Return to Transcripts main page


Difficult Discussions on Agenda for U.S. And Chinese Leaders; A Year in China; New Protests in Tunisia

Aired January 19, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

The United States rolls out the red carpet for China's president.

Fresh allegations emerge about whether Lance Armstrong took performance- enhancing drugs.

And a tourist hotspot in the making, Chernobyl.

Leaders of the U.S. and China have a full day ahead of them. President Hu Jintao is scheduled to return to the White House next hour. He had a private dinner with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Mr. Hu is making a state visit, and that means the U.S. is literally rolling out the red carpet. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden greeted his plane, along with an Honor Guard and military band.

Now, a formal State Dinner will take place later on Wednesday, the first one for China in 13 years. But before dinner, some difficult discussions are on the agenda.

Jill Dougherty explains what's at stake.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two nations oceans apart, locked in a complex relationship that will help chart the 21st century.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, our relationship has gone global. We debate and discuss nearly every major international issue.

DOUGHERTY: Friends or rivals? A former deputy secretary of state says for the U.S., China is both.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: They are a factor of life as the second largest economy in the world, by every measure, whether it's political, social, economic, and for that matter security. And furthermore, they have very key interests of their own in areas that are extraordinarily important to us.

DOUGHERTY: Spin the globe and you see China's growing competition with the U.S. for access and influence. From Africa, where China craves oil and other resources, to Latin America, in search of commodities and alternatives to its heavy investment in the U.S. for many Americans, China, for years, has meant bargains. But increasingly, China means jobs for Americans at home.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: Our exports to China are growing at twice the rate of growth of our exports to the rest of the world. These exports support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation in all sectors.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We welcome a China that plays a constructive role on the world stage.

DOUGHERTY: Yet, China's burgeoning military power is stoking concern in Asia and the U.S.

GATES: But questions about its intentions and opaque military modernization program have been a source of concern to its neighbors.

DOUGHERTY: Washington says with power comes responsibility. For now, China looks outward, mostly to benefit itself

ARMITAGE: China's outreach, I believe, in the main is based on what they perceive is their economic and political interest. However, it is the case that this compels them on occasion to deal with what we consider pariah regimes.

DOUGHERTY: The U.S. really needs China's help in pressing Iran and North Korea on their nuclear programs. But on every world issue, from terrorism to climate change to piracy on the high seas, Washington also looks to Beijing.

CLINTON: Embracing the obligations that come with being a 21st century power will help to realize a future that will give the Chinese people even more -- in fact, unimagined -- opportunities. But that means accepting a share of the burden of solving common problems.

DOUGHERTY: And that, Clinton argues, includes respecting human rights, releasing political prisoners and protecting ethnic minorities in Tibet.

(on camera): The U.S. and China are in the same boat, Clinton says, and if they don't row in the same direction, they can create turmoil and whirlpools in people in countries around the world.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.


STOUT: Let's look at some of the events over the past 12 months that have strained Sino-U.S. relations.

Now, 2010, it started with Google announcing it had been victimized by a cyberattack originating in China. The search giant said it would stop censoring results on its site, and Google ended up moving its search operation to Hong Kong.

Now, toward the end of January, President Obama announced a $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan. Now, China responded by suspending U.S. military visits and threatening sanctions on American companies involved with the sales.

In February, Mr. Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House. Now, China strongly objected to the sit-down with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

And Beijing and Washington also clashed after the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan warship. International investigators blamed a North Korean torpedo, but China refused to act against Pyongyang.

Now, China also rejected a U.S. offer to mediate its territorial dispute with Japan. The arrest of a Chinese fishing crew in the South China Sea led to large anti-Japan rallies like this one.

Now, Beijing and Washington, they battle for influence in the region. In December, the U.S. held a rare trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan. And to cap of the year, the Nobel committee awarded the 2010 peace prize to the imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Beijing condemned the honor and pressured several countries not to attend the ceremony. Now, the U.S. and other western nations called for Liu's release.

Now, some of those deep divisions, it might be bridged a little if there was better understanding between the two nations. Now, Stan Grant introduces us to one American teenager getting a closer look at life in China.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His mother didn't want him to go. His friends thought China was just scary. Six months on, though, 16-year-old Spencer Langerman is getting the full dose of China 101.

SPENCER LANGERMAN, "SCHOOL YEAR ABROAD" STUDENT: Definitely, my friends and family are like -- well, they're like, "Don't let the Chinese brainwash you, like, into communism." And, like, kind of the censorship.

GRANT (on camera): People are still saying that to you?


GRANT (voice-over): The boy from Manhattan now sits in the shadow of Chairman Mao. Spencer learns the Communist Party's version of Chinese history. He speaks only Chinese in class. He's fluent. Sometimes now even better than English.


