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Ivory Coast Power Struggle; Zawiya: A City Silenced; Internet Security Breach

Aired April 6, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Tense scenes in Ivory Coast's capital as President-elect Alassane Ouattarra's forces storm the residence of rival Laurent Gbagbo.

Plus, officials plus a leak at the stricken Japanese nuclear power plant that was sending highly-radioactive water into the Pacific.

And why one company hopes this will be the future of space flight.

In Ivory Coast, forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara have stormed the residence of self-declared president Laurent Gbagbo. Negotiations for surrender were believed to be under way, but a Ouattara spokesman tells CNN that those talks have failed, leaving no option but to storm the residence in Abidjan.

The United Nations says Gbagbo had asked for U.N. protection. The U.N. mission chief, Young-Jin Choi, spoke to CNN earlier.


YOUNG-JIN CHOI, U.N. SPECIAL REP.: The two biggest problems will be (INAUDIBLE). That is, Mr. Gbagbo will accept the will of the people after four months of long and bloody resistance. That is a better important factor. And Mr. Ouattara will be recognized the population as elected president.

And the problem is how to ensure the law and order with the support of the United Nations, and I'm confident. But we have to shorten the duration. We have to minimize the progress.


STOUT: Laurent Gbagbo has been clinging to power ever since losing November's election to the internationally-recognized President-elect Alassane Ouattara.

Now, Richard Roth spoke to the Ivorian Coast ambassador to the U.N., who told him why he thought Gbagbo was putting up such a fight.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: As a White House spokesman put it, this is between the United Nations and Laurent Gbagbo. He's a president who refuses to leave office. He had over five-plus years in which to have elections conducted, and he was able to stall there, so some observers really are not surprised that he's not exactly leaving his bunker so quickly. There are negotiations going on with the United Nations, and it may have a lot to do with the conditions of his departure and what might happen to his aides.

I asked the Ivorian ambassador to the United Nations, who is a supporter of his opponent, about Gbagbo's holdout.

YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA, IVORY COAST AMB. TO U.N.: I think he knows very well everything is over for him. But he's -- his tactics so far to digging. Maybe he will be hoping that it will have some extra chance to get away.

ROTH: The ambassador says Gbagbo should not leave the country, but should be held to face trial. Security Council member nations are watching developments closely, fully confident in the U.N. peacekeepers, whose use of attack helicopters may have sped up Gbagbo's fate.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


STOUT: Now, Yemen remains on edge this Wednesday after clashes on Tuesday killed at least six people and injured hundreds more. The White House has condemned the ongoing violence, but the Pentagon says it will not stop military aid to the troubled country.

Now, this anti-government protester, painted in the colors of the national flag, was among tens of thousands of people marching in the capital, Sana'a, on Tuesday evening. Now, witnesses and medics say that police and security forces used batons to attack the demonstrators. The U.N. has said that such tactics must stop.

As politicians inside and outside Libya seek an agreement on Moammar Gadhafi's departure, rebel leaders say that compromise is not an option. Undeterred, a former U.S. congressman plans to visit Gadhafi in an effort to prompt his exit.

Republican Curt Weldon says he is in Tripoli at the leader's invitation. In a "New York Times" opinion article, Weldon writes that he has met Gadhafi enough times to know it will be very hard to "bomb him into submission." Those are his words.

But away from the negotiating table, the fighting goes on. Rebels are trying to regroup after a heavy blitz in Al Brega. And residents in Misrata continue to live in fear and under fire.

Now, in Misrata, rebel residents still have a voice. But in the western city of Zawiya, that voice has been silenced. In its place, wholesale destruction, empty streets, and a rigid clampdown on dissent.

Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rubble and smashed concrete where once Zawiya's central mosque stood. Four weeks ago, the government brought us here to see their victory over rebels.

(on camera): Over here, the remains of the mosque, right on the central square. This mosque was being used by the rebels as a medical clinic. It was one of their medical centers where they were treating their wounded.

This is where the mosque stood. It's been so demolished, so destroyed. All that are left in the ground are a few floor tiles like this. And when you look around you here, you can't even see where the walls were, it's been so heavily pulverized into the ground.

(voice-over): In this city, President Obama and European leaders say Gadhafi's forces must withdraw. Instead, they're removing and repressing any hint of the rebels.

