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Southeastern Brazil Floods; Emergency Efforts Focus on Finding 53 Missing People in Australia; China 'Not a Threat'; More Bodies Recovered in Haiti

Aired January 14, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Powerful floodwaters trigger mudslides in Brazil, killing hundreds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT: If you ask me, the percentage to play in winter is definitely over 50 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: FIFA's president says he expects the 2022 World Cup to be moved to winter, but he's facing dissent from the host nation itself.

And man takes on machine. Can a computer beat humans on a popular TV game show?

First rain, and now mud. Landslides have buried several towns in Brazil. Local media say more than 500 people have died in Rio de Janeiro state. And authorities warn thousands of families are at risk of being washed away.

Southeastern Brazil has been battered by heavy rain for weeks. And take a look at how powerful the flooding is in some areas. Rescuers are having trouble reaching remote villages because the roaring water has wiped out roads and bridges.

And right now, CNN's Helene De Moura is traveling to one of the worst-hit towns. She's about one hour away. She joins us now live on the line.

Helena, tell us, what have you been seeing out there?

HELENA DE MOURA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I am not exactly at the location (INAUDIBLE) and all of these areas. We're actually going uphill in a few minutes, but we already feel the tension in the eyes and faces of the people.

I'm at a -- near a gas station right now, and I'm watching people pacing around, anxious, and watching these horrific images that are coming live from some of the areas. And, you know, you can tell that this has really, really had a serious psychological impact in Rio de Janeiro.

STOUT: One can only imagine the emotional upheaval of all this. Talk to us about the aid effort. How is aid getting to the people who need it?

DE MOURA: Well, the roads have been impassable for the past 24 hours. I think some of the rescue workers have been able to carry some additional aid, water and food, to Nova Friburgo and Terresopolis and some of these affected areas. But still, the job is very, very difficult, because, again, overnight, they had to stop the rescue efforts due to the treacherous conditions on the road.

And I'm hearing right now from the police that there have been several robberies and attacks on the road. As you know, the violence in Rio is -- people -- you know, armed bandits are basically taking advantage of this situation of chaos to rob people. So the situation, again, it's very, very chaotic.

It's hard to get information on the ground as people are pacing around trying to find water, trying to find their loved ones, trying to find a way to make a phone call, even. So that's the situation that I'm experiencing for now.

STOUT: So we have chaos, violence. A major disaster here.

How angry are people? Are people there blaming state and federal government for a lack of disaster planning, for allowing shoddy construction that has resulted in so many landslides?

DE MOURA: Yes. It's too early to start the political blame game.

Yes, I have heard some people angry with the Lula government, saying that he did not live up to his promises to bring sort of a -- to bring democracy to urban development, meaning to start reaching out to these different franchise communities that have had -- basically been forgotten by the state, where communities are basically building on top of each other on top of riverbanks, on top of makeshift constructions that are extremely dangerous. But, right now, again, as described by someone who I just saw interviewed on TV, this has been a tsunami falling from the sky, a tsunami that fell from the sky. And people are still in a state of shock, and it's just too much to start (ph) on that area, but I'm sure that soon, the blame game will begin -- Kristie.

STOUT: A tsunami fallen from the sky.

Helena, thank you so much for being there and covering this story for us.

Helena De Moura, live from Rio de Janeiro.

Now, it is the rainy summer season in Brazil right now. Flooding, it happens every year. But it is the landslides like what you see here that kill so many people.

Let's give you a better understanding of where this is happening.

Rio de Janeiro lies here, on the southeast coast. Now, take a look at the three towns where those deadly landslides struck. They all sit in the mountains.

The rain can make the ground unstable. And some of the houses on those slopes are there illegally. Those rickety structures are no match for the wall of mud and rock that washed down toward them. And more rain is on the way.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: As floodwaters recede, meanwhile, in Australia, emergency efforts are focused on finding the 53 people still missing after the deluge. Sixteen people have now been confirmed dead in the past week.

With the cleanup under way, Phil Black surveys the damage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As the Brisbane River recedes, this is what it's leaving behind, this thick, gray sludge. And you can see it. It's inches deep in places, and it's not just on the streets.

Along this street, it is through people's homes. Not just on the ground floor, but the first floor as well. It's a massive cleanup effort.

And you can see the people have already moved in, and they're really making some progress, dragging out the possessions that have been destroyed and can't be saved, leaving them by the side of the road. We're seeing trucks and bulldozers move through here, picking them up, carting it away. It's really quite frantic activity all along this street, and this is just one of many across Brisbane that are like this.

