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NATO Launches New Air Strikes in Libya; Syrian Blogger Helps Protesters From Neighboring Lebanon; Presidential Election in Nigeria

Aired April 15, 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.

Now, Gadhafi defiant. Libya's leader parades through Tripoli amid calls for his departure.

Nigerians prepare to go to the polls to select a new president.

And we'll hear from the people behind these, the Google Doodles.

In Libya, rebel forces in the opposition-held city of Benghazi are calling for massive demonstrations on Friday. They want to show support for rebel sympathizers in Tripoli.

Now, this is state TV footage from Thursday of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi driving through the streets of Tripoli. Now, his forces control the capital city, and that show of bravado comes as leaders from the U.S., France and England say it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gadhafi in power.

Let's look now at some of the major battlefronts in Libya.

In western Libya, for weeks, Misrata has seen heavy fighting with forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi pounding the city with shelling. And in the capital city of Tripoli, there were more NATO air strikes Thursday, and aircraft could be heard circling the city on Friday.

Rebel forces have maintained control of Libya's eastern port towns up to Ajdabiya, a city seen as a frontline of rebel-held areas. And those rebel forces are now preparing for offensives toward al-Brega. That, as the U.N. warns that food and water shortages in al-Brega are grave.

Now, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is on the ground in Tripoli. He joins us now live.

And Fred, as Gadhafi made that victory parade through Tripoli, NATO has launched new air strikes in and around the capital. Tell us what happened.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these air strikes were some of the heaviest air strikes that we've actually seen in this past week. They happened pretty much around noontime yesterday. And what you could hear is, for about an hour, you could hear pretty heavy explosions in the downtown Tripoli area around the compound of Gadhafi, but also on the outskirts in Tripoli.

There were some major explosions. There were also some small ones and a lot of anti-aircraft fire going on, Kristie.

We were later taken to one of the sites that was allegedly bombed, and basically what the government minders here tried to show is a university that had allegedly been damaged by this air strike. It didn't look to us very much like the damage in that university could have been caused by an air strike. And then we peeked through some trees, we saw that there was actually a military radar station that in fact had apparently been hit by an air strike. We then wanted to go film that, but we unfortunately were not allowed.

So, yes, there were some very hefty air strikes, but just as those air strikes were going on, or a little bit later, you saw those pictures of Moammar Gadhafi parading around the street in a clear show of defiance at these air strikes that are going on -- Kristie.

STOUT: A joint op-ed, it appeared today. It was written by Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, and they said two things. That, number one, they cannot imagine a future for Libya with Gadhafi still in control, and that under that U.N. mandate, they are doing their job, they are protecting civilians.

I want to fact-check that with you. You're on the ground there in Libya. Is the coalition doing enough to avoid and to prevent civilian casualties?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, when you look at the air strikes that are going on here in the capital, I think you have to isolate the situations around Tripoli, in the west of Libya, from those that are going on in the east, because they're very, very different. I mean, around here, they're hitting the sort of rear echelon of Gadhafi's forces, whereas in the eastern part of Libya, it's more closed battlefield air support that they're doing there.

Here, in Tripoli, it really appears to us as though they are doing their utmost to prevent civilian casualties. I mean, yesterday was a very good case in point, where you had an air strike where they claim that civilians had been hurt. They were never even able to show us those civilians. And then, when we did see that damaged radar site, it did appear as though it was quite accurately hit. There were also two ammunition dumps, apparently, that were hit the day before.

Now, if you look at other places, of course there is still urban combat, for instance, going on in Misrata. And there are still civilian casualties there as well, but those, as the rebels themselves say, have been inflicted by Gadhafi's forces. I mean, we have seen some air strikes that have gone astray but, by and large, at least here in the capital, it seems to have been very, very air power, or use of air power, on the part of NATO -- Kristie.

STOUT: Can you give us any more details of what's going on in Misrata? Because it has come under renewed assault by Gadhafi forces. What's happening there?

PLEITGEN: Yes. And, you know, that's a really, really important thing that's going on there as well, because what we're hearing is that the port area in particular has been under heavy shelling. And what the rebels are saying, the rebel spokespeople there are saying, is that apparently a lot of the larger aid ships that have been coming into Misrata port -- of course also under heavy danger -- are not going there right now because of the heavy shelling that is going on.

Twenty people were killed there yesterday in the fighting. Twenty further people were injured there. And so it is one where the situation still seems to be dire.

