CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

NEWS STREAM

Thousands Fleeing Libya; A Survival Story in New Zealand; Assange Extradition Order

Aired February 24, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

A massive show of solidarity. Moammar Gadhafi's hold on power weakens as anti-government protesters rally in Libya.

Rescuers in New Zealand are still determined to pull quake survivors from the rubble in Christchurch.

A London court says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden.

And hear what Internet pioneer Vince Cerf has to say about Google's role in the revolution in Egypt.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is apparently losing more ground. The opposition movement is gaining strength and heading west. Now, that's according to witnesses and multiple media reports which say Misrata has come under the control of anti-government protesters.

Now, that is significant. Take a look at just how close Misrata is to the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Now, the capital is a Gadhafi stronghold, and sources tell CNN that security forces have tightened their grip on Tripoli overnight.

This is day 10 of protests. They started in Benghazi, the country's second largest city. It is under opposition control, along with much of eastern Libya. But it cost hundreds of anti-government demonstrators their lives.

Now, the army has recently abandoned the town of Tobruk, and people there are flying the flag of old Libya, used before Gadhafi took control more than four decades ago.

Now, a short time ago we heard from his son, Seif, who says the media has it all wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI (through translator): Tomorrow, journalists (ph) from all over the world will be coming, will be arriving in this country. Tomorrow, they will be ferried by air and on land, where they wanted to see the bases (ph) where it was claimed in the media that were attacked, that were exposed (ph) to aerial attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, thousands of people are trying to flee the violence, and some are heading over the border to neighboring Tunisia.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is there. He joins us live from the Tunisian/Libyan border.

Nic, describe the drama you've seen there at the border.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, there's a lot happening here today. We've been here for the last two days, and each day we see more people crossing over. And now it's a constant slow (ph) of people.

You can see just over here -- if I step out of the shot a little bit you can take a look -- people lining up with their bags, getting some food in that green tent. They're given a drink, they're given some food there. And they're lining up to cross over the border her.

But this isn't without some contention here in the community inside of the border. There are actually Tunisian volunteers who have been helping them cross over, give them free food, and they're still doing that. But there are some Tunisians here who are trying to get a message to the government and ask the government, the Tunisian government, for more help to help out the border -- to help out with food, to help out with transportation.

We've also here today seen Chinese workers coming across the border, as well as Egyptians, as well as Tunisians, as well as Libyans fleeing the country. But today, the exodus, far bigger than it has been in the previous few days -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Nic, have you had a chance to speak to some of the refugees behind you, and about the violence that they witnessed back at home.

ROBERTSON: Some people are reluctant to talk to us, but others who are describing what they see talk about multiple checkpoints on the way along the road that follows the trails (ph) from Tripoli to the border here. They say that they're not sure if these are checkpoints manned by army or militia. They say they're armed men with guns.

We're also getting reports from some of the towns along that border road. The first town along the border, about 30 kilometers away. That, according to the resistance, according to the opposition to the government, is in their control.

The next town is Sabratha. They say also in the control of anti-government forces. However, they do say that pro-Gadhafi elements could attack that town today, and another town even closer to the city of Tripoli where there are many oil refineries. According to sources there, and according to people driving out of that area today, they say that there have been attacks by government forces on that town as well against the population who are resistant to Colonel Gadhafi.

And in Tripoli, it's a very dire picture that we're learning about here today from sources, from people coming out. They're telling us that what the regime is doing in Tripoli is laying siege to areas -- they're calling in security forces, sending in people to go house-to-house searches, arresting lots of people, military attacks going on in those cordoned-off areas. So the government strategically, they say, laying siege to parts of the capital and going into those areas and arresting people -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Nic, al Qaeda's North African wing has weighed in. They say that they support the uprising. Are they jockeying for some sort of position of influence in Libya?

ROBERTSON: It's hard to say. Clearly, they want to be seen as having a role and a hand here. Al Qaeda's influence in Libya has been minimal, at best. It's been repressed by the regime.