Around the corner from the former mosque, more sinister signs of cover-up.

(on camera): This is one of the medical centers that was used by the rebels. There's wrecked beds outside here, and the doors here, firmly shuttered, steel plates on the inside.

Up here, the main entrance here to the hospital as well, shuttered shut. In fact, not only is it shuttered, but it's been welded shut. There's no way for us to get inside this former rebel hospital now. It's absolutely been welded shut, absolutely closed.

(voice-over): And lest any rebels return, a few yards away, under a tree, a carefully camouflaged government tank.


ROBERTSON: The only voice the government wants now, almost on cue with our arrival, a pro-Gadhafi rally.


ROBERTSON: When officials take us to the city hospital, they stifle any hint of anti-regime comment.

(on camera): The mothers here tell us these babies have a fever and that's why they're in the hospital. They also tell us that the situation in Zawiya is just fine, that everything's OK. But, of course, just outside this room, there are government officials, government minders, who are keeping an ear on everything that they say.

(voice-over): The new hospital director, appointed since the rebel defeat, delivers the government message -- they are firmly in control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't have any shortage in any department for the medical supplies.

ROBERTSON: The unspoken message here, the government is not about to give this city up. Rebels, not just defeated, but repression of the very freedoms they fought for.

(on camera): It's not just the mosque that's missing here, it's the voice of dissent that was so strong six weeks ago. No one on the streets here will voice any opinions against the government. That voice has been snuffed out, crushed, removed, in the same way this building has been reduced to rubble.

(voice-over): Nic Robertson, CNN, Zawiya, Libya.


STOUT: Well, China has broken its silence on the disappearance of dissident artist Ai Weiwei. He has not been seen since Sunday, when authorities reportedly took him into custody.

Two articles in "The Global Times," a Communist Party newspaper, seem to confirm Ai Weiwei's arrest. He's referred to as an activist and a maverick. Ai Weiwei is one of China's best-known artists, but he has also been an outspoken critic of the government.

I spoke to him back in November and asked if he thought others in China would feel free to voice their opinions.


AI WEIWEI, CHINESE ARTIST/SOCIAL ACTIVIST: It's hard to say, because the only thing you can say, more and more young people start to be conscious about those issues. And for a nation kind (ph) easily put anybody behind bars because they speak up, in the past 60 years they did.

They did put (INAUDIBLE) people behind bars because they speak up their mind. So this is -- most people can easily be scared or can be intimidated even to challenging this.


STOUT: Now Western governments and human rights groups are calling for Ai Weiwei's release. An editorial in "The Global Times" blasted their demands.

Now, the English version reads this: "The West's behavior aims at disrupting the attention of Chinese society and attempts to modify the value system of the Chinese people."

But the Chinese language version is much, much harsher. It says this: "This is the root cause for Chinese people's loathing towards the West on this issue, when the West pressures China on the so-called 'human rights problems.'"

Now, human rights groups fear that Ai Weiwei is part of a growing high- profile crackdown on dissent in China. Authorities have arrested and detained a number of lawyers and human rights activists amid calls for protests modeled after those in the Middle East. They join some prominent figures behind bars.

Now, perhaps the best known political prisoner is, of course, Liu Xiaobo. Now, the writer was awarded last year's Nobel Peace Prize. He is said to be the author of "Charter '08," a manifesto for democratic reform in China. Beijing accuses him of inciting subversion of state power.

And then there is Chen Guangcheng, seen here with his family. Now, the blind civil rights activist was released from prison in September, but he remains under house arrest.

And the United Nations has demanded the release of this man, Gao Zhisheng. He is a prominent human rights lawyer, but Gao has not been heard from since he disappeared last April.

Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, a bit of a bright spot in Japan. Now, a leak has been plugged at the crippled nuclear plant, but officials refuse to get optimistic.

Plus, deadly protests grip Yemen. So why is the U.S. military still sending aid?

And the commercial space race. We'll look at the newest way to haul your stuff into space and an even bigger rocket in the works.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the sex trial of Silvio Berlusconi finally kicked off in Milan a few hours ago. But it did not take long before proceedings were adjourned.

The Italian prime minister faces charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer." And an abuse of power to free her from jail. Mr. Berlusconi, he denies the charges, branding them "groundless and disgusting."

