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Bloodshed in the Name of Bin Laden; Navy SEALs in Danger?; Unrest in Syria

Aired May 13, 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.

In Pakistan, bloodshed in the name of bin Laden. Taliban suicide bombers strike a military training base, and the terror group says there is more to come.

Plus, running for their lives from Libya. New migrants are trying to escape on unsafe boats. The lucky ones that make it out safely still face a tough fight for survival.

And how does the world most populous country organize a massive evacuation? We'll show you.

Well, the Taliban say that they are behind a double suicide bomb attack which killed 80 people in northwest Pakistan. The group says the blasts are in retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The explosions targeted a military training facility in the district of Charsadda, leaving behind burned vehicles and broken glass. Many of the dead were new recruits who had just completed a nine-month course. One hundred and forty people were injured.

Senior international correspondent Stan Grant shows us the aftermath.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This here is the military training facility that as the target for this attack. Now, two suicide bombers on the backs of motorcycles came in here in the early hours of the morning, detonating those explosives. They have targeted military recruits that have been training here for the past nine months. Now, they finished their training and they were about to leave when this attack happened.

If you look around here, you can see so much of the aftermath of this dual suicide bombing. You can see cars strewn along the road here that have been blown out, a lot of damaged buildings up in here.

This is the worst attack of its kind for this year in Pakistan. The number of dead has continued to rise throughout the day. Scores more people have been wounded and injured, and they've been ferried to hospital. People have been milling around here, just pondering exactly what happened.

And we've had a warning now from the Taliban to expect more. They have accepted responsibility for this attack, they have linked it directly to the killing of Osama bin Laden. They are saying that this is revenge for his death, and they're warning, as I say, both Pakistan and the United States to expect more.

This whole area is a hotbed of insurgency. Al Qaeda and Taliban militants have been holed out here, and the military has been continuing to mount offensives to try to root them out.

If you look around here today, just looking at this damage, you can still see the potency of the insurgency. That, despite these attacks, that despite the operations here by the military, the Taliban is still potent and they're warning there is more to come.

Stan Grant, CNN, Charsadda, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, these blasts killed more than 80 people.

Let's get more now by bringing in our Nick Paton Walsh. He is standing by at CNN Islamabad.

And Nick, what is the mood among the people in Pakistan? Are they afraid of more attacks? And who are they blaming for the violence?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we should just examine a little bit this claiming of responsibility from the Pakistani Taliban. There are some officials actually who doubt whether or not they could have turned attacks sophisticated as this around in the period of time since bin Laden's death.

Suggestions perhaps that a different militant group fighting the military in the area may actually have been behind it. But all the same, the message really is out there that this U.S. operation to take out bin Laden is now having payback, is now having consequences and retaliation against the Pakistani security forces.

Now, this may soon turn into attacks perhaps against the civilian population if the Pakistani Taliban continue their previous tactics. So, yes, certainly anger here against the United States for violating Pakistan's sovereignty when it came to get bin Laden, but also perhaps, maybe today, growing a slight feeling of anger that perhaps the retaliation will be borne by the Pakistani people, not by the Americans thus far -- Kristie.

STOUT: So some skepticism about the claim of responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban, they have warned of more attacks. So has security been stepped up in the country? How is Islamabad responding?

WALSH: We're not seeing any visible change, really, here. I mean, there is obviously higher security today because of an essential parliamentary meeting that's being held for the army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani. He's giving an in-camera briefing to parliamentarians in which he's going to put the army's point of view about the bin Laden operation. So, security higher because of that, obviously. But I think in the next few hours, also, we'll begin to hear details perhaps leaked of this briefing done in private, but presumably done that way so that the military can defend itself and then not necessarily put all those statements on the record, so to speak.

So, a spirited defense I think for the Pakistani military in the coming hours. Keen, I believe, to try and salvage what's left of their image after, of course, Pakistanis saying that they are too close to the United States military, which perhaps allowed the bin Laden operation to happen. Some Pakistanis also blaming them for not stopping the Americans in their tracks as they came across the border looking for bin Laden -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Nick Paton Walsh, joining us live from CNN Islamabad.

Thank you for that.

Now, the Pakistani Taliban behind Friday's blasts are not alone in vowing to get revenge for Osama bin Laden's death.

Brian Todd has that part of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until his last breath, Osama bin Laden was actively working ideas for attacks, U.S. officials say, fixated on hitting America. But in the wake of his death, could the revenge factor be more dangerous than anything bin Laden was planning?