What we do know in the past, that al Qaeda recruits have come to places like Iran to fight. Libyans have numbered highly for the people that have gone to Iraq and other places to fight. That's sometimes the second highest.

And the regime here has done its best to curtail them. The regime has also recently released Islamist elements of part of an anti-government source, a Libyan Islamic fighting group, in decades past. They've released those. This is an Islamic group not allied with al Qaeda, people associated with that group.

And they say you cannot think that these groups now sit on the sidelines while the citizens are being murdered, they say, by the leadership here, that these organizations not allied with al Qaeda. That these organizations will organize and will go against the government, because they say the people around them are being murdered.

So al Qaeda may be overblowing its own self-importance here. They're certainly the (INAUDIBLE) elements here that have got goods organizations within the country, will try and activate to support the population -- Kristie.

STOUT: OK, Nic. Thank you for the analysis and also for giving us an update of what's happening there at the border.

Nic Robertson, joining us live from Jirba (ph).

Now, let's take a look at where Libya's oil pipelines are located. Here on the Google map you can see they're denoted in these black lines right here on the map.

Now, there are fears that Gadhafi may order his supporters to sabotage them. Now, a short time ago, a witness told CNN that operations in Zawia are reducing capacity, but not shutting down. Now, the city has one of the most significant oil refineries in the country. The source also says reports of a bombing there are untrue, but there have been clashes between Gadhafi's supporters and opponents.

Now, the unrest has sent the price of crude soaring. Oil is trading at two-year highs. Brent crude, a global benchmark for oil, is now up more than $3, at $115.40 a barrel.

Now, we still have plenty more coverage on Libya this hour. We will look at why the U.S. president has been criticized for not speaking out sooner on Libya.

And flamboyant, unpredictable. See our Jonathan Mann's close encounter with the embattled Libyan leader.

Now, it is just after 2:00 in the morning in Christchurch, New Zealand, where two-and-a-half days have now gone since Tuesday's earthquake. At least 98 people are dead, as one structure after another has come crashing down.

Now, you're watching closed circuit television footage from a supermarket capturing the moment the quake hit. You can see quite clearly just everything on those shelves crashing down. And you will hear rescuers say that the first 72 hours following a natural disaster are critical. That time frame is almost up, and police have grave fears for the 226 people who are still missing.

Nevertheless, the multinational teams working through the night, including the hundreds of foreign specialists who arrived on Thursday, say it is still possible to find people alive. Now, of those still missing, police have publicly given up hope on about 100 people trapped inside the Canterbury Television building downtown. They say that they are "100 percent certain" no one there could possibly be alive.

We now know this is an international tragedy. That's because when the CTV building collapsed on Tuesday, a sizable group of foreign students was inside. Many of them were Asian. They come from countries like China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.

It is fear that one language school in particular makes up a significant part of the fatalities. According to several reports, officials with King's Education have circulated a list showing dozens of students and staff unaccounted for. Now, some of them were part of a Japanese study group, and some had just started on Monday.

Now, there is no question that the majority of the rescues happened early on, but the stories are there. And as Jack Tame of TVNZ shows us, each one feels like a miracle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JACK TAME, REPORTER, TVNZ (voice-over): In a cabin of catastrophic debris, rescuers straining to save a life. Watch closely. That came (ph) just between them, a survivor.

Roslyn Chapman has spent nine hours pinned in the dust and rubble. She's bewildered and shocked, but she's alive.

In that huge contorted cavity were rescuers Craig Robertson and Gleen Glover (ph).

(on camera): What was your first impression when you got down to the (INAUDIBLE) and you looked at the PG building?

CRAIG ROBERTSON, VOLUNTEER RESCUER: I think reality hits home. I mean, you look at it from the outside knowing that was once a tall building. So yes.

TAME (voice-over): Gleen (ph) wanted us to point out they were just two among the dozens of volunteers working at the Pyne Gould building on the night of the collapse.

ROBERTSON: You really sort of don't have time to turn around and enjoy the view. You're there to do what you do. You know, roll your sleeves and throw bricks out and throw rubble out, really, at the end of the day.

TAME: Craig used his phone to film Rosalyn (ph) being pulled out alive.

