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Egypt Unrest; Barack Obama Bringing State of the Union Address Message on the Road; A New Dawn for Lebanon?
Aired January 26, 2011 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.
A rallying cry to the American people. U.S. President Barack Obama urges innovation in the fight for the future.
Making a point to prove himself, Lebanon's prime minister-designate tells CNN he is not Hezbollah's puppet.
And an incredible image of a star barreling through space that's 20 times bigger than the sun.
But before all that, we begin in Egypt. A security clampdown and a call for more protests one day after at least three people were killed during mass demonstrations.
Now, the country's leaders have asked citizens "not to lose sight of the consequences of provocation." Now, tear gas and water cannons were used to combat crowds in the capital on Tuesday and early morning Wednesday morning.
Now, Tuesday's protests in Cairo, they saw unprecedented numbers taking to the streets to voice their grievances, and now protest organizers are calling for more marches. They've been inspired by recent events in Tunisia.
Ben Wedeman has been following their activity. He joins me now.
And Ben, what are you seeing today?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, I've driven all over Cairo, and it appears that this security clampdown is being taken very seriously by the security forces. But right now I'm in front of the Journalist Syndicate, which is where a small demonstration of about 200 people is taking place. They're calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
They're surrounded by, I'd say, about 30 to 40 riot police, and right up to the front steps of the Syndicate. But as far as I can tell, this is one of the very few demonstrations that is actually going on in Cairo at the moment -- Kristie.
STOUT: Now, Ben, we're reporting that at least three people are dead after yesterday's protests. What are the circumstances of those deaths?
WEDEMAN: Well, actually, four people were killed. It was three youth killed in the city of Suez, which is east of Cairo. And at least one of them seems to have been killed by other a rubber bullet and another by inhalation of tear gas. Now, in Cairo yesterday, one policeman was killed when he was hit by a very large rock.
So we don't know the cause of death for the third protester, but what's interesting is that the day started out yesterday, the police were relatively restrained. They didn't use much tear gas. They weren't using their usual Billy clubs on demonstrators. But by the afternoon, when the protest numbers -- the numbers of protesters started to exceed 10,000 in the main square of Cairo, the police changed their tactics and went at the protesters with clubs, with tear gas, with rocks. And they finally cleared the main square of Cairo at about 2:30 in the morning, where until that point, the protesters had essentially occupied that critical part of the city -- Kristie.
STOUT: And Ben, Twitter is blocked in Egypt. Has that had any impact on the protesters' ability to organize themselves?
WEDEMAN: Basically what they've done is they've switched from Facebook and Twitter to a lot of SMSing and just calling around. There's a network of young people who are very savvy with Twitter, with Facebook, with SMS's. And also, people are very quickly learning to use (INAUDIBLE), to use BPNs (ph) to get around the government blocks. And that's the same thing that happened in Tunisia.
The government there had strict controls on the Internet, but some people - - you know, where there's a will, there's a way, and they've managed to get around it. The important difference is that until yesterday, there were no blocks on the Internet in Egypt. But it appears that the government realizes that that's their Achilles' heel, and they're trying to crack down on it -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right. Ben Wedeman joining us live from Cairo.
Thank you, Ben.
Now, one person caught up in the drama of Tuesday's demonstrations was a journalist. His name, Mohamed Abdelfattah. He joins me now from Alexandria to share his exclusive story.
And Mohamed, tell me what happened to you yesterday.
MOHAMED ABDELFATTAH, JOURNALIST: Yes, hi.
Yesterday, there was a process that was started by a handful of activists around 2:00 in the afternoon. And in the following two to three hours, the protests are continuing to gain momentum. Almost 10,000 to 15,000 people marched through the streets of Alexandria.
And I was with them, covering this. This was around 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. for (INAUDIBLE) that doesn't have any side streets. And we were tear gassed. And rubber bullets and stuff were thrown in the air, and we got trapped (ph) inside a building.
And after we got inside a building, we were attacked by the police. They started beating all of us and insulting all of us. And they took exactly 64 people, including me.
We were detained for -- I was detained for seven hours in an underground cell. They released me and another nine people after midnight, but, still, until now, there are still 54 youth from Alexandria (INAUDIBLE) in a detention facility in Alexandria.
