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Egyptians Fighting Back; Perth-Area Bushfires; Green Bay Packers Win Super Bowl

Aired February 7, 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.

Life starts to return to normal in Cairo, but protesters vow not to leave until President Mubarak does first.

Champions again. The Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl for a fourth time.

And remember that animated video of Tiger Woods' car crash? We'll show you NEWS STREAM through the eyes of Taiwan's next media.

Now, we begin in Egypt, where anti-government demonstrations are entering their third week. It's now late afternoon there, and the mood is one of uneasy calm.

Now, some shops and banks have reopened, but in central Cairo, crowds continue to stand against their president. Many say they won't leave until Hosni Mubarak leaves office.

While there is international support for change, the U.S. government is advocating an orderly transition. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that a hasty Mubarak exit would complicate Egypt's problems.

Now, there are several stakeholders in discussions over Egypt's future, and many of them met with this man, the new vice president, Omar Suleiman, on Sunday to thrash out a route to reform. Among the attendees, members of the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood in their first official government meeting for years. Now, they're pushing for parliament to be dissolved, but anti-U.S. comments the group has made in the past have raised international concern. Now a pair of liberal political parties, they also joined the talks, and industry leaders were also present.

Now, this man is Naguib Sawiris. He's a telecom tycoon and one of the world's richest people. According to "BusinessWeek," he said big progress was made at the talks, but not everyone agreed.

Now, one man who was not in attendance, claiming he wasn't invited, was the opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei Now, after the talks, he complained that there was "a huge question of credibility over the government's agenda."

Now, while the vice president appeared to offer concessions on emergency law and freedom of the press, ElBaradei remains unconvinced. But in a conversation with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, he says he does believe his voice is being heard.


MOHAMED ELBARADEI, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CHANGE: Well, I'm not -- I don't think I am isolated. I'm one of many, Fareed, who -- particularly the people who are camping in the Tahrir Square and many other parts of the Egypt, they are determined that they would continue this week, for example, to call it a week of resistance. And they will have a huge demonstration today, on Wednesday, on Friday.

And so it is a complete standoff. And I hope somebody will send the message -- you know, I don't know in which way -- to President Mubarak that for the sake of the country, for his own dignity, to defuse this crisis, he better step down, and everybody is ready to give him the dignified out he is entitled to as the former president of Egypt. But he needs to go.


STOUT: Many of Egypt's protesters say that they are fighting back after nearly 30 years of oppression and brutality at the hands of security forces.

Arwa Damon spoke with some Egyptians that they have witnessed that brutality first hand. And we want to warn you, some of the images in this report are graphic.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "I went to all the morgues. I went to all the hospitals," says Nadia Saab (ph) hysterically. "Where is my son?"

His name is Mohammed (ph) and he worked at the pyramids. The 15-year-old disappeared on his way home, on the first day of the uprising. Clutching his picture, Mohammed's (ph) younger hopes someone at Tahrir Square might recognize him, just one of many Egyptians unaccounted for since these demonstrations began.

"I hope you come back, Mohammed (ph)! I hope you come back!" his mother cries in agony. The family hopes but also fears that he has been detained.

Even before the recent unrest, Human Rights Watch has long accused Egypt of oppressive police state tactics against dissidents, and has been trying to document missing persons cases that may be politically motivated.

Last summer, 28-year-old businessman Khaled Said was dragged out of a cafe, witnesses say, and beaten to death by plainclothes police.

HEBA FATMA MORAYEF, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The police brutality when Khaled was crying, "You're killing me! You're killing me!" and yet they were still banging his head against the steps, and the marble steps and the metal door.

DAMON: Hundreds took to the streets in Alexandria to protect the killing. Their horror oversteps brutality, overcoming any fear of reprisal.

The government initially claimed that Khaled, who, according to supporters, had evidence of police corruption, died of asphyxiation after trying to swallow a packet of drugs, but has since acknowledged he was beaten to death. A Facebook page started by human rights activists was bannered, "We are all Khaled Said," using cell phone photos from the morgue to give witness to the type of brutality later used against anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square that has captured the attention of the world.

MORAYEF: I think what this recent crisis has really highlighted is the very repressive nature of the police state that we've had under Mubarak since he took over. There are really no limits to how far the security services and the country will go to protect the status quo.

DAMON: Human Rights Watch says attacks against the media during the protests show the government is deliberately trying to create a sense of paranoia by blaming Western elements for wanting to create chaos.

MORAYEF: This seems to be a strategy to try and limit the international coverage which has been very sympathetic to the demands of protesters.

