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NATO's Next Moves in Libya; U.S. Budget Battle; Air Traffic Controller Falls Asleep on Duty
Aired April 14, 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.
NATO leaders debate the best way forward for Libya amid reports that the town of Misrata came under heavy fire from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.
And how a blogger used the power of technology to save two Russian women from a suspected case of human trafficking.
Now, in Libya, there are reports that Misrata continues to be pummeled with fierce shelling from forces loyal to the leader Moammar Gadhafi. Now, a resident there says a cement factory and cargo containers have been destroyed. The resident also says the shelling stopped a ship that was coming to port to evacuate people.
And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Colonel Gadhafi is destroying food supplies in Misrata. Secretary Clinton also says snipers are targeting residents who try to seek medical attention.
As the violence in Libya rages, NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Berlin to talk about their strategy in Libya.
Now, CNN's Diana Magnay is in Berlin. She joins us now live, along with CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, who's in Tripoli.
But let's start first with Diana.
What is the NATO secretary-general saying about the mission?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has to show a degree of unity where, as we know from the discussions over the past few days, there is very little. We know that on the one side, you have countries such as the U.K. and France, who are really pushing for an intensified military campaign by NATO in Libya to try to break the stalemate. And on the other, you have countries like Germany, who are calling for a political solution, who are opposed to military intervention right in the first place. You have also the rebels who are blaming NATO and saying that their air strike has not been sustained enough, and that is why the situation on the ground currently is.
The NATO delegates, the foreign ministers, are currently in a lunch on the topic of Libya. There will be a press conference here shortly. And before that all started a couple of hours ago, the secretary-general defended NATO's campaign in Libya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are enforcing a no-fly zone, an arms embargo, and we are taking vigorous action to prevent attacks against the civilian population by degrading the military capacity of Gadhafi's forces through relentless strikes. We maintain a high operation, or tempo, and our operations are being adjusted on a daily basis against what is a clearly rapidly-changing environment on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAGNAY: We do know that the U.K. has contributed more jets to the mission, more fighter jets. Perhaps what is currently being discussed around the table is for other countries to contribute more to the military mission. But we already know from Spain, from the foreign minister earlier this morning, that Spain would not be offering their military involvement on the ground or in the air campaign in Libya -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right, Diana. We'll get back to you in a moment.
Let's go to our Frederik Pleitgen in Tripoli.
And Fred, inside Libya, bitter fighting continues, especially in Misrata, where a number of civilian lives were taken. What is the latest there?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest that we got, Kristie is that, apparently, now 23 people have been killed in the latest fighting, which, of course, also included intensive shelling of the port area. And you mentioned that cement factory that was allegedly hit earlier today. I was actually in that cement factory just a couple of weeks ago, when we went into Misrata, and it's one where you have the actual container port area sort of in one place, and then you have the cement and steel port right next to it. So it seems as though the shelling is pretty widespread in that whole area.
The port, of course, remains the lifeline of Misrata, if you will. There are aid ships that are still trying to get in there, that are trying to evacuate wounded people from the hospital, also trying to evacuate, of course, foreign workers that are still stuck on the ground there and who have families that want to leave the Misrata area. And you mentioned one ship was not able to get in because there were artillery strikes as it was trying to come into the port area. That's something that we've seen repeatedly happen.
So, the people there in Misrata are telling us that the shelling there continues unabated, and is now sort of centering around the port area, the road leading to the port, which is, of course, a vital lifeline. But, also, there is still random mortars, artillery and tank fire that are going on inside the city, which is, of course, a very big danger to civilians -- Kristie.
STOUT: So the bombardment there continues.
Let's go now back to Berlin, where, again, that NATO meeting is under way.
Diana, NATO has been accused by the rebels for not doing enough. So what more is being pledged to protect civilians? And will NATO be willing to pledge weapons?
MAGNAY: Well, NATO certainly says that it is doing enough, as we heard from the secretary-general a little earlier. There are calls from countries like the U.K. and France to commit more fighter jets. The U.K. is already contributing non-lethal assistance, it says, in the form of satellite phones. It's also going to be contributing body armor.
But it's certainly something that is on the table, whether to provide weapons to the rebels. Italy has already said given the fact that it is difficult to bomb heavily-populated areas, to conduct air-to-ground strikes when there are civilians all around, then perhaps the only way is to give arms to the rebels. And there are questions about whether Qatar has already done so.