We (INAUDIBLE) with anything that was totally an illegitimate imprisonment. And I don't really know the whereabouts or the destination of the people that I left yesterday now.
STOUT: You mentioned the use of tear gas. In the protest zone, what kind of -- as the term is noted -- containment tactics are the police using to rein in demonstrators there?
ABDELFATTAH: Yes. They basically tried to make, like, ambushes (INAUDIBLE). And then they tried to stop it (INAUDIBLE) to provoke them.
And if any protester throws anything even in the air, or shouts at the police, they would fire in the air (INAUDIBLE). But that was the most frequent thing that was used yesterday. And a lot of people suffocated, and some people had asthma and they passed out, because they didn't have their medication with them and the police refused to give them their medication.
Another person I saw, his leg was broken and they refused to bring an ambulance or any doctor to him. And the treatment was extremely humiliating.
It's my first experience inside a detention facility, and really, it looks like George Orwell's "1984." It's really terrible.
STOUT: Now, are the protesters getting intimidated, or is it your sense that the protest movement will go on?
ABDELFATTAH: Sorry. Say that again.
STOUT: Are the protesters in Egypt getting intimidated, or will the protest movement continue?
ABDELFATTAH: I think they are continually being intimidated on the streets, but the people have (INAUDIBLE) the barrier of fear. The numbers that we had seen yesterday, I mean, I'm 24 years old and I have only heard about these numbers in my history books. We haven't seen these numbers before.
And people from all walks of life have been walking fearlessly on the streets, chanting against Mubarak, asking him to leave power, labeling him as an agent of the Americans, and condemning American support for him.
STOUT: OK. Mohamed Abdelfattah, journalist and eyewitness.
Thank you for sharing your story with us here on NEWS STREAM.
ABDELFATTAH: Thank you.
STOUT: And we want to let you know that we reached out to Egypt's Interior Ministry for their reaction to the account that you just heard, but they have declined to comment.
Now, on Tuesday, we told you about the crucial role of social media in organizing Egypt's protests. And now Twitter confirms that access to the site was blocked in Egypt on Tuesday. Now, Twitter itself reacted to the ban, saying its service can actually help governments communicate better with citizens.
And many in Egypt have found a way around the block, including our own Ben Wedeman, as he mentioned just a moment ago, whose page -- Ben's page is right here. In fact, his latest update, he writes, "Cairo University tells me, 'What is Mubarak waiting for? No one wants him anymore. He should go.'"
And Facebook, it remains active in the country. Now, this page, it clearly outlines protesters' demands. Now, these include raising the minimum wage; scrapping existing emergency laws that the group says resulted in police control over the nation; creating two-term presidential term limits; and sacking the interior minister.
Now, while the Interior Ministry rankles Egyptians, the Foreign Ministry warns against hyping the story. In fact, its spokesman, Hossam Zaki, says that citizens actually have much to be thankful for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOSSAM ZAKI, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: I think in our country the government knows exactly what the people want, and they have been trying to do their best. Again, being a Foreign Ministry spokesman, I always look at this from a regional perspective.
This country has known freedoms much unprecedented in this region, in Arab countries, at least. This is something that has not been seen, protesters being protected in the streets, not being harassed, not being killed in the streets like we have seen recently by other regimes. This is a totally different situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: And coming up on NEWS STREAM, we'll have information on new developments in Tunisia, the country that inspired the protests were are now witnessing in Egypt.
Now, win the future through innovation. That was the call from U.S. President Barack Obama. His second State of the Union Address also emphasized unity. The 61-minute speech to both chambers of Congress called on lawmakers to work together and revitalize the American economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back, corporate profits are up, the economy is growing again. But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people, by the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Mr. Obama is now taking his message on the road, but how is it playing in Washington?
Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Kristie.
You're right, the president going to Wisconsin today, a critical state that he'll be facing the voters in 2012. It's one of those Midwestern states that often decides these presidential elections.
What's interesting is that the president -- the reaction has been fairly positive. Even some prominent Republicans saying the president had a nice sort of broad brush vision last night, but they're very interested in the details because he left out a lot of specifics about his economic plans, about his plans to reduce the budget deficit, et cetera.
