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An Unequal Fight in Libya; Violence in Yemen; Memories of Time and Space

Aired March 9, 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.

Now, Libya's embattled leader remains defiant, saying his opponents know nothing but killing and deserve to die.

Thirty-nine missions, nearly 150 million miles on the clock. The shuttle Discovery heads home for the last time, and I'll be speaking live to an astronaut who was part of the legacy.

And CNN's "Freedom Project" continues as we meet the children being saved from a life of forced labor.

Now, just a day after claims and counter-claims about possible negotiations in Libya, a peaceful resolution to the conflict seems as distant as ever.

(GUNFIRE)

STOUT: Gadhafi stood strongly Tuesday, as fierce battles continued to rage around contested cities such as Ras Lanuf. The embattled dictator urged Libyans to defend their nation from the rebels, claiming young people drugged by al Qaeda were to blame for the spiraling violence.

And to add to this atmosphere of confusion, Greek authorities have confirmed that a private Libyan plane crossed their airspace on a flight to Cairo. Media reports say a Libyan major general was among two passengers on board, though CNN has not independently confirmed that.

Now, as the fighting continues on the ground, one thing is clear -- the rebels' military might cannot match that of Moammar Gadhafi's government.

Now, CNN's Ben Wedeman has watched a civil war emerge in which the two sides are unevenly equipped. He joins us now live.

And Ben, just how prepared are rebel forces for a prolonged fight?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi. We're in Ras Lanuf, where there's an airplane flying right over our head. There's a huge plume of black smoke coming from the western edge of the city which looks like it's from the oil refinery.

There's been an intense artillery bombardment on the western edge of the town which is ongoing. It does appear, Kristie, that the Libyan government forces are advancing on Ras Lanuf. This artillery barrage -- and it's a barrage of rockets as well -- has been pretty intense. There's still a lot of opposition fighters in the city, but they're increasingly nervous, as it appears that an advance is on the way.

STOUT: And Ben, as this aerial bombardment continues, is it your feeling that the opposition, that the rebel forces can lose Ras Lanuf?

WEDEMAN: It's a definite possibility. I mean, if you saw the scene in front of me, there are three plumes of black smoke, one of them huge, rising over the western edge of the town.

The opposition forces are completely outgunned in this situation. They have ancient Soviet-and-Chinese-made anti-aircraft guns, but they don't have the armor, the tanks, the armored personnel carriers. They don't have planes, they don't have helicopters. They have nothing, really, if the Libyan army decides to push in the direction of Ras Lanuf, and that is certainly what it looks like is happening right now -- Kristie.

STOUT: You know, the rebel fighters, they don't have the planes, they don't have the helicopters that government forces have. There's been a lot of international debate about imposing a no-fly zone. If, in the event that does take place, what kind of real impact would that have on this fight on the ground?

WEDEMAN: Well, it would probably prevent the Libyan air force from flying over my head like it just did, but that doesn't mean that they won't be able to use their tanks, their artillery, their surface-to-surface missiles, which they've used to quite deadly effects this morning -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Ben Wedeman, joining us live from Ras Lanuf.

Now, Colonel Gadhafi's defiance isn't solely directed at rebels inside Libya. In fact, on state television, he lashed out at the international community, who he accuses of interfering in the conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Therefore, this is leading to a dangerous plot by those countries in order to fulfill their colonialist aspiration to control our petrol. They have already controlled the petrol of the Gulf, Iraq, Iran. Iran still hasn't been taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, the international community has so far largely favored words over action, but one possible option is attracting more attention than most -- a no-fly zone over Libya. And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to say whether Washington supports such a measure, but did stress a no-fly zone cannot be imposed by the U.S. alone.

Now, she told Sky News this: "We are going to support the efforts that are being made because we think the people of Libya themselves have to be supported. And we know how difficult this struggle is."

And the U.S. president, Barack Obama, and British prime minister, David Cameron, also discussed Libya in a phone call. The White House says this: "They agreed that the common objective in Libya must be an immediate end to brutality and violence; the departure of Gadhafi from power as quickly as possible; and a transition that meets the Libyan people's aspirations for freedom, dignity, and a representative government."

On the possible actions they discussed, surveillance, humanitarian assistance, enforcement of the arms embargo, and a no-fly zone.

