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Queen Elizabeth in Ireland; Dominique Strauss-Kahn Scandal; Web Fad Turns Fatal

Aired May 17, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Now, Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives in Ireland for an historic visit despite a scare that saw the military diffuse a bomb on a bus.

From a hotel suite to a prison cell, one of the world's leading financial figures is being held at a notorious New York jail.

And what the man behind Blackwater is creating in the desert of the United Arab Emirates.

Now, the queen of England has arrived in Ireland for a historic visit amid a day of security scares. Now, the Irish military diffused a bomb found on a bus headed for Dublin, and police say a second suspicious device found outside Dublin Tuesday is a hoax.

Queen Elizabeth II is the first British monarch to visit Ireland since it gained a dependence in 1921. And politically, this could be one of the most significant trips the queen has ever taken.

And as CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney reports, it has been a long time in the making.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of all the visits Queen Elizabeth has made during her reign, her trip to Ireland may be the most sensitive, most controversial, and historic. It's a visit that couldn't have happened without the 1997 peace deal between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the British government, the Good Friday Agreement.

BERTIE AHERN, FMR. IRISH PRIME MINISTER: Just after the ratification of the Good Friday Agreement, there was an EU meeting. And I was put beside the queen because the events had been achieved. And she said to me then -- she said, "Do you know I've never been in Ireland? And I'd love to be in Ireland." And I realized then that it was an agenda item for her.

SWEENEY: The Good Friday Agreement led to the inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday, when 13 civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot dead by the British army in the Catholic Bogside area of Londonderry. Thirty-eight years later, Britain's newly-elected prime minister apologized, using words many Northern Irish Catholics thought they would never hear.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces, and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.

SWEENEY: For almost 100 years, a royal visit to the Republic of Ireland was unthinkable. In 1979, the queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the Irish Republican Army while he was on a fishing holiday off of Ireland's northwest coast. At the time, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein said Mountbatten was a legitimate target. Even today, Adams' resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland is as strong as ever.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN PRESIDENT: There isn't a day in my life that I'm not offended by the fact that I live in a partitioned (INAUDIBLE). There isn't one day -- I don't get up one morning without feeling a sense that this end is partitioned and that (INAUDIBLE).

SWEENEY: This trip may prove difficult, too, for both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland, but for different reasons.

TOBY HARNDEN, BRITISH JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: I think some Catholics will see this as, you know, the British cementing their claim over Irish territory in the six counties in Northern Ireland. Protestants will see the queen's visit as sort of ratification of a state which they believe was constitutionally --

SWEENEY: All sides will be watching Queen Elizabeth's speech at a state banquet closely, looking for any nuance relating to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

ROY FOSTER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: I don't think that this visit will either bring about Ireland's return to the commonwealth, which I think is an absolute pie in the sky idea that, again, some -- a different kind of Neanderthal (ph) tends to have. Nor do I think that it will increase the chances of a united Ireland.

SWEENEY: So, what will this visit achieve?

ENDA KENNY, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it's exceptionally significant in that it brings together all of the past in a spirit of respect and cooperation and mutual friendship in that two modern countries can now face the challenges of the future as part of the European Union.

SWEENEY: The immediate priority remains security. With threats from Irish republican dissidents on both sides of the Irish border and in Britain, officials will be hoping the next four days will pass without incident.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney is at Dublin Castle. She joins us now live.

And Fionnuala, hours before the queen's arrival a bomb was diffused. Can you give us more information about this device and the possible source?

SWEENEY: Well, Irish republican dissidents are the possible source. I mean, the police got a tip-off at about 9:00 local time last night that there was an improvised explosive device somewhere. They found one on a bus that was going into Dublin.

It wasn't a public transport bus, it was a private coach. Thirty people were on board the bus, and they removed the device. Security experts we've spoken to said that this was almost waiting to be found, Irish republican dissidents wanting to publicly disrupt the media as much as possible the queen's visit.

They are seriously curtailed though both in their support, not necessarily in their technology. But security has been extremely tight here over the last number of days.