But what he focused on was what he called a "Sputnik moment" now for the United States, reaching back into history, that time when the Soviets were able to launch a satellite, and how that forced the U.S. to get its own act together in terms of going to space. He's saying now this is a new Sputnik moment for the U.S. to compete not with the Soviets, but with the Chinese, Indians, and sort of raise its game in terms of economic progress and innovation.
The president also seeming to kind of steal some pages from the playbooks of some of his predecessors, including Bill Clinton. We heard this president, just as Bill Clinton did after the 1994 midterm elections, where he lost a lot of seats, as Barack Obama did a couple of months ago, really going to the political center, trying to say that some of the Republican policies are extreme, as they take one chamber of U.S. Congress now, and that he has sort of the middle ground, trying to stake that out. That's in part an appeal to Independent voters that backed Barack Obama in 2008, but abandoned Democrats in 2010.
And then, finally, also kind of pulling a playbook, surprisingly, maybe from a Republican president, Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama very, very optimistic, sort of that "Morning in America" 1984 campaign slogan we saw from Ronald Reagan.
It was all about how Barack Obama believes the U.S. is ready for this challenge, bringing a lot of optimism to this task. And it's reflective and noteworthy, because both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan faced really bad midterm elections two years into their terms, their first terms, but then they were both reelected two years later as they made adjustments.
And so I think what last night was about was this president resetting the agenda, resetting his approach to things after that horrible election loss back in November -- Kristie.
STOUT: Ed Henry, live from Washington.
Thank you as always.
HENRY: Thank you.
STOUT: Now, the Republican Party responded to Mr. Obama's speech by bringing out their budget expert. Representative Paul Ryan slammed the administration's economic policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: There's no doubt the president came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation. Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on his promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: But that wasn't the only Republican rebuttal. Another came from the Tea Party, the anti-spending, anti-tax movement which also attacked fiscal policy under the Obama administration.
And we'll have more perspective on the State of the Union Address later in the show, including how it went down online.
Now, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, an uneasy calm in Lebanon. We hear from the Hezbollah-endorsed prime minister-designate who says he is his own man.
And if you thought you knew who this year's Australian Open finalist would be, you just might want to think again. A shock in the world of sports still to come.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now, Tunisian media reporting the country has issued an international arrest warrant against the ousted president. Reports say Zen El Abidine Ben Ali stands accused of crimes relating to illegal property ownership and currency transactions.
Now, for days of relative calm in the country, demonstrators have once again clashed with police on Wednesday. Now, these were the scenes in Tunis earlier, as tear gas was used to disperse the crowds. After ousting Ben Ali, protesters now want all his allies removed from the country's interim government.
Now, meanwhile, Lebanon's political future continues to hang in the balance after the controversial selection of a Hezbollah-backed candidate to be the next prime minister. But Najib Mikati has told CNN that he is not Hezbollah's man and needs time to prove himself in the role.
Mikati is now working to form a new government and is due to visit former prime ministers on Wednesday.
Now, Nic Robertson spoke with Mikati yesterday. He joins me now from Beirut.
And Nic, before you tell us about Mr. Mikati, what is the situation today? Have supporters of Saad Hariri hit the streets once again?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There have been calls from Saad Hariri's political bloc, the March 14th bloc for more protests. But this time, peaceful protests.
We've seen them in the evening here in Beirut, gathered around Martyrs' Square, where Rafic Hariri's shrine is, if you will. So they're calling again for more of those peaceful type of demonstrations, but nothing that would seem on the scale -- the Saudi Foreign Ministry, however, is still so concerned about the situation in Lebanon, it's advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon at this time.
But yesterday, when Mr. Mikati was nominated to be prime minister, it was a much different situation here on the streets.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The day ended as it began -- rock-and-grenade- throwing supporters have ousted Prime Minister Saad Hariri, facing off with Lebanon's security forces. But in the hours between, a new prime minister was chosen.
Najib Mikati, a self-made multibillionaire, a moderate, very different from Hezbollah, which picked him off to toppling Hariri.
(on camera): You're being called the Hezbollah prime minister. How do you respond to that?
