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Debating Egypt's Future; Moscow Bombing Claim; Cross-Border Firing Between Cambodian and Thai Soldiers
Aired February 8, 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.
Egypt's president forms a panel to explore constitutional change, but will it satisfy protesters digging in for third week?
A Chechen rebel leader claims responsibility for last month's deadly bombing at Moscow's main airport.
And he is the star of this year's popular Super Bowl commercial, and we'll be speaking to the pint-size Darth Vader on NEWS STREAM.
Now, protests in the center of Cairo have now entered their third week. And while the scenes in Tahrir Square today may lack the urgent drama of recent images, the resolve of the anti-government protesters that remain is in no way weakened. They want President Mubarak to go, and the longer they stay, the harder it gets to retreat.
Many believe they cannot allow their uprising to end in vain. Now, all may be peaceful on the surface, but the underlying turmoil in Egypt is far from over.
Vice President Omar Suleiman met with selected opposition figures Sunday to talk through potential reforms, and President Mubarak has now formed a committee to pilot constitutional change. But Mubarak's idea of change may differ widely from that of the Tahrir Square demonstrators, as Ben Wedeman now reports.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's unique in Arab history, the center of a capital city occupied by a movement bent on the fall of a decades-old regime. The sights and sounds distinctly revolutionary.
"We are a great and civilized people," goes the chant. "And we reject all criminals."
They want President Hosni Mubarak to step down now, but that's just the beginning.
MOHAMED SHAMA, ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTER: President Mubarak, now, how old is Mubarak?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighty-two.
SHAMA: Eighty-two? He's a very big man. He not do what he do. Just he is a name. We want the regime. The demand of these people, people demand removal of the regime, of the bad system.
WEDEMAN: Actor Khalid Abdalla, who starred in "The Kite Runner," missed the demands.
KHALID ABDALLA, ACTOR: Tahrir Square wants Mubarak to go as soon as possible, but it also wants the dismantling of his regime. It wants the dismantling of the police state, it wants the dismantling of emergency law, it wants the dismantling -- it wants the dissolution of the parliament that was corruptly elected.
WEDEMAN: All this and more is being avidly discussed and debated here.
(on camera): There's a dramatic disconnect going on here. Here, in the people's republic of Tahrir, democracy in its purest form is the name of the game. But in the halls of power, opposition leaders and other self- appointed representatives of the Egyptian people are talking deals with the government.
(voice-over): Sunday, Vice President Omar Suleiman met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition figures. Also present was multi-billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris. I asked him about the calls from Tahrir Square.
(on camera): The one single demand that one hears time and time again is Mubarak must go.
NAGUIB SAWIRIS, BUSINESSMAN: OK. We don't agree. I don't agree. Now what? These young people believe in democracy or not? OK?
I don't agree. There is many things. They don't -- maybe they don't calculate certain dangers.
Maybe a sophisticated businessman like me has some worries. Maybe I have some information they don't have.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): His worry? That the anti-Mubarak movement will be hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Disagreements could well play into the hands of the regime, warns analyst Issandr Amrani.
ISSANDR AMRANI, ANALYST: The danger I feel right now is that this opposition is -- which, only a few days ago, seemed to unite -- is now being divided. And the regime is trying its tried and true tactic of divide and conquer.
WEDEMAN: And it's up against a suddenly energized opposition long on idealism, but perilously short on experience.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.
STOUT: And while the Egyptian government talks up reform, some political analysts like the protesters are questioning President Mubarak's sincerity. One expert spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper earlier and warned that an extension of the Mubarak regime could end very unhappily for those who dare to challenge him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The protesters have now entered the most dangerous phase of this conflict. They are known to the security services. They have bet it all. And if indeed this regime survives, if this regime truly, in a way, deludes us that it has changed, it has reformed, it has amended its way, most of these protesters, the leaders of these protesters, are in great, great danger.
I've been talking to several Egyptian intellectuals. This is now the most dangerous phase for those who dared stand up to the regime. They surprised themselves, they surprised the regime, and the regime is not yet spent. And we don't really know.
There is a heavy dosage of repression if need be that could be applied to this conflict. And as you said, as the world turns its attention, as people leave, as a story becomes somewhat tedious and somewhat familiar --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: The threat Professor Ajami just mentioned could serve to galvanize protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Frederik Pleitgen joins me live to talk us through the latest developments.
