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Violence in Egypt; Nelson Mandela's Health; Business of Kidnapping in Afghanistan

Aired January 28, 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.

Violence on the streets of Egypt as authorities try to impose a communications blackout.

A volcano in southern Japan spews ash and smokes thousands of meters into the air.

And their videos are a viral sensation. Now it's our turn to get animated by Taiwan's Next Media.

Violence has erupted on the streets of Egypt as thousands take to the streets in a show of defiance. Police have grabbed a camera from a CNN crewmember as Egyptians face a virtual communications blackout. Web servers and text messages appear to have been blocked. The protesters are facing tough resistance from a police force already accused of heavy-handed tactics.

Now, you may find the footage we're about to show you disturbing. Now, on the left here, you see a man picking up a rock. Keep your eyes on him. This rock is not thrown, but he takes a bullet to the head from the security forces and he's killed.

Now, one man who wants to see an end to government oppression is Nobel Peace laureate Mohmaed ElBaradei. Now, he returned to Egypt on Thursday, to the delight of supporters, who see him as the face of democracy in the country. A security source tells CNN police have warned Mr. ElBaradei not to leave a mosque near downtown Cairo.

ElBaradei is calling on the current government to tolerate peaceful demonstrations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: The young people made their decision to find their feet in the street, that change is inevitable, that change is immediate. I have been betting on the people power for a year now, and I have been proven right. I said my party is the people and my party is the young people.

People realize that the regime is not listening, is not acting, and they had to go to the street. I hope and I will continue to support peaceful change, peaceful demonstrations. I'm asking the regime to listen to the people before it is too late. I'm asking them to stop using violence because it will be completely counterproductive and everybody will hurt.

So I am here, hopefully to work with everybody to ensure that we go through an orderly, peaceful process of change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, CNN's Ben Wedeman and our Frederik Pleitgen are there in Egypt covering the story from Cairo. They spoke to my colleague Zain Verjee a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're hearing is that there are protests here in Cairo and in other cities around Egypt. Some of them have turned violent. The police are using tear gas, as well as clubs to try and disperse people.

I can show you the view, actually, from our office, from our bureau right here. You can see those people back there on that bridge. They're actually trying to get to this side of the river to join the protests in Tahrir Square. And from what we're seeing, it appears as though they've either been beaten back or pushed back by the police.

But I want to bring in Ben Wedeman, who has been out here and just came back in a couple of minutes ago.

And tell us about how --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: OK. I'm going to interrupt this tape. I'm going to interrupt the taped footage there.

Let's get the very latest from the capital, what's happening right now. Ben Wedeman live on CNN USA. Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are demonstrations going on.

Now, the Interior Ministry, as it did the other day, said it would not tolerate demonstrations. But we see is they are using violence everywhere to put them down.

And I can tell you most of the protesters are not violent. They may throw rocks back after a while but, by and large, the violence is all coming from the state.

Now, to get to what happened to us, we were right off of Tahrir Square, the main square of Cairo, between a group of protesters who were running away from the police. As a group of plainclothes policemen --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we have you, Ben? Ben, are you still there?

No. I think we lost Ben. A lot going on. We'll make sure that we get back with him.

But as he was describing, there seems to be a ramping up of the tension of the protests, but as Ben very well pointed out --

STOUT: OK. Any opportunity to check in with our Ben Wedeman live in Cairo, we take it here on CNN. And once he's available, we'll go straight back to Cairo.

Now, social media has been instrumental in organizing these protests, and the Web remains a vital tool for Egyptians sharing their experiences. But the Internet went dark in much of Egypt this morning. Text messaging also appears to be blocked.

Mohammed Jamjoom joins me now from CNN Center with the latest.

And Mohammed, how are the protesters organizing themselves given all the IT disruption?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, let me walk you through this, because the big story today as far as social media has been the fact that Egypt basically stopped the Internet. They stopped all Internet usage, and so it's been very difficult for people there who had been organizing through online movement and through social media to do so. But let me show you a few things.

This is a Facebook page for one of the groups that's been instrumental in getting people out here today. They've been organizing this protest today.

As of yesterday, there were still thousands of people by the hour that were joining up. They were joining invitations saying that they would attend the protests today. As of the last time anybody joined, 85,733 attending. That was up from just about 20,000 the day before, to show you how popular this movement is. Nonetheless, nobody has posted on this site since actually Wednesday.

Now, there have been alternative means by which people are using to try to get the message out on the Internet. One of the more interesting ways, Android phones and an app for Android phones.