I've been, like, really, I guess -- wow, what's the word? My English has gotten worse since I got into China.

GRANT (on camera): You can say it in Chinese.


GRANT (voice-over): It's all part of this unique program -- take a kid out of American school, put them in a regular Chinese classroom, and place them with a Chinese family for one year. Spencer is one of nearly 50 American teenagers here building a bridge between the world's superpower and its fast-emerging rival.

LANGERMAN: I think the opinion of China in the United States is really kind of off, and a lot of the ideas of China's kind of law. There's a lot of thoughts about, like, China's kind of backwards and really rural and, like, not modern. And obviously that's wrong. I mean, we're here in this, like, super-modern city.

It's been really interesting. It's been really fun.

GRANT: Spencer tells me he always thought China was cool. Living here hasn't changed that. The Chinese kids, he says, are just like Americans.

They love sports. He says they kick his butt on the basketball court. They like Western movies and music. But in the classroom, that's where the differences begin.

LANGERMAN: Their approach to education is really a lot. They just memorize, memorize, memorize, study, study, study. And I feel like they're not really -- they don't, like, have discussions.

GRANT: It hasn't all been easy. Like any kid, he gets homesick. And then there was moving in with a new family.

LANGERMAN: We had a one-week orientation when we first got here, where we just kind of got to meet the teachers and adjust to the people. And then we went to the host families, and that was kind of shocking.

GRANT (on camera): Just settling in?

LANGERMAN: Yes. So, the first, like, month of just being with the host family and --

GRANT: Everyone was --


LANGERMAN: It was definitely difficult and it was tiring, really physically tiring to just be, like, doing Chinese all day.

GRANT (voice-over): He's right at home now, though, happily chatting at the dinner table like any family. His surrogate Chinese parents never graduated from high school and work in a local market. They live in a modest apartment, small in size, but big on hospitality.

FENG LI, HOST MOTHER (through translator): He's like my son. I always chat with my son. Now I chat with Spencer. I wash two sets of clothe and cook two sets of favorite (ph) food.

GRANT: And Spencer has a 13-year-old host brother who teases like all little brothers.

(on camera): What did you think when you first saw Spencer, when you first met Spencer?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, looked like a girl.

GRANT (voice-over): And he's teaching his big brother a lesson in Chinese chess. Spencer hasn't yet won a game, but each move he hopes brings his homeland of the United States and his adopted home, China, that much closer.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


STOUT: Now, a pair of suicide attacks in Iraq have killed at least 15 people. They happened in Diyala province, north of Baghdad. An attacker drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into the headquarters of a security agency. The other war a vest and targeted a convoy carrying a government official.

Now, the attacks come just one day after a suicide bomber killed at least 65 people at a police recruitment center in a neighboring province.

Now, coming up next on NEWS STREAM, hundreds of demonstrators return to the streets of Tunis with an ultimatum for the old guard -- leave or else.

Cycling made him world famous, but doping accusations have damaged his reputation. We'll talk to "Sports Illustrated" about the latest allegations.

And another rural town is on high alert as Australia's floodwaters move southeast to the state of Victoria.


STOUT: Now, hundreds of demonstrators have returned to the streets of Tunis, and their message is clear. All members of Tunisia's old regime must leave the new interim government. That's their message.

And those are live pictures on your screen of the protesters there in the Tunisian capital. Live pictures from Tunis.

Now, state TV reports that the interim president and the prime minister have stepped from the former ruling party, but they are still in power, and that is not good enough for many of the protesters, especially the people you're seeing there on your screen. Now, among the dissatisfied are Tunisia's opposition politicians, four of whom have already stepped down or suspended participation in the new government. But someone who is staying is the new minister for youth and sport, a man best known as an anti- government blogger.

Now, only last week dissident Slim Amamou was detained under the government of ousted president Ben Ali. His frequent tweets seized on January the 6th, and they only returned with this one, when he wrote, "Je suis libra," or "I am free."

Now, just three days later, he announced this -- he announced that he was taking on a new cabinet role. Now, many have questioned his motives in joining members of the old regime, but he defended himself in this tweet to another user, saying this, "It is a temporary government to set up elections. I'm here to watch and report and be part of the decisions, not here to rule."

And today, he adds this: "In my opinion, I won't last long in the government anyway. I'm not here to build a career."

Now, Amamou may be happy to watch the government's progress, but hundreds of angry Tunisians don't share his patience.

Ben Wedeman joins me live from Tunis with the latest.