And Fred, the revolt now in its third week. How high is morale among the protesters? And how much stamina do they have left?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they seem to have a lot of stamina left, Kristie, because looking at Tahrir Square, if I do that right now, it seems to be even fuller today than it was the past couple of days. So, certainly, it looks to me as though probably 7,000 or 8,000 people appear to be on that square. I was there earlier, and we actually spoke to some people who said that yes, they were still very much motivated, that they were going to stay there, as they've been staying, until Hosni Mubarak leaves.
It seems as though one of the things that might have actually galvanized these protesters even more was the release yesterday of that Middle East Google executive, who then, of course, gave an emotional interview on Egyptian television talking about his captivity, but also calling the people in the square heroes -- Kristie.
STOUT: There have been concerns about looting at the Egyptian Museum there in Tahrir Square. What have you seen?
PLEITGEN: I was actually able to go into the Egyptian Museum today and sort of survey the damage that had been done. The people there told me that, all in all, only one looter actually managed to get into the museum.
He went from the roof and went down via a telephone cable, apparently. And there was only minimal damage done. The looter was caught very quickly.
But one of the bizarre things, Kristie, that actually apparently saved a lot of the treasures in the Egyptian Museum is the fact that other looters actually made it onto the premises of the museum, but they didn't raid the museum. And instead, they raided the gift shop and stole the gifts, thinking they were ancient Egyptian artifacts.
So if you find King Tut's mask on eBay, don't buy it.
STOUT: Good advice. Thank you for that, Fred.
I also have to ask you about the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. He is still in power after almost three weeks. We're going into the third week of this revolt.
How strong is his mandate? How strong is his base of support?
PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, it's very hard to say how strong his mandate still is. I mean, one of the things that's clear is that he still seems to be functioning in power. He of course held meetings today where he apparently signed a decree to start implementing some of these alleged reforms that he wants to conduct. A lot of them have to do with changing the constitution. Certainly people are looking at that very, very closely.
On the other hand, I mean, there's a lot of people who still believe that he still seems to have at least some of the backing in the military. And what we've been hearing from the negotiations between his government and opposition groups is that at this point in time, they say he is definitely wanting to stay in power until the end of his term -- Kristie.
STOUT: Fred Pleitgen, joining us live in Cairo.
Thank you, Fred.
Now let's tell you a little bit more about the Google executive that Fred just mentioned. Activists say that Wael Ghonim started a Facebook group called "We are all Khaled Said" in memory of an Egyptian man allegedly dragged from a cafe and beaten to death by police back in June. Well, that site helped spark the anti-government protests. Ghonim was detained by intelligence agents, and after 12 days of detention, he was finally released on Monday.
In a TV interview, he used his freedom to publicly condemn Mubarak's government while downplaying his own significance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE (through translator): Oh, I'm not a hero. I slept for 12 days.
The heroes were in the streets. The heroes are the ones that went to the demonstrations. The heroes are the ones that sacrificed their lives. The heroes are the ones that were beaten, and the heroes were the ones that were arrested and exposed to dangers.
I wasn't the hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now, many Egyptians would beg to differ and have responded to his emotional TV appearance by planning a renewed occupation of Tahrir Square.
Now, lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are set to wrap up their arguments against sending him to Sweden. It is day two of Assange's extradition hearing in London, as Swedish prosecutors want to question him about alleged sex crimes.
Assange has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He addressed his supporters on Monday, saying he hopes the proceedings will restore his reputation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER: For the past five-and-a-half months, we have been in a condition where a black box has been applied to my life. And on the outside of that black box has been written the word "rape." That box is now, thanks to an open court process, being opened. And I hope over the next day, we will see that that box is in fact empty and has nothing to do with the words that are on the outside of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: But the case is far from over. The judge's ruling on Assange's extradition is expected at a later date, and it could be appealed.
Now, you're watching NEWS STREAM.
Still to come, one of Russia's most wanted men gives authorities another reason to hunt him down, saying he was the one who ordered last month's deadly bombing on Moscow's main airport.
The days of clashes between troops on the Cambodia/Thailand border. The U.N. says it is ready to discuss the crisis if regional mediation fails.
And such a small face and such an iconic role. Ahead, we talk to the ad world's latest young star.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now, Russian media called this man the country's most wanted terrorist. Doku Umarov is a Chechen rebel leader. He says he ordered last month's suicide attack on Moscow's main international airport.