Many of the people that you see working in this neighborhood, they're not locals. They're people that have driven from across Brisbane to lend a hand.

Lots of people we've spoken to say that volunteers have just showed up on their doorstep with shovels, brooms, gloves and gum (ph) boots, wanting to do what they can to help. And that's actually such a strong phenomenon, that there's a lot of traffic across the city. And many of them are volunteers trying to get to places where they can really help out.

So this frantic cleanup effort is just one reaction to the floods of this region. Another one is a search and rescue operation that's taking place west of Brisbane, in the Lockyer Valley, that suffered such severe flash flooding just before the floodwaters hit the main city here.

There, they are still looking for around 50 missing people. And the police who are running that operation now believe it's possible some of them may never be found.

Phil Black, CNN, Brisbane, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Well, it's been well documented that this week's floods in Brisbane stopped well short of the levels seen in the record floods of 1974. What that fact does not spell out is the change Brisbane has undergone in the meantime.

Now, let's show you the extent of the flooding now and compare it to what the city experienced 37 years ago.

Now, the affected areas are practically identical, including the central business district located right here, above a bend in the river. Now, the most obvious difference is here, to the west of the city, where the flooding has actually been worse this time around. But Brisbane is a very different place now.

What was a city of 900,000 people back in 1974 is today a city of two million. The population has more than doubled, and the number of buildings flooded has more than quadrupled.

Now, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, fighting for an education. We hear from the Pakistani children whose schools have been destroyed by the Taliban.

Defending a controversial decision, FIFA president Sepp Blatter talks tactics and timing as the Qatar World Cup debate rumbles on.

And this superhuman super computer. Artificial intelligence takes on the quiz show specialists and wins. We've got all the details in the battle of human versus machine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Well, Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week, at a time when the U.S. is suspicious of China's increasing military might. But in a rare English language interview, high-ranking official has told CNN that the world's biggest economy is wrong to see China as a threat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUI TIANKAI, CHINESE VICE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China's military strength is still way behind that of the United States. China's military expenditures is very, very small compared to the military expenditures of the United States. That's a fact.

So the U.S. has nothing to worry about in this regard. Besides, China pursues a defensive defense policy. We don't want to threaten anyone.

JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Well, in that case, why does China need to develop, say, aircraft carriers or stealth --

CUI: Why do you already have so many? We still don't have them.

FLORCRUZ: The U.S. hopes China will play a more assertive and important role in the solution of the Korean crisis. What, in your view, is China's role? And how are you doing that?

CUI: China is doing at it has been doing for a long, long time so far the most important thing with regard to the Korean Peninsula, which is to maintain peace and stability in the region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And you can hear more from Cui Tiankai, including his thoughts on the valuation of the yen on "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY." That's coming up right after NEWS STREAM, 2:00 p.m. in London, 10:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Now, thousands of people have taken to the streets of Tunisia's capital again today to protest the country's president. They apparently were not satisfied by his pledge yesterday to cut food prices and to end censorship. Now, he also indicated that he won't seek another term.

Rima Maktabi is in the Tunisian capital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are now in the center of Tunis, the capital. This, after the Tunisian (INAUDIBLE) went out for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are happy with the security and freedom that had come back to our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We came here after the president's speech. No one asked us to come here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): All the problems will be solved with the changes that will take place.

MAKTABI (voice-over): Zine el Abidine Ben Ali has been the president of Tunisia for 23 years, and for the first time ever, he has announced that he will not run for elections in 2014.

ZINE EL ABIDINE BEN ALI, TUNISIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Enough violence. Enough violence. I also gave orders to the Interior minister, and I repeat it here -- not to use live ammunition. It is unacceptable and unjustified unless someone uses his weapon and forces you to defend yourself.

MAKTABI: We could not verify whether these demonstrations were spontaneous or staged. However, elsewhere in Tunis, raging rioters broke their curfew, too, chanting slogans not in favor of the president nor his government.

The Tunisian president addressed the nation after a 10th day that marked more clashes between angry mobs and armed forces in the capital of Tunisia, as well as other major cities like Kairouan and Susa.

(on camera): The government has taken steps to diffuse the situation. And with a general strike planned for Friday, the coming few hours will decide whether calm will be restored.

Rima Maktabi, CNN, Tunis, Tunisia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: A female police officer and four of her family members have been killed by militants in northwest Pakistan. Authorities say armed militants broke into Shamshad Begum's house on Friday and started firing, killing her, her two sons, her daughter and her daughter-in-law. Their home was near Taliban strongholds.