So, even though William Hague, the U.K. foreign secretary, ruled out putting boots on the ground, there are many initiatives that are currently being discussed which we will hope to hear a little more about at this press conference that's coming up shortly -- Kristie.
STOUT: OK, Diana.
Let's go back to our Fred Pleitgen in Tripoli.
And Fred, at the NATO meeting there in Berlin, as well as the Libya contact meeting that is going on in Doha, there's been talk of a -- not a military solution, but a political solution to the conflict. Now, that would be up to the Libyan people, but can that be delivered?
PLEITGEN: Well, it certainly doesn't appear as though it is close at this point in time. There's always that one main sticking point that's been there for such a very long time, and that is, of course, the fate of Moammar Gadhafi.
The rebels, of course, are saying that there isn't even room for any sort of negotiations until Gadhafi steps down. The government here in Tripoli is flat-out saying that's a ludicrous demand and that is simply not going to happen.
Now, the sense that I get from officials here in Tripoli is that, at this point in time, they feel quite secure, more so than they did a couple of weeks ago. So, at this point in time, they're flat-out saying it's simply not going to happen, that Gadhafi is going to step down. They say they're willing to negotiate, but that that is simply off the table.
So, certainly at this point in time, it appears as though a political solution is still very, very far off, even though, of course, there are back channels where this is being attempted. For instance, the African Union proposal. That, however, was rejected. So it seems as though the two sides might be trying to feel each other out, but there is still, of course, that one main issue, and that is nowhere near being resolved -- Kristie.
STOUT: All right.
Fred Pleitgen, joining us live from Tripoli. Diana Magnay, live from Berlin.
A big thank you to you both.
Now, delegates representing NATO were in Qatar on Wednesday, meeting with leaders from Arab and African nations, as well as Libyan rebel forces. The Libyan opposition calls those meetings a success. Now, the delegates say that they did not go far enough.
Reza Sayah has more.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the Doha summit on Libya, British foreign secretary William Hague said the U.K. never criticized NATO's operation in Libya, they just said NATO could do more. And it looks like over the past several days NATO has been doing more with an increase in air strikes.
Opposition officials telling CNN a number of air strikes were launched by NATO in the Misrata area on Wednesday. Despite those air strikes, we continue to hear about a dire situation in that city. The rebels saying Gadhafi tanks once again targeting civilian targets on Wednesday in Misrata. They said several people died, although it wasn't clear how many. This follows Tuesday's fighting in Misrata, where, according to a doctor, 10 people were killed, 30 injured in fighting on that day.
It's not clear what those NATO air strikes hit on Misrata on Wednesday. Of course, NATO officials came out last week and described some of the challenges they face with these air assaults, saying Gadhafi forces were using human shields, placing their weapons and tanks next to homes, and even places of worship.
In the meantime, the opposition called the Doha meetings on Libya a success, although they were short on details. The opposition saying foreign states have agreed to sell them weapons, although they didn't say who and when.
The rebels also said foreign states had agreed to release regime funds that had been frozen and funnel them to the opposition. Again, they weren't clear on who was willing to release these funds and when.
Showing up in Doha on Wednesday, the former foreign minister of Libya, Moussa Koussa, who has allegedly defected. He showed up to Doha in an apparent effort to meet with the opposition. The opposition, rejecting his overtures.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Benghazi, Libya.
STOUT: Now, in Yemen, ongoing unrest has claimed more lives. This was the scene in Taiz on Wednesday. Thousands of demonstrators also marched in other cities. They're calling on longtime Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign. Clashes on Wednesday killed at least seven people.
STOUT: In Syria, women and children demanded the release of their husbands and fathers. Now, this YouTube video is said to show residents of Baida, which is north of the capital, marching on Wednesday.
Now, they say security forces have abducted men for taking part in anti- government protests, but that cannot be independently confirmed. But Damascus did not immediately comment on this development.
And the government of Bahrain has moved to dissolve two opposition political parties. The state news agency reports that they were accused of illegal activities affecting the stability and security of the kingdom.
Now, one of those parties is a leading Shiite opposition group. Now, Bahrain is a majority Shiite country ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and the government has been accused of a brutal crackdown in the wake of ongoing protests.
Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, what do you do with $14 trillion in debt? Now, President Obama has got a plan, but will Republicans give him a run for the money?
And losing control. Airport authorities are losing sleep over air traffic controllers getting too much. We'll bring you the latest on America's on- duty dozing scandal.