ROBERTSON: As soon as she was out she was in the basket. And we put a jacket around her to keep her warm and keep the rain off her. And she was in a basket headed down to the ground. I'm pretty sure she wasn't (INAUDIBLE) to have a beer with everybody.

TAME: Roslyn Chapman was bruised and sore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're bringing her out.

TAME: But very lucky and very thankful.

ROSLYN CHAPMAN, SURVIVOR: Thank you so much. Thank you all so much.

(APPLAUSE)

CHAPMAN: I was so grateful for the rescue team. They risked their own lives to save us. And I'm just so lucky and have such lovely family and friends around me. And they've just all been so supportive and wonderful, and it just makes you feel so grateful.

TAME: She's now desperately worried for the people who are still missing. But seeing her rescue, seeing someone survive inside that mass destruction, gives just a little hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, all over the world strangers are uniting through their common grief, and one of the ways they're doing so is by posting information and updates on social media sites such as Facebook.

Now, let's look at some of the comments that people have been leaving on this page.

If we bring up one of them, this one is from New Zealand Earthquake Updates and writes this: "Seventy-five percent of earthquake-ravaged Christchurch now has power, 40 percent has water, but authorities are still warning people to conserve and boil before drinking it."

Now, Winston De Rivera, writing from the Philippines, writes this: "Prayers for those who were trapped in CTV building, especially to Filipino students. Let's pray for everyone trapped in the building."

And this one, it comes from Rose Proffit. And she writes, "We're trying to locate two friends down in Christchurch, Gethyn Jones and Ella Starr. Would appreciate any news on their safety."

Now, we know that the 6.3 magnitude quake struck at 12:51 p.m. local time, but there had also been three earlier quakes at about 1:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and half an hour before the main one. Now, they varied in intensity between 2.3 and 3.1, but take a look at this.

Now, after Tuesday's earthquake, there were 59 aftershocks in the first 11 hours alone. And if you take a look at the data, it reads like a sort of fireworks display. Now, the bigger the circle, the stronger the quake. And since noontime on Tuesday, there have been a total of 195 aftershocks in the quake zone.

Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, last year WikiLeaks made headlines for dumping secrets, but now it's founder is in the spotlight. We've got the latest on Julian Assange's long-running extradition battle.

And staying online. We talk to Internet pioneer Vince Cerf on Egypt's Revolution 2.0 and the future of the Web.

And this was the view at Cape Canaveral in Florida overnight, and for the last time. A look ahead to the final flight of NASA's Discovery shuttle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the founder of the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks must return to Sweden. A U.K. court has ruled Julian Assange has one week to appeal the verdict. His extradition is unrelated to his Web site, which publishes confidential and secret government documents online. Now, police in Sweden want to question him over sexual misconduct allegations.

Atika Shubert is outside Belmont's (ph) Magistrates Court in London.

And Atika, walk us through the decision and Assange's likely response.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, the judge knocked down the defense's arguments. Their main points, of course, were that Julian Assange would not face a fair trial in Sweden, that this was more of a political trial, they said. And they also said they feared that if he was extradited to Sweden, he could then be extradited to the United States should the U.S. government decide to press charges regarding the release of all those confidential documents. But the judge basically said that he did not agree with those arguments, and he even went so far as to say that Assange's Swedish lawyer was unreliable as a witness in this case, saying that the Swedish prosecutor had made numerous attempts to try -- apparently had made numerous attempts to try and contact Julian Assange for questioning, and it was completely within her authority to release those arrest warrants.

Now, this is clearly a legal setback for Julian Assange and his team, but perhaps not unexpected. Here's what his lawyer, Mark Stephens, had to say immediately after the ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK STEPHENS, ASSANGE'S LAWYER: This was, I think, reasonably to be expected. It reaffirms the concerns that we have about the form of tick- box justice that is the European arrest warrant. I think that many people have expressed concerns about that.