The 74-year-old was not at court today for a session which lasted only 10 minutes.

Now, new details on a massive Internet security breach. It could affect millions of customers of popular banks, retailers and hotels. Their private e-mail addresses could be in the hands of hackers.

Now, Mary Snow is following this story from New York.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Warnings of e-mails fraud are coming from banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citi, hotel chains Marriott and Hilton, along with retailers Target and Best Buy. But the security breach didn't happen within these companies. Rather, they were all tied to a third party called Epsilon. Epsilon's is a marketing services provider that handles communications between companies and customers. And one analyst says many consumers weren't even aware that their information was being shared.

(on camera): This seems like a fairly secretive business. Is it?

DAVE FRANKLAND, FORRESTER RESEARCH: Sort of (ph), if you like. I'm don't know that I would necessarily say it's secretive. I think to your point, though, many people who received an e-mail from a retailer or a travel company or a financial service institution had no idea who this company Epsilon was.

SNOW (voice-over): We contacted Epsilon, and a spokeswoman said the company is limited in what they can say because of an ongoing investigation. But in a statement, Epsilon says, "The information that was obtained was limited to e-mail addresses and/or customer names only."

It's impossible to say how many people were affected, but Nick Feamster, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech's College of Computing Science, says it's possible the number may be in the millions. And he says if you received an e-mail, you should now be on alert for targeting fishing scammers.

NICK FEAMSTER, GEORGIA TECH: Well, they know, for example, that you've done business with, say, Walgreens or with Chase or Citicorp. And they can now send you a spam e-mail that appears to come from one of those organizations. And you might be more vulnerable now because you recognize that as a trusted brand.

SNOW: Feamster says while this security breach could have been much worse, it should be a wake-up call to people about listing all their personal information.

FEAMSTER: What if someone managed to compromise a large fraction of Google services or of Yahoo! services and gained access to everything from, you know, as I mentioned, your spreadsheets, to your photos, to your e-mail, to your chat logs? All that's actually sitting in one place.

SNOW (on camera): Now, Nick Feamster says that would be a worst-case scenario, hopefully it would never happen. But security experts say it is important for people to be aware and careful of the personal information they're putting online.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


STOUT: Now, turning to Japan now. And officials say that workers have made important progress at the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima.

Tokyo Electric, they are saying that they have stopped the leak at the unit 2 building. It was gushing highly-radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, as seen here earlier.

After several failed attempts, liquid glass finally sealed up a crack in the concrete. And with the low level of radioactive waste water finished being dumped into the sea, that means as of Wednesday afternoon, there are no known major radioactive emissions into the air, water or ground.

But officials are not celebrating this small yet significant victory. Instead, they acknowledge that the crisis is far from over.

Now, let's bring in our Martin Savidge from CNN Tokyo.

And Martin, the flow of radioactive water into the ocean has stopped, but what about the damage? I understand that Japan's fishing industry has weighed in earlier today. What did they say?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's point out a couple of things here, Kristie.

First of all, yes they have stopped the leak of highly-contaminated radioactive water going into the Pacific Ocean. But they are continuing to discharge a large amount of what they say is lower-level radiation, or water, going into the Pacific Ocean.

This is part of that 11,000 tons that they were going to put into the water, into the ocean, spread out over several days. That process still goes on.

But you're right, the fishing industry today filed a formal protest with TEPCO. They are absolutely livid. They see their livelihood, their lives and their industry being absolutely destroyed, they say, as a result of the radiation, the poison, as many of them put it, that is being dumped into the oceans here.

There has already been a great deal of concern about food stocks (ph) that were coming from Japan and those products that are raised on shore. But now the Japanese fishing industry is huge. It serves not only just this country, but it serves many other countries around the world. And they say no one is going to want Japanese fish as a result of this.

TEPCO listened to it all. They bowed politely, but they basically said there's nothing they can do. They have to discharge this water. And they said they will, at some point, consider compensation for the fishermen just as they are considering for the farmers.

So, once again, the list that TEPCO owes money to, the people, keeps getting larger -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, that leak -- at least that known leak -- has been stopped. But the plant workers, they are facing another problem -- buildup of hydrogen in one reactor. How are they dealing with that?