This site in Arabic has been telling people in Egypt and in the region how to do so. This is being sent around by social media users in the region to try to get people to find a way to get the word out using Android phones.

Now, let me show you some people that have been tweeting, also, to give ways in which to get around the block that's been going on.

This is Mohammed Ziad (ph). He tweeted "Direct IP addresses for social media -- pass these on to people in Egypt" for Twitter and for Facebook.

They're trying to get people who are interested in demonstrating to find a way to get the message out even through social media, even now that the Internet is blocked.

And let's also go to what our Ben Wedeman has been saying. Ben has been tweeting. He said earlier, "So far today? Attacks on protesters and press. Internet, cell phone service cut. Nobel laureate arrested. And day is still young."

And Ben, actually, earlier in the day, was trying to find alternative means of tweeting. He actually called the international desk through a landline and got an international desk editor to get his message out on Twitter.

So, people trying to be very creative in getting the word out on social media -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, is social media driving the protests, or is it merely playing a role in a revolt that would have happened anyway without Facebook or Twitter?

JAMJOOM: Well, many people in the region suggesting that this would not have been as intense, that this would not have been as organized without social media as a role. We've also spoken to bloggers in the last few days to get their opinion on this. One such person, Wael Abbas, one of the most well-known bloggers in Egypt, here's what he told CNN when asked about this yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAEL ABBAS, AWARD WINNING EGYPTIAN BLOGGER: Online activism is a tool, and it has played a great tool in organizing and in calling for people to participate, and to deliver news. There's a lot of censorship in the position in media. And also, the activists who have been detained or arrested or injured, getting legal help and getting medication. So it's our media and its power (ph) air that we breathe in a country where they are trying to choke us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAMJOOM: It's been absolutely fascinating to see bloggers and other people using social media, suggesting people know that when they go out, that they may face threats, they may face violence, clashes with the police, lots of danger. And yet, they are saying this is their moment, they need to be out demonstrating, and it's for the greater good -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right, Mohammed. Thank you so much for that.

Mohammed Jamjoom, joining us live from CNN Center.

And as we try to understand the state of play in Egypt, as these protests have taken a violent turn, let's go back to our Ben Wedeman and Frederik Pleitgen, again speaking to Zain Verjee moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Hi, Zain.

What we're hearing is that there are protests here in Cairo and in other cities around Egypt. Some of them have turned violent. The police are using tear gas, as well as clubs, to try and disperse people.

I can show you the view actually from our office, from our bureau right here. You can see those people back there on that bridge. They're actually trying to get to this side of the river to join the protests in Tahrir Square. And from what we're seeing, it appears as though they've either been beaten back or pushed back by the police.

But I want to bring in Ben Wedeman, who has been out here and just came back in a couple of minutes ago.

And tell us about how the security forces tried to stop or did eventually stop you from covering this whole thing.

WEDEMAN: Well, we were in Tahrir Square, where there was a large group of protesters who had come from up Ramsis (ph) Street, which is a big avenue in Cairo. And the clash began where the police started using tear gas and basically chasing the protesters.

And we were underneath an overpass behind a column between the protesters and police, basically taking shelter from the rocks. And as we were there, a group of plainclothes policemen known in Arabic as bogdadiya (ph), thugs, came and surrounded us and wanted to basically haul us off, and then tried to take our camera.

And of course a big struggle began, and we're trying to hold on to the camera. But six or seven of them, big guys, are basically trying to crack the viewfinder and eventually took the camera away after threatening to beat us with their clubs and rubber truncheons.

We spent a good deal of time trying to argue with the police to give us back the camera, but to no luck. They're not interested at all in ideas like freedom of the press, which obviously to them seemed rather immaterial at this time.

And of course we're not the only ones who have been harassed. Just a moment ago, I spoke with a colleague from German television this morning. They had their cameras smashed and stolen as well.

So this seems to be a pattern today in Egypt. The government cutting off the Internet, cutting off cell phone communications, and trying to basically create a complete news blackout in Egypt.

PLEITGEN: And it seems as though they're being very violent about all of this. I mean, it seems as though there is nothing like restraint at this point.

WEDEMAN: Well, in fact, on Tuesday, to their credit, the Egyptian police were relatively restrained. They held their billy clubs behind. They just tried to keep the crowd under control.

Today, restraint has gone out the window. But I have to tell you, Fred, this is not unusual.