Analysts who monitor jihadists Web sites tell CNN militants have flooded the cybersphere with glowing eulogies of Osama bin Laden and --

(on camera): What about threats?

BEN VENZKE, FOUNDER & CEO, INTELCENTER: So, there has been this wave of eulogies talking about bin Laden's death, but factored into that are threat statements calling for retaliation and rallying cries.

TODD (voice-over): Ben Venzke's group IntelCenter is a contractor for the U.S. government on counterterrorism. Venzke and other experts say the general spike in Internet threats since bin Laden's death comes from familiar groups.

VENZKE: This is a statement from al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb. It is the regional arm of al Qaeda in North Africa. And, effectively, it is saying that the loss of bin Laden, while felt by the group, is going to reinvigorate them.

TODD: Then there's Al-Shabab. It is waging a vicious war against Somalia's government and is one of al Qaeda's most media-savvy branches.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist Web sites, gave us an audio recording from a man they identify as Omar Hammami, also known as "Abu Mansoor the American" because he is from Alabama. Hammami, a top leader in Al-Shabab, made these comments right after bin Laden's death --

OMAR HAMMAMI, AL-SHABAB LEADER: Today, we remind Obama and the rest of his cronies that they have entered the long war, the war of hearts and mind, the war of blood, sweat and tears.

TODD: As a result of the general threats from Al-Shabab, authorities in nearby Kenya have beefed up security for President Obama's step- grandmother, who lives there.

(on camera): But it is not just the larger groups making threats. The SITE Intelligence Group sent us these entries from users of a forum called Shumukh al-Islam. They call for the murders of President Obama and former President Bush and for the use of weapons of mass destruction.

One jihadist down here says, "We want to manufacture soman, ricin, mustard gas and V.X. nerve gas."

(voice-over): Raising the specter of whether threats could trigger attacks, even isolated ones like the Times Square bomber.

(on camera): What are the chances these threats might translate into a larger plot or even a smaller one?

VENZKE: What in reality is likely to happen is that plots that were already under way long before bin Laden died will be rebranded. So, if the attack is executed next week, they will say it is because of bin Laden's death.

TODD (voice-over): Venzke says terrorist acts being planned right now in retaliation for bin Laden's death we likely won't learn about for at least a few months.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, we are learning that U.S. intelligence officials finally got the chance to interrogate three of Osama bin Laden's widows.

Now, this one, the youngest, was shot in the leg when U.S. Navy SEALs raided the compound she and the other women shared with the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Both U.S. and Pakistani government sources say the women were hostile toward the U.S. interrogators and they didn't learn much of anything new. But they add, "The investigation is just beginning."

The interviews were done under Pakistani government supervision.

And while there are still many unknowns surrounding the raid on bin Laden, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says we may actually know too much, especially when it comes to the Navy SEAL team that carried out the mission.

As Barbara Starr reports, there are now concerns about their safety.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: In an extraordinary session with U.S. Marines, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his direct concern that too much information has been released about the raid against Osama bin Laden. And then, for the first time, the secretary told the world the commando team is worried about retaliation against themselves and their families.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: A week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release an operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday, the next day.

The one thing I would tell you though is I think there has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid. And I think that has to continue.

We are very concerned about the security of our families, of your families, and our troops. And also these elite units that are engaged in things like that. And without getting into any details -- and I would tell you that when I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that, and particularly with respect to their families. And so we're -- as you say, I can't get into the details in this forum, but we are looking at what measures can be taken to pump up the security.

STARR: Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell issued a late statement seeking to clarify Gates' remarks, saying -- and we quote -- "It would be a mistake to interpret Secretary Gates' answer as a criticism of any particular person or office. However, he was indeed voicing his concern about the breakdown in operational security after the killing of bin Laden. Anonymous sources revealing secret information about the tactics, training and equipment of covert forces put at risk our ability to successfully mount similar missions the future."

Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Well, the people displaced by Japan's nuclear crisis are closer to receiving more compensation. Now, Tokyo has agreed to a plan to help the plant's operator, TEPCO, compensate the victims.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes as the company tries to stabilize crippled reactors. This group put on protective gear before being allowed inside the evacuation zone to gather belongings. The second such visit this week.

Analysts say compensation claims may top $124 billion. A government-backed fund will allow TEPCO to make payouts while avoiding bankruptcy.