And Ben, new protests today. What are you seeing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing is about more than a thousand people who have been on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the main sort of boulevard in central Tunis. They've been here for now about four and a half hours.

And, you know, they continue this call for the government to go, this unity government. The difference between today and yesterday, fortunately, is that, today, the police seem to be willing to allow the demonstrations to go ahead unimpeded. There's been on tear gas fired. The police have subsided (ph).

It appears that they're just trying -- they're slowly, gradually getting used to the idea that under this very new situation with -- after what all Tunisians are calling a revolution, they're going to have to change their tactics. The tear gas and beating of demonstrators may have to be a thing of the past, and they just have to let people come out and say what is inside of them.

And that's really what I'm noticing here, is that after so many decades of a dictatorship, people really have so much inside of them that they want to get out. And what they're saying now is they want a government completely devoid of anybody from the former regime -- Kristie.

STOUT: And Ben, as we're listening to you, we're looking at these live pictures from the Tunisian capital of the thousands of protesters out if force expressing dissatisfaction with the interim unity government.

Can you tell us more about the protesters? Who are they? And are they representative of the mood of the nation?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly as, you know, you go through the crowd, there are young, there are old, there are businessmen, students. I spoke to a bus driver. There are women.

So it sort of does represent a fairly broad spectrum of Tunisian society. And it's not just here that these demonstrations are going on. They're going on in other cities of Tunisia as well.

And a lot of these people, you know, this is a unique experience for them. It's only within the last two weeks that they've become accustomed to the idea that, as one young man told me the other day, the difference between before and now is that now I can say no. I can say no to even the president of Tunisia. And so this is -- really people really (INAUDIBLE) blossoming of freedom.

STOUT: Ben Wedeman joining us live from the Tunisian capital. Thank you very much for that report.

And we will continue to monitor the situation there, in Tunis, for you here, here on CNN NEWS STREAM.

Now, he is probably the world's most famous cyclist on account of his seven Tour de France wins and his well-publicized fight against cancer. But Lance Armstrong wins (ph) are questioned by some who accuse him of cheating with performance-enhancing drugs.

Now, a new "Sports Illustrated" article looks at the case against the Texan, and one of its authors, David Epstein, joins me now.

And David, in your article you reveal many things, but let's talk about HemAssist first. Now, you write that Armstrong gained access to the drug. How? And what does HemAssist do?

DAVID EPSTEIN, STAFF WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": I'm sorry. I don't hear anything.

STOUT: David Epstein, it's Kristie in Hong Kong. Can you hear me now?

All right. It looks like we're having some technical -- we're going to get back to you in a minute.

Unfortunately, we're going to have to reconnect that connection there with David Epstein of "Sports Illustrated" on that investigation.

Now, you are watching NEWS STREAM.


STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are watching NEWS STREAM.

Let's get straight back to New York. I'm joined by David Epstein from "Sports Illustrated," who wrote a new article looking at the doping case against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. In it, he calls the case, "The saddest deception in sports history."

David, thank you for joining us.

Now, in your article, a lot is revealed. But let's first talk about HemAssist. Now, you write that Lance Armstrong, he got hold of the drug. How? And what does it do?

EPSTEIN: Well, so, we know the Food & Drug Administration, which his investigating him, has evidence that he gained access to this drug, HemAssist, which is a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier. So, it is derived from the protein in human blood that carries oxygen to the muscles.

And the point of it was to save people's lives who were losing a lot of blood by boosting their oxygen-carrying capacity. And that's exactly the kind of drugs that endurance athletes look for.

The drug never came to market because a number of people died in a trauma trial. But when we spoke with someone who worked on those trials, he said it's certainly possible that some of the drug hung around. It was in 50 different sites around the world, at least.

STOUT: In your investigation, you also talked to the cyclist, the disgraced cyclist, Floyd Landis. And you talked about traveling with Lance Armstrong. It's a pretty damning allegation.

Share the story with us.

EPSTEIN: Well, so, Floyd indicated that he had a lot of fun traveling with Lance on private planes and things. And Lance would fly into private airport terminals, and Floyd Landis recounted to us a time when they were stopped by Customs, which he said was unusual. He said in the private terminals, they would usually just walk through, sometimes not even show their passport at Customs.

But in this case, in Switzerland, they were stopped, and he said that Lance had a bag full of drugs. And they were inspected by the Customs agents who, he said, "looked sideways at us." But Lance asked someone in their group to explain to them that it was just vitamins and things like that, and they let them go through.

STOUT: Another drug, it's a banned blood booster called EPO, also figured in your investigation. Tell us about that.