A cement factory was hit in the steel port area of the port, and some containers were hit in the actual commercial port area. So it still is a very dire situation, and you really can't emphasize enough how important the port of Misrata is to keeping the people who are on the rebel side of Misrata alive, because it's the only way that goods from food to medical things can be brought into Misrata and people can be evacuated out of Misrata -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, but going after the port, they're going after those critical supply lines.

Fred Pleitgen, joining us live from the Libyan capital.

Thank you very much for that, Fred.

Now, in eastern Libya, CNN's Ben Wedeman is following opposition forces as they prepare for battle. He has this report on rebel fighters on the frontlines in Ajdabiya.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "You are now one group. We now work as one division," a rebel commander explains to his men. This is the last word before they move out. They're preparing to push from Ajdabiya to the outskirts of Brega, hoping to regain this strategic oil town they've lost three times already.

This time things look different. They have new equipment, including brand new military radios. They say they don't know where they come from.

"There's communications between our special forces, our army, and the revolutionaries," says Mohammed (ph). "And there's communications with the NATO airplanes."

Some have new boots, courtesy, they say, of Qatar, the Arab state most firmly behind the revolution against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Rather than rush ahead willy-nilly, the pickups are lined up, their weaponry ready for when they receive the order to advance.

(on camera): This is something we haven't seen much of recently, a certain level of discipline, organization and preparation that has been sorely lacking among opposition fighters.

(voice-over): Their lack of discipline has left them on the defensive. The frontline now seems to surround Ajdabiya on three sides. Around the town, they scan the horizon for signs of Gadhafi's forces.

The worry here is that the enemy will attack from the flanks, not the front. The effort to overthrow Gadhafi is taking far longer than any of these men imagined.

Tamim (ph) has been fighting at the front for a month. I ask him how long he expects the fighting to continue. "God knows," he responds, "but we'll carry on because we are right. We are doing this for the civilians, for the children, to end this 42 years of tyranny."

Fati (ph), a 50-year-old businessman-turned-soldier, is resigned to a long struggle. "We're prepared to fight for the rest of our lives," he says. "Gadhafi has to go. We don't have a speck of doubt about it. He must go."

Seventy-two-year-old Ahmed (ph) has sent his family away from Ajdabiya, but he's stoic about the cost of this war. "We feel that victory is near," he tells me. "We know that when there is change, we must make sacrifices."

The sacrifice is too high for some. A group of Egyptians is here looking for a lost relative, Nasr Allah Amran (ph), who joined the anti-Gadhafi forces. He's been missing for more than a month.

"He phoned several times," says his uncle. "The last time, he was in Ras Lanuf, then in Brega. And since then, we haven't heard from him."

Back at the gates of Ajdabiya, the push forward is starting to show signs of falling apart. The discipline displayed earlier starts to collapse.

And then, without any apparent reason, pandemonium breaks out. Wild fire in all directions; the offensive, postponed until further notice.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Ajdabiya, eastern Libya.


STOUT: Now, Egypt is still in the process of transforming after its dramatic uprising earlier this year. Now, former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are being questioned about the deaths of protesters in Cairo, but this may be the first Friday in weeks that demonstrators are prevented from gathering in Tahrir Square. Now, clashes there last week led the military to move protesters from the area by force.

And in Syria, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets after Friday prayers. Now, that is according to a number of eyewitnesses. Now, there are fears that the demonstrations will once again turn violent.

A new report by Human Rights Watch says that hundreds of protesters have been arbitrarily detained last month. Now, the group says some of those prisoners were tortured, shocked and beaten. There has been on immediate response from the Syrian government.

Now, it is very hard to independently confirm what is happening inside Syria. Damascus has continually denied CNN requests for access. One Syrian blogger is making sure information gets out of the country, and he is doing it from Lebanon.

Our Arwa Damon met with him.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Malath Aumran's Facebook page. Activities: democracy and human rights. He has more than 2,000 followers, except Malath Aumran doesn't exist. He's the creation of 28-year-old Rami Nakhle, a Syrian now living in Lebanon.

Rami often pushed the boundaries of dissent in Syria. Malath was his alter ego, and one of Syria's most wanted cyber activists.

RAMI NAKHLE, SYRIAN CYBER ACTIVIST: At the end of 2010, as I told you, they started to have links between two personalities.

DAMON: A few months ago the authorities banned Rami from traveling. Hearing his arrest was imminent, he went into hiding in Beirut. But he kept Malath very much alive, posting messages and videos about the protests, and the way the Syrian security forces are dealing with them.