You can see the powerful blast in this footage. It killed 36 people. Umarov claimed responsibility in a video posted on an Islamist Web site. Now, Umarov also warned of future attacks, promising to deliver a year of blood and tears.
Let's bring in our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance from Moscow.
And Matthew, this was a stark video warning. Give us the details.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Chechen rebel leader, the leader of this Islamist group fighting for Russia to leave the North Caucasus, said that he personally ordered that devastating bomb attack in Domodedovo Airport which took place last month and, of course, left 36 people dead.
He said it illustrates that the rebels from the North Caucasus are able to strike any time they choose, and in any place. And as you mentioned, he said there would be more attacks like this in the future.
Now, the Russian authorities have refused to comment on this claim of responsibility which was posted on a pro-rebel Islamist Web site where a lot of these kinds of messages often emerge to the public. They say they don't comment, Russian officials, on the words of rebels, or what they call terrorists.
However, it won't be a surprise that Doku Umarov has gone out on the airwaves like this and claimed responsibility for this bomb. He was, of course, the prime suspect from (INAUDIBLE) for other suicide attacks in particular and bomb attacks inside Russia over the course of the past 12 months or so, not least the twin suicide attacks last March on the Moscow metro system which killed 39 people. And so, again, he was the prime suspect from the outset.
This message, apparently confirming that.
STOUT: Now, in this message, he warns that more similar attacks will take place in Russia. How is Russia reacting? Has security been stepped up? Are the people of Russia concerned?
CHANCE: Well, yes, I think security, to some extent, outside and inside the various transport hubs that have been targeted by suicide bombers in that very volatile region of the North Caucasus in southern Russia, security there has been stepped up. But it's difficult to see how an increased security presence is going to prevent a determined suicide bomber from causing the kind of carnage that we saw in Domodedovo Airport last month.
In terms of what the Russian people, how they're responding to this as well, there's a sort of sense that this is an inevitable consequence of living in Russia in the 21st century. There was a recent opinion poll conducted by a very respected pollster saying that 53 percent of people in the country relate these suicide attacks as a consequence of the campaign against Islamist militants and the wars that have taken place in Chechnya and the various republics in the North Caucasus region.
But what's interesting, according to these opinion polls, people don't see this as dealt with politically. They don't necessarily blame the government and its counterinsurgency policy in the North Caucasus for provoking these kinds of attacks. And so, basically, they're just saying that this is -- the feeling is this is just something they have to fight and something they have to live with as part of their everyday lives -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right, Matthew. Thanks for that.
With the reaction there in Moscow, Matthew Chance there.
The U.N. Security Council says it is ready to hold an emergency meeting to deal with the deadly cross-border firing between Cambodian and Thai soldiers, but only after Indonesia's foreign minister completes his regional mediation mission. Thousands have been displaced following four days of on-and-off fighting near an 11th century temple and the disputed lands around it. At least seven people have been killed.
Over the past two days the Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, has met with both his Thai and Cambodian counterparts. He has just landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he joins us now live on the phone.
And thank you very much, sir, for joining us.
You met with the Cambodian and the Thai foreign ministers. What was the temperature like in those meetings?
MARTY NATALEGAWA, INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I'm more aware than ever before at the challenge before us. It's not an easy one.
Certainly there's a lot of issues to be navigated through. But at the same time, I am not pessimistic as well by the fact that both countries, despite recent incidents, are too committed to try to resolve the problem through peaceful means.
There is the potential for peaceful intervention (INAUDIBLE) before us. And my job, my responsibility is to accentuate that stability. And above all, to try to ensure that the cease-fire that the local commanders have been trying to institute becomes more long lasting and more stable.
So that's where we are. And we're turning back to Jakarta, trying to digest and absorb (INAUDIBLE) and come back to them with some (INAUDIBLE) as well.
STOUT: But the fact that you are involved and that Azian (ph) is involved, can we take that as a sign that the tensions are indeed serious and could get worse?
NATALEGAWA: It could. But at the same time, you know, I mean, (INAUDIBLE) the two sides (INAUDIBLE) meeting to (INAUDIBLE) quite in shock, I think, because I think both sides recognize that (INAUDIBLE). At the same time, the (INAUDIBLE) start giving faith to regional actors, and that when (INAUDIBLE).