North of the border, in Belfast, Kristie, there have also been bomb alerts. Retailers in the center of Belfast being asked to close their shops and businesses. If not, to watch out for any suspicious devices, because a shopping center in the main center of Belfast already was asked to be closed off earlier in this day. There are also concerns that there might be bomb alerts in parts of Britain today as these Irish republican dissidents try to make themselves continuously relevant as part of the debate here.

Mainstream republicanism has moved on in the form of Sinn Fein. They still oppose this visit, but they're signatories to the Good Friday Agreement. They believe that this visit is premature; however, they are still going with it, so to speak.

The visit, now well and truly under way. And so the security fears for the moment have passed as the queen is now inside the Irish president's residence -- Kristie.

STOUT: Fionnuala, a massive security operation is in place. Can you tell us more about the number of people involved, the cost, and this ring of steel that was set up to secure the queen?

SWEENEY: Well, Dublin commuters have been asked not to come in to the city center, to use public transport, if they will. The Irish government believes that the disruption to Dubliners over the next few days and, indeed, people in and around Cork and other parts of the country that the queen will be visiting, will be worth paying in terms of the PR payoff, and hopefully in tourism and jobs that this country badly needs.

Some 10,000 police and army are on the streets. The ring of steel has been in the form of barricades mainly around the main areas that the queen will be visiting, such as the Garden of Remembrance later today. Those areas have been closed off for some days now.

Also, we understand that the motorway she will use to travel to other parts of the country later in the week have also had lanes sealed off. So, really, the Irish police and army looking at cordoning this area off, any area the queen will visit, any street she will be on. There will be no walkabouts. She won't even be allowed to see people waving at her because people won't be allowed to go onto those streets that she will be traveling along.

And even the streets adjoining those main streets will be cordoned off to people. So this is really short in terms of any security possibilities, possible breaches that there may be. They're not really not opening the door to any possibility that could lend itself to any attack whatsoever.

STOUT: OK.

Fionnuala Sweeney, joining us live there from Dublin.

Thank you.

Now, IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who spent his first night in one of New York's most notorious jails, now, he has gone from a $3,000-a-night Times Square hotel to a cramped prison cell on Rikers Island. Strauss-Kahn has a cell to himself. That is for his own protection as he fights seven charges.

Now, they stem from allegations that, while naked, he chased a hotel maid down a corridor and tried to rape her. Strauss-Kahn is expected to appear in court again on Friday, and his legal troubles have created uncertainty at the International Monetary Fund and sent shock waves through France's political circles.

Now, for more on the reaction in France, we're joined now by Jim Bittermann in Paris.

And Jim, let's talk first about the political impact in France. If the allegations against him are true, what does it mean for his political future?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think basically people here are saying that his political future doesn't exist. Basically, this morning, the socialist newspaper "Liberation" had as a front page headline, "KO," meaning knocked out. The picture of Strauss- Kahn behind the headline. So I think what they're saying is that he has to be counted out.

Now, just a short while ago, over at the Socialist Party headquarters, there was a meeting with the leaders of the Socialist Party, and they talked about this issue. When they came out of the meeting, there were some differences of opinion of exactly what the way forward is.

The head of the party, Martine Aubry, basically said don't make any mistake about it, we will have a candidate in 2012, when the elections take place. And clearly, she is a possibility as one of the candidates that could come out of this who might actually stand to gain from Strauss-Kahn's incarceration.

There is at least one movement in the party though, obviously, that still hopes that Strauss-Kahn could somehow come back. There is a kind of a club that supports Strauss-Kahn within the Socialist Party, and the leader of that club said a short while ago that he's hoping that the primary, the Socialist Party primary, which had been scheduled for June 28th, could now be delayed until the end of August or early September, clearly thinking that perhaps by that time, Strauss-Kahn's legal problems could be resolved. But that really does seem to be a faint hope at this point -- Kristie.

STOUT: And what is the mood and the feeling among the electorate? Are French citizens generally more tolerant when it comes to politicians' private lives? Is there a feeling of shock there about the scandal or shock about the way it's being handled and reported in the United States?

BITTERMANN: Well, I would say both in a way. I mean, the fact is that there is more tolerance, I think, about politicians' private lives.