A government official says Begum had received threats since joining the police force. Under the Taliban's version of Islamic law, women are barred from working outside the home.

Now, the Pakistani army has launched at least 10 military offensives against the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, but much of the region is still plagued by militancy.

Chris Lawrence reports now on the plight of children whose schools were destroyed in Swat Valley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIDA SALMAN, STUDENT: Use your (INAUDIBLE) education if it is man or woman.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, the Taliban threatened Rida Salman.

SALMAN: And the terrorists said to us that, "If you go to school, so we will kidnap you and we will kill you."

LAWRENCE: Then they bombed her school. And nearly two years later, it's still rubble.

SALMAN: Listen! Don't you hear her screams? Pakistan is in intense need of our love!

LAWRENCE: So the seventh grade girl is not happy.

SALMAN: We have to unite! We have to fight! We have to be a great nation!

LAWRENCE: Rida and some of her old classmates go to a new school now, but it's a lot further away and more expensive.

(on camera): Why is it taking the civilian government so long to rebuild some of these schools?'

ZAUDDIN YOUSEF, PRINCIPAL, KUSHAL SCHOOL & COLLEGE: This must be the top priority of the government, but unfortunately it's not.

LAWRENCE: Zauddin Yousef is principal of Rida's new school. He says there are 150 destroyed schools just like Rida's old one, St. Gorga (ph).

YOUSEF: The U.S. has given a lot of money, but still the schools are in rubble.

LAWRENCE: Nida Jan also went to St. Gorga (ph). Now she's out the door extra early. Nida's got to walk more than a kilometer to the local bus stop, and then it's an hour's drive to her new school.

NIDA JAN, STUDENT: We're very lucky, because from -- you have seen the distance. It is very long to come to school, but I am trying to come to school, and I want to become -- I want to make (ph) my future.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Her old school was close enough to walk.

But is it hard to see your school like this?

JAN: Yes. It's very hard to see our school this much destroyed.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Some educators claim local politicians haggled over contracts, steering them to certain companies.

YOUSEF: Their top priority ought to be (INAUDIBLE).

LAWRENCE: Zauddin says they raised the bids, then skimmed the profits.

YOUSEF: And everywhere they poked their nose to have some money, how to drag and extract some moneys.

LAWRENCE: A Pakistani official says politicians followed the rules. He says it takes time to hire engineers, and the recent flood slowed down the profits.

But even Pakistan's military which pushed the Taliban out of Swat is getting frustrated with the slow pace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eventually, the civil government has to take over the idea (ph) from the army.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Do you miss your school?

SALMAN: I miss my school so much, I can never forget the education of St. Gorga (ph). And I miss it too much. There are so many schools, but there cannot be a school like St. Gorga.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The school can come back, but the clock is ticking.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Swat Valley.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Well, the U.S. and Israel believe that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but they suggest sabotage and sanctions may be creating some speed bumps.

Barbara Starr has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran's nuclear scientists attacked by car bomb assassins, inside Iran's nuclear bomb plants, critical equipment believed damaged by a computer worm attack. The result, intelligence officials in the U.S. and Israel believe Tehran's march towards nuclear weapons has been slowed.

The outgoing chief of Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, told his government it could now be 2015 at the earliest before Iran has a nuclear weapon. Mayer Doggin (ph) cryptically blamed a series of malfunctions. American officials, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are eager to cite U.S.-led sanctions as the major inhibitor.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working.

STARR: But in an interview with CNN's Jill Dougherty, Clinton spoke of secret operations.

CLINTON: Just recently, the outgoing head of the Israeli intelligence agency made that point, that -- and he was also publicly saying a combination of sanctions and covert actions have significantly slowed down the Iranian program.

STARR: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has acknowledged his country's enrichment program was sabotaged. U.S. officials believe it was the Stuxnet computer worm. One private analysis suggests more than 1,000 centrifuges critical to making nuclear fuel were damaged because of the virus. The computer code had a chilling word which may refer to a dead engine.

Ahmadinejad is blaming Israel and the West, which is officially denied, but experts say the sabotage isn't enough to permanently slow down Iran.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXPERT: Iranian scientists are very clever. Their engineers are very good. They can recover from this.

STARR: The more problems in Iran's nuclear program, the less chance Israel or the U.S. will launch a military strike to stop it.