And so we are very clear not to go down the road of conflict that we certainly can do without.
STOUT: OK. You know, unfortunately, we have a very patchy connection. I want to ask you one quick question, for hopefully a quick answer from you.
Do you think regional mediation will be enough? Or will the U.N. have to step in?
NATALEGAWA: I think it's not a matter of stepping in or not stepping in. The U.N. eventually will probably have to (INAUDIBLE). But it will have to be in a way that is complimentary to the regional effort. So it's not an either/or, but (INAUDIBLE).
STOUT: OK. Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia's foreign minister.
Thank you so much for making yourself available for us here on NEWS STREAM.
Now, one year ago they were flying high with one of the NBA's best players. And now the Cleveland Cavaliers are making some unwanted history. Our Kate Giles will be here with more on Cleveland's plight.
STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.
And it has been a year to forget for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kate Giles is here with more on that -- Kate.
KATE GILES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Kristie, that's so right. It really has just been a hideous season so far for the Cavs.
Now, you know, before the game on Monday night, they already owned the NBA's longest losing streak during one season. Already a very embarrassing record, indeed. And you just kind of -- you had this feeling you just knew it was going to get worse.
Why? Well, because last night they were playing the Mavs, who right now are the best team in the NBA. And, well, as expected, the Mavs had a big lead early on in this one, 17 points, in fact, in the second.
But by the fourth quarter, the Cavs raised that, and they were back even. And the Mavs actually held their nerve, and still, despite that comeback by Cleveland, never fell behind in this games. And at this point here we're now at 56 seconds left in the game.
J.J. Hickson fouling and turning the ball over to Dallas. Just three points in it at this point. Dallas, with a small advantage.
The Cavaliers, they did finally show some fight in this one, but it just wasn't enough. The Mavs would hold on 99-96, closer than we expected, but the Mavs still take it.
And with that loss, the Cavs now have the longest losing streak ever in the history of the NBA. That is 25 miserable games.
The previous record had also been set by the Cavs as well, in fact, but that was all the way back in 1982. And they have at least done that over the course of two seasons.
Well, just how bad that record is compared to other American sports we can show you now. Cleveland, again, is the team that holds the record in Major League Baseball. In 1889, all that time ago, the Cleveland Spiders lost 24 straight games.
In the NFL, the dubious honor goes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was in 1976. The Bucs lost all 14 games that they played. Can you believe it? They then lost their first 12 games of the following season, the 1977 season, for a total of 26 straight losses.
And in the NHL, two teams share the record there. In the 1974-1975 campaign, the Washington Capitals lost 17 straight, and then the San Jose Sharks tied that mark nearly two decades later in the '92-'93 season.
All right. Now we'll look to some good news from Formula 1 for you. There were no -- Robert Kubica is now able to move his fingers, we've been hearing. That's after undergoing hours of surgery to save his right hand yesterday.
Flavio Briatore, a face well known in motor sports, his flamboyant former manager at Renault visited the Polish star on Monday and did say that his friend was in what he called good spirits. Kubica was in a just horrific crash on Sunday and had to be cut out of his car and then airlifted to hospital. He is, of course, a F1 driver, and this actually happened in a rally race.
He had multiple fractures to his right leg, and in his hand was partially severed by a metal railing. Surgery on all those injuries took a huge seven hours.
Well, as his surgeon says, it will be several days now before we know if the operation was 100 percent successful. But he did say that the fact that he could now move his fingers was a very good sign indeed. Shortly after surgery though, he suggested that he expected recovery from all those injuries to take some 12 months. So potentially a year out of the spot.
Now, this video here will give you an idea of the kind of speed that Kubica and his co-driver were doing when they took a (INAUDIBLE) speed and then lost control. It's actually an onboard camera from the next car out on the -- and you can see, really, they're going so fast, no room for error at all.
This is Mauro Moreno and Corrado Bonato, who -- two of the first people actually to arrive at the scene of the accident. You can see them there pulling up.
And Kristie, they stopped their car and they jumped right out, ran straight over to him and completely abandoned any hopes of trying to win the race or compete at all, in fact. They just wanted to see what they could do for him.
STOUT: Yes, it's good to see that they ran out to give him a helping hand. And hopefully the driver will heal. He is a talent, indeed.