In 2005, I was at demonstrations where I saw innocent women, bystanders, as well as peaceful protesters, being beaten by the police. One woman -- I remember this image in my head -- they grabbed her by the hair and they dragged her along the sidewalk, pulled her into a back alley, and molested her sexually. And this has been a pattern with the Egyptian police.

And that's one of the complaints of the people here, that's one of the reasons for the protests, is police brutality. It happens on an almost monthly basis.

The people go to the police station for routine questioning, and then they are dead the next morning. Their investigations, usually the police get off with a year or two in prison, or a suspension. But it seems to be the pattern, that the police don't really have much in the way of restraint.

PLEITGEN: All right, Ben. All right. Thanks a lot, Ben.

Of course, we can tell the Egyptian authorities, they're not going to stop us from reporting this story. But this in fact a part of something larger that we can see, is that, of course, also, you have them shutting down the Internet. We haven't had any Internet access. The same is true for cell phones as well.

So, right now, communications are very difficult not just for us, but of course for all the people trying to organize as well -- Zain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: OK. And right now we are able to take you live to the Egyptian capital. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us live in Cairo.

And Ben, earlier you were talking about the scuffle you and your crew had with plainclothes police. Give us more details of what happened.

WEDEMAN: Basically, what happened -- but actually, let's go to the live pictures we're putting out. What you're seeing is a large plume of dark smoke coming from under one of the main bridges across the Nile River. That's right in front of the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

I think it's a burning car. We've been getting a lot of tear gas blowing down the street from that area. There are lots of protesters on this 6th October Bridge over the Nile.

But Kristie, to go back to what happened to us, I was with our producer, Tommy Evans (ph), camerawoman Mary Rogers (ph). We were right off of Tahrir Square, under an overpass, hiding behind a big column, caught between protesters and a large group of policemen, both uniformed and plainclothed.

We were taking cover from rocks that were flying in both directions when, after a while, a group of about a dozen of these plainclothes policemen set upon us. All of them had clubs, threatening to beat us, trying to take away our camera. We sort of -- all three of us tried to grab on to it, rip it out of their hands, but they managed to break the camera and then haul it away.

But I have to tell you, this is not an experience unique to the CNN crew. I know a variety of other TV crews and still photographers who have been attacked --

STOUT: OK. It looks like we just lost Ben Wedeman there. We're going to try to get back to him. Once we can, we'll bring it to you live here on NEWS STREAM.

We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: And that is the scene in Egypt this day. Violent clashes have broke out in Cairo. Police there have been using water cannons and other means to rein in the protesters, who promised that this day would be their "Friday of Wrath."

Earlier, we heard from our Ben Wedeman, reporting that police today in Cairo grabbed the camera from the CNN crewmembers and took it away. Clearly, tensions are high. Also, Ben Wedeman reporting about police reaction, saying, "Restraint is out the window."

We'll continue to monitor the situation for you there in Egypt.

Now, the relationship between Egypt's government and its civilians is clearly strained, but today new information was published detailing the government's relations with America. And the source of the documents? None other than WikiLeaks.

Now, the leak paints a picture of a prized but strained bond between the two. Egyptian President Mubarak is seen as an ally on issues like Iran's nuclear program. One wire from 2008 quotes Mubarak as saying he had warned Tehran not to provoke the Americans on the nuclear issue, but there are obvious differences on human rights.

Now, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt noted in 2009 that, "Mubarak takes this issue personally, and it makes him seethe when we raise it, particularly in public."

Well, in Tunisia, where anti-government protests inspired the events we've been watching in Egypt, the prime minister has attempted to meet demonstrators halfway. In the cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, Mohamed Ghannouchi ousted key ministers belong to former president Ben Ali's party. Protesters there have demanded that all of the old regime, including Ghannouchi, be removed from power.

Then he camped out in front of the government palace in Tunis for five days. And while the new cabinet won't please everyone, it has been endorsed by the Tunisian General Labor Union. It is the key driver behind the current protests.

Now, Yemen is the latest corner of the Arab world to see citizens rising up against their government. Thousands turned out on Thursday to demand the sort of change that forced Tunisia's president from office. There were at least four demonstrations, including the one you see here, in the capital, Sana'a. But there were no reports of any violence.

Now, South Africans have been worrying about former president Nelson Mandela's health for the past two days. But a short time ago, doctors discharged him from hospital.

Nkepile Mabuse was there when they made the announcement. She joins us now live from Johannesburg.

And Nkepile, what was the scene like when that announcement took place at the hospital?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the hospital was packed with journalists. I mean, the room that they gave us was so small, it couldn't accommodate all the journalists that were there to cover the story.