Now, as Friday prayers come to a close in the Middle East, the Arab world braces for another round of protests, and we'll bring you the latest.

And art shows for the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei open in London without him.

Now, coming up, China may have detained the artist, but it can't contain his message.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, as Friday prayers close in the Middle East, we're watching the situation across the Arab world.

Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Friday that he would use all means to defend his people. He said those who want change should seek it in the voting booth.

Now, these are images from the protests on Thursday, where some reports say 19 people were killed. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to crack down on protests. And one witness tells CNN, "Security forces are aiming for a massacre in Sanaa."

And in Bahrain, the nation's top military commander says foreign security forces will stay on even after emergency rule is lifted next month. And Saudi Arabian forces helped put down civilian protests there. Dozens have died in that unrest.

We will have more on the situation in Bahrain and on in the civil war in Libya in just a few minutes. But first, we want to bring you the very latest on Syria.

Now, mass protests are expected to follow Friday prayers again in Syria. That, despite a government crackdown that has left more than 800 dead. That's according to the United Nations.

Our Rima Maktabi was at the Syrian border this week and joins us now live from Beirut.

And Rima, is there another round of protests today inside Syria?

RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. And it has already started.

We're getting reports of major protests in many cities in Syria. We have not seen any videos yet, and the few videos that are posted on social networks show people in large numbers.

However, the reports we're getting from there are talking about protesters calling for regime change, lifting the siege on cities like Baniyas, Homs and Daraa, where a heavy military crackdown has been taking place over the past few weeks. The protesters say they knew (ph) that the government has promised that no shooting will take place today, but we have to wait and see what has happened.

And Kristie, today is called the "Friday of Free Syrian Women." This is the title for this Friday.

STOUT: Rima Maktabi, joining us live from Beirut.

Thank you very much indeed for that.

And apologies for the technical disruption there with that connection.

Now, the unrest that could threaten Bahrain's monarchy is creating tensions across the border as well. As CNN's Leone Lakhani reports, other monarchies in the region, they have a vested interest in maintaining law and order in Bahrain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protests in Bahrain, inspired by the Arab Spring that swept the region, began in February. In the months that passed, the opposition said dozens were killed and hundreds detained, although there are no confirmed figures.

Open demonstrations have now subsided, but a number of people have been put on trial in connection with the protests. The tensions have drawn deeper sectarian lines in Bahrain and raise concerns across the gulf.

(on camera): The unrest in Bahrain is seen as a threat to the monarchy. And, in turn, the other monarchies in the region.

Bahrain's semi-minority (ph) royal family has ruled over the country's Shiite majority since the 18th century. The protests have largely been led by Shiite opposition groups, and there's a concern the unrest could spill across the border into Saudi Arabia.

(voice-over): Bahrain is just east of Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern province where the kingdom's Shiite minority lives. They, too, have held protests, but they've been sporadic. Now Saudi Arabia is watching events in Bahrain with caution.

In an unprecedented move last March, Saudi troops, under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council, rolled across the border into Bahrain. Known as the GCC peninsula shield, they also included police from the United Arab Emirates, but the majority of the forces were Saudis. The message was clear Bahrain's larger neighbor was stepping in to restore order. Throughout the Gulf, there was anxiety.

KHALED ABDULLAH AL-BUAINNAIN, MAJOR GENERAL (RET.), UAE AIR FORCE: What's going on behind, it's a very, very big concern for the UAE. And the UAE considers their national security and safety starting from (INAUDIBLE).

LAKHANI: There have long been tensions amongst Bahrain's Shiite population, who have demanded equal opportunities and greater representation in government. But the government saw the recent protest as a work of outside forces.

KHALID ALL KHALIFA, BAHRAINI FOREIGN MINISTER: We wrote a letter to the secretary-general of the United Nations, and in that letter we have a full attachment of the threats and of all the evidence we have against Iran and Hezbollah.

LAKHANI: Iran accused Iran and the Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah of actively plotting with the opposition to overthrow the country's ruling family. That's an accusation Bahrain's majority opposition party has repeatedly denied.

KHALIL ALMARZOOQ, MEMBER, WEFAQ PARTY: We don't want to be involved because we don't want our homeland to be a better (ph) between Iran and the United States and Saudi -- we know how dangerous it will be.

LAKHANI: Iran, which has also denied any interference, has not sat quietly. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed support for the protests in Bahrain and condemned the presence of the GCC troops.