(on camera): Many experts say the sabotage campaign could work temporarily, but it is economic and financial sanctions that will have the long-term bite forcing Iran to change its mind about nuclear weapons.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: It's small, it's sweltering, and it suffers from a questionable record on human rights. But it's the timing of Qatar's World Cup that has FIFA president Sepp Blatter on the defensive. Hear his views right ahead on NEWS STREAM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLATTER: The winner to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: It all seemed so simple last month. In December, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced Qatar had been selected to host the World Cup in the summer of 2022. And now there are signs of a rift growing between FIFA and Qatar, as FIFA's president pushes to move the World Cup to winter.

Don Riddell is following it all for us from London.

And Don, what is going on here?

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is quite an incredible story, isn't it, Kristie? And it would really appear that the world governing body of football, FIFA and Qatar are now on something of a collision course.

The FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has within the last few days given CNN an exclusive interview in which, first of all, he acknowledged that the evaluation report that is prepared for all the countries that bid for a World Cup is pretty much ignored by the executive committee members.

In an astonishing admission, he said that the people that vote for the World Cup pretty much vote with their hearts rather than their heads. The problem with holding a World Cup in Qatar is that if you hosted in June and July, the temperatures there in the desert can be around 50 degrees Centigrade. That's 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

And so, for the last few weeks, FIFA has been suggesting that they might be prepared to move this tournament and play it in the winter. More likely, in fact, that they'll play it in the winter now than the summer.

Let's get the thoughts now of Sepp Blatter. This is what he had to say to our Pedro Pinto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLATTER: If you ask me, the percentage to play in winter is definitely over 50 percent. It means that this is more than a probability to play in wintertime, because also for the spectacular (ph), for the football, and to protect footballers. And also spectators, finally.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But do you think it's fair after the votes took place to say we can have it in the winter? A lot of people are saying, well, they bid for a summer World Cup, now they're going to get it in winter. That's not fair.

BLATTER: You can say it is not fair, but the final decision has not yet been taken. But it would be unfair for the players -- to the players now to play in summer, when there is a possibility to play in winter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: So, not only are FIFA discussing the idea of completely changing the plan and the agreement they had with Qatar, but also, Kristie, if they were to stage this tournament in the winter, it would cause untold havoc for the schedule of the league calendar in Europe.

KRISTOL: OK, Don. We heard from FIFA just then. What about Qatar? What are Qatar's representatives saying about the situation?

RIDDELL: Well, I think they're pretty offended that FIFA are even suggesting they're going to move it, because when Qatar proposed this World Cup, they said, we will come up with the technology and we will build air- conditioned stadiums so that you can play in the summer. And they're saying they're not budging, they're not putting it in the winter.

Mohammed Bin Hammam, who is the head of Qatar's bid has said, "We submitted a bid saying we are going to be ready in June and July, and we said we are going to face all the challenges and we are going to meet all the requirements. Our focus is June, July. It is never our interest to change one week beyond June and July."

And not only, Kristie, are Qatar and FIFA now in something of a collision course, but also the International Olympic Committee. Remember, they're due to hold the winter Olympics in 2022, and if FIFA moves the World Cup, the two events would clash.

It is clearly in neither interest for those two events to clash, but the IOC president, Jacques Rogge, has said, well, we're not moving either.

STOUT: Wow.

Don Riddell, thank you for giving us the latest on that story.

Don Riddell, joining us live from CNN London.

Up next here on NEWS STREAM, much more to come. Broken promises littering the streets of Haiti. After 365 days, it is said that just five percent of the rubble has been cleared. We'll try to find out why pledges to help have not come through.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: I'm Christie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Landslides how now buried several towns in Brazil. Local media say more than 500 people have died in Rio de Janeiro State. Authorities warn thousands of homes are at risk of being washed away. Southeastern Brazil has been battered by heavy rain for weeks.

In Queensland, Australia authorities have stepped up the search for more than 50 people missing after the state's worst flooding in decades. At least 16 people have died. This week, more than 20,000 homes have been affected in the state capital Brisbane.

In Nigeria, incumbent Goodluck Jonathan has easily won the ruling party nomination for president. He is now the favorite to win the April election. Election officials say that President Jonathan got more than 77 percent of the vote in the primary. He assumed the presidency after the death of his predecessor.

The Vatican plans to beatify the late John Paul II. That puts him on a track that could lead to sainthood. The Catholic Church has credited him with a miracle. The Vatican says he healed a nun suffering from Parkinson's disease.

