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Tony Blair Testifies in Iraq Inquiry; South Korean Navy Rescues Sailors on Hijacked Ship; Chinese President Hu Jintao Gets Earful From U.S. Lawmakers

Aired January 21, 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.

Well, Tony Blair faces questions again. The former British prime minister testifies in front of the Iraq War Inquiry.

High seas rescue. The South Korean navy frees a ship hijacked by pirates.

And one of Google's co-founders steps up as CEO Eric Schmidt says the company no longer needs adult supervision.

Well, former British prime minister Tony Blair is back in the hot seat. For the last three hours, he has been testifying before the Iraq War Inquiry. These pictures are on a one-minute delay, the questioning about Britain's involvement in the Iraq War, and it's expected to go on for another hour.

Now, Blair first appeared before the panel this time last year. He has been asked to clarify some of that testimony.

Demonstrators have gathered outside the conference center where the inquiry is taking place. The war in Iraq has been unpopular in Britain.

But Blair is defending his controversial decision to back the U.S.-led invasion. Robin Oakley reminds us how we got here.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Will the questions never end?

A year ago this month, former British prime minister Tony Blair was called before the official inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot into the causes and conduct of the Iraq War. No regrets, he insisted. However many had died, the world was a better place without Saddam.

(on camera): Iraq effectively ended Tony Blair's tenure as prime minister. It dominates his political legacy. British voters were angered by the perception that he was President Bush's poodle on Iraq and that they were misled over the extent of the threat that Saddam Hussein represented.

Arguments go on about the presentation of imperfect military intelligence. Now Blair's likely to face new questioning over growing indications that the attorney general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, who had his doubts, was pressured into endorsing the legality of the war.

CLARE SHORT, FMR. U.K. CABINET MINISTER: I mean, there's no doubt the attorney was squashed and sat upon until he came up with the right answer.

OAKLEY (voice-over): Others argue it's unfair to pick on Blair, especially since the British House of Commons voted for military action and he still won the 2005 election.

DENIS MACSHANE, FMR. LABOR MINISTER: If Mr. Blair was so wrong, so rejected, and should be in the hot seat today, why did the Commons vote for it, why did the British people reelect him?

OAKLEY: But that, say some other lawmakers, was only because they were misled by what the media now calls the dodgy dossier of wrongly-presented intelligence.

(on camera): The Chilcot inquiry is likely to underline failures in the British governmental system and the way the war decision was reached, but its chairman insists he's not there to point the finger of blame at individuals. So Tony Blair is likely to have to go on arguing that whatever people might think of his judgment, they should at least respect his motives.

Robin Oakley, CNN, Downing Street, London.


STOUT: And Robin Oakley joins us now live. He's been listening to Mr. Blair's testimony.

And Robin, how well is Tony Blair defending his record on Iraq.

OAKLEY: He's not doing a bad job, Kristie, it has to be said. It's a very decorous, typically British affair with retired civil servants and ambassadors and historians questioning Mr. Blair in a very gentlemanly, decorous way.

The main line of questioning, I think, has really tended to suggest that he rushed into the war to please President Bush when there was still a hope that the U.N. weapons inspectors and the regime of sanctions could have avoided that war. And Tony Blair's response to that came in these terms --


TONY BLAIR, FMR. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Even though we may look at the world today and say, well, does it really matter? Is Iran that much of a threat? Supposing we just let Saddam carry on, would it really have been such a problem? My anxiety is that, yes, we cannot take that risk, that after September the 11th, the calculus of risk had to change, and change fundamentally.


OAKLEY: And Tony Blair I think has come under fire largely, Kristie, on the question of whether there was sufficient cabinet discussion of the decision to go to war in Iraq. And I spoke to a cabinet minister from Tony Blair's time yesterday who told me there wasn't any proper cabinet decision on the war, that many ministers didn't actually see the policy papers that were being drawn up. And Tony Blair wasn't entirely convincing on that, and the committee members -- the committee inquiry -- kept reminding him that they couldn't find a specific date when there was a real cabinet decision taken.

And the other area where he's been under pressure is the testimony of Peter Goldsmith, Lord Peter Goldsmith, the attorney general, who was advising him that U.N. Resolution 1441 wasn't sufficient authority to take Britain to war. And at the same time, Tony Blair was rushing around the world telling President Bush and others that, yes, he was ready to commit to the war, and it was only at the last minute Peter Goldsmith changed his mind about that -- Kristie.

STOUT: Robin, since his first appearance at the inquiry this time last year, Tony Blair has written his memoirs. Now, what did he write about in regards to the panel's line of questioning the last time around?