SAVIDGE: Yes, that's a real concern. Hydrogen, as we know, there's already been a number of hydrogen explosions that have taken place. Those were the big blasts early on in this whole drama. But now there is the concern that you have hydrogen gas perhaps building up in a number of the containment vessels.

You don't want another explosion there. That is for certain. So the way they're going to try to deal with this is ingest into them -- or insert into it -- nitrogen, which basically would render the possibility of an explosion inert. It would do away with that possibility. But right now they have not done that process, they've merely talked about it.

So that's the way they want to attack it, but they have not done it yet. So the possibility of explosions still potentially exists, although it's relative low, according to officials -- Kristie.

STOUT: And what is the overall condition inside Fukushima Daiichi? Are the reactors and fuel rod pools stable? Are the radiation levels leveling off?

SAVIDGE: Well, the reactors are stabilized, but they are not fully stable. And this is part of their dilemma they have here, and that is the fact that the only way they're going to keep those reactors under any semblance of control is by keeping a lot of water pouring on them and keeping them cool. But, of course, by pouring a lot of water on them, they're creating a whole series of other problems that they are now struggling to deal with.

Part of this release of water is because they have too much of it. They can't get in to restore the core cooling pumping systems until they pump water out of basements and buildings and places where workers need to go.

So, the reality is, by trying to control the short term, they are negating their efforts to try to eventually come up with a long-term solution here, Kristie. And this is what the international community is saying -- look, you need help. Why don't you ask for it? But up until this point, Japan and TEPCO have not been really open to the idea of getting international assistance.

STOUT: Yes. And more than three weeks on, that really is quite extraordinary.

Martin Savidge, joining us live from Tokyo.

Thank you very much, indeed.

Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM this Wednesday, after a large gash on a Southwest Airlines jet was ripped open mid-flight, Boeing 737s are being scrutinized around the world. But are any lessons being learned?


STOUT: All right. Welcome back.

Live from Hong Kong, you are watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, after a record hot and dry spell of over two months, residents of Perth, Australia, may finally be getting a break.


STOUT: Now, coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we will bring you the latest from Libya, where the fighting continues to rage between pro-and- anti-Gadhafi forces.

And in Yemen, we will look at what is being done or not, as it may be, to find and capture terrorists.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now opposition forces have stormed the home of self-declared Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo. Now troops loyal to the internationally recognized president-elect Alassane Ouattara expect to capture Gbagbo shortly. Negotiations for his surrender believed to be have been underway, but with Gabgbo reluctant to accept defeat in November's elections they failed. And Ouattara's forces stormed the residents.

And we will continue to follow the situation there in the Ivory Coast and bring you more updates as soon as we have more.

Let's take a look at the other stories in the headlines today.

Now a victory of sorts for workers at Japan's quake damaged nuclear plant. They have managed to plug a leak that was letting radioactive water gush into the Pacific Ocean. But a top Japanese officials says the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility is far from over.

Now clashes in Yemen in Tuesday killed at least six people and injured hundreds more. Now this anti-government protester painted in the colors of the national flag and he was among tens of thousands of people marching in the capital Sanaa Tuesday evening. Witnesses and medics say that police and security forces used batons to attack the demonstrators. The United Nations has said such tactics must stop.

Now Libya's rebels are voicing their frustration with NATO. They say the coalition is not doing enough to protect civilians in cities like Misrata. NATO says it has been difficult to launch air strikes, because Gadhafi's forces are now using civilians to shield their military assets.

Now earlier, we heard from Nic Robertson on what remains of the city of Al Zawiyah. And Nic joins us now from Tripolis with the latest.

And Nic, rebel leaders, they say that they are disappointed by NATO's efforts in Misrata and elsewhere. Are we seeing a pullback by NATO? And if so why?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's not true that this is a pullback by NATO. It's certainly a scaling down of the air offensive. In Tripoli here we haven't heard any explosions for at least six nights now. So definitely the air activity and the coalition bombing here is down and that's perhaps in part because the U.S. has pulled back from the lead role that it had in the air campaign.

But what we heard initially from President Obama, from Prime Minister David Cameron, other European leaders when they were outlining the terms of the U.N. security council resolution is that Gadhafi's forces should pull back from Benghazi, Ajdabiya, the two main cities in the east. That they should pull back from Misrata, a few hours' drive east of the capital here in Tripoli and that government forces should pull out of Zawiyah to the west of the capital. Clearly they're not going to do that at the moment. They're well dug in and the rebels have been defeated there.