We had Francois Mitterrand, former president of France, who had a whole second family going while he was president, and no one seemed to be too shocked about that when it was finally discovered very close to his death. But on the other hand, this sort of goes beyond those borders, the idea of just having a private life. If indeed the charges are true, and the kind of aggressiveness and attack that was said to take place actually took place, I don't think the French will forgive that at all, because if violence was involved, that's a whole other story.

And as far as the second question, Kristie, you know, I think, basically, there's a willingness here to turn the other cheek, to sort of look the other way. And I think those images this morning, where we saw Strauss- Kahn being led away, and in court, these kind of things never happen on French TV. And people were really upset about that. They even talked about it, and I think upset to see the kind of rawness of the political system in the United States, especially turned against one of their own, being Strauss-Kahn -- Kristie.

STOUT: Interesting to hear the reaction there to the images we've been screening here on CNN.

Jim Bittermann, joining us live from Paris.

Thank you.

Now, Strauss-Kahn's fall from grace has landed him in New York's notorious Rikers Island jail. Now, if you've ever flown into the city's LaGuardia Airport, you have gone right by it. And you can see the runway is right here, and that is Rikers Island.

It is connected to Queens by this bridge. It is the only way to get there.

Now, 10 separate jails sit on the island's 415 acres. That is 1.7 square kilometers. And Rikers can house up to 17,000 inmates.

Now, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections says that Strauss-Kahn is being separated from the general population. Now, he will be allowed one hour of outdoor recreation a day. He can also watch TV in the housing area corridor.

But Strauss-Kahn, he won't find fine dining there. His lunch menu today consists of vegetable chili, rice, wheat brain, green beans and a carrot/celery salad.

Ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the turmoil in Libya, it may be ongoing. But these young people in Benghazi are refusing to let it get them down. And we will tell you about their special volunteer effort.

Also, danger down under. We'll tell you how images like these led to a young man's death in Australia.

And Trump drops his bid for U.S. president. So, how are Americans taking the news?

We'll bring you some of the entertaining reactions coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: I will not be running for president, as much as I'd like to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, NATO is ramping up its offensive in Libya. Explosions and jets were heard over the capital city of Tripoli early on Tuesday.

Libyan officials say NATO airstrikes started these fires at two government buildings. One was a police building and the other, the government says, housed an anti-corruption office.

Now, NATO says its planes struck a command and control center, as well as a military training facility. So far, there have been no reports of any casualties from the blasts.

Public services have been severely disrupted in parts of Libya, but as Sara Sidner reports, for some towns no government is no problem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this kitchen every meal is prepared with a huge helping of enthusiasm. The meals are headed out to Libya's frontlines to feed anti-government fighters. Each one is packed and prepared by young people in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

(on camera): Young people could be doing anything. You could be at the beach, you could be hanging out together. Why are you here volunteering?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Time is of the essence. It is essential for us to be helping. If we don't feel useful now, when will we ever feel useful? The youth shouldn't be wasting time.

SIDNER (voice-over): The young often think they have all the time in the world, but not here, not after what they witnessed when war came to their city.

(on camera): There's a real sense of community here in Benghazi. Schools have been out for weeks now. The youth are all over town doing all sorts of volunteer projects. Here in this kitchen, they're making about 15,000 free meals per day.

(voice-over): Out on the streets groups of volunteers take care of their respective neighborhoods, putting fresh coats of paint along the sidewalks, weeding and sweeping. When the government ceased to function here, chaos could have descended on Libya's second largest city. Three months on, that hasn't happened.

Volunteers even manage to provide a day of entertainment for families displaced by war. This is a welcome relief for Fatima (ph) and her family, who fled constant shelling in Misrata.

"Back home all we did is pray and call on God for help. It's really nice here," she says.

And then there's 19-year-old Mohammed Maji (ph), who took one look at the little faces of children in the refugee camps and volunteered to do something no one ever did for him.

MOHAMMED MAJI (ph), TEACHING CHILDREN IN REFUGEE CAMPS: I teach them English. I like the language, so I wanted them to learn it.

SIDNER (on camera): How did you learn English? Did someone teach you? How did you learn it?

MAJI: I actually learned English from TV, movies and music.

B.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: B.

MAJI: Banana.

SIDNER (voice-over): So he teaches what he knows, hoping these children will learn two lessons -- how to speak a new language and how to be a patriot in a new Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Libya, Libya, Libya.