OAKLEY: Well, of course he expressed in his memoirs his deep sadness and personal grief over those who lost their lives in the Iran conflict and their relatives, and he says one reason why he's still involved in the Middle East is the sense of responsibility he feels for that. But at the previous inquiry session, he very much insisted that he still has no regrets about that decision to go to war. And he has been saying in his evidence again today that although all those pressures were on Saddam Hussein, and he was giving way a little bit in terms of concessions on U.N. inspectors and so on, they couldn't believe that if he had changed his mind. And if all the troops that had been amassed there to threaten him were taken away, there was no guarantee that he wouldn't go back to the bad old ways.

And that's what he keeps saying to the committee members when they question him about individual aspects, that you simply could not trust Saddam Hussein at the end of the day, and you therefore had to go for military action. But what is clear is that there was a difference between what Tony Blair was saying to the British public about the degree of commitment to war and what he was saying to President Bush when he went over to see him on his visits. And he explains that by saying, well, he was trying to persuade President Bush to go down the U.N. line, and a lot of President Bush's own administration didn't like that, so he had to give Bush a very full commitment all the way to help to keep him persuaded -- Kristie.

STOUT: Interesting explanation there.

Robin Oakley, live in London.

Thank you.

Turning now to South Korea, where the battle against foot-and-mouth disease is intensifying. Now, the number of confirmed cases stands at 129, but the country is not taking any chances. It has culled more than two million animals, mostly swine and cattle, to prevent the disease from spreading.

Now, South Korea's Agriculture Ministry says total costs from the outbreak could reach $1.4 billion. That figure includes the cost of government- funded vaccinations, which, it's hoped, will limit the number of sick animals and safe meat exports. Well, they have dropped sharply since all this began.

Now, shifting to the high seas, the South Korean navy faced a battle of its own today fighting pirates to rescue sailors on a hijacked ship.

Our Paula Hancocks is in Seoul with details of this dramatic mission in the Arabian Sea.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was an unprecedented rescue mission by the South Korean navy. Special Forces ambushed a chemical freighter that had been hijacked by Somali pirates just a week earlier in the Arabian Sea.

The chemical freighter was on its way from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka. Twenty-one crew members were rescued. We understand the breakdown is that two were Indonesian, 11 from Myanmar, and eight South Korean.

Now, the operation, according to military officials, lasted roughly five hours on the high seas. And we understand that 300 naval forces were involved in this rescue mission. Now, the South Korean military says eight of those Somali pirates were actually killed in this mission, and five have been captured alive.

Now, during the mission, we understand that the captain of this ship was injured. He was shot in the stomach. According to the military though, his injuries are not actually life-threatening and he is not in critical condition.

Now, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, shortly after this announcement, made his own announcement, saying that he thanked those that had carried out the rescue mission. He also said that he thanked allies on the high seas for helping the military. He had said that there was U.S. cooperation in this particular ambush. The president also said, "We will not accept any actions that threaten the lives of our people."

Now, this is a change in tact for the South Korean navy. There have been ships that have been hijacked by Somali pirates in the past, and there have been ransoms paid in the past. But this time, there was a physical intervention, the navy were involved, and it was successful.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.


STOUT: Now, just days after Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced he is taking indefinite sick leave, now his Google counterpart, Eric Schmidt, says he, too, is giving up the reins. After 10 years at the helm, Schmidt is being replaced by Google co-founder Larry Page. And given Steve Jobs' recent medical problems, his announcement was not so surprising, but Eric Schmidt's farewell has left the industry confounded.

His revelation on Twitter was short and sweet, with a touch of humor. It read, "Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed."

Now, Schmidt will now assume the role of executive chairman. Google has expanded rapidly under his leadership. Just take a look at all the services we take for granted that Google has added under Schmidt: Google Maps and Google Earth, Gmail, YouTube.

All of this is part of Google's ambitions to be more than a search engine, but to search for addresses, to search your e-mail and search for videos. And now they've even moved beyond the Web, on to phones like this one that run on the Android OS.

Now, Android also runs on tablets. And Google has even moved into building their software into TVs. But the biggest financial success for Google is right over here.

Google's advertising business has boomed under Schmidt. And consider this -- I mean, the whole of 2001, Google's profits were $7 billion. And last quarter of 2010, the net income, $2.5 billion.

Now, Schmidt's success has seen him cast as sort of father figure to his younger partners, successor Larry Page and product development expert (ph) Sergey Brin. Now, here they are in the official farewell picture that was posted on the Google blog.

Now, Page is the man behind the original formula, the original algorithm which he developed while studying at Stanford University. Now, the top- secret algorithm that powered Google's search success is appropriately called PageRank.