DAMON: Two "New York Times" correspondents reported Sunday on how they were taken into custody by Egyptian authorities, turned over to secret police, and interrogated in a cold, padded room. "The worst part had nothing to do with our treatment," they wrote. "It was seeing, and in particularly hearing, through the walls of this dreadful facility the abuse of Egyptians at the hands of their own government."

The reporters were held overnight and released. But as they told us, the treatment is not always so benign for Egyptians.

This protester, a (INAUDIBLE) economist and active blogger whose name is Mohamed, was stopped on the way home one day last week at a civilian checkpoint in a neighborhood hostile towards the ongoing protests. He said his laptop was taken and he was accused of being a foreign agent.

MOHAMED, BLOGGER AND PROTESTER: The first slap on the back of the head was like their -- everybody started pummeling (ph) the back. So it was a little insane. So I was getting kind of hit from all sides. Mostly to the head for some reason.

I actually touched my head and (INAUDIBLE) started shouting, screaming for my life, really, because, I mean, there was no stopping them. It's a blind mob, and people behave very differently in a mob.

DAMON (on camera): But was this happening within eyesight of the military?

MOHAMED: Within, you know, four yards of an officer and two soldiers.

DAMON (voice-over): He said the soldiers told him they have orders not to interfere. Just one of many scarred by recent events in a nation that still must heal from its past.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Cairo.


STOUT: It is day 14 of protests in Egypt. Our Ivan Watson is there in Cairo. We'll be talking to him live later in the program.

Now, floods and landslides in Sri Lanka have forced about a million people from their homes. It's believed about a dozen people have died. And these are the latest pictures.

As you can see, some towns have been submerged by heavy rain. The country's eastern and central provinces are hardest hit. Up to 90 percent of the island's rice crop is now under threat.

Now, Australia is fighting yet another natural disaster. Bushfires are raging in and around the western city of Perth. Now, the flames have destroyed some 60 homes, hundreds of residents have been forced to evacuate.

Now, Phil Hind from our Australian affiliate Seven Network reports.


PHIL HIND, REPORTER, SEVEN NETWORK (voice-over): A scene straight out of hell. The night sky growing crimson red as bushfires burn out of control on Perth's northeastern and southeastern fringes. At Kelmscott and Roleystone, residents received SMS alerts urging them to get out as quickly as possible.

MARK LANGE, ROLEYSTONE RESIDENT: I got back (ph) in Brisbane, and I ran my wife straight away. And she then grabbed the kids and a bag and took off.

HIND: Kelmscott has been utterly devastated. Homes built to take advantage of the idyllic bushland setting reduced to charred ruins in a matter of minutes. From the air, a fleet of water-bombing helicopters attacked the flames. On the ground, residents tried to beat back spot fires with garden hoses in a desperate but ultimately losing battle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just came up so fast, we just had to grab everything and jump.

HIND: Fire crews are stretched to the limit. Three volunteers lost their homes while trying to save the houses of others. More fire teams, some from as far away as Victoria, are on their way to join the battle. They'll face temperatures in the 30s again today and winds gusting up to 70 kilometers an hour.

ALASDAIR HAINSWORTH, BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY: The good news is that we do anticipate that it should moderate during the afternoon and become reasonably light during the afternoon and into the early evening.

HIND: Police have set up roadblocks, stopping anyone other than firefighters from entering the disaster zone, including desperate and worried homeowners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in there. Get in there.

HIND: After watching the eastern states battered by biblical floods, then Cyclone Yasi, west Australians might have been forgiven for thinking they were well out of harm's way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After everything Australia I think has been through, I think it's just, you know, how much more can we put up with?

HIND: Phil Hind, Seven News.


STOUT: Now, you are watching NEWS STREAM. We'll go live to Cairo in a couple of minutes.

Also ahead, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his lawyers have their first of two days in court. The fight, against extradition to Sweden.

And another Super Bowl Sunday left these fans jumping. Stay with us for highlights from the game, plus ads gone viral, and a performance gone awry.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, warning shots were fired in Cairo's Tahrir Square again on Sunday evening, but protesters remained. And there are few signs that things are getting back to normal in the city.

Ivan Watson joins me live from Egypt's capital.

And Ivan, the revolt is now entering its third week. What's the situation today?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you may be able to hear in the background here, Kristie, the sound of a car horn honking, and that is a sign that Egyptians are less afraid than they have been in the past. They're trying to go back to their jobs.

Some of the businesses are open, some banks opened. Schools still closed at least for another week.