Bahrain's king now says he doesn't want to escalate tensions with Iran, but many believe the damage has been done, deepening the divide between regional powers.

Leone Lakhani, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Well, ahead on NEWS STREAM, who controls Misrata? Now, pro-Gadhafi and opposition forces both claim to have the upper hand in that port city, and we'll explain, along with a full look on the situation in Libya, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now, there are competing claims about who is in control of the strategic Libyan city of Misrata this Friday. Now, representatives for the opposition say that it's been "liberated," but two spokesmen for the Libyan rebels disputed that statement. They claim that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were still holding Misrata's eastern gate.

Well, on Thursday, the opposition claimed that they had taken control of the airport in the southern part of the city. A government spokesman denied that.

Now, with the status of Misrata so much in question, let's bring in Sara Sidner. Now, she is in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, and she joins us live.

Sara, who is in control of Misrata?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point, neither rebels nor Gadhafi forces are in control. There is still a battle going on there, a very fierce battle.

We were able to speak with a doctor in Misrata who gave us the latest information. He says there has been shelling from Gadhafi forces into the city center, and that eight people have been killed in sporadic shelling today.

We also know that the rebels though do still control and have made gains. They do still control the airport, they say. They also control a civil defense building there. And so that is what the latest information is.

We do understand that in that shelling, a couple of children have been killed and there have been some injuries. And we're trying to get an update on exactly the details of that at this point.

So at this point, Kristie, there is still a fierce battle going on in Misrata. There are still residents in harm's way. And that has been the case for weeks now.

There are boats that have been able to come in to Benghazi. The International Red Cross had a group of people they brought in from Misrata, safely to Benghazi. Some of them taken to the hospital.

But right now the situation is still a very fierce battle there in the city. The Gadhafi forces still in control of at least two gates (ph) in that city, according to a rebel spokesman there -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Sara, the White House is hosting a Libyan rebel leader today. What is the opposition trying to achieve in this meeting?

SIDNER: They're saying they're trying to achieve a couple of things.

One, they want recognition. The National Transitional Council wants recognition as a legitimate group that is representing the Libyan people. So that's one thing they're looking for. There's only four nations at this point in time that have recognized them as a legitimate group that is representing Libya, so that is one thing.

The other thing they're asking for are funds. There are about $30 billion in frozen assets that reportedly belong to Gadhafi that is in other countries. They're asking for some of that money to be released because they are running out of money.

They also -- they haven't said this, but it certainly has been a point of conversation. I'm sure that there's going to be a conversation about weapons. They have been asking NATO for a long time now for more weapons because the rebels say they simply don't have the gun power and the weapons to use to put this down quickly.

They do believe they're going to win this fight, but certainly they are short on ammo and weapons. But they did that same thing in London just yesterday and were turned down on the weapons, although the British did say that they would give some body armor and some uniforms to the police in the eastern parts of the country.

But that seems to be the conversation. Those three items high on the list for the head of what is now a group that wants to be seen as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people -- Kristie.

STOUT: So a scramble, an international appeal for weapons, as this conflict drags on.

Sara Sidner, joining us live from Benghazi.

Thank you very much indeed.

Now, three more boats filled with refugees fleeing Libya arrive safely on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa on Friday. Now, one fishing boat was crammed with more than 160 shivering passengers, apparently all migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. And a refugee tells CNN some were in a coma.

Now, another luckier passenger describes the journey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IBRAHIM COOPER, MIGRANT FROM SIERRA LEONE: Well, the trip is not too easy, but I can go by the light because it's not too easy. The sea is very difficult. Some people, they're in comas. As for me, I don't (INAUDIBLE) so much because I can go now. I'm happy and I'm now here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, tens of thousands have fled Libya since February. Not all survived. Now, a local priest there plans to hold a memorial service on Friday for three migrants who washed up on the shore last week.

And this just in to CNN. The state-run Middle East News Agency is reporting that Suzanne Mubarak -- that's the wife of the toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak -- has been ordered detained for 15 days.

Now, on Thursday, Egyptian authorities said that they would continue the detention of her husband for the same amount of time. Now, investigators there in Egypt, they have been questioning the former president about his finances.

Ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the floodwaters are rising. The southeastern United States as the mighty Mississippi rises. And we'll tell you if there is any relief in sight.