When Haiti was rocked by a magnitude 7.0 quake last year, the world was quick to step up and pledge its help, but as Gary Tuchman found out many promises have not been kept.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is something very wrong with this picture, Joseph Earl Eyma, 72-years-old, is using a shovel and wheelbarrow to clear the rubble form what was his family home one year after the quake.

JOSEPH EARL EYMA, QUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): I did not want to sleep in the streets, I wanted to return to my house as fast as possible.

TUCHMAN: But why is an elderly man clearing his own rubble? After all, countries around the world have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help rebuild Haiti.

So after a year, what percentage of the rubble has been removed? The international aid organization Oxfam concludes a shockingly low number - five percent. Put another way, that means 95 percent of the rubble is still here. At that rate, it would take 20 years to remove all of it.

It turns out only about half of the reconstruction money pledged by donor nations has actually been received. The United States percentage is far lower, less than 10 percent - 10 percent. The rest of the money is stuck in congress.

Another one of the hold-ups? Many of the world's donors want their money to go to more glamorous projects than getting rid of rubble, but...

JULIE SCHINDALL, OXFAM: You can't really reconstruct when you rubble blocking everything. And what we point to is that particularly donors who hold the purse strings for massive projects have not prioritized that most basic first step.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a domino effect, once this debris starts moving, everything else will start falling into place.

TUCHMAN: Mandy Perkins (ph) owns the Ashpit Company (ph), one of the largest disaster recovery contractors in the U.S. He has brought nearly $20 million worth of trucks and heavy machinery to remove rubble and start reconstruction in Haiti. We met him six months ago when the government hadn't issued any debris clearing contracts. Six months later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Idle in Haiti. We have, you know, 85 percent of our equipment idle.

TUCHMAN: He got the first and only government clean-up contract back in October, but it was small and barely made a dent in the problem. The lack of debris removal has dramatically curtailed the construction of temporary homes.

The homeless situation in Haiti remains desperate. This is the seventh time I've been here since the earthquake. I see no appreciable decrease in the number of homeless people. The estimate is that there are still hundreds of thousands, up to a million people who don't have homes. These people have lived under this canopy for the last 12 months. The canopy of a Texaco station.

Oxfam also puts blame on the international commission set up to coordinate and prioritize recovery spending. The IHRC is high profile leaders - former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Haitian prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

SCHINDALL: But so far they haven't fulfilled their mandate.

TUCHMAN: CNN has asked for, but not yet received a response from a Clinton spokesman.

Joseph has followed through on his own. He's out of a homeless camp and into a temporary shack and is now days away from finishing his grueling project.

EYMA (through translator): I would like to rebuild my home, but god only knows how I will do it.

TUCHMAN: You see, Joseph doesn't have the money or equipment to rebuild, so he's hoping for something he hasn't received over the last year - some help.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Port au Prince, Haiti.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now the Haitian prime minister says more bodies have been recovered over the past year in the rubble of that powerful quake. The government has revised the death toll up to 316,000. The January 12 quake, it was the deadliest of last year, but it was the not the strongest. This map shows where the most powerful earthquake struck last year in Indonesia, in India and the Philippians, but the largest was in Chile. Now Chile recorded a magnitude 8.8 quake. The USGS says that it more than 500 times stronger than the one that hit Haiti.

Now, let's look at the deadliest quakes of 2010. Of that quake, USGS says that quake in Chile killed 577 people. Most died in a tsunami.

Now the second deadliest quake of the year was right here in southern China, in Qinghai, nearly 3,000 people died. You'll remember, many of them were children crushed in poorly constructed schools.

Now shoddy building, that was behind Haiti's immense death toll.

But the USGS also points out that the magnitude 7.0 quake was quite shallow and says even well built structures anywhere in the world would have been damaged. Now striking a densely populated area filled with unstable buildings, this quake became the year's biggest killer.

Now the grieving goes on in the U.S. state of Arizona as does the recovery. The family of federal judge John Roll is gathered in Tuscon for his funeral in a few hours. He was one of the six people killed in Saturday's shooting rampage.

And the youngest victim, the 9-year-old girl Christine Green was laid to rest on Thursday. All of her mourners passed under a giant American flag that was recovered at the site of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, that was the day Christina was born.

As Arizona mourns, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues her remarkable recovery just days after she was shot through the brain. Her husband says her breathing tube could be removed later on Friday.