But the situation in the east now is that Gadhafi's forces are out of those two key towns that have been mentioned, Benghazi and Ajdabiya. And it gives the appearance at the moment that the NATO led enforcement of the security council resolution, the no-fly zone and protection of civilians, doesn't want to support a rebel push further into territory that's currently held by Gadhafi which would, as it approached Gadhafi's stronghold of Sirte, potentially put many civilians in danger, civilians in many cases who support and are loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

So it does seem at the moment that there is a lack of will to help the rebels push further westwards towards the capital. And perhaps there's an assessment of their military capability that there is no clean sweep for them to remove Moammar Gadhafi from leadership here, Kristie.

STOUT: And Nic, on the diplomatic front, the former U.S. representative Kurt Weldon is the meet with Moammar Gadhafi today. Any more details on that meeting?

ROBERTSON: Well, he's expecting to meet and hoping to meet with him later today. And this comes at a time when Libya has been desperate for any international contact and in particular contact, diplomatic contact with the United States. This is what they've been saying for six weeks, somebody should come here and look at the situation.

And Kurt Weldon is coming with a number of proposals. He's not representing the White House or the U.S. State Department, but he does have a number of proposals. One of those proposals sis that Moammar Gadhafi should step aside, another is that the cease-fire called by the U.N. should be recognized, another is that the rebels should not advance any further, another is that there should be an interim leadership in the country that would be the prime minister and one of the leaders of the opposition, Jalil (ph), there's also something in there for Moammar Gadhafi, that he would get an honoree title of -- honoree chairman of the African Union, but that there would be a parliamentary advisory council to help establish a new parliament here.

So many proposals here. Of course, we don't know what Moammar Gadhafi thinks about them, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Nic Robertson joining us live from Tripoli. Thank you very much Nic.

Now let's go back to the developing situation in the Ivory Coast. We can now talk to one of Laurent Gbagbo's advisors. Abdon Bayeto joins us now on the phone from London.

And sir, welcome to NEWS STREAM.

First, about these reports that Ouattara troops have overrun the home of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan. Is this true?

ABDON BAYETO, ADVISER TO LAURENT GBAGBO: It's not true. It's not Ouattara's troops. It's the French troops would be pounding the residence of President Laurent Gbagbo since 8:00 this morning. What they're trying to do is to access (inaudible). They're trying to take him out. So that's the truth.

What are not true, (inaudible). We (inaudible) nation forces deployed in Cote d'Ivoire. Now since this morning they want to assassinate (ph) him. And next door to him, they all (inaudible) trained snipers waiting to shoot at -- randomly at anything that moves in the compound of the president. I mean, that's true. That's irresponsible.


So just to reiterate, and of course we cannot confirm this, but what you are saying is that there is a siege on Laurent Gbagbo's residence that is underway but is being conducted by French troops and not by Ouattara forces.

Where is Laurent Gbagbo? Is he inside his residence? Where is Gbagbo?

BAYETO: He is. He's not (ph) alone in his residence. I mean, where do you want him to go, he's the president of the country. And that's the official residence located of the president. So he's there. He's there.

STOUT: OK. So in this situation as you describe it, Laurent Gbagbo is in his residence. He's been surrounded by foreign troops. Does he have any intention to step down?

BAYETO: No. He's got no intention of stepping down, because he won the election. So (inaudible) is a lot of lies. It's a lot of lies is to bring down the issue of recounting votes, which the United Nations are refusing, which (inaudible) are refusing. (Inaudible) is refusing. We don't know why.

What he's done in America over two months. When you've done it in Afghanistan. Why are you refusing to do it in Cote d'Ivoire? That's why the international plot comes in, the hidden agenda. Now they want to assassinating him.

These guys are typical presidents. And it's not for their liking that he's alive today.

STOUT: OK. And just to counter -- and just to counter what you as an advisor to Gbagbo are telling us that French troops have Gbagbo surrounded in his residence there, their intention it to shoot him, is to kill him as you say. We did speak to Ouattara spokesperson earlier who said that French troops are not conducting the siege, it is --

BAYETO: It's all lies.

STOUT: -- being conducted by Ouattara's forces. OK.