NAKHLE: He almost died. Why are they beating him?

DAMON: From his safe house in Lebanon, Rami is a hub for Syrian activists to get their message out.

NAKHLE: This is the one in Duma. Look. It's obviously --

DAMON (on camera): Oh, and it looks like he's been badly beaten.

(voice-over): His computer buzzes with information about Syria. Some connect with him through Skype. Others send documents, videos, eyewitness accounts. He checks them and posts them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social forums, to shed light on a situation shrouded in confusion.

NAKHLE: Half of my friends, close friends, they are in jail now in Syria. I really now have nothing to lose. My role is to go and talk in medium (ph), especially on Arabic TV stations.

DAMON: And that's how his cover was blown. Rami's face was blurred, but he thinks someone in the Syrian secret police recognized his voice. A message was posted on Malath's Facebook page.

NAKHLE: That's him, Abdel al-Arabi (ph), Nakhle Sandi (ph), which means my real name.

DAMON: They even knew where he was and warned him that the tigers of Syria could easily reach him in neighboring Lebanon.

(on camera): And then they're saying either you're going to withdraw your support for the Syrian revolution --

NAKHLE: Or they're going to have to kill me.

DAMON: -- or we're going to annihilate you, which basically means they're going to kill you.


DAMON: But were you scared when you read this?

NAKHLE: Yes, I was scared from this list's last three words.

DAMON: Which are?

NAKHLE: (SPEAKING ARABIC), "Aren't you scared for your family?"

DAMON (voice-over): The next message gave him until midnight to stop posting, or his sister would be arrested. But Rami then decided to go public. He vowed that nothing will stop him.

NAKHLE: From the first time I became activist, I was dreaming of this moment. But, also, I was expecting there is a price for this.

DAMON: A price as yet unknown.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


STOUT: Now, the president of Yemen has reasserted his legitimacy in a speech to thousands of supporters in the capital of Sanaa on Friday. Now, Ali Abdullah Saleh has been unyielding in the face of mounting opposition over recent weeks, but he told today's crowd that anti-government protesters need to work alongside him to reinstate stability in the country.

Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, a new dawn for Nigeria. Could this week's presidential election herald a brighter future for the oil-rich country?

And shaming the men behind sex slavery. We've got the latest on celebrity couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's campaign to tackle this appalling trade.

And dissecting the Doodle. We'll bring you the story behind Google's increasingly sophisticated scribbles.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, Africa's most populous country goes to the polls this weekend to elect a new president. Nigeria is a nation on the rise. Its economy is expected to become the continent's biggest as early as 2012.

Now, it is an oil giant, and it has huge regional influence. But it is also beset by many problems.

Now, previous elections have been marred by corruption. While observers hope that this one can be free and fair, there will be a battle of sorts between Nigeria's north and south.

Now, let's get the details now from Christian Purefoy in Kaduna.

And Christian, free and fair elections they've been promised, but what will happen when the vote takes place this weekend?

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, national elections in Nigeria are often described as a time of national crisis, with violence, rigging money, all being used by politicians to achieve their political ambitions. And despite the promises of free and fair elections this time, it really is no different. But hopes that it will be.

We'll have the presidential election this Saturday, and it is probably one of the most hotly-contested, closely-contested elections in Nigeria's history. There are a number of presidential candidates, but really there are only two that matter.


PUREFOY (voice-over): Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's campaign is making a lot of noise. Jonathan got the top job after the death of the former president last year, and now, with elections this April, he's attempting to do something never before done in the history of Nigeria.

KEN OKOLUGBO, MEMBER, GOODLUCK CAMPAIGN COUNCIL: This is the first time in the history where having someone from the south -- not only from the south, from the Niger Delta, and from an oil-producing in the Niger Delta being the president, the commander in chief, and reaching out to the entire citizens of this country. That's a very huge significance.

PUREFOY (on camera): Are we seeing a historical power shift in Nigeria from the north to the south?

OKOLUGBO: That's exactly what we're talking about.

PUREFOY (voice-over): Nigerians have been ruled by northerners for 38 of their country's 50-year existence. Today, Jonathan is directly challenging that status quo by campaigning in the northwest state of Sokoto, widely regarded as the base of northern power and the region with the highest number of registered voters. But the crowd here is subdued.