The Egyptian stock market still closed until at least Wednesday. It's been closed for seven days. The Egyptian government says it needs time to sort out the banking sector here before it can reopen the stock market.

Meanwhile, in the square itself, demonstrators still refusing to tear down the barricades, still refusing to evacuate Tahrir Square, even though some opposition parties did meet with the Egyptian government over the weekend. In fact, the tensions, the standoff between the Egyptian military, who are surrounding the square and have some soldiers inside, seem to have escalated a bit.

Take a listen to this tense moment -- brief but tense moment -- last night when Egyptian soldiers fired a long burst of warning shots after a disagreement with some of the protesters. Take a listen.

So in that case there, Kristie, in that case what happened was a demonstrator had tried to move some of the barbed wire around Egyptian soldiers' positions. And the Egyptian soldiers disagreed with it, tried detain the protester. The warning shots were fired, and then thousands of demonstrators gathered around the soldiers, really outnumbering them by quite a large amount. Fortunately, nobody was hurt then.

Now, the journalist union here has conducted a symbolic funeral for an Egyptian journalist who was killed in the early days of the demonstrations, reportedly by a single bullet while covering clashes that went through his head. Suggestive of a sniper shot.

They went into the square, where, we're told, there have been large posters put up today of some of the people killed in the clashes there accompanied by script showing their last Facebook messages. Social networking, a big part of what has started this grassroots revolution that has helped shape the Egyptian government.

Back to you, Kristie.

STOUT: So, it's day 14. The protesters determined to stay put.

Ivan, you've also been following this story of a Google executive who's been missing for 10 days. What is the update on his situation?

WATSON: That's right. This man's name is Wael Ghonim, and he's a top marketing executive with Google who was here attending the demonstrations. He was sending out Twitter messages in support of the demonstrators and the opposition figure, Mohamed ElBaradei.

Now, he disappeared from the streets on January 28th. I spoke to his brother. He said that the family was searching. They were frantic, looking in hospitals, trying to find any sign of this man. Could not get any answer from the government either.

There was an Internet campaign, "Free Ghonim," to try to find something out about him. Google put out a statement asking for information about his whereabouts. And then, Sunday night, Egyptian state TV said the Egyptian prime minister called in to say that he would be released on Monday, this afternoon.

That's the first admission after more than a week that he had been in Egyptian custody all this time. And this is one of the human rights abuses that the demonstrators inside the square have been calling for an end to, a practice that many of them say has been all too frequent during the 30-year rule of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak -- Kristie.

STOUT: And Ivan, also, the situation for journalists -- you mentioned the story of the journalist who was killed by sniper fire. There are also many reports of journalists being rounded up by military police. What is going on there?

WATSON: It seems to be a campaign of harassment, basically, against journalists, against reporters. Either their video is seized where there have been dozens of detentions that have taken place. Yesterday, the Cairo correspondent for Al Jazeera English was detained and eventually released.

We're now hearing that the Egyptian government is calling for accreditation cards for the reporters, which is not -- that's a pretty normal request to have taking place. But definitely, there has been a campaign to try to limit, at the very least, images and words coming out about this demonstration which has sparked truly a political revolution in this country.

STOUT: All right. Ivan Watson, joining us live from Cairo.

Thank you, Ivan.

Now, the battle begins in a British court over the founder of WikiLeaks. Sweden was to extradite him, but lawyers for Julian Assange argue it would violate his human rights.


STOUT: Cheeseheads are cheering. The Green Bay Packers are the American football champions. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XVL.

Mark McKay has the highlights from Arlington, Texas.


MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Forty-five years ago, in front of a sparse crowd and meager television viewing, the Green Bay Packers won an NFL championship game which would later be known as the Super Bowl. The trophy they won would be named for their legendary coach, Vince Lombardi.

On Sunday, in front of more than 100,000 and a worldwide television audience, the Packers reclaimed what they believe is rightly theirs, with a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

AARON RODGERS, PACKERS QUARTERBACK: It was named the Lombardi Trophy for a reason -- because we play and live in Titletown and we've got the best fans, an organization that believes in us, gives us the opportunity to be successful. And I can't wait to go home and see those fans and bring that Lombardi Trophy.

MIKE MCCARTHY, PACKERS HEAD COACH: We're proud to bring this trophy back home, particularly the people of our organization that have been here for years, know the true meaning of what the Lombardi Trophy means not only for Green Bay, but to the National Football League.

CHARLES WOODSON, PACKERS DEFENSIVE BACK: Lombardi, you know, revered as one of the greatest to ever coach. And we get to bring it back home. So we're very proud of that.