And where was Ai Weiwei? This art installation may have opened without him in London, but his presence was still felt. We'll explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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

At least 80 people are dead and more than 140 wounded in a double suicide bomb attack in northwest Pakistan. The Taliban are claiming responsibility for the blast, saying they are revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Now, the bombs targeted a military training facility and most of the dead were new recruits.

Now, U.S. and Pakistani government sources say three of Osama bin Laden's widows have been questioned by U.S. authorities in Pakistan. And sources say they were hostile toward the U.S. Now, we don't know if anything new was learned, but analysts say it shows that despite their strained relations, Pakistan and the U.S. are working together.

The United Nations says up to 850 people have been killed in Syria over the last two months. Syrian dissidents says President Bashar al Assad has vowed not to fire on any rallies this Friday. Western nations have repeatedly called on him to stop using force and mass arrests to silence opponents.

Now massive record floods are wrecking havoc in the southeastern United States. Now these are scenes from Vicksburg, Mississippi where the water is as high as some street signs. Now in all some eight states are affected by the rising Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Now 3 million acres of farmland have been wiped out damaging corn, wheat, rice, and cotton crops.

And the crest of the Mississippi River is moving downstream. Authorities are looking to several scenarios to divert flood waters from the New Orleans area.

Now China has quite a bit of experience dealing with catastrophic flooding as well. Last year, the country saw some of its worst floods in 10 years. And while Beijing's response has been effective, it has also been controversial. Eunice Yoon takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like the Mississippi River, China's Yangtze River spans thousands of miles and is home to many communities that live off this mighty waterway. But last (inaudible) country's worst floods in over a decade triggering the government into action.

FRANCIS MARKUS, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS: China is able to mobilize its disaster preparedness response in an incredibly efficient way. And for example we see that in the way it's able to put in place huge scale, mass evacuations in the face of flood danger.

YOON: Authorities say they can move hundreds of thousands of residents to safety fast, because China has a lot of experience with flooding. This country is one of the most prone to disastrous floods. It's battered by torrential downpours every summer and has grappled for years with rapid urban development altering its landscape.

Once disaster strikes, Beijing pushes through directives from the top down. The authoritarian government has complete control, which is crucial to any rapid response plan here.

Soldier after soldier with the People's Liberation Army are dispatched to the (inaudible), deliver supplies and block rising waters. Their swift response is paramount for a leadership determined to maintain social stability and shore up credibility with its people as Chinese rulers have in years past.

MARKUS: Since very ancient times in Chinese history the way that the country's rulers respond to floods and to other things has been always seen as a measure of good governance. So they know that they have to get these things right.

YOON: Yet the government's response to flood control has drawn criticism. The towering Three Gorges Dam was built to generate electricity, but its construction was pushed through despite concerns about the environmental and social impact as well as the dam's ability to manage major floods.

However, when it comes to evacuating thousands and thousands of people most Chinese appreciate the state's heavy hand and its massive manpower.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now this year the challenge facing residents along the Yangtze is drought not floods. Let's get the latest with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: The lack of rain has been significant across much of China. Kristie, this has been a growing concern, because even though some parts of China can experience floods others are usually dealing with drought. And that drought across northeastern China has been prolonged and ongoing. And it even actually extends all the way over toward the Korean peninsula. They're doing a little bit better according to the latest data that we have.

But notice this area right here across the northeast. They are considered in an extreme drought. But notice as conditions of even weak or moderate drought extend well to the south here compared to last year where areas all along the Yangtze River had that massive flooding, this year -- well, let me go ahead and show you what it looks like on the ground. Check this out.

This right here is the bottom of the Yangtze River. This is Chongqing, China. What you're looking at here is the Yangtze. There's the city in the background. And what authorities have had to either suspend ocean going vessels from moving through here because the river levels are so low, or shut it down completely to river traffic or at least modify the types of boats that are actually moving through here because of this extremely low water levels.

The Yangtze River, as we heard from Eunice's report just a minute ago one of the largest rivers in the world, the lifeblood really across China. They move millions and millions of tons of goods through these areas every single year.

Now another area that has been experiencing tremendously low levels -- the water level only at about 10 feet. Can you imagine that? The Yangtze River only about 10 feet deep. That's very significant. Wuhan, an area that was flooded last year, this year dealing with drought.

The drought not only affects shipping as we were talking, water supplies for people, water supplies for farmers are significant. And farther upstream as we head into that western portion of Hubei Province (ph) that is where the Three Gorges Dam is located.