(on camera): Pressed up against a fence here, it looks like a lot of people have turned out for President Goodluck's visit. But if you come forward to the space where we hear he's speaking, it's pretty much empty. And if you just come to the back, just about two or three people deep. The back here, the crowd, thins out dramatically, and the seats at the back of the stadium, even here behind me, well, they're empty, too.

(voice-over): And a week later, Jonathan's main challenger arrives, former military ruler and northerner Muhammadu Buhari. The crowd is much larger and much louder. The north is not giving up without a fight.

Buhari ran for the presidency in the last two elections, but claims voting was rigged. This time, he hopes that these people will help him also try something never before done in Nigeria -- beat the incumbent president.

YINKA ODUMAKIN, BUHARI CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: (INAUDIBLE) is that nobody is going to change these results. If you try to change it, these people will be (ph) like Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, combined.

PUREFOY: Hopes are high and so are the risks.


PUREFOY: So, Kristie, I'm standing in the northern city of Kaduna, which in 2000 and 2001, was the scene of religious riots. And over a thousand people were killed. So the stakes are high in this controversial and closely-contested election, but also, so are the hopes. It's hoped that if a free and fair election takes place, that people across Nigeria will go to the polls and make their voice and feel that their voice has been counted.

And so, places like here in Kaduna, which has been segregated between a Muslim north and a Christian south of the city, will actually -- there will be no violence, and Nigeria can move on and progress towards a greater democracy -- Kristie.

STOUT: That's right. This is a critical election for a critical African country on the rise.

Christian Purefoy, joining us live from Kaduna.

Thank you.

Now, right ahead here on NEWS STREAM, a whole new world. Thousands of Japanese seek life (ph) relief during terrible times as Tokyo Disneyland reopens its doors.


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

Now, the people of Japan deserve some escapism after the trauma suffered by so many in recent weeks. And about 10,000 turned out Friday morning to get just that, as Tokyo Disneyland opened its doors for the first time since March the 11th.

Now, these were the scenes earlier as Mickey Mouse welcomed the first customers. So many people appeared at the park gates, that bosses were forced to open them early. The Walt Disney Group plans to donate 300 yen - - that's about $3.60 -- from each visit toward relief for the quake zone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): After the reopening, I think a lot of people will come to Disneyland. I hope people will be re-energized after visiting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We need to be mindful of people during this difficult time in Japan, but I also think it's important to have a good time and release stress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I would like to visit Tokyo Disneyland often and spend money on merchandise and other things. I hope that will help strengthen Japan and the victims in the disaster area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Dreams come true here. Disneyland is a place where people come to laugh and smile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This morning, when the park opened, Disney characters were there to greet the visitors. The people were so happy and excited, I want to give this kind of happiness to all Japanese people. In the past month, there's been an electricity shortage, but the electricity situation has now stabilized, which allowed us to reopen today.


STOUT: Now, the Japanese are well known for their resolve in times of crisis. And in one tsunami-stricken town, a single natural feature has become a symbol of that strength.

Martin Savidge reports from Rikuzentakata on the tree that withstood the wave.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This pine tree is a pretty interesting story. You can see that it stands out here all by itself, right up against the coast, which means that it took the full force of the tsunami when the wave came passing through -- or waves.

The waters are calm now, but the trees were actually planted to protect the town from the storms that would roll in off the Pacific Ocean. What's interesting is that you can look at that tree and see that it suffered a lot of damage. There are big chunks taken out of it, the branches are broken off. But the canopy at the very top is green.

That tree is still very much alive, which is why a lot of people in this town think it's very symbolic, because this town took the brunt of the tsunami as well. Ten percent of the population are either dead or missing. That's over 2,300 people.

This is Rikuzentakata, and it actually used to be a beautiful tourist destination. Two hundred thousand people a year would come for the fabulous golden beach that is pretty much wiped out.

But here's the real thing. That tree was actually part of a forest. There were 70,000 trees just like it planted all along the oceanfront here. Three hundred years ago, they put them there to act as kind of a windbreak from the storms that would often roll in from the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, it was a tsunami that rolled in and wiped out the forest in seconds, reducing it to tree stubs and matchsticks. Except for that one tree, which is why it is so important to survivors and the people of this community, because to many of them, it is a symbol -- a symbol of defiance and a symbol of hope.


STOUT: Incredible story there.

Now, up next here on NEWS STREAM, you probably heard it on our air -- Real Men Don't Buy Girls. Now, that is the latest celebrity campaign to stop child slavery. We'll tell you more on who is behind the ads and show you viewers who took their own stands against slavery through iReport, still ahead on NEWS STREAM.