Kate Giles, thank you so much.
Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, in the midst of a national uprising, individual death can go largely unreported. Our Nic Robertson investigates one Egyptian shooting which was captured on camera and has resonated across the Internet and beyond.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.
A Chechen rebel leader says Russia will face more terror attacks in the months ahead. Speaking in online video message, Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for last month's suicide bombing at Moscow's main international airport. That attack killed 36 people.
Julian Assange is back in court in London fighting moves to extradite him to Sweden. The founder of WikiLeaks arrived with his legal team for day two of the hearing. Swedish authorities want to question him about allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange denies any wrongdoing.
South Sudan is celebrating its decision to become the world's newest country. The results of last month's independence referendum are in. Almost 99 percent of southerners voted to split from the north. Sudan's president says he will accept the result.
As anti-government protests continue in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak has issued order to make some concessions to his opponents. Now a committee will be set up to oversee constitutional reform and Vice President Omar Suleiman has offered assurances from Mubarak that Egyptians can exercise freedom of speech. Now despite those assurances, opponents of the Egyptian government have faced intimidation, beatings and even death as authorities clamp down on the recent wave of protests.
Nice Robertson investigates one confrontation in Alexandria that cost a man his life. Some viewers may find the images in this report disturbing.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is 2:28 in the afternoon January 28. This man is walking to his death. The video went viral, but we wanted to know more: who was he and who recorded his last moments?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were like what the hell are you doing? You shouldn't be doing this. The situation doesn't look that good.
ROBERTSON: Speaking out for the first time, two young women who videoed the killing. They're afraid to be identified.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did nothing. He just had nothing. He would like -- I have nothing in my hands.
ROBERTSON: He had nothing in his hands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had no gun in the video. Even if they had (inaudible) something like the other professors do. It was -- he was not a threat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was when they started shooting the tear and...
ROBERTSON: Ah, the tear gas.
They showed me photographs they took from the same balcony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see here an injured man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're like putting him on a truck taking him to the hospital.
ROBERTSON: In the hour before the man is shot, the streets around their building become a battle ground, rock throwing protesters facing off with police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...the police.
ROBERTSON: And here you go riot shields, batons here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's here throwing the rocks -- the protesters are throwing that.
ROBERTSON: Yeah, and he is peacefully is bending down to pick up a rock. And that's the police will go with the tear gas.
The situation deteriorates. Police arrive with rifles.
And now that's a proper gun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a (inaudible).
ROBERTSON: It is a proper gun, yeah -- a rifle. And he's pointing it at the protesters there.
Not long after, the man begins his walk up the street.
What it appears on the videotape is if he's standing on one corner and the gunmen are literally just across the road. Is that what -- that's what.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
ROBERTSON: So they were just quite a few yards away from him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, not that far.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man shot him first, but they didn't get to him. But the second one, I think he -- he zoomed. When he faced us he was like standing like that and...
ROBERTSON: So the man who shot him took very careful aim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I'm sure.
ROBERTSON: When we go to the same street corner today it's still tense so we use a tiny camera.
This is where the man was standing when he was shot. The gunman was just across...
Our hidden camera breaks up as I count the paces across the road.
...seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 -- about 12 paces away, about 12 yards away. And he has clear line of sight, an unobstructed view of his target just over there.
What the women's cell phone camera doesn't show so well is the crowd cheering him on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The protesters got encouraged because he was standing right there and they didn't do anything, the police, so they were encouraged. So they were about to go there to him and protest. That's why they shot him.
ROBERTSON: They tell me they hold President Mubarak and the police responsible. They want justice for the man whose name they still don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) to him to tell him. I don't know, it just feels like I need to get back his rights and that's it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like for once his right to get back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For him and his family, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He deserves it. He did not look for it. It's so unfair.
ROBERTSON: The neighbor videoed the body being carried away by other protesters. In the chaos, no record of where he went.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Alexandria, Egypt.
STOUT: Now last Thursday, thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered in the capital of Yemen. And people of all ages chanted and held signs with messages condemning poverty and the government. They not only expressed solidarity with the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, but also demanded that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Like Egypt's President Mubarak, he has held power for three decades. Mohammed Jamjoon sat down with Yemen's Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar who said Yemen should not be compared with other Arab countries.