Well this, built of course to be the largest hydroelectric power station in the world has -- when it has more water it can produce more energy. Right now that we're dealing with such low water levels, it produces less energy. And on top of that they've had to open up the flood gates, so to speak, to try to raise the river levels farther downstream. That could have an impact also on the energy supply that the Three Gorges Dam is able to produce. So far, you know, experts are still looking at that to see how that would affect things significantly.

Another thing that happens when you have a drought is you get more of these. Check out the video. This is a dust storm. And this happening in inner Mongolia.

There are still reports of dust today. Most of this has stayed to the west of Beijing which is good news here. But we are expecting some of this at least as we head into the weekend could possibly reach you in areas farther to the east.

Let's go ahead and check out the forecast.

Hello, mommy. Look at this little face, Kristie. Isn't that cute? This is just one of about 1,000 cygnets that are expected to hatch in the next few weeks. Well in this hatchery of swans in the UK they've been actually doing this for 600 years. And this is only the second time that the swans have arrived this early, about two weeks ahead of schedule. They think the warm temperatures that they had in the months of April and May may have (inaudible) the nests a little bit.

The swans are OK, though. And they just get to say hello to their mommies and the rest of us a little bit earlier.

Back to you.

STOUT: They're absolutely adorable. Thank you very much, Mari. And baby is called a cygnet, right?

RAMOS: Yes.

STOUT: I think so.

Mari Ramos there. Thank you very much indeed.

Now this is one of two exhibitions recently unveiled in London. But the artist did not attend either opening. Now Ai Wai Wei has not been seen or heard from in five weeks. And some Chinese authorities detained the activist/artist in Beijing. As Atika Schubert reports, his art and his absence are speaking loudly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the 18th Century courtyard of London's Sumerset House the animals of Ai Wei Wei's Zodiac Heads installation are a silent testiment to the artist. He was supposed to be here for the opening, but he is in jail, arrested in April by Chinese authorities for alleged economic crimes.

It has been more than a month. No one has heard from him.

GWYN MILES, DIRECTOR, SUMERSET HOUSE: This is a sort of bittersweet occasion. We are terribly proud of this installation, but we fully expected Ai Wei Wei to be here to unveil the sculpture. And we were going to have public lectures. And we were going to do a lot of work with him. And so we're very, very upset that he's not able to be here. And we're also upset, because actually to have someone taken off the street and no contact with them for over a month is a very upsetting thing to happen.

SCHUBERT: But his arrest simply seems to have fueled more demand for his work. Here in London there are announced several art spaces featuring his installations. And these posters with his quotes on it will be plastered across the city.

And at each of these exhibitions there is the same demand: release Ai Wei Wei.

Ai Wei Wei's themes of political and social change run throughout the Lisson Gallery. Since 1967, a showcase for young artists with attitude.

These Han Dynasty vases are more than 2,000 years old, but covered in modern, industrial paint.

This surveillance camera is crafted from a single piece of marble and presented like a classical bust.

As are these discarded doors modeled after demolish sites that Ai Wei Wei witnessed in Beijing.

NICHOLAS LOGSDAIL, LISSON GALLERY: In a way they become like monuments to the past, monuments to something that has been a simple of this extraordinary process, incredibly fast process of change in China where whole towns and villages are being demolished and rebuilt.

SCHUBERT: But it was the (inaudible) modern's vast turbine hall that first introduced many in London to the Chinese artist. 100 million sunflower seeds of hand painted porcelain, each one unique.

In an interview with CNN late last year Ai Wei Wei admitted his outspoken views and provocative art put him on a collision course with Chinese authorities but with no regrets.

AI WEI WEI, ARTIST: Art is not just decoration. Art is not just items of the collectors, you know, habit. Art is about social change, it's about how we define our time and our culture.

SCHUBERT: As the audience for his work grows, however, it seems any attempt to silence the artist simply gives more voice to his art.

Atika Schubert, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And still ahead here on News Stream, the ultimate prom proposal. His date said yes, but his principal said you're suspended.

Then pull out your shades and get ready to let this 80s classic take your breath away. It is Top Gun day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now it could be great news for air travelers. British Airways and the union representing many of the carriers' cabin staff have come to terms finally. Now it may lessen the chance of strikes against the airline. Ayesha Durgahee he reports the perspective deal ends a long running and bitter dispute.