More developments are coming to light on the mental health of the accused gunman. Brian Todd has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Warning signs went back at least a year. According to numerous police records from his community college, Jared Loughner had frequent outbursts that frightened others. He once reacted to the reading of a poem, according to those records, by saying "why don't we just strap bombs to babies?" His math teacher said when he turned his back on the class to write on the board, he would always turn back quickly.

BEN MCGAHEE, INSTRUCTOR, PIMA COUNTY COLLEGE: I felt like he was capable of bringing a weapon. And I feel like he was, you know, capable of causing harm to the class as well as others.

TODD: The college police say they notified the faculty that there might be a mental health concern involved with Loughner. The college suspended him in September of last year and said he'd need a mental health clearance to return. But could he have been forcibly taken off the street before the Tuscon shootings? Ironically it's easier in Arizona than in many places for a family member to force a person into treatment.

ALAN LIPMAN, CENTER FOR STUDY OF VIOLENCE: They will send out on the recommendation of that individual - be it a teacher, be it a father, be it anyone, a mobile response unit to conduct and evaluation. And if that person is found to be in a particular state, they can be involuntarily committed.

TODD: But CNN has learned Jared Loughner was never in the Arizona mental health system. Even if he was, experts say, the way the system is set up now, there's no guarantee he would have been kept off the street.

(on camera): It was during the 1960's, experts say, when the mental health system in the U.S. began to turn after several documented cases of abuse at mental hospitals where patients were allowed to languish unfairly for years. The system did evolve. But one experts says, now it's over corrected the other way. And many people who need mental help aren't getting it.

(voice-over): Even if someone is flagged, it's a complicated process, according to forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren. It has to be proven by a psychiatrist that a person is a danger to himself or others, or is almost completely non-functional, the first step in forcing treatment. Then it has to go before a judge. And even then...

(on camera): A person, if they're represented by an attorney, could try to mitigate that.

LISE VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Indeed, in our judicial system on working with mentally ill, it is looked upon as an adversarial situation. So you have a lawyer who is on one side and is - has been engaged to protect the rights of the person who may be hospitalized. After all, depriving a person of his physical freedom is something which is - needs to be protected and reviewed.

On the other hand, you will have doctors and maybe the lawyer from the hospital or treatment facility who will be arguing that this person really needs help.

TUCHMAN: I asked Van Susteren how that usually breaks in court. She says it depends on the judge, but that the courts often reflect a culture that's turned against involuntary treatment because of civil liberties issues.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now, let's go back to Australia. Queensland maybe beginning to dry, but other parts of Australia are bracing for more rain. Pedram Javaheri joins us once again. Pedram, what are you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, pretty interesting set-up here, Christie, as far as rainfall is concerned. And of course, the energy had been centered over southeastern Queensland the past couple of days, and much of Queensland the past 30 to 40 days, but you take a look at the northern periphery of Australia, that's a monsoonal trough set-up right here, but we have not one, but three cyclones set up and developing in that region. One being a Tropical Cyclone Vince, another one just developing tropical cyclone 7, there is Tropical Cyclone Vania all off shore here in the northern region of the areas within Australia.

And the rain showers is going to be persistent along the northern coastline here. And also a trough that's another mid latitude trough that's to the south here is going to keep really much of the moisture to western Queensland. And it looks like Brisbane, the area around the southeast coast, has been really hit hard. They're going to get a break here up until at least Monday and Tuesday where some more rain showers could return. So that's the good news as far as the change in the forecast.

But look at the rain showers here across the northern tier, up to say 5, 8, 15 centimeters possible right along the northern coastline. And that's what we're following very carefully as more rainfall could certainly come down.

But just off shore, and this is Tropical Cyclone Vania there around New Caledonia in the Loyalty Islands. This storm system actually going south, ride kind of the Australian coastline. And you know we've talked about the La Nina season, the warmer sea surface temperatures off the coral sea. Well, so the south around the Tasman Sea actually the sea surface temperatures a little cooler.

So this storm system is going to weaken, but in the next three to four days it could approach the northern coastline of New Zealand. So that's something worth following here in the next couple of days.

Also getting a new development here, this being Tropical Cyclone 7. Could be Zelia in the next couple of days. And as it develops, it will actually push in towards where we have Vania at this point. So this storm system could bring some more rainfall towards New Caledonia. It's still fairly close to the coastline of Brisbane, so some of those outer bands, if this does develop, could bring in some rainfall in the next couple of days, say around Monday, Tuesday out towards Brisbane. So that's why this storm system could be pretty important out there.