Of course, Mr. Mandela is not only important to South Africans, but the world over. He is adored as an international peace icon.

Now, where we are right now is where Mr. Mandela is recovering. Behind me is his home here in Houghton, Johannesburg. After his release from Milpark Hospital, he came here to his home to recover.

But the surgeon general -- now, this is the man who is really responsible for the health needs of the current and former president -- has said that Mr. Mandela will continue to receive intense monitoring, despite the fact that he is home. But the surgeon general also said for a 92-year-old man, Mr. Mandela continues to surprise doctors.

Let's just take a listen, Kristie, to what else the surgeon general had to say about Mr. Mandela's condition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

V.J. RAMLAKAN, ARMY SURGEON GENERAL: Despite all of this, his amazing attitude allows him to cope with the difficulties of old age with the greatest of graces. At this stage, the medical panel is satisfied with his recovery, and he will be discharged to receive home-based care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MABUSE: Now, of course the lack of information over the past two days the deputy president had said he regrets, of course, because it fueled a lot of speculation. He has now promised the South African public that they will get updates on Mr. Mandela's health from now on -- Kristie.

STOUT: And while he was still in hospital, and given all the uncertainty about his health, what is the reaction in South Africa?

MABUSE: Well, you know, South Africans absolutely adore Mr. Mandela. There are people who are wishing him well. Everybody here in South Africa is hoping that Mr. Mandela will celebrate his 93rd birthday, which is due on the 18th of July. Even the deputy president today, he said South Africans should continue to pray for Mr. Mandela so that the whole country can celebrate him turning 93 this year -- Kristie.

STOUT: Nelson Mandela soon to turn 93. These days, how often does he make public appearances? How many opportunities are there for South Africans to see him?

MABUSE: You know, Kristie, the last time that South Africans saw Mr. Mandela was during the World Cup. And, you know, they get very anxious because they don't see him very often.

Of course he retired from public life a long time ago. And the South African government continues to ask the media, ask the public to give him his space, because he is frail and he is getting old.

But, as I said, South Africans want to see -- they call him "Dada" (ph) or "Madiva" (ph). This is how much they love him. "Dada" (ph) means father. They see him as the father of the nation.

And they really do want to see him looking health now and again. And they worry when they don't see much of him -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, indeed.

Nkepile Mabuse joining us live from Johannesburg.

Thank you very much, indeed.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We will continue to update you on the very fluid situation in Egypt on this "Friday of Wrath," as the protesters call it.

We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now, let's give you a brief recap of the situation happening this day in Egypt.

Violent clashes this day. Reports of attacks on protesters in Egypt, as well as attacks on the press, including our own CNN crew. Meanwhile, IT services including cell phone services has been cut in the country.

Now, this is part of a massive four-day-long protest that's been going on now aimed at ending the reign of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who's been in power for 30 years as president of the country.

Now, again, Internet text messaging services, they appear to be down throughout the country. And as Ben Wedeman, who was speaking to us live earlier from Cairo, mentioned to us earlier, police today in Cairo, they grabbed a camera from a CNN crewmember and took it away.

So, clearly, tensions are high in the Egyptian capital and elsewhere in the country, as protesters take part in this day of protests which they call the "Friday of Wrath."

You're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, the business of kidnapping is booming in northern Afghanistan, and that is a constant worry to the area's businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Now, CNN's Arwa Damon reports on the dangerous situation in the provincial capital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The city of Mazar-e-Sharif looks securing. It's been considered among the safest places in Afghanistan. But there are worrying indications that violence is on the rise here.

Azizullah has seen that first hand. "Mazar is not that big of a city," he tells us. "So if someone has a thriving business, everyone knows about it."

Azizullah's family owns a series of gas stations. One day, on his way home from work, he was snatched on the street by gunmen.

"I didn't care about how much money they wanted," he recalled. "I was just thinking about my life and if I would ever seen my family again."

He was released after 11 harrowing days, after paying a ransom. He's not alone. Five months ago, a gold merchant too frightened to appear on camera was kidnapped from this market.

(on camera): Since then, the Afghan police set up that small outpost and now conduct regular patrols through the area. It has helped ease merchants' fears that they could be the next target.

(voice-over): Police chief Hismatullah Alizai blames criminal gangs that claim to the be the Taliban who are wreaking havoc in the province. He has just over 2,000 policemen for the whole province, and he says he needs at least four times that number to be effective. He's hoping the U.S. and its allies will expand and train Afghanistan security forces as they've promised.