EPSTEIN: Well, so, Lance has faced allegations of EPO use a number of times over the years. Most prominently, I guess, in 2005, a French newspaper reported that tests -- samples of his that were being tested for research purposes by a French lab had showed up positive for EPO. And that was just for research purposes, so it wasn't for sanctioning. So it never led to any sort of sanctions, and there were problems with the chain of custody in the lab.

But as we indicated, somebody -- a doctor who was in charge of kind of anti-doping seems to have helped Lance Armstrong build a case against those allegations. And also in 2005, he was involved in a civil lawsuit where several people, some of whom we quoted, mentioned that they heard him admit to using EPO when he was in the hospital, in with cancer, and asked by a doctor.

STOUT: Well, that's right. Lance Armstrong has denied taking these drugs. He denies the events you mentioned earlier about traveling with Floyd Landis.

So we have your word, the investigation by "Sports Illustrated." We have his word. But we also have the investigation headed by the FDA.

When will that offer answers.

EPSTEIN: Well, we don't know. I'm not privy to things that are going on in the grand jury because that's private, so we don't know. But we know we've talked to a number of people that admitted to us that they had spoken with the federal investigators, and they've talked to a lot of people. The case is clearly ramping up, so it's up to the grand jury to indict or not, but we expect to see that in the near future.


And one last question for you. Lance Armstrong's lawyer has reacted to your article. In "USA Today" he says the allegations are "simply false and come from bitter and well-known Armstrong adversaries." And he also said that he and Lance Armstrong "have nothing to worry about on any level."

What's your reaction to that?

EPSTEIN: Well, I respect his opinion. He is the target of a federal investigation, so he has indicated that he's not worried about that. So I guess he's honest in saying that he's not worried about the federal investigation.

In terms of saying that we're relying on discredited or bitter people, I think there are clearly some people, sources in the story, that don't have an ax to grind with Lance Armstrong whatsoever. And so I encourage people to read it.

STOUT: David Epstein, "Sports Illustrated."

Thank you for joining us.

EPSTEIN: Thank you.

STOUT: Now, an extraordinary drama is unfolding right now in Haiti. Now, only days after the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to his homeland, corruption charges have been filed against him.

Let's go live to our John Zarrella. He's there in Port-au-Prince.

And John, Duvalier has been charged. What are the details? And also, the big question, will the case go to trial?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that's a good question, and it's still to be determined, whether there's a case at all. These public corruption charges date back a quarter of a century to when Duvalier was in power. And, of course, the allegations have been that, basically, he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the country when he left in 1986 and took all that money with him, put it in Swiss bank accounts, et cetera, et cetera.

The question is, though, is there enough evidence, is there enough proof to actually charge him with the crime? They did not do that.

The government brought these charges yesterday at this hearing in the courthouse in Port-au-Prince, but charges were not actually filed against him. It will take 30 to 90 days for the court system to decide whether there's merit.

You know, and as you mentioned, it was such a bizarre day yesterday. It was just about midday when he was taken from the hotel, heavily-armed police officers. He waved as he came down the stairs, got in a police vehicle, was taken off to the courthouse.

Along the way, some of his supporters put up tires in the road to try and block the caravan of police vehicles. There were a couple hundred of his supporters at the courthouse while he was inside for about three or four hours.

There were no skirmishes. It was nonviolent. But they were chanting to free Duvalier.

And then, by 6:00 last night, he was coming back to the hotel. The motorcade came back to the hotel. They actually brought him in through the back, and he stayed in a kitchen for a few minutes while they tried to clear the media out of the hotel before they could get him up to his room.

Today, we're hoping that there will be a statement by Duvalier, perhaps at about noon today. We believe that the requirement is that he stay in the country, Kristie. So still a lot to sort out as this story continues to play out here in Haiti -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. One thing to sort out is, why did Duvalier return to Haiti after 25 years in exile? Why?

ZARRELLA: You know, there are so many rumors out there and so much speculation. Was it just bad timing that he came now?

He has insisted that he came back simply because he wanted to show solidarity with the people. Most people don't believe that that was the only reason he's here.

He had to know that something like this would happen, that he would be brought into custody, that he would try to file charges against him. So until we hear from the man himself -- and we certainly hope that that will happen -- it's impossible to speculate on why he would choose to come back at this time, knowing something might happen and that he could very easily be taken into custody -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. John Zarrella on the story for us, live in Haiti.

Thank you, John.

Coming up next on NEWS STREAM, rescues continue in Brazil after the devastating floods, but there are fears of many more people buried beneath the rocks and mud may never be found.

And another rural town on high alert as Australia's flooding moves southeast to the state of Victoria.


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

Protesters are back out on the streets of Tunisia's capital today calling for anyone associated with the former ruling party to go. A foreign ministers named this week in the interim government have already resigned or suspended participation in the pressure to reject the new administration.