MOHAMMED JAMJOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Your excellence, there are a growing number of people in Yemen who are calling either for outright revolution or for the president to step down. What's the level of concern here that what's been going on in Tunisia and Egypt could happen here in Yemen?
ALI MOHAMMED MUJAWAR, PRIME MINISTER OF YEMEN (through translator): Yemen is not Tunisia or Egypt, Yemen has its own different situation. Yemen's situation is totally different than the situation in Egypt or Tunisia. And every country has its own characteristics. Yemen is a democratic country. Through all the stages, elections took place. And therefore this is a democratic regime. It's true that many of the blocks, specifically opposition blocks within the joint meetings parties, are trying to duplicate what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and act as if it should be imposed on the people here in Yemen. The situation here is totally different and it's a democratic regime. And there have been numerous parliamentary elections, presidential elections and local government elections. And the president's last initiative gives a strong push for the democratic process in the country.
JAMJOON: Where does he stand now with parliament? Has the opposition responded officially to the president's initiative? And if they respond negatively, what's the next step?
MUJAWAR (through translator): If they respond negatively, democratic life in Yemen will not stop. Democratic life in Yemen will continue because it does not rely only on the opposition of joint meeting parties. We have the people of Yemen who want to see the implementation of their constitutional entitlements through parliamentary elections.
JAMJOON: Is there a level of concern here that the more political turmoil there is, the more that a group like al Qaeda could benefit from that?
MUJAWAR: Absolutely. Everything is possible. Honestly, everything is possible. Al Qaeda, those extremists who are in Yemen, found a suitable environment where there's poverty and unemployment. By the way, they also take advantage of Yemen's terrain which is complex and difficult. It is mountainous and has widespread desert areas. They benefit from this environment and the terrain and spread. They're now spread in rural areas. And therefore the size of their attacks are not frequent and they happen at specific times in the cities.
STOUT: Now, while Yemen's protests in recent weeks have been on the smaller scale than in Tunisia and Egypt, analysts say Yemeni protesters are seeking many of the same things particularly a government that they feel represents them and will provide them with more economic opportunities.
Now, more misery in Sri Lanka as the flood waters spread there. Let's get the very latest with our Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. You know, in December they had what they're calling it the first wave of the flooding. It was very significant then. There were almost a million people that were affected by flood waters. And they thought the worst was over, but that has not been the case across the region.
Let's go ahead and show you some of the latest video -- water as far as the eye can see. And you can even see from this video, the helicopter window, there's little raindrops coming through. It continues to rain unfortunately. And they're saying that 18 of Sri Lanka's 25 districts have been affected. And that accounts for more than 8,000 homes that have been completely damaged or destroyed and 1.2 million people that have been affected now by this massive, massive second wave of flooding. This information coming from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working in that area trying to bring some relief to the people affected. And video here just quite telling, you can see not only farmland in rural areas but also businesses and homes and schools and government buildings all flooded by this very rain.
Now some areas have had in excess of 100, 150 millimeters of rain just in the last 24 hours on Monday, also was a very rainy day. Most of the rain, though, as we head through the next 24 hours will be across the southern portion right over here, which is -- you know, one of the areas that have been affected again just south of Colombo over here. An additional 5 centimeters, maybe 8 not out of the question and then scattered rain showers in areas farther to the north. So they're definitely not out of the woods at all when it comes to the weather here.
It has been fairly quiet as we head across most of East Asia. A little bit of energy coming through from the Korean peninsula back over toward Japan. That has meant more snow for you. As if you needed any more right? But it looks like we're going to see a return of the wintry conditions here across much of China. You know, it had been pretty quiet, but now people kind of going back to work, everything kind of settling in after the holiday. And you can see that wintry mix returning across some of these areas. Still quiet to the south and still snowy for you guys there in Japan.
Kristie, let's go ahead and head south. I want to take you to Australia. Let's go ahead and roll the video. They're doing investigations now as to what happened, you know, when these fires were burning across the area -- just a tragic situation there of course. This is what the latest in the investigation as to how that fire started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What actually is believed to have happened is that it's being sparked by a power tool. On Sunday, conditions here were just hot and windy and as a result we had what's called a total fire ban, which means people aren't allowed to use power tools. Now what's actually believed to have happened is a resident was using a power tool. He's actually a police officer. And that is what started the fire. And as a result, he now faces possible criminal charges over this, it's a very serious matter. And the arson squad is now investigating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMOS: So they are investigating to see what exactly happened. The drought continues here of course, Kristie, but at least the fires are out. Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecasts.