(APPLAUSE)

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Benghazi, Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, in Japan, Tokyo Electric Power -- that's the company that operates the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- says it is confident it can bring the crisis to an end by January, as planned. Now, last week, the company confirmed that fuel rods inside reactor number 1 had melted, and in a slight change of plans, TEPCO says it will cool the rods by circulating water that is already inside the reactor. It expects the reactors to be brought to a cold shutdown by January.

Now, just ahead on NEWS STREAM, across Australia and around the world, photos like these are being shared on social media. Now, it may look harmless, but it proved deadly this weekend. We'll explain after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

And now to an Internet-fad-turned-fatal. Now, in the early hours of Sunday morning, 20-year-old Australian Acton Beale fell from a balcony to his death. He and a friend had been planking on their way home from a night out.

Now, for the uninitiated, planking is a growing craze online. Now, simply put, people lie face down, flat as a board, with their arms by their sides. The more unusual the location, the better.

Now, a photo of the pose has been uploaded to the Web and shared on social media. But now the pastime has claimed its first known casualty.

Travis McNamara explains that there are calls for caution.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRAVIS MCNAMARA, NETWORK TEN (voice-over): In a very short time, planking has become the "in" thing, but the tragic death of Acton Beale, who fell seven stories from a unit balcony early Sunday morning, has been a sobering reminder of how jokes can go too far.

Richard Litonjua introduced Acton to planking just a week ago.

RICHARD LITONJUA, BRISBANE PLANKING ASSOCIATION: We just got together with a group of friends, and I was introduced to Acton. And we just had a bit of a plank in the part, and just harmlessly on the grass and in and around the place, and had a good laugh about it.

MCNAMARA: As one of the founders of the Brisbane Planking Association, Richard says he and others have been pushing the safety message on the group's Facebook page.

LITONJUA: It's something that is not going to stop. You know, people are going to plank. And we're all for planking, but we just want to convey that message of safety.

MCNAMARA: The 20-year-old's death has left a dark cloud over what was for many just meant to be a bit of lighthearted typical Aussie laraconism (ph). With a modern problem comes a modern disease. A Facebook tribute page to Acton, shut down after being defaced by trolls.

(on camera): Police say they don't object to people having fun, but there are limits. They're comments that today have been echoed by the prime minister.

JULIA GILLARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: There's a difference between a harmless bit of fun done somewhere that's really safe and taking a risk with your life. This is a really tragic thing, to see a family that's just devastated.

MCNAMARA (voice-over): For those who continue the practice, the message is clear.

LITONJUA: And we say now, don't drink and plank.

MCNAMARA: For one follower, that message came too late.

Travis McNamara, TEN News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Now, up next here on NEWS STREAM, as Washington and Islamabad try to salvage their relationship, Pakistan agrees to return part of a U.S. helicopter damaged during that raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. But just how many high-tech secrets did that crash uncover?

Plus, guns for hire in the United Arab Emirates. We'll tell you what the man behind Blackwater is offering as unrest spreads in the region.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now the queen of England is in Ireland on a four day visit. Before her arrival, there was a security scare, the Irish military defused a bomb that was found on a bus headed for Dublin. Now this is the first visit by a British monarch since Ireland gained its independence in 1921.

The head of the International Monetary Fund is being held in one of New York most notorious jails. Now a judge refused Dominique Strauss-Kahn bail on the grounds that he might leave the United States. Now Strauss- Kahn was arrested on Saturday and charged with trying to rape a maid in a Manhattan hotel. He denies the charges.

Now the International Criminal Court is investigating claims from Libya that Moammar Gadhafi security forces were given sexual enhancement drugs and that there has been a systematic use of rape against women identified as opposed to the Libyan regime.

The Libyan government is blaming NATO for airstrikes on two buildings in the capital Tripoli. Official says one of the buildings housed police offices while the other was used by the government's anti-corruption body. Explosions at those buildings followed other blasts heard by journalists on Monday evening.

Now Pakistan is launching a strong protest after it says a NATO jet and helicopters crossed into Pakistani airspace triggering an exchange of gunfire with Pakistani forces. Now for more Stan Grant joins us now live from CNN Islamabad. Stan, any more information on this NATO jet and helicopter incursion?

STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. We're getting two different sides of the story here. One from Afghanistan and one from Pakistan. The Pakistan military saying that the helicopters came into Pakistan airspace across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the northern part of the country. They were fired upon by Pakistani military. They then went back across the Afghan side of the border, came back again and then opened fire injuring two Pakistani military.

Now on the Afghan side the NATO forces there are saying that yes an incident did take place. They also say that a forward operating base up near the border had come under attack in the early hours of the morning, but they're continuing their investigations there.

Just goes to show how volatile this situation is in Pakistan right now, Kristie. Another incident as well just in the past couple of hours where police and Pakistan military opened fire on five suicide bombers now including three women. They were all foreigners. They have killed them all just outside at a checkpoint just outside Quetta.

And all of this coming just after John Kerry was here trying to smooth over this relationship that has really been damaged since the raid on Osama bin Laden that many here in Pakistan are criticizing and saying actually contravene Pakistan's sovereignty.

So, a volatile situation, a very unpredictable situation right when this relationship with the U.S. and Pakistan is reaching new lows -- Kristie.

LU STOUT; So the situation still very volatile.

Also wanted to hear from you a bout that stealth helicopter that crashed during the bin Laden raid. Now that will be returned to the U.S. But how much of that vehicle was destroyed by the SEALs and how much of it was not destroyed and available for Pakistan to use and to analyze?

GRANT: Yeah, we've seen some images of this haven't we after the raid on the bin Laden compound and you saw that the downed chopper that much of it was set on fire to try to destroy it, not to leave any behind. Now there was the tail of the chopper that was left behind. And you'd recall there was speculation that Pakistan may, in fact, give it to China. China, of course, being a long-term ally of Pakistan. Well, John Kerry has now won a concession from the Pakistanis. They will, in fact, return that to the United States.

We haven't had any update on that or any confirmation that that is actually taking place, but John Kerry saying that, yes, he did win that concession.

And what this is really a bout is a goodwill gesture to try to say, look, we're trying to move this relationship forward. Here's one thing we can do. But there is still many, many steps between here and actually really sort of patching up this relationship, Kristie, before they can actually say that they're back on an even footing.

STOUT: All right. Stan Grant joining us live from Islamabad. Thank you very much indeed, Stan.

Now Pakistan's prime minister has just begun a four day trip to China meeting with officials in Beijing. Now Pakistan and China, they have a long history of good diplomatic relations.

Eunice Yoon reports on their close ties.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this Pakistani restaurant in Beijing, they talk about food and the long friendship between China and Pakistan.

AASIF JALEEL, PAKISTANI BUSINESSMAN IN CHINA: The relationship amongst the people, it's very open and very clear. You can see it, you can feel it. They always mention that Pakistan is an old friend (inaudible). Which is good to hear, basically.

YOON: China and Pakistan are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations this year. Pakistan's prime minister is hear on a four day visit.

The tour comes amid mounting tensions between Pakistan and another key ally, the U.S. after AmErikan special forces killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.

Pakistani authorities say that the prime minister's trip was scheduled long ago, but analysts say that this visit now allows Pakistan to counter U.S. pressure by strengthening ties with China, a country that the prime minister has described as Pakistan's best and most trusted friend.

Since the killing of bin Laden, Pakistan had been criticized by some for failing to find bin Laden, but China was one of the first country's to defend Pakistan's role in the war on terror. Analysts say for good reason.

JIMENG TENG, PROFESSOR, BEIJING FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY: The Pakistanis played major kind of role as a bridge, bridging China to the Muslim world. Pakistan could also be another route for China to, in a sense, to ship oil and petrol and other resources into China.

YOON: China is Pakistan's main arms supplier. Beijing is also offering aid and investing in nuclear power plants and ports. Yet the relationship has its limits. China has strong trade ties with Pakistan's arch-rival, India. And analysts say Beijing wants Pakistan to do more to counter Muslim militants in areas along China's western border.

But the two sides insist their relationship remains steadfast. And here in this restaurant some who are weary of assistance from the West want that relationship to grow.

TENG: AmErika, they invested a lot of money in Pakistan, but it was not invested in the right direction and in the right areas.

