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NEWS STREAM

Berlusconi Faces Trial; Protests in Iran; Moving Beyond the Military; Protests in Yemen; Child Abuse in Japan; Tunisia, Egypt Inspire Additional Middle East Protests; Sniper

Aired February 15, 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, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is ordered to stand trial for allegedly abusing his power and paying for sex with a minor.

A body of lawmakers say opposition leaders should be executed after anti-government protesters filled the streets of Tehran.

And it's man versus machine as these two game show champs try to outthink a super computer.

Italy's prime minister and his lawyers have seven weeks to prepare for a criminal trial. A short time ago, a judge in Milan ruled that Silvio Berlusconi will face trials in charges he paid sex with a underage prostitute and then helped get her released from jail as she was being held on a unrelated theft charge. Mr. Berlusconi, he denies any wrong doing.

For the latest, let's go to Dan Rivers who joins us now live from Milan.

And, Dan, details on the decision?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is going to be the fight of his life for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. It promises to be the most sensational trial probably ever held in Italy.

The prime minister charged with paying a underage prostitute for sex and abusing his power by trying to get her out of a police cell when she was arrested on theft. Both allegations he has angrily denied saying they are politically motivated, but he is going to have a real fight on his hands now.

The three panel judge -- the judges that will hear this case are all women, as is the chief prosecutor. So you can imagine that in a case that involves allegations of sex of -- of suggestions of orgies taking place in his Milan villa, of masses of phone intercepts evidence, this is going to be quite a incredible trial.

We have talked to one of the women on the periphery of this whole story, Nicole Minetti. She is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly trying to procure prostitutes for Silvio Berlusconi, something that she has come out an given an excuse of interview of and denied that completely.

I asked her also if she has ever witnessed any orgies or sex parties at Silvio Berlusconi's villa outside of Milan where she had attended regular soirees. She said no they were simply normal dinner parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE MINETTI, SILVIO BERLUSCONI'S FORMER DENTAL HYGIENIST: I mean the parties, if we can call them parties, were definitely much different respect of how the press described them. He -- he sings, he tells stories, any type of story, I mean even personal stories. Obvious experience in politics, humor stories.

So that's a little bit how the evenings were. I mean nothing of lurid in any -- in any way, anyway.

RIVERS: Lots of pretty girls there?

MINETTI: Sometimes even pretty girls, absolutely, yes. Sometimes pretty girls, yes.

RIVERS: So you completely deny that procured any women for the prime minister for prostitution.

MINETTI: Absolutely, yes. Yes, I deny that. Absolutely, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: We'll air the full interview with Nicole Minetti tomorrow here on CNN, but that gives you the flavor of the complete denial from her. Denial of ever seeing -- having seen sort of sexual orgies at Silvio Berlusconi's villa, complete denial that she in any way procured any prostitutes for him.

She must -- it must be stressed -- is being investigated. She has not been indicted. But if she is indicted she will fight these charges all the way, as will Silvio Berlusconi.

LU STOUT: Now, Dan, now that the prime minister is facing trial, what is the mood in Italy? Is there a strong anti-Berlusconi sentiment throughout the country?

RIVERS: OK. Well look, I mean, he does remain, in spite of all this, an incredibly popular prime minister for some sections of society, but there are huge numbers of people who are very angry and disappointed with all this.

We were at big rally in Milan on Sunday where tens of thousands of people turned out to voice their anger at the way he's allegedly been behaving, their anger at the way women are portrayed and treated in modern Italian society. A lot of people talking about the -- the anger towards the mass media, the way that a lot of the game shows here involve scantily clad women and so on.

So there is a big ground swell of anger about this whole thing, but it must also be stressed that Berlusconi does remain incredibly popular here. He won the recent votes in parliament. He is denying all these allegations angrily and is vowing to fight on it.

And he's no stranger to court cases and to fighting his caller in court. He's got other cases that are coming up as well, but this will certainly be the most sensational.

LU STOUT: Yes, he's a fighter and a political survivor.

Dan Rivers joining us live in Milan, thank you.

Berlusconi's list of gaffes is both long and varied, and there simply isn't enough time to list them all, but here's a few.

At a motorcycles show Milan, Berlusconi told an audience that he thinks, quote, "It is better to be passionate about beautiful girls than to be gay."

On a supposed quote great respect for women, he made this comment. He said, "I have always made it so that every woman feels, how should I say, special."

And this last one may have been said tongue in cheek, but there weren't many laughs. He said that U.S. President Barack Obama is quote "Young, handsome and tanned."