OK, I want to take you to Europe. You know, we've been monitoring this huge winter -- it's kind of a -- it's still a winter storm even though it hasn't brought a lot of snow, but definitely very strong winds across many parts of the UK and Ireland. Now Northern Europe has also been affected. We see that front continuing to slide across. Wind in Copenhagen close to 40 kilometers per hour, also for you guys in Berlin. This is also bringing travel delays across the region here. So definitely something you want to keep in mind as you make your way around this area not just today, but even as we head through the day tomorrow. The winds will begin to ease across this northern area once that last of the energy moves out.
And the return of the rain showers across the north and west, though generally clear. And temperatures, they're on the mild side. A lot of the snow that you've had throughout most of January and December, you know, a lot of that beginning to melt as temperatures remain above freezing. In many cases, even in the daytime hours --10 in London, that's pretty nice, 9 in Paris and in Munich. And as we head south, 14 in Rome, and 13 in Madrid.
Now one thing to keep in mind, though, is that we are going to start to see temperatures kind of warm up a little bit, especially in the overnight hours for many of you, which should make it feel pretty nice, Kristie. We'll keep you posted. Back to you.
STOUT: All right. Sounds good. Mari, thank you.
Now the force is strong with this one: that small Darth Vader starred in one of the most popular Super Bowl ads. And we will meet this boy behind the mask next.
STOUT: Welcome back. Now a Volkswagen plus a pint-sized version of Darth Vader: it sounds like an odd combination, but it turned out to be one of the most popular ads to air during this year's Super Bowl.
Little Vader looks a little frustrated, but fear not Obi Wan has taught him well. And viewers are really feeling the force. This clip has been watched more than 20 million times on YouTube. And that commercial has made a big star out of a little boy.
Max Page and his mom Jennifer joins us now -- they both join us from CNN New York. It's so good to see you. And Max, I have to ask you, do you really have the force? Can you move this picture behind me?
MAX PAGE, MINI VADER: No. There's one small problem, my earpiece.
STOUT: Why don't you take off your helmet? That would help.
Can you see the picture that's up on the screen now, Max?
MAX PAGE: Yeah.
STOUT: Anyway, we have C3PO and Luke Skywalker. Max, it's welcome to see you, welcome to CNN International. Jennifer, you must be so proud to be his mom. Can you tell us a little bit about the audition? How did it take place? And how did your son get the role?
JENNIFER PAGE, MOM: Well, it came up like most auditions do just the breakdown came from -- the Volkswagen ad, which were really excited about. My first car was a Volkswagen. So we're just -- we were really thrilled that it was Volkswagen to begin with.
We actually just thought it was a national ad. So we had an audition, a callback and then it wasn't until halfway through filming that we even realized it was a Super Bowl ad. And we certainly never dreamed it would have this kind of impact on our family and then, you know, obviously the social medias and everything. It's just been a whirlwind. It's been so fun to be a part of. The Deutsche Agency Group (ph) has been wonderful and helping navigate us through this process. And the folks at Volkswagen were great through all the filming. So it's just been really fun.
STOUT: And Max, did you see the movie Star Wars before the audition?
STOUT: Did you see a picture of Darth Vader before the audition?
MAX: No. Oh, yes.
STOUT: Now I heard you did. You did? OK. So you got a sense of what you were trying to act out. And I also understand that you actually met James Earl Jones, the original voice of Darth Vader. What was that like?
MAX: He was really cool. And I can't believe I met him.
JENNIFER: And did he have a deep voice?
MAX: Well, I thought he would have, you know, had to use his -- had use his stronger voice. But I didn't know he had such a deep voice.
STOUT: He does have a very impressive voice.
Now Max, millions and millions of people around the world have seen your video, including people here in China. How does that make you feel?
MAX: It feels amazing. I mean, at first of all I knew I didn't even know it was the Super Bowl. Second of all, it was going to go all around the world.
STOUT: And Jennifer, what do you make of all this, the celebrity of your son?