There have been many ongoing campaigns about the European arrest warrant. And effectively, what the judge has done today has confirmed that the system is just that, a tick-box exercise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: Now, Julian Assange's legal team has always known that this would be a tough argument to make. The European arrest warrant that was issued is designed to facilitate and make these kind of extraditions much more faster and efficient.

So, really, the judge was just ruling on whether or not this arrest warrant was valid. He decided that it was.

Now Julian Assange's legal team has seven days to make an appeal. His lawyer has already said they would make an appeal, and that means the next time we'll probably be seeing Julian Assange will be at the high court here in London.

STOUT: All right. Atika Shubert, joining us love from London.

Thank you for that.

Some more background on Julian Assange. Let's take a look at the man behind the Web site.

He's 39 years old, originally from Australia, has a longstanding interest in computers. In 1995, the self-described information activist was arrested and pleaded guilty on computer hacking charges. Now, he was fined, but he did not serve time behind bars.

In 2006, he founded WikiLeaks, but it wasn't until last year that the Web site really came to the fore when it started a staggered release of hundreds of thousands of documents, including footage of a 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq and classified military documents regarding the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Now, let's take you back to our top story this hour.

It is day 10 of sweeping anti-government protests in Libya. Joining me now on the line, we have an unidentified witness who joins me on the phone, live from Tripoli.

Thank you for joining us here on CNN.

Is Colonel Gadhafi still in control of the Libyan capital?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's losing his group, and it's showing very clear. But, at the same time, he's trying to fight his last resource.

He has blocked all means of communication. I, myself, find it very difficult, almost impossible, to connect to you today. I don't know until when I can stay with you, but is a very dangerous game being played on the field right now.

STOUT: There have been reports of Colonel Gadhafi using his air force against civilian protesters. Were there air strikes against the protesters this day in Tripoli? What did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a lie. This has not happened. This is a lie.

This is a lie. What's happening right now, there is a conspiracy happening right now. He's trying to spread -- he's trying to control who -- the only people he's allowing the media to talk to are recruited people trying to say that they're independent, eyewitnesses, which is not true.

They're trying to report lies to show that -- to do --

(CROSSTALK)

STOUT: OK. So can you help us. As you are an eyewitness calling in from Tripoli, can you give us some details about what you've seen, the protests in Tripoli, the government's response?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have gone out, and so far the people are afraid. People are stuck in their homes. People are feeling unsafe. And everybody is just waiting to see what happens next. Seif had made a very clear threatening speech this morning, and everybody is just scared and they're staying stuck at home.

STOUT: You know, there are reports of foreign mercenaries being brought into Tripoli. What have you heard? What have you seen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were Eastern Europeans recruited, other recruited people from African origins, African countries. And I've seen a couple of those myself.

STOUT: OK. I wanted to ask you, you're risking a lot to be calling in to CNN, even though you are unidentified, and to be talking to us. How fearful are you for your safety, the safety of your loved ones? What's at stake for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's at stake for me, that nobody would know the truth. That's the only thing that I'm fearing. That's the only reason I'm hiding my identity and how am I connected.

I need the world to know the truth. I need the world to -- I'm calling for intervention. I'm calling for a serious intervention to Libya, as serious as possible.

Please, let the U.S. government do something. Let anybody do something. Where is the human rights foundations? Where are they? I can't see any serious intervention happening.

STOUT: We're in day 10 of these sweeping anti-government protests. We've been getting just trickling into us reports of a violent crackdown and a violent response on civilian protesters.

You're calling into us from your apartment, from your home in Tripoli. What is daily life like for you? Do you have adequate food, water, sanitation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not at home. I had to leave home this morning. And what's happening for the last 48 hours, I'm seeing serious cleaning up.

People are sweeping the streets, mopping any kind of traces from blood or bullets all around Tripoli. And there are doctors and nurses and some injured people in different hospitals that have been reported missing. Nobody knows where they are.

STOUT: Thank you for joining us here on CNN and sharing your story with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The system is trying to hide any traces and any evidence that -- yes.

STOUT: OK. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.

An unidentified witness just then on the line from Tripoli. A very rare opportunity for us to get some sort of understanding of what's happening in the Libyan capital.