In an interview with CNN's Nic Robertson, Libya's deputy foreign minister responded to that White House statement. Now, his position was clear -- the international community should keep out of Libyan affairs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHALID KARIM, LIBYAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: For Libya and for any other country, this is not (INAUDIBLE), to tell the Libyans to do what they want. I think this is purely a Libyan affair and this is up to Libya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: OK. Now let's shift our attention now to the unrest in Yemen. And I want to warn you that this video could be rather difficult to watch.

Now, in Yemen, the protests there turned rather violent on Tuesday. At least 40 anti-government demonstrators are wounded, one man is now dead.

Security forces, they shot tear gas and fired into the air over a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in front of Sana'a University. Now, these are scenes from a mosque where victims were treated.

And for weeks, protesters have called for the president to step down. In a statement, the government blames the violence on people they say tried to sneak weapons into a weapons-free zone.

Now, CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is following the protests in Yemen. He joins us now from our Abu Dhabi bureau.

And Mohamed, today in Sana'a, are protesters gathering in solidarity with the victims?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Kristie, they are. I just spoke to actually two protesters that are outside Sana'a University. They say that they are going to come out today in solidarity with the people who were injured last night and the student who was killed. And they say that they expect that thousands more will join today.

This is a pattern we've seen more and more of in the past couple of weeks. Since violence has been practiced against these protesters, and since clashes keep erupting with security forces, once that happens, and especially when there have been deaths involved in these clashes, more and more protesters come out in solidarity with those injured the next day.

They call them martyrs. A lot of times they hold up their pictures. They use that as a rallying point, as a way to get more people out into the streets.

It's been effective. Now you have tens of thousands of people every day outside of Sana'a University, in central Sana'a, clogging the streets. They've put up a tent city. They've got people out there.

They've got a medical unit out there even to treat the wounded when clashes do erupt. And they expect to have more people out there today -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yemen's government this week has shown it will not shy away from the use of force. So will that make any dent in the anti-government movement? Just how much more momentum is still there?

JAMJOOM: It looks right now like momentum is gathering and growing every day. You know, I was there a few weeks ago. When I was there, people wondered if this was going to level off, if people were going to stop coming out into the streets.

The government has made it clear they're going to be cracking down, that they're going to at times use force when they think it's necessary. But that's not deterring people from coming out. And it's not just Sana'a.

Today, we're hearing about more protests in the city of Karus, in the city of Ibb, in Lahash (ph), in Aden (ph), in Habarmod (ph). So many places in Yemen now, you're seeing more and more, thousands and thousands of people, gathering, marching through the streets, holding sit-ins, calling the ouster of President Saleh.

And what's even more worrying for the powers that be in Yemen is the fact that their alliance is being forged now between groups that used to be enemies because they have a common enemy in the president, and they want to see him step down. And they're calling for his resignation -- Kristie.

STOUT: So, is he losing his mandate, Yemen's president? How much authority does he have left?

JAMJOOM: Well, right now he's backed into a corner. Right now, the president is saying he's entrenched, he's digging in his heels. President Saleh has said many times that he will defend Yemen with his blood, that he is somebody who can unite the country.

But more and more of the citizens in Yemen and more and more of the political opposition groups are saying no, this is somebody who is actually dividing Yemen, who's holding on to power with this last grip. And because of that, it's actually destabilizing the country.

The president says he's not going to go anywhere. In the past, he said he will step aside in 2013. He's made that concession. But the people that are out there in the streets are saying they don't believe that and that, above all else, they want him gone.

STOUT: All right.

Mohammed Jamjoom, joining us live from Abu Dhabi, keeping up on events in Yemen.

Thank you for that.

Now, in Egypt, nine people have been killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims. Now, the clashes broke out Tuesday in Cairo.

Now, the Christians took to the streets to protest the burning of a church last week that had been targeted by a feud between two families who disapproved of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman. All of Tuesday's protest victims are believed to have been Christians.

(CHANTING)

STOUT: Now, take a look at this video. It shows another kind of social divide that also played out on the streets of Cairo on Tuesday. It was billed as Egypt's "Million Woman March," but in the end, it numbered just in the hundreds, and that includes a group of men who turned out to shout anti-feminist slogans. The protesters, which also included some men, were calling for equal opportunities across gender lines.