At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured in an attack in Iraq. A suicide bomber drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into the headquarters for security forces in Baqubah just north of Baghdad. Two other people were killed in a separate suicide attack not far from Baqubah.

In Brazil, the death toll from devastating floods and mud slides has climbed above 700. Now this once picturesque tourist town is in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is now a wasteland. Now rescuers have not been able to reach some other hard hit areas where many more people are feared dead.

Now the White House is preparing an arrival ceremony for the Chinese president Hu Jintao. He was greeted at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden before having a private dinner with President Barack Obama. Now a formal state dinner will take place later in Wednesday, the first one for China in 13 years.

But before dinner, some difficult discussions are on the agenda. Our senior White House correspondent joins us now from Washington. Ed, when Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu meet, what topic will dominate discussions? Will the focus be on economic issues?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think it's really mostly going to be about the economy. That dinner you mentioned last night was very intimate. It was in the residence in the old family dining room, significant because it's a very small intimate setting compared to the state dining room where the big formal dinner will be tonight. And they mostly spoke there about national security, because the president brought along Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as well as his national security adviser Tom Donilon. Obviously North Korea at the top of the list there, making sure that China can help the U.S. calm tensions there on the Korean peninsula.

But today I think it's mostly going to be about the economy. The U.S. pressing to fix some of the trade imbalances, pressing for currency reform. Beyond the formal sort of pomp and circumstance we're going to see here in the next couple of hours on the south lawn of the White House, after that there will be a bilateral meeting between these two leaders as well as Vice President Biden who is a former Senate foreign relations committee chairman. So he helps President Obama on a lot of these big foreign policy issues. He'll be joining that meeting in the Oval Office.

And then there's an expanded meeting where various officials including economic officials like Treasury Secretary Geithner will join. And then there's going to be a meeting with American and Chinese business officials as well, gives you an idea that the economy, of course, is at the top of the agenda here.

And then I think perhaps most significant move before sort of the partying later tonight, if you will, is just passed 1:00 pm Eastern time President Obama is going to host a joint news conference here at the White House with President Hu, very rare for President Hu to take questions. I've been in other settings with him and other Chinese leaders over the years covering President Bush, President Obama. Usually they'll make statements and the Chinese leaders don't take questions. The fact that the U.S. got the Chinese delegation to agree to take questions from the U.S. and Chinese press I think is very significant, because we'll get questions undoubtedly not just about the economy and national security, but human rights as well.

And what U.S. officials say is that behind closed doors President Obama is planning to be very direct, very firm, very tough with President Hu on pushing him on these economic, security as well as human rights issues, but in public of course we're going to see President Obama try to highlight where they agree instead of where they disagree. That's what they tend to do, the diplomats of course, is to not highlight those difference in public. But there are big differences between these two leaders. But they also want to stress where they can come together, because they are the two big economic superpowers right now. And they want to stress some of the areas where they might be able to work together.

The U.S. officials say, look, we're not expecting some dramatic breakthrough here, change comes very slowly in China. And what they're hoping instead is some slow, steady progress Christie.

LU STOUT: Well, Ed, you'll be at that press conference later today. You'll have an opportunity to throw a question to the Chinese president. Love to here what you would ask and how he would respond.

At the end of his three day visit, though, what will be the end result? Will there be some sort of grand declaration, a statement, a road- map of U.S.-China relations going forward?

HENRY: I think the later part is what we're more likely to see would be some sort of road-map and what the U.S. and China believe they can continue to work on together, what kind of progress they can make on these issues. But, no, not some major breakthrough, not some major deliverable, as the diplomats say, that will all of a sudden, you know, suddenly end the trade imbalance or suddenly fix China's currency issues.

I mean, the U.S. is very much aware of the fact that President Hu is expected to leave the stage in 2012. He's thinking about his legacy, of course. And he's not likely to burnish his legacy by giving in to President Obama during this visit on a whole range of issues. That's only likely to put more pressure on - and criticism on him back home, you know. And so, I think the bottom line is that we're not expecting some major breakthrough, instead the U.S. hopes that there will be some progress and they hope that this is a conversation that continues.

I mean, we should point out that since President Obama took office, this is now the eighth one on one, face-to-face talks that these two leaders have had at various G20 summits and the like. That's a lot of talking. But you're right, sooner or later I think people around the world are going to be looking for some action as well.

LU STOUT: You know, great factoid there. And it just underscores the importance of the relationship. Ed Henry joining us live from the White House. Thank you, Ed.

Now let's go to Brazil. Now the death toll from devastating floods and mud slides there has climbed above 700. A Brazilian government minister says, quote, "environmental irresponsibility contributed to the tragedy."