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

In Libya, opposition forces are calling for massive protests on Friday. That, as forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi pounded Misrata with mortar and artillery rounds.

Meanwhile, leaders in the U.S., France and the U.K. say they cannot imagine a Libyan future with Colonel Gadhafi in power.

An Italian activist and journalist who was kidnapped in Gaza has been found dead. Colleagues of 36-year-old Vittorio Arrigoni said that they last saw him on Wednesday. Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, says an autopsy showed he was killed hours before police arrived.

The owners of Japan's crippled Fukushima power plant have been ordered to start compensating people affected by the nuclear accident. Now, TEPCO will pay $12,000 to each household that was displaced, or to people who were told to stay indoors because of radiation concerns.

At least five people were killed when deadly storms lashed parts of the U.S. Extreme weather struck in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and forecasters say that weather system is now moving into the Southeast, where it could produce tornadoes.

Now "real men don't buy girls," now that is the simple and emphatic message at the heart of a new campaign against child sex trafficking that we've been focusing on this week. Now behind tongue and cheek online videos like this one is a serious anti-slavery initiative from the DNA Foundation. The campaign centers on social media as a way to tackle human trafficking aiming to counteract online transactions for child sex slaves.

And the red carpet was rolled out for the campaign's official launch in New York Thursday night. Celebrity founders Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore were there and so was our Isha Sesay.


ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here in New York's Tribeca neighborhood for the launch of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's real men don't buy girls campaign, a campaign to raise awareness of the issue of global child sex trafficking. I had the chance to speak to the celebrity couple.

DEMI MOORE, ACTRESS: It started first from a program we saw that was taking place in Cambodia where we saw 5, 6, and 7-year-olds, which just seemed incomprehensible. We started to realize that this isn't just something that's happening over there, that in fact that we had a really serious issue right here.

ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: The real initiative of the conversation. So we made these short videos that live online. And it's really a social media experience that you can then put yourself in the video. And by putting yourself in the video you're pledging your allegiance to this cause and to the essence of the campaign which is real men don't buy girls.

SESAY: And let me just ask you quickly about some of the blow back regarding the campaign. So you've obviously seen it. Some people saying the humor is wrong place.

ANNOUNCER : Real men know how to use an iron. Real men prefer a close shave. Real men don't buy girls.

MOORE: If we want to reach those who have not concept that it even exists, you have to reach them in the ways in which it's going to be met with interest. And sometimes that requires a little humor.

KUTCHER: The campaign is really designed for a young male demographic. We want them to not necessarily looking to go sex is bad, or sexuality is bad, but to really look at the issue and say wait a second, this behavior that has been taking place isn't going to happen with me.

SESAY: Hollywood A-listers lending their voice to the global chorus to end modern day slavery.

Isha Sesay, CNN, New York.


STOUT: And since we launched the CNN Freedom Project, we've been encouraging you to take a stand to end slavery. We challenge you to have your say on our web site. And the response has been incredible and imaginative.

Now one of the videos sent in, it came from a young art student who wanted to bring awareness to all forms of human trafficking -- forced labor, sex slaves, child soldiers. Now Renee Hong's (ph) video really makes a statement. Take a look.

STOUT: Now that was created by a viewer, a citizen journalist. And after watching that ireport we wanted to know how it came about. So we got in touch with Renee Hong via Skype.


RENEE HONG, IREPORTER: I was part of a program called YWAM which stands for Youth With a Mission. And our specific school was a six month school in Germany that focused on art and social injustice. And I'm a graphic designer. And so one of the graphic design assignments was to create a stop motion video that somehow got awareness to the topic of human trafficking.


STOUT: And Renee also told us what she thinks about the CNN Freedom Project and why people should get involved.


HONG: I just want to say that I think the Freedom Project is amazing. I think it's a really easy and practical way for people get involved and to spring awareness to their community. I -- yeah, I mean part of it is just taking that picture and putting it somewhere, because so many people don't know that this exists. And it's crazy when you've been studying it, like for even just a couple of months and you start to realize how real it is.

And it's happening in America too. Like everybody thinks it's like, oh, it's only in Cambodia or it's only in like these really poor third- world countries, but so much it is happening in America. And I think that with CNN's project like just bringing that awareness is taking the first step to fighting injustice.


STOUT: And thank you for being a part of it Renee.