Now, the heir to the top job has done it before for three years before Schmidt came on board, but industry analysts still think that he is an unusual choice. Now, he's seen as soft spoken, shy, and sometimes unpredictable.

Now, Sergey Brin, he will be spending his time working on products -- new products in the Google pipeline. And he's recorded as more of the outspoken of the pair. And when the reshuffle was announced on Thursday, he actually boasted of his success in keeping the details quiet. What he's keeping quiet about really is anyone's guess, but with Schmidt moving to the background, Google's success may rest on those products rather than the men at the helm.

Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, China's president is in the Windy City, and we'll tell you how business is driving Mr. Hu's meeting with the mayor of Chicago.

Taking on a taboo, the story of a Pakistani woman who is courting controversy by heading to the classroom.

And digging through dirt and debris, the latest on the fight to free survivors in Brazil's record floods.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, China's president, Hu Jintao, is visiting the American city of Chicago as he wraps up his four-day U.S. trip. He was welcomed by the mayor during his only stop outside Washington.

At first, it may seem an odd choice. Why not New York? Why not San Francisco, home to large Chinese-American communities? But this part of the trip was all about business.


MAYOR RICHARD DALEY, CHICAGO: Our long-range goal is to make Chicago the most China-friendly city in the United States, and to establish it --


DALEY: And to establish it as China's gateway to America's.


STOUT: Now, for years, the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, has been courting Chinese investment in business. The city claims one of the largest Chinese language school programs in the U.S.

Now, the third biggest city in the U.S. is also the manufacturing heart of the Midwest. It's home to Boeing, the world's largest aerospace and defense company which just won a $19 billion contract to supply China with 200 planes.

Now, the auto parts company (INAUDIBLE) International is based just outside Chicago. It employs thousands of Americans.

And then there are the makers of construction and mining equipment like Caterpillar and Deere. Now, for them, China's rapid urbanization has been a financial windfall, but it hasn't been all banquets and champagne.

Now, earlier, the Chinese president visited the U.S. Capitol, and he got an earful from lawmakers unhappy about everything from his country's economic policies to human rights.

More now from Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid is known as someone who doesn't smile much. But look at this diplomatic smile with Chinese President Hu Jintao, even though Reid said this about Hu the other day --

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things. He, through the form of government they have -- maybe I shouldn't have said "dictator."

BASH: We tried to ask about that.

(on camera): Senator Reid, what do you expect to accomplish with a man you called a dictator?

(voice-over): No answer. But behind closed doors here and in the House, lawmakers say leaders pressed the Chinese president on their long list of concerns. Nancy Pelosi brought up human rights.

REP. SANDER LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: And his answer was every country has their own laws, their own level of development and everybody has to follow the laws of their country. If I had a chance, I would have said I did not find that a satisfactory answer.

BASH: And House Speaker John Boehner.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I expressed my concerns about intellectual property and the issue of North Korea.

BASH: These rare meetings with the Chinese president are no small matter for lawmakers, especially since China is a politically charged topic when it comes to American jobs, which candidates tried to exploit in the last election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pat Toomey -- he's working to bring jobs -- to China.


BASH: But some Congress men were frustrated they didn't have time to push President Hu on economic issues, trade imbalances and currency manipulation.

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: I had a lot of trade concerns that I wanted to discuss, as well as currency.

BASH: John McCain admitted they did not win new commitments from the Chinese president, but said that it's worth the effort.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think the meetings can play a role in helping improve our -- not only improving our relations, but also understanding the depth of commitment here in the United States on these issues.

BASH (on camera): Some were frustrated there wasn't much of a dialogue. In the House meeting of 11 lawmakers, for example, only the House Speaker and the Democratic Leader had time to speak. But Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, who attended a smaller meeting, was less discouraged. He said that he believes China is slowly beginning to better appreciate its role as a global power.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


STOUT: Now, this just in to CNN. A speaker claiming to be Osama bin Laden has warned France to pull out of Afghanistan. The new audiotape aired on Al-Jazeera, and the recording says the lives of two French journalists abducted by militants lies in the balance.

Now, France has said that it will not abandon its Afghanistan strategy. More than 3,700 French troops are there.

Now, this week we've been looking at Colombia's war on drugs. There are many facets to this fight, including a strong push against drug lords. But another involves an appeal to farmers to take up a new path, and it's being done in what had been a rebel stronghold.

Rafael Romo takes us there.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jorge Elias Benjumea proudly inspects his plantain field. He's not only happy his crops are doing well, but also, for the first time in years, what he's growing is legal.

JORGE ELIAS BENJUMEA, COLOMBIAN FARMER (through translator): Everything is different now, more peaceful. I got to bed at night with no worries.