Now, CNN is joining the fight to end modern-day slavery. We're calling it the "Freedom Project." And this hour, Sara Sidner takes part in a rescue mission to save children from forced labor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After being taken to a safe house, one child calls for his mommy. Members of the group Free the Slaves were there to comfort them. They say these young workers don't know it yet, but this is a chance at freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And we'll bring you the rest of that story later this hour.

Now, also ahead on NEWS STREAM, people in various locations of Japan, they saw shaking like this after a major offshore earthquake strikes. Ahead, we will assess the damage.

And if you have ever sat there, you probably rushed to send one more text or one last message before that inevitable announcement comes from the cockpit. Now a new study tries to show us the bigger picture.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, a tsunami advisory has been canceled in Japan after an offshore earthquake caused rattling like this in northern Japan. Have a look.

Now, the quake's magnitude was 7.2. Our correspondent in Tokyo, more than 400 kilometers away, said she could feel it. A tsunami advisory had been promptly issued, but in the end the waves only ever reached about 50 centimeters high. Now, the quake itself did not cause any damage.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Now, Japan has promoted this man, its current state foreign secretary, to the post of foreign minister. Now, Takeaki Matsumoto replaces Seiji Maehara, who resigned Sunday over an illegal political donation. Matsumoto is currently serving his fourth term as a lower house lawmaker. Now, he used to be a banker and is the great-great grandson of the country's first prime minister.

Now, what goes up must come down. After launching for the last time two weeks ago, the U.S. space shuttle Discovery prepares to come home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now, 39 missions into space and a patch for everyone. For now, limit ourselves to just two.

Now, first, the oldest, which goes back 26.5 years to August 30, 1984, whereas on the most recent patch, if you look closely there's something missing here. You see the fiery blast there, but no external fuel tank, which is meant to signify this -- the final flight of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.

Now, it is never easy coming back to Earth after a whirlwind adventure. Just look at the fun that these astronauts appear to be having at the International Space Station.

Now, if the weather obliges, Discovery could return to Florida's Kennedy Space Center in just over a couple of minutes.

Now, one of those lucky astronauts to ride on board the Discovery is Colonel Bob Springer. He flew on the shuttle back in 1989. He joins us now live.

Colonel Springer, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Your first mission was on Discovery, so how are you feeling as the shuttle prepares for its final landing?

COL. BOB SPRINGER, FLEW ON DISCOVERY: Oh, Kristie, it's going to be a little bit bittersweet. You know, it was such a wonderful vehicle. It had 39 missions, over 365 days in space, 148 million miles. And today it's going to come back and land for its final landing. So a little bit bittersweet.

Tremendous accomplishments, but a note of sadness that she won't fly again.

STOUT: Do you have one Discovery memory that you'd like to share with us?

SPRINGER: Yes. We had some interesting times.

You know, of course something that most people don't realize, that the views that we see from space so often are crew members up there playing with the food and having fun. And we do a tremendous amount of scientific work and interesting work in space. And part of what we did on my first flight was to do a filming for a movie called "The Blue Planet," and we actually did a unique maneuver, sort of a forward flip as we came across the coast of California that facilitated the viewing that we were doing. And it was an amazing sight to see.

STOUT: Now, Discovery has been given a number of nicknames, I understand. One of them is "The Workhorse." Also, "The Rock Star" and "The Sweetheart."

Which nickname do you think suits it best?

SPRINGER: I would say "The Sweetheart." She's a lovely vehicle and absolutely so phenomenal.

STOUT: And as the space shuttle program winds down, a big picture question, because the fleet is going to be over. What should be the next generation manned aircraft?

SPRINGER: Well, we're still working on that. And it looks very strongly like now what we'll do is we'll move into two things.

One is a greater international effort, which I applaud. I think having all the nations that want to participate in the program is a strong point of going forward. And also, private industry is going to be a bigger player, not just the government agencies.

So I think we're going to see a combination of that, both the international effort, as well as private entrepreneurs that will get involved and I think take us into that next step as we progress into the future. So it's going to be exciting.

STOUT: Now, you flew both on Discovery, as well as on Atlantis. And Atlantis is going to be taking the very last rotation later in the year.

So how do you personally plan to say farewell to the entire space shuttle program?