NAJIB MIKATI, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE: I have been nominated by 68 parties from the parliament. Hezbollah is one of the essential parties in this country, but it's not all the 68.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): In our interview, he is at pains to stress his independence from the political party the U.S. designates as a terror group.
MIKATI: The main objective of this government is to maintain good relations with the international community.
ROBERTSON: But on the issues that interest the United States, Mikati is less clear, particularly support for the U.N. tribunal investigating the car bomb killing of Saad Hariri's father, the former prime minister, Rafic Hariri.
MIKATI: If you asked me yesterday, maybe I could answer. But today, I am an appointed prime minister, and I'm trying to form a government. So I cannot say this on my behalf as Najib Mikati, all appointed the prime minister.
ROBERTSON: When accepting his nomination, he offered to work with all politicians, but Hariri has already rebuffed him.
MIKATI: If not, it will be an adoption to have either technocrat people, to have mixed between politicians and technocrats.
ROBERTSON: It is this issue that will continue to fuel Hariri's supporters' fears of a Hezbollah-dominated government. Each protest, a potential trigger to widespread trouble.
(on camera): The concern is that any kind of an incident here amidst all this tension could turn into a massive outbreak of violence. Crowds here are very angry.
(voice-over): Violence that, once started, would be hard to contain. A cycle, it seems, despite a new prime minister, the next generation will inherit.
ROBERTSON: Well, Mikati met with Hariri today, and he told me last night that he was still going to try and persuade him to join the government. But as we've heard, he's ready to move on without.
He's going to have very, very tough challenges in the coming days, weeks, and possibly -- this is what the country fears -- possibly months, trying to form that new government -- Kristie.
STOUT: Our Nic Robertson, joining us live from Beirut.
Now, the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has fired a top transport official after Monday's deadly suicide bomb attack at Moscow's main airport. Thirty-five people died, more than 100 were injured, many of them critically.
President Medvedev dismissed a top official at the Interior Ministry's Transport Administration, blaming the attack on lax airport security. He also wants a new security system on public transport and tighter security checks at airports.
Now, near-record cold in parts of East Asia. Mari will be here with the world weather forecast, next.
STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.
Now, it was a case that sparked outrage among China's netizens. The Xinhua News Agency reports that the son of a senior Chinese police official went on trial for a hit-and-run accident.
Now, the incident inspired viral videos like this one. Witnesses say that Li Qiming tried to flee the scene shouting, "My father is Li Gang!" Now, that became a new catch phrase for abuse of power in China.
The younger Li was allegedly driving drunk and killed a woman. Now, Chinese media report that his family has already agreed to pay the woman's relatives more than 460,000 Yuan. That's about $70,000 U.S. dollars. But Li could receive a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Now, the court proceeding is also met with some online outrage. One Sina user named Si Wei Jiang writes this: "The Li Gang case changed form a public trial to a secret group meeting. This entire incident shows the fact that lawmakers themselves don't comply to regulations."
And Cheng Shi writes this: "460K RMB, plus three years of sentence equals one fresh life. Is this really the end of the Li Gang case?"
STOUT: Now, still to come on NEWS STREAM, it's a term commonly used when there's a threat or challenge. And President Obama tells the U.S. that it is time for a "Sputnik moment."
And it's 20 times the size of the sun and traveling at an unimaginable speed. The runaway star is next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And stunning news at the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal is out. Another Spaniard, Alberto Contador, could soon be out of luck, too.
I've got all the sports for you in 25 minutes.
STOUT: I'm Christie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.
Services are being held in Moscow for some of the 35 people killed in a bomb blast at Moscow's main airport on Monday. President Dmitry Medvedev has fired a senior official responsible for transport in Russia's central region. He said earlier this week, the bombing showed security at the airport was inadequate.
Lebanon's prime minister designate Najib Mikati tries to calm fears over his appointment. He says he is prepared to form a government without care- taker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Thousands of Hariri supporters protested on Tuesday throwing tires, throwing rocks and accusing Hezbollah of trying to seize power.
And Toyota is recalling more than 1.5 million vehicles for safety checks. It says the cars', most of them sold in Japan and the U.S. could develop fuel leaks, but says they don't know of any accidents as a result of the fault and most of the recalls are in Japan, but more than 245,000 Lexus models sold in the U.S. are also involved. Toyota has had to recall millions of calls since 2009.