ROMO: Benjumea says he used to grow cocoa, the plant from which cocaine is produced. He used to make $2,800 a month growing cocoa. Now he makes about $840 with plantains, but he doesn't have to deal with guerrillas or drug traffickers anymore. His peace of mind and the safety of his family, he says, are priceless.

BENJUMEA: Cocoa is a plant that can make you a lot of money, but also gives you a lot of headaches.

ROMO: Benjumea is part of a new wave of Colombian farmers growing alternative crops in a region known as La Macarena.

(on camera): This region was known for decades as a stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the guerrilla commonly known as FARC. La Macarena used to be not only a major recruiting and training center for new guerrillas, but also a production point of cocoa and a key transit route for illegal arms groups.

(voice-over): In an area known as Albania (ph), farmers got together to grow and process sugarcane. Not far from there, another group is venturing into fish farming with government help.

SERGIO JARAMILLO, COLOMBIAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: So you need to stabilize those drug-producing areas. That's what we're doing here. And there's no better investment for prosperity in a country like Colombia than supporting that integrator approach of security and social development.

ROMO: U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited several communities developing alternative crops as part of a three-day visit to Colombia.

GIL KERLIKOWSKE, U.S. DRUG CZAR: We have to continue to be supportive of Colombia in a whole host of ways. The other is that none of this was possible without safety and security first.

ROMO: The U.S. has provided more than $7 billion in aid in the last 10 years to help Colombia fight drug trafficking. According to U.S. government figures, cocaine production in the South American country fell from 700 metric tons in 2001, to 270 to 2009, a 61 percent decrease.

Farmers in La Macarena say it's hard to make ends meet with alternative crops, but this is a sacrifice many are willing to make for their children so that they grow up free from guerrillas and drug traffickers.

Rafael Romo, CNN, La Macarena, Colombia.


STOUT: So, in parts of Pakistan it is rare for girls to learn how to read. But in this first grade classroom, one young woman has decided to get an education.

Her story is next.


STOUT: Broadcasting live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.

When mothers go to a first grade classroom, it's usually to drop off their children. But in one Pakistani classroom, a young mother is there for a very different reason.

Reza Sayah reports from outside of Islamabad on this unique parent.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a little after 8:00 in the morning, and we're in the town of Dawukil (ph) here in northwest Pakistan.

We drove four hours to get here from Islamabad. This is Islamabad, this is where we are, in Dawukil (ph).

A lot of the militant Taliban activity you hear about is here in the tribal region, just west of us. And this is Afghanistan.

(voice-over): We came here to tell you the story of Rukhsana Batul (ph). She's a 25-year-old mother, and every morning she wakes up, puts on her burka, a full-length Islamic veil, and takes her two little boys to school.

That's not so unusual. What happens next is. Rukhsana doesn't leave her kids at school. Instead, she sits right next to them in class and learns. That's because she's enrolled in first grade with her kids.

RUKHSANA BATUL (ph), MOTHER (through translator): I used to bring my children to school, and I saw them studying, and I thought, I really want to study and learn, too.

SAYAH (on camera): A teacher here at the school says for weeks, Rukhsana came to class because her kids wouldn't sit still. She ended up liking it. Her parents had never sent her to school, so the teacher had an idea -- why not enroll and come to class? And for Rukhsana, the decision was easy.

MUREED FIZZA, RUKHSANA'S TEACHER (through translator): She was interested in studying, and I welcomed that. I would told her I would teach her, even if it meant taking up break time.

SAYAH: Rukhsana gives her husband a lot of credit for encouraging her. Remember, illiteracy is a huge problem here in Pakistan. Where we are, it's rare for little girls to go to school, let alone 25-year-old moms. One study shows only one out of 10 girls go to school in this province.

SABIR HUSSAIN SHAH, RUKHSANA'S HUSBAND (through translator): I think women in every country should be educated. If she's getting educated, then my family will be much more enlightened as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My opinion is that one of the main solutions to all the issues we have in this country is the education of women. I think if one woman is educated, her entire family will be educated.

SAYAH: Their teacher says one of Rukhsana's boys could be sharper than she is. She strongly disagrees. The friendly competition between mom and her two little boys in first grade.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Dawukil (ph), Pakistan.


STOUT: Now, the rains have subsided in Brazil, but several towns stand in ruin, and more bodies could be buried beneath the mud. We'll show you how the survivors are coping.

Plus, Tunisia's transformation. A protest led to an unprecedented leadership change. Now demonstrators are trying to remove all sides of the old regime.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. These are your world headlines.

Now, a speaker claiming to be Osama bin Laden has warned France to pull out of Afghanistan. The new audiotape message aired on Al-Jazeera. The recording says the lives of two French journalists abducted by militants lies in the balance.