And five weeks have nothing to offset the power of these pictures. We will show you the latest astonishing footage of the moment the tsunami struck Japan.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now, the U.S. budget battles are heating up. In a special address Wednesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama fired back at a Republican plan to slash spending, and he presented a plan of his own.
Well, right now, America's debt sits above $14 trillion. And the Obama plan would cut federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.
But as CNN's Ed Henry reports, the president's plan left a few fill in the blanks for Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a call to action from a president who, truth be told, has largely been on the sidelines when it came to cutting the deficit the last two years.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Congress has failed to act, then my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code. And that should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.
HENRY: Except those problems could be kicked further down the road since this was a call to action without any actual action. Few specific details among the president's four pillars.
First, the president vowed he would have the political courage to cut some programs unnamed near and dear to the hearts of Democrats. Then, in the next breath, he promised to spend new money on all kinds of others.
OBAMA: We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training.
HENRY: As for the second pillar, defense cuts, it sounded like, to quote the president himself, "kicking the can."
OBAMA: We're going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in the changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete.
HENRY: The sharpest contrast between the approaches of Republican Paul Ryan and the president came on the third pillar, cuts to health care spending like Medicare. The president went out of his way to cast himself as the protector of senior citizens, raising questions about whether he will step up with substantial cuts and be able to work out a deal with Ryan since they're now both dug in.
OBAMA: It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn't worth enough to buy the insurance that's available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck, you're on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) BUDGET CHAIRMAN: I thought the president's invitation to Mr. Camp, Mr. Hensarling, and myself was an olive branch. Instead, what we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country's pressing fiscal challenges. What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander in chief.
HENRY: The divide is just as sharp on taxes, where the president vowed to raise taxes on the rich even though he avoided that chance back in December, when he extended the Bush tax rates.
OBAMA: They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That's not right. And that's not going to happen as long as I'm president.
HENRY (on camera): Inside the White House, they defend the president's approach by saying if he had gotten too detailed, critics on all sides would have ripped this plan apart. They think it's better to have a broad framework, and they're leaving the specifics to Vice President Biden, who's now been deputized to go up to Capitol Hill in early May to try and work out a bipartisan compromise by the end of June, which at this point is a very, very ambitious deadline.
Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
STOUT: And with much more on the U.S. budget battles straight ahead on "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY," that starts in just over a half an hour from now, 9:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, 2:00 p.m. in London.
Now, they have one of the most strategic and stressful jobs in the world, and it seems that some air traffic controllers might not be up to the task. Now, another controller has apparently fallen asleep while on duty in the U.S. That brings the total number of cases disclosed by the Federal Aviation Administration this year to six.
Now, the latest incident occurred Wednesday morning in Nevada, when the FAA says the controller was out of contact for some 16 minutes. And the FAA says the lapse affected a medical flight carrying an ill patient. Now, the government has now promised to put an extra staffer on midnight shifts at several U.S.-controlled towers.
Jeanne Meserve joins me live from Washington.
And Jeanne, can you tell us more about how yet another U.S. air traffic controller fell asleep on the job?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kristie, it happened early yesterday.
The flight was coming in to Reno from Mammoth Lakes, California, with a critically ill passenger. The pilot tried to reach the tower not once, but seven times. The controller apparently slept through it all.
Here is part of the pilot's conversation with a regional controller.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PILOT: Yes, we're here.
TRACON: We -- you weren't able to get through to the tower?
TRACON: OK. We're going to call them on the phone line.
PILOT: All right. We'll circle some more.
PILOT: We have got a pretty sick patient. We may just have to land whether we have clearance or not.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MESERVE: And they did land. An official says the delay did not hurt the patient, but the secretary of transportation calls the episode inexcusable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY LAHOOD, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: This is ridiculous, it's outrageous. It's the kind of behavior that we will not stand for at the Department of Transportation.
The controller has been suspended. We're conducting an investigation. And I have said that, immediately, there will be two controllers in 27 control towers around the country that control planes between 12:00 midnight and the early morning hours. That kind of directive has been given out today and will take place immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: But Republican Congressman John Mica was harshly critical, saying only in the federal government would you double up on workers averaging $161,000 per year in salary and benefits that are not doing their jobs -- Kristie.
STOUT: And this outrageous incident seems to be part of a growing trend in the U.S. We know of incidents at Reagan National, in Knoxville, in Reno.