SPRINGER: Well, I think celebrate. You know, it's been such a wonderful program, and despite the loss of Challenger and Columbia, it's still been the most successful space flight program in all of history when you take a look at the number of miles flown and what we've done in space, and are continuing to do.

So I want to celebrate. There'll be a tone of sadness that the fleet is coming to an end, but I think a celebration is in order to celebrate all of the marvelous things that we've been able to do over three decades of flying the shuttle fleet.

STOUT: And as we await for the return and the final landing of the space shuttle Discovery, your thoughts on the shuttle itself? I mean, it is the oldest shuttle. It is the most traveled space shuttle.

How do you think the Discovery will be remembered? What will be its legacy?

SPRINGER: Well, I think, you know, the plan for all the shuttles is to have them be -- reside permanently now when they come back from their flights in a museum setting of some sort. I understand Discovery will be going to the Smithsonian. And I think that will be wonderful, because it will be on display, everybody from the public sector can get a chance to kind of reach out and touch that venerable old lady. And I think it will be fantastic and something that I hope will inspire that next generation of space explorers as they see what we've done over this period of time.

STOUT: You know, I heard that the Discovery, after it touches down, will be heading to the Smithsonian museum. Do you plan to make a visit there?

SPRINGER: Oh, I certainly will. It will be fond memories.

You know, I was a military pilot for many years, and I actually found one of the airplanes that I flew in the Smithsonian. And it brings back a lot of memories, so I'll certainly visit and see Discovery there on display.

STOUT: Colonel Bob Springer, a former NASA astronaut who flew on Discovery in 1989.

Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your thoughts with us here on NEWS STREAM. Take care.

SPRINGER: Thanks, Kristie.

STOUT: Now, though you won't find it in any classified section, several international newspapers are reporting that the Discovery, believe it or not, is for sale. Now, as it turns out, you and I can actually afford the asking price, which is zero. Though the costs associated with its upkeep are thought to be close to $30 million. This is all a moot point, though, because NASA is, A, only going to sell Discovery to a U.S. museum or similar educational institution. And B, it has already been promised to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Now, wherever it ultimately lands, it will take at least nine months before tourists can see it so time for all that multimillion-dollar primping can take place.

Now, here at CNN, we're joining the fight to end slavery in the modern world. And we call it the "Freedom Project."

In just a few minutes, we'll bring you the second part of our series on slavery in India. Sara Sidner goes on a rescue mission to save children from forced labor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

Now, Libya's leader says his citizens will take up arms if Western powers impose a no-fly zone. The option is being discussed by several governments as a way of trying to stop Colonel Gadhafi's air force from striking rebel- held towns. Fierce battles continued in one of these, the eastern oil of Ra's Lanuf earlier as our Ben Wedeman witnessed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, hi. We're in Ra's Lanuf where there's an airplane flying right over our head. There's a huge plume of black smoke coming from the western edge of the city which looks like it's from the oil refinery. There's been an intense artillery bombardment on the western edge of the town which is ongoing. It does appear, Kristie, that the Libyan government forces are advancing on Ra's Lanuf. This artillery barrage and it's a barrage of rockets as well has been pretty intense. There's still a lot of opposition fighters in the city, but they're increasingly nervous at it appears that an advance is on the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Ben Wedeman there.

Now meanwhile, the Taliban is claiming responsibility for an attack on a funeral in northwest Pakistan. At least 37 people were killed and more than 50 injured in the suicide bombing. Taliban spokesman said it would go on attacking all those who support the U.S. and the Pakistani military.

Now six people have been killed in clashes in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Fighting broke out between Coptic Christians and Muslims during a Copt demonstration. They took to the streets to protest last week's burning of a church.

Japan has a new foreign minister after financial scandal caused the previous one to step down. Takeaki Matsumoto is the new man in the post. Seiji Maehara resigned after admitting he had accepted an illegal donation from a foreigner.

Now this week, CNN launches our fight to end slavery in the modern world. We're calling it the Freedom Project. Now slavery is a horror endured by millions of people every day across the world. And this year we'll be using all of our global resources to bring you the voices of those trapped in slavery and to uncover the global network of criminals profiting from the trade of human lives.