"If they don't," Alizai warns, "all of the al Qaeda fighters and the Taliban will come back to the country, and it will be like life before." But there are ominous signs.

One group that monitors violence in Afghanistan says attacks in Balkh have doubled in the past year, and says security in the province is deteriorating. The Taliban are expanding their presence in the north and east, and organized crime often linked to drug trafficking is also a growing problem.

For a business owner like Azizullah, it makes life at best uncertain, and it may complicate the planned handover of security to Afghan forces.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: OK. We'll have much more in the situation in Egypt. Violent clashes this day.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Violent clashes have broken out in Cairo as well as Suez and Alexandria as anti-government protests gain momentum. Egyptians have taken to the streets in their thousands. And security forces are fighting many back with tear gas and water cannons. Protests have spread east to Jordan and Yemen. The Arab world takes inspiration from an uprising in Tunisia.

Now mourners are gathering in Uganda to say farewell to murder gay rights activist David Cato. Now he was beaten with a hammer in his home near the capital Kampala. It is not clear whether Cato's death was linked to a so-called hit list published in a tabloid last year which his name was featured on a list of what the paper called Uganda's top homosexuals.

Now Japan's Mount Shinmoedake continues to spew ash and smoke thousands of meters into the sky. Trains and flights to Miuzaki in southwestern Japan were suspended on Friday. Now people from one town near the volcano spent Thursday night in an evacuation center. It is the first time it has erupted in 52 years.

And there's a new allegation in the sex scandal surrounding Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, prosecutors now linking him to a second under-aged girl, that's according to court documents. Now phone records indicate that she was at his residence on two occasions in 2009. Now Berlusconi is already facing accusations that he paid to have sex with a night club dancer known as Ruby when she was 17. But Ruby and the prime minister deny it.

Now police in the UK are reopening their investigation into the phone hacking scandal involving News of the World. Now the paper is accused of intercepting phone messages of celebrities and politicians. This time, their investigation might turn into a widespread probe of how British reports get their stories. Atika Shubert reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The rich, the famous and the powerful: the names include supermodel Elle McPherson, Princes William and Harry, even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown thinks he may have been a victim of the phone hacking scandal that has shocked Britain.

Tabloid News of the World is believed to have hacked thousands of private phone messages to get the scope on celebrities and politicians and there may be more. Police are reopening an investigation into the tabloid after receiving, quote, significant new evidence from the newspaper itself.

The original investigation ended in 2007 with the News of the World reporter and a private investigator in jail convicted of breaking into the voice messages of royal family members, but reports continue to surface of the dark arts of the tabloid news room and a culture of phone hacking. In 2009, it was revealed the paper had paid more than a million dollars in an out of court settlement to another alleged victim of phone hacking.

News of the World's editor, Andy Coulson resigned over the scandal, although he denies any knowledge of phone hacking. He resurfaced later as the chief spin doctor to Prime Minister David Cameron only to resign last week after months of growing speculation.

British police have also come under heavy criticism for failing to fully investigate the first time around.

JOHN WHITTINGDALE, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, it is very worrying because plainly a lack of enthusiasm to carry out a thorough investigation at the time, but it appears that it was all too convenient just to accept the easy excuse that this was the work of one person. It plainly wasn't. It was a culture at that time which led to widespread lawbreaking. And that needs to be identified. And those who are responsible need to be brought to justice.

SHUBERT: But the man who may be most worried is media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. News Group International owns the troubled tabloid. He is now in London abruptly canceling plans for Davos World Economic Forum.

This time the police are promising a robust investigation that leaves no stone unturned, even as the list of celebrities believed to have been hacked grows longer.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now let's get back to our stop story. In Egypt this day violent clashes between police and protesters in Cairo, in Suez as well as Alexandria. Our Nic Robertson is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no sooner had the prayers ended at the mosque which is a few hundred yards in this direction than the crowds clashed immediately with the police. The police, hundreds of them, had strong batons, were firing tear gas at the crowds. People have now rushed up along the corner here saying their going to go to the center of the city. There's a lot of chanting, anti-Mubarek chanting. Tear gas is in the air. I can feel it in my nose. That's another round of tear gas it sounds like is being fired. And the protesters here say their worried that live rounds of ammunition, that shots may be fired at them.

This gentleman here -- this gentleman here is saying that his business -- tear gas being fired.