Now the U.S. President Barack Obama, he has called on Americans to win the future in his second State of the Union Address. He said the keys to success are a greater emphasis on innovation, education and investment. Mr. Obama also admitted concern about the deficit saying he wants to freeze some government spending.
Now let's get some deeper analysis of the president's message. Chief political correspondent Candy Crowley joins us now live from CNN New York. And Candy, why did the U.S. president chose to focus on these themes of innovation, education and winning the future?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because the emphasis right now, ever since the November elections, which were driven by conservatives, has been on cutting spending. And the president wanted to make the case that yes, we need to cut spending because the U.S. is deep in debt and we need to start whittling away at that, on the other hand this can't just be about today, it has to be about the future. So while we want to secure jobs in the short-term in order to compete globally, which was really the message of his speech last night, in order to compete globally there needs to be these investments in infrastructure. He compared it to the investments being made in Europe and elsewhere to infrastructure and saying the U.S. is behind in that, education really is pretty self- explanatory, the U.S. education system has to get better, as well as in manufacturing so that the U.S. can compete in the international market.
So that was the gist of it was that he had to walk this kind of fine line between yes we have to cut our spending, but there are areas where our spending should go up, because that's an investment in the future.
STOUT: Now rival Republicans and Democrats were sitting together during the address, but really how much unity is actually there?
CROWLEY: Well the Republicans gave a response after the president's speech. And they also talked about cutting spending. At this point, it's a matter of emphasis. When the president says we need to invest in the following areas, Republicans here we need to spend more money. And so they were very hard on -- listen, the first thing we have to do is cut spending, then we'll talk about where we are going to spend the money we have. So they are not together on a lot of the major issues.
But there are areas, one of them is trade -- trade agreements and where Republicans and Democrats think they can make some headway. I think the president probably said it best in his speech when he said what comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow. It is a rough road ahead. These two parties differ fundamentally on what money should be spent on and on how much money.
So this will be, as they really get into the nitty gritty of the budget, what money goes where, what programs are cut, that's when you're going to see that there's still real divisions here between these two parties.
STOUT: Now, Michelle Bachmann also delivered a post-speech response on behalf of the Tea Party movement. Unusual, yes, but is it significant?
CROWLEY: Well, listen, you can look at this and say as many did, oh, this is just evidence -- and Democrats particularly like sort of putting forward this story line, that because Michelle Bachmann, who is a Republican by the way, but is supported by Tea Party activists and considers herself a Tea Party activist, you can look at it and say, well, the Republican Party is split. And Democrats, of course, take great joy in that, but the fact of the matter is when you listen to the official Republican speech followed by the Tea Party speech from Michelle Bachmann they basically were arguing the same things, we need to cut spending. So in some ways the Republicans got two chances to respond. They were not competing messages.
STOUT: All right. Candy Crowley, your analysis always a pleasure to hear. Thank you so much. Candy Crowley joining us live from CNN New York.
Now while most of Mr. Obama's speech focused on domestic issues, he also did touch on International concerns. Now Reza Sayah is standing by as CNN Islamabad. We also have Arwa Damon, she's at CNN Kabul. First to Reza in Pakistan -- Reza Mr. Obama's speech it was thin on foreign policy issues, including the war on terror so what message did that send there?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We didn't expect Mr. Obama to talk much on foreign policy and the war against extremism. And he didn't. I think he used about 10 lines to talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan. And what he said we've heard before, which is a positive spin on a very complicated and uncertain situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border. Remember, the Obama administration says this is a safe haven for al Qaeda, this is where al Qaeda is planning attacks on U.S. soil and launching attacks across the border in Afghanistan targeting U.S. and international troops. And essentially Mr. Obama says they are making progress there. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Pakistan al Qaeda's leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe havens are shrinking. And we sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe, we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: So positive spin by Mr. Obama. What he didn't talk about is all the problems between these two countries -- U.S. and Pakistan. The fact is, these are two countries that don't always trust one another. They're not always reliable partners because they may want the same thing in the region, which is security, but they don't always look to go about it the same way. They have different strategies. For example, the U.S. has long put pressure on Pakistan to go after Afghan Taliban groups who are hiding out in Pakistan's region. Pakistan has refused to do so. And it's widely believed that Pakistan still has links with these groups. And the plan is for them to have a favorable, friendly government in Kabul once U.S. and international troops pull out of Afghanistan.