Are there others?
MESERVE: Yes. The FAA disclosed yesterday that there were two additional controller screw-ups in recent weeks. A controller in Seattle, Washington, fell asleep during his morning shift on April 11th. He is currently suspended. And two controllers in Lubbock, Texas, are on suspension for failing to hand off control of a departing aircraft on March 29th, and also for being late taking control of an inbound aircraft.
A real rash of these incidents -- Kristie.
Jeanne Meserve, joining us live from Washington.
Now, just ahead, it is nearly five weeks since Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami in brutally quick successions. Now, we have seen a lot of unbelievable footage of the disaster, but this new video still has the power to shock. We'll show you it in full, next.
STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.
Over the past five weeks we have given you daily updates from Japan's disaster zone. At first, we attempted to convey the scale of the catastrophe, and then we visited devastated communities to uncover the unthinkable human suffering. And then, more recently, attention has focused on the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi.
But long after Japan has rebuilt and recovered, one moment will prove indelible. It is the moment the wave struck. And as new footage emerges, its capacity to stun has not diminished.
Paula Hancocks talks us through it.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From afar, it looks like dust rising from the Japanese town of Minamisanriku. But those standing on higher ground then realize that this is the tsunami they had feared.
You can hear the roar of the water bulldozing through cars and buildings. Someone shouts, "It can't be! It just can't be!" You hear agonized screams as residents watch their town disappear before their eyes.
HANCOCKS: The person filming runs even higher at the steps. Then, the horrifying sight of people running away from the water, literally running for their lives.
They scramble to escape the fast-moving water. Those on higher ground scream for them to hurry, repeatedly shouting, "Danger! Danger!" One woman runs just ahead of the wave carrying the roof of a building, and the camera moves away.
The person who uploaded the footage commented that all those in the field survived. But they say nothing about these residents. The man in blue carries one person to safety, as others help what appears to be someone in a wheelchair. He then goes back to help again, but seems to disappear beneath the approaching water. It is not known if he survived.
This is the scene we filmed from the same hill just two days later. The power of the tsunami has left nothing in its path standing.
(on camera): The person who uploaded this video says that they wanted others to see it so they could understand what happened. They also said that even by watching it, it is impossible to understand just what those victims felt. The person added, they never want to see the video again.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Tokyo.
STOUT: And remember that you can influence Japan's recovery. Now, the best way to start is by visiting CNN's Impact Your World site. You'll find out what you can do to help victims of the disaster. Just go to CNN.com/impact.
Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, a possible case of human trafficking thwarted by bloggers. Now, these Russian women just wanted a vacation in the U.S., but when their trip took a shadowy turn, they were helped by a stranger who heard their story online.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.
Now, in Libya, there are reports that Misrata is being pummeled with fierce shelling from forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi. As the violence rages, NATO foreign ministers are in Berlin discussing the alliance's strategy in Libya.
Republicans in the U.S. have slammed Barack Obama's plan to reduce his country's crippling debt. Now, the president outlined a proposal for cuts in government spending and tax hikes. Republicans say they will resist any tax increases.
The former leader of Ivory Coast may have to face international charges for alleged crimes committed during his time in office. Now, President Alassane Ouattara says any possible charges against Laurent Gbagbo will be up to the Ivorian justice minister and international prosecutors. Human rights groups have also accused pro-Ouattara forces of atrocities during the conflict.
The CNN Freedom Project is raising awareness that slavery is not just a horror from the history books. It continues to happen right now in the 21st century. But we all have the power to bring about change, and we want to share a shocking story that shows you the power of global of netizens to stop this terrible practice.
Now, last May, a tale of suspected human trafficking was unfolding in real time on the message boards of this community Web blog. It's called MetaFilter. Now, a regular poster, Daniel Reetz, started a thread asking for help after he discovered that two of his friends from Russia were stranded in Washington.
He wrote that the women had been promised employment, but the jobs had mysteriously fallen through. And then Reetz found out that they had been asked to travel to New York for a midnight meeting and to work as lounge hostesses.
Now in his plea for help he wrote this, "yes, I know how horrific that sounds -- that is why I'm working all possible angles here."
And this is where the story shows the generosity of many netizens. Now dozens of the site's users like Dave right here offered help and offered advice. And others like Kate also reached out. Now Kate, she said, rates the numbers of human trafficking hotlines hoping that he could convince his friends to call.