Now let's go to Iran now where the opposition has made a huge comeback of tens of thousands of anti-government protesters march in Tehran on Monday bringing a massive security crackdown. Now, security forces beat back demonstrators with batons and tear gas.

Now hard-line lawmakers are targeting the organizers.

(VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: OK. That there on your screen, that's members of parliament. They are calling for the execution of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. Now the opposition leaders, they called for Monday's march in support of uprisings in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world.

Reporting from Iran is extremely difficult. The regime strictly limits visa's for journalists, and even those allowed in to the country were denied permission to cover the demonstrations on Monday. And reporters say that local people are aware that they can go to jail, just for talking to foreign correspondents.

Our Reza Sayah who still managed to piece together some extraordinary details, he joins us now live from our Iran desk in Islamabad.

And, Reza, what is the situation in Tehran today?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, I think that today in Tehran we saw the first signals in how Iran's hard-line leadership plans to respond to the opposition movement and its come back yesterday in Tehran.

Let's go ahead and take a look at the fresh video we got today from Iran's English language, state-funded press TV The video showing the parliament session today in Tehran. Dozens of lawmakers chanting, fists raised in the air calling for the trial and execution of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, the two opposition figures who called for this rally yesterday in support of the uprising in Egypt. A call for protest, but the government denied. Obviously the opposition movement defied those warnings by the government not to come out. These lawmakers also calling for the trial and execution of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

So clearly tensions have ratcheted up in Tehran, and this rivalry between Iran's hard line leadership and the opposition movement has been renewed and intensified after widespread protest in Tehran yesterday.

Remember, many counted out Iran's opposition movement. It's this green movement that burst onto the scene in 2009. But in Tehran yesterday, they came out according to witness accounts. Tens of thousands of people came out and protested in the streets of Tehran. At times things got ugly, there were clashes, a number of people were detained. One person according to government TV was killed. It's not clear of who that person is.

But, Kristie, now all eyes on the government if they -- will they heed to the call by the lawmakers today? Will they aggressively peruse these opposition figures?

But certainly the opposition movement with a big comeback yesterday.

LU STOUT: Reza, attention clearly on the rise. So where does Iran's opposition movement go from here?

SAYAH: It's difficult to say, it's unpredictable. But I think all sides who have any kind of say in where things go from here have a much trickier next move.

You look at the opposition movement. If they step up protests, they risk a much more brutal, a much more aggressive government crackdown. More people detained, more people disappearing, more people in what human rights groups called show trials.

If the government, on the other hand, has a more aggressive crackdown, they risk energizing this opposition movement and giving them a rallying cry, especially after they go after people like you're watching right now, Mehdi Karroubi.

And then you -- you also have the U.S. here, Washington's role. They have a -- a trickier role here as well. In the past, they have been reluctant to aggressively support Iran's opposition movement, because that directly plays into the narrative of the Iranian government, which these -- which is these protests are all a ploy by Washington to topple the Iranian regime -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Reza Sayah, many thanks indeed for that.

Now Iran is sitting back at the U.S. for praising the protest saying that Washington is confused due to recent events in the region. Earlier, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Iran's crackdown on the demonstrations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. A regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt. And now when given the opportunity to afford their people the same rights as they called for on behalf of the Egyptian people, once again illustrate their true nature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: And Clinton is expected to further discuss the protest in the Middle East and North Africa later on Tuesday. In fact, she is set to give a speech on Internet freedom and address it's roll in political change.

In Bahrain, the country's king has spoken out on the address that has left two people dead this week. These were the scenes earlier on Tuesday as mourners carried the coffin of an anti-government protester who was shot dead on Monday. One man attending the funeral was fatally shot. Human rights groups say security forces are to blame.

Bahrain's King told the TV audience that the safety of his country and his citizens is paramount.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMAD BIN ISA AL KHALIFA, KING OF BAHRAIN (through translator): Regarding what happened yesterday and today, and they were unfortunately death of two of our dear people and we give our warm condolences for that to their families and may god give them patience and forbearance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Protesters in Bahrain are calling for political reforms in the wake of events in Tunisia and Egypt.

Now still ahead on NEWS STREAM, Egypt's controversial Muslim Brotherhood says it wants its voice heard in a democracy. It takes a big step toward that goal.

And as Japan struggles economically, we've got shocking evidence that some of its youngest residents are suffering the most.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Egyptians may have inspired many of their neighbors with the power of their protests, but the litmus test from most observers lies in the country's ability to move from dictatorship to democracy.