Now today, we bring you the second part of our series on slavery in India. In rural India, there are entire villages of people forced into labor. Some work their entire lives to pay off small debts that are generations old. Now Sara Sidner followed a rescue mission to save children trapped in bonded labor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a raid, a small police operation with a big mission: to rescue workers enslaved because of debt. The factory is open, but empty. It appears the police are too late.

"Whose place is this? Who are you?" the police ask. And then this, five children and one disabled adult found slipping out the back.

"We start work at 6:00 am and end at 9:00 pm at night," one of the children tells us. For 15 hours of work a day they received about two dollars per week, enough for food he says, that's it.

As they're being taken to a safe house one child calls for his mommy.

Members of the group free the slaves were there to comfort them. They say these young workers don't know it yet, but this is a chance at freedom.

Ten-year-old Raj Kumar (ph) got the same chance. Until a year ago, work was his life. "I was kneading the mud and making work at the brick kiln," he says. Now instead of this work, he gets homework and dreams of the future. "I want to have a job," he says. A job he wants to do, not the one he was forced to do.

Raj Kumar lives in a village winning freedom from the practice of bonded labor where people are enslaved by their debt. Raj Kumar's father says his family has been enslaved for three generations to land owners who loaned money long ago.

"They would beat us, beat with a cane. They would kick us," he says. "One day they hit me so hard blood came out of my mouth." He can no longer do hard labor because of the beatings. He says the women of the village have suffered even worse.

"He has sexually abused our sisters and daughters. He would send us off and he would come to our place," he says. Not anymore. The villagers filed a formal police complaint. The land owner denies their accusations. The case is still to come to trial. It's an act of courage that they said would never have been possible if they hadn't been told of their rights.

Bhanuja Saran Lal is a local human rights worker.

BHANUJA SARAN LAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WORKER (through translator): You're seeing two things: the powerful land owner let these people on their land. Second is the workers become dependent on the land owner. So it's not easy for these laborers to say no to the work. It's not easy for NGOs like us to conduct a rescue operation, rescue them and settle them within the same village.

SIDNER: The organization Free the Slaves says you are looking at the first major step towards freedom. The group sets up a transitional school in the village offering parents a chance to send their children. This is often the very first generation with a chance at a formal education.

But not everyone in this village has taken the offer. There is still fear here even among those who have tasted freedom. Sara Sidner, CNN, Hutarka Dashandea (ph)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And tomorrow we will bring you the final segment in our series on bonded laborers in India. And it's a story of hope. Our Sara Sidner lifts up the voices of women who have fought for and won their freedom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: "We fought amongst ourselves," she says. "We organized and formed a group. We started saving." And now, former debt slave Howati Dehbi (ph) who was once relegated to the lowest rung in Indian society is her local village representative."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And we'll bring you the rest of that story tomorrow right here on NEWS STREAM as part of the CNN Freedom Project.

Now the CNN Freedom Project is a major drive both on air and online. And we want you to be a part of it. Now one way to do so is to become a CNN I Reporter. Now Charlie Rodriguez posted this picture of himself holding up a sign saying I am taking a stand to end slavery. Now Renee Uslaw (ph) is Mexico City uploaded a video with a similar message. And finally Omekongo in Washington is encouraging people to stand up and to say enough is enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMEKONGO DIBINGS: In life, we must be upstanders and not bystanders. And that's why I am taking a stand to end slavery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And join the fight to end modern day slavery by submitting your own pictures and videos at CNN.com/ireport.

And find out how you can personally help on our web site. Just go to CNN.com/freedom where you can donate money to charitable causes and report instances of slavery that you may have witnessed on encountered. The Freedom Project right here on CNN.

Now turning now to France and a virtual time capsule that's providing a glimpse into life 100 years ago there. Now it's all thanks to one man's dying wish. Jim Bitterman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For decades, Louis Montagne's house in the center of Moulin, France was shrouded in mystery, because when the eccentric and unmarried government official died in 1905 he gave the house to his hometown on the condition that, as he wrote in his will, it be maintained intact so that in 100 years visitors could see an example of what life was like for the upper middle class in the 19th Century. So, for most of the time since, he house remained shuttered.

In a way, it was quite clever stipulating that the house remain closed for a century. It only raised the mystery and curiosity on what might be inside. Ghosts, some thought, or perhaps priceless works of art.