And Renee is far from the only ireporter sending us unique and artistic material. Now we have been flooded with submissions from viewers telling us that they are taking a stand against slavery. Just take a look at some of the pictures that ireporters have sent in.

Now this one is from Queenie (ph) in the Philippines. Sbe used her hand, her shoes, her door, paper all to spell out her message.

Now ireporter Tanye Beattie (ph) from Minnesota. She has written a pledge backwards on this note so that every time she looks into the mirror she's reminded that slavery still exists in the world.

And Victoria Griff (ph), she submitted this image. She says that her travels in southeast Asia amplified her interest in human rights issues and her desire to see an end to sex trafficking and all forms of slavery.

And if one message isn't enough how about 11.

And finally, this group of friends, they got together in Seoul, South Korea to send us their message on their laptops.

But our ireporters haven't just been sending in still images, they've been making themselves heard as well.


CROWD: We are (inaudible). We are taking a stand against slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Song Yang (ph) and I live in South Korea. I am taking a stand to end slavery, because I think I can make a difference. I am going to tell my students about the modern day slavery. I am committed to let people know what's going on with these people who are treated like commodities. Let's take part in this project and say no to human trafficking and slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm (inaudible) founder of (inaudible) and I'm taking a stand to end slavery (inaudible) girls in Bombay brothels.

CROWD: I join the fight.

I join the fight.

I join the fight.

I join the fight.

I join the fight.


STOUT: I love seeing these messages coming from all over the world. If you follow myself or any of my teammates on News Stream on Twitter, you probably noticed the use of this hashtag, #endslavery. And we've been asking you to use it in your tweets as well to help spread awareness of slavery in this 21st Century. And to encourage others to act to stop the practice.

Eddie Byung from Seoul did just that. Now his church in South Korea is praying, fasting and giving money during lent to end slavery.

And someone who goes by the Twitter handle of Reach97 is also participating. Now she or he has been moved by our stories of child labor, tweeting this, "children are supposed to be cherished and nurtured, not used for any selfish or immoral reasons."

And Joan Cho, she tweeted her reaction to an interview we had earlier this week with Justin Dylan of the Call and Reponse campaign as she says this, "leveraging your consumption is the best way you can start. I'm trying to consume Fair Trade coffee to get involved in ending slavery."

Now the hashtag has also been picked up by a group in the United States, they're called the OATH Coalition. It's an NGO dedicated to increasing awareness of human trafficking based in Oklahoma. And in their tweet they write, "there are twice as many slaves today as there were during Abraham Lincoln's time. And that is not right."

Remember, the CNN Freedom Project, it is a year long initiative. So there's plenty of time for you to get involved. Send a tweet with the hashtag #endslavery or send in your images or video to

Now let's get more on that headline story we talked about earlier, those deadly tornadoes in the U.S. Mari Ramos joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. These have been some incredible storms that were rolling through the area. There's even a tornado warning right now.

Let me show you, first of all, of the map over here. These are the areas that we're talking about. All across the central -- southern portion of the planes and now into the southeastern U.S. This is going to be the next area that will be affected.

Now these tornadoes as you mentioned were deadly. They killed at least five people. Here's what one survivor had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I was shocked that, you know, that our house was still standing. You know, there's -- like I said, we have no windows. Everything is wet and covered with glass, but we still have a roof and walls which -- you know, we're lucky compared to a lot of people here.


RAMOS: And a lot of people have stuff like that to deal with -- complete destruction. They're homes completely demolished.

We have more pictures to show you from around the area. And really amazing -- look at these pictures right over here. When they talk about a tornado being wrapped in rain, this is what they mean. And the rain is so heavy that you cannot see the funnel clouds. That's why it's very important that people are aware that these kinds of storms form very, very quickly. And when there's a possibility of severe weather in their area, that they are paying attention tot he warnings that are given out for this kind of thing. So really, Kristie, really sad situation for people there.

Just come back over to the weather map over here.

There's a tornado warning right now, as we move across northern parts of Louisiana here, that's going to be a concern of course. And you can see this area that is highlighted in the red, that is the area of the tornado watches. That means that tornadoes are possible in those areas. And we may see those areas of tornado watches expanded into other densely populated areas of the southeastern U.S. as we head to the afternoon hours and overnight tonight. So still the possibility of tornadoes remains in this region. And that is a big, big concern for authorities, and of course for the population at large across this region.

So we'll be monitoring it very, very closely.