Our Shasta Darlington joins me live from Teresopolis. It's one of the worst affected towns. And what are you seeing there?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christie. This is one of the most - the hardest hit towns. And this neighborhoods is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Residents here told me that the water was up to their neck where I'm standing right now.

What you see behind me is one house that was almost washed away by the river. On the other side of me is another house that was indeed washed away. Both the father and one of the children they were killed, their bodies haven't been found. The mother and another child survived by clinging on to trees. And these are the stories we're hearing over and over again.

This debris right here has been washed up onto roads throughout the city. And basically it's become a nightmare to get around for those who have survived. The death toll has already topped 700.

We talked to the head of rescue efforts, Major Cardio Spalconi (ph). And he said that he expects that number to keep climbing. They've got six helicopter they're flying over the region every day. They keep finding communities that have been cut off that haven't talked to anybody by phone. They don't have food or electricity. They get in, they take water, food, supplies, but they end up taking out bodies.

He said that by the time their work is done, the death toll could easily top 1000, Christie.

LU STOUT: To what extent, Shasta, is this a man-made disaster? Is illegal construction, shoddy construction to blame here?

DARLINGTON: Well, Christie, from what we're hearing you can't put the blame on nature all alone or on man. Basically, people were building in areas they shouldn't have been building in. This is an extremely hilly neighborhood. It's dramatic landscape. There are huge rocks jutting up into the sky, one is called the finger of god. And you can imagine people have been talking about that a lot. And people build on these hillsides, they use stilts to build their houses. They build where they shouldn't.

But at the same time, although this is rainy season, there was an absolutely unusual amount of rain. They say that one month's worth of rain fell in one day. And that no matter how much they had prepared, there was going to be damage and loss of life. Of course, others argued that if they had prepared better there would certainly b e less loss of life, Christie.

LU STOUT: All right, Shasta Darlington, thank you very much indeed.

Now Australia is also reeling from record flooding. After drowning thousands of homes in Queensland last week, the flood waters have moved south to the state of Victoria, swamping some areas and threatening entire communities. Nick McCallum reports.


NICK MCCALLUM, SEVEN NETWORK AUSTRALIA: As the floods peak at lunchtime, street after street in Horsham turned into rivers. The central business district overwhelmed on the main street, Harvey Norman and Betta Electrical cut off.

Only the dedication of his mates prevented serious inundation of an emotional Chris Dunmill's home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these guys come and helped.

MCCALLUM: What does it say about your community?


MCCALLUM: John Loft (ph) and Sherie Timland (ph) evacuated their home. They returned to find their floors covered in water.

Better luck for Steve and Sally Mycroft (ph) who wrapped plastic around their house to keep the water out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the water is right up here, but there's none, there's not a drop come through.

MCCALLUM: They had a few problems with the sewage backup in their shower, but the rest of the house stayed dry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About the time I toured around the house that the house is still dry. Very, very happy.

MCCALLUM: More than 580 properties were flood affected. So many residents were like retirees Cliff and Diane Bacon (ph), determined to save their home after they devoted almost 30 years to it. They battled all night with pumps and sand bags.

But by first light, they'd given up: their home inundated and they're left devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did what we could, but we couldn't win.

MCCALLUM: Nearby, a major community effort to save the home of the Bacon son Lucas and his wife Britt (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it's pretty special I think. I've seen anything like this before.

MCCALLUM: Today, after a 24 hour battle, the day past and they declared victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty happy. And my wife's happy to, so happy wife happy life.

MCCALLUM: The good news for locals is that this water is actually receding, but the bad news is it's receding at the same pace it rose, that is very, very slowly

It could be days before people can return to their homes and their normal lives.

Nick McCallum, Seven News.


LU STOUT: So the flood waters there on the move in Australia. Let's get the forecast for you with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's still a handful of flood warnings across Victoria, nothing compared to what we saw in Queensland fortunately. I want to show you the latest satellite image first of all. And notice that conditions have been generally dry still across southeastern Australia, so at least a little bit of good news there Christie, but it will take a while for those waters to finish peaking, that crest will reach those areas, and then slowly continue to fall. Like I said at least it's been dry. That has not been the situation across Queensland unfortunately. Just in the last few hours, we've had some very strong thunderstorms move across the southeast of Queensland.

Let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit over here. There's Brisbane. And you'll see just this rash of thunderstorms that pops up right over here - 30, 60 millimeters of rain are not out of the question, some areas getting even more. Areas that were already inundated, of course, and still reeling from the massive destruction of all of the floods that they've had for the last few weeks. So this is serious. And they have some warnings again, not in the major rivers, but more urban creeks and that type of thing that could again fill out very, very quickly.