France has said it will not abandon its Afghanistan strategy. More than 3,700 French troops are there.

Well it's round two for former British prime minister Tony Blair. He is testifying before the Iraq war inquiry. Now these live pictures, not so live, they're on a one minute delay. Now Blair appeared before the panel this time last year. Now he was called back to clear up discrepancies and to provide new evidence.

Google co-founder Larry Page is to replace Eric Schmidt as CEO of the search giant. Now Schmidt has spent 10 years at the helm of Google diversifying it's mobile, TV and other sectors. Now the companies other co-founder, Sergey Brin will oversee product development while Schmidt takes a background role.

Now Chinese president Hu Jintao is continuing his U.S. visit with a stop in Chicago where he and Mayor Richard Daley have been discussing a host of business deals. Now the president's trip to Illinois follows a high profile stay in Washington at a time when tensions between the U.S. and China are high.

Dozens of people in Brazil are still missing after last week's deadly mud slides and flooding. Now a break in the weather have allowed relief supplies to reach some isolated areas. The government says more than 750 people have been killed, and that number could rise.

Some survivors are helping rescue workers dig through the debris. Shasta Darlington is in one of the hillside towns hit hard by the tragedy. And Shasta, how are the survivors doing?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Well -- that's right, Christie, I'm right here in front of one of the main hospitals in Teresopolos and right now doctors are preparing for a second stage, they're calling it a second wave. They expect that survivors coming in are going to have infectious diseases and that many others who are homeless are going to get infectious diseases. We're talking about leptospirosis, they're also preparing vaccines against tetanus and hepatitis. At the same time, there are still dozens of victims inside this hospital who were hit by the original mudslide. They suffer from concussions, broken bones. And we had a chance to go in and talk to some of them.


DARLINGTON: Massive mudslides flattened houses and wiped out entire neighborhoods in these hillside towns north of Rio de Janeiro last week leaving a trail of death and shaken survivors.

Laticia Liva (ph) was found buried up to her neck in mud, her forehead was crushed and her teeth knocked out.

"I remember my mother shouting and a loud noise," she says. "I hugged my baby tight. That's the last thing I remember."

Unfortunately her baby Larissa (ph) and her mother didn't make it.

Stories of loss and survival are repeated throughout this Teresopolos hospital. The director says both patients and doctors are getting psychological counseling.

"On the first day we treated 178 victims in less than 12 hours," she says.

Lisiel Madudera (ph) was one of them. He managed to grab his five- year-old son but saw half of his family swept away. He then went on to save his neighbor and her three children.

"I would do it all again," he says. "What else could I do?"

His 18-year-old daughter Erica also survived by climbing into a refrigerator.

"It shook and shook," she says. "I opened the door and it was floating."

They are still searching for her mother's body.

Rescue workers continue to look for survivors who have been cut off form towns, but they are just as likely to find bodies.

As the rain subsides, residents begin to think about the future.

Donations are pouring in from across the country. Here at this gymnasium in Teresopolos, you'll stacks and stacks of clothes. You have to remember, these people lost everything. They are starting from zero. That means they're going to need water, rice, beans and of course clothes. And that's what you see here.

Erica has hope, because she's made it this far, but she says she worries because she's the only woman left in her family.


DARLINGTON: Now one of the main things people are worried about is that as the tragedy, we get distance from it, people start to forget about it, less aid is going to come in. Right now people are letting all of these victims stay in their homes, they're sending those donations, but there's real concern that in a month from now these people will have nowhere to go, they still won't have any houses from government, from other aid, and they'll really be completely lost. And these are part of the problems that they are beginning to think about, Christie.

STOUT: All right, Shasta, thank you very much for that update. Shasta Darlington joining us live from the flood zone there.

Now flood waters have receded in some areas in Brazil, but the devastation is simply heart breaking.

Now let's get straight to Mari Ramos form more at the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christie. One of the things that's going to happen, we are seeing that break in the rain there across Brazil, but it's still going to stay very hot and very humid, so that's really going to take a toll. It's going to make it very difficult for all of those rescue workers that are out there trying to find any kind of survivors. So that's still a concern.

You know something amazing? When you look at images like this, it's almost unthinkable to see this kind of scenario, this is from another town Ariel, another neighboring town there in that area affected by the massive flooding. But one thing, Christie, that we haven't really talked about too much, do you know this is not the first time that this happened? Back in 1967, just a little bit farther down the coast there in Rio de Janeiro, there was what they would consider their worst natural disaster up until now, massive flooding and in two days they had over 500 millimeters of rain and it caused serious flooding, the hillsides came down, buried one town and more than 400 people died that time. And they thought that was awful and that something like that could never happened again, and here we are with that death toll over 700 and rising in that area. Just really, really tragic.