But one blogger, her name was Katherine Hinds, she asked for the girls' phone number. And she offered them a place to stay. And when she posted this message, I have them, everything is good.
Now all of that happened within 26 hours, but that was not the end of the ordeal. Now the two Russian women, they continued to get calls from their contact. And Hind says she thinks they were being pressured, quite possibly threatened, to leave her home and take job offers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHERINE HIND, BLOGGER: The first that they were there I stayed up all night. I could not sleep. Because I was worried that they were going to sneak out in the middle of the night and go meet whoever, or go do whatever they thought they had to do, because they didn't -- at first they really didn't trust me, which makes sense. I'm a complete stranger to them. But we still -- I was mostly scared for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now it turns out Hinds may have had reason to fear for her own safety. Now authorities said the situation had the hallmarks of the Russian mafia. But Hinds let the two women stay with her for about one month. And Hinds called the experience an eye-opener.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HINDS: I know that human trafficking exists, but it always existed as sort of an abstraction and not something that I really thought about happening in the city where I live and not something that would affect me. And like a lot of things, you just sort of ignore it. It's not happening to you. But once I actually became involved with people who were being trafficked and was able to see what they were going through and how frightening it was and the different tactics that they were using and how sleep deprived they were and how disoriented they were even by simple things like Bibles in a hotel room. They found very frightening, because it's a different country and they weren't used to any of it.
And after seeing that, it really hit home for me in a way that it never had before that it's a really serious problem and it is -- it destroys people's lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now let's hear from the man who raised the alarm. Daniel Reetz joins us live from Los Angeles.
Daniel, it's good to see you and welcome to News Stream.
When you needed help and you heard about what your friends were going through, you turned to MetaFilter. Tell us more about the technology and how it helped you to save the girls?
DANIEL REETZ, BLOGGER: So MetaFilter has a section where you can ask questions and get them answered. And the reason that I contacted MetaFilter is because I was on a mobile phone driving to take a new job in Los Angeles when all this happened. And I couldn't just search the internet as much as I wanted, but I knew there was a community of amazing posters there who would help me find -- who I needed to find.
I assumed there was a party responsible for the girls. And as it turns out there really wasn't. And that's what MetaFilter helped me discover.
STOUT: Now your story is also about the incredible kindness of strangers. Were you taken aback by all the offers for help that you received?
REETZ: Absolutely. It was the most amazing and sort of unbelievable outpouring of support that I've ever seen. I mean -- normally you expect on the internet that people will be -- you don't expect this kind of kindness from strangers on the internet. I mean, we got everything from paces to stay to money to help the girls to the State Department dropping into the thread offering to direct us to the right places and to the right people. It was absolutely unbelievable.
STOUT: Now you knew at least one of the two girls before the incident. She was your student when you were teaching in Russia a few years ago. How did the two young women end up being trafficked into the U.S. and end up in such a dangerous situation?
REETZ: So, they -- the girls had signed up with a travel agency who - - they paid this travel agency $3,000 and the agency gets them what's called a J1 visa. And the J1 visa is a cultural exchange visa where you can work in the United States, but the strange thing was when they were supposed to come over to take their jobs as lifeguards in Virginia Beach, as you had mentioned, the jobs had vanished.
And at that moment, that's the vulnerable moment in trafficking. From the moment they land until they take that job they're sort of on that own. And that's when the traffickers swoop in and ask them to go to another city, or meet another contact.
And in particular this trafficker asked them to meet at a strip club in the middle of the night. I mean, it was the text book case. If you open the text book on trafficking, this is what is written there. And what I found...
STOUT: Where are the two young women today? We want to find out more about how they are -- are you still in touch? What are they up to?
REETZ: Right so. So Oksana (ph) is a dear friend of mine. And has been ever since I was teaching in Russia. And we communicate weekly if not daily. Right now Oksana (ph) is with her boyfriend who is a lawyer in Moscow and having a great time. And Svetlana (ph) is also living with her family. And they're both going to school on the weekends.
And one of the crazier things about this story is despite all the terrible things that happened to them due to the incredible outpouring of support they got from MetaFilter they want nothing more than to come back to the U.S. a second time and really see what America is all a bout.
Now, you're also following how U.S. policy is changed since last year to make it more difficult for human traffickers. Will the new visa rules make a difference? What's your feeling?