SCOTT WELLS, PACKERS OFFENSIVE LINEUP: You walk by the trophies every day to get into the locker room. So it's really -- it's great. It's great to bring it back to where it belongs.

MCKAY (voice-over): Aaron Rodgers spent the last two weeks answering questions about replacing the legendary Brett Favre. He's had to answer the questions for the better part of his three seasons as the Packers' starter. But questions will be asked no more after Rodgers did something Favre never did -- that's become a Super Bowl MVP.

MCCARTHY: Aaron Rodgers, our quarterback, I'm glad he's our quarterback. Brett Favre was a great quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He'll be a great Packer for the rest of his life and then some. But this is about passing the torch from one quarterback to the next, and Aaron's off to a heck of a start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's our guy. We love him. And I think this man silenced some of the doubters out there that were really trying to make comparisons between he and his predecessor.

BRETT KEISEL, STEELERS DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: He's a great player. A great player, and I've got a lot of respect for him. He's the reason they won.

GREG JENNINGS, PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER: I could go on and on about the things, the intangibles that he brings to the table that allows us to be in the situation that we're in right now.

MCKAY (on camera): The Packers claimed their fourth Super Bowl title on the strength of their fourth straight road playoff victory. But they'll likely get some use out of famed Lambeau Field this post-season for yet another championship celebration.

Mark McKay, CNN, Arlington, Texas.


STOUT: Now, a crowd of more than 100,000 people watched the big game at Cowboys Stadium, and here it is in Google Earth.

The $1.1 billion stadium touts itself as the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment in the world. It has the world's largest HDTV video board and seats for 80,000 people.

Thousands of temporary ones were added to try and hold the biggest Super Bowl crowd ever, but there was a big problem. More than 1,200 did not get finished. Most of those ticket holders were relocated. Less than 400 fans got left in the cold.

The NFL says it will offer them triple the face value of their tickets. Now, the league also promised to look into what went wrong. And that is not the only Super Bowl controversy.

Christina Aguilera kicked the game off with a huge fumble. The singer messed up the National Anthem. Now, here's the clip with the correct words on your screen.


STOUT: But there's also buzz about the ads, and that's the point when spots sell for more $3 million a pop.

Jason Carroll joins us now from CNN New York -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there is always buzz about those ads, Kristie. It's not just the Super Bowl. It's also the Ad Bowl.

Over 100 million people watched the Super Bowl here in the U.S. Fifteen percent tuned in strictly just to see the commercials. That's according to a marketing study.

Overall, celebrities and humor dominated the night. Snickers tried to repeat the success of last year's Betty White commercial, this time with comedians Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr as hungry loggers. Take a look at what happened.


ROSEANNE BARR, COMEDIAN: My back hurts. Now my front hurts.


CARROLL: Another fan favorite, a pug getting back at a man for taunting him with Doritos, a very strong pug; a wife calling the shots over her husband's diet in a Pepsi ad; and Ozzy Osbourne teaming up with Justin Bieber in a futuristic Best Buy commercial.


JUSTIN BIEBER, ACTOR: It's Bieber's 6G fever.



BIEBER: I don't know. He kind of looks like a girl.


CARROLL: That was actually Justin Bieber there dressed as an old man, in case you didn't catch that.

An interesting trend this year, some advertisers didn't wait for game day, actually, Kristie, to premier their commercials. Instead, releasing them online a few days early to generate some more buzz. That's what Volkswagen did with one very popular spot of the night, a boy dressed as Darth Vader trying to conjure up the force. So far, it has received over 14 million views on YouTube.

All right. Another outstanding was the auto ad. That was another outstanding moment of the night. And there were a lot of auto ads. Chrysler was one of the longest commercials of the night, featuring Eminem in a salute to Motor City.

Some of the low points -- you know there are also high points -- low points of the night, according to some ad experts.'s commercial, and that was the one featuring Joan Rivers. And also, Groupon's spot also missing the mark with critics. The online discount site aired an ad with actor Timothy Hutton mocking oppressed people in Tibet.

We also saw the return of fan favorites like the Budweiser's Clydesdale horses. They're there every year, it seems like. And also, the eTrade baby was back.

But obviously, that ad there featuring some of the oppressed people of Tibet did not go over well with a lot of folks -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. And also, it didn't go well with a lot of people here in China.

Jason Carroll, thank you very much indeed.

Jason there.