Ben Wedeman examines the challenges ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They seem unlikely agents of democratic change. Egypt's higher military council now call the shots here, a group of elderly generals who rose through the ranks during Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

They've abolished the old, corrupt rubber-stamped parliament, suspended the constitution and promised to prepare the way for Egypt's first truly democratic elections in more than 60 years.

With Mubarak's old party out of the way, the biggest political block is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it's basking in its new found freedom says brotherhood leader Issam Al-Aryan.

ISSAM AL-ARYAN, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADER: Muslim Brotherhood, the reality in this country since eight years. Nobody can ban it, nobody can outlaw it. We are working according to constitution to law. We are popular. We are gaining support in the society.

WEDEMAN: Harder to quantify is the Tahrir Square protest movement -- leaderless idealistic, encompassing almost every political meaning in the country.

Blogger Wael Khalil was in Tahrir.

WAEL KHALIL, ACTIVIST BLOGGER: Everyone has every right now to speak and to articulate how he sees the revolution, how he sees the future Egypt. And I expect not -- not single person to appear, but a multitude.

It's still a revolution without leaders. People have chosen for themselves what acts to do, what steps to take.

WEDEMAN: Most Egyptians seem ready to give the army a chance to guide the country from dictatorship to democracy.

YOSRI FODA, JOURNALIST: Until they do something that's really huge and negative, I'm going to trust them because we need that trust now.

WEDEMAN: For television talk show host and journalist Yosri Foda, what matters most is that the army listens to the will of the people

FODA: The genie is out of the bottle. Egyptians now have managed to rediscover themselves. I'm so, so proud of this part of the story. Yes, it will always be tempting for a army man to stick to -- to power, but they too realize now that this is probably not a very good idea.

WEDEMAN: Not a good idea because people who have suddenly rediscovered their power are not likely to relinquish it to any one, generals included, without a fight.

(on camera): For the army, for the opposition, for most Egyptians it's all uncharted territory. What is clear however that having ousted one dictator, Egyptians are hardly likely to accept another.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And since Ben filed that report, the Muslim Brotherhood has announced that it will apply for political party status. But the controversial group, which is still officially banned in Egypt, says it will now put forward a candidate for president in the upcoming elections. In a statement, the Brotherhood said it envisions the creation of a democratic civil state that serves all Egyptians, regardless of their background.

Well, since Egypt's revolution reached a climax on Friday, many eyes have moved east to Yemen where unrest continues to simmer. There were clashes on the streets of the capital for the fifth day in a row.

Mohammad Jamjoom joins us now from Sanaa.

Mohammad, what is happening today?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Kristie, we have arrived at Sanaa University earlier today, just a few hours ago. We saw only pro-government demonstrators there, about three hundred of them.

The anti-government demonstrators that we were told were numbered at about a thousand had already left the scene. They were marching through the streets, they heading in the direction of the presidential palace.

But before they anywhere close to that, we're told by rights activists that were with the group that they were actually attacked by pro-government supporters.

Abdul Rhakman Barman (ph) who is an activist here who marched with the anti-government demonstration today said that the group, his group, was attacked with sticks and rocks. And he said to us that what happened today is a repetition of what happens every day, and what the students face. That this is against the Yemeni constitution, and people here have the right to peacefully protest.

Now this is the fifth day the clashes have occurred between different factions of demonstrators here. Yesterday, we saw -- we saw the situation turn quite violent for a few moments outside of Samaa University when hundreds of pro-government demonstrators were wielding machetes and daggers and knives and they clashed with anti-government demonstrators who numbered in the hundreds. They had sticks, police dispersed them.

The day before that, there were over a thousand anti-government demonstrators that were marching towards the presidential palace. They got about two miles away from it when barricades were put up. And then at that point they went down a different street and police went into the crowd. We were told that they had electric batons and sticks, and that the anti- government demonstrators -- some of them were beaten, some were injured.

It's a very -- it seems to be a more volatile situation here in Yemen. The protest movement, although it's still small, seems to be gaining momentum and it's really causing a lot of concern among security forces here that this could cause a threat to the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now, Mohammed, what is happening in Yemen is significant, but the protests there are attracting hundreds, maybe thousands of people, not the tens of thousands of people that we saw in Egypt. So, are these anti-government protesters in Yemen representatives of the mood of the nation?