And I want to stay in Queensland for just a moment, because I want to show you - this is amazing, Christie. When you look at the scope of the devastation, let's go ahead and head to our other source, and this is from And I want to show you some pretty interesting picture here. This is the Brisbane River. We're going to go ahead, and this is a picture back of 2010, so about a year ago, January 23, 2010, what the city normally looks like during this time of year. And this is the after, you can see how widespread the flooding is, how the Brisbane River burst its banks across this entire area. Whole neighborhoods completely flooded.

What you're looking at here is the Brisbane Country Club is in this area, Andropholi Country Club (ph) - golf course is also in this area. And we're going to go ahead and zoom in and you're going to see how widespread this is. And when you look, home after home after home, this is all completely flooded. And this is a story that repeats itself over and over across Queensland, across Brisbane.

We're going to go ahead and head a little bit further downstream toward the central business district. And you can see this yet again. There's the river. The water, muddy and dirty, flooding almost anywhere that you look. There you saw the stadium on one side. Over here as we get a little closer along this creek, all of this significant flooding, all these homes that were flooded and hopefully evacuated, Christie. But this just kind of gives you an idea of how many homes, how many businesses, how long this is going to take to actually drain down, even though it's getting a little better now, this picture was only taken five days ago.

So you can see why when we go back to my weather map and the thunderstorms that are happening now, how destructive this is going to be. And how long it's going to take for people to actually recover.

And back to you.

LU STOUT: The before and after images very stunning, thank you for sharing them with us here at News Stream. Mari Ramos there.

Now it has been a tough week personally for the bosses at Apple, but financially the tech titans are far from troubled. We'll tell you just how rosy Apple is looking next.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now CNN is taking you to a new country each month where we focus on the people and places changing our world. We call it the I-list. Our first stop this year is Ukraine. In 1986, it was still a part of the USSR when an accident happened at Chernobyl, a nuclear disaster of catastrophic proportions. Diana Magnay has been to the exclusion zone, a nuclear wasteland frozen in time.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: We're driving through the exclusion zone en route to Chernobyl. It doesn't feel like a place where the world's worst ever nuclear accident happened almost 25 years ago.

The sun lends a wintry charm to the derelict homes we pass. Post cards from Soviet days scatter the floor, a doll forgotten in the rush to leave. In all, nearly 350,000 people were forced to abandon their homes as the radioactive cloud blew over Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

This village is called Zanisia (ph) in Ukrainian, which literally means behind the forest. But as you can see now, it has been completely consumed by the forest. And when the villages were evacuated about 10 days after the accident took place, they thought that they'd be able to come back here, that this village will be inhabitable again. But as you can see, that wasn't to be the case.

So this is the memorial, because so many people died immediately after the accident?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well first time, one person was buried inside of it, and not buried, but his poor body wasn't found. Answer, about 30 people in one month died or highly irradiated.

MAGNAY: Yuri Tatachuk (ph), who is our certified guide from Ukraine's Ministry of Emergency says the final death toll from the nuclear fall-out is impossible to calculate, but that it's less than people feared.

Estimates from the International Atomic Energy Agency put the number at 4,000, but the World Health Organization points to 4,000 incidents of thyroid cancer among children from the affected areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So now it's eight or in seven, nine microsieverts.

MAGNAY: Radiation is not down to normal, but Tatchuk (ph) says it's not a health risk if you're just here for the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here just minutes, but here it's not so sure that such levels of radiation inhabitant here is not allowed.

MAGNAY: We're not the only visitors, a Russian tour group pick their way through frozen tub lots in nearby Prypiat.

The town was evacuated the day after reactor number four exploded before the Soviet Union admitted it had a serious problem at one of its nuclear plants.

Yurislav Bichcov (ph), but he thinks it's important people visit so they understand the dangers of nuclear technology.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Well exact look and see how many people don't care about something like the nuclear weapons stuff. I really think that we should get rid of that, you know. I don't want to see the places like this anymore in this world.

MAGNAY: This year, the government will remove restrictions to the exclusion zone, turning these Soviet ghost towns into a tourist destination, a chance for people to see for themselves the relics of a nuclear catastrophe frozen in time.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Prypiat., Ukraine


LU STOUT: Now more people than ever before are enjoy a bite of Apple. And the week that Steve Jobs announced that he was taking a step back due to illness, the companies profits have hit record highs. The California tech giant announced earnings of $6 billion for the quarter ending December 25.