YOON: China now making its own investments and some say increasing its influence.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: As unrest spread across the Middle East the United Arab Emirates is stepping up its security forces. And as Errol Barnett reports the UAE is working with a well known hired gun.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From Syria to Yemen, anger at Middle Eastern leadership continues to pit popular uprisings against well armed governments. And although the UAE hasn't seen anti-government protests, it's prepared whether the mission is at home or abroad.

The crowned prince of Abu Dhabi is working with Erik Prince, founder of the private U.S. security firm Blackwater, to train and equip hundreds of foreign personnel for a new UAE based company called Reflex Responses or R2.

According to the New York Times the five year deal is worth $529 million, but CNN can't confirm that. Prince isn't named in the contract, but one former employee tells CNN he is its main architect.

The New York Times reports former soldiers from Colombia, South Africa and elsewhere are living here in Zaig Military City (ph), tucked away in yellow barracks behind barbed wire. They are being trained by former soldiers and special ops commandos from the U.S. and Europe.

The mission: be a rapid response team prepared for urban combat, intelligence gathering and destroying enemy personnel and equipment.

A former Navy SEAL himself, Prince keeps a low profile while living in the Emirates. He made a rare public appearance in February at an arms exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

But what kind of work might R2 do? Well, the former employee also tells CNN the group drafted plans to go into Somalia and help with its fight against piracy, an arrangement the Somali government reportedly suspended.

On Monday, the Emirati (ph) government released a statement acknowledging they worked with third parties saying only that R2 provides operational planning and training support.

The New York Times also reported that secret meetings for the creation of R2 took place here at the Park Hargon (ph) Hotel back in 2010. But beyond Monday's statement, the government is not commenting further. And spokespeople for Erik Prince are remaining tight lipped as well.

But the cross border nature of this agreement, plus the possible half a billion dollar price tag, could usher in a new era in the age old practice of mercenaries making money.

Errol Barnett, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now let's remind you about Erik Prince's background with Blackwater. Now the company, it was founded in 1998. Blackwater USA was once one of the biggest private security firms working in Iraq. Now in 2004, four contractors working for Blackwater were captured, killed, and burned by an angry mob in Fallujah. And then in 2007, more Blackwater guards, they were charged with manslaughter following a controversial shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqis, most of them civilians.

Now those charges, they were later dismissed, but an appeals panel ordered the case reopened last month. Blackwater left Iraq in 2009 after the government refused to renew its operating license. The company has since changed its name to Z.

Now Erik Prince sold Z to a holding company last year after moving from the U.S. to the UAE. And CNN executive producer Suzanne Kelly wrote a book about Blackwater. It's called Master of War. And she weighs in on Prince's latest venture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Things that we were seeing in the New York Times article are things that I've heard for about a year now that he was running this rapid response force. He was actually providing trainers and sort of overseeing how this training would come down so that the UAE would be in a position to respond when there were certain things that were happening in the areas around them. So it's not so shocking.

The interesting details I think that came out of that were sort of from the copies of the contract that the New York Times said it had that actually detailed the amounts of money, the possible jobs they might be sent out to do. So that was fascinating. But not at all surprising if you know Prince as a person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now the New York Times says the UAE, a close ally of the United States, has some support from Washington for the project, but it's not clear if it has official U.S. approval.

Now the paper says the State Department is investigating to see if the training initiative is in violation of American laws.

Well, up next here on News Stream, the Donald was very serious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP: ...very serious. I am seriously thinking about it.

I am seriously considering it.

I've never taken it seriously like this.

I think you will be surprised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: All right, but not serious enough apparently.

Now coming up, Donald Trump's presidential exit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now there is a new bombshell in the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Maria Shriver separation saga. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times the former California governor says he fathered a child with a member of his household staff 10 years ago. Now Schwarzenegger said that he waited to tell his wife until after he was out of office. The coupled announced that they were splitting after 25 years of marriage last week.

Now New Yorkers, they seem to cheer the news that Donald Trump has dumped plans to run for president. And David Letterman, he won a wager on the announcement. Jeanne Moos has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was breaking news worthy of animated hair. We heard it on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news right now on News Nation.

TRUMP: I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to. And...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fired himself.