So Christie, a lot of challenges for the Obama administration in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he didn't talk much about the problems the U.S. faces.
STOUT: From Pakistan, let's go to Afghanistan where Arwa Damon is. And Arwa, Mr. Obama, he made a promise to bring home troops from Afghanistan. Give us the details.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Christie that is a promise and that is ideally what the U.S. would want to do, and that is to begin drawing down its troops by the summer, but the U.S. has also been very careful to say that the so-called gains that they keep referring to are both fragile and reversible. Whether or not they can in fact make good on that promise is going to be highly contingent on conditions on the ground, whether or not they can hold on to these areas that they've managed to wrestle back from the Taliban.
As Reza was saying, though, the president really focusing very much on the positive, but when we speak to Afghans here they don't quite look at the situation like this. Remember 2011 was the deadliest year of this war for the Afghan population, the Afghan security forces and for the U.S. military as well. This is still a country that is very much limping along.
Just recently we were on a trip up north in the province Nangarhar (ph), it was one of the safest areas of the country, security there has been deteriorating slightly according to some watch dogs. And one of the police commanders there was stunned when we began discussing the fact that the U.S. might begin drawing down as early as this summer, Christie.
STOUT: All right, Arwa Damon joining us live from Kabul. Reza Sayah live from Islamabad. Thank you, two, you both.
Now as we mentioned yesterday, the State of the Union Address is streamed live on the White House web site, but that was not the only online extra. While he was at the podium, Mr. Obama's speech got sent out by a Twitter with the hash tag SOTU. Afterward, administration officials to question some Twitter and Facebook users. And Mr. Obama himself will get grilled live on YouTube this Thursday. Now he did something similar last year, but this time you can sent him questions through Twitter with the hash tag AskObama.
Now the State of the Union has generated a lot of comments online. So let's look at some of the reaction on Twitter. We'll start with one from the satirical web site The Onion. They tweeted this, "Obama says he will not begin the State of the Union until the nation pipes down."
Now from The Onion to CNN's own senior White House correspondent. Ed Henry said this, "tomorrow sound bite, tonight this is our generation's Sputnik moment."
But @pourmecoffee had a cheekier take on that sound bite saying, "somewhere, shirtless Putin is scoffing at Sputnik moment then going back to killing a shark on his jet ski."
Now that Tweet, it was referring to President Obama's use of the term Sputnik moment during his State of the Union speech and the president used it to urge Americans to innovate and to compete to help revive the economy and as a reminder of the challenge the U.S. faced when the Soviet Union put the first ever satellite into space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And half a century ago when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets, we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment.
Two years ago I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the space race. And in a few weeks I will be sending a budget to congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology and especially clean energy technology, an investment that with strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now precise definitions of the term "Sputnik moment" vary, generally it relates to the need to take a new direction because of a threat or challenge. You can read more about President Obama's use of Sputnik moment on our web site CNN.com.
Now let's stay with celestial matters and look at a stunning image snapped by NASA. You're looking at a runaway star. Now this blue dot here, it's a star 20 times the size of our own sun traveling at 25 kilometers a second. It is traveling so fast that it's causing the curved feature that you see right here in on the screen. Now what's happening is that the stellar wind around the star is pushing gas and dust out of its way, compressing it into a wave, similar to what happens when a boat travels through water.
So what is the star running away from? Astronomers think it once had a companion star, this companion exploded as a super nova, sending it flying through interstellar space.
You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.
STOUT: Now earlier we heard Nic Robertson's exclusive interview with the new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Let's hear more from that interview.
ROBERTSON: You being called the Hezbollah prime minister, how do you respond to that?
MIKATI: I don't know why all this campaigning saying one that I'm from Hezbollah, second time that we are going to -- the international community we are in a complete face-to-face -- why all this (inaudible). I don't know why this play (ph).
ROBERTSON: Why do you think it's happening?