Let's take a look at that sales that got them there. Now 7.3 million iPads were sold. It's reported that 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies have already purchased them for their employees. 16.2 million iPhones were sold and that was before Apple signed its deal with the Verizon Wireless Network in the U.S. And 19.5 million iPods were snapped up during the last three months of 2010. Overall revenue for Apple came in at a mighty $26.7 billion dollars.

Now with Steve Jobs out on medical leave, Apple COO Tim Cook has been thrust into the spotlight, but the rest of Apple's management team, they have stepped up to make major contributions in the past.

Now Phil Schiller is the head of Apple's marketing, but he's also the guy responsible for this, the iPod's scroll wheel, reportedly was originally his idea.

Now Jonathan Ive is the company's design chief, and he has played a part in the design of almost every Apple product. His first, he made his mark with this one, the original iMac. It's daring design used color translucent plastic, a complete change from the simple beige or gray boxes used for other computers.

Now Ron Johnson, he is in charge of the retail division at Apple. That puts all of Apple's 300 retail stores around the world under him.

And finally, there is Scott Forstall. Now he started working on Apple's desktop Mac OS X, but is now in charge of the iPhone OS. That puts him right at the heart of Apple's latest efforts, taking the best of the iPhone OS and bringing it to the desktop.

Up next here on News Stream, in the NBA LeBron James returned for Miami, but the Heat's woes continue. Kate Giles will be here in a few minutes with the latest sports headlines.


LU STOUT: Roger Federer was in for a fright at the Australian Open. Kate Giles joins us now from London with more on the events Down Under - Kate.

KATE GILES, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Christie, Roger Federer was up against a man today that we knew actually could do some damage. He was up against Gilles Simon. Now the two have met twice before. And both times that they had met, the Frenchman had won.

Now let's talk to you about what happened this time around. This time Federer stormed out to the two set lead. So we all though, OK, got it under control, but then he lost the following two sets. And he then had to back in his way to win in the fifth. It really was very, very tough for him. But he is still winner. He is through.

Let's talk about ladies. Venus Williams, she didn't have an entirely smooth ride either. She lost the first set to 97th ranked Sandra Zahlavova - sorry, I have trouble saying that name. And she had to take a medical time-out as well because of thigh problem. Now she did come back, though, and then lose just four games from that point. So she is also through, but well to be honest, absolutely nobody is talking about the result, what everyone is talking about is her outfit. Venus was wearing a cutaway yellow lattice leotard type top thing, as you can see there in the picture. And she coupled that with a rainbow skirt and her skin colored underwear, that famous nude underwear.

Well, one of the papers over here called it, quote, "one of the worst dresses ever worn at a Grand Slam." And they also dubbed her the Lady Gaga of tennis. No huge compliment for that outfit there which was one of her own creations, by the way.

Let's get you over to the NBA and a big game that happened between the Hawks and the Heat on Tuesday night. Now the Hawks have taken a bit of a beating from their own coach after their game on Monday. He called the team soft and their play embarrassing. On Tuesday, they then had to travel to play the Heat. And, well, the Heat aren't on top either, though. Miami have actually lost their last three outings before this one. And the big three are all out injured.

But in a time of what they could call relative crisis for the team, both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade started anyway. And both men actually put up pretty good numbers, especially James. He gave the Heat a 2 point lead in the fourth. The Hawks, though, really keeping pace. Joe Johnston making the tough driving lay-up to tie the game here.

And that would mean we have to go to over-time.

At this point here, it's still tied at 84 points apiece. Jamal Crawford putting the Hawks in front by 3.

But LeBron James would hit a 3-pointer and level it up once again. Ten of his game high 31 points coming in that over-time period. He'd make 10 rebounds on the night as well. Good performance from him.

But Atlanta would have the last word. Josh Smith making the driving lay-up, jump to make the second free throw and the Hawks will go on to win by 4, 93-89 is the final score. And that is now a four straight loss for the Heat.

Now despite that slump, Miami do still top the Southeast Division, so no huge reason for concern for them, but that win for Atlanta does move them to within two games. Miami are slipping a bit, though, it's true. That is four straight losses for them, as we mentioned, after they had of course won nine in a row and 21 of 22. What's more, they've lost those past four games by an average of 10 points a game.

Still overall, you have to say, it's not a bad place for the Heat, win-loss record this season is still 30-13.

So, you know, Christie. They were cold, then they were hot, and now they're looking a bit cold again.

LU STOUT: And not as hot as Venus Williams, though. I mean, just for the record I like that outfit. Big thumbs-up from me.

GILES: I think you're one of the only ones that does, Christie, to be honest.

LU STOUT: Anyway, it's my opinion there. Kate thank you. Take care.

That is News Stream. But the news continues as CNN World Business Today is next.