Well, let me ask you this instead. Let's just move on.


STOUT: As you are an advisor for Laurent Gbagbo to give us an idea of what he's thinking right now, would he be willing to accept a deal? Would he be willing to step down for diplomatic immunity?

BAYETO: No, not at all. As I said, he won the election. And nobody is stopping at one stage to say, OK, let's look deeply into this issue. Did he win the election or not? I know the (AUDIO GAP) already. They've gone too far. It's now a long way for them to come back.

But let them be (inaudible).


STOUT: OK, now Mr. Bayeto the siege is underway because negotiations stalled. Would Mr. Gbagbo be willing to return to talks for a negotiated settlement?

BAYETO: He's been calling out for negotiation all along. Ouattara is the one who is refusing. Even call out for negotiation one to one with Ouattara. They've done it before. And remember, Ouattara (inaudible) today standing because of Laurent Gbagbo. So, I mean, I don't know why. As I told you, it's an international plot, a hidden agenda. They want Laurent Gbagbo out. And that's period. They want to assassinate him. But --

STOUT: Now Mr. Bayeto, as an advisor to Laurent Gbagbo, you are calling in to us from London. I need to ask you, when was the last time you spoke to Mr. Gbagbo?


STOUT: When was the last time you spoke to Mr. Gbagbo?

BAYETO: I spoke to him on Saturday and Sunday. And yesterday I spoke to him, but you know, in third-person. He's OK. He's OK.

STOUT: OK. Now last week, Gbagbo's army chief asked for asylum. He asked for asylum in South Africa. How much military support does Gbagbo have left?

BAYETO: You do remember the same army chief went into the South African embassy and he came out already. He came back again to fight. Everybody is there. People are fighting. As I said, today the truth was act (ph) yesterday between the two armies. It was to pick up dead bodies on the street for the genocide. The United Nations itself are organizing in Cote d'Ivoire. There's a lot of wounded people and we need to get those people to the hospital.

All those people now are dying. You need to help it. You need to help them. Why are they refusing the truth? To (inaudible) all those people on the streets. It's sad. It's sad. They want to take him out. So let's wait and see what they want to do now next.

STOUT: Now many are saying that Laurent Gbagbo is nearing his final days. The word "end game" is being used. Some may believe that he is in his final hours. What is your response to that?

BAYETO: No, no, not at all. I wouldn't put this word in my mouth. I've been (inaudible). He's there as the president and the constitution in five years. How could a constitution be five year and then you're talking his final hours. It's impossible. He's there as a five year president. And he's going to observe the five years. He's going to go through them.

STOUT: Abdon Bayeto, advisor to Laurent Gbagbo, joining us on the line from London.

BAYETO: Madame --

STOUT: Yes, you want to finish your point, go ahead.

BAYETO: -- outside. And also we've got God with us. And we're going to be victorious. That's what people should remember.

STOUT: OK. Now that is the view from the Gbagbo camp.

Abdon Bayeto joining us on the line, advisor to Laurent Gbagbo, on the line from London.

Now as the protests, meanwhile, escalate in Yemen, the U.S. continues to give military aid to the country's embattled government. Now a Pentagon spokesman says that the contributions are essential to combat a real threat from al Qaeda. But with the White House condemning the ongoing violence, Chris Lawrence reports on the diplomatic dichotomy.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A U.S. official says Yemen's government is preoccupied with political unrest. And little is being done to find and capture terrorists. An American counter terrorism official says the government's ability to check travelers, screen cargo and work immigration issues is all in question right now. And that should matter to Americans, because the al Qaeda group based there is considered the number one terrorist threat to the United States.

MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: We do believe that they've taken advantage of the insecurity and poor governance in some regions of Yemen.

LAWRENCE: And if the government falls?

JAMES CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It wasn't that great a government to begin with.

LAWRENCE: Analyst James Carafano argues that even if the opposition topples President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the risk to U.S. interest is somewhat mitigated.

CARAFANO: Because most of the cooperation is with the military and intelligence services, some of that can continue to go on regardless of who's in charge of the government.

LAWRENCE: Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved doubling the U.S. military aid to Yemen to $150 million. Despite the instability, Pentagon officials say they have not suspended that aid.

GEOGG MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: As far as I know it is (inaudible).