JAMJOOM: It's a very interesting question, Kristie. We've been trying to find that out. Yemen is a very tribal and very fractured society, different parts of the country hold very different opinions.

But the mood in Sanaa and in other -- in other cities around the country, there is a growing mood of anger directed toward the government. There is -- there is a mood here of -- of people being frustrated with the corruptions they see, being frustrated with the very poor economy, that is -- this is the most impoverished country in the region, being frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity.

What's interesting about the protests that have happened in the last couple of days versus what happened on February 3rd which was branded the "Day of Rage," here in Yemen. That is, on February 3rd, you had tens of thousands of demonstrators out in -- in the streets chanting anti- government slogans. That was organized by opposition parties, people who were trying to politically back the president into a corner, to have him make concessions. That was even after he made concessions.

Since then you've had students, you've had activists, you've had normal citizens come out into the streets, not in as great a numbers, only in the hundreds or maybe a thousand or more, but nonetheless of their own volition, very much emboldened by what's been going on, what they've seen go on in Egypt, what they've seen go on in Tunisia.

And the mood here is that when we speak to activists, when we speak to students, when we speak to the youth here is they're going to continue to go out into the streets. They feel that there is a rising momentum in this country, and the people do want to see change come to Yemen -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Mohammed Jamjoom joining us live from the capital of Yemen. Thank you for that.

Now just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, why child abuse in Japan is growing at such a staggering rate. The numbers and the search for solutions next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And now to a shocking story affecting societies most vulnerable. Child abuse in Japan and cases are growing at an alarming rate, and some say the decaying economy is contributing to the problem with families torn apart as parents struggle to make a living.

Kyung Lah reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This 11-year-old Japanese girl can twist and bend paper into beautiful animals and shapes, but just weeks ago this playful little girl suffered brutal beatings daily by her own parents. She now lives in this protective orphanage. Revealing her identity threatens her safety.

She is part of an exploding population in Japan, victims of child abuse. Government numbers show in the last decade cases of reported child abuse in Japan have quadrupled. The lucky children are found and end up in orphanages, like the one run by Misou Hanasaki (ph).

At this orphanage seventy percent of the children are victims of child abuse and neglect. Fifty-two children live here between the ages of two and eighteen. There are no vacancies; when one child leaves another immediately follows.

We're in trouble, says Hanasaki. Orphanages all across the country are full, there aren't enough foster parents in Japan. We are truly in trouble.

Japan's culture is deeply rooted in the family, and has historically not embraced adoption or foster care. The result? Japans government says that in cities like Tokyo, orphanages are at 100 percent capacity, a system that can't keep up with the need.

The world's image is that Japan is kind to its children, says Hanasaki. But the image does not match reality, she says. Leaving caretakers like her to try where parents have failed.

(on camera): Child welfare experts say that a couple of factors of life are the increase in the numbers of abuse. One, a change in the law that requires child abuse cases to be reported.

But there is another reason. Japan's economy has been stagnant for more than two decades. Child's advocates say this is just one of the ugly social impacts of a struggling economy.

(voice-over): Yuki Okada (ph) is a child advocate. She says couple the economy with a society where it is shameful to ask for help and it is a pressure cooker for families.

Okada knows, she says she was abused by her mother, then she abused her own son. She is one of the few in Japan who openly talks about child abuse. It's going to get worse unless the public understands the pattern of child abuse, says Okada, and deals with abuse openly.

Back at the origami table this 11-year-old abuse victim is finishing up her final project, reminding us how easily children give their love and how the fragile nature of it is too often forgotten.

Kyung Lah , CNN, Chiba, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: A shocking story well told by our Kyung Lah. Now let's break down the actual numbers.

In 1990, there were 1,100 cases reporting to the Japanese government. By 2000, cases had jumped to more than 17,000, and then a new child abuse prevention laws came into effect that year.

Now let's look at 2009, and there is a huge jump in the number of child abuse cases. There were more than 44,000 reported that year.

You'll find out more about that story on our website, and check out Kyung's blog and watch the report again on CNN.com/international.

Now suddenly in many places throughout the Middle East and North Africa, you'll only have to look to the street to find popular discontent against the ruling elites. Ahead, we look at Egypt's possible domino effect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an under-aged prostitute and abuse of power. An Italian judge has set the trial date for April 6. Mr. Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing.