Now, let's talk more about that Groupon ad that Jason touched on. Now, shortly after it aired, Groupon tweeted a link to a Tibet charity. It said this: "Like standing too close to a rainbow, viewers' hearts are warmed by Groupon's Super Bowl ad."

But that tweet, like the ad itself, seems just a little bit off. Online reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.

Now, Linda Lock (ph) from St. Louis, Missouri, she wrote this: "Well, off to buy a new Chrysler, drink a Coke, switch to Verizon, unsubscribe to Groupon, and fire GoDaddy."

Now, a marketing blogger Rohitbhargave wrote his -- he says this: "Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3 million to lose customers who previously loved them."

And the ad, it's not going over well in China as well. It has been seen in China on the video-sharing site Yoku (ph). And a senior user who goes by the name cnbuff410 asks this question: "Groupon, you play a free Tibet advertisement during the Super Bowl. Do you actually want to enter the Chinese market?"

Up next here on NEWS STREAM, a familiar face is back in the news as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange goes to court to try and stop an extradition request from Sweden.

And later, one company's animated take on another, faces you and I both know. Taiwan's Next Media goes to work on us at NEWS STREAM as I interview chairman, Jimmy Lai.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

Protests are continuing for a third week in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Anti- government demonstrators are vowing to keep the pressure on Hosni Mubarak until he is gone. State television says the cabinet is meeting for the first time after the vice president held talks with opposition groups on Sunday.

Now despite a reporter cease-fire, Thai and Cambodian troops continue to fight across their shared border on Monday. Officials say at least five people have been killed including two civilians. It is not clear how the clashes started, but both countries have long disputed an 11th Century Hindu temple and the land surrounding it. Cambodians asked the U.N. to intervene.

In Sri Lanka, heavy rain has displaced about a million people as flood waters rise. The death toll is believed to be around 12. Up to 90 percent of the islands rice patties are now under threat.

And two huge bush fires are blazing across parts of Western Australia in and around the city of Perth. Nearly 60 percent of the homes have been destroyed. Hundreds of people are being forced to leave their homes. And this is the latest in a series of natural disasters to hit the country in the past two months.

Now two American hikers being held in Iran for allegedly spying are facing court in Tehran. Their lawyer says they have pleaded not guilty. More now from Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A year-and-a-half after repeated denials that they are spies, American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Battal on Sunday faced Iran's revolutionary court. The Swiss ambassador to Iran representing U.S. interests also was denied entry. The two hikers are being held in Tehran's Evin Prison, allowed only one visit from their mothers last year.

Bauer's fiancee Sarah Shourd was released last fall on humanitarian grounds.

SARAH SHOURD, SHANE BAUER'S FIANCEE: We committed no crime. And we are not spies. We in no way intended any harm to the Iranian government or its people.

CANDIOTTI: Shourd has been lobbying for their freedom, appearing in a documentary posted online by supporters.

SHOURD: And I don't know when they are going to get out. And they are two beautiful people, two innocent people that don't deserve to be there and should never have been there in the first place.

CANDIOTTI: Shourd says she and her friends were beaconed off a hiking trail by a soldier and without realizing it stepped across an unmarked border into Iran.

SHOURD: And when he started speaking in Farsi, he said Iran and pointed to the ground we were standing. And then he pointed to the trail that we had been on and he said, Iraq. So according to that soldier we did not enter Iran until he gestured for us to come off the trail.

CANDIOTTI: The hikers' families have decided against appearing on camera now that court is underway. Shourd is being tried in extensia (ph) after filing a half million dollars in Vale (ph), she has no plans to return.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


STOUT: Now the Egypt effect has moved east to the kingdom of Jordan where three dozen tribal leaders have launched a stinging campaign aimed at the country's monarchy. Now a statement released on Sunday demanded urgent reform and warned that without it, the kind of turmoil seen in Tunisia and Egypt would follow. Now the criticism is largely leveled at Queen Rania whom tribal chiefs accuse of stealing from the country and the people. Now Jordan's tribes make up about 40 percent of the population and are traditional supporters of the monarchy.

Now in Jordan, as with Egypt and Tunisia, many people are dealing with unemployment and poverty. Rima Maktabi takes a closer look.


RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Mathruk (ph) royalty is everywhere. King Abdullah II and his father gave down benevolently on the stronghold of the monarchy. On the whole, it's a conservative town, but not always.

Like much of Jordan, times are tough here. Shops and stalls are packed with goods, but there aren't many buyers. In a country where two-thirds of the population are under the age of 30, many young guys stand around unoccupied.