REETZ: My feeling is that it will make a difference. These first 72 hours after they landed in the U.S. were the most vulnerable, because nobody was checking on them. And the changes in part echo what happened in the thread where people use, for example, Google Maps to check it out. There's actually now a requirement that the visa sponsor will come back and use Google Maps and actually call the employers and so on and so forth.
In effect, it makes the visa sponsor responsible for the safety of young women and men coming into the U.S. And I do believe that will save lives.
STOUT: And a final question for you, what are your thoughts about ending modern day slavery? Is it even possible? And I ask because it is such a daunting task. Your story is one of hope, but human trafficking has trapped millions of people around the world. What are your thoughts about ending this phenomenon?
REETZ: Agreed. So I mean the most terrifying thing about this story is that with the help of an entire web site and the State Department we really only helped two people. And over 17,000 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. every year.
My feeling is that it's not a problem that can be entirely solved with technology. Most of the problems that we solved with MetaFilter were social problems -- getting the right support, getting all these things set up. I think the legal changes will help. I think technology can help. But ending trafficking is going to require both awareness and work on everybody's part. And I don't think it's going to end any time soon.
STOUT: Well, Daniel Reetz, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your incredible story with our global audience. Daniel Reetz joining us live there.
Now this week we've been telling you about a new campaign against child sex slavery. The DNA Foundation is behind those online videos that say real men don't buy girls. Now you can hear from the founders Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. They sat down with our Piers Morgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN: On the one hand you're going to be using social media very aggressively to spread the word about this campaign. On the other hand, you will both know that one of the reasons why some of these predators can now operate in an easier way then they could before is social media.
The grooming process can be done on Facebook when no one is looking. What do you think about that conundrum?
ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: Well, it's exactly why to you -- you know, I don't believe that there's a problem in the world that exists that the solution didn't exist before the problem. And so that's why we're using social media for this campaign is to actually go right into the heart of where it's taking place.
76 percent of the transaction for child sex labor is actually happening online. And so if we can motivate people while they're online to do something about that, then we can make a dent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Ashton and Demi and on a mission to eliminate child sex labor. And find out what you can do to help. Tune in to Piers Morgan tonight. It's right before News Stream, 7:00 pm here in Hong Kong.
And don't forget you can also check out CNN.com for much more on the fight to end human trafficking as well as video of all of News Stream's freedom project reports. And we want you to reach out to us. Just take a picture of yourself with a sign, like right here, the sign "I am taking a stand to end slavery." Just click right there on the web site and send in an ireport. We'll be looking at some of the best ones on News Stream tomorrow.
Now let's go to our Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center. She's keeping her eye on a sand storm in Kuwait -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, not just Kuwait -- Kristie, this is a huge sand storm that has been affecting huge areas of the Middle East. Several countries involved here. It started across the eastern Mediterranean and now spreading all the way down south even into Saudi Arabia and also into Iran.
Let's go ahead and take a look over here. First of all at Google -- there you have it. There's the video. This is from Kuwait. And that's what it looks like on the ground while the sand storm is going.
Our ireporter, if you know, just did a great job shooting this video. And you can see how dangerous it is even to drive when situation like this is, you know, several accidents are a concern. And this is actually affected businesses across the region. In Kuwait proper, for example, oil exports were actually interrupted for awhile, because of safety concerns due to the lack of visibility.
Come back over the weather map. This is what it looks like on the ground -- from the air I should say. The blowing sand and dust widespread.
And if you think about how large this one area actually is, the area of the thickest dust, went ahead and outlined it, was about 350,000 square kilometers, that's about the size of the country of Germany. So this is a huge sand storm.
In Iran, for example, it closed down schools and businesses. In Saudi Arabia it was affecting the region. This is Riyadh, this is in the early morning hours. And this is Riyadh at night still during a sand storm.
So this is a prolonged event. It has caused a lot of problems across the region. Significant travel delays. There's this picture from Iran here. And in Iran, like I said, schools had to be closed. And they're calling it an unprecedented event, the magnitude of this dust storm that has been affecting this region. So it is a big deal.
You can also see how the temperatures have been affected also because the change in weather here. And the wind and the cloud cover and the lack of sunshine, solar radiation, really, 27 right right now in Kuwait, only 23 in Bahrain, and 25 in Riyadh in comparison to Abu Dhabi in the 30s that so far you've been in the clear, but you are probably going to see some blowing sand and dust a little bit later tonight.