Let's go ahead right now and take a look at your city by city forecast.

I want to stay in the U.S. for just a moment, because there is another problem -- high fire danger across the southern plains extending over through Texas and even into northern Mexico. We've been talking about that for the last few days.

One of the big concerns here, Kristie, as we stay in the Americas for just a little while longer, is the drought -- the ongoing drought conditions across this region -- severe drought along the U.S.-Mexico border. And that is adding to the wildfires. The fires in Mexico, for example, were set off when the dry brush there of the mountains by lightning strikes. And the temperatures have been extremely hot even all the way down into Mexico City they've been very close to record high temperatures. We're at close to 31 degrees again today.

It looks like the likelihood of some maybe rain showers may be coming in. A little bit of moderately fresher air mixing. And that will help bring the temperature down. But still well above the average for this time of year. So unfortunately that will continue.

We're also looking at drought conditions across parts of Cuba. So a lot going on in the Americas right now. And a big water shortage even in Havana.

Kristie back to you.

STOUT: All right, Mari. Thank you very much for keeping an eye on conditions there. Mari Ramos joining us live from CNN Center.

Up next here on News Stream, for most people doodling is something you did when you were bored in school, but these guys have made a career out of it. And yes, you do have to use your noodle to doodle.


STOUT: And that is Hong Kong on a Friday night.

You're back watching News Stream.

Now Google has gong slapstick. Depending on where you are this is what you'll see on the search engine's main page. Now it is the first ever live action video doodle. Now the two minute clip, it honors the silent film star Charlie Chaplin. His 122th birthday is Saturday. And by the way, those aren't actors, they're members of the Google doodle team. And the concepts of decorating the company logo started back in 1998 with this stick figure. But they have come a long way from being static illustrations.

Now Google doodles have grown increasingly interactive and animated. And CNN recently caught up with two members of the team.


RYAN GERMICK, GOOGLE DOODLE CREATIVE LEAD: Google doodles are really like anything we think is exciting to celebrate with our users. And we do Google doodles all around the world. Sometimes we do them globally, sometimes we do them locally. And, you know, after we had the simple illustrations that doodle started with we really kind of evolved into, like, you know trying any kind of art style.

And then where we're at now is not only having, you know, illustrations that sort of humanize the web site and then also push the boundaries of art, we also try to infuse technology.

MARCIN WICHARY, GOOD DOODLE TEAM: Now what if we did a playable Pacman logo, you know, not just something you look at but something you can interact with and then maybe bring you back to those great memories you had years prior when you actually played Pacman in the arcade.

We didn't just take the original Pacman and put it on our page. We wrote this from scratch as in modern web technologies, but did it with so much precision and there's so much nuances there that even though it was all written from scratch, many people thought it's the original game just put on the page.

And, you know, we got a lot of feedback from people. There were a lot of, you know, worries that maybe this is going to impair productivity. And some company actually put together this analysis that it show that going to eat 4.8 million hours.

GERMICK: We just try to mix it up. I mean, we'll do something cartoony like Dr. Seuss and then next we'll something photographic like we did for Tchaikovsky's 100th anniversary of Swan Lake.

We do play with user expectations a little bit. We had a series for H.G. Wells last year where we actually had no information that was useful. It was the first is a series of three. And it was before H.G. Wells' birthday. And the first being just a simple abduction of one of the O's in the logo with a spaceship. And we didn't explain what it was about. And there was like wild speculation on the internet of what's going on.

The second a couple of weeks later we showed a logo with a spaceship flying over with Google spelled as crop circles. And the third one was a full out invasion of aliens War of the World style on the logo where we revealed, you know, that it was actually a celebration of H.G. Wells.

And so, you know, we'll definitely try to be, you know, keep users on their toes as well as us creatively on our toes to celebrate things that, you know, people might not expect.


STOUT: And the Google doodle team has created more than 700 designs. And team News Stream, we had a hard time narrowing them down, but here are a few of our favorites.

Who could forget this moving tribute to John Lennon set to his famous song "Imagine." It appeared on Google's homepage back in October to mark what would have been the singer's 70th birthday.

And here's another one that I'm particularly found of, it's the Google logo in the swirly style of Vince Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Now other doodles have also mimicked the works of famous artists.

And then, let me bring up another one, this one is particularly interesting. This one was designed for Louis Braille's birthday. And Google started dropping its logo from some doodles as they became more popular.