But as the anniversary approached, conservators found what actually was inside was a lot of water and mold damage that took more than five years and 3.4 million euros or about 4.7 million dollars to repair.

MAUDE LEYOUDEC, DEPUTY CURATOR: Do you know what it is?

BITTERMAN: No.

LEYOUDEC: It is gilded (inaudible).

BITTERMAN: In fact, a visit to the house which finally opened to the public last year is everything its owner would have wanted, depicting the way what were then new technologies like the first electric lights, telephones, and modern plumbing were being integrated into the homes of the well to do.

LEYOUDEC: It was inherited from his father and from his uncle. And he decided to quit his job at (inaudible) because he wanted to take care of his business, of his properties here. And he decided to build this house, his very special house.

BITTERMAN: But also, perhaps because Montagne's (ph) personality, the house-turned-museum gives a flavor of the society of the time. He was an avid reader and collector, gathering in objects and curiosities from around the world. He kept a skull on his desk with a Latin inscription reading "As I am, you too shall be."

He built an observatory not to look at the star, but to watch his compatriots coming and going on the street. And he constructed an elaborate bedroom covered in red silk wall paper for his secret mistress. Secret, because she was in fact married to someone else.

Not unusual according to one of Montagne's (ph) few living relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He had a life, two lives. He looked serious in and respectable and then on the weekend he would go hunting with his mistress.

BITTERMAN: And so one century later, the instructions Louis Montagne (ph) left behind in his last will and testament have finally been carried out. From beyond the grave, he was able to insure that the secrets of his house and his private life have been made public just the way he wanted.

Jim Bitterman, CNN, Moulin, France.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now just in to us here at CNN reports of clashes underway in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Nima Elbagir joins us live from the Egyptian capital for more on these clashes. And Nima, what can you tell us about the scale of these clashes. And who are involved?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, our understanding is that earlier today that the pro-democracy protesters were still maintaining a presence here in Tahrir Square were attacked by gangs of thugs carrying Molotov cocktails, brandishing knives and horse whips. They -- we spoke to some of the protesters who still remain at the square. They told us they've managed to push them back. But I stepped just to the outskirts of the square to talk to you and from where I'm standing I can still see a few gangs hanging around carrying horse whips. One man just re-sheathed a knife quite close to where I'm standing now. And it doesn't feel like this is over. These clashes have been going on for the last few days.

We got a call late last saying that the protesters in the square were being attacked. A few days ago worryingly when pro-democracy activists turned up to the state security headquarters demanding to be reassured that people relating (ph) to acts of torture and commands that were sent down during Hosni Mubarak's era were not being destroyed. Then the protesters were attacked by these gangs of Balkadea (ph) as their called.

So it's really worrying that these gangs, who we last saw just in the clashes just before Hosni Mubarak stepped down, are starting to reappear Kristie.

STOUT: Who are these thugs? And do they have any relationship with the interim government?

ELBAGIR: Well, the allegation that has always been made by both Egyptian pro-democracy activists and many human rights organizations is that they are basically an unofficial and deniable arm for state security apparatus. And definitely what -- you speak for a lot of the pro-democracy activists, you know the (inaudible) 25 group here, in their minds think the Balkadea (ph) are thugs and the state security apparatus are (inaudible). And that's why they're calling for a complete overhaul of the state security apparatus, because they hold them accountable for the violence perpetrated by these gangs of thugs in the days leading up to Hosni Mubarak standing down, Kristie.

STOUT: OK. These clashes as you've been reporting have been taking place for days. These thugs are armed with weapons. You mentioned knives, Molotov cocktails, whips. The protesters have been asking for protection. Did they receive any sort of response? Are you seeing any sort of security presence around them?

ELBAGIR: Well, there's usually quite a big armed forces presence in Tahrir Square. And yet while I'm standing here today I can just -- I can see some pockets of soldiers next to the National Museum, which overlooks the far corner of this square, but nothing really tangible in terms of a presence around the tents that the protesters have set up in the center of Tahrir Square. And that's, as you can image, is causing a lot of tension here because they feel that their demands are legitimate ones, that their presence here, they say, is an expression of their vigilance towards the armed forces to deliver on the promises that they've made post-Mubarak step down that they still haven't delivered on.