Again, day 10 of these massive anti-government protests. Reports of violence taking hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Again, we cannot confirm the details that we heard just then. We rely on any information possible just to give us an idea of what's happening on the ground there in Libya.

We will continue to watch this story for you here on NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Ahead here on NEWS STREAM, now all looks quiet at the Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida. But before NASA's shuttle program goes dark for good, the Discovery is getting ready for one last ride.

And here on Earth, this is drawing new criticism for the U.S. president. Our Ed Henry will weigh in on Washington's response to the crisis in Libya.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be extradited to Sweden. Eleven Court (ph) announced its decision two hours ago. Assange has one week to appeal against the decision. Now Swedish police want to question Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct, allegations he denies.

In New Zealand police have expressed grave fears for people still missing after Tuesday's earthquake. Still the multi-national team of rescuers in and around Christchurch say that they will continue their search into the night. On Thursday, the number of dead rose to 98. More than 225 others are still missing.

And that is the sound of anti-aircraft gunfire in the district of Tripoli early on Thursday, that's according to the person who posted the video on Facebook. CNN cannot independently confirm that. World leaders have condemned the violence against protesters. French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for sanctions. Italy's foreign minister says the situation in Libya is nothing less than civil war. The European Council president did not mince words either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: I condemn the violence, aggression and intimidation against demonstrators in Libya and call for an immediate end to the use of force. All citizens should have the right to demonstrate freely and peacefully. The will of the people in Libya must be respected. And human dignity is of the utmost importance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now the U.S. president has spoken out on the violence in Libya after critics questioned his silence. Barack Obama called the violence against the protesters, quote, "outrageous and unacceptable." But did he go far enough?

Now let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry from Washington. Ed, why did it take so long for Mr. Obama to break his silence and condemn Libya?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, my sources say that officials here at the White House have been privately fearful that if President Obama spoke out more forcefully sooner and really took on Gadhafi directly and made this more personal it could back-fire, because there are thousands of Americans there in Libya -- some U.S. embassy personnel, other expatriates, people living there in Tripoli and other cities -- and there was a fear here inside the White House that if the U.S. ratcheted up too much pressure before they got those Americans out, this could back-fire and maybe some of those Americans could even be taken as hostages.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is the president did come out yesterday and pushed back against Gadhafi and really talk about various options on the table: potential U.S. sanctions, maybe U.N. sanctions, maybe instituting a no fly zone something that was used against the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, maybe that could be used against Gadhafi in Libya. And President Obama made clear that the U.S. is fed up with this whole situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that will carry out through multilateral institutions. Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now one option on the table as well is U.S. military action in Libyan. Our own Barbara Starr confirming with a senior U.S. official that in fact the U.S. Pentagon is behind the scenes preparing plans for the White House in case the president wanted to move forward with military action. But obviously I want to caution that the Pentagon goes through all kinds of potential, and I stress potential, military options that they present to the White House many of which are never actually used, but it may be something that's on the table here if this violence in Libya continues Kristie.

STOUT: A number of options being considered right now in Washington. Ed Henry joining us live. Thank you for that, Ed.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is showing no signs of releasing his grip on power. He is using brutal military force to stay in control of the country. Now Colonel Gadhafi is considered highly unpredictable. Jonathan Mann met him back in 2005.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's the strangest head of state I've ever met. Moammar Gadhafi received me several years ago for an interview in his tent in Tripoli, a then peaceful port city where just about every billboard and sign was painted with his picture. Ronald Reagan once called Gadhafi a mad dog and his behavior does tend to be particular. He's famous for his flamboyant dress, his legion of female bodyguards, and his bizarre fixations, such as a plan to abolish Switzerland.

In person, he seemed lethargic, his eye even behind sunglasses, seemed unfocused. His answers through a translator seemed rambling. We never female bodyguards, and his clothing was relatively low key: a camouflaged shirt festooned with maps of Africa. By that fly whisk never stopped flying .

Libya today is in turmoil, its people are demanding democracy. But when I brought it up, he threatened to sue me for slander.