They fired inside the mosque is what this man was telling us here right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: OK, Nic Robertson there, reporting from Alexandria, Egypt.

Now many Egyptians are using social media, they have been using it, to organize the protests. But the Internet went dark in much of Egypt this morning. And text message also appears to be blocked. Mohammed Jamjoon joins me now from CNN Center with the latest. And Mohammed, let's start first with just a status update on the IT situation in Egypt, just how much is blacked out?

MOHAMMED JAMJOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a near complete blackout, Kristie. In fact, what we've seen in the past several hours, people who were tweeting before, a lot of people who are very active in tweeting in the last several days have not been able to, because the government has been successful in shutting down the internet.

But let me tell you a little about what the stuff is that we've seen in the last couple of days. Let me just walk you through this. Basically this is a Facebook page that was instrumental in getting people out into the streets today. This Facebook page asked for people to attend the protest. So many people are out there even though nobody is using this Facebook page right now.

Now, what we're seeing on Twitter, not a lot of the people that were tweeting before, not a lot of the Egyptians that were tweeting before, but you're seeing mainstream media -- there are people like Ben Wedeman, CNN, that's been reporting for us. He tweeted from a while ago "plain clothed Egypt policeman in Tahrir Square attack CNN crew, brake and steal camera. Violent suppression of protests everywhere." You're seeing other media outlets tweet out similar information because of the crackdown that's going on.

But there are alternative means by which people that are trying to use social media in Egypt are trying to do. So right now one of them is an app that's used on Android phones. A web site like this, which is in Arabic, tells you there's how to download this app and how to try to get around the internet block. This has actually been quite popular. This is being emailed around to people in the region so that the demonstrators and the people who want to get the information out can try to get around the block and do so -- Kristie.

STOUT: And I know you're keeping an eye on all of these feeds. And as the information of these attacks happening this morning -- attacks on protesters, attacks on members of the press, how is that inflaming the protest movement and adding to the momentum of the protest movement? What is your gauge?

JAMJOON: Well, every time we've seen a kind of crackdown situation going on, and when there's violence erupting, that seems to anger protesters more, it seems to add fuel to the fire. You've seen this in other places in the region as well. You saw this a few days ago with protests that were happening in Yemen.

Now yesterday in Yemen, there were protests that went on that were largely peaceful. There were no clashes with the police or security forces, but nonetheless when there have been clash situations in Egypt or in places like Yemen, you have seen that add anger, add more momentum to the movement and get more people out into the streets even though the people that are coming out into the streets know that by doing so it is a danger and they can be taking their lives into their hands -- Kristie.

STOUT: You know it's a hot, very fluid and breaking story out of Egypt. Have you had any opportunity to follow the social media feeds coming throughout the Arab region, hearing what people outside Egypt are making of this revolt underway?

JAMJOON: Well, what we've seen in the past several days -- let me give you an example, a country like Saudi Arabia, where social media has been utilized more and more over the past few years, nonetheless in the last week, it's really exploded. You're seeing people tweet out information about what went on in Tunisia, what's been going on in Egypt, what's been going on in Yemen, many times they've been supporting those movements. And that's something that really hasn't been seen before in that part of the world. You know, social media in many way in a lot of places, in a lot of countries in that region can be -- it can be seen to be in its infancy, but it's really the use of it has exploded over the past several days with people supporting what they're seeing going on in the streets at places like Yemen and Egypt and Tunisia -- Kristie.

STOUT: Protesters had planned for this day. They in fact call this day a Friday of wrath. Are you seeing any game plans or any plans by the protesters through social media about what's going to happen this weekend and beyond in Egypt?

JAMJOON: As of now Kristie, not yet. We imagine that more of the creative social media users in the next several hours will find ways to get around these blocks that have been put in place by the government there and that they will try to get their word out.

You know, there have been ways in the past -- in the past many hours, several people were calling through land lines and asking people in other countries to tweet on their behalf. So we may be seeing more and more of that. And it really depends on how the situation develops in Egypt -- Kristie.

STOUT: Wow, proxy tweeting as it were. Mohammed Jamjoon joining us live from CNN Center. Thank you so much for staying on this story for us, Mohammed.

You're watching News Stream. We'll be back right after this.

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STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching News Stream. And let's return to the situation in Egypt. And we've been seeing reports and reporting on violent clashes taking place throughout the country in Cairo, in Alexandria, in Suez, you're looking at taped pictures of the situation in the Egyptian capital. Earlier in the hour, when we were speaking to our Ben Wedeman live in Cairo, he showed to us -- and we saw it live on our screens, smoke rising in central Cairo.