And of course, the Sri Lanka flooding that we've talked about, take a look at this, some of the photographs coming out of torrential rainfall now across much of Sri Lanka. And really just going back the past couple of days, we're talking about nearly a meter of rainfall where the monthly average is about 200 or so millimeters of rainfall, Christie. We've got to keep in mind, it's the 14th or the 15th here. And in the month of January. So some 31 days typically brings 200, and in about 14 days we've picked up over 700. Pretty impressive rainfall in Sri Lanka.

LU STOUT: All right, Pedram. Thank you very much for that.

And still to come on News Stream, pitting man against machine, IBM unveils the cunning computer that turns Jeopardy champs into chumps.

And sign of the times, astronomers argue for changes to the Zodiac calendar, but will astrologists yield?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back. Now, it's a battle of brains - pitting man against machine. An IBM supercomputer has won round one even though it didn't really count.

Julianne Pepitone is the tech reporter for CNN Money. She joins us now live from New York. Julianne, it was just the practice round, but the supercomputer it won. How did it do it?

JULIANNE PEPITONE, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, the Watson supercomputer did have a great run yesterday. It didn't get any questions wrong. It did have a problem with the children's book section. The champ Ken Jennings did sweep that section, but it really had a great run. And so far it's beaten the humans.

LU STOUT: And what are the practical applications of this technology in everyday life?

PEPITONE: Well, it's fun to show it off on something like Jeopardy, but obviously it doesn't have a lot of real world implications. So IBM is really hoping that Watson will have a really big impact on the health care sector, calling it a Dr. Watson hoping that it can help doctors diagnose different symptoms, kind of feed it into the computer and it can spit out a disease that someone might have, this is a problem they may have. And they're really hoping that it can eventually save lives.

LU STOUT: And did you get a chance to see the machine? What does it look like? And how big is it?

PEPITONE: I did. It was kind of cute, actually, for just a little piece of plastic. But it was just kind of a black rectangle sitting there in between Ken and Brad. And it was a love avatar it would blink while it was talking or while it was thinking. And it had a slightly robotic, but kind of pleasantly human voice.

LU STOUT: And when will the real competition take place?

PEPITONE: It will be next month. It's going to be two rounds over three days, February 14th, 15th and 16th. And that's when it will be airing on Jeopardy.

LU STOUT: And should we be worried that a computer won?

PEPITONE: Well, I don't think we've reached Terminator 2 levels quite yet, but it is pretty telling that a computer is able to comprehend natural language the way that humans, the way that you and I speak it, that's historically been very difficult for computers to be able to process.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it's a major development in AI research. Thank you so much for that. Julienne Pepitone, CNN reporter, joining us live from New York.

Now be sure to visit the CNN Money web site for the latest business headlines, tech news and stock info. You'll also find feature stories, photos and video. Just log on to CNNMoney.com

Now, if you're hoping to emulate the intelligence of that IBM Watson supercomputer, reading a lot is a good way to start, right? Well, maybe. It depends not just on what you read, but what you're reading on. Now remember the advent of ereaders like the Amazon Kindle here, we're told that they might make books obsolete, but blogger Jonah Lehrer and some research into information retention using both methods and you found out he was less likely to remember what he had studied on an ereader. It seems that all the effort and all the technology has resulted in something that's just too easy to read.

Now some people swear by them, many are defined by them, but people who give credence to Zodiac signs could be in for a shock. A war is being waged between astronomers and astrologists over the alignment of symbols and dates. Jason Carroll joins me live with more.

Jason, what is going on here, do we have new sign dates?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We absolutely do if you listen to what some of the astronomers are saying.

You know, whether you believe in this or not, Christie, it's probably a good bet that most people out there know what their sign is. Perhaps, but maybe not any more. According to astronomers at the Minnesota Planetarium Society, the astrological chart most people are familiar with isn't accurate they say, because it doesn't account for how the Earth's position has changed over thousands of years.

You know that the Zodiac as we know is based on a Babylonian chart created some 3,000 years ago. Well, Christie, astronomers recalculated the dates taking into account the Earth's position in relation to the sun. So want you to take a look how the new chart looks. See if your dates there, Christie. Some of the dates in fact have changed. And you notice there are now 13 signs instead of 12.

Scientists restored the sign Ophiuchus. You can see it's highlighted there. The ancients originally had that sign, but later dropped it because they only wanted 12 signs, not 13.