The front will continue advancing just a little bit. Some scattered thunder storm expected with that. But the blowing sand and dust will continue advancing through the Persian Gulf. And even as we head into the Arabian Sea not as intense, but still there with winds that could be as high as maybe 50 kilometers per hour across the region.
I want to take you to east Asia. And temperatures have been pretty warm here, especially across much of the east and all the way down even into Southeast Asia. 30 degrees right now Bangkok for example. So that just gives you an example of how warm it's been. But it's 26 in Beijing. What a comparison right? It's warmer in Beijing than it is in Hong Kong, for example.
Beijing, you topped out close to 30 degrees today. Temperatures that have been well above the average for this time of year, air quality atrocious of course. Friday, down to 26, Saturday back up to 29. You're average high is only 19.
Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecast.
Kristie, you know some many images have been coming out of Japan that have been so, so sad. But look at these beautiful, beautiful pictures. What a contrast, right? These are images from Tokyo from our ireporter Allen Cooke (ph). He says he took these pictures over the weekend. He says that maybe this old tradition is bringing new hope for the region. He's seen people more out and about over the weekend enjoying the cherry blossoms. These are images from Tokyo.
Of course, no one has forgotten what happened just barely a month ago with the devastating earthquake and tsunami, but it's kind of nice just seeing people maybe, just maybe trying to get their lives back in order. So the cherry blossoms, what a symbol it is for Japan, too. And of course, this is the time of the year when they're in bloom.
Back to you.
STOUT: Yeah, Mari. The cherry blossoms are always gorgeous, but they particularly beautiful this year. Mari Ramos joining us live. Thank you very much indeed.
Now up next we have a sports update. And the semifinals for the European Champion's League is set. Pedro Pinto will be joining us to recap all of the action next.
STOUT: Welcome back.
Now the semifinals of the Champion's League are set. Only four teams are left in the world's top football club competition.
Pedro Pinto is in London. He's got all the details -- Pedro.
PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. Manchester United-Schalke, and Barcelona-Real Madrid. These are the semifinals of the UEFA Champion's League. There were no miracles and miraculous recoveries maybe on Wednesday for Inter and Tottenham.
Spurs needed to beat Real Madrid by at least four goals to advance. They couldn't do it. They couldn't even score a single goal. Instead it was Real Madrid's Christiano Ronaldo who had the only goal of the game. Real winning 5-nil on aggregate. Los Merengues are in the semifinals of the Champion's League for the first time since 2003.
One thing is certain, the Champion's League will crown a new winner next month here in London at Wembley stadium, that's because Inter Milan are out. The defending champions were knocked out by Schalke.
The German side who had won 5-2 at the San Siro in the first leg beat the Holders again on Wednesday in Gelsenkirchen. 2-1 the score there. Former Real Madrid striker Raul was on target for a record 71st time in the Champion's League as Schalke coasted to a 7-3 aggregate victory.
Stateside in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls clinched the best record in the league on the final day of the regular season. With the win over the New Jersey Nets, Chicago improved to 62-20. They finished ahead of the Spurs who lost on Wednesday night. This means if these two teams meet in the finals, the Bulls will have home court advantage.
So San Antonio, it was a disappointing ending to the season. The defeat against the Suns in Phoenix wasn't the only cause for concern as well. Manu Ginobli hurt his arm in the first quarter and did not return. He should be OK for the start of the playoffs.
But the Spurs were not OK without him. Marcin Gortat scored 21 points as the Suns ended up winning by 3. 106-103 the final score. The Spurs finished first in the West, but cannot boast having the best record in the NBA.
Now more news from the NBA. Kobe Bryant played a game on Wednesday night shortly after getting fined $100,000 by the league for what David Stern, the league commissioner, called offensive and inexcusable comments. The Los Angeles Laker star had a frustrating moment during the game against the San Antonio Spurs and he was hit with a technical foul. As he stormed the bench, he uttered a gay slur towards the referee.
Before finding out about the fine, the 13 time all star had said, quote, "my actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game period." end quote.
Mr. Stern, the NBA commissioner, while acknowledging that basketball is an emotional game said that it was a distasteful term that should never be tolerated.
More News from the United States, a jury in San Francisco, California on Wednesday convicted Major League Baseball home-run king Barry Bonds on one count of obstruction of justice. Bonds did escape conviction, though, on three counts of perjury after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on those charges.
The jury's partial verdict came after nearly four days of deliberations. All of the counts against Bonds were a result of the baseball player's testimony to a grand jury in 2003 looking into the steroid use in Major League Baseball.