JENNIFER: You know, it just -- he's been doing the acting thing for about two years. He's on the Young and the Restless. And so he's had experience with this, but nothing to launch on this national and actually global scale. This is just mind blowing. We're just listening to the trusted people that we have at Deutsche (ph) and Buckwide Talent Group (ph) and we're just hanging on to our seats and driving where they -- you know, going in and interviewing where they drop us and just enjoying the moment. And we've had some incredible experiences, met incredible people and so, you know, we're just very humbled by the moment and very blessed to be here and just really proud of Max. He's doing great with the -- did great in the filming and doing great with all this and just it's been a lot of fun for our family.
STOUT: Now Max was born with a heart defect. In fact, he wears a pacemaker. When was his first surgery?
JENNIFER: His first surgery was when he was three months old -- between three and four months old there at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. And, you know, he had a full open heart to repair his condition called tetralogy of fallot. After his repair, his heart just didn't fire properly after that, and so they put in a pace maker. He subsequently had three other surgeries to replace batteries. This current battery is doing well, so we have several years left on it.
You know, we laugh we need one too to keep up with him. It's just -- his energy is great. We're so blessed that technology and the medical and the pioneers that came before us got to this point where he can go in and have these and live a normal life and live an amazing life. And hopefully the hope and inspiration for other families with any kind of medical is just that don't hold your kids back, let them be and discover and just run and play. That's all we ever hope for for Max. This is beyond anything we could have even tried to wish for.
STOUT: He is an inspiration indeed. Max and Jennifer Page, thank you so much for joining us here on NEWS STREAM and take care.
JENNIFER: Great, thank you.
STOUT: Now, the VW ad starring Max -- he was so cute. That ad, it wasn't the only big winner. Now this pug, it pulled down a million bucks with this commercial. We'll explain after this.
STOUT: Now some would say that the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers weren't the only winners and losers at Super Bowl LXV. Jeanne Moos examines the action off the field.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She cares more about her bowl than the Super Bowl -- pug is a million dollar winner, biggest loser besides the Steelers was Christina Aguilera. Her national anthem bombed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I was offended that she couldn't get the words right.
MOOS: The pug luckily had no speaking lines. Doritos invited folks to make their own commercials. This one featured a guy teasing a pug through a glass door.
The budget for the pug commercial: $500. The prize: a million bucks.
The pug ad tied a Budweiser ad for most popular Super Bowl commercial according to the USA Today ad meter. The creators just got engaged the other day and the dog belongs to a friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her name is Oko Nono (ph).
MOOS: Oko Nono because she misbehaves and has to be told no, no so often that she thinks it's her name.
Now these two film school grads have made their names. They'll use the million dollar prize toward their wedding and film projects and for the pug.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some bling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some bling. You've got to pimp out the pooch.
MOOS: But Christina Aguilera is the one in the doghouse for not singing the correct words, the ones on your screen.
She may have forgotten the words this time, but she used to know them and here's the proof.
11-year-old Christina at a hockey game got through the line that all these years later tripped her up.
But hey, lots of folks get stuck on the ramparts. Michael Bolton got over a million views on YouTube after he resorted to notes on his hand to get through the very same line.
This kid at a basketball game was another casualty of the ramparts.
At least Aguilera kept going and later apologized for getting caught up in the moment and losing her place. Some may criticize her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's pretty disrespectful to this country.
MOOS: So you know the words?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I know the words.
MOOS: But even with a little prodding -- what's so proudly...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...held and the -- oh no, I just messed up on TV.
MOOS: At least in this country we're free -- free to blow it.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
STOUT: Now we'd like to go over and out there this evening with something a little bit intellectual, intellectual because it involves the author Malcolm Gladwell, but only a little bit because it involves poking fun at his prose. And here at NEWS STREAM we prize technology. Well, Gladwell recently questioned the power of the internet and it appears that the internet has exacted its revenge. Welcome to the Malcolm Gladwell book name generator. If you've ever wondered why the best-selling book was called The Tipping Point, the creators of a new web site are on your side.
Now here we have the ambiguously titled Nothing. The Subhead: What Sam Castle Can Teach us About Both Korean Economic Policy. And this one insinuates that Gladwell might secretly crave sales over scholarship, it's called Jealous: Why I Could Have Written Harry Potter Only Better.
And finally Star Wars fans will definitely like this one featuring legendary ladies' man Lando Calrissian. The subheading: Intergalactic Lessons In Smoothness.
And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" with Charles Hodson, Maggie Lake and Andrew Stevens is next.