In Mathruk (ph) and many towns like it, tribal loyalties are important.

We've come to see Sheikh Selman al-Borhalin (ph), a powerful figure in Jordan's biggest tribe, Beni-Hasan. The sheikh is eager to show me how well connected his family is. They are close to the royal family. Later, he takes us on a walk through the suk (ph). He seems to have the respect of the locals -- or, most of them.

One young man confronts the sheikh and then turns his anger on me.

Why are you talking to the millionaires, he asks, and not us, the poor people. He vents about poverty, high prices and corruption, but it ends with a kiss.

And in a quieter place, Sheikh Selman (ph) insists that Jordan is not Egypt nor Tunisia countries turned into companies he says while the people suffered.

We have our problems, says Sheikh Selman (ph), but we speak to the king frankly and he listens.

But to some of Mathruk's (ph) ordinary people, listening is not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More freedom. I want press to be no more than this (inaudible) young people.

MAKTABI: The trouble is that most people here rely on the government.

But private businesses are very rare, Fati Magagrin (ph) tells me. Eighty percent of us depend on salaries from the state, she says.

On the surface, people of this city close to the Syrian border say Jordan will overcome this crisis and they are confident in the king. But prices are going up and so is unemployment, but patience may not last forever.

Rima Maktabi, CNN, Al-Mathruk (ph) City in Jordan.


STOUT: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange traveled to a London courtroom today. His lawyers are arguing against an extradition request from Sweden. You'll remember that he is wanted there for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation unrelated to WikiLeaks. Assange has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Now let's find out how the first part of this two day hearing has gone. Atika Shubert joins us now from outside that court in London -- Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT: Well Julian Assange appeared relaxed in the hearing today. He's been passing notes up to his lawyers as they construct their argument for why he should not be extradited to Sweden. It's a two day hearing. And we are hearing both from lawyers of Julian Assange, of course, and lawyers from the Swedish government for and against his extradition. And it's interesting to note that actually the lawyers have taken the unusual step of actually putting his defense online so you can actually go to their web site and see what their entire argument is.

And their argument for now -- among their points, is that it could be a violation of his human rights if he's extradited to Sweden. Their argument is that if he's extradited to Sweden then the United States may ask for him to be extradited if he is, for example, charged with espionage. And then if he's rushed to the United States, they say, he could face the death penalty or even be put in Guantanamo Bay Prison. And that, they say, would clearly be a violation of their human rights. And that's why they say he should not be extradited to Sweden.

Now, the lawyers representing the Swedish government have so far said those fears are unfounded and that even if that scenario arises, that Britain would reserve the right to intervene at that point.

So, this hearing is still ongoing. We're still hearing the argument for and against. It will go for at least two days. So we will be hearing more of this also tomorrow, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Atika Shubert joining us live from London. Thank you, Atika.

Now when you hear the words airline security, what comes to mind? Ahead we go underneath and in the crevices where U.S. agents may be searching your plane.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now airport security has made a lot of headlines recently with the emphasis on passenger search techniques. But as Deborah Feyerick has been finding out, there's another side of security that sometimes implicates airline staff. Deborah joins me now live from New York -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Kristie, there's a case coming up for trial here in New York. It involves a baggage handler accused of paying corrupt airline employees to collect drugs brought in by commercial jet liners. And it's a sophisticated internal conspiracy that really has to be timed just right in order to get the drugs during a very small window of time. And it's not just an inside job, officials also say it's a threat to national security.


FEYERICK: It's in crew seats, food carts, control panels, toilets: drug traffickers using commercial planes to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars of narcotics into the United States from places like South America and the Caribbean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all the flight controls, flight computers. We've discovered narcotics underneath the floor in here.

FEYERICK: These special agents are with Homeland Security investigations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this covering is easily removed.

FEYERICK: They work intelligence, intercepting drugs like cocaine and other contraband.

If they can bring in drugs or they can bring in guns, they can hide potentially bomb components anywhere in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the most troubling thing to me.

FEYERICK: What makes an internal conspiracy so complicated is that the people involved work for the airlines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Primarily baggage handlers. We also arrested mechanics, flight attendants, security guards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the first places we go to is generally the cockpit.

FEYERICK: That's a pretty gutsy thing to be putting narcotics in the cockpit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I mean, you're sitting right next to the first officer and the captain.

The organizations will actually construct bricks to fit in these locations.

FEYERICK: You could be a passenger sitting on drugs and you would never know it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At New York street prices, you could be sitting on $100,000 worth of product.