A second protester has died in Bahrain after two days of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces. The man was fatally shot during the funeral procession for a protester killed on Monday. The king of Bahrain addressed the unrest today promising a committee will be appointed to look into reform.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says it will apply to become a political party. Now the Brotherhood is regarded as one of the most organized opposition groups in Egypt despite being banned under the Mubarak regime. As previously said that it does not intend to field a candidate in the next presidential election.

Iranian lawmakers are calling for two opposition leaders to be executed. Members of parliament were shown on state TV chanting against former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. Lawmakers blame them for Monday's protests when tens of thousands of people marched in Tehran despite a huge security crackdown.

Now the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired protests across the Middle East and North Africa. Now Jill Dougherty reports that the White House is watching it all closely and paying particular attention to Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is this what the Obama administration hopes could be the next people's revolution? Iranian police clash with demonstrators on the streets of Tehran, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton connects the dots with Egypt's revolution.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity they saw their Egyptian counterparts seized in the last week.

DOUGHERTY: As Iranian police round up activists, the State Department begins tweeting encouraging messages in the Farsi language, telling Iranians "we want to join in your conversation."

Just days after a revolution toppled Egypt's longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, unrest is rippling through the region and the U.S. is trying to figure out how to handle it.

In Algeria, protesters clash with security forces and the State Department proclaims their support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, adding, "these rights apply on the internet."

The government of Syria puts a blogger on trial for espionage. The State Department calls for her freedom.

In Jordan, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a top State Department official meet with King Abdullah II to show support for the new government he swore in following anti-government protests.

Yet nothing is settled in Egypt. Trying to muster international support, President Obama has been speed dialing fellow leaders in Great Britain, Jordan and Turkey to help keep pressure on the Egyptian military to turn a revolution into a real democracy. Secretary Clinton called the Egyptian foreign minister and her counterparts in eight other countries.

The tide of democracy opens opportunities, officials say, but a former CIA director says this is not a stack of dominos.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The challenge is how does one manage that during the transition period so that you don't see some of the more radical, and unfortunately those are generally the best organized groups, seizing control, capturing the revolution and taking it into a direction that's very dark.

DOUGHERTY: In an interview Monday with al Hurra TV, Secretary Clinton said Iran's revolution of 1979 had been, quote, hijacked. And she added, "I don't think anyone in the Mid East or in the world would look to Iran as an example for them. That's not," she said, "where anyone wants to end up."

Jill Dougherty, CNN, The State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Time now for your international forecast. Let's go to our Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie.

We're going to start talking about Madagascar. Tropical cyclone made landfall there about 24 hours ago and it was very powerful. The storm is winding down, but it has brought tremendously heavy rain across the area. Flooding and mudslides are the biggest concern across the region. And now we're starting to see the rain also move into the mainland area here across the Mozambique Channel into Mozambique among other places.

Look at some of these rainfall totals in the last 24 hours: almost 140 millimeters there, another 100 millimeters just a little farther to the south. Some of the areas around here had over 150 as the storm was moving inland, but like I said it's not entirely over yet.

This is what it looks like on the satellite. And you can see the storm not as healthy looking as it did when it first made landfall about a day ago, but now that that center of circulation is moving back over the water, in other words it's not over land any more, it has the potential to re-intensify. And even if it doesn't intensify it's going to continue to have that source of moisture here to keep bringing some very heavy rain across this region. So the potential for some flooding, for some significant flooding, is still there.

It's still a tropical storm status. So right now we're looking at winds close to 65 kilometers per hour, gusting to nearly 80. You'll notice that the center is expected to continue hugging the coastline here over the Mozambique Channel so the rain will spread over toward both sides, but I think the heaviest rain again is going to be in these areas that you see here in red, they could get an additional 25 centimeters of rainfall which is very significant. So we'll definitely continue monitoring that.

I want to stay in the southern Hemisphere and talk a little bit about Australia. Remember, we had Tropical Cyclone Yasi a couple of weeks ago, right? Well, you know, the season is really just starting to get going as we head into the peak of the summer in this part of the world.

Normally, you see about seven tropical cyclones in the west, you tend to see about four here in the north and here in the east, we probably see around four every season. So far we've had four in the east and four in the west. But the forecast is for many more.

This season is expected to be well above the average when it comes to tropical cyclones in Australia. There are two areas that we're monitoring closely. This one right over here that is hugging the Western Australian coast.

And then this other storm over here that continues to bring some very heavy rain across northern parts of Australia. If this developed, it would be the first cyclone in this region so far this season.