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, PRESIDENT OF LIBYA (through translator): If you or somebody else says Libya is not a democracy, then it would be considered an insult and maybe we can go to court to redeem honor from that insult.

MANN: Back then Libya was a rogue state trying to redeem itself. It had surrendered its most dangerous weapons to the west. It was trying to open its economy to the world. Its leader was the wild card, the unpredictable element, though. He still is.

Jonathan Mann, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Earlier we spoke to Nic Robertson about people fleeing into Tunisia from Libya. Like this man, they are carrying what they can over that western border. Others are crossing form the east into Egypt. And we're hearing harrowing accounts from some people who made that journey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They opened fire on us and we saw death with our own eyes. The government didn't care that we were foreigners. God forgive them for what they did to us. I left everything I own behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): One the road when we were coming we saw them open fire on the cars ahead of us. We barely escaped with our lives. We actually saw them shoot the car in front of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Governments are also trying to get their citizens out of harm's way. A ferry, chartered by the U.S. government, has been stuck in port because of bad weather. It's now expected to leave Tripoli on Friday. Now, the United Kingdom has sent two Hercules military transport aircraft to help take British nationals out of Libya. A navy ship is also preparing to dock in Benghazi. The Defense Ministry has not said when the evacuations will take place. Meanwhile, in Germany, the foreign ministry there is saying that three navy ships are their way to the Libyan coast. They will aid Germans trying to leave Libya. And Turkey has already carried more than 3,000 Turks out of Benghazi. It is sending three more ferry boats. And one of them is expected to arrive on Thursday.

Now still to come here on NEWS STREAM, the clock is ticking for NASA's Discovery shuttle. A look ahead to its farewell flight scheduled for liftoff in just over eight hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Now, he is one of the founding fathers of the Internet. Vint Cerf helped design the architecture that the net is built on. And he's now the Chief Evangelist at one of the biggest web sites today -- Google.

And as someone who was there when it all began, I asked him whether he ever imagined the Internet would be what it is today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VINT CERF, GOOGLE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, a long answer, of course, would be, not really. I mean, there's a lot of stuff that's happened in between. But Bob Kahn and I really did know about a lot that you could do with this technology. Because the predecessor project, the Arcanet revealed a lot. And in '73, Xerox PARC was doing things which today we would think of as being quite modern. But they were 20 years ahead of their time. So there were good inclinations of what could be done.

STOUT: Let's talk about search. Google is, of course, the dominant player in search. And you also have rivals -- direct rivals -- like Bing, made by Microsoft. But then there's also Facebook. Is social search the feature of the Internet?

CERF: I wouldn't say that it's the sole future to the Internet. Internet is this gigantic tent. You get to do almost anything you can imagine and can program. And so the search activity is just one aspect of the things you can do on the net. And social networking is another alternative thing that people do on the net.

We saw it as early as 1971 or '72 when Internet email got invented. Actually, it wasn't even Internet, it was Arcanet. Email was the first real social interaction. So what I'm seeing is a future in which social interactions are almost as important as all the other kinds, in terms of finding information that might be of interest to you.

STOUT: You'll have to talk about Wael Ghonim, the 30-year-old Google executive touted as one of the leaders of the anti-government protest that toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak. I mean, this is a Google executive, one of your own, who helped topple a government that was in power for 30 years.

What do you make of that?

CERF: Well, first of all, let me point out that he took leave of absence of Google during the time that he was engaged in this activity. So I don't think that you or your listeners should imagine this was a Google activity. This was Wael Ghonim, a man who believed deeply in what he was doing. So first of all, we're very glad that he's back, out of the police custody.

He represents the kind of thing that happens in an open environment on the Internet. He and his people were able to express themselves in ways that had a big impact. And I think everyone has that opportunity in the Internet environment. You don't necessarily have to cause a revolution to have impact.

So, there are lots of other ways in which people can be effective, as well. So we think Wael found a way to use the Internet technology to help his people.

STOUT: Google in the past has exited markets that do not respect Internet freedom. Of course, China is one of them. Do you anticipate that there will be more such moves by Google, additional markets that Google will say, you know what, you're not worth our while?