FEYERICK: And timing is everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have an hour-and-a-half to get the passengers off the plane, to get the bags off the plane, to get all the narcotics and then to get that plane prepared for its outbound trip.

FEYERICK: Some 200 corrupt airline workers have been arrested since 2003.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With our investigations, the goal is to stop it.


FEYERICK: Now in the last eight years, teams at JFK Airport in New York have seized 2600 pounds of cocaine, 150 pounds of heroin and marijuana. Officials say they don't believe that this conspiracy compromises the physical integrity of the planes, but one of the hiding places happens to be in life vest compartments. And that means the life vests are removed.

The whole operation is very risky. And we were told that in some cases drug traffickers will actually pay for mechanics to get training as part of this drug trafficking operation -- Kristie.

STOUT: High risk, high reward. How much money do these traffickers make?

FEYERICK: Well, a lot of money. This is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It's not all planes, a lot of them come from -- for example from South America, but they do go to many different airports throughout the United States and elsewhere.

STOUT: All right. Deborah Feyerick joining us live from New York. Thank you.

Now yet another natural disaster has hit Australia, wildfires are ravaging the area quite near the city of Perth. Let's get the very latest now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think that's one of the things people are just finding hard to believe, how can there be something else happening, another natural disaster -- this one in an area that had not really been affected by the flooding. But you know what, we could really use the rain in this part of Australia. This is out west. This is in Perth. And in the aftermath of these fires, there are still some fires burning by the way, and some evacuations that are still happening. But you can see the destruction, the fires and the flames just came very, very quickly. And this is what's left. So many people lost so much across this region here.

Notice, back over here to the west, we're starting to see a little bit more in the way of cloud cover, Kristie. And that's a little bit of good news, because that means we're seeing a shift of those winds coming in now out of the east and a little bit more moisture. We're not really getting anything significant as far as rain. That stays over to the north and back over here towards Queensland and even across parts of Victoria we have rain over the weekend. It's a little dryer there now as well.

But going back to the fires, a severe fire danger will begin to ease up just a little bit as this area of high pressure moves away and the winds begin to weaken. So while we'll still have a fire danger, it wouldn't be as extreme or as high as what we had over the weekend. So that should help firefighters in this area and hopefully help some of those people affected.

And notice, Perth is not alone this entire western side of Australia has been affected by very dry conditions. And that's the problem, because even though we'll see a little bit of an improvement in the next day or so, ongoing this record drought that continues to affect Western Australia is a big concern. Notice, some areas here in the red, the driest they've ever been, other areas: severe. And then it goes down to serious. So all of this actually pretty serious. And it's ongoing. We're not really expecting any kind of relief anytime soon. And that's of course in sharp contrast to what we've had across the eastern side of the country with that massive flooding that continues to affect -- and the recovery that continues in those areas.

And talk about flooding, this is from Sri Lanka. Another one of our top stories, Kristie. This has been ongoing as well. Water everywhere. This season has been punishing for this region. And of course you've got to think about people. Look at this little boy's face. It really broke my heart when I saw this. He's just one of nearly a million people that have been affected by the flooding, now flood refugees in this area. It's a big deal. Some areas are getting more -- two, three times as much their monthly average in just a matter of days. And unfortunately we're going to see more of this.

Now, you can see right over here still a lot of moisture across this area confined, again, to Sri Lanka. It looks like Southern India remaining dry.

Let's go ahead and check out your forecasts.

OK, it's about lunchtime in Europe right now and hold on to your hat if you're stepping outside anywhere across this northwestern corner of the continent, very windy conditions that are continuing. You know what, if you really can't get a break here, those gale force winds are going to continue throughout the day today, improving though as we head through the day tomorrow. That area of low pressure begins to move away. The winds here begin to ease. And actually the rest of the continent looking pretty good all the way over into even -- all the way back over into Poland. Clear -- or generally clear conditions and mild temperatures are expected to continue. So at least it's looking a little better. You can clearly see from the satellite image, Kristie here, big dome type pressure that's remaining in place here and all of the weather system just kind of riding up along that northern portion of the region.

So temperature wise, we're not doing too bad -- 9 in London, 9 in Berlin -- wow, 12 in Paris, 12 in Munich. The coldest air bottled up here way to the north. And looking good, 15 in Madrid, 15 in Rome. You know, it's not for this time of year. And like I said, staying generally quiet, 17 in Athens. Back to you, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Mari, thank you very much indeed. Mari Ramos there.