I want to show you right over here that we still have that frontal system continuing to move farther to the north -- what's left of if anyway. But we're going to see across this area is going to see a little bit of a break in that rain. And that's going to continue over the next, probably through the weekend at least. At least it's looking a lot dryer. But like I said, with that dry weather, comes the hot temperatures.

So this is what it looks like, it's going to be scattered showers to the north, mostly dry here in that disaster area and then very heavy rain continues to fall across southern parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and then back over into Bolivia as well.

Parts of Paraguay have been getting significantly heavy rain in the last 24 hours, that cluster of storm is actually moving a bit more toward Bolivia now, so the heavy rain is moving into that region.

Sao Paolo again measuring some rain showers, scattered at best, so that makes it -- they've had rain almost every single day since January 1st except for maybe one or two. So again, 50 millimeters of rain expected in that area. The heaviest rain farther to the south as I keep mentioning for you guys in Parana. Curitiba yesterday had over 50 millimeters of rainfall.

I want to take you to Australia now. That's still one of our top stories when it comes to world weather. People there are just struggling to get back on their feet. Look at this picture. It's a day care, that's why you see all these little colorful papers on the wall, and look at that, that's the doorway and this is how high the water actually went. Really amazing how much people are going to have to work to actually get back on their feet. Scattered rain showers expected in that area. And that tide everyone was worried about did peak earlier today, we're expecting better conditions now.

Let's go ahead and check out your city by city.

All right, and we're back. And right over here looking at New Zealand. I want to zoom you in to the south island right here off of the west coast. See that river there? This is the Grey River. And we're going to take you, Christie, right here to the mouth of the Grey River. This is what it looked like not too long ago. Take a look.

It's one of the most dangerous places -- it's considered one of the most dangerous places. The water comes in at such speeds that it's always a difficult place to be maneuvering about. These two fishing vessels got caught in an extremely dangerous situation. Days of heavy rain had made the river swell very quickly, so crossing the mouth of the river and into the port becomes extremely dangerous.

By the way, these two fisherman did make it out OK. They said that they had to try to get to the other side, because their boats were filled with fish and they did not have any more ice and they were going to lose their catch. But they did -- they did make it.

I get seasick just watching that. It's amazing those waves.

STOUT: I know. Shades of a Perfect Storm there, too.

You know, usually I don't get motion sickness, but watching that video I was getting a little bit queasy then. Whew.

Mari, thank you and take care. Mari Ramos there.

Let's take you next to Tunisia. It's the latest target of protesters there is now largely the hated former ruling party. And crowds have gathered outside the party's headquarters on Thursday. They were climbing over the gates tearing down a massive sign.

Now many on the streets are concerned that the dictator may have gone, but the dictatorship remains. Ben Wedeman has this report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Workers threw giant Arabic lettering from the roof of the headquarters of what, just a week ago, was Tunisia's ruling party -- the now reviled Constitutional Democratic Rally. In French, the RCD.

"They were a gang of thieves, criminals and thugs who killed our children," declares housewife Hannan Fatima (ph). "They must go."

The writing on the wall said it all, "death to the RCD."

For decades, it was the only real force in Tunisian politics.

HADI BENASSA, PROTESTER: You have to understand that this party is involved in nitty gritty of every bit of the administration in this country. And they are controlling the people, controlling the way they speak, controlling everything.

WEDEMAN: Thursday, the party central committee was dissolved. All cabinet ministers in the unit government have suspended their membership in the party. "But that's not enough," says English teacher Mohammed Bash.

MOHAMMED BASH, TEACHER: The Tunisian people don't want any more of this party, of this dictatorial party. We want a real revolution. We don't want any more lies, because we are fed up. It's 23 years of lies.

WEDEMAN: Army troops tried to keep order and prevent the protesters from occupying the massive building. Flowers in gun barrels adding an almost festive touch to the whole affair.

An army officer appeals to the crowd for calm, adopting the language of the new era.

"We won't lie to you," he says. "We won't impose on you, don't impose on us. This is democracy."

They resorted to gun fire when nice words failed.

Within moments, the crowd was back singing and chanting.

It's hard to understate the significance of what has happened here. Just a few weeks ago, it would have been unimaginable for Tunisians to gather like this in front of the headquarters of the ruling party. And today, they are slowly taking it apart.

How far the mighty have fallen.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Tunis.


STOUT: Now still ahead on News Stream, taking on the mob. We've got all the details of a mafia drama that Hollywood might have struggled to script.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now more than 120 alleged mobsters have been arrested in three U.S. states, one of the largest organized crime sweeps in FBI history. The wrap sheet, it reads like a far fetched Hollywood script. The charges cover everything from money laundering to murder.