MOOS: Fired up ourselves. We ran outside to spread the news like a town crier.

Donald Trump is definitely not running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horray.

MOOS: Donald Trump is not running...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank god.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank god.

MOOS: Did you hear the big news?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. What?

MOOS: Donald Trump is not running.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, high five. Excellent.

MOOS: I'm not aloud to...

Folks could be a little more serious about it. Afterall, the Donald was.

TRUMP: Oh, this is very serious. I am seriously thinking about it.

I am seriously considering it.

I've never taken it seriously like this.

I think you will be surprised at what my announcement is.

MOOS: Donald Trump is not running.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, surprise, surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Surprise, surprise.

MOOS: Trump's decision is seriously bad news for the country's comedians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great time for this nation's greatest man, me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.

MOOS: Trump ss a running gag is over.

How do you think he came out this looking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ridiculous. Arrogant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made a fool of himself. And I kind of like him.

MOOS: When Bill Maher went on Letterman.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Why are we listening to this curiosity from the 80s.

MOOS: The two disagreed on whether Trump was serious.

MAHER: But he is really running, Dave.

DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Yes -- no he's not really running. He's absolutely not running.

MOOS: They even bet on it.

MAHER: I'll wager a week's pay, mine against yours.

MOOS: Now that probably wasn't serious.

Do you have a favorite high point or a low point of the Trump non- campaign campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just turned him off whenever -- I put him on mute.

MOOS: And it will be a muted presidential race without the Donald throwing his hair into the ring.

Jeanne Moos, CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; I put him on mute.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: OK. Can Tiger Woods get his season and his career back on track. Well, after the break, Kate Giles will have all the details on when Tiger will make his latest comeback.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now from the goatee to the full beard and everything in between there is some serious facial fur on show in Norway at the moment. Now the world beard and mustache championships, it draws to a close in Trondheim today. And there is something for every face fluff fanatic.

Now this is not Santa, but it could well be. This happy chappy, he won first prize in the Garibaldi category where entrants are encouraged to grow, quote, broad, full and round beard not exceeding 20 centimeters. So very good effort there.

But this guy is in a different league. He walked off with the partial beard freestyle title for this stunning circle symmetry concoction. But as freestyling goes, that was nothing compared to the overall winner. German Omar Weisser (ph), he was crowned champion for this effort featuring the Norwegian flag and a moose -- wow, that's something.

Now Kate Giles is here to change the topic, get you your sports headlines. She joins us now. Hey, Kate.

KATE GILES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I'm going to talk to you about three very big comebacks. We've got one from gold, one from tennis, and one from swimming.

Let me start with gold for you, Kristie. Tiger Woods saying that he does now expect to play in month's U.S. Open. We were a little bit concerned that he might not be able to. That was after he pulled out of the players championship in Florida last week.

Tiger left the TPC at Sawgrass after just 9 holes. That was due to pain and discomfort he was having in his left leg. He revealed that he suffered a sprained left knee and strained left Achilles tendon in the third round at last month's Masters.

Now in an update on his official web site, though, the world number eight has now said that he suffered no new damage to his leg at the Players and he should be fit to compete in the season's second major at Washington, D.C.

Perhaps not all lost to Tiger. Remember, he won the U.S. Open in 2008 when he was playing with ligament damage and a double stress fracture in his left leg. So he's done it before.

All right, I'm going to go with football. And Dubai club Al-Wasl have confirmed that they have signed the Argentine legend Diego Maradona as manager for next season. The terms of the two year contract signed by Maradona will be unveiled during a press conference in Dubai next month. What we do already know is this, that the 50-year-old's first official match in charge will be in September.

Now Maradona has not coached since his contract with the Argentien Football Federation came to an end, that was after a 4-nil defeat to Germany at the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

Well, cash has started to flow into the London Olympics complex, that after organizers began debiting the accounts of ticket applicants. Nearly 2 million people applied, but they might have to wait a little while yet to find out which events they can actually attend. One of the most popular tickets, well it's bound to be the one to get you into the aquatic center, that's where swimming fans are looking forward to the comeback of one of the sport's greatest ever stars, Ian Thorpe.