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AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle lines were drawn, BA on one side, and its cabin crew unite union members on the other, both refusing to budge. And now it seems the fight may be over, a fight where passengers were caught in the middle. The waves of strikes ruined travel plans for thousands and cost British Airways $244 million, that included leasing aircraft and crew, training other members of staff to buffer the worst effects.

Len McClusky, the new head of Unite Union said that a great deal of credit needs to go to the new chief executive of BA.

LEN MCCLUSKY, UNION LEADER: He indicated to me privately some weeks back that he was looking for an (inaudible). He was looking for a lasting peace, a lasting peace that would embrace change. It's a victory for common sense. We've achieved a settlement that will enable British Airways now to look forward into the future with a tremendous cabin group.

DURGAHEE: Industrial action that was due to take place next week has been called off. The union says BA agreed to restore travel concessions to staff and award a two year pay deal, issues that were at the center of this dispute.

For its part BA in a statement said they are pleased to have reached a point where we can put this dispute behind us. Our agreement with Unite involves acknowledgment by the union that the cost saving structural changes we have made in cabin crew operations are permanent.

More than 1,000 cabin crew came to hear details of the new deal in a marquee especially erected at the Bedmond Football Club near Heathrow and to see if their demands would be met.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) against each other. A lot of mistrust and I think today has shown that the trust has been slowly returned now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have been here about two years and to actually come together again is good news -- really amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody wants to go on strike to start with. So, you know, it's (inaudible) been able to reach a negotiated deal. I hope (inaudible) to do that (inaudible). It's not a done deal yet.

DURGAHEE: There was a show of hands to take the deal with the ballot. And if all goes well, the new agreement will be implemented on July 1st.

There were raucous cheers for Len McClusky and the fact that Willy Walsh is no longer the head of British Airways. The celebrations may have started, but the change that BA cabin crew want to see will happen only when the ballots are counted. That will finally end this 18 month dispute.

Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now in the world of sport, there's been another injury setback for one of the best golfers of all-time.

Now Pedro Pinto is in London to tell us all about it -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. You know there seems to be no end in sight to Tiger's title drought. Woods who hasn't won a tournament in 17 months returned to action at the Player's Championship on Thursday aiming to show the world that he was on the path to full recovery both physically and mentally.

But he only managed to last 9 holes at Sawgrass before knee injury flared up again. The former world number one was visibly in some discomfort. And he decided to call it quits midway through the first round.

Tiger has been suffering from ongoing knee and Achilles injuries and they were affecting his movement. Woods said that he hurt himself on his opening tee shot. But the problem, of course, dates back to his last appearance at the Master's. The pain he felt was much more intense and severe than what he has been experiencing recently in practice rounds.

Now in the NBA the Chicago Bulls advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the Michael Jordan era. Led by their new superstar Derrick Rose the Bulls closed out the Hawks in Atlanta in game 6 of their series on Thursday night.

The Hawks had to win to stay alive. And they did have their moments against Rose and the Bulls. In the first half on a fast break Joe Johnson gets it to Josh Smith and he knows exactly what to do. (inaudible) it's worth another look. Flying to the rim was Smith.

Now in the second half the Bulls took full control. Derrick Rose turning on the afterburners and scoring on the lay-up. Later it's Carlos Boozer with the jumper. He had his best game of the series, 23 points, 10 rebounds.

Now Atlanta shot poorly and they couldn't take care of the basketball either down the stretch. Rose finishing with 19 points, 12 assists. The Bulls win easily by 20. Ted Turner has seen enough. He left early. Chicago facing the Miami Heat now in the Eastern Conference finals.

That is a quick look at what's happening in the world of sport. Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.

STOUT: That was not a happy Ted there. Thank you very much indeed, Pedro. Take care.

Now, the principal of a Connecticut high school has banned a teenager from attending his prom. And CNN's Jeanne Moos has the latest in this saga of a prom stunt that has prompted a ton of support and turned the teen into a media darling.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chances of going to the prom still not promising for this Connecticut teen, though he's gotten sympathetic groans on talk shows.

JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: And banned from the prom. Now he didn't damage the school...

MOOS: And rave reviews from fellow students for the stunt he pulled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was one of the better things that happened at Shelton High actually.

MOOS: What happened was James Tate and two friends taped cardboard letters on Shelton High in the middle of the night saying "Sonali Rodriguez, will you go to the prom with me? HMU"

HMU, by the way, means hit me up -- get back to me. And she did, saying yes.