But you have to remember that here in Cairo, we're still living under emergency law, there's still a curfew, there still isn't a civilian presence on the armed forces in the capital. All of the demands that the armed forces said that they've been listened to and deliver on haven't been met and that's why the pro-democracy protesters are here. And their concern is that the army doesn't want them, that the army feels that they're a nuisance and that's why they're not stepping in to protect them, Kristie.

STOUT: One last quick question for you, have you seen any injuries, any casualties?

ELBAGIR: Well, I just stepped away from my team that's gone into the center of the city, in the center of the square, but our understanding is that last night there were 10 injured, about 50. And that this morning there are a further 9 injured. But we're working to confirm that. Obviously, we'll get back to you as soon as we have any definite figures, Kristie.

STOUT: All right, Nima, thank you very much indeed for that. Nima Elbagir joining us on the line live from Cairo. You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: New deal between Warner Brothers and Facebook, will soon the be bringing movies to a computer screen near you. Now Facebook hopes to cash in on the success of companies like Netflix and will offer movies for rent on its web site. Now Nick Thompson from the New Yorker magazine explains the strategy behind the deal.

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NICHOLAS THOMPSON, NEW YORKER: Now Facebook's view of this -- there are two parts of it. First, Facebook sees that Netflix is making lots of money and it wants to get in that business. Secondly, Facebook really wants to essentially eat the rest of the internet. Everything you do on the other parts of the internet, Facebook wants you to do inside of Facebook both because they make money that way and also because the people at Facebook genuinely believe that doing things inside of Facebook is better than doing them outside of the rest of the internet because you can share data with the rest of your network.

So, you can see what movies your friends watched. You can see which ones they like. They can see which ones you like. And eventually they'll be able to recommend movies for you.

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STOUT: So Facebook's now a rental service. It'll be first rolled out in the U.S. And we should point out that Warner Brothers is owned by CNN's parent company Time Warner.

Now, when you board a plane, you turn your cellphone and other electronic devices off, but what if you miss those flight instructions? There's a new study on what happens when you mix gadgets and planes. Jeanne Meserve joins us from our Washington bureau to help break it down -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, for a lot of us those portable electronic devices help us get our work down, stay in touch with friends, keep on top of the news, and some people are really unhappy when they have to turn them off on a plane. But this new report underlines there is a reason.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys with me? All right. So give me a stomp, clap, stomp, clap.

MESERVE: Southwest rapping flight attendant got passengers to perk up and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before we leave our advice is put away your electronic devices.

MESERVE: But on the average flight, a lot of us tune out that safety instruction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So at this time, please turn off and put away all electronic devices.

MESERVE: Now listen up, a new study sites 75 instances since 2003 where personal electronic devices may have interfered with the communication, navigation or surveillance systems of a plane in flight.

DAVID CARSON, COMMITTEE ON PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES: If that interference happens at the wrong time then it can be a threat to the aircraft and safe operation.

MESERVE: It is impossible to say conclusively that electronic devices were to blame, but they have been implicated in malfunctions of an auto-pilot, rudders, a GPS and more.

The Federal Aviation Administration forbids any electronics during takeoff and landing and at altitudes less than 10,000 feet. Above that, airlines must demonstrate devices are safe before the FAA will authorize their use.

With new portable devices being introduced at a dizzying pace, it's hard to sort out what can be used and when.

CARSON: I was on a flight one time and the person next to me got out their electronic reader book and just after the announcement was made to turn off all electronic devices. And I asked, well, why did you take it out just after the flight attendant said turn them off? And this passenger said, well this isn't an electronic device.

MESERVE: The best guide, listen to the flight attendant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been (inaudible) that you turn it off now.

MESERVE: But you can't do that if you're talking on your phone.

VEDA SHOOK, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: People want to say good-bye to their loved ones. You know, we get that, but there's a time and a place for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: You might wonder why the use of some devices is forbidden below 10,000 feet but allowed above that altitude. Experts feel if pilots have a problem higher up they'll have time to find it and fix it -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now Jeanne, some planes now offer onboard Wi-Fi. So how to airlines explain the strict rules against electronics while encouraging people to use devices that transmit radio waves like Wi-Fi laptops.