MIKATI: Why I'm thinking it's happening, because I believe people they have, since you mentioned the first Hezbollah, they resigned from the other government and now they participate in eliminating the other one, so maybe this. But I'm telling you, I can guarantee this, and I can make a full insisting in this, please, Najib Mikati they know his history, and please, please, please judge me on the actions.
ROBERTSON: Hilary Clinton has already said in the last few hours that a Hezbollah controlled government would -- or a Hezbollah influenced government would definitely lead to a change in the U.S.-Lebanon relationship. Does that worry you? Do you want to keep a good relationship with the U.S.?
MIKATI: I am keen to have the best relation with U.S. I can ensure Mrs. Clinton, and definitely I'm looking forward to see her soon, that this government is a government -- the main objective of this government is to maintain good relation with international community.
ROBERTSON: And today you said you were holding your hand out to the leaders of all the parties in Lebanon to join you in this government.
MIKATI: Why I'm saying this? I'm saying this because it is in the interest of Lebanon. We are in a deadlock. And this deadlock, I'm not participate -- I was not participating in this deadlock, but today I'm saying please let us put our hand to give more (inaudible) towards moving from this situation.
ROBERTSON: Without Saad Hariri, can you have -- can you establish a government that you're going to be happy with?
MIKATI: It's not a matter of happiness, it's not that it's good for Lebanon or not, definitely without Saad Hariri it will be another aspect of government. So if the parties of (inaudible) Saad Hariri decide to participate, I would like to make large cabinet where everybody will participate. If not, it will be another option to have either techno party (ph) third, to have mixed between politician and technocrats (ph).
ROBERTSON: Another problem facing Lebanon is the issue of the UN special tribunal on Lebanon to determine who it can bring to justice whomever killed Rafic Hariri, the former prime minister. That was why Hezbollah withdrew their ministers over this issue.
MIKATI: This is a very delicate issue, it has to be solved by dialogue and it should be consensus of all Lebanese in any decision we take on this. It is not the decision of Najib Mikati or anybody else.
ROBERTSON: Would you be happy at the end of the day if the government chose to withdraw its support from the tribunal?
MIKATI: Depends on the reasons and why we decide to do this. Anything related to stability, anything related to conflict definitely I cannot ask things that I think myself I can do it. It has to be done on a consensus basis. That's Lebanon. If you know Lebanon very well, it will have to all to agree upon any decision should be taken.
ROBERTSON: So Lebanon should just forget who killed Rafic Hariri and let him get off free?
MIKATI: No, I'm not saying this at all.
ROBERTSON: But it says --
MIKATI: I'm not saying this at all, I'm saying two (inaudible), one is international resolution and this tribunal is going to proceed regardless if Lebanon say yes or not.
ROBERTSON: If they --
MIKATI: No, that's one, that's a.
ROBERTSON: So if the Tribunal indicts members of Hezbollah, will you support the government and demand the government arrest these members of Hezbollah?
MIKATI: It's still a -- let's say if we don't have anything in dialogue meanwhile in Lebanon and we are maintaining -- Lebanon is a continuity (ph) system, it is not just there is a king of coup d'etat of changing government, I have to maintain and honor all previous government. And not coming here as coup d'etat at all. So I maintain this. There is not through decision taken by all Lebanese, I have to ask it what Lebanon say.
ROBERTSON: So the government here will then, if the tribunal points to certain members of Hezbollah, arrest them? Yes --
MIKATI: Definitely is -- agreement and this agreement still applied.
ROBERTSON: If the agreement still applied? What if Hezbollah doesn't want the agreement to apply? They're going to push you to change it.
MIKATI: Hezbollah, it's one of influential and important --
ROBERTSON: They collapsed the government and brought you to your position today.
MIKATI: They brought me not because just for the tribunal, not --
ROBERTSON: Excuse me --
MIKATI: I go back to this, they didn't brought me, they --
ROBERTSON: But they created the conditions for you to be here.
MIKATI: Not bring condition at all.
ROBERTSON: They created the conditions.
MIKATI: They are part of the nomination. They didn't bring me. I ask my candidate, I ask to be a prime minister and I called all parties. And one of the party I called is Hezbollah. And they accept. Any precondition for this needs to be clear. So -- and this is very important. I'm happy that saying this (inaudible) and international community. So I'm Lebanon, it will honor any agreement with any international resolution.