Now police have been using a number of containment tactics to reign in the protesters. They've been using water cannons, they've been using tear gas against the protesters, they've also been scuffling with members of the press. In fact, our crew in Cairo, they had a confrontation with police -- Ben Wedeman and his crew, they encountered a plain clothes police officers who grabbed a camera from them and took it away. So clearly tensions are indeed very high this Friday in Egypt.

Our Fred Pleitgen, he is also reporting there in Cairo. And he filed this for us earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: The people in the security forces here in the Egyptian capital of Cairo are bracing for what many believe could be the largest protest since the movement started a couple of days ago. I can show you that right now security forces are lining up throughout the city, even outside our office here which is in downtown Cairo. So you can see security forces really amassing in a lot of these places, especially in downtown Cairo in a place called Tahrir Square, which really is the place where all of these protests basically started a couple of days ago. More and more police are coming there. Also plain clothes police officers. So clearly the security forces are gearing up for a very big and possibly pivotal day here in this country's history.

Also, internet services here in Egypt continue to be down as well as cell phones. It's almost impossible to communicate. There is one, small little internet provider called Nor (ph) which apparently is still working. And people on Twitter are asking folks here in Egypt who have an account with Nor (ph) to open their password so more people can access it. We've also heard of activists going door to door in certain neighborhoods and asking people to come to these protests today. They are expecting anywhere upward of 1 million people if in fact things pan out the way they them to and the way they've been organized on Facebook.

Now the other thing that happened is that the leader of a prominent, and one of the biggest movements here in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested in the night. Now the Muslim Brotherhood also saying that they are still planning on attending and participating in these protests.

So certainly this is something that could be very, very big. The security forces are bracing for it. And it appears as though in the coming hours all of this could get very large and kick off.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Cairo, Egypt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And that report filed by our Fred Pleitgen earlier in this day before saw an escalation in the protests. Thousands of protesters turning out not only in the Egyptian capital, but also in Suez and Alexandria. And as the number of protesters grows, and as some call for the ousting of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek, our Brian Todd wonders whether they have thought about what might happen to Egypt after he's gone.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the streets, in their Twitter and Facebook messages, the young catalysts of the uprising in Egypt leave no doubt about their objective: to drive out an 82-year-old president who has ruled them with an iron hand for as long as many of them have been alive. But that presents a problem, Hosni Mubarek's been in power so long, he'd leave a gaping void which could be exploited by several militant groups that he's been crushing for decades.

BRIAN FISHMAN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: If there's a period of real instability in Egypt, will that create an opportunity for some of these old groups to sort of reinvigorate themselves? I think at this point, there's no sign of that, but I'm sure that's something we do need to be aware of.

TODD: Brian Fishman and other experts point to groups that have been banned by Mubarek's government, like the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood lived by the gun long ago, but in recent years has become much more moderate, moved away from violence and toward providing social services through Islamic charities. Still, there are other Egyptian opposition figures who favor a more brutal approach.

MARC GINSBERG, FRM. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two in al Qaeda was an Egyptian. He still has an enormous following in Egypt among very radical Islamic extremists.

TODD: al-Zawahiri has been gunning for Mubarek for decades. And experts say he may make a public statement during these protests. But he's on the run. And his old group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, has been absorbed into al Qaeda. Another faction, called the Islamic Group, has massacred tourists, and once came close to assassinating Mubarek.

But experts say many of its members are hiding out with al Qaeda in Pakistan. And its spiritual leader, Omar Abel-Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh, is serving a life sentence in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

These groups are down, experts say, but not necessarily out.

You foresee, though, a scenario where militants could rise up and actually take some power or influence. What's that scenario?

FISHMAN: I think the danger scenario here where jihadi groups and militant groups might be able to increase their influence in Egypt if the government crushes these protests violently, in a way that doesn't create any reform.

TODD: Then, says Brian Fishman, al Qaeda and other militant groups might jump in and tell Egyptians that peaceful protests don't work and that violence is the only way to bring the change you want.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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STOUT: Now we will continue to follow the situation in Egypt and update you as soon as we have more.

Now let's go to Russia now, which is still reeling from this week's terror attack in Moscow. Thirty-five people were killed in Monday's bombing at Moscow's busiest airport. Among the dead was a playwright hailed as a fresh, young dramatic voice. Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance reports.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the funeral in Ukraine of Anna Jeblonska (ph), one of 35 lives cut short by the Moscow Airport bombing. Family and friends there are beside themselves with grief.