CERF: Well, first of all, we didn't completely exit the Chinese market. Google.cn still exists. Google.hk is a place where people end up if they're looking for Google output that they can't necessarily get in Google.cn.

I think that the company recognizes that we be to be in the entire world market because the entire world is where the Internet goes. And frankly, a huge fraction of the Internet is in Asia. There are about 800 million Asians online, half of which are in mainland China, based on my information. So how could we not at least try to serve that market as hard as we try everywhere else?

STOUT: And one last way out there question for Vint Cerf. This from a viewer of NEWS STREAM through Facebook who asks, "When can we have the Internet on other planets?"

CERF: Well, it turns out, there is a project called the Interplanetary Internet. I've been working on it since 1998 with NASA. We have new protocols which are needed to do interplanetary communication, because TCP/IP just doesn't work with a 40 minute round-trip time.

So these new protocols are already on board the Space Station, they're here on earth, they are in a space craft called Epoxi , which just rendezvoused with the Hartley 2 Common in November. So we are now testing interplanetary communication using Internet storm forward protocols. So the answer is, we're almost ready to do Mars communications with missions that are coming up in 2015 and '16.

Now, some people say, are you crazy? Are you expecting to communicate with aliens? And, of course, the answer is no. We expect to see spacecraft from all of the spacefaring countries here on earth sending things out there, needing to communicate with each other and back to earth. That's what the new protocols are about.

STOUT: Incredible development.

CERF: This decade will be the explosion of Internet interplanetary service.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Interplanetary internet, it's happening. That was Vint Cerf there.

Now in almost eight years, or eight hours' time, just around the corner. NASA's Discovery shuttle will lift off on its 39th and final journey. Now the six person crew will set off on an 11 day mission, delayed from November. Now it is one of only three shuttle flights scheduled before the program ends later this year.

And John Zarrella joins us live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, how are you today? Look at this weather, just spectacular here. Couldn't ask for a nicer day. The weather is not going to be the issue today, that's for sure.

As you mentioned, Discovery getting ready for its 39th and final trip into space. It's the oldest of the three space shuttles. A veteran crew, all of them with a lot of flight experience. After this, two more flights coming in April And as many people know, that flight is going to be commanded by Astronaut Mark Kelly whose wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is recovering in Houston from that gunshot wound. And she has -- he has said in a news conference that he really believed that she would be able to make it to his April launch.

Yesterday I had a chance to sit down and talk exclusively with NASA administrator Charlie Bolden, and Bolden told me, if that happened, it would be just terrific.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE BOLDEN, NASA CHIEF: I'd pray that he is absolutely correct, because I think for all of us in the NASA family who have been praying with them ever since that Saturday, and all of us who love her and him, it would be just tremendous. It would be tremendous for the nation, because I think it would give everybody a big boost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: You know, Bolden said that he thought that the space shuttle probably should have been retired a long time ago and that we should have been, the United States and the rest of the world, well on its way to Mars. That of course didn't happen. What really bothers him, he said, is the fact that there is no U.S. vehicle ready today to replace the shuttle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDEN: What is not acceptable is the fact that the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America, finds itself in a situation that we didn't do the proper planning to have a vehicle in place to replace shuttle when it lands its last landing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: That last landing will probably be sometime in July. That would be the shuttle Atlantis on that very, very last space shuttle flight. You know, Kristie, what's interesting on Discovery one of the things they are going to be carrying up is Robonaut 2, the most advanced robot ever made, a partnership between General Motors and NASA. Look at this unfortunately he's only got half a body. Future generations will have the whole thing they say. But literally, I had a chance to meet Robonaut out in Houston and it is fascinating what it can do with its hands and its arms. And he doesn't say much, but it's a heck of a robot.

STOUT: You know, John, he doesn't say much but he's tweeting. In fact, we'll be talking about him in just a moment right here on NEWS STREAM. John, as always, thank you so much. Yep. Take care, John. We'll talk with you a little bit later after the shuttle flight.