Now she's making the talk show rounds with her would be date.

KIMMEL: Come into the picture. Sonali -- is she under the table? What's going on? Where is she?

Sonali.

JAMES TATE, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I did it to make her feel special. And I feel like I accomplished that.

MOOS: But his other accomplishment was getting a one day suspension and banned from attending the prom, which prompted thousands to go to the let James Tate go to the prom Facebook page.

Plastered with posts like this one from a third grader. "I think it is ridiculous. That's just plain mean."

There are team Tate t-shirts. The mayor of Shelton suggested school officials reconsider.

One state representative even prepared legislation, an actual amendment to an education bill, that would allow James Tate to perform community service rather than miss the prom.

And have you been flooded with calls and stuff?

TATE: Oh my god, it's been unending.

MOOS: The pair hit the Today Show.

SONALI RODRIGUEZ, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I thought it was really sweet. I never, ever thought he would get in trouble.

MOOS: Other girls were envious.

UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: What he did was really cute. And I'd love someone did that for me, so...

MOOS: And just when everyone thought the pressure would cause school officials to cave, out came Shelton High's headmaster to reiterate the rule that any student suspended after April 1st.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For any reason would not be allowed to attend the prom.

MOOS: For which a fellow student said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like this is a memory you can't get back. It's ridiculous.

MOOS: But they will have memories of their first prom dance being on national TV.

KIMMEL: Show us how you two would have danced if you had been able to attend the prom.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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STOUT: What kind of dance was that?

Anyway, up next here on News Stream, I'll be needing these -- now coordinates are set for a flight to Top Gun.

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STOUT: In 1986 the roar of fighter jets sounded in cinemas as Paramount pictures released Top Gun. The film follows fighter pilot Maverick played by Tom Cruise as he joins the Top Gun Naval Flying School.

Now it received a mixed reception from critics at the time, but it was a phenomenon at the box office becoming the number one movie of 1986. In the 25 years since, the film has become a cult classic. So today on News Stream we are on the highway to the danger zone as we celebrate Top Gun Day.

Now why is there an entire day dedicated to Top Gun? Let's have founder Greg Shepherd explain.

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GREG SHEPHERD, TOP GUN DAY FOUNDER: I came up with the idea for Top Gun Day about three years ago. You know, obviously Top Gun Day celebrates the movie Top Gun and it's just, you know, one of those movies that still resonates with people, people love it, or people love to hate it regardless you know about Top Gun. You know the quotes. And you know almost everybody has seen the movie at one point or another.

So, you know, it's just something that people can get behind. It's a fun day to kind of go out and hang out with your friends. You know, play volleyball in jeans at the beach, you know drink some Hemlock. No I don't recommend that.

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STOUT: Or maybe he meant ice water.

Now it's so easy to get involved in Top Gun Day. The team here on News Stream have been doing out bit all day long.

But I digress. Now Top Gun Day started as a social media movement. And one way to participate is to change your online profile pictures to a Top Gun avatar.

And you will be in good company. Top Gun Day already has thousands of fans on Facebook. Or you can log on to Topgunday.com and generate your own call sign. If you really want to get into the spirit, you could always grab a jumpsuit. Or better yet, don a pair of aviator shades. But whatever you do, you'll have a hard time matching what Top Gun Day's founder is doing to mark this special day.

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SHEPHERD: I got invited by the U.S. Navy to spend Top Gun Day on an aircraft carrier. So, you know, that's something that I'm not going to pass up. I mean, there's no better way to kind of spend Top Gun Day that I can think of than on an aircraft carrier. Maybe in an F-14. But since they're retired, that's probably going to be impossible.

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STOUT: And if you can't fly in an F-14 Tomcat, you can always settle for watching the movie.

Which no self-respecting Top Gun could ever forget the now infamous volleyball scene, or resist quoting some of the movies best lines like this one.

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TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I feel the need, the need for speed.

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STOUT: Now our ireporters certainly haven't lost that loving feeling for the film. They've been sharing their favorite lines on ireport.com.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right Ice Man. I'm dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible)

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STOUT: And yes there are loads more where that came from. Just check these out on our CNN ireport site. And if you want to buzz the tower, I mean send in your top Top Gun quotes head to ireport.com. Just click on assignments.

And that's it for News Stream. World Business Today is next. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong over and out.

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