The whole thing, as you can imagine, has created quite a stir among believers. The astronomer which released the findings said in response, take a look, "in science we deal with a long tradition of fact-based investigation. We are not in the business of interpreting the purported relation between the positions of planet and human affairs."

Well, the people who do deal with the human affairs of astrology readings say, hold on. They've known about this for years. Listen to what Susan Miller had to say. She's the creator of a very popular web site called astrologyzone.com.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN MILLER, ASTROLOGYZONE.COM: Please don't believe the hype. This is not a new concept. This is not a new discovery. It's something astrologers have been looking at for years and years and years. It's not a new concept. Please believe that. And we have had time to test this, and it doesn't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Well, Miller says many astrologists have already tried using the updated chart, which again accounts for the Earth's changed position, but she says that the general consensus is that those readings were just simply not as accurate - Christie.

LU STOUT: All right, Jason, this is not cool. Help me out here. I mean, I have always been a Sagittarius, but according to that chart, I'm now a Scorpio. So should I start following my old sign or start looking into the new one?

CARROLL: Well, I know how you feel, Christie. I was a Virgo yesterday, today I'm a Leo. So, what some of the astrologists are telling us is basically what they do is when they do a real accurate reading, they look at both charts and with they are starting to suggest is that you might want to look at both signs. So that might help people.

But some people out there who are purists say you've got to go with the new, not the old. Sorry, looks like your sign changed.

LU STOUT: Thank you, much. I also have to follow my Chinese Zodiac sign, too. There's just too much going on now.

CARROLL: Yeah, I'm going to stick with the Chinese Zodiac.

LU STOUT: Yeah, why don't we just do that. Just streamline the process. Jason Carroll live in New York. Thank you, Jason. Take care.

Coming up next on News Stream now what is the difference between a fat New York rat and this cross-eyed German opossum? I'll leave you guessing until we come back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back. Now a video of a rat running amok on a subway car in New York may make your skin crawl, but a crawling cross-eyed opossum has folks swooning in Germany. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos with the story of the beauty and the beast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a tale of two critters: one gives folks joy, the other gives them creeps. Ever wonder what it would be like to wake up with a rat crawling on you?

Jeff Ford had fallen asleep riding the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn at two in the morning.

JEFF FORD, SUBWAY RIDER: A woman screamed. I looked up. This was going on, I see a rat running back and forth.

MOOS: He whipped out his camera and took these shots of the rat after it jumped onto a sleeping guys lap then took off. From the time Jeff adjusted his camera to shoot video the rat was back.

FORD: Then he runs up the guys leg.

MOOS: It's bad enough seeing rats on a track, but in your face?

Nobody bothered to rat out the rat to warn the sleeping guy. Amazingly, he remained fairly calm. So calm that...

FORD: He goes right back to sleep like it didn't even happen.

MOOS: Maybe he thought he was dreaming.

But it's a rare and slow news day when you can cross a rat story with a tale of a cross-eyed opossum

Her name is Heidi. She lives at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany. And her crossed eyes have seduced opossum lovers worldwide. She's got her own Facebook page with thousands of friends added by the hour making comments like, what big eyes you have.

A stuffed animal has been modeled after Heidi. Kids chant her name.

KIDS: Heidi! Heidi!

MOOS: The German TV station RTL demonstrated how her appeal would be lost were her crossed eyes not so crossed. She was originally orphaned in North Carolina and raised at a sanctuary.

A composer wrote a song and got three young girls to record it singing lyrics like, "Heidi is so dinky."

The cross-eyed marsupial has even been compared to one of America's best known anchors...

MATT LAUER, NBC ANCHOR: Do I look like that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you're both adorable.

MOOS: Even the subway rodent photographer has fallen for Heidi.

FORD: That rat was actually kind of cute. I think if I woke up and I saw a cross-eyed marsupial on my lap...

MOOS: He'd laugh it off. But in the New York subway, it doesn't pay to play opossum

Jeanne, Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: OK. Now it's time to go over and out there. The recent snow in the southern U.S. has some people feeling a bit out of place. So one eye reporter decided to have a bit of fun with that idea. Luke Thornton turned the city usually known as Hotlanta into Hothlanta, that's a planet in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back. Now luckily, he had plenty of toys on hand to recreate this scene.

Now Thornton is not the only one with Star Wars on the brain, Jason McDonald made this Jobba the Hut out of snow. Insert gold bikini joke here.

And that is News Stream. But the news continues on CNN. World Business Today with Charles Hodson and Maggie Lake is next.

END