Mary Snow wraps up the roundup.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Their so-called street names sound right out of an episode of the Sopranos -- Vinny Carwash, Johnny Bandana, Meatball. While it might have seemed organized crime families were losing their influence, becoming the stuff of fiction, the FBI says it's a myth that the mob is a thing of the past. And Attorney General Eric Holder made a high profile trip to New York to underscore that point.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is probably not nationwide in its scope, its impact as it once was, but the reality it, it is an ongoing threat, a major threat to the economic well-being of this country in addition to being a violent organization.

SNOW: More than 120 alleged mobsters were arrested in three states, and one in Italy. Sixteen indictments lay out charges that range from a 1981 murder in a New York bar to illegal gambling, to extortion and labor racketeering, including a case where union members allegedly passed along Christmas bonuses to crime families.

The indictments are unrelated. The question is, why the massive sweep with cases dating back decades?

Janis Fedarcyk heads the FBI's New York division. She sites the scope of the investigation and cooperation between agencies.

JANICE FEDARCYK, FBI NEW YORK DIVISION: As we looked at the totality of these indictments, it made sense to bring them down, to do the take down at the same time.

SNOW: Fedarcyk says the FBI used all the tools in its toolbox including informants and wiretaps. While the feds tout it as an unprecedented crackdown, William Bastone doubts it will put a huge dent in mob operations. Bastone is a journalist who has covered the mob for more than 20 years.

WILLIAM BASTONE, EDITOR, THE SMOKING GUN: I don't think there's anything spectacular in the indictments themselves. And frankly if the day-to-day operation of these families, this is in many ways kind of like a bump in the road. And we've seen these bumps in the road fairly frequently for the, you know, last 20 years.

SNOW: But one thing everyone seemed to agree on, if anything, the mob is resilient and it's far from being eradicated.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


STOUT: Now two of the biggest names in women's tennis fell at the Australian Open on Friday. Kate Giles is here with more on that -- Kate.

KATE GILES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Christie. One of them went out fighting, the other went out limping. Venus Williams, she's had to pull out of her third round match earlier today.

Now we were always aware that she might well struggle, that was after she had injured her groin in the second round, in the match before this one. Today she was playing Andrea Petkovic of Germany and they'd only completed one game when Venus -- lost by the way as well when she said that she couldn't play on.

Now this does look a bit concerning for Venus. You know, before the Aussie Open she hadn't played a tournament since last year's U.S. Open. And that was because of a problem with her right knee that was out for such a long time. And now this.

Now, right now, she says that she doesn't know when she'll be back. She says she will only come back when she is 100 percent fit and not before, but she also make it very clear that she has no intention of retiring.

Well, whether you are a big tennis fan or not, you probably will remember Justin Henin's fairy tell return to tennis last year when she came out of retirement and then made it all the way to the final at the Aussi Open. And this year she was certainly seen as one of the favorite to do very well again, but the number 11 seed has been knocked out by Svetlana Kuznetsova. It took the Russian just two sets to defeat the seven time Grand Slam winner.

The top seed in the tournament, Caroline Wozniaki, she claims she doesn't mind when or if indeed she ever wins a major, but there's no doubt that her credentials as the world number one would certainly be hugely enhanced with a Grand Slam title under her belt.

On Friday, she made it through to the fourth round at the expense of the 29 seed, Dominica Cibulkova of Slovakia. Now Wozniaki making the fourth round for the third time in her career. The 20-year-old Dane on it 6-4, 6-3.

And yeah, there was a bit of an unusual incident on court today as well when the court surface proved problematic. Now just before Maria Sharapova's match with Julia Goerges got underway, it was brought to the umpire's attention that there was a dead spot on the court where a bubble had appeared in the plexi-cushioned surfaced. Now when the ball hit that spot, it just wouldn't bounce, it died completely. So what they had to do is they had to bring out a hand drill to puncture the bubble. The grounds master than jumped up and down on the spot to deflate it and play could eventually begin.

What happened when it did? Well, Sharapova, the 2008 champion came from a set down to make the last 16 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

And the defending men's champion Roger Federer was up against Xavier Malisse of Belgium in the third round on the men's side. And the world number two of course does have high hopes of regaining his top ranking Rafa Nadal this year. And what he needs to do that is certainly a good showing Down Under to set things in motion.

And against Malisse, the second seed was never troubled. A straight sets win, after remember he went five in the previous round, so that was in the power of good. 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 it ended. And Federer is into the second week.

Now, Christie, yesterday -- of course you accused me of having my eye on Rafa Nadal. Today, as you see, I have it on Roger Federer.