The verdict shows jurors believe Bonds lied when he testified, but his trainer never injected him with a needle, however they couldn't agree that he lied about knowingly using steroids. Attorneys will return to court next month to discuss if there will be a retrial on the three perjury counts.
That is a quick look at the world sport headlines. Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.
STOUT: All right Pedro, thank you and take care.
Up next, you could call it a modern fairy tale, but movie critics seem to have settled on horror. Yes, a film about Will and Kate's royal romance is getting some pretty bad reviews. And we'll let you see it for yourself.
STOUT: Now there are just 15 days to go before the wedding of the year. No expense will be spared. And the celebrations will extend far beyond the ceremony. Now it may seem excessive to some of us, but in India such extravagance is par for the course. Mallika Kapur explains.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Priyanka Chadha have lived in various cities around the world. But when it came to getting married, there was only one place to have the wedding, back home in India.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every Indian wedding is royal.
KAPUR: The bride looks every bit a princess and has her prince charming swooning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. She's beautiful.
KAPUR: In India, you don't have to be a future king or queen to be treated as one on your wedding day, or days.
PRIYANKA CHADHA, BRIDE: It's really spread out over a week with lots of food, lots of people.
KAPUR: Lots of dancing and lots of tradition.
No Indian wedding is complete without this age old tradition, the mehndi ceremony during which the bride and all the women in her family plus her girlfriend apply mehndi on their palms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A royal wedding in the west stands no chance (inaudible) an Indian wedding. An Indian wedding is always so grand and so full of color and vibrance.
KAPUR: There are some similarities. Hundreds of people on the guest list, an expensive menu, designer clothes and jewelry and lots of pomp.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An Indian wedding, the one word I think is grand.
KAPUR: Some things, though, are very different. There's no carriage involved. The groom uses another form of transport to reach the wedding venue surrounded by still more dancing.
The ceremony is a traditional Hindu one. It takes place around fire considered sacred and is complete after the couple walk around it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless them. And that they have a very happy future.
KAPUR: That's her wish for (inaudible) and Priyanka, and she says for William and Kate. One a princess for life, one a princess for her wedding day.
Mallika Kapur, CNN, New Delhi.
STOUT: Now it is based on a true story, but from what we have seen it is based very, very loosely on that story.
Now prepare yourself for Will and Kate: The Movie. Now it won't be a billion dollar hit, but it could be the new Titanic. Early reviews predict that William and Kate will seek without a trace and end in tears.
Max Foster reports.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They met by chance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kate Middleton.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Prince William.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know who you are.
FOSTER: And came from different world.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Ms. Middleton, I hear you'll be joining us...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm looking forward to it.
FOSTER: But against the odds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing will come between us, I promise.
FOSTER: Live their own fairy tale.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you too.
FOSTER: This is surely the movie a royal film expert has been holding out for.
RICHARD FITZ-WILLIAMS, FILM CRITIC: I've seen almost every film depicting British royalty, but I've never seen anything as silly looking as this. This is the small screen equivalent of pond life.
FOSTER: I guess I got that wrong, then.
So what's so bad about this movie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like they've taken a story about two people and they've just turned into some cheesy Hollywood spin. I really hope it wasn't like that. I just looks really cheesy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really cheesy.
FOSTER: But does there come a point where something is so badly reviewed it actually becomes good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing?
FOSTER: The movie is being sold to TV networks around the world, desperate for anything wedding related in the run-up to the big day. So is there any advice for viewers?
FITZ-WILLIAMS: I would suggest that the royal wedding sick bag, which you can buy for 3 pounds would be a good thing to have if you're actually going to settle down and watch this entire...
FOSTER: So don't expect William and Kate: The Movie to be the award magnet of say the King's Speech. In fact, don't expect anything like the King's Speech.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the cheesiest thing I've ever seen in my life.
FOSTER: Max Foster, CNN, London.
STOUT: I'm so going to see that.
Now it is time to take you even more over and out there. Get ready. Pull out your 3D glasses and hope they've got the anti-fog coating, because it is about to get really steamy. Now what's being billed as the first ever 3D porn flick hit Hong Kong theaters on Thursday.
Now a high tech remake of the film Sex and Zen opened to packed houses. And one patron tales the AFB, quote, "I'm not much of a movie goer, but this one is just too good to miss."
I bet. And I'm sure it's because of that Ming Dynasty plot line.
And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.