Anna will stay with us, because she was a playwright of genius, says her friend Natalia (ph). She used to say people wake up, don't be beasts towards each other. Start loving and stop killing.

A celebrated young playwright, Anna Jablonska (ph) she liked to call herself, was killed before she ever had a chance to reach her prime. But at this memorial in the center of Moscow, all the victims of that tragic Moscow Airport bombing are being remembered and mourned.

At just 29, Anna was perhaps the most high profile of the bomb victims. Her Russian language plays won prestigious awards. She had traveled to Moscow from her home in Odessa to collect the latest accolade from a respected Russian magazine.

At Moscow's airport, Anna had called ahead to say she'd landed and was on her way, but she entered the arrivals hall as the bombers struck.

At the award ceremony in central Moscow, oblivious to the attack, there was confusion about where the guest of honor had gone. Eventually, they started without her, presenting an award in her absence for best screenplay.

What happened when you announced the award was going to Anna and she wasn't there, what happened?

DANIL DONDUREI, CINEMA ART MAGAZINE (through translator): We did not know what happened. We knew that she had arrived, because she called us after landing, but the whole time the ceremony took place, we tried to reach her. We never thought something wrong has happened.

CHANCE: It was Anna's own husband who, after repeatedly dialing her cell phone, eventually got through. A man answered, identifying himself as a Russian security agent. The phone had survived the blast, but like so many others at the airport his wife had tragically not.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

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STOUT: You're watching News Stream. We'll be back right after this.

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STOUT: OK. Welcome back. And let's bring you up to date on the breaking news story this hour. Large protests in several cities in Egypt. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of cities there including Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Now security forces have fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators many of whom are trying to bring down the government of President Hosni Mubarek.

There has also been a virtual communications blackout with internet servers and text messaging apparently being blocked. We heard that police took a camera from a CNN crew trying to document these protests.

Now we also want to check in on the volcano that's erupting in Japan. We told you about that earlier. Mari Ramos joins us from the world weather center with that -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. Yeah, so there had been some flight cancelations and more were expected overnight tonight and into tomorrow as this plume of ash and smoke from Mount Shinmoedake continues to billow out of the crater of the volcano. And you can see it right over here in this amazing image that Japan Meteorological Agency was distributing earlier today. Really spectacular stuff, but it is also dangerous. They said that there's no danger to the immediate population around the area, because this is an area that is not densely populated. It's actually in the middle of a national park, an area where there's more than 20 active volcanoes. And Shinmoedake is just one of them as you can see here, but really is a spectacular showing. You see it here, it almost look surreal when you see this area right over here.

And then the ash plume, you can see it also sticking out, just kind of following the wind here. And these are the areas, of course, where aircraft wouldn't be able to fly, but there are no official advisories for that particular volcano.

But there are some in Indonesia. Right here as we head into eastern Java, Mount Bromo, a huge volcano kind of split in half from a large eruption thousands of years ago. This volcano is erupting again now. And there is a volcanic ash advisory from the surface to about 18,000 feet. And that one stretches along this area right in here. That includes the island of Bali. And what's happened there, thousands of people have been stuck for the last day or so at the airport because of Mount Bromo erupting.

Some worshippers have been going up to the volcano giving offerings to try to calm the volcano down. And these pictures are truly amazing that people can get that close to that volcano. Of course, nothing right now for those -- that are stuck at the airport waiting for their flight to take off. It may be awhile, of course, because it's still dangerous -- ash and planes don't mix. Back to you.

STOUT: That's right. As we learned last year, right? Mari Ramos thank you so much.

And we have been following the violent protests across Egypt for you this hour. Now state media reporting that riot police are using tear gas to disperse tens of thousands of protesters on the streets of Suez. About 15,000 riot police have been deployed there. But of course these protests are taking place across the country, not only in Suez, not only in Cairo, but also in Alexandria as well where our Nic Robertson has been reporting.

Now police have been using a variety of containment tactics to reign in the protesters, including getting quite violent at it: water cannons and tear gas. We heard from our Ben Wedeman in Cairo, and reported on how restraint is out the window; those were his exact words in terms of police reaction there. Also, when we talked to our Ben Wedeman live from Cairo early in the hour we saw live on our screens the smoke rising in central Cairo.

We will continue to monitor the situation there. This is News Stream. And CNN will continue to follow the very fluid situation in Egypt on World Business Today next.

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