STOUT: That's fine. We can keep our eyes on both of them. Kate Giles, thank you so much.

Now the actor George Clooney gave his fans a shock when he broke some news about his health exclusively to CNN. Now he told Pierce Morgan, he got a little more than he bargained for during his recent trip to southern Sudan.


PIECE MORGAN, HOST: George, I was going to start this final segment with you by asking about the glory of being George Clooney, but you've just told me that you've got a bout of malaria. It doesn't sound that great.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Well, you know, even with malaria, it's just good fun.

MORGAN: I mean, you're looking slightly over heated. I thought it was down to me, but it sounds like it actually this -- I mean, you do get malaria flare up quite regularly.

CLOONEY: No. I've had it twice. This is just -- I just, you know, some -- I guess the mosquito in Juba (ph) looked at me and thought I was the bar.


STOUT: Malaria not once, but twice, wow. Now the Hollywood star also spoke candidly about the pitfalls of fame. Here's what he had to say about Pierce about life with the paparazzi.


MORGAN: Where is the life or you, George? As one of the most photographed guys in the world, where do you think the line should be?

CLOONEY: You know, where you draw the line? I don't know where you draw the line. I always -- you know, I'm disturbed by the idea that you're not trying to catch me doing something stupid, you're trying to create me doing something stupid. When I'm walking through an airport and you've got a camera in front of me and you ask "hey, whose the fat girl you're walking next to," or something like that. That's not trying to catch me doing something dumb, that's trying to make me do something dumb.


STOUT: George Clooney there and CNN's brand new show Pierce Morgan Tonight.

Now one young woman wasn't watching where she was going and this video of her falling into a fountain while texting has been seen around the world. Now she is speaking out and making an even bigger splash.


STOUT: Many of us have been there, strolling along writing a text and then colliding or almost colliding with a lamp post, a wall, or indeed another texter. But it would be pretty unfortunate not just to collide with, but fall right into a fountain. And more unfortunate still, to find the whole world watching.

Jeanne Moos reports on the very public plunge.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We now have a face to go with the fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's funny when it's not you.

MOOS: At times her interview is nearly as wet as the mall fountain she walked into while texting.

CATHY CRUZ MARRERO, FALL IN FOUNTAIN: It's funny when it's not you.

MOOS: At times her interview is nearly as wet as the mall fountain she walked into while texting.

MARRERO: When it's you, it's a totally different feeling -- it's a totally, totally different feeling.

MOOS: Cathy Cruz Marrero says she was texting her and her husband's birth dates when she ran into the fountain.

MARRERO: The next I know I'm just seeing pennies and coins in front of my face.

MOOS: And soon millions were seeing her as the security camera video made it's way to the web.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this out, a girl falls in a mall fountain while texting. You ignorant human being.

MOOS: This mishap was put to music and replayed mercilessly.

It took Cathy two days to discover she'd become an internet star.

MARRERO: And I'm like, are you kidding me? And my nephew is like, no, you're on YouTube. And I was like, I can't believe this. And I start crying.

MOOS: Believe me, we empathize. We know how dumb but easy it is to text your way into a tree, into a pole. And there was that open man hole a texting teenager once fell into.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like there was no warning of a big open hole.

MOOS: No one caught that on tape. It's the mall surveillance video that has Cathy mad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That guy showed you the other angle.

MOOS: You can hear laughter as someone shoots the tape.

Cathy says she told the security manager that putting the video on YouTube was wrong. She says he said.

MARRERO: The good thing is that they didn't see your face, then nobody knows who you are. I said, I know who I am.

MOOS: And she said others at the furniture store where she works recognized her.

Now the security company says it's fired the guard who shared the video. And Cathy has got a lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want the lawyer to do?

MARRERO: What needs to be done.

MOOS: Not necessarily to sue, maybe to get an apology. At least she resisted answering her phone when it rang during the interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you left...

MOOS: The bruise on her leg is healing, but not her bruised feelings.

MARRERO: It's not over, and it's not going to be over. I said you want to know how many people are laughing...

MOOS: She's got that right, walking into a fountain is kid's stuff.

JOY BEHAR, THE VIEW: She's lucky she wasn't at the Grand Canyon, this girl.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


STOUT: Now let's go over and out there now. There are time you show up at a hotel, you think this place is a dump. Well, this room in the Spanish capital really is rubbish, it is the Beach Garbage Hotel. The lodging is decorated with litter collected from beaches across Europe. It's actually not a joke, it's all part of a conservation campaign. Reservations were awarded to winners of an online raffle. Ten guests, a night get to rest at the refuse resort for free.

That is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN with World Business Today with Max Foster, Maggie Lake and Andrew Stevens up next.