LAWRENCE: The Pentagon says Yemen's embattled president and the U.S. military still have common goals.

MORRELL: We both still face a threat emanating from Yemen that needs to be dealt with.

LAWRENCE: Carafano says there's a chance a new government in Yemen could be better than the present one.

CARAFANO: I mean, there are ways we can get a counterterrorism operation in the country without relying on a -- essentially a two bit dictator to get you there.

LAWRENCE: On the other hand, those WikiLeaks cables reveal just how closely the U.S. has been working with Yemen's president. One quoted him as saying that he would keep claiming that the attacks on al Qaeda in Yemen were coming from his forces, not the Americans. Of course, the release of those cables has come back to hurt him politically during this current unrest.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


STOUT: Now coming up on News Steam, after a large portion of the ceiling tore open on a Southwest airlines flight, Boeing admits it made a miscalculation over metal fatigue on a popular 737.

And we'll look at the world's most powerful space rocket since the U.S. Saturn V.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now U.S. aviation safety regulators have ordered emergency inspections for more than 100 frequently flown planes. Now Boeing says airlines around the world should take a close look at their 737s.

Jeanne Meserve has more on the prematurely aging aircraft.


DEBORAH HERSMAN, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: This is a Southwest 737. And the rupture occurred on the left side over here.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The National Transportation Safety Board investigation into what caused the roof to rip on a Southwest Airlines flight Friday night is still in its early stages. The torn section of fuselage is now back in Washington for analysis at an NTSB laboratory.

HERSMAN: We have to identify the origins and the extent of this cracking and what similarities this aircraft design might have to others.

MESERVE: The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered emergency inspections of 175 planes worldwide, all older Boeing 737 models with more than 30,000 takeoffs and landings. Inspections must be repeated at frequent intervals. Boeing says eventually 570 planes with the same design will need a closer look.

The company had anticipated that the skin and joints on one of these planes would not need special scrutiny until it reached 60,000 takeoffs and landings, but the plane that was damaged Friday had only 39,000. And now Southwest inspections have discovered five others in its fleet with subsurface cracks.

An aviation expert explained information about how to best service an airplane evolves over time.

MIKE BOYD, AVIATION EXPERT: As an airplane gets older, mechanics know what to look for. They know what components will start to wear out early. They know what components might be deficient in terms of performance.

MESERVE: Boyd insists that flying is still safe. And says he's more worried about the drive to the airport. But others say there is more to learn from and about Friday's frightening events.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


STOUT: Now keep in mind the 737 is the world's most popular commercial jet aircraft. Boeing has received over 6,000 orders since it was introduced back in 1968. And 43 years on, there are at least 12 variants of the plane flying with airlines all over the world.

Now the commercial space race is heating up. And one company that seems to have taken an early lead is SpaceX. John Zarrella got a peek at what the firm is working on.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, Elon Musk, the man whose name is quickly becoming synonymous with commercial space first is at it again. Musk announced that his company SpaceX is building a new heavy lift rocket more powerful than anything since the old Saturn V moon rockets. He made that announcement in Washington, D.C.


I caught up with him there recently. And we talked about his successes so far.

ELON MUSK, SPACEX CEO: And they use the same propellant --

ZARRELLA: Elon Musk is like a big kid with a new toy.

MUSK: We designed this to be super tough. I mean -- so, I mean, you could beat the snot out of it and it'll still work.

ZARRELLA: Musk's toy just happens to be a spacecraft. He sunk $100 million of his own money into developing it. We caught up with Musk and his Dragon Capsule in Washington, D.C. where is was on display. The first commercially owned vehicle to ever circle the Earth and land safely back.

MUSK: The guy who designed the 747 when he saw that thing takeoff he said I can't believe it works.

ZARRELLA: You say the same thing don't you?

MUSK: It's how I feel.

ZARRELLA: Musk's company, SpaceX, is considered the leader in what is quickly becoming a commercial race to space.

MUSK: Races are good. ZARRELLA: There's little doubt the race is now on: ATK, the company that builds the shuttle's solid rocket boosters, announced it's going to build a rocket called Liberty bigger, ATK boasts, than Musk's Falcon 9.

And this month NASA is expected to announce the names of half a dozen commercial companies getting seed money to start developing vehicles to replace shuttle for carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.

CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Ideally we would like to have multiple competitors who come down to at least two that we can use so that we always have an alternative should one falter or one fail.

ZARRELLA: The SpaceX Dragon would be modified to carry astronauts.

MUSK: It's highly likely that we will get one of the contracts for NASA to launch astronauts. And I'm also confident that we'll be the first to do so.

ZARRELLA: SpaceX already has a contract for a dozen cargo flights to the station starting next year.

This summer, the company expects to make its last Dragon test flight, which is likely to be a docking with the space station. And as long as you're going, don't show up empty handed.

MUSK: We're carrying I think mostly food and water. You know, that's stuff that has high value once you're in orbit, but you know, if you blow up a cheeseburger it's not that bad.

ZARRELLA: Musk says despite the successes so far, a failure along the way would not be a surprise. This is, after all, rocket science.


STOUT: I talked with Musk on the phone shortly after his announcement of the new heavy lift rocket. And what struck me was this -- he said that for the commercial space business to really succeed and take off, the progress has to be not revolutionary, but evolutionary -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Thank you, John.

Now let's take a look at the heavy lift rocket that John mentioned. Now SpaceX calls this the Falcon Heavy. It will generate 1,700 metric tons of thrust at liftoff. Now that is the equivalent of 15 Boeing 747s taking off at the same time.

Now the Falcon Heavy can carry more than 53 metric tons into low Earth orbit. Now that is twice the payload of the U.S. space shuttle, but it still does not beat Saturn V.

NASA's moon rocket could carrying nearly 120 metric tons into orbit. Now that is the weight of 10 school buses. Now the last Saturn V flew in 1973 when it launched the Skylab Space Station.

Now coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we'll be looking ahead to another night of Champion's League action, including Chelsea's clash with Manchester United.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now on a rainy night in Moscow three years ago one team's Champion League dreams just slipped away in the mud. And now there's a rematch of that 2008 final.

Let's go live to London to hear more from Alex Thomas -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. The pick of Wednesday night's Champion's League quarterfinal matches is undoubtedly the showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United, the two teams who have dominated England's Premier League in recent years. And as you just mentioned also the two sides who went head to head for that famous trophy when the final was held in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium three years ago.

It went to a penalty shootout that night. Chelsea captain John Terry slipping and missing what would have been the winning goal. Instead, Manchester United won it for a third time.


SIR ALEX FERGUSON, MAN. UNITED MANAGER: We were just so happy to win it. And if you think about winning European (inaudible) you don't care about how you win it at the end of the day. Winning is the name of the game. You've gone so far. You went through so many moments of emotion. So to win it was a great achievement for our club, but it was the third time we won it.


THOMAS: Some will say Wednesday night.

Other quarterfinals, a bit of a mismatch between three-time European champions Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk. Barca destroyed Arsenal in the last round, however the Catalans' Ukrainian opponents look just as good themselves knocking Roma out of the last 16. They're on a five match winning streak in Europe and won 3-2 the last time they played at Barca's famous Camp Nou stadium.

Real Madrid already have one foot in the semifinals for the first time since 2003. They hammered Tottenham Hotspur 4-nil in the opening leg of their quarterfinal at the Bernabeu Stadium. England striker Peter Crouch cast as the villain of the night for being sent off just a quarter of an hour into the game.

Crouch's second yellow card came after Emmanuel Adebayor had put Los Blancos 1-nil up. The former Arsenal striker adding a second after the midway interval. And helping Maria and Christiano Ronaldo goals completed the rout leading Spurs with very little chance ahead of the second leg at White Hart Lane.

There was also a defeat for defending champions Inter Milan. They lost 5-2 at home to Schalke, which means they'll need to score at least 4 times if they want to go through to the next stage.

More sport later, Kristie, including the latest from Augusta National ahead of golf's Masters tournament.

STOUT: All right. Good stuff. Alex, thank you.

And finally, let's get over and out there to Singapore where two years of national service is compulsory for most, turning boys into men, or maybe not. Now this snap, it set Twitter abuzz today. As you could see a Singaporean soldier in full military fatigues, but without his kit. He made his helper carry that a few steps behind him.

The Singaporean softy says he is sorry. But the damage has been done. And the picture is all over the internet. So less strapping soldier and more macho, macho maid.

Now that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.