Now, a healthy baby boy born in the USA in Massachusetts is getting a lot of attention. Now here he is. His name is Jonathan Patrick Rozzi who weighed in at more than 5.9 kilos -- or some 13 pounds when he entered the world on Friday. Now mom and dad say that they were not big babies. They had no idea this was a big deal.


ERIC ROZZI, FATHER: ...big of a baby until everybody started making a fuss and all the nurses kept coming in and doctors kept coming in and when we put the baby in the nursery people kept coming and walking by the window and saying, wow this is a big baby.


STOUT: Dad -- yeah, that is a big baby. Dad joked that perhaps being born so close to the Super Bowl -- Super Bowl Sunday had something to do with it. And said that he would approve of a football career for baby Jonathan.

Up next on NEWS STREAM, we're getting pretty animated. You're going to see what I'm talking about in just a moment. I'll be talking to the man behind Taiwan's hit animations.


STOUT: Welcome back. Now AOL is buying the Huffington Post. The internet giant says it will pay $315 million for the influential web site. It's part of an AOL drive to transform itself into a media and entertainment powerhouse. Huffington Post, it was launched six years ago, it's become one of the most read news sites in the U.S.

And putting a new spin on the news, Next Media's animations are a viral sensation from Wall Street bankers making big bucks to the state of Chelsea Clinton's marriage there is no subject too serious or too silly. And I spoke with Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai. But first, here's a bit more about what his team does.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh huh, uh huh, USA number one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China is in the house.

STOUT: Call it a new form of political cartoons for the digital age, the U.S.-China currency war presented as a rap battle, or a new Starbucks offering as a caffeine junky fantasy and then there's Cablegate portrayed as a throw down between Uncle Sam and Julian Assange.

No animated Assange doesn't look exactly like the real deal, that's OK. Taiwan's Next Animation team is usually forgiven. Since their retelling of Tiger Woods' car crash went viral in late 2009, they've churned out a never ending stream of video hits. It's the brainchild of Next Media, the Hong Kong based company with wildly popular tabloid papers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. At the helm, billionaire entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, who has built a reputation for a paparazzi publishing style and for pushing the boundaries of good taste.

Take this video of Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit to Washington. It includes a scene of Hu partying hard in America.

JIMMY LAI, NEXT MEDIA FOUNDER: Is this pushing boundary of good taste, it's just funny. You know, when you make something sometimes you're pushing the boundary of good taste to you know some people, but that's the inevitable in a way.

STOUT: And when you first launched the animation business there was a lot of discussion about whether it was going to be the future of TV news. Is Next Animation the future of TV news or just the future of funny news, satirical news?

LAI: I think now, because funny news gets a lot more eye balls, a lot more attention, by (inaudible) it has to be just normal news, because (inaudible) normal news, all you get the image is the first -- last light (ph) of image. What happened before, you have information, you have text, but that's not good for TV. You have to need that to turn into image to make a news story, not just news with text. I think that has to be the future.

STOUT: Well Jimmy, thank you very much for saying that.

Now what some people may not know is that in addition to doing the very satirical wildly funny videos, you also do some serious ones as well. Now this is (inaudible) a story of hope and struggle. Let's listen in and take a look at it.

Now in this video, you portray the events of June 4, 1989. Why did you decide to do this video and to use your animators to get the story across?

LAI: Because, you know, if you want to tell the story you have to tell it from the beginning. And that whole story begin in Jin Tao (ph) and that's what we did.

STOUT: Now I have a feeling that you're not a fan of my business, of broadcast news. And this is the reason why, I'm going to bring up a quote that you said recently at a global forum. This is your mouth, you saying this. "What TV now is, is telling a story through the mouth of the people on TV and using an image to match it, that's why it's so boring." Is TV news boring?

LAI: Yes.

STOUT: OK. What can we do to fix it? And can we learn from your animators?

LAI: Well, I think the more we animate, the more we mix you know, words, dialogues into images, the more interesting it is. And it's also more efficient and proficient for people to assimilate. You know, if I showed you a photo, you understand the story of the photo in five seconds, but if I write the story of the photos which may take me half an hour to show you, maybe you take apart 10 minutes to read it. So a photo, the images, communication is a lot more faster and more efficient way of communication. This is (inaudible) and this is what we need.


STOUT: Now Jimmy Lai admitted that he has never watched NEWS STREAM, but take a look at what his team did with our show.

I just love the jazzy music. Do you want to see it again? Well, you can check out our blog with a clip in more Next Media at

And that is NEWS STREAM.

But the news continues at CNN. We have "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" with Andrew Stevens, Charles Hodson and Maggie Lake up next.