Now the scribbles, they celebrate a variety of occasions, not just famous birthdays. And they frequently honor scientific achievements like this one -- the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

Now still ahead here on News Stream, Vettel gets his broom on. We'll give you all the latest from qualifying for the Chinese grand prix plus the rest of the this Friday's sport.


STOUT: Now Don is here with the latest from the practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kristie, thanks very much. It does look as those Sebastian Vettel is set to continue his dominance of the Formula 1 season. The reigning F1 champion and currently championship leader was fastest in practice at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today, mastering slippy track to post a time that was marginally quicker than the two McClarens.

Vettel's teammate Mark Webber was on the pace in the first practice session, but ended up only 10th fastest in what was another frustrating day in his RV-7.

While Red Bull continue to set the pace, McClaren are showing that they can compete. Louis Hamilton made up for his disappointing 8th place finish in Malaysia with the second fastest time today. His teammate Jenson Button was that far behind in 3rd.

The conditions were really tricky out there today. Qualifying should be interesting. And it promises to be another eventful race.

Within the past hour, Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. The Swiss star was beaten in straight sets by Jurgen Melzer. And that's good news for Raphael Nadal who, in any case, looks unbeatable at an event he has won for the last six years.

There was little here to suggest that the Spaniard's dominance on his favorite playing surface is going to be challenged any time soon. The (inaudible) broke Richard Gasquet twice in each set and cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 win.

Gasquet didn't completely roll over, though. He tried to be positive. And he did come up with some good shots, but he needed every point to be like this one.

Check this out, after going down a break in the first set Gasquet broke back immediately with a terrific cross court winner there.

But Nadal had too much. He closed it out pretty easily to win his 34th consecutive match here, advancing to the quarterfinals. He is on course for a 7th consecutive title in Monaco.

My Portuguese colleague Pedro Pinto was a very happy man today as three Portuguese teams have made it into the semifinals of the Europa League. That is an historic achievement. Benfica will play Braga in the semifinals. And the Portuguese champions Porto will paly Villareal in the next round.

And most of last night's games were won by pretty convincing margins, but Braga had to edge through against Dynamo Kiev on the away goals rule.

Now then sport can be rewarding and exhilarating, but it can also be painful and cruel. Golf it seems particularly so. Rory McIlroy helped demonstrate the point at Augusta on Sunday. And now Kevin Na has experienced the horrors of a golfing disaster.

It was all going pretty well for the American in the first round of the Texas Open, but check out Na on the tee box after already going into the woods with his first shot in the par 4 9th hole. This time he goes right back into the woods in roughly the same spot as well. Na's fourth shot hit a tree root. Check out the replay as the ball hits his trouser leg. So that was a penalty stroke. And he then had several more attempts to get out.

He finally made it out of the woods on his 12th shot. Remember this is a par 4 hole. Na finally sunk the short put for a PGA Tour worst 16 on a par 4 hole. He signed for an 8 over par round of 80.

We've all been there.

Na had some many shots that he actually lost count and needed a television replay to add them all up.

Believe it or not, that isn't the highest single hole score in history. That honor goes to Tommy Armour who had a 23 in the 1927 Shawnee Open. Ray Aisely also had a 23 in the U.S. Open back in 1938.

The worst ever single hole score at a PGA Tour even belongs to John Daly who had an 18 on the par 5 6th hole at Bay Hill.

And Kristie, just to show you that players can bounce back from that disappointment, you'll remember that Rory McIlroy had that terrible meltdown at the Master's on Sunday. Well, he has responded magnificently at the Malaysian Open where he is the joint leader. He shot a 64 today. Great stuff.

STOUT: It's great to hear. I mean, golf is such a mental game. It's wonderful to hear that you can overcome and persevere. Don Riddell there, thank you so much, have a great weekend.

And it is time now to take you over and out there by way of the Postal service. Now the U.S. is celebrating 125 years of the iconic Statue of Liberty with a stamp. So what lucky gal is the postage cover girl? It's not this New York City Lady Liberty, it is the Las Vegas strip replica of the statue. The U.S. Postal Service accidentally used a photo of the half sized Vegas beauty instead of the real thing.

Now the New York Times writes that a person who we must assume is the world's only stamp collector and Statue of Liberty aficionado tipped off Linn't Stamp News to the photo flop.

But the Post Office is not changing the stamp now and tells the Times it would have used the picture even if it had known it was a Vegas impersonator.

Well, you know, the saying "give us your drunk, your gamblers, your show girls."

And that is News Stream. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.