intelligence plays a key role here, too. Making terrorists worry about who might be watching them or listening them whenever they discuss their plans. British counter-terrorism authorities have made tactical denial a high priority and so far it has worked. But it has its limits, as Lord West, the Home Office minister explains.

(On camera): What has Britain learned? Can you deter terrorists?

ALAN WEST, BRITISH SECURITY MINISTER: You can't completely protect and arrest your way out of this threat. Actually, you have to change mindsets, particularly if it is your own population.

NEWTON (voice over): Britain's "Prevent" strategy seeks to address that. The community programs often in Muslim areas, aim to stop individuals from becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremism. That means Britain has all but backed away from another deterrent strategy, that can work, but can also have violent consequences. Deterrence by punishment of a community or country.

CLARKE: Governments have got to keep on behaving like governments. Not lower themselves to behave like a terrorist. And this fight fire with fire concept is very dangerous, because in punishing terrorists you are actually glamorizing them.

NEWTON (On camera): Since the London bombings British officials have been trying to understand not just what deters terrorists, but what motivates them. While many are willing to risk their lives, most won't want to risk failure or worse, ridicule. And in that, British officials say, that stiff upper lip can be an effective tool.

WEST: The average British punter, I rather like it. They are quite pragmatic about these things really. I mean, if there is a bomb today or yesterday, then they are a big focused on it. They get a bit jittery. They very quickly, I'm glad to say, get on with their lives and forget about it.

NEWTON: That may be another deterrent. Suggesting to would-be attackers that they are unlikely to terrorize anyone here for very long. Paula Newton, CNN, London.


GRANT: Well, Yemen has become a top focus of concern among counter- terrorism officials around the world. They fear the country is becoming the new safe haven for Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants. It is one of the poorest nations in the Arab World, and many are unemployed. Yemen's foreign minister knows it is a volatile mix.


ABUBAKR AL-QIRBI, FOREIGN MINISTER, YEMEN: Everybody before the age of 25 is a revolutionary. And he becomes more so when he doesn't have a chance to a job, or he thinks he has no future. And those who are under 18, they have the frustration of higher education, the outcome of that education, and therefore, they are easy targets for radicalization.


GRANT: Well, the attempted bombing of a U.S. bound airliner on Christmas Day ended in failure. Yet the government has come under significant criticism for a deterrence system that almost did not work. In an interview with Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about the need to always be ready.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think what is fair for Americans to think is that we have had a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations, over many years now. It hasn't gone a way. We have contained it. We have worked very hard to do so. But over the last six months we have seen attacks foiled, people arrested and charged, so that you have to be constantly vigilant.


GRANT: Well, some Republican lawmakers in the U.S. don't think enough is being done and so they want to send a clear message of deterrence to would-be terrorists. So they introduced legislation that even some fellow Republicans say amounts to fear-mongering.


REP. PETE KING (R) NEW YORK: The Keep Terrorists Out of America Act will also help to ensure that we are treating terrorism as what it is, a war crime, not a law enforcement issue. We can't gather the intelligence we need to foil future attacks if we are blindly granting terrorists the right to remain silent. But for some reason we have already done that with the terrorist who tried to bring down Flight 253.

We are a nation at war and we should act like it. We need to pull together, remain vigilant and send a clear signal, both to our friends and our enemies, that this government will stop at nothing to protect our homeland.


GRANT: Well, India has seen its share of terrorism over the years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh espouses a universal and cooperative approach to fighting terrorism.


MANMOHAN SINGH, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA: Terrorists and those who aid and abet them must be brought to justice. The infrastructure of terrorism must be dismantled and there should be no safe haven for terrorists because they do not represent any cause, group, or religion. It is time that we agree on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.


GRANT: Well, the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland was the worst terrorist attack there in modern times; 29 people died, and more than 200 were wounded in the 1998 car bombing on a busy street. Last year, four IRA dissidents were found liable in a civil case brought by the families, or the victims' families. Although it took 11 years, one father said prosecuting the case was an important deterrent.

MICHAEL GALLAGHER, FATHER OF OMAGH BOMBING VICTIM: I think we have sent a message to terrorists that, you know, from now on you don't only need to worry about the authorities, the families, the families of those victims will come after you. And the message to victims around the world is, we have now created a precedent and those other people here who are victims of terrorism can use this vehicle. And a message to governments, that if you do not do it, we will do it. We had to do it in this case.


GRANT: Some thoughts there on deterring terrorism, through the PRISM.

And ancient map, confirmed by a buried treasure. As archeologists discover a fabled road into Jerusalem.

And, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, at least in the eye of its owner. We'll show you a fierce competition for best in show, yes, for camels.


GRANT: More than 1500 years ago, pilgrims from all over the world walked through the Jaffa Gate into Jerusalem, on this street, recently unearthed by city workers on an infrastructure project. Archaeologists say the discovery supports the accuracy of the oldest known map of the Holy Land, a large sixth century mosaic in a church in Jordan, known as the Madaba Map.

Now, to a beauty contest like no other. The setting? The UAE. There is no question and answer session, no evening wear, and definitely no swimsuit in this competition. The stars in this pageant are camels. Jane Ferguson shows us the stunning contestants and how they are judged.


JANE FERGUSON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: A remote desert spot may seem like an unlikely location for a beauty contest, but these competitors are perfectly at home.

The Al Dhafra Festival, run by the Abu Dhabi Center for Culture and Heritage, brings together native camels from the Gulf Region, where they compete to be judged the most attractive. This is the third addition of the annual even in the UAE, and with 28,000 camels entered competition has become fierce, with standards in beauty getting higher.

Ahmed Al Mansouri explains that this wasn't a winning year for his family's camel, Dehar.

AHMED AL MANSOURI, CAMEL OWNER: Because it is my camel I will say it is very beautiful, but the judge, you know, they are looking for too many things. Next year, I will be better.

FERGUSON: Camel owners come from all over the Gulf to mingle, compete, and make connections in the camel fraternity. The event also attracts local royalties and dignitaries, many of whom are keen owners and collectors.

This is a serious business. With the best camels going for up to $5 million U.S., these beauties don't come cheap. The festival sees many private deals done on sales. And organizers believe that this year $80 million has crossed hands over the 10-day event. Owners must remain away from their stock when the judges are at work. Local breeder Salem Yhyahi Al Manhali and his sons brought six camels to compete this year.

SALEM YHYAHI AL MANHALI, CAMEL OWNER (through translator): I competed last year and I got excellent scores. We came in sixth place and won a car, became sixth out of 35 camels.

FERUGSON (On camera): Up to 1,200 camel owners have gathered here in the western region of the United Arab Emirates. A get together of camels, organizers say, is the biggest in modern-day history. Those who bring their camels here will have them judged on their beauty.

(voice over): Judges are specific about what makes a truly beautiful camel. With the body divided into sections for scrutiny.

SALEM IBRAHIM AL MAZROUEI, FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: We check on the head, how does it look like. We check on the ear, we check on the nose, we check on the lips, we check on the teeth, we check on the neck, we check on the hump.

The champions can win their owners prizes ranging from a brand new car to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single competition. But despite modern technology advances on this age-old form of desert transport, owners are in no doubt that the traditional way is the most beautiful. Jane Ferguson, for CNN, the Western Region, UAE.


GRANT: They are all beautiful to their owners. "BUSINESS TRAVELER" is coming up next, after we update the headlines.