So far, reports of flooding, there are some warnings also, Kristie, that we're monitoring in this region. Because of the potential of this, of course in a more populated area here in the north, could cause some problems in the next few days.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: OK, Mari, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now dug in deep with one mission in mind: our next story is one of extreme patience and pinpoint precision, the snipers you're about to meet are already at the top of their game, but as Barbara Starr reports it will take much more than that to be the best.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We've nearly 9,000 feet into the Sierra Nevadas to join these Marines on some of the most elite training the military conducts. For these snipers, it's all about one shot, one kill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An open door to the rear, and first impression down behind it. Distance: 560 meters.

STARR: It's freezing, rugged terrain. The Marines keep watch from hidden positions. They are dug deep into the snow.

The men are already qualified snipers, but in this advanced training they learn to operate in some of the worst conditions. Senior snipers are nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was your movement out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not too bad.

STARR: It's a climb to the top that takes hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time did you guys get in last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 2:00.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 0200?

How long did it take you to dig your --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three or four hours.

STARR: Sniper operations in steep mountains are especially tough. The marines learn to stay hidden and shoot at steep angles accounting for wind and weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The objective, about 500 meters down the slope.

STARR: One of the snipers will only tell us his name as Chris. He shows us around their fortification.

CHRIS: Off to my right we have our observation post where if we eyes on with the sniper/spotter down the objective at the bottom of the valley. We have a trench set up here on my left --

STARR: As Chris walks us through the position, it becomes clear how very real this training is. Many of these marines will head to Afghanistan in the coming weeks using what they have learned here to fight the Taliban with the ultimate skill taught by men like Gunnery Sergeant David Williams.

For a Marine Corps sniper, how far does he have to be able to shoot and kill?

DAVID WILLIAMS, GUNNERY SERGEANT, U.S. MARINE CORPS: 1,000 yards.

STARR: Which is?

WILLIAMS: Which is 10 football fields roughly.

STARR: If you want to understand how tough the mountain sniper course here really is consider this: about 25 percent of the marines who come here wash out.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Bridgeport, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now a question for you, would you want to spend 500 days cooped up in cramped quarters and when your journey is over you don't really get to walk out on Mars or even float around in space, because it's all just pretend? We'll tell you about some people who are doing just that and why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the smartest human brain versus a supercomputer: now which is more intelligent? Now a long running quiz show in the U.S. is trying to put that question to the test. Jason Carroll joins us live from CNN New York to explain -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie, they're doing it all with a supercomputer named Watson. Here's how it all sort of happened, IBM researchers fed Watson encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibles, movie scripts - - you name it, more than 200 million pages of data and they taught it Jeopardy strategy. Now they think Watson is ready to take on Jeopardy's best. So let's take a look how it sort of went.

In this corner, you've got the challenger. That's IBM's Watson, 10 refrigerator-sized racks of IBM computer servers. And then in the other corner, you've got the legendary champions from the show Ken Jennings holder of the longest Jeopardy winning streak, 74 games, and Brad Rutter, undefeated champion and the shows biggest money winner.

Last night the three men -- well actually two men and one computer, squared off and their first of three nights of competition. How did it come out? Well, Kristie, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Jeopardy, the IBM challenge.

ALEX TREBEK, HOST: A split personality.

WATSON: Who is Hyde?

Who is Michael Phelps?

TREBEK: Yes.

WATSON: Event Horizon.

TREBEK: Yes.

WATSON: Grendel.

TREBEK: Yes.

WATSON: The Last Judgment.

TREBEK: Correct.

Ken.

KEN JENNINGS: What are the 20's?

TREBEK: No.

Watson.

WATSON: What is 1920's?

TREBEK: No. Ken said that.

Brad.

BRAD RUTTER: What are the 19 teens?

TREBEK: Yes.

Watson.

WATSON: What is Sauron?

TREBEK: Sauron is right. And that puts you into a tie for the lead with Brad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Well, we actually spoke to Ken Jennings and Watson's lead researcher about what it's like to face off against a computer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNINGS: You can't psych that guy out. It's never going to get cocky. It's never going to get stage fright. It's just implacable, it's like the terminator, it just keeps coming.

CARROLL: Can the creator beat what was created?

DAVID FERRUCCI, IBM WATSON RESEARCHER: Absolutely not. I'm one of the worst Jeopardy players on the face of the planet. Not good at it at all.

CARROLL: I'm not either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Yes, clearly I'm not either because, Kristie, you know we wanted to see what it would be like for a regular person, a non-champion such as myself, to take on Watson. So take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jason from CNN and Watson from IBM.