He was most successful athlete at the 2000 summer Olympics. He won 3 golds and 2 silver medals then. He's won 5 Olympic gold medals in total. In 2001, he became the first person to win 6 gold medals in one world championship. In total, he's won 11 world championship golds, the second highest number of all-time.

Well, Thorpe announced his retirement from swimming back in November of 2006, but he decided to come back tot he sport earlier on this year. And he was actually in London last week on a promotional event for his sponsor Addidas and he admitted that his long absence from the sport, well it isn't making a comeback easy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN THORPE, SWIMMER: You know, you really have to have aquatic fitness. You can't get it from anywhere else. It doesn't translate if you do it in the gym. It really has to be time spent in the pool.

So, you know, it's a huge barrier to -- a big challenge. And also, I've got such a limited amount of time needing to get into as well to make up for that distance.

GILES: Swimming is such hard work. Have you enjoyed this comeback process tour, or have there been times when you really (inaudible) what am I doing here?

THORPE: Yeah. When I first started, I had made the decision three days, three weeks, three months. And that was for the first three days no matter how I felt I was going to do it for three days. And if I made that, I'd do three weeks. And if I made the three weeks it would be three months.

And in those three months I kind of knew that I was going to do this. But there are some days when I get up and I just can't swim. I'm just too sore, or I -- you know, it isn't going how it used to.

But thankfully those days are getting -- becoming fewer and fewer. And there's more days where this makes sense to me and you know, swimming all right.

GILES: In the time, obviously, that you've been away from the sport a lot of world records have been broken, the sport has to a certain extent moved on. Is your approach now very different this time around?

THORPE: I think -- you know, I'm glad that when I was finishing, you know, with swimming that, you know, a lot of the things that I'm doing in training now were just coming in. So they're not completely new concepts to me.

But, you know, training is a little bit different, but it's something that, you know, I'm happy to adjust to. And I think I'll fit in quite well when I do get back to the compete.

GILES: So you're coming back for the -- in time for the London Olympics, which means it throws up this potential huge battle between you and Michael Phelps who a lot of people would say is the best Olympian of all-time. Is that a daunting prospect for you?

THORPE: I understand how people can be really excited about this. I mean, I've raced against Michael in the 200 freestyle in Athens so I know how excited people would be at that prospect. But when it comes to training and what I do I don't, you know, spend time thinking about what other people are doing. You know, I don't want to -- you know, waste energy on worrying about something that I can't change. So I put that into my self.

GILES: Michael Phelps had to, to a certain extent, redefine what the modern swimmer has to be capable of. Do you think that you have a realistic chance of beating him?

THORPE: I don't know if I'll even be racing against Michael. I have to qualify, which in Australia is a daunting task. If -- you know, I'm striving to be able to swim faster than what I used to be able to. If not, I wouldn't be motivated to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GILES: He's a such, such a big star, Kristie. It's very great to see him back.

STOUT: And great interview. Thank you very much for sharing that with us. Kate Giles there.

Now it is time for us to go over and out there. And if you're the sort of person who watches what you eat you might want to look away now, because today Don Borski. He's a middle-aged American, is going to do something incredible if a little sickening. Now he has got a bit of a thing for this, the Big Mac, 540 calories of patties, cheese, buns, lettuce, onions, and that special sauce. And when I say a bit of a thing I mean an obssession. He has kept every receipt for every Big Mac he's ever eaten.

So today, he will eat his 25,000th Big Mac. Yes, 25,000 of these double pattie, triple bun burgers.

Now let's try to put that in perspective for you. Now this mountain of McDonald's here, now that is just 25 Big Macs. So 1,000 times this pile.

Now let's break that down for you. Remember, we're just talking about the burgers. No fries, or drinks or anything like that. Now he has eaten about 5,500 kilograms of Big Macs, or that's about 725 kilos of fat. And remarkably, his cholesterol is OK.

Now that is a whopping 13.5 million calories just from Big Macs.

Now Don eats a couple of Big Macs a day every day of the week, even has spares in his freezer. But he has been on a diet of sorts these last few weeks, slashing his Big Mac intake to 1 a day. It's all so that he can hit his big milestone today, because May 17th is the day he locked lips around Big Mac number one some 39 years ago.

So, congratulations I guess to Don.

That is News Stream, but the News Continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

END