MESERVE: Well, first of all, all of them are forbidden below 10,000 feet in part because they want you to listen to that announcement, that safety announcement from the flight attendant, also because those are the most critical times in any flight. But Wi-Fi on some airlines and some types of aircraft has been tested. They have been able to certify to the FAA that that particular technology is safe at the higher altitudes, but that some of the other technologies haven't been tested yet or they are in the process of testing. So those are not yet approved. That's how it works, Kristie.

STOUT: OK. So the jury is still out. Jeanne Meserve joining us live from Washington. Thank you very much indeed.

Now still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, will this man star for Spurs in the Champion's League? Alex Thomas will be here with more in a moment.

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STOUT: You may recall a couple of months ago a series of events shocked the world that would come to be known as the Aflockalypse. I don't know where birds started falling from the sky, first in Arkansas and then as far away as Scandinavia. Then, something even fishier happened around the world's coast. And it's happened again this week. Now this time in Redondo Beach, California. Just take a look at these pictures taken in King Harbor where millions of sardines have turned up dead. Low oxygen levels have been blamed for this.

Now there were goals, red cards, action and controversies and there's still three nights to go. Let's join Alex Thomas live from London to bring us up to date with the Champion's League -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, with the final taking place at Wembley Stadium right here in London, Tottenham are now the only team left in the competition with a chance of lifting the trophy in their home city. They face AC Milan later on Wednesday with some reports suggesting that star full back Gareth Bale may not be fit after all. The Welsh international made a huge impact against AC's local rivals Inter Milan earlier in the tournament. So it'll be a big blow to Spurs if he doesn't line up at White Hart Lane later. Harry Redknapp's team leading 1- nil from the first leg at the San Siro Stadium.

While on Tuesday, Shaktar Donetsk and Barcelona were first clubs to book their places in the quarterfinals. Shaktar won 3-nil at home to AS Roma for a 6-2 victory over the two legs. Barca beat Arsenal 4-3 overall.

World player of the year, Lionel Messi scored twice as the Catalan giants won the second leg at the Camp Nou Stadium 3-1. Arsenal angered by Robin Van Persie's red card half an hour from the end. Their only goal came accidentally from the head of Barcelona's Sergio Busquets. The steps heavily favoring Pep Guardiola's side. They hogged 76 percent of the possession and had 20 shots on goal compared to Arsenal who had none.

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JOSEPH GUARDIOLA, BARCELONA MANAGER (through translator): We have to be very happy. For the fifth time in the last six years we're in the quarterfinals. We'll see another Champion's League here. We've played incredibly well. Talking about the two legs, we've created a lot of chances over here. And we did the same over there. We have played very well.

XAVI HERNANDEZ, BARCELONA MIDFIELDER (through translator): We dominated a great game. Seeing both games, I think we've suffered more than we deserved. The only thing we fail was the effectiveness in front of their goal. Both legs we were spectacular, dominating each game. Tonight, Arsenal practically didn't shoot towards our goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: And in the last hour, UEFA, European football's governing body has charged Arsenal (inaudible) and midfielder Samir Nasri for comments they made to the referee after the match. They were fuming over that Van Persie sending off. And UEFA will decide the pairs punishments on March 17th.

Let's cross the Atlantic now to look at the pick of Tuesday's NBA action. The mighty Miami Heat trying to avoid five defeats in a row when they took on the Portland Trailblazers. Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and co. with home advantage with this one.

Let's go straight to the fourth quarter. The Blazers up by 2, but Wade comes up with the block and takes it all the way back down the court for the slam on his way to 38 points for the game.

Later on, the score tied at 77 apiece. And Patrick Mills drives forward for Portland, gets it to Rudy Fernandez and his 3 from the wing puts the Blazers back in front.

Now the Heat on the break, James for Mario Chalmers who returns it with a behind the back pass and James finishes it off. 31 points for LeBron overall.

But the Blazers pulled away in the final minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge hits the turnaround jumper here and his team high 26 points helped Portland win by 105-96. The Heat on a very cold run of five straight losses.

And you know, Kristie, it doesn't get any easier for Miami. They're next game is against the NBA's hottest side right now, the Los Angeles Lakers. I know your mate will be pleased about that. They racked up their eighth win in a row over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Back to you.

STOUT: I know. And he's loving it, isn't he?

Alex Thomas, thank you so much indeed.

And that is it for NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is up next.

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