CARROLL: I'll take those animal's fright me for 400.

TREBEK: Perpetaphobia.

Watson.

WATSON: What is reptile.

TREBEK: Watson.

WATSON: What is Baghdad.

TREBEK: Correct.

Watson.

WATSON: What is Birmingham.

TREBEK: Yes.

Watson.

WATSON: What is Buffalo.

TREBEK: Buffalo, yes.

Well, you ran that category, Watson.

CARROLL: I have no idea.

TREBEK: Question mark was not what we were looking for.

How much did you wager, Watson. $26,599 bringing you up to just short of $60,000.

CARROLL: I want you to know I did know a lot of these answers, but I couldn't -- I couldn't.

TREBEK: The buzzer is hard.

CARROLL: I couldn't figure out how to buzz in.

Well, that's humbling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Yes, humbling is absolutely, Kristie, a good way to describe it. Actually, a unique experience there to take on Watson. But the implications here are, you know, perhaps someday researchers will be able to develop some sort of computer -- supercomputer -- that can help doctors, for instance, diagnose illnesses, all sorts of things. So -- but in the meantime, we've got Watson taking on the Jeopardy challengers -- and CNN reporters.

LU STOUT: Yes, and did I hear you right just now, were you blaming the buzzer not Watson for your poor performance? I mean, that's pretty poor.

CARROLL: I know, it's really lame right. It's pretty lame. But it is true, if you buzz in too soon, Kristie -- I didn't know this about Jeopardy, but if you buzz in too soon it does lock out your buzzer. But let's be honest, even if my buzzer was working.

LU STOUT: Yes.

CARROLL: Watson still would have kicked my butt.

LU STOUT: Yes, yes that's right. And the light was in your eyes too, right? You can come up with so many excuses for that poor performance.

CARROLL: I need them all.

LU STOUT: Jason Carroll. That's all right. Thank you for the story, it's a good one. Jason Carroll joining us live from New York. Thank you and take care.

Now how is Mars like Moscow? I don't know if Watson would know the answer to that and for this one, there is no punch line. Now a six man crew is the halfway point of its trip to the red planet, but they're really just near the Russian capital. Matthew Chance explains the mission.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A manned mission to Mars: it could be the next giant leap in space travel. But at mission control near Moscow, the grainy images being broadcast around the world are of course not from the surface of the red planet.

This is the Mars 500 capsule, located in a rundown suburb of the Russian capital where six paid volunteers from Russia, China, Italy and France have been living in a mock-up vessel on a virtual space flight.

Since June, when they started their mission, the six have been in near isolation, carrying out scientific experiments, even eating space rations like astronauts. There's no fresh food allowed.

It's all part of an ambitious effort by the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems to assess what a future interplanetary journey could involve.

Of course, any simulation of an expedition to Mars will obviously have its shortcomings. You can't replicate the effect of zero gravity or the high doses of radiation on the crew. Indeed, you can't turn off the switch in the back of your mind, either, that tells you you're really just in a warehouse on the outskirts of Moscow. But this is a test of human relations, how six people that living together for 520 days on a spacecraft not much bigger than a tin can will get on.

So far, the scientists watching them say there have been no major problems. The crew appear to be getting on very well. But the touchdown on Mars is only the halfway point.

After taking pretend samples of the Martian soil, the crew must then travel back to Earth and that means a grueling wait in their Moscow warehouse until November. Plenty of time, then, for tensions to surface.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now competing for best in show brings out some quirks. This woman is not the only one who gets a bit carried away at the Westminster Dog Show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back. And after a long winter break, the Champion's League is back. Kate Giles is here with a preview of tonight's matches -- Kate.

KATE GILES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right Kristie. The biggest match coming up tonight is between AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspurs. That one is being played at the San Siro, the first leg this one is of the round of 16. Now Milan definitely have the better European pedigree. They've won the European Cup seven times whereas Tottenham are new to the Champion's League this season. It hasn't held them back, though, you have to say. Spurs topped their group, which also included Inter Milan and they qualified as the joint highest goal scorers in the group stages with 18 goals to their name.

But tonight, they will be without their star winger Garreth Bale. That is a big miss for them. And Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart are just recovering from either illness or injury. So perhaps a slightly depleted Spurs that we'll see.

Milan's attack, meanwhile, is looking pretty daunting: Ibrahimovic, Robinho, and Pato all up front.