STOUT: And that was the newly appointed prime minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati speaking to Nic Robertson in an exclusive interview. Mikati saying he is not Hezbollah's man. He is independent of the movement. And he's also saying that the new government will serve all of Lebanon.
Now we have more ahead here on NEWS STREAM including no more Rafa Slam. Raphael Nadal crashes out of the Australian Open. Don Riddell will have the latest on Rafa and much more sport next.
STOUT: Welcome back. Now the dream is over for Raphael Nadal at the Australian Open. Don Riddell is watching all the action for us -- Don.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Christie. You're right there will be no Rafa Slam this year. The Australian Open proved a bridge too far for the world's top tennis player who was beaten in straight sets just a couple of hours ago by David Ferrer. Nadal was clearly struggling with a leg injury during the match and his Spanish compatriot showed him no mercy whatsoever. The seven seed won in straight sets, setting up a semifinal clash with Andy Murray. This was Nadal's first Grand Slam defeat since the quarterfinals of the same tournament last year.
Roger Federer will play Andy Murray next. The fifth seed had to pick his way past the Ukrainian Alexander Dolgopolov, the man that surprised Robin Soderling in the previous round. He gave the Scot quite a fright with some unorthodox, but riveting and effective play, taking the third set on a tiebreak. But Murray grabbed the early lead in the fourth and consolidated to advance to his second straight Aussie Open semifinal. He'll play Ferrer next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY MURRAY, TENNIS PLAYER: I played well. I wouldn't necessarily in trouble at any stage, it was -- I was ahead in most of the sets, you know, and getting ahead early in the fourth set made a big difference. But I thought I dealt with his game well. It was just difficult to get into a rhythm. I did quite a lot of running. And, you know, he won a lot of free points off his first serve. So, you know, it was a tough match. And I thought I did pretty well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: It was Australia Day today. And although there are no longer any homegrown players in the single's draw, the fans certainly feel as though one of their own is into the semis -- Kim Clijsters, or Aussie Kim as she's sometimes known, book her place in the last four with a straight sets win over Agnieszka Radwanska. The Belgian Clijsters was once engaged to Australia's Leyton Hewitt. And although that relationship ended some time ago, her popularity has soared Down Under. Clijsters won the first set today and survived a second set tiebreak to win 6-3, 7-6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM CLIJSTERS, TENNIS PLAYER: Everything has to be better -- I mean serving, returning, the unforced errors, everything has to be better. But, you know, I'm in the semifinals. And, you know, don't feel like I've played my tennis probably. So, it's a good thing. And I feel that I'm hanging in there, working hard, doing my points and sometimes that's probably even more of an achievement than winning your matches very easily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: So the women's semifinals are now set. And Clijsters is the only major winner remaining. But she's never won a Slam outside of the U.S. All three of her major titles have come in New York.
We are guaranteed a first-time Aussie Open champ for the record Caroline Wozniaki holds a 2 and 1 record against her next opponent Li Na of China. Clijsters leads Znovareva in their careers matches by six matches to three.
Finally, the reigning Tour de France champion will learn about the results of a doping investigation on Thursday. Contador won the Tour de France for the third time last year, but then tested positive for a banned stimulant. The head of the Spanish Cycling Federation told Reuters that Contador will learn the provisional results of an investigation tomorrow.
That's all we've got time for just now. Christie, back to you.
STOUT: All right, Don, thank you.
And now earlier in the week our world sport colleagues, they reported that the Green Bay Packers had made it to the Super Bowl. Exciting news for the people of Wisconsin, but there was one Packers fan who was not celebrating on Monday: a car salesman named John Stone. Now John went to work wearing the Green Bay tie you see here, the problem was he worked in Chicago home of the Bears, whom the Packers defeated on Sunday. Now his boss didn't grin and bear it, and Stone was sent packing from his job as a car salesman. But as these pictures demonstrate, the story ends in victory for John. After only a few hours' time out, he touched down at a new dealership on Tuesday.
And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" with Max Foster, Richard Quest and Maggie Lake is next.