Now Discovery will carry some unusual cargo. It's set to bring two small Lego shuttles just like this one into space. Now we're not sure if anyone at NASA got tasked to build them, but we can tell you, it took one person in particular nearly six hours to put this together. Now I'm -- let me lift it up. No, I don't want to lift it up. I know I'm just going to drop it by accident, because if I did, it would shatter into more than 1200 Lego pieces. And just imagine that all floating around in zero gravity.

Now clean-up, it could be this guy's job, that's Robonaut 2 -- or as NASA calls him R2. But let's pause for just a moment here, because obviously that's not a live picture of the Robonaut, that's William and Kate Middleton as you see on your screen. They are currently in Anglesey, Wales. They are there for a ceremony, the launching of a new boat. Now what is significant about this is not the event, but the fact that we're seeing in particular Kate Middleton. In fact, we haven't seen her in the media for almost a couple of months already. And of course, the world just can't get enough more information about the royal couple set to get married in April. Live pictures from Anglesey, Wales there. You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back. Now you think that they have color schemes to decide and table plans to sort, but instead Prince William and his bride in waiting Kate Middleton are at their first official engagement today. Before we got to CNN's royal wedding contributor Mark Saunders, we should warn you we'll be showing images containing flash photography.

Now let's go on now to Mark on the Welsh island of Anglesey to see the couple launch a lifeboat. And Mark, as I was mentioning earlier, this is significant because it's been quite a while since we've seen the couple and in particular Kate Middleton. She's been quite hidden from public view for months. Is that right?

MARK SAUNDERS, CNN ROYAL WEDDING CONTRIBUTOR: Well yes, it's absolutely right. And in fact, my colleagues at the press today, we've been trying to figure out when was the last time we saw Katherine. I mean, they got engaged in November and William and Katherine obviously were together then. But we haven't seen them together at all. There was one time at Christmas, but this really is the first time that we've seen them together. And it's a very good event for them to be seen together for the first time, a good debut event, because we're here on the island of Anglesey, which is actually the place where William and Katherine live. And they have a very good relationship here with the locals. Apparently, they are often seen together at the local Tesco, this is the local supermarket, and buying wine from the local off license. So for a first event I think that they couldn't have picked a better one.

STOUT: And as we're looking at these live pictures of Kate Middleton and Prince William there in the coastal city of Wales of Anglesey, tell us about more on Kate. She's being groomed for royal life, for very public life. How is she performing so far? And also the role that William is playing in assisting her. How is it coming along?

SAUNDERS: It's hard to say how well Katherine has done so far, because as we've already discussed, we haven't seen her that much. But they really have learned the mistakes from when Princess Diana first joined the royal family. As you remember, Diana was literally just thrown in into the deep end and given no guidance. Katherine has been helped continuously by William. They've been together for several years. Obviously, she knows exactly what she's coming into. And the fact that they are together today is very significant, because William is here -- he's quite experienced now. He's quite a veteran, almost a senior member of the royal family. Katherine is just coming into that family.

In many ways, you could say that there are two launches today. The first is obviously the launch of the lifeboat, and the second is the launch of William and Katherine the global superstars.

STOUT: All right. Mark Saunders, royal watcher, joining us live from Anglesey, Wales. Thank you very much indeed for that.

Now it is not due out in Japan until Saturday, but we've got the new Nintendo 3DS. It's right here. And as the name suggests, it is the successor to the popular Nintendo DS handheld and it's got a 3D screen. And you don't need glasses to see the games in 3D, but you do need to be sitting at just the right angle for it to work. And when you are sitting at the right angle, it does work. Now games are in full 3D with the strength of the effect adjustable with a small slider right here. It's pretty impressive. But the 3D effect has left some in the office feeling a little bit dizzy.

Now our producer is dizzy with anticipation to get home and to play with the 3DS. And he's put his initial thoughts up on our blog at the cnn.com/newsstream.

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

And we will leave you with live pictures from Anglesey, Wales as we look at the engaged couple Prince William and Kate Middleton there on their first official engagements at Anglesey, Wales, a place that they will call home.

END