This is the first leg. As I said it's at the San Siro. So Spurs will really have to do all that they can to try and limit any damage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY REDKNAPP, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR MANAGER: We want to make sure that we're in the game when we go back to White Hart Lane. You know, we've got to make sure we do that tomorrow. It's important that we're -- we feel at home. We can -- Tottenham European nights, fantastic atmosphere. And we proved this year at home with the goals that we've scored that we can -- we're (INAUDIBLE) for anybody.

WILLIAM GALLAS, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR DEFENDER: In fact we're not so (INAUDIBLE) -- if it (INAUDIBLE) I will be happy, you know. But I know that would be really, really difficult, because you know, (INAUDIBLE) good striker, you know. And I know that will be difficult to stop them. But we have to do it, because like I said, we want to qualify.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, AC MILAN STRIKER: We're not underestimating Tottenham because they haven't been in Champions in over 30 years, like you said, but we have respect for everybody. And we go out like Milan and we will play our game and whatever happens, happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GILES: Well, what about the other game today? That one sees Valencia play host to Shalke, the German side. And it looks to be a pretty evenly matched encounter. Valencia were actually expected to flop after parting ways with David Villa and David Silva in the summer, but not at all.

They've been constant in both the Spanish league and in the European competition as well. Shalke, they've been poor at home in the Bundesliga, but they have actually impressed in the Champion's League. So this match another point to make about it, it will mark the return of Raul to Spain.

And if anyone can score the former Real Madrid man can. Nobody has scored more Champion's League goals that Raul -- 68 he has to his name in this competition, Kristie. It could be a big match for him.

LU STOUT: Yes. And Kate, I love the way your roll those r's. Thank you very much indeed. Kate Giles there.

Now, imagine this, people barking and dogs wearing the hairstyles of U.S. reality TV stars. Now it can only mean one thing -- New York's annual dog show is underway at Madison Square Garden. Jeanne Moos takes us there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fans of Tilly cool her off with a fan as if she's a supermodel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a French dog. She just stuck her tongue in my mouth.

MOOS: It's Westminster, the show where poodles show up with their ears wrapped and sheepdogs walk around wearing waders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His boots so we don't get dirty.

MOOS: The show where humans pre-moisten the dog treats in their own mouths and pick up their pooches by their privates, the show where your Great Dane pins you to the wall.

This year there are six new breeds at Westminster and many are a mouth full.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Boykin Spaniel.

MOOS: South Carolina's state dog.

There's the Red Boned Coonhound and the Blue Tip Coonhound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He does like to dance.

MOOS: And there's our favorite name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Leonberger --

MOOS: Little known at the dog show snack bar.

Do you guys serve Leon burgers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who?

MOOS: Is that a Leonberger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes it is.

MOOS: This is a Leonberger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, what's a Leonberger.

MOOS: It's a breed of dog.

Such a sweet face.

And guess what Annie the Leonberger likes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, she loves hamburgers.

MOOS: Leonberg is actually the town in Germany where the breed was established.

Among those newly admitted to Westminster, the Red Boned coon hound has a special quirk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Red Boned Coonhound has been recorded at 125 barks in a minute.

MOOS: But that's only when chasing raccoons up a tree.

Could I get one little bark out of Thunder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think Thunder is going to bark for you.

MOOS: We know who will.

Mary Bloom is considered the dean of Westminster photographers. She'll do anything to make dogs look at her lens. And they do.

MARY BLOOM, PHOTOGRAPHER: Look, look, look, bacon.

MOOS: But if a show dog needs to attract attention, a hairdo might help.

What's the hairstyle called?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Snookie.

MOOS: Jersey Shore meets hoytie-toytie Westminster show dog.

Can I touch the Snookie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, touch it. Snookie lets anyone touch so go for it.

MOOS: It only took an hour to get Stormy here all dolled up.

I take an hour and I don't anywhere near that good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's a little younger than you are.

MOOS: Go ahead, treat me like chopped meat.

Excuse me, do you guys serve Leonberger?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: OK. Now, Monday was of course Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year. And nothing says romance like a tacky publicity stunt at a Thai beach resort. Now a congregation of couples, they puckered up in Pattaya, each trying to break the record for the world's longest kiss.

Here, sloppy seconds were insufficient and mouth to mouth minutes proved mediocre. Hours of affection were required to take the title, more than 46 hours in fact. What the kissing contest lacked in class, it certainly made up for endurance.

Now lips had to remain locked even during bathroom breaks which leaves a rather nasty taste in my mouth.

